by gillian claire



Portraits of my boys, Summer 2017.

It's becoming so much harder to get pictures of my boys now that they are a little older. It pains me because they are my muses and my absolute favorite thing to photograph. On the last day of our stay in Somerset, KY I convinced them to let me take some photos in town. It was about 15 minutes of absolute bliss for me. It sounds dramatic, but that is truly how dearly I love to photograph my boys and I'm sure that some of you can relate! I'll have to split the photos up into two photo heavy posts but they just mean everything to me. 

Old painted walls + snapshots of two growing boys in the summertime.

Enjoy. :)

_MG_0060-3 Rome + Ash, June 2017_MG_0015_MG_0116_MG_0020_MG_0011_MG_0115\_MG_0053_MG_0089_MG_0049_MG_0023_MG_0010_MG_0063_MG_0068_MG_0071Then, their true personalities start to come out..._MG_0078_MG_0080

Our Road Trip via Instagram + Snapchat.

I feel like I have so many photos + ideas for summer blog posts that I just haven't gotten to yet! I hate only throwing out sponsored blog posts to you guys and I know that lately I've been a little guilty of that. I hope you know that I truly feel so blessed when I get a chance to work with companies. When I am paid to create content with a brand while making memories with my boys, I am living the DREAM! I could probably write a whole blog post about that in and of itself. I am officially working from home FULL TIME now running my own creative business and blogging part-time and working hard to find a balance!
I really, truly 100% appreciate you guys for reading along, sticking around and supporting me! <3
Ok, I'm getting back on topic now, which is to share photos from the beginning of our summer when we took a road trip to Kentucky! We have driven across the country with our kids so many times now that it's honestly like "oh hey let's just drive 21 hrs, no big deal." Ha! We tried to break up the trip a little bit extra this time around to make it more tolerable and enjoyable.

 Here are some highlights from Instagram + Snapchat!

Why is hotel coffee so good? It's one of my favorite parts of traveling. Also, hotel breakfasts! // We ran into some car trouble in Kansas so that was an adventure. This photo was taken at one of 2 car shops we had to stop at to get things back in order.

When the boys are sleeping during the car ride... praise Jesus! I'd also like to note that on day one of this road trip, Asher threw up ALL over the car. So yeah, stopping literally on the side of the highway while trying to clean out the car with baby wipes was also an adventure...

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We made a stop in Ohio for 2 nights so that I could see some of my favorite people! // I had a fun evening with one of my best friends, Angee, drinking wine + looking through old photos. We've been friends for almost 20 years now! // I also got to spend some quick but good quality time with my sisters, mom + grandparents! :)
We stayed in a big house in Kentucky with some of Aaron's brothers and childhood friends. // This was a working vacation for me and my first time working from the road which I have to say I was pretty excited about!

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Vacation coffee! (I know, awful nails- story of my life!) Somerset had the best coffee shop: Baxter's Coffee. Their caramel lattes were perfection.

I loved all the old painted brick buildings in Somerset! // Probably the best part of the trip for me was taking the boys for a quick photoshoot on the last day. I can't wait to share more of the pictures I took with my DSLR!

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Aaron, Asher and I took a day trip to Knoxville, TN! We've tossed around the idea of moving to Tennessee but honestly we didn't fall in love with Knoxville. The drive home through the foggy mountains was absolutely beautiful though!

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I stopped on the side of the road to catch this perfect view! I'm kind of (ok, extremely) a snob about the Rocky Mountains, but the Smoky Mountains did alright this night :)

We stopped for 2 nights on the drive down to KY and 2 nights back which really made the trip more enjoyable, although still pretty miserable by the end! On the way back, we decided to splurge one night on a fancier hotel. Our hotel was lovely and we got to enjoy walking around St. Louis and going out for a nice dinner but the kids for whatever reason were horrible this entire stay. Just goes to show you that kids don't really care about spending extra money. They are just as happy with Day's Inn and a Papa John's pizza!
Overall, it was a pretty good trip but I was definitely happy to pull up next to the foothills and be home by the end! What's the longest road trip you've done with your kids?
I hope you are all having a great summer!
Keep up with me on Instagram at @bygillianclaire :)


Our Back to School Countdown Bucket List!

*Sponsored Post: This post is sponsored by the Goldfish® brand but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.*
Here's a little video of our night at the Drive-In with Goldfish® brand!

How are we already in the second half of summer? After spending the first half traveling and having visitors, I feel like I'm still recovering and trying to fall into a summer groove. Stores are starting to display back to school everything and I'm trying to hang onto these last weeks with my boys at home the best that I can!
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I've realized that just being a working mom while trying to keep my kids fed and alive is honestly enough to exhaust me by the end of the day. It seems like I have to be very deliberate about planning fun things to do with the kids. When my boys were younger we were always out and about but in this busier phase of life, things are different! Heading into the back to school season, things are only about to get busier and crazier.

