Five Things I Do Daily...

....that make me feel like I have it together.

1. Get up early (ish)


For a couple of years Olivia served as my alarm clock and it was fine, but I had the hardest time waking up while she was wrapped around my leg and it felt like I never had enough hours in the day. Now I get up about an hour before her, make my coffee, check my instagram and e-mails, and it makes such a difference. I get some really restorative quiet alone time, and can take my time waking up. I usually get a load of laundry in or the dishwasher unloaded and it just makes my day run more smoothly.


2. Make the bed


My mom was big on making the bed when I was a kid (still is and has me well trained to wash my sheets on a designated day of the week) and I still have to do it daily. First of all, it deters me from climbing back in and secondly it makes me feel like I've already accomplished something even if I'm still wearing last nights blemish spot treatment.

3. Peel off the yoga pants

If I don't put on real pants most days, I feel sluggish. Sure, my jeans probably have a banana smushed on the butt and my tops of choice are glorified mumus, but it just motivates me to put on clothes that aren't mostly spandex. 

4. Cover up the dark circles


I never noticed how purple the inner corners of my eyes get (how I missed it, I don't know) until the day before my wedding my makeup artist looked at me and said "do me a favor and get some rest tonight". Yikes. Now I know that they're large and in charge and even if I don't put on a full face or mess with my hair beyond putting it in a topknot, I almost always cover up my dark circles. I'm obsessed with the First Aid Beauty concealer ( I keep it in the fridge) and it's wonderful coverage and super brightening! Then when I need to subject the other moms at MDO or the grocery store to my mug, they aren't completely repulsed. 

5. Sit down to breakfast


When Liv gets up, we sit down with her at the table each morning, no matter what. She's finally warmed up to the idea of a solid breakfast which lends itself to some fun morning conversations about how much she looooves eggs. We don't always get to do family dinners due to Ryan's schedule, her evening crankiness/picky eating, etc. so getting at least one guaranteed family meal each day makes me feel like our day has a little more order to it.

My days are pretty nonstop and it used to feel pretty overwhelming until I nailed a few of these things down (especially the getting up early) and finally found a groove that works for us.  Sure, it's nothing groundbreaking and I'm still totally wiped at the end of the day, but it's feeling a lot more balanced lately!

In The Studio

Apparently January is almost over?

I'm going to choose not to freak out that we have a launch in just under five weeks (what the hell?!) and try to go the cool, calm, and collected route. Even though that goes against every fiber of my being.


We're debuting our Spring collection on Tuesday March 1st (and I secretly love when we get to launch on the first of a month, it feels so official) and here's the deal:

It's the biggest collection we've ever done. 

I mean BIG. Not just in quantities (which is it), but in the variety of styles. I can think off the top of my head of at least ten different styles we'll be listing. So I've been working my booty off in the studio for the past couple of weeks to get the inventory made, photographs taken, and nail down the quantities. I'm hoping to get it all done in the next two weeks so I have three weeks to finalize everything and get it all packaged!

I'm dying (and I mean it) to share some sneak peeks with you but I can't just yet! First, I want to to tweak a few things before I show you. Secondly, we've had some issues lately with infringement. Maybe that's a bad word. Ugh, this is such a downer to talk about, but if you're a small business owner, you know what I'm talking about.

No, we don't own the rights to the laces or fabrics, or even the designs/styles we use, but in general there's kind of an understanding in the handmade community that we try not to step on each other's toes (like styling, etc.). Unfortunately, our images have been finding their way to other sites, so I'm trying to figure out the best way to handle that. Yeah, it's "just headbands" but it's my work and I take a lot of pride in it, so I like to wait until we're pretty close to the collection launch before sharing too much.

That being said, there's been so much awesome stuff going on that it greatly outweighs anything frustrating. I was compiling all the tax garbage (I really hate taxes) for WC over the weekend, which meant going over our total profits/expenses for the year and I was absolutely shocked to see we'd grown 300% over last year. Even though I do it quarterly, I somehow didn't really grasp how much growth we'd had this year and I almost cried/threw up. Lots of you have emailed with questions about how we handle the financial stuff for WC and we use quickbooks and will be filing our taxes quarterly this year. Sexy, right?

