What I’ll be Packing in my Hospital Bag for Baby #2

What do you do first, pack your hospital bag, or prepare a nursery? Get ready to pack your bags mama with these essentials!

Experts recommend to have your bags (one for you, and baby) packed and in your car by¬†35 weeks. (Taxi-taking moms ‚ÄĒ stash your bags in the front hall closet.) This list is meant to be helpful, so please don’t think you have to have everything on this list! Since this is our second baby, we’ve got a much better idea this time around of what to bring, and what to leave behind!

Also, a tip for the thrifty: Ask your hospital what they provide for babies and mothers, and take those items off your list.

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Must-Haves for Mama:

[ ] Insurance info, hospital forms and birth plan (if you have one)

[ ] A warm robe or sweater (you don’t mind sacrificing to the cause if need be)

[¬†]¬†2¬†maternity bras¬†‚ÄĒ no underwire, with no padding, we love this one

[¬†]¬†Toiletries and personal items ‚ÄĒ hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, face wash (remember, travel-sized products are your friends)

[ ] Headband or ponytail holder (avoid clips)

[ ] Cell phone and charger, phone numbers of people to call after birth, prepaid calling card (if your hospital doesn’t allow cell phones)

[ ] Comfortable going-home clothes in six-month maternity size; an open front cardigan, nursing camisole, and / or nursing top and flat shoes

[ ] 2-3 pairs of warm, nonskid socks and slip-on hard sole slippers that can get ruined (for walking the halls indoor before and after labor)

[ ] Eyeglasses and/ or contact lens case and solution (remember, travel-sized products are your friends)

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What to Bring For Baby:

[ ] Approved car seat

[ ] Nursing pillow (your lactation consultant can help you position baby if you plan to nurse)

[ ] A coming-home outfit

[ ] Warm blankets (for the ride home)

[ ] Outdoor gear like a snowsuit and hat, as seasonally appropriate (remember, babies are extra sensitive to cold)

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Hubby’s List:

[ ] A gym bag packed with a change of clothes and basic hygiene products for your partner

 

Optional Items it for Mama:

[ ] Very light reading (think magazines)

[ ] Your MP3 player (loaded with your favorite tunes, of course)

[ ] Massage oil and tools like rolling pins or tennis balls, and lucky or inspirational objects for labor

[ ] Pen and paper

[ ] Lip balm (hospitals tend to have dry air)

[ ] Camera, film or extra memory card, battery or charger

[ ] A ruin-able nightgown (you can use those lovely hospital gowns, but your own might help you feel more human) how cute is this one?

[ ] Nursing pads (whether or not you plan to nurse, you might appreciate the support and leak-protection)

[ ] Your favorite brand of face wash, shampoo and conditioner (the hospital supplies these things, but bring your own if you’re picky) makeup (as if), lotion

[ ] A few pairs of maternity underwear that can get ruined (the hospital will have disposable pairs that can be worn)

[ ] Protein bar or other favorite snacks

 

Leave at Home:

[ ] Any clothes or nighties you really like (they could get ruined)

[ ] Stopwatch (your nurse or a monitor will take care of timing contractions)

[ ] Heavy flow sanitary pads (the hospital supplies these things, but bring your own if you’re super picky)

[ ] Fluffy Slippers (they will get dirty)

[  ] Extra pillow (unless you’re ok with one that can get ruined, in a pattern distinguishable from hospital white)

[ ] Your own bathing towel (of course the hospital will provide small towels)

[ ] Hairdryer (the hospital will provide, so leave at home unless you absolutely must have your own, this one is really awesome)

[ ] Breast pump, (the hospital should have one you can borrow)

 

Did we miss any of your ‘must haves?’ What would you add? Let us know in the comments below!

 

xo,

Christine

 

 

 

Gift Guide for Parents and the In-Laws

The Holidays are filled with joy and thanksgiving! Finding the right gift for everyone in your family shouldn’t stress you. As long as it comes from the heart, all parents will be thankful you thought of them. Some of my parents favorite gifts were items we made for them. If you’re looking for a few things to send, or wrap under the tree, I’m sharing my picks with you here!

Delightful Southern Moments (6)

 

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This might just be my very favorite gift on this list. A kitchen with a dutch oven makes a very happy cook. On a cream-colored backing, with a graceful spill of gold leaves and a gold-toned knobby this beautiful Le Creuset dutch oven is exclusive to Crate and Barrel.

