safe toys for babies + toddlers

Last weekend we went to the flea market and I found a really cute vintage Fisher Price Circus Train set from the 70's. And then, after doing a little research on Google I quickly discovered that most toys from the 1970's used lead paint!! Children who are exposed to lead can develop headaches, stomach pain, behavioral problems, and anemia. Lead can also affect a child's developing brain. We all learned about the dangers of lead exposure for children after the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, but I didn't think I had to be worried about lead in children's toys! I found this information about toys from the CDC really interesting:

Paint: Lead may be found in the paint on toys. Lead was banned in house paint, on products marketed to children, and in dishes or cookware in the United States in 1978. But it is still widely used in other countries and therefore can still be found on imported toys. It may also be found on older toys made in the United States before the ban.

Plastic: The use of lead in plastics has not been banned. Lead softens the plastic and makes it more flexible so that it can go back to its original shape. It may also be used in plastic toys to stabilize molecules from heat. When the plastic is exposed to substances such as sunlight, air, and detergents the chemical bond between the lead and plastics breaks down and forms dust.

Needless to say I won't be buying any more vintage toys, and in the future I'm going to try to do a little more research on where Vi's toys are manufactured and what materials they use. I found some great non-toxic and environmentally friendly toy options:
  • Plan Toys makes all of their toys in a sustainable factory in Thailand, and they only use non-toxic paints and materials.
  • Grimm’s Spiel and Holz is a wooden toy company based in Germany. They make high quality, handcrafted toys from sustainable hardwoods and then finished the toys with water-based stains and/or linseed oil.
  • EverEarth toys are made from sustainable, FSC-certified wood, and water-based dyes.
  • Maple Landmark has made eco-friendly, educational wooden toys, games and gifts in Middlebury, Vermont since 1979.
  • Bannor Toys is based in Iowa, they make non-toxic handmade wooden toys either left unfinished or finished with beeswax and/or flaxseed oil.
  • Under the Nile specializes in 100% fair-trade, GOTS certified, organic Egyptian cotton toys and clothing.
for toddlers: Plan House Dollhouse (I'm adding this to Vi's Christmas wish list!) / Plan Toys Farm Animal Toy Set / Plan Toys Camera (Vi plays with this all the time) / Plan Toys Fruits and Veggies (I like how you can cut the fruit apart) / EverEarth Jr. ramp racer race track / Grimm's Pastel Rainbow Stacker Set XL size ( a smaller Rainbow in Primary Colors is also available)
for babies: Natural Maple School Bus / Plan Toys Stacking Ring / Under the Nile Scrappy Cats / Grimm's Rainbow Bead Rattle / Plan Toys Dancing Alligator / Bannor Toys Heart Rattle
Green Toys is another great company! Their toys are made in the USA and use 100% recycled plastic from milk jugs that are free of BPA, PVC and Phthalates.

for toddlers: Tea Set (Violet got this set last year and she still plays with it all the time) / Airplane / Dump Truck / Farm Playset (on Vi's Christmas wish list) / Sand Play Set for babies: Shape Sorter, Elephant-on-Wheels

Do you have any more eco-friendly / non-toxic toy brands that I should check out?

p.s. See my toddler toy picks from Etsy here!


loving lately: black + white

If you couldn't tell by my office space post a few weeks ago I'm really loving black and white lately. And to be honest, I wear something black almost every day. Here's a few cute black and white picks for mama + mini:
la luna art print / tie-shoulder eyelet top - there are so many things to love about this top! the ruffles, scallop hem, and eyelets are so pretty / tassle ball earrings - so retro and fun / serena sandal in black - I have these in tan and I LOVE them! / scalloped shorts - these have been on my wish list forever / isa slide sandal / embroidered floral top - okay technically this is navy and white, but I'm obsessed with the floral pattern / liam waterproof booties - on sale $99 from $149, I've tried on a million pairs of booties and these are one of the first pairs that I've liked -- but unfortunately I can't find a size that fits! ugh... so bummed, they would be great for Fall and Winter because they are waterproof! / lace liana triangle bralette - pretty and only $32 / into the woods art print

softspun cap sleeve tee - I bought a different softspun sweater last Fall and it's SO comfortable! / slim ribbed stripe tee - you can never have enough stripes! / bien fait tote bag - this would be cute to take to the library or farmer's market / ruffle tank top / gibson twist front sweater (not pictured) - on sale for $40 - I bought this in burgendy and now I want it in black too!