Anyway, boring financial talk aside, I've snapped a few quick pictures here and there while in the studio to share with you so you can get a look at what's been going on!







I've also been working on lots of custom orders (bachelorette crowns and florals, yay!) that I can't wait to share on Instagram (@willowcrowns) soon! I hope you're having a great week so far!
xoxo

A Week of Wear

Whew. This week is flying by and while I've managed to check a dozen things off my to-do list, the stuffed unicorn that's been in the bathroom since Monday hasn't managed to get moved back to the playroom? Priorities.

We've had some awesome weather lately - cool, but sunny and perfect for outside play dates. My favorite times have been when friends come over to share some wine or coffee on the patio while the kiddos slide, do crafts, and generally raise hell in the backyard. Needless to say it's been a very casual week of wear since I've been working a lot on WC and scooting around town for playdates but I'll share them nonetheless!


For: A day of watching football and errands

Favorite Piece: This Old Navy sweater makes yet another comeback. I've styled it with heels, flats, and now boots. Love it all and can't seem to quit this cozy style!


For: a day at the zoo

Favorite piece: This hat below! I snagged mine from Crystal Faye and think a baseball cap is a must have for a casual wardrobe. It covers my bad hair days but the monogram is just enough to keep it from being dowdy.






For: Meeting friends for a picnic lunch and playground date, grocery shopping

Favorite Piece: I bought this Choose Joy tee after a difficult week and it was the perfect pick me up. Since miscarrying, I knew I wanted to try to get pregnant again right away and it's not exactly been smooth sailing. I needed the reminder to focus on the (many) amazing parts of our lives and to relax and stop fighting this chapter. We'll have another baby when the time is right and I need to choose joy until that time comes. Come to find out, this tee was designed after Kim ( the designer ) had a miscarriage and I just love that she chose to focus on the positives and then spread that message.


For: busy day in the studio and a visit to meet baby Lincoln! 

Favorite Piece: I want to say the vest (because I do really love it) but these standby Tory Burch flats just never disappoint. I was so reluctant to splurge on them, but I've never regretted it. They're worn constantly and go with just about anything. I'm actually on my second pair and found them at Nordstrom Rack for $100 off, so don't forget to look there it you're scouting a discounted pair!

As for the rest of the week, we're gearing up for another big football game this weekend (go, Pats!) which means I need to hit Pinterest again to look up some good snacks/dips to make, and lots more time in the studio to keep cranking away at our Spring collection!

Easy Photo Management

At the time of writing this post I have 11,652 photos on my phone.

So.

I take loads of photos. On my phone, on my SLR, all the time. I take photos of Olivia, our family, our home, anything to do with WC, and yes, an embarrassing number of photos of coffee. I don't know why.

One of the questions that comes across my inbox most often is how I manage storing/organizing all that crazy. Between my personal life, the blog, and WC, there are just too many photos to count and I've often been nervous that one day my phone will collapse under the weight of all those  gigs of photos and just die, leaving those photos lost forever with all my bobby pins and missing socks. So about a year ago I decided action had to be taken and decided to organize and store all my photos, but in a way that wasn't particularly techy, intimidating, or time consuming.


Here's what I use:

1. my computer 
2. a usb cable


Once a month I plug my phone in to one usb port on my computer, plug my external hard drive into the other, and get cracking. There's a folder for each month on my external hard drive and all the photos from my phone that month get dragged directly to that folder.


Since most of my blog photos are personal photos, I don't really bother to categorize them into personal/blog photos, but I do separate the WC photos. I have a separate WC folder with sub-folders (product shots, flat lays, Instagram photos, etc) and those photos get separated and dragged to that folder. Those photos then get doubly uploaded to dropbox so Stephanie can access them as needed. 


These bluetooth SD cards are hands down the coolest thing I've bought this year. All I have to do is power up my camera, select the SD card as my wireless source, and open the flash air app. All the photos I've taken can then be easily downloaded to my camera roll.  I keep three or so on hand so that I don't have to clean them out when they get full. I just grab a new one and start fresh, thinking that keeping the photos on an SD card is an additional layer of backup. This means that almost all the photos on my SD cards end up on my phone (since I do most of my brightening and adding contrast in the VSCO cam app) but there are a few that don't always make it over and I drag them to the appropriate folder from the SD card. 