 

 

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Fresh coffee in the morning is at the top of almost everyone’s list. I personally love having fresh ground coffee each morning with my coffee. This Grind & Brew is perfect for the coffee drinker, you can fill up the hopper on top once a week, and set a timer for fresh coffee each morning!

 

 

For the mama that loves cozy things, give her a plush teddy bear robe, cozy fur slippers, or pom-pom ballet slippers a faux fur eye mask and the softest pom-pom throw!

 

 

Entertaining is a breeze, and even more stylish with these fun gifts! I love this beautiful carafe, marble platter, and corkcicle for chilling white wine. And can we talk about how perfect this modular serving platter is?

 

 

 

weather

If you’re looking for a useful gift with a classic look, this Analog Weather Station, with Galileo Thermometer, a Precision Quartz Clock, and Barometer and Hygrometer will be the perfect edition to a study or living room.

 

 

 

 

 

darts

 

The perfect edition to a game room, a deluxe wood dart cabinet and chalkboard scoreboard, will bring a touch of class.

 

 

 

Instead of trendy electronics, consider these useful items! Drug free pain relief¬†from this T.E.N.S. Massager with Heat is portable can can be used anywhere! How about a way to clean eye glasses? This¬†ultra sonic eye glass cleaner¬†will remind them how thoughtful you are ever time they drop their glasses into a simple bath of water for a quick clean! As we age, our hair thins, but LED light in this specialized hair brush boosts cell energy for thicker, healthier hair. With all the sever weather we’ve had in the south, parents will be thankful for an¬†emergency solar hand crank radio, reliable and never needs batteries! For the foodie that has everything, this kitchen scale¬†will make baking, meal prep and more to the next level!

 

 

yogurt

 

We all know we should be eating more fermented foods, and with this yogurt maker parents can make their own!

 

 

 

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A wonderful part of Christmas is the magic of the holidays are all the treats and delicious desserts. How perfect would this cake stand and dome be on the holiday table?

 

 

 

 

 

Do your in-laws or parents love to travel? These personalized gifts will make them smile when you open them! A bottle bag for the beer drinker that has everything, luggage tags that won’t fall off after one flight, and a compact jewelry portfolio to bring a few special items.

 

What items would you add? Any favorites that we missed? Comment below!

 

xo,

Christine

The Best Gender Neutral Toys for Toddlers & Young Children

I’d like to start by saying that I don’t believe toys should be looked as “for girls,” or “for boys.” Toys don‚Äôt have a gender.

Toys are Gender Neutral

I hope you’ll agree that the toy list I’ve put together are¬†GENDER NEUTRAL (as all toys are). Everything on this list is wonderful for girls and boys. Loved by both, and equally NEEDED by all.

I hope you’ll consider the ways all children will learn learn through playing with,¬†whether Legos, a doll house or kitchen.

Toy List

Best Toys for 1 Year Olds

Best Toys for One Year Olds

Best Toys for Toddlers

Best Toys for Toddlers

‚ÄúPlay Is The Work of the Child‚ÄĚ Maria Montessori

According to Montessori, the essential dimensions of play are:

  • Voluntary, enjoyable, purposeful and spontaneous
  • Creativity expanded using problem solving skills, social skills, language skills and physical skills
  • Helps expand on new ideas
  • Helps the child to adapt socially
  • Helps to thwart emotional problems

 

If play is the work of the child, toys are the tools. Through toys, children learn about their world, themselves, and others. Toys teach children to:

  • Figure out how things work
  • Pick up new ideas
  • Build muscle control and strength
  • Use their imagination
  • Solve problems
  • Learn to cooperate with others

 

Toddler Toys

Wooden Blocks

These are the absolute best open ended toys for young children. Even elementary aged children love to play with blocks.

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Rainbow

Another favorite open ended toy, this rainbow has endless possibilities for play.

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Small Animals

A set of small animals, or two or three, can be used for sensory bin play or endless imaginary play. The Schleich animals have exquisite detail, and will keep interest of older children with their life-like quality.

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Vehicles with People

Community helpers are so big with toddlers, and these vehicles are perfect for pretend play.

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Duplo Legos

Legos are a open-ended toy that every household needs to have. Duplos start young children in the early years to develop building skills.

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Play Kits

Vet Kit Shaving Kit Scarves

Children love to play make-believe, and these kits explore grown-up skills and group play. If you don’t have scarves yet, they have so many uses. From dancing to learning signals, they truly are an open ended toy!

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Baby Doll

Boys and girls benefit from playing with dolls, empathy and nurturing are not just skills for little girls. I absolutely love this new born doll is anatomically correct! Available in Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic and African, boy or girl.

