Bubble necklaces

If you're like me, you've been lusting after all the lovely statement or "bubble" necklaces in stores right now, like this one at J. Crew ...

... which I happened to find for about $130 cheaper on Ebay - thank you Kelly at Twenty Six East for the advice!

Last weekend, the craze over these gorgeous gems reached new proportions, when four - yes, four - of my friends all showed up to a wedding in the same necklace - and I was one of them!

Even though I prefer to be the only one sporting a new bauble, I was happy to share the spotlight that night, as I'm pretty sure my friend Laura of Elle Boutique (who I wrote about here and here), sold many more to all of the admiring wedding guests.

Today, I'm wearing another "bubble" necklace I bought months ago from Peacock Plume, lost and then re-discovered hidden in one of my clutches over the weekend.

 Do you have a bubble/statement necklace you absolutely love? If so, where did you buy yours?

- Kara



Eat here: Los Alamos Market y Cocina

The West Side neighborhood (17th and Summit) is home to some of Kansas City's best eateries, including The Westside Local, Fervere (a phenomenal bread store), Blue Bird Bistro, and one of my personal favorites, Los Alamos.

Los Alamos is more of a hidden gem though. The outside of the place is decorated with lawn ornaments, and one quick look inside and you'd think it was only a market. The shelves are filled with various Mexican ingredients, groceries and some small toys. Head further into the store and you'll find a glass counter resembling the kind you'd see at gas stations filled with greasy foods like gizzards and fried chicken, only at this counter you'll discover some of the best Mexican food you'll ever have.

I hadn't been in awhile and this great article that recently ran in the Kansas City Star sparked me to visit my favorite breakfast place once again.

I ordered the chilaquiles while Matthew had the classic breakfast burrito filled with egg, chorizo, beans and potatoes. The food was so good that we had both already eaten most of it before I remembered to take pictures! (sorry about that!)

One of my favorite things (besides the awesome food) are these novelty piƱatas of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. A far cry from the ones we had at our childhood birthday parties!

So next time you're near downtown, head west and visit the West Side neighborhood. You'll discover a whole new Kansas City and an area that's worth visiting time and time again.

- Melina



Blogger event at J.Crew

Happy Friday! We're excited to share with you that one of our personal and blog dreams came true last night as we were invited to attend a private shopping experience at J.Crew! It was our first Kansas City blogger event, and we had such a great time. The best part was that all three of us were in town and able to go together!

We received an exclusive sneak peek at their drool-worthy fall line, and it didn't disappoint. We saw tons of navy and red, stripes, stripes, stripes and more stripes and color blocking continued to be a hot trend. I personally loved the selection of rainbow hued skinny belts. I've been wearing them a lot lately to highlight my growing bump!

We also had a wonderful time catching up with our friend and fellow KC blogger, Kelly. You MUST check out her blog, 26 East.

We walked away with lots of goodies (I even won a $100 gift card). Mom definitely scored with this adorable denim shirt-dress. We know she'll get lots of wear out of this when school starts back in a few weeks!

- Melina



Gram & Dun = Yum

Last night, my girlfriends and I celebrated the upcoming nuptials of Miss Jen with an impromptu and low-key bachelorette party on the Plaza. We met at Gram & Dun, one of my favorite locally-owned restaurants, for delicious apps and drinks, and stayed on for several hours to eat dinner and indulge in a few more drinks! Here are some gorgeous pics (not my own) of all the amazing food ... and the gorgeous exterior. Love that patio but not during this heat wave!

I enjoyed the Shishito Peppers for an appetizer, along with the French Onion Dumplings (I shared, I promise!), some lovely white wine and also the Fried Goat Cheese & Avocado salad (small serving which was actually plenty!) Everything was great, but I really wish I'd had the Short Rib Grilled Cheese - mmm, Maggie, thank you for allowing me a bite!

Here are all the girls after dinner - good luck Jen! You'll  be a beautiful bride, and we can't wait for our first wedding reception at Boulevard!

The bride is in pink in the back!


