Summer Slow Down with Flavor Your Life

Thank you, Moms Meet, for sponsoring this post, Summer Slow Down with Flavor Your Life. I was selected for this opportunity by Moms Meet; the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.

Summer Slow Down

We take every opportunity in the summer that we get to invite people into our home. We love hosting and cooking is the easiest way to gather a large group around our table. In preparation for Ollie’s 1st birthday party, we have also been spending our time tending to the yard, prepping the space for loads of people.

Something we use almost every day as we cook is olive oil. It’s great for so many things including baking, grilling, and making salad dressing. What I am learning though is there are so many different types of oils! Some are actually better for cooking, and some are better for dipping and dressings. Who knew?

As we savor our summer and slow down a bit to spend more time with our friends and family, I have been researching a lot on the different styles of oils for the recipes I have been whipping up. I recently discovered Flavor Your Life.

Flavor Your Life is funded by the European Union, Unaprol, and the Italian Ministry of Agriculture. They are dedicated to providing the latest in education for home and professional chefs alike on European Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the purest and freshest form of olive oil on the market and is 0.8% free of acidity. European olive oil provides the largest variety of flavors on the market due to climate, soil and time of harvest, making European olive oil the best kind to keep in your home for every occasion and recipe.

The most interesting thing that I have learned is that the greatest impact on taste is the type of olive tree (cultivar), region (which affects climate and soil) and time of harvest. European Extra Virgin Olive Olive, coming obviously from Europe, offers a vast array of flavor profiles, so keep a variety of oils in your pantry for different occasions. The olives harvested early in the season, typically late August, are under-ripe and produce oils that are greener, more bitter and pungent. The olives harvested at the end of the season, usually late November into December, are over-ripe and tend to taste mild and buttery.

There are also four major types of oil. Spanish oil is typically golden yellow with a fruity, nutty flavor. Italian olive oil is often dark green and has an herbal aroma and a grassy flavor. Greek olive oil packs a strong flavor and aroma and tends to be green, and french oil is typically pale in color and has a mild flavor. I also learned that for the best storage, olive oil should be kept someplace dark and cool (around 57° F, if possible), not on a counter or near a stove, and never in the refrigerator. We keep ours in the pantry but I’m starting to wonder if our pantry is ever that cool. You are suppose to keep the lid screwed on tight, and use your oil within 6 months of opening, and within 18 months of purchasing, which is no problem for us. Olive oil doesn’t last over a month in our home!

I was sent Zucchi Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Italy to try. I love that there is a QR code on each bottle that allows you to learn more about their oil and where it comes from! As I am learning more and more about what I am cooking with, this is a special extra touch to help fuel my curiosity! Here’s a great summer salad that I am loving that I paired with the extra virgin olive oil; it is delicious.

Summer Slow Down

Summer Simple Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 5 mini cucumbers, sliced into ¼'' coins
  • 2 cups mini sweet peppers, chopped and halved
  • 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons diced green onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. Add cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and mini peppers to a bowl.
  2. Drizzle olive oil on top.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Toss everything to coat.
  5. Garnish with diced green onion and fresh parsley.

 

5 Tips for Reading To Your Baby

5 Tips for Reading To Your Baby

One thing I knew even before Baby Ollie was born is that I wanted to make sure that reading was important in his life. Beyond the developmental components that reading to a baby delivers, reading was a big part of my childhood and I knew that I wanted it to be just as important in my little boy’s life. Additionally, being in the learning and development world, I know that readers tend to become lifelong learners and leaders, something else I wanted to promote for my kiddos.

In 2014, The American Academy of Pediatrics states that literacy promotion in the household is an essential component of primary pediatric care and advocates for reading to newborns.

Reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime.

So why would we not want to read to our little ones? Sometimes it’s just plain hard to make sure that it is our daily routine; however, I have found 5 easy tips to make sure reading is a part of Ollie’s daily life in hopes that he will love reading for the rest of his years.