The boys and I love talking about and brainstorming "bucket lists". We often make one seasonally. It's a tangible way for the kids to see that we are indeed doing fun things and checking them off our list even if our typical days are very simple. The kids' summer has already been packed full of travel, family and new experiences but we put together a "Back to School Bucket List" of 10 things that we want to squeeze in before school starts!

This week we were able to check off the first thing on our list: going to the drive-in! The drive-in is practically in our backyard and it's the perfect, easy way to entertain the kids. I loved watching the sun set over the mountains as the boys' ran around before the movie started. We of course brought along some Goldfish® crackers which the boys snacked on before and during the movie.
Are Goldfish® crackers a staple in your house? We always have them on hand and they are the perfect snack to grab on our way out the door. I also love that Goldfish® crackers have no artificial flavors or preservatives!

Here's our "Back to School Countdown Bucket List!" What things are you hoping to do with your kids before school starts? Let me know in the comments; I'd love some more ideas!

Back to School Countdown Bucket List!

1. Go to the drive-in

2. Check out a new ice cream place in town

3. Go to the trampoline park

4. Vist a museum

5. Stay up late and have a movie night with Roman

6. Plan a special date one-on-one date with each of the boys (one each with Mom and Dad separately!)

7. Make homemade slime

8. Swim at the river

9. Back to school shoe shopping date

10. Several park, splash park + pool trips

Be sure to check out the Goldfish® Pinterest page for lots of other back to school and snacking ideas!

Why I Stopped Using Conditioner on My Dyed Blonde Hair // with New Wash!

*This post is in partnership with Hairstory Studio + also includes affiliate links. All opinions are my own and I only share products I love with you all! Thanks for reading along and supporting my family!*

I'm so excited to finally share with you a product that I've been using and loving since March!

     I've slowly transitioned to blonde hair over the past year and a half and it's definitely been a learning curve! One thing that I've finally made a priority is using better products on my hair. With my natural hair, I was basically a $2 Suave girl and my hair stylist has finally convinced me that what I could get away with on my natural hair just won't cut it on highly processed hair. 

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Before Photos: March 21, 2017

     When Hairstory reached out to me about their new detergent free hair cleanser, I was intrigued by the idea but hesitant to try something new and different on my blonde hair. The idea behind New Wash is using ONE product in the shower and not following with conditioner. Their theory is that the only reason we need conditioner is because shampoos (even sulfate-free shampoos!) are a detergent and therefore damage your hair! Using New Wash also prevents your scalp from producing as much oil and can eventually help you go longer between washes! (Similar to the no shampoo theory if you are familiar with that!)

     Gina at Hairstory helped to further ease my fears by explaining that their products are free from any harsh chemicals and instead use essential oils and naturally occurring ingredients such as jojoba oil and aloe. She also showed me this video which demonstrates how New Wash actually helps protect colored hair much longer than other products! 

     I agreed to switch to New Wash for 30 days but I was pretty skeptical about the idea of not using conditioner. I mean sure, cutting down to one hair product sans harsh chemicals sounds great but let's be honest, bleaching your hair blonde makes it SO dry. I definitely miss my shiny, healthy natural hair and even with biting the bullet and purchasing salon products, I haven't found anything that has worked wonders on bringing back it's natural texture. 

Week Two

     The first time I used New Wash, I was literally shocked at how soft it made my hair feel! It's the softest my hair has ever felt since I started going blonde besides getting actual conditioning treatments done at the salon. I put my hair up that evening for the gym and no joke, when I took it down from my ponytail after working out, I felt like I was in one of those ridiculous shampoo commercials because my hair fell down looking just as good as before I worked out. There weren't even any hair tie lines; it was crazy! 

     It did take my hair a few washes to transition to this product. The first time I used it, I woke up the next day looking like my hair needed to be washed even though I never usually need to wash my hair that quickly! My hair has since adjusted and I can go just as long between washes as I used to. (I can easily go a few days or more.) 
Week Three

     I have been using New Wash since March and I'm still really happy with it! The last time I had my hair done my hair stylist agreed that this is a worthwhile product and that it helped keep my blonde looking great! 

     Hairstory sent me their full line and I've really enjoyed trying out their other products as well. I love using their hair balm in place of hairspray. I just use a little in my hands to tame flyaways and I've also used it on the boys instead of hair gel! 
here I used the "Undressed" texture spray

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Week Four
hair color by: Allison Jonez Hair

     All of these photos were taken during the first 30 days that I switched to New Wash. You can see that my blonde still looks great after 30 days and I can tell that it's softer and healthier than ever! I do still use purple shampoo 2-4 times a month to help keep my tone. 