Revisiting a summer classic: drive-in theatres

At the start of this summer (before the temperature would hit 106 for several days straight), and when my husband and I found out we were pregnant, I made a list of all the things I wanted to do this summer. Some of them were pretty obvious, Royals games, trips to the pool, utilizing our grill (which never happens) and going to the drive-in movie theatre.

Matthew has never been to the drive-in, which is shocking to me since I remember going almost every weekend as a kid when we'd spend time at the lake. I have such wonderful memories of piling into the minivan with my parents and sister, setting out the lawn chairs and finding the right station on the radio so we could hear the movie. My mom has memories of going to the drive-in when she was a teen, but hers are a little naughtier than mine!

It saddens me that 1.) Matthew has yet to experience watching a movie outside and 2.) drive-ins are all but extinct now.

Luckily, we have a few left in Kansas City and if the weather is in my favor this weekend, I'm making the husband take me to the Boulevard Drive-In. This weekend they are playing the newest Ice Age and Dark Knight Rises, which may be slightly creepy given last week's tragic event.  Either way, I'm really looking forward to revisiting one of my favorite summer memories as a kid and experiencing a new one with Matthew.

Do you have any great childhood summer memories? I'd love to hear them!

- Melina



Choosing a paint color for the nursery

At 17 weeks pregnant and no work being done to the nursery yet, I'm starting to get impatient. We're waiting for our contractor to begin a few minor projects in the nursery before we can paint, and I'm eager for him to get started!  (He promised he'd have everything done by Sept. 1.)

In the meantime, I'm on the hunt for the perfect paint color. I mentioned back in this post, that we're going with an orange and aqua color scheme. I'm debating whether to go bold with the walls or keep them more neutral and serene. Below are a few nursery inspirations and Sherwin-Williams paint colors that matched. (note: I do not know the exact paint colors for these nurseries, these are just similar ones I found.)

paint colors left to right: SW bubbles, SW carefree, SW aqua tint
nursery photos via pinterest

 - Melina


Q & A with Elle

In addition to hosting a super stylish trunk show at my house on Sunday, the lovely ladies of Elle, Laura and Leslie, answered a few questions about how two BFFs from Hallmark ended up opening a boutique together in south Overland Park. Here's what they had to say:

How did Elle get started?
We have always admired each other's fashion sense and found ourselves trading style tips in the halls of our 9-5, and during play dates for our toddler boys. We always dreamed of owning our own boutique and thanks to Trendz that dream came true!! We're both passionate about fashion and love helping women discover their own style!

How did the two of you come up with the vision for the store and what kinds of apparel/products you'd feature?
We just love this name and since we're moms of boys we decided to put it to good use.  Love the magazine and it's also our "initials" (L)

Aesthetic:  Bold patterns & color in clothing and design (cobalt vintage mirror featured in our space was our inspiration for the booth decor and logo), we try to keep our space minimalistic and let the clothes speak for themselves.

Product:  Women's apparel, handbags, jewelry       

Brands:  BCBG Generation, Tulle, BB Dakota, Jack, Kensie, MM Couture, Miss Me, Ya, Mystree, Urban Expressions

Pricing: $10-$120

What are your favorite things to shop for at market?
We mainly carry dresses and tops so we're always on the hunt for fun, affordable, stylish new pieces when we hit up Dallas Market Center. We always pack an extra suitcase for cash and carry jewelry, we load up on tons of goodies!!!

What are some of your favorite items in the store/trunk shows now?
Ummm everything! :)  We're all about the jewels so we're currently obsessed with our bright, chunky baubles!  Since it's smokin' hot out, we're living in cotton casual dresses from BCBG, Kensie and Tulle. 

What kinds of things can we expect to see from Elle this fall?
 We head to market in a few weeks to make fall buys so stay tuned!!! 

Laura and Leslie, owners of Elle

- Kara



Crochet Ladies


Melina found this amazing series on one of our favorite blogs, A Cup of Jo, featuring seven moms and how they balance work/life/parenting. She suggested I answer the same questions, so here I go ...

What's your work schedule?
Chaotic. Truly, my schedule is never the same, especially now, in the summer, when my husband and girls are home every day. During the school year, the girls go to preschool/pre-k Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. That’s my time to work in daylight – I schedule meetings, work from home, spend time with some of my clients in the offices, etc. The rest is done after the girls go to bed at night, around 8 p.m., early morning (if I don’t press snooze) and on weekends.