This external hard drive isn't particularly special, but it's the top seller in external hard drives on Amazon which made it good enough for me. It's got 1 TB of storage, which based on the 10 gigs of photos I have on my phone right now, equals a little over one million photos worth of storage.

Once all my photos are backed up, I usually keep the past few months worth on my phone for easy Facebook/Instagram upload and delete the rest (once I double check that they've saved to the hard drive!). I'm way overdue for a delete session and here's a quick tip: to delete your photos in batches and speed up the process, go to the photos tab (not albums) on your camera roll and you can select days at a time by hitting select at the top right corner and then select above the date for each batch.


My system is really streamlined and simple, but it works to keep my phone from getting too cluttered (when I take the time to delete old pics) and ensures that my photos are safe. Every few months I pass the external off to my husband and he then uploads them to a cloud server for an extra layer of backup! I know the iPhone has a cloud backup, but I've not always had great luck with it, so I like having another system in place to make sure I don't lose the photos I work so hard to get! 

Around the House

A weekend recap just didn't seem interesting enough to dedicate a whole blog post to (not that that's ever stopped me before), but we've had a busy couple of weeks around here and I finally managed to pull a couple hundred (yikes!) photos off my camera. While I won't be spamming you with all of them (that privilege is reserved for grandmothers and aunts, I'm sure to their delight) I've got some highlights for you!

After weeks of traveling, holidays, and an unnecessarily extended "reacclimation period" (aka lazy, tired, didn't wanna), we're back to eating real food and cooking real meals. O loves helping in the kitchen, whether it's counting out scoops of coffee or rolling croutons to sprinkle on our fish for dinner. She's such a little helper lately and while it slows almost every activity down to a crawl, I'm kind of loving it. Unlike her new tendency to call me "mommy pig" (thanks, Peppa) which I could love a little more.



The weather here has been fantastic lately. It's been sunny almost every day and I'm reminded of why we hang in there during those brutal Texas summers....the winters are fantastic. We've been hitting the playground almost daily, walking or biking to the turtle pond, and taking trips to the zoo with her little friends. The zoo can be such a haul, but it's so worth it. She's old enough to walk it now which completely wears her out, making for a gorgeous nap time, but allows the moms enough time and space to fit in some grown up conversation, something I'll never take for granted again. Just like being able to pee alone or eat all of my own meal!



When we're not outside or cooking, it's crafting. The older she gets, the more her confidence in her artwork grows and she'll be deeply offended if you don't know that blob with eyes and something that sort of looks like red hair is the little mermaid. How dare you.




We've been making some changes to the house, both big and small. I recently gave a clearance find bar cart from Target a white paint job and found the perfect rug and ottoman for our master bedroom. Ryan just tore out the carpet from his long-standing office renovation and the new stuff gets installed Wednesday, which is major progress!


The rug in our master makes a pretty bold statement and it took my eyes a few days to adjust, but I'm actually loving it. Our room desperately needed some color and something interesting to mix things up and this is just the ticket. The Safavieh ottoman was an Overstock find and I love the pale blue/aqua and how it compliments the rug without being too matchy. 



Rug (can't get Rugs USA to load, but it's the SM01 Distressed Stamped Emblem)  | Ottoman

I finally made it over to Veronika's to meet baby Lincoln yesterday! Holy heavenly chubster, guys. He was just adorable and I probably overstayed my welcome because I couldn't stand to put him down. 


p.s. I screwed up and had my ISO up wayyy too high for this one and it could have been so much crisper. Rookie move.

Finally, on the work front, WC launched its Valentine's Capsule last Tuesday and I was a tiny bit surprised by how quickly things flew off the shelves. 


Every collection we grow and I get a little bit obsessive with tracking our growth from launch to launch but this caught me off guard. I figured since it was a pretty limited capsule it wouldn't draw much attention but I was wrong. So we're hunkering down to make some changes for our next launch to make sure we've got more inventory to go around and even more styles to choose from. I started doing mock ups for our Spring collection over the weekend and I found a gorgeous, gorgeous fabric to base the collection off of and it's already coming together so nicely!