One tip that I do have about this product is that you'll need to spend a little extra time making sure you rinse it all out in the shower. I read a disclaimer about this and it's definitely true because this stuff will want to stick if you don't give your hair an extra rinse!

Now, if you are a fake blonde like me (hah!) please, please, please tell me all your hair secrets and favorite products below! 

Have you heard of New Wash? What are your thoughts?


Little Style // with Little Gypsy Finery.

Little Gypsy Finery provided product for this post.; all opinions of my own.
Thanks for providing for my family by reading along!
Summer is here which means a few new clothes for my little boys! Some of you  might remember when I used to do a ton of "Little Style" posts featuring clothing brands for kids. Roman, my 9 year old, is now officially in the stage of only wearing athletic clothes all day everyday. (We love Old Navy's active line for him!) But, my little Asher is still totally into wearing the cutest little boys clothes and I have a few fun styled posts planned for him this summer!
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I'm literally in love with this top from Little Gypsy Finery. It is so soft and thin and reminds me exactly of an 80s vintage tee which is just everything my dreams are made of basically. Luckily Asher agreed with me and had to have this shirt because he is dino-obsessed and "turquoise" is his favorite color. :)

All the heart eyes at these pictures!!!

Dinosaur Pocket Tee: c/o Little Gypsy Finery
Pants: Target
Sneakers: Cat + Jack line at Target

Be sure to check out the Little Gypsy Finery shop as well as their Instagram; they have some of the cutest things.

Use code: GYPSYFRIEND for 15% off!

10 Things You Don't Need In a Tiny Kitchen.

     Minimalism is a huge part of my life that I haven't really delved into on my blog but I want that to change! What some of you may not know is that we currently live in a 900 square foot condo as a family of 4 and yes, we chose this lifestyle! Choosing minimalism and living "small" is an alternative lifestyle that I've found difficult to express to others in my life. I'm hoping that by sharing about my choices, I will be able to connect with others and inspire them on their journey as well as share about this lifestyle with those who may not be familiar with it!

     Our kitchen is small you guys. I mean really small. I watch House Hunters and often see couples without kids and with larger kitchens than ours saying that their kitchen is way too small. The photo above was taken from the other side of this counter/bar space looking in. That's it! The bar on the other side serves as our only kitchen/dining room table as well. As far as our kitchen size, it is more than enough for me and it is our normal but I often find guests surprised at the things we don't have. When you live small and as a minimalist, there are a lot of things that you really don't need!

Here are 10 things that you don't need in a tiny kitchen:

1.  A Bunch of Different Appliances Paring down on kitchen appliances saves a lot of space! We have a very simple, small coffee maker (because coffee is a non-negotiable for me, duh!) and a toaster oven on our counter space. That's it! Some people will have other non-negotiables but for us we've never needed a crock-pot, bread machine, kitchen aid mixer, etc. 

2. A Microwave Ok, in full disclosure, we do currently own a microwave because it came installed within the cabinets in our condo.  However, in our last home we didn't have a microwave and it was perfectly fine! We used the toaster over to heat things up. To me, a toaster oven is a great appliance to own because it also saves energy by cutting down on oven use.

3. A Large Trashcan We simply use a little trashcan under the sink and line it with plastic grocery bags. With 4 people in the family, this does fill up fast. If it's full while I'm making dinner, I just hang another grocery sized bag on a drawer to fill with extra trash. Then after dinner, we take out the trash. You can always take an extra trash trip during the day; you don't have to have a giant trashcan in your home!

4. An Abundance of Counter Space I'm so used to having a tiny kitchen that I honestly don't know what most people do with ALL that counter space! The biggest problem with having a limited amount of counter space is that it becomes imperative to tidy the kitchen before cooking. I usually have to do a little counter tidying  to clear off any grocery bags, papers, snacks etc that have piled up during the day before I prepare dinner. Having less space for junk to accumulate though forces you to deal with the clutter more often which is one thing I love about living small.

5. A Pantry: We keep most of our dry food in two cabinets and those cabinets also include any spices, medicines and vitamins We also have a basket of fruit/vegetables on the counter and sometimes we have to use a little counter space for some overflow cereal. (Cereal is big with all the men in my family.) We also have a modest sized refrigerator. Tips to condensing food space are: only buy what you need and grocery shop often! Honestly, if I needed pantry space I could easily rearrange and use some of the closet space in our home because: with minimalism you don't have a TON of stuff filling your closets!


6.  "Formal" Dishes There definitely isn't any fancy wedding china in this house. We use simple white dishes, (some are even from The Dollar Tree!) and glass mason jar cups for our everyday eating and drinking. By everyday I really mean everyday; on Christmas and Thanksgiving we are still happy to use our mason jars and plain white dishes!