5 Tips for Reading To Your Baby

5 Tips for Reading To Your Baby

Tip #1: Make it Part of Your Bedtime Routine

My absolute favorite time to read-aloud is right before nap or bedtime. It is a great way to tell Baby Ollie we are ready to bed and it is time to calm down. Plus I love the extra snuggles before we all go to sleep. Our nighttime ritual is typically bathing, lotion, pajamas, reading, and then feeding. We alway sit in the same rocker in his room with the lights dimmed and read by his bed stand light.

Tip #2: Read While You Wait

I always keep a few books in our diaper bag so that when the moment arrives, we have them on hand. They are great to pull out at a restaurant or at the doctor’s office to keep us company and include a unplanned story time in the moment. I also make sure that they are the type of books that I won’t get too upset if they disappear at a sitter’s house or at daycare. These two books with received free at his pediatrician’s office and they are perfect!

Tip #3: Sing and Read

You have a captive audience during bath time, so use these moments to play with language. Babies love songs and rhymes so sing the stories that you have learned from reading. This will allow just another time in the day to have your baby connect story, and song, to a pleasurable experience. Baby Ollie loves baby time and sometimes we will tell stories through his bath toy characters. This allows his to soak on more language and connect with words over and over.

5 Tips for Reading To Your Baby

5 Tips for Reading To Your Baby

Tip #4: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

I stumbled upon this article the over day and just fell in love with it. I know some parents hate reading the same book over and over to their kids as they grow into their toddler years; however, it is actually super beneficial. By repeating the same book over and over, it helps your children develop a better vocabulary and word recognition, pattern and rhythm, fluency, comprehension, and confidence.

Right now, we are reading one book a season every night as part of our bedtime routine. Pippin the Penguin is the most adorable rhythmic story about a penguin in the snow… perfect for winter and we’ve loved it so much we have continued it into summer. No judgement here. Ollie sits in my lap every night and holds his own Pippin as we read. As summer continues along, we will find a new book to read over and over every night. I look forward to our “bed time book” may more than even he does at this point!

Tip #5: Play with Books

Keep your baby books in your home where your baby can reach them and encourage them to play with books. We have books on a reachable shelf in his nursery and in his play room. I try to keep an assortment of board books for him to explore through and, of course, chew on. The nicer books with paper pages and ones that I want to keep nice are on high shelves but still visible in each space. Right now he loves turning the pages on his own!

Weaving stories into baby’s routines each day will help create a future reader and lifelong learner. Run, grab a book, and read to your little one today!

Summer Bucket List with an Infant

Summer Bucket List with an Infant2

If you remember way back in January, I chose a word to live by in 2017 — Savor. It is a daily reminder to myself that I need to slow down, pursue less, and enjoy the moment. Savoring isn’t about making the most of the year in a more is more type of way. Savoring is more about sitting and dwelling on the moment, specially to appreciate it.

To savor is to have intentionality with time. To see what is happening and make a mental, physical, and emotional decision to enjoy. To collect the moments in time that are occurring right in front of me and allow myself to receive the happiness it provides. To delight in my child’s laughter and find pleasure in the warmth of a hug from my husband.

I love lists. I make them whenever is possible; however, I almost stayed away from a summer bucket list. I did not want to push the calendar full this summer. I did not want to cram ourselves with unrealistic expectations or desires that inevitably we would fall short. But then I remember that the little things that I can savor in can make our summer and I want them to evolve around three things: community, water, and food.

I did not come up with this on my own honestly. I stumbled upon a Today Show clip which lead me to this article and of course, it was the brilliant idea of one of my favorite author’s, Jessica Turner. But who cares? I love the idea… and although Ollie is not old enough yet to shout out his requests, I can ensure that our summer will be great and we can do things to make this an amazing time to savor. So here is our summer bucket list.