I hope you've all been well,  enjoyed your weekend, and have fun things lined up for the week ahead. Now I'm going to hunker down and try to listen to the debate...people arguing back and forth tends to stir up my anxiety, so I'll be balancing out my desire to be informed with a comforting english muffin with nutella and a glass of sauvignon blanc. 

I've got a quick post lined up for tomorrow about how I manage/store all my photos, so I'll see you soon!

One Shirt, Three Ways, One Day

Alternately titled, I Looked Forever and Finally Found a Good Plaid Shirt and Now I Wear it Constantly.

I spent the Fall keeping my eyes peeled for a decent plaid shirt and struck out pretty much every time. They weren't long enough or were too boxy, the print was off, or the colors weren't right. Finally, I stumbled across two that I loved and I've been wearing them bordering on way too often. The first is this Old Navy version I'm going to talk about today and the other is this J Crew version that I ordered in a tall and love! They're both boyfriend style which is why I think I love them. They manage to be relaxed enough for my taste but are uniquely not boxy. The perfect plaid shirt combo.

When it comes to my personal style, I like to look like I've got my act together but it has to be functional. I'm never going to run around town in stilettos or a leather skirt, but if I can find a way to make a regular old shirt like comfortable, flattering, and versatile, I'm 100% in. The best example I can think of is yesterday. I wore my Old Navy plaid (this print isn't shown online, but the same style is linked!) shirt all day, but throughout the day somehow ended up styling it three slightly different ways to work with my schedule and thoroughly iPhone documented it. Since I feel obligated to pass along the most basic of style tips, here you are...

Morning: MDO drop off, WC launch, quick manicure, post office, and MDO pick up.


I had a really busy first half of the day that included a lot of running around so flats were necessary. I love plaid and distressed denim together and added the vest for a little warmth and to keep things interesting but still super casual.

Afternoon: walk/bike ride with the nugget to the turtle pond and a trip to the grocery store.

Old Jacket | Converse

I try to get outside with Liv in the afternoons to tire her out for bedtime and to take advantage of the nice weather when we've got it. The shoe change was necessary here since we ended up taking a two mile walk and it was a little chilly so I tossed on an old London Fog jacket I've loved for years.

Evening: Dinner out with my people


As we were on our way back from the pond, Ryan called and said he felt like Tex Mex so I knew I wanted to change out of the torn up jeans and into something still casual but a little more streamlined for dinner out. My J Brand jeans are my go to dark denim and I just snagged my favorite Dune London wedges in navy and now they're almost half off!

This is why this shirt has a permanent spot in my closet - it's easy to update throughout the day to adapt to what we're doing and I'm sure there are even more fun ways to style it like with a pencil skirt for an office setting, adding a glam statement necklace for date night (regretting not doing that now that I think of it), or so many others!


Willow Crowns' Valentine's Capsule

Happy launch day, friends!

Today we're launching the WC Valentine's Day capsule collection and even though the collection is smaller than our usual seasonal launches, it doesn't mean I'm any less excited!

I always try to give previews of the items available on Instagram but it's hard to show them all sometimes without spamming you more than I already do. I thought it might be fun to start a new blog series on the day of each launch to give you a look at the full collection (assuming you have little ones you're shopping for) and share a few behind the scenes details of each collection (assuming you're interested)! Here are the pieces in this capsule:











We actually started planning this capsule on Black Friday. As we were staying up until 2 AM monitoring the sales that were coming in, we were brainstorming Valentine's ideas because we knew this was going to have to happen fast. The Valentine's Day capsule has the quickest turnaround of any collection we launch during the year. Normally I try to dedicated 7-8 weeks to each collection but since we're busy with Fall, then Winter, and then Black Friday from August - the end of November, it left about 6 weeks total to make this one come together. When you consider that I spend a week traveling for Christmas, it knocks it down to 5 weeks which has to include sourcing materials, making mock ups, finalizing design decisions, and then there's the tiny little matter of producing them all and getting photographs done. Whew!