It's surprisingly difficult to find cute black and white clothes for toddlers, but I found a few things for my two-year old:
bow headband / kissing mickey + minnie mini melissas - these are about half the price of these new ones / eyelet three-quarter bell top / skinny polka dot pull-on jeggings / mosaic bow romper - I want this in my size! / panda pjs  



friday five

Happy Friday! I'm linking up with ChristinaApril, and Natasha to share five things:
ONE: We still haven't transitioned Vi out of her crib. She sleeps great at night and she isn't trying to climb out, so I don't really want to mess with it. But when she's ready for a "big girl" bed I already have her sheets picked out! I just bought a set of heart twin sheets and I love the rainbow and rocket ship prints too. Mamas, what do you recommend -- keeping your toddler in a crib with the toddler rail? or should we just switch her to a twin size mattress on the floor right away?
pink adidas / cubs light blue / gray adidas
TWO: I've been helping H with a lot of outdoor yard work lately, and it'd be nice to have a baseball hat to keep the sun out of my eyes. I'm not into sports at all so I'd rather not get a hat with a team logo. Although, the light blue Cubs hat is cute...and I've been to Cubs games before that makes it ok right?

eyelet criss cross tank dress / eyelet spaghetti strap dress / in my shopping cart: floral romper
THREE: I keep finding super cute clothes for Vi -- thank you Gap reward points! She officially has a much better wardrobe than I do. Too bad she usually insists on wearing the same dress ALL the time. It's getting so bad that I have to hide some of her favorites.

FOUR: What have you guys been watching this summer? I'm loving this season of Younger (you can catch up on old episodes on Hulu or Amazon!). H and I are almost finished watching season two of Fargo. And I loved the last season of Veep!

FIVE: The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is finally open to everyone including non-cardholders (yah!!) I know there's a ton of sale posts out there, but here's what I purchased: adidas sneakers / striped top (I bought this top last year but I got paint all over it) / waterproof booties. And here's what's still on my wishlist: tie front sweater / a new bra! / a comfy cotton tunic for Fall / fresh sugar lip set / a lightweight plaid shirt for layering.

Have a great weekend!


living room update for summer

Full Disclaimer: Thank you to Duralee Fabrics for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that support Cornflake Dreams.

After I finished our living room makeover Vi got sick allll over our mohair buffalo check pillows... life with a toddler is never dull :) As much as I liked our plaid pillows, I decided to take this opportunity to look for "summery" pillows for the room. I knew I wanted something blue with a pattern to go with our dark indigo velvet pillows and cream pillows. I found this photo on Pinterest and I fell in love with the geometric pattern and light blue "frost" color. So I tracked down the vendor, and Duralee Fabrics was kind enough to send over a few yards of fabric. I had my favorite seamstress (thanks mom!!) sew a set of 20x20 throw pillows and I love how they turned out!
The Frost blue color has been discontinued but the same pattern is available in gray and key lime.
Duralee Fabrics has a lot of other great options to choose from -- here are my favorites:

Thank you again to Duralee Fabrics for the beautiful fabric - I love my new throw pillows!


exterior updates to our house

Full Disclaimer: Thank you to Destination Lighting and Sea Gull Lighting for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that support Cornflake Dreams.