7. Excess Dishes Building upon #6, we also don't have very many dishes! All of our dishes fit on two shelves. You really don't need enough dishes to feed a whole church congregation.  When we do have guests, we usually grab some paper plates and disposable silverware to help out. I prefer that to having shelves filled with dishes that we rarely use. 

8. Drawers Full of Plastic You know what I'm talking about: all the water bottles, tupperware etc. The kids have a few plastic cups that are on the same shelf as the mason jars. We also have some glass and plastic tupperware and a few water bottles that we use often and are kept on one shelf and in one drawer with other items. You just don't need 20 plastic water bottles and 40 tupperware containers without lids hanging around.

9. Every Kitchen Gadget Ever Created All of our silverware and kitchen "tools" exist in two drawers and one has tupperware in it as well. Honestly there are so many kitchen gadgets out there that you really don't need and they all just take up precious SPACE! Figure out which kitchen tools you can do without. Use a fork as a whisk, a knife as a vegetable peeler, etc. Find the tools that are imperative to your family and forget the rest!

10. Cookbooks: Books are a hard thing for people to get rid of but unless you are a chef, pare down on the cookbooks, guys! Create a digital cookbook for yourself by collecting favorite recipes on Pinterest and only keep the cookbooks that you use often.


So there you have your first glimpse into our little home! 

Leave me a comment if you are a minimalist and/or living in a small space as well! Thanks for reading. :)

A Little Roman Update at 9 Years Old.

Sponsored Post: This post is sponsored by Fruit Shoot but the content and opinions expressed here are my own._MG_9773     
     I feel like Roman hasn’t made many appearances lately on my blog. He is NINE years old now, can you believe it? When I started my blog, Roman was only 3 years old and I was pregnant with Asher. Now my boys are 5 and 9 and life looks much different for sure!


     I figured it's time that I give you guys a little Roman update. We’re so thankful to be partnering with Fruit Shoot for this post. Fruit Shoot is a popular brand in the U.K. that has finally made it's way here! I don’t know about you guys but my kids pretty much freak out with excitement when they see anything pre-packaged and kid-friendly like these juices. It makes me feel good that these drinks have no added sugar!  They made for the perfect treat to take along for our photo shoot / park date so that I could capture some new photos of Roman doing what he loves best: playing soccer!

     It has been so interesting to see my children grow up and realize that they really have the same personalities that they were born with. When your baby is born, it seems impossible to picture them as a growing person with their own interests and unique gifts but as they grow up you start to see how their personalities have been there all along!


     Roman was the sweetest, quietest and easiest baby ever. I mean really. Those days are so sweet to think back to now. I was only 21 years old and Roman quickly became my little sidekick. He  would happily sit in the stroller while I shopped at the mall. We spent hours at thrift stores and took walks together in the neighborhood. He was always happy and went with the flow. We were attached almost constantly until he started public school during the second half of his Kindergarten year.

     Roman is still sweet as pie and he is definitely a very easy going kid. His teachers rave about him. School comes easily to him and he does very well there. Kids in his class seem truly drawn to Roman’s sweet and happy disposition.

     During first grade, Roman became full out obsessed with soccer. This obsession kind of came out of nowhere. When Roman develops an interest, he really dives into it full force. This is another one of those qualities that I started seeing when he was very small and that still shines in him today.

     I am not exaggerating when I say that since 1st grade, Roman has spent hours every day practicing soccer. It’s really fascinating to see. Roman has never really had a huge interest in toys. We don’t have video games in our house so he doesn’t spend time on that either. His absolute favorite thing to do is running around the living room practicing his soccer skills and kicking the ball against one of the walls. (Yes, we do allow this!) Roman spends a lot of his “screen time” watching YouTube videos and learning new soccer tricks. He has truly found his "thing" in soccer. Weather or not soccer sticks with him for life, I have loved watching the determination and passion that he has put into it and I know that these qualities will stay with him in whatever he chooses to pursue in the future.

     I am so genuinely proud (as we all are of our children) of our Roman. It’s a very strange feeling to have a 9 year old. This year, I feel like Roman has made that transition from a little kid to a big kid although honestly Roman has always had an old soul wisdom about him. He is truly a little wonder and I am so happy and blessed to have the chance to be his Mama.

     Thanks to Fruit Shoot for sponsoring this conversation. One thing that I always forget about, even ten years into mothering, is the benefit of bringing along snacks + drinks for my kids. These drinks were perfect to pack for the park and my kids loved the new fruit punch flavor. I really appreciate that they come in bottles as opposed to "pouches" and the resealable cap makes them so convenient! The boys and I made such fun memories creating this post together and spending time at the park. Roman loves these photos that we captured and he can't wait to share them on his Instagram. 

     Be sure to check out this link to find a retailer near you that carries Fruit Shoot! What are your kids' "things"?


Speaking of personalities, this photo sums up Asher's pretty well -hah!


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