  1. Play in the sprinkler
  2. Splash in the pool
  3. Wear some shades
  4. Enjoy some ice cream
  5. Go to the park
  6. Catch fireflies
  7. Look at the stars
  8. Visit the zoo
  9. Color with sidewalk chalk
  10. Host a neighborhood barbecue
  11. Be amazed by fireworks
  12. Plant a garden
  13. Splash in a puddle
  14. Go to the drive in theater
  15. Visit a farm
  16. Blow bubbles
  17. Go on a hike
  18. Celebrate Ollie turning one!
  19. Throw an outdoor dinner party
  20. Enjoy a backyard campfire

Summer Bucket List with an Infant

11 Months Old

Eleven Month

It takes a village to raise a little one… and Mr. Ollie Hayes, you are no different. Mom and dad left for a full week this month and thank goodness for our friends and family that love keeping you. You love everybody so it is easy. You joyously go into their arms and giggle and smile at all.

You have eight teeth now and are really working hard on your molars… so hard that you keep getting ear infections. You also may be allergic to the seasons changing. Don’t worry, we all are. It’s no fun.

You can walk and dance and you love doing both. The other thing that you love doing is opening up cabinets, which in turn required us to baby safety lock all of the cabinets in the kitchen. I thought I could get away without doing it… and alas, you win again. You walk around with a ball in one hand and a book in the other. I love it because it makes me think that you are equal parts of your father and me.

You have started sleeping really poorly at night for your first time in your life. If you could knock it off, we would appreciate it; however those ear infections, weaning, and teething are not necessarily helping you any. It’s okay though. You’ve learned quickly that we love cuddling with you in our bed…

You give the best kisses, all open mouthed and slobbery. But you have started biting too. You can’t be a biter so we’ll work on that. You still love food and are so happy. I love that you are my little one Mr. Ollie. I love it.

I miss my little buddy this morning lots. Even if he was a tornado in every room he visited yesterday. 😂 #olliehayes

"I believe all of life is shot through with God’s presence, and that part of the gift of walking with him is seeing his fingerprints in all sorts of unexpected ways." @sniequist #olliehayes

So if he's standing here banging on the glass and yelling, "Da da da..." do you think he's ready for @dustn_b to come home? #olliehayes #daddysboy

The men in this family just can't hang. #olliehayes

month eleven: what I hope I never forget

how you can finally walk and you walk everywhere!

how you meow at Lucy when she meows

how you can eat an entire adult-sized meal while maintaining your petite-sized figure

how much you work at matching up your shapes in your toys

how much you love ice cream

the joy you get from being outside

your first week away from mom and dad

how happy you get on the phone when you hear our voices

your second and third ear infections

how much you love in cuddle in bed with us

Shop Small :: CinderEllie Designs

Thank you, Cinder Ellie Designs, for sponsoring this post, part of the 2017 Shop Small Spring series. I was selected for this opportunity by Cinder Ellie Designs; the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

CinderEllie Designs

It has officially been one week since we have returned home from Disney. Life hits us, of course, the moment we got back. Ollie has gone from baby steps to running, literally. We had our anniversary to celebrate as well as Mother’s Day. And our refrigerator went out! I know life is full of ups and downs but this week we were just full!

Thankfully, I have a ton of Disney things still on my mind to keep the magic in the air. One is our final shop in our Shop Small Spring series, CinderEllie Designs. Her flowy tank was just perfect for our waterpark day at Typhoon Lagoon! I absolutely adore it. The color is something that I don’t have a lot of so I keep finding myself grabbing it from my closet as a top that’s a bit different than my normal routine. I love the glitter print as well!

If you are heading down to Disney, use the code “springfling17” for 20% off at her shop through the end of the month! Also, head on over to our Instagram page today for a special giveaway with her and Ellie ‘n Ollie, our new magically inspired tee shop!

CinderEllie Designs

Here is a little bit more about Ashly, the owner of Cinder Ellie Designs:

How did you get your shop started?
After leaving the classroom in January 2016, I found myself a little flustered. I’m a creative person, and my house was always cluttered with projects that I couldn’t wait to start. I am truly blessed with a patient man for a husband because he is always supportive and must have known I NEEDED a creative outlet. I started making my daughter shirts with the machine I had once used to make bulletin boards and activities for my students.