One of our biggest home updates is finally finished! We recently had all of our exterior trim, siding, front door, and shutters painted this month. Everything looks SO much better! We installed a new door knocker, and thanks to Sea Gull Lighting and Destination Lighting we also upgraded our outdoor lighting. There are a few additional things I'd like to update -- like new planters for our front porch (similar to this one) and removing an old basketball hoop -- but right now I'm really happy with how everything turned out. Here are some before/after pics:
Let's start with the Before pics! The entryway was originally painted in a dusty gray color that was cracking and peeling. The front door and the shutters were painted a blue color that faded over years in the sun. We had to update the knocker on the front door -- it had the previous owner's last name engraved on it. And finally the silver outdoor lights with black flowers were not our style. at all. So they had to go too.
Before: blue shutters (left) and painting in progress (right).
Before: The back of our house in the same dusty gray paint color as the entryway.
And now the AFTER pics! The siding looks so much brighter and polished in the new lighter (Lime White Benjamin Moore) paint color.
I LOVE how our front door and shutters turned out. The Midnight Dream black paint matches our roof perfectly, and it looks great with our new Brushed Nickel Lion Door Knocker and Sea Gull Hunnington Black LED Outdoor Wall Lights.
Siding and trim paint color: Benjamin Moore Lime White 
Front door and shutters: Benjamin Moore Midnight Dream
It's amazing to me how a little paint, and new hardware and light fixtures can update the exterior of a house. Thanks again to Sea Gull Lighting for our new outdoor lights!
It's been so fun to see our house transform into our dream home :)


conscious closet find: waremakers

Full Disclaimer: Thank you to Waremakers for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that support Cornflake Dreams.

A few months ago I shared a post about building a conscious closet. And today I am excited to share another great shop to add to my list! Waremakers' mission is to promote a culture of buying fewer, better, lasting goods. They partner with independent producers from all around the world to offer a wide range of high quality items for men and women, and your home and office. They also tell the stories about the people, process and materials behind each item so shoppers know where the items they are buying come from (see all Maker stories here). I really love their collection of wallets, bags, and purses:
natural: large clutch (made in London, England) / everyday shopper (made in Aarhus, Denmark) / kongehoeje shoulder bag (made in Mors Island, Denmark) / passport case (made in London, England) 
tan: card wallet (made in Carmarthen, Wales) / gia bag (made in London, England) / eric bag (made in London & Manchester, England) / robin bag (made in London & Manchester, England) 
black: hebe bag / peggy bag / polly card holder (all made in London & Manchester, England)

Waremakers was kind enough to send over a new wallet for H (Violet threw up on his last one!) The slim wallet was designed and made in Switzerland. It's made out of vegetable-tanned calf leather and it's really soft in person. H likes it's minimalist and functional design.


friday five

Happy Friday! I'm linking up with ChristinaApril, and Natasha to share five things:
watercolor flowers / I'll take two burgers stripe / Positano ketchup and mustard
ONE: I'm hosting a cookout for some friends in a few weeks and I just sent out our invitations through Paperless Post. They have so many cute online and printed options to choose from.
TWO: We finally got blackout curtains for the master bedroom and Vi's bedroom! I used to have trouble staying asleep in the morning, but our new curtains do a great job at blocking the sun. They have made a huge difference in my sleep!
THREE: We're in the process of getting our siding, trim, front door and shutters painted. And before the work got started, our painter sent over a color consultant from Benjamin Moore to help us pick out the perfect colors. I had a general idea of what I wanted -- beige for the siding and trim and black for the door and shutters. But there are a TON of options out there so I was grateful to have a second (and professional) opinion. We decided on Lime White -- it's a popular exterior option to use if you want to match the mortar color of your exterior brickwork (which was exactly what I wanted!). And for our shutters and front door we chose the black color Midnight Dream, it's not a super bright black and I think it'll look great against our red and orangish bricks. 

dragonfly / quatrefoillion (on sale!) / pineapple / modern rectangle (on sale!)
FOUR: To complete our exterior makeover we also purchased a new door knocker! The last one had the previous owners' last name on it, so we knew we wanted to get rid of it ASAP. I'm excited to share a few images of the makeover project when everything is finished -- hopefully next week! Any guesses on which door knocker we went with?
FIVE: We've been at the pool a lot this summer, so I've been on the hunt for a great one-piece swimsuit. I ended up trying on a LOT of options from J Crew. I loved the halter wrap suit, but the "wrap" detail makes it way too easy for a toddler to grab on your top and flash everyone at the pool. The plunge v-neck one-piece didn't work with my small boobs, but I really liked the silky soft fabric. I'm generally not a fan of ruching so I was skeptical of the ruched femme swimsuit, but it's super flattering and it holds everything in. And I still want to try the scalloped v-neck suit!