Being silly on a weekday at home - glorious!

2. How do you handle childcare?
Like I mentioned before, the girls go to school two days a week at a church preschool just a few blocks away. (Sadly, we’ve only walked maybe 10 times in two years!) When I need extra help, I have several lovely babysitters – my cousin who’s in college and even my sister, now that she’s also working from home. Once she has her baby, I’m sure I’ll be returning the favor. We joke we’re like sister wives!

Sister wives with Mom and Yiayia

3. Where do you work during the day?
I either work from my home office/guest bedroom/craft area for the girls (see, chaotic, right?) or from one of my clients’ offices.  I have office space at two different locations around town, so I spend some time each week there. My final work spot is the Latte Land on State Line; there’s always a lot of energy there and little nooks to work in peace. Technology has made it possible to work anywhere – yesterday, I responded to emails and did a conference call  - all while getting my hair done!

I even worked from Florida earlier this summer!

4. What do you like best about your current set-up?
I feel like I get to do it all. I know that sounds silly and trite, and it’s not entirely true (something usually gets pushed to the backburner), but I do get to be a stay-at-home mom, while bringing in a great income for my family. It’s the best! On the days the girls are home with me, we do so much fun stuff – gymnastics or dance practice, regular runs to Starbucks, the gym, story time, play dates with friends, movies in the middle of the day all snuggled up in my bed. I can’t believe I’d miss all of that if I were working full-time in an office. Another thing I love – because I’m with them so much, I don’t feel guilty meeting friends for dinner and drinks or sending them to my parents’ house for the weekend from time to time. When I worked away from home when Evie was a baby, I couldn’t bear to be a part from her in the evenings or weekends, which meant I wasn’t a very good friend or wife – no date nights; I only wanted to be with my girl. Now I feel like my life has so much more balance – and my husband is much happier, too!

With my happy hubby in Nashville - a weekend away from home!

5. How did you decide to go freelance/start your own business?
I pretty much lost it when we found out we were pregnant with our second child just six months after having our first. I was already stressed and overcome with guilt from working all day and putting Evie in day care. Another child to part with every day? No way could I handle that. Fortunately, the company I worked for at the time understood (and saw clearly I was about to lose every last marble if something didn’t change) and gave in to my request to work from home. In the beginning, while I was pregnant with Nora, I worked in the office once or twice a week while a nanny took care of Evie and then spent the rest of the week sneaking in work during naptime and late at night. Once Nora was born, I made the final leap, quitting my full-time position and starting a contract with my employer for a set amount of hours and pay each month. This was such a safe way to go! I had a solid safety net! As time went by and my employer began hiring to round out the department, their dependence on me decreased – and so did my monthly checks. That’s when I actively started pursuing new clients. Today, I have anywhere from four to six regular clients, and I love the variety that brings. Every day is something new, and although chaos can be overwhelming, it’s how I choose to live my life – playing dress up with my girls one moment and finishing up a big project the next.



Day 1 of working from home

This morning was weird. It started off fine. Woke at 7:30. Met Kara for our first weekly Monday morning meeting at Latte Land and then came home . . . to work. Today is my very first day working from home. No more offices. No more bosses. Just me, at home, working. Weird.
I've already experienced a few kinks in my plan. 1. My iPad doesn't do nearly as much as I need it to (which may be the reason this post will look funky to you). 2. My "office" is in dire need of supplies/organization.
Here's a picture of what I'm working with. Yes, that's xmas wrap in the corner. Stop judging!

Here's my awesome assistant, who works for free but takes too many naps on the job.

Back to the grind!
Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Shopping and drinking wine = Elle Trunk Show

Last night I hosted a trunk show for my good friends Laura and Leslie, who started a boutique called Elle. They sell fashion-forward brands such as BCBG Generation, BB Dakota and Kenzie, in addition to trendy jewelry and other accessories.

The girls brought in racks of clothing. Some of our favorite trends were featured, including hi-low hemlines, bib necklaces and sheer tops. We all had so much fun shopping that we failed to take pictures. Sorry!