For this collection, I really wanted to keep it simple and classic before we forge into fun patterns and bright colors for Spring. Valentine's Day isn't even what some people consider a "real" holiday so I wanted pieces that would work for February 14th but would also be accessory staples before and after. With a lace headband and bow headband option settled on, I decided we should go heavy on the clips this time around since they always seem to be the first to sell out and there were lots of options I loved and just couldn't decide between.

This collection is launching today at 10 am CST at www.willowcrowns.com and I hope you love it and this little behind the scenes look! 

Weekend Photos

Another weekend in the books and now we're a whole week into January, which feels weird since Christmas seems like it was months ago. So far this year we've been focusing on time together, on working on our house, and on living in the moment. 

Our highlights this weekend? We drank about twelve pots of coffee, I prepped for Tuesday's launch, we spent lots of time outside enjoying the gorgeous weather, we relaxed,  got our backyard cleaned up and house cleaned, and Olivia mopped the bathroom floor with water from the toilet. When I found her she just looked up and said "how are you doing, Mommy?". Life in a nutshell, people. 








Our week is already filling up with lots of playdates, the WC launch (Tuesday at 10 am CST!), and I finally renewed my Y membership so I can get back into some reformer classes which I'm really looking forward to. All the Christmas cookies I ate are starting to make me feel sluggish so I'll be putting those yoga pants back to work!

A Week of Wear

I'm so happy to be back in the land of mild winters where my aversion to jackets (deeply seeded from a lifetime of bundling up for the majority of the year) isn't so crazy! I'm loving cozy sweaters and flannels right now and how easy they are to toss on with my favorite jeans and just stroll out the front door. By stroll I mean that we walk out the door thirty minutes later after last minute potty breaks, a twenty minute long period of indecision regarding which princess dress to don, and collecting all our My Little Pony figurines for the five-minute car ride to the grocery store. 

Anyway.


For: First day back from Vacation. The laundry situation? Bad. Grocery situation? Bad. My attitude? Badder. This was comfortable and required no thinking which allowed me to dedicate my limited post-holiday faculties to getting our lives in order.

Favorite Piece: J Crew Flannel shirt - I got the tall for length rather than ordering up a size which I often do when tall isn't an option because I like a little coverage on the bum area. I'm not finding this exact one, but linked a super similar item that's also available in tall. 


For: Errands, meeting a friend for a play date, working at WC

Favorite Piece: This Old Navy Tunic. Funny story...our bags were lost for a couple days when we got to Maine and I needed a new shirt desperately after 36 hours in the one I had on. Gross. I ran to Old Navy because I knew there was a flannel shirt there that I liked and saw this little number on sale so I snagged in on the way to the register. It's a pretty rust color which does nice things for my blue eyes (the humblest of brags, I know), it's nice and long, and a good medium weight for warmer winter days. 

a little p.s. is that these jeans are the *perfect* length for styling with lace up flats, something I've been struggling with!


For: MDO Drop off, getting my car inspected, post office, and lunch with friends

Favorite Piece: I've loved on this Old Navy sweater before and I'm not going to stop now. It's fabulous with heels (seen here) or flats, and is so so cozy. It was in the 40's when we left the house this morning and I just grabbed a scarf, no jacket necessary! Oh and it's almost half off right now.


For: Watching football with Ryan, grocery store, picking up new paint supplies with the babe

Favorite Piece: New nude flats! Because I didn't have enough? I'm the worst when it comes to nude flats. I just gave away four pairs to Goodwill to justify these because I really do love them. I had a pair of nude scalloped flats that gaped terribly at the sides and these are a big improvement (and a long awaited Black Friday find!)


Finally, a friend and I hit the Anthropologie sale this past weekend after stuffing our faces at Ruggles Green and while this wasn't on sale, I has happy to put my gift card balance towards this ah-mazing sweater. It's so soft you have to feel it to believe it, and it's the most gorgeous seafoam/aqua color. This was worn too many days in a row to admit. It's sold out now, but I had to share it in the hopes that it comes back in stock! UPDATE: This is back in stock AND marked down $30! Don't wait! 

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