Have a great holiday weekend! 


office space

Full Disclaimer: Thank you to Destination Lighting for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that support Cornflake Dreams.

When I blog and do other graphic design work on the side, I'm usually sitting on my couch in the living room with my (hot!) laptop on my lap. So now that we have the space -- an extra guest room downstairs, it's probably time for me to have an actual home office. For my office I want to keep the decor pretty simple -- black and white with just the essentials: a desk, chair, some great art, and a pretty (and functional) lamp.
I love this black and white Riviera side chair! Since I can't convince H to put Parisian bistro chairs in our kitchen or dining room, I thought the next best room would be my office. I also like this Vienna black wood chair and for something a little more comfortable this upholstered chairFor my desk I don't need anything too big, but it would be nice to have some drawers for storage. The ALEX desk from IKEA is on sale (under $150!) and I like it's simple and modern design. I also like this classic but more expensive option. Keeping with the black and white theme, I picked out two gorgeous prints from Minted: the Lula abstract art print and Days in Paris art print. I want to use my ceramic pencil cup from Target (under $10!) and it'd be nice to have a small clock (also here).  And finally, Destination Lighting was kind enough to send over a beautiful aged silver Pharmacy Lamp and it's is one of my favorite lamps in our house and it motivated me to get working on my office space decoration plans!


birthday wish list

I'm turning 32 next week and I'm really happy with life. I'm healthy, I have an amazing family, and we're lucky enough to live in a house that we've stayed in long enough to hang up frames (Yess!) So as far as wish lists go, I'm all good! I actually went back and forth about doing this list...are you ever too old for a wish list? But like everything on this blog it's fun to look at old posts and see what I was into at a specific time in my life... so here are a few things that I've had my eye on:

New records usually end up on my wish lists, and I always want "oldies" that I know I'll love like Stevie Wonder and Van Morrison. H already surprised me with a Diana Ross and The Supremes album :) Birthdays are a great time to ask for pretty things that you'd never buy yourself -- like a watercolor Peony Tea Towel! I'd love a Straw Market Tote for the pool. I used my favorite Christmas candle from Candlefish (No. 52) up this winter, so I'd love another one. I love almost everything in Caitlin Wilson's line -- but her blue stripe and Santorini floral pillows are my favorite! Beauty products are always welcome! Aveda rosemary mint shampoo + conditioner smells great and makes my hair so shiny. Butter London Cotton BudsSmith and Cult Plastic Beach Nail Polish would be perfect for bright white manicures and hot pink pedicures. A new travel case set for Vi's diaper bag/future trips would be nice-- this one from Cuyana is really pretty. And I had to add this pair of Pink Lace-up Bow Flat Sandals - yep. I'm obsessed.

p.s. here are those old birthday wish lists if you want to take a look: 2016, 201520142013, and 2011 :)


best books for toddlers

Violet still loves to read and we try to go to the library at least twice a week for story time and to check out new books. We read a lot of books at home and I get so excited when we find a book that my two-year-old AND I both like.
Here are 15 current favorites:
Rosie Revere Engineer - I LOVE this book! Rosie is an imaginative little girl who with the help of her Great-Great Aunt Rose (#girlpower) learns to believe in herself and follow her dreams.

The Fox in the Dark - It's a shame this book is so expensive on Amazon! (and I can't find it anywhere else online) It's one of our favorites and it's really fun to read. Check to see if your local library has it available to checkout!

The Wonderful Things You Will Be - Vi calls this the "baby book" because it's filled with pictures of babies and kids. The story makes me sentimental about being a mom and I can't help but think about all the wonderful things my own little girl will grow up to be!

Triangle - I love the minimalist design of this book and the characters -- Vi likes the unexpected ending.

Gaston - A bulldog and a poodle learn that family is about love not appearances.

The Watermelon Seed - This is another beautifully illustrated book. It uses bold colors to help tell a silly story.