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Doll House

We have gotten so much play out of our doll house. Excellent pretend play for boys and girls! In my daughter’s preschool class the boys often play rescue games with the the dolls and the girls jump right in. This particular house is the most gender neutral one I’ve seen.

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Kitchen

There are hundreds it seems, of play kitchens on the market, and for good reason. Boys and girls love to role play mommy and/ or daddy preparing meals in the family kitchen. This kitchen from Ikea is a good value, but check your local market for resales,  you can often find one for a great price and most can last through several children.

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Pots & pans, cookie cutters, mitts, spoons, ladles, spatulas

We love our Ikea play sets for the kitchen. These are the perfect size for little hands!

Play Food & Shopping Basket

Grocery shopping is another favorite role play of young children. And these soft foods are our favorites!

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Fruits Veggies

Puzzles

Shapes Tool Puzzle Community Helpers Puzzle

You can never have too many puzzles (although my husband might disagree with me on this one). There are so many amazing teaching puzzles on the market today, these are just a few of ours that we love.

Cash Register

A tried and true favorite, this retro toy is making a come back. I love the simplicity of this one and I’m so glad they brought it back!

Cash

Alphabet Toys

Alphabet toys are a great way to introduce letters. Organically the child can explore the shapes, and we like to make the sound of the letter, not specifically the name of it yet. I love that this set has upper and lower case letters, and the wood pieces are in the actual shape of the letters.

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Train Set

Perhaps traditionally thought of as a toy meant for boys, little girls love to play with trains. Building a track with a grown up, and moving pieces around give endless hours of fun.

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Play Tools

Our little girl loves building things with daddy, and tools are a great way for bonding with parents or “fixing” the child’s own toys.

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Spill Resistant Paint Cups

As children get older, they crave opportunities for independence. You want a clean house- these spill resistant paint cups help us meet them somewhere in the middle.

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Tea Set

Equally loved by all children, the right tea set teaches caring for others (offering drinks) taking turns, and introduces some basic etiquette (sitting at a table together).

tea set

Color Sorting Toys

Color sorting are one of the most favorite games of toddlers. Toddlers love order, and color sorting gives them an opportunity to practice those skills. Its amazing how fast children learn to sort.

Color Sorting Shapes

Music Instruments

Music is such a critical piece of development, I could write an entire post just on music and music therapy. A few good quality pieces will bring hours of joy to your children. And I love the simplicity of these instruments that require the child to do all of the creative work.

Band Piano Percussion

 

One Year Old Toys

Stacking Toys

We love these stacking toys, the cups are a steal at $3 and have given so much joy from such a simple toy. The imagination of children is just amazing. From playroom, to tub, to traveling on a plane and flying to see grandma- our stacking cups have some serious miles on them!

Stacking Cups  Stacking Rings

Baby Doll

Baby’s first doll should be soft, sweet and have a friendly face. We love playing with our soft doll and remember- they’re not just for girls!

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Shape Sorting Toys

Another toy that has brought joy not just to us, but our playgroup friends as well. Babies and even toddlers love this sweet little house!

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Balls

The ultimate baby toy, but these texture balls are one of our favorites. Eager young children love to put everything in their mouths, and these little balls are so easy to wash. Another favorite of our little ones, and all the children at our playgroup gatherings.

balls

Push Toys

Every single child loves to have a toy they can push- moms and dads, you’ll love how compact this one is! This zebra is another well loved toy, and makes just enough sound as you push it along. You’r little one will love it!

zebra

Pop-up School Bus

Another timeless classic, we have one from my husband’s childhood. The peg people pop up when you push them down- baby’s first lesson in cause and effect! The cheerfully painted school bus and little people make this a hit with all children!

school bus

Ramp Toys

Toys are amazing things, did you know this is a first lesson in reading? I know! What? Yes, this simple little toy in which cars are dropped at the top of the ramp and drive down, yet allow full visibility, train a child’s eye to love down the page of a book! See, I told you toys are good for learning!

car ramp

Big Knob Puzzles

Big knob puzzles are a great first introduction into the world of puzzles. The over sized knobs make it easier for tiny hands to firmly grasp, and friendly pets, and fruits give little ones a good practice for things around the house.

Fruit Basket Pets

Mega Blocks

These are perfect for tiny hands, just learning how to put two blocks together!

mega blocks

Animals

All children love animals, and if you’re going to get small animals, I would highly suggest starting your collection with Schleich. Younger children may not yet notice all the fine details, but older children will. These are great for sensory bins, playing with blocks and other toys, the possibilities are endless. Starting your little ones with some of the larger animals, then slowly adding to the collection will be toys you can grow with.