In August, my former student and babysitter asked me if I had thought about selling shirts. I laughed at her and asked her what she wanted me to make her. I made her a few shirts, and her comment sparked my interest into researching the possibility of opening my own shop. It was kind of a snowball effect of me making things for her and her family which turned into more requests from more people. I quickly needed a way for my friends and family to easily reimburse me for the things I made. At the end of the month, I jokingly created an Etsy page.

In September 2016, I launched my Facebook page and uploaded a few designs to my shop. I feel incredibly blessed to have done so well in such a short amount of time. CinderEllie Designs has been an incredible creative outlet while also helping me stick to our budget (most of the time) and helping out with a little income.

What is the hardest part of owning a shop?
The hardest part of owning a shop is the fact that I want everyone I reply to via message on Etsy to be absolutely ecstatic about their experience with CinderEllie Designs–regardless of if they order a product from me or not.

I have said yes to rush orders I probably should have said no to because I empathize with my fellow procrastinators. My husband gets asked countless times each week for approval of each order I ship out. We once spent 30 minutes on a shirt that had an odd layout- scrutinizing it to ensure it was absolutely centered. I just want to make sure everyone has a great experience with CinderEllie Designs, and the perfectionist side of me comes out in full force with each order.

What is one thing unique about you?
I am great at making little-bitty pieces of paper. That was actually what my dad warned my husband about before we got married. Since I was little, I have always loved crafting. With crafting comes messes. And tiny pieces of paper. I got in trouble in Kindergarten because I thought the grass we were cutting out of construction paper for a picture we were making would look better cut a different way. I stayed in from recess that day. Give me a pair of scissors and a hot glue gun, and I can conquer the world.

What is the best part of owning a shop?
The absolute best part of owning CinderEllie Designs is making someone’s event even more special. I have helped announce pregnancies, celebrate birthdays, and coordinate outfits for magical vacations. I love that I am a part of so many happy milestones in complete stranger’s lives. That probably makes me weird. Or creepy. But it’s true. I also love that CinderEllie Designs gives me a creative outlet, and I have complete ownership of what I do in my small business.

How did you get your shop name?
My daughter’s name is Ellie. When we are being silly, I’ve always called her CinderEllie. Her favorite Disney princess was Cinderella for a time, and she went through a period where she would hide her left shoes (only her left shoes). When I opened the Etsy shop, I knew most of my designs would be inspired by her loves and interests. I immediately knew CinderEllie Designs would be my Etsy shops name for this reason. She’s a strong-willed, spunky little girl. Could there be better inspiration?

What is one way that you keep organized?
Organization something I am still working on. Like I said, I literally opened this shop almost as a joke. I have envelopes for each month of the year. I also use Etsy to keep my current orders organized. My husband is also amazing at creating spreadsheets, so he helps me keep up with inventory and numbers.

How do you balance family life and work life?
Sometimes I completely fail at the balancing act, but I try to keep designated days/nights for CinderEllie Designs. I also have pulled many late nights so I didn’t miss out on anything in Ellie or my husband’s life. Other times they go on Daddy-Daughter dates so I can focus on getting orders out. I travel for work part-time, so I’ve had to get a lot better at using the Google Calendar app on my phone to keep track of where I’ll be each day and what days I will be fulfilling orders. I also recently moved my workspace to a room that is not directly attached to my house. Having a designated, separate space for home and CinderEllie Designs has helped with my family/work/CinderEllie Designs balancing act immensely.

Animal Kingdom Photo Shoot with Cherry Blossoms by KC

Thank you, Cherry Blossoms by KC, for sponsoring this post, part of the 2017 Shop Small Spring series. I was selected for this opportunity by Cherry Blossoms by KC; the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Cherry Blossoms by KC

We are still enjoying the Florida sun this week at Disney! It has been just a perfect glorious week! We spent Monday at one of our favorite parks, Animal Kingdom. Did you know how perfect Animal Kingdom is for a photo shoot?! We took so many pictures!! I personally love mini-photo shoots at Disney but I typically think of Magic Kingdom for these types of things. Not anymore! Animal Kingdom is starting to become one of my favorite parks and this is just another reason why!