I walked away with an adorable dress that will look great belted and a few cute necklaces. See the Jacinda dress above by BB Dakota.

Melina took home an awesome maternity-friendly tank by Jack, that was only $28! (pic above)

We ended the night watching the bachelorette finale - yea Jef and Emily!

Laura and Leslie, thank you for showing your awesome selection of clothes last night.

Readers, if you'd like to shop Elle boutique, it's available at Trendz in south Overland Park and on Facebook.

- Kara



Colorado tragedy

I awoke this morning to my husband telling me the news of the shooting in Colorado.  By now, I'm sure you've all heard the details. James Holmes, 24, a PHD student living in Aurora, entered a movie theatre at the midnight screening of Dark Knight Rises and opened fire. He shot and killed 12 people and injured approximately 30, including a three-month-old baby.

It's a terribly tragic event that I can't comprehend. We ask ourselves the same questions after a shooting like this one. What was happening in this person's life that was so terrible he felt he needed to go and kill a bunch of strangers? Or, how did no one warn anyone that this person was in dire need of help? Or something that I find myself asking, are people really born this evil?

The shooting early this morning reminded me of a movie I had recently seen, which happens to be my book club's pick for next month called, "We Need to Talk About Kevin."

It's the story of a mother who has trouble bonding with her baby boy, who at the age of 16, consquently goes on a shooting rampage at his high school. It's a discussion about nature vs. nurture. If this mother would have been able to bond with her son as a baby, would he have grown up to be a better person? Or was this child born inherently evil? Is it the mother's fault for not showing him enough love or was there really nothing she could have done to change the outcome?

If you feel comfortable discussing, I would love to hear your thoughts on this. It's so heartbreaking.




The beginning of Baby Bland's nursery

After our recent trip to Ikea, Baby Bland's nursery is really starting to come together. We have yet to begin decorating since we're waiting on some work to be done in the room, but it hasn't stopped us from purchasing!

Inspiration for the room really started on Pinterest. I knew from the get-go that we wouldn't find out the sex of the baby, so I started looking for gender neutral colors that were modern and playful. We settled on orange and aqua, and I love the fresh and serene vibe it gives off. After we settled on colors, I started picking out things that felt special. Even though I cringe over the thought of hyper-themed nurseries, I will admit we have a slight animal trend going.

Can't wait to share pictures as the room develops, but here's a quick snapshot of items we've purchased or are on the shopping/registry list.

Baby Bland Nursery

Baby Bland Nursery by melina-bland on polyvore.com

left to right: Lotus Pendant Light (discontinued; found on ebay); Baby Mod Olivia Crib; gold moroccan pouf; Expedit shelf (used as window seat); sheepskin rug; aqua buddy pillowlion nightlight;  hippo clock;

- Melina


My Girls

I just realized - if there's anyone out there reading this blog who doesn't know me (dreaming!) - you don't know anything about my girls. Let me introduce Evelyn and Nora!

This was taken yesterday before gymnastics by their Daddy who is home for just another two weeks before school starts again. (My husbad, Mark, is a second grade teacher in an urban school district.)

So Evelyn or "Evie" is 4, and Nora is 3 - there's only 15 months between them. Yes, it was crazy at first. Yes, it's much better now! The girls love each other so much and spend most of their days playing together - or fighting - but I've been told that's totally normal among siblings so close in age. Melina and I are 4.5 years apart, so we never fought - but we also didn't have much in common until she was in college. I do love having the girls close in age, and it makes my heart melt to see them loving on each other.

So a little about each one ... Evie is all drama all the time and a total girly-girl. She's also a serious, deep thinker and very observant. She loves playing dress up, making up her own silly songs, dance, gymnastics and swimming - she is a fish! She'll start pre-k this fall.

Nora is much more laid-back and loves being the center of attention. She's always saying "watch me" or "me first" - anything to be front and center. Nora is also super funny and loves making everyone laugh. She also loves singing, dance, swimming, gymnastics, dress up and playing babies and princesses. She'll start preschool this fall!

I sure love my girls and hope you'll love reading about them too!