Dog Horse Tiger Polar Bear

 

What are your favorite toys for little ones?

Remember, we don’t have to have every toy- just the right ones! Toys that entertain our kids are one-and done. We don’t want that! Look for open ended toys that let the child play, use their imagination and can grow with them!

 

xo,

Christine

 

Glowing Cool Weather Skin!

I’m so excited to share my beauty routine for glowing skin in the fall / winter months! Keeping skin hydrated is key to healthy,¬†radiant skin! Let’s face it, as we age our skin needs more TLC, a lot more TLC.

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I am such a Target girl- I love the price point and that I can count on them to carry one of my favorite, and recommended by my dermatologist, brands, Neutrogena. Introduced several years ago, the Hydro Boost line has really taken off in the last year, and for good reason!

 

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My absolute favorite under eye moisturizer¬†Hyaluronic Acid Gel Eye Cream, which you all have heard about me mention before is amazing! It is specially designed to help smooth the skin around the eyes, boosting skin’s hydration level and locks it in all day! I also love this super gentle, non- pore clogging 12 hour¬†Oil-Free Daily Facial Moisturizer. With a broad Spectrum SPF 15 sunscreen, it also helps prevent premature signs of aging caused by the sun! And did you know it’s recommended to wear sunscreen even in cooler seasons? My last favorite Neutrogena skin product is the¬†Hydro Boost Gentle Exfoliating Facial Cleanser. I use this each morning to really wake up my face and give it a fresh glow.

But what about my secret night-time skin care routine? This is something I’ve been working on for the past year! Before I go to bed is when the real magic happens- and I hope you all are excited as I am! On Amazon Prime Day, I finally took the leap to try the¬†Clarisonic Mia 1, Sonic Facial Cleansing Brush System. This amazing little tool removes makeup, dirt, oil, and sweat 6x better than hands alone!! I use it with my other amazing secret, a small amount of¬†TULA Probiotic Skin Care Purifying Face Cleanser, Deep Pore Cleansing Wash¬†applied right on the brush head. My face has never felt cleaner, and been clearer since I started using these two together.

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My last two beauty items are a bit controversial, but stick with me. I’m really excited to share a¬†Vitamin C + serum¬†that was recommended to me by a friend. Vitamin C + Collagen helps brighten and visibly firm the skin. It really does create a youthful glow! The Hyaluronic Acid + Retinol help to banish dark circles, and get firmer, that also works as anti-wrinkle serum. See? I told you this stuff was pretty awesome! And finally, my¬†Alo Verra Derma-Roller. While perhaps this one might get the most reservation from you, hear me out. As we age, our skin looses its elasticity, and firmness. Also if you have any acne scaring, you might notice those take longer to heal. I LOVE the roller for this very reason. It works so well, you’ll just have to try it and let me know in the comments what you think! After washing my face, I continue to use this¬†Night Cream.

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I’ve been loving my recent beauty finds and sharing them with you! What products are you currently into?

xo,

Christine

 

 

Fall Bucket List ūüćāūüćĀ

I absolutely love the changing of the season! And this weekend we finally have a break from the endless summer heat. We’ll be doing a few of my favorite activities from my fall bucket list, and I’ll sharing them with you!

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  • Apple picking at an orchard gets the whole family involved and out into the fresh air

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  • Visit a real Pumpkin patch and pick your own pumpkins
  • Hay ride at a local farm, often petting farms with also have activities beyond a simple hay ride- maybe you can feed the chickens or baby goats?!

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  • A trip to your local Farmers market before many of them close for the winter season is a chance to really smell and enjoy fresh produce from around your community

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  • A family Hike to see the leaves changing colors is always a huge hit for us!

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  • Build a fire outside and toast marshmallows

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  • Create a few fall themed crafts with your little ones
  • Drink hot apple cider & make cookies!

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  • For the grown ups, try a traditional Oktoberfest beer or pumpkin beer!
  • Visit your local county or state fair

What fall bucket list items would you add? Comment below, we love to hear from you!

xo,

Christine

We Love Ballet ūüéÄ

Have you heard the secret? We LOVE Ballet!

I am so excited to share with you one of our favorite places, Tutu School Raleigh! Founded by Lara¬†O‚ÄôBrien, Principal Dancer at Carolina Ballet and Owner of Tutu School Raleigh, this has to be one of Raleigh’s most magical places for little girls. From toddlers to pre-teens children are invited into the fairytale, an unique opportunity to learn the grace and poise of a ballerina while playing and twirling to some of the most beautiful uplifting music.