I will do a complete list of all of my favorite places to take photos on property soon… but until then I am loving my 101 Dalmatians mouse ears from Cherry Blossoms by KC! They were the perfect “animal” ears for a day at Animal Kingdom without going all safari on everyone — not that anything is wrong with that either. The ears are made out of white with black spot fabric. The headband is hand covered with black ribbon and the center is adorned with a red sequin bow. They are so lightweight and great for a full day at the parks! They also stayed in place on my head on all of the rides. I did take them off for Expedition Everest, but I would hold on to all of my valuables on this ride regardless!

If you are heading down to Disney or have a little one who just loves puppies (I’m thinking puppy-themed birthdays as well!), use the code “BAHORICHABODE” for 10% off at her shop! Also, head on over to our Instagram page today for a special giveaway with her and Ellie ‘n Ollie, our new magically inspired tee shop!

Cherry Blossoms by KC

Cherry Blossoms by KC

Cherry Blossoms by KC

Cherry Blossoms by KC

Cherry Blossoms by KC

Cherry Blossoms by KC

Here is a little bit more about Kristen, the owner of Cherry Blossoms by KC:

How did you get your shop started?
It all started with a trip to Disney World in November 2016, where my best friend and I had created several pairs of ears for our trip. We had so many cast members and other people from around the parks asking about our ears and even had a guy try and buy a pair I was wearing one day. Once we came back from our trip I had multiple people asking me to make ears for their next trip to Disney. With all the interest people were showing in the ears, I decided why not create an Etsy shop. On February 2017, I opened my shop and have been loving every second of it.

What is the hardest part of owning a shop?
I would have to say trying to do to much. Since I am a new shop and love to craft, I have so many ideas of different ears that I want to make and sometimes I put to much on myself at one time. My husband is great at helping me stay on track so I don’t get to overwhelmed.

What is one thing unique about you?
Well, when I say that I’m a Disney nut, I am not just saying that. I have been going to the parks since I was born, my parent’s honeymoon was there, I got married at the Polynesian and have been a pass holder since 2004. Disney is in my veins and I want to help create everlasting memories for my customers.

What is the best part of owning a shop?
Being able to create something that can make someone, whether older or younger, have an even more magical trip to Disney. I have so many memories of going to the parks and to help someone else have wonderful memories is such an amazing thing for a Disney nut like me.

How did you get your shop name?
Well, I didn’t want to limit my shop to only Disney products so I wanted a name that was unique and said something about me. I am a lover of nature and beauty and the Cherry Blossom tree is so beautiful and so my name was created.

What is one way that you keep organized?
My favorite organization tool in my craft room is my pegboard my husband made for me. Everything is right there in arms reach from my scissors to my thread and glue.

How do you balance family life and work life?
It’s not an easy thing to do sometimes but I have a great family that is understanding. I try and not make any ears on the weekends and leave that time for the family. I also try and fill all my orders while my step daughters are at school and my husband is at work. It doesn’t always work out that way but I do my best to always have my family come first.

A Birthday Celebration with Princess Powers

Thank you, Princess Powers, for sponsoring this post, part of the 2017 Shop Small Spring series. I was selected for this opportunity by Princess Powers; the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Princess Powers

As I mentioned yesterday, we are living the dream in Disney this week! We are staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge for the first time and I am loving every minute of it. So far we have explored so many great shops at Disney Springs, headed over to Typhoon Lagoon for my 31st birthday and then ended the evening at Boma!

My birthday was just darn perfect. We didn’t really get to celebrate a big 30th birthday for me last year as we were super pregnant with our little Ollie, so here we are solo parents kidless for the week for my 31st! If you have never been able to check out Animal Kingdom Lodge or Boma, you are definitely missing out! I will have a complete review of both super soon.