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With a lovely storefront, and in the heart of downtown, we adore this space. The instructors are so warm and welcoming to the children. Each of them very patient and loving as if they were their own little sisters, we have loved every staff member we have met so far!

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Parents are welcome and encouraged to come for end of week recitals held at the end of camp. And the youngest ballerinas can bring a caregiver to twirl and dance with them! We love all the magical touches the school includes, even for the littlest ballerina, keeping everyone engaged and excited to come back for their next class!

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For slightly older children, camps offer a fantastic chance to be emerged into a full week of ballet. A ballet theme week including learning steps of the real ballet, engaging exercises, crafts, a picnic lunch, and lots of twirling make the camp special and oh so memorable. We loved our week of Swan Lake Tutu Camp this summer. It was such an awesome opportunity for our little ballerina. She made some amazing new friends and loved the instructors.

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Center Stage

 

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Dresses from Favorite Ballets

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Look at that detail!

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The magic!

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So many perfect details!

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Ready for a recital!

Lots of space to slip on ballet shoes, or read a story!

 

Do you think your child is ready for ballet school? Head over to¬†Tutu School Raleigh¬†and please let them know we sent you! It’s great to be social,¬† you can see even more photos at¬†Tutu School Raleigh Facebook Page.¬†Then be sure to come back here and let us know if you sign up for a class!

Ballet Books!

Can we recommend a few great ballet books too? Your local library may have many of these!

Angelina’s Cinderella (Angelina Ballerina)¬†by Katharine Holabird

Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet by Jane O’Conno

Child’s Introduction to Ballet by Laura Lee

 

The Ballet Book by DARCEY BUSSELL

Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp

OLIVIA Dances for Joy by Natalie Shaw

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer

 

Ballet_Books

More Ballet Stories we love:

Pinkalicious: Tutu-rrific by Victoria Kann

Bea at ballet by Rachel Isadora (Author, Illustrator)

 

We love hearing from you! Are you looking to enroll your little one(s) into ballet class? Have you ever seen a live ballet? We’re so fortunate to have such an amazing dance company in Raleigh with talent and women entrepreneurs right in our backyard!

xo,

Christine 

Old Navy Fall Wardrobe Must Haves!

I absolutely love the changing of the seasons, especially from summer to autumn. I’m so excited to share with you a few of my favorites I found at Old Navy yesterday! Did you don’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe for the new season? Few of the right key pieces can take your current closet to the next level!

I’m so excited to share these trend pieces from my try on session! Unfortunately our local store is undergoing some renovation, so I wasn’t able to try on everything I had on my wish list. Help me pick your favorites so I can order them online!

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Vest // Frost-Free Puffer Vest Рcolor In the Navy

Top // Relaxed Cinched-Sleeve

Jeans // High-Rise Secret-Slim Pockets Rockstar

 

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This sweatshirt screams fall to me! The color is perfect, and its super cozy. I would get your regular size, although it does run a little big. I’m wearing an XS here for comparison.

Sweatshirt // French-Terry Boyfriend Tunic Sweatshirt -color Borscht

Scarf // Flannel Blanket Scarf in Black Plaid

Jeans // Mid-Rise Distressed Rockstar Super Skinny Jeans

 

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I love that this jacket has a cinched waist! Hello flatter autumn photos while sipping on some crips apple cider and keeping cozy with your honey by the fire side!

Jacket // Twill Field Jacket in Hunter Pines or Hooded Utility Parka in Olive

Shirt // Relaxed Twill Tunic Shirt, Black/White Plaid

Mules // Faux-Suede Slide Mules in Toffee

 

 

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Vest //  Frost-Free Puffer Vest Рcolor Royal Velvet

Handbag // Zip-Top Faux-Leather Crossbody Bag in Cognac Brown

 

More styles and combinations, plus items they didn’t have in the store that I would have loved to try on!

High-Rise Mesh-Panel Leggings for Women – color Black

 

These amazingly cozy lounge pieces will sell out! Hurry and get your favorites before they do!

Pullover Swing Hoodie for Women in Apple Blossom

Cozy Crew-Neck Sweatshirt in Creme De La Creme

French-Terry Lounge Joggers in Icelandic Mineral

 

What are your favorite pieces? Which ones should I take home? Any of your must haves at Old Navy right now that I missed? Share them below in the comments, I love hearing from you all!

xo,

Christine