But until then, let’s talk about this super adorable mouse ear shop — Princess Powers. I just loved wearing her ears for my birthday celebration dinner! It was so perfect. Her ears are a bit different than others, more lightweight and floral gorgeousness (is that a word?)! I absolutely knew that her Jasmine Wire ears would work best for me because I wear so much darn aqua colored clothing! I was slightly concerned about packing these in my suitcase, but good news! They travelled so well and held up great even in checked luggage!

If you are traveling to the parks soon, or just need something to make your day feel extra special, I would definitely check out Princess Powers! Also, head on over to our Instagram page today for a special giveaway with her and Ellie ‘n Ollie, our new magically inspired tee shop!

Princess Powers

Princess Powers

Princess Powers

Princess Powers

Here is a little bit more about Jen, the owner of Princess Powers:

How did you get your shop started?
I started my shop after wanting a pair of lightweight, floral ears to wear to the park. I thought I wanted to wear a Rapunzel pair, but after making them I changed my mind and decided to Disneybound as Cinderella and ended up making her too. Eventually, my girlfriends saw them and thought they were so cute so I made a lot of the iconic princesses to share with them. Once I realized I had a lot of extra flowers, I made an Etsy shop to get rid of all the leftover supplies in my house. They became more popular than I could have imagined, so I decided to continue making them.

What is the hardest part of owning a shop?
Everything involving inventory has been the most difficult part for me. I always under or overestimate the amount of different flowers I need, so a lot of times I’ll have a certain princess-inspired pair of ears that will be out of stock until I am able to get the needed flowers.

What is one thing unique about you?
I am a licensed educator, but I currently work in the education department at a zoo and I absolutely love it! I’m trained to handle exotic mammals and reptiles.

What is the best part of owning a shop?
I love seeing people love and wear my creations! It’s so crazy to me that someone chose my ears to wear on their trip to Disney!

How did you get your shop name?
A lot of people wonder why our shop name is ‘Princess Powers’. Well, here’s the answer: Since I was young I always wished I was a princess. After all, I grew up watching all the fairytales in the form of movies and dreamed about beautiful gowns, castles, and of course, Prince Charming. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that all of those things are not what being a princess is all about. Being a princess means standing up for what you believe in, and it means having courage, while also showing kindness even when things don’t seem to be fair. Therefore, ‘Princess Powers’ means nothing more than having the abilities to be a princess in real, everyday life and using those abilities to make the world a little bit better.

What is one way that you keep organized?
My husband bought me these bins from Home Depot (I’m pretty sure they’re for tools–haha!) to keep all of the flowers, headbands, ribbon, etc… organized! They have been a lifesaver. Also, I keep a planner book and write down when orders are due to be made, shipped, and delivered.

How do you balance family life and work life?
Has anyone figured out this answer yet? …. 🙂 When you do, let me know!

Shop Small :: Mouse Apparel

Thank you, Mouse Apparel, for sponsoring this post, part of the 2017 Shop Small Spring series. I was selected for this opportunity by Mouse Apparel; the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Mouse Apparel

Goodness gracious and all of the magic feels! We are hanging out at Disney this week and let me tell you… We are loving it! We left our little man at home and are enjoying some great adult Disney time!! As I prepped for this Disney trip, I managed to find some amazing small shops that I cannot wait to share with you this week!

First thing’s first, let’s talk about the awesomeness of the small shop, Mouse Apparel! Her tees are incredibly magical and I honestly could not choose… so of course, I went with my gut and eyed up a perfect Dole Whip lovers tank.

We love Dole Whip around here and honestly, I cannot believe it took me all these years to discover its magic. I have only been a Dole Whip lover for a few years, and considering all of my years of loving Disney — I’m not sure why it took me so long!

So check out Mouse Apparel for your next trip! I’m loving her newest design, “Happy with a 100% Chance of Disney,” tee. It’s a little play off a weather forecast, and the weather is always good in both California and Florida. How cute!! And use the code “BAHORICHANDMOUSE” for free shipping on all orders until 5/31/2017. Yes please…

Also, a side note that I’ll talk more about later… but we opened our own magically inspired tee shop yesterday! Head on over to our Instagram account for a giveaway opportunity for your own shirts from Mouse Apparel and our shop, Ellie ‘n Ollie!! Hurry, it’s only for 48 hours!!

Mouse Apparel

Mouse Apparel

Mouse Apparel

Here is a little bit more about Adrienne, the owner of Mouse Apparel:

How did you get your shop started?
My husband and I have always had the entrepreneurial spirit. In 2015, both of us were working corporate jobs, caring for our first baby, and trying to keep it all together. We needed a business I could do from home, that we were passionate about, and that would afford us the time for me to be home with our daughter.

Like a light bulb, one morning John said, “What are the two things Adrienne knows best… Disney and Christmas!” and the idea to create shirts inspired from the parks and movies I’d always loved was born. It seemed so simple, how did we not think of this before?!

Immediately we went to work on researching how to start a home based t-shirt shop, and though no path to success is smooth, every challenge we faced was only a speed bump in our path to reach those goals. Now I work on Mouse Apparel full time and spend every day with our little girl! We may be a little shop, but the time I have with her is more valuable than the work I did in the corporate world.

What is the hardest part of owning a shop?
It’s all on YOU. You manage every aspect of the business; from customer service, production, accounting, investing in equipment and technology, marketing, promotions, everything! There is freedom in asking a boss what to do when you’re in a new or uncertain situation, but when YOU’RE the boss, you have to rely on your research, advice from those you trust, and your gut. But I’ve found as long as you ask, “What is the right thing to do for my shoppers,” those answers come easy.

What is one thing unique about you?
One thing that is unique about me is I still haven’t grown up. I will always be a Disney kid and believe in magic. I cry during World of Color and Fireworks shows, skip through the streets of New Orleans square, and will always have room for a Dole Whip. Being at Disney reminds me of all the good spirit people have within them.

What is the best part of owning a shop?
My FAVORITE part is the positive response from my shoppers. Seeing photos, reading great reviews, and knowing something I created helped make their Disney memories even better is so fulfilling. It’s what makes creating a business inspired by your passion so worthwhile. Also, my husband and I are a phenomenal team, in both work and parenting, so working with him has been one of the best parts too.

How did you get your shop name?
This one is pretty simple 🙂 Apparel was necessary so everyone knows we sell clothing. Mouse was a nod to the big guy… Mickey!

What is one way that you keep organized?
Lists, lists, and more lists. This helps me sleep better and I feel accomplished when I complete a to-do list (which motivates me into wanting to create more accomplishments!)

Goal setting is so important to organization. You can’t reach your finish line until you hang it up! So no matter what I’m working on (a daily schedule, or a monthly prep meeting for the shop) I always have a written goal to reach.

How do you balance family life and work life?
I am a stickler for schedules – especially my toddler’s. She sleeps at the same times every day, so I get right to work as soon as she is down. Having a home based business allows me the freedom to work whenever so I get most of my work done after she goes to bed. We plan on having another baby, so I’ll have to revisit this answer when I’m managing two nap schedules!

When you own your own business or any creative passion, you never turn it off. We are always thinking of new designs, or where we’ll take this shop next. For us, that balance works, because even though we are always talking about the shop, we do so while spending time with our daughter.

10 Months Old

Ten Month

Baby Ollie, I don’t know what to say. Each day you are growing into a little person and so much less like a baby. We are starting to wean you which honestly breaks my heart. You are getting better at taking steps and are up to eight teeth now. You eat solid foods like a teenage boy and I cannot keep up with how fast you crawl. Please. Stop. Growing.

Baseball season. We are ready for you. #cardinals

Dude hates the sun, loves the bunny. #olliehayes #easter

Ollie meets baby chicks. 🐥 #olliehayes

I got myself some fine looking men. #olliehayes

A pretty satisfying Easter if you ask #olliehayes 🐰🐣

Always so deep in thought and Mr. Observation. #olliehayes