Mustache Baby (I like Mustache Baby Meets His Match even more!) - Hilarious books with perfect illustrations. I'm pretty sure Vi thinks some babies are born with mustaches ;)

The Giving Tree - I loved this book when I was little. But when I read it now as an adult I have mixed feelings about it. Even if the overall message is unclear, it does teach about feelings (happiness, sadness, loneliness), selfishness, selflessness, caring and giving.

Harold and the Purple Crayon - This book celebrates a child's imagination in the most creative ways.

Horrible Bear! - A sweet story about forgiveness.

M is for Me Personalized ABC Book - I love this book because it exposes Vi to a lot of different words (one for every letter of the alphabet!)

Put Me in the Zoo - I find a lot of Dr. Seuss books to be super tedious to read (Fox in Socks drives me nuts). But this one is cute and it's just the right length.

Where the Wild Things Are - This is a timeless book that is fun for mom and dad to read!

Corduroy - This is another classic book that has been a favorite for years. I also appreciate that the little girl in the book is African American. I'd love to find more children's book that have celebrate diversity. If you have any suggestions please let me know!

Wolfie the Bunny - A cute story about a new baby, sibling rivalry, bravery and love.


Violet also loves a vintage Walt Disney's Mother Goose book from my grandma. It includes some pretty questionable nursery rhymes that we skip (I can see why they don't teach "The Old Lady in Lived in the Shoe" in grade school anymore). But it's really cute to hear a two-year-old recite "Hickory Dickory Dock" and "Old King Cole."

Scuffy the Tugboat - I'm not really a huge fan of this book. But I LOVE to hear H read it to Vi in a squeaky Southern voice. She must like it too because she wants to hear it almost every night.

Do you have any favorites that I missed?

p.s. I rounded up our favorite baby books HERE + more toddler board books HERE.


8 family photo session tips for summer

When Violet turned two in March I really wanted to have family photos taken. But at the time we had a lot going on -- we had to pack for our move, finalize the renovation details for our new house, and plan Vi's birthday party. Needless to say the photos never happened. So when Lindsay from Photography by Lindsay (Pbl) reached out to see if I wanted to work together I got really excited. And after I saw all the gorgeous photos on her website and Instagram page, I emailed her right away to set up a summer family photo session.

We quickly found a date that worked for both of us. And then Lindsay sent over Family Session Location Guide with a detailed list of sites to choose from. The list also included photos from previous sessions so I could get a feel for what our photos would look like -- this was so helpful! She also sent over a Family Session Prep Guide with lots of tips for the day of the shoot. Below are four of my personal favorite photo session tips and four tips from Lindsay:
1. Pick out your child's outfit first. This is our fifth photo shoot as a family and I always pick out Violet's dress first. For me, our family photos are more about her than us and I want her to stand out. After I choose her outfit, I will pick out what I want to wear and then something that goes with those colors for H. I'm personally not a fan of super matchy matchy outfits...they can get awkward.
2. Keep your dress/top child friendly. I was all set to wear a black v-neck dress for this photo session and then I bent down in front of the mirror at home to pick up Vi and I was showing a lot of cleavage. I decided to go with something a little more modest for the photos so I had one less thing to worry about. You don't want to have a great photo ruined because mama is trying to pull up her top :) 
3. Keep your jewelry and accessories to a minimum. When Vi plays with my old statement necklaces she looks like Mr. T. -- HA! Trends come and go and I cringe a little bit when I think about all the enormous gold necklaces I used to wear. So I like to wear simple jewelry that has personal significance for family pics -- for example in our holiday photos last year I wore a gold locket my grandma gave me.
4. Leave the stuffed animals or other props at home. It's distracting. You want to see your child's face not Snuffy the elephant. (Although not all props are bad to have on hand! -- Lindsay had a small, simple white rocking chair and it was perfect for Vi to sit on in a nearby forest).

from Lindsay: 
5. Don't make other plans the day of the session. Having an active day could make the kiddos extra tired. I typically schedule sessions leading up to sunset if possible, so this could make for some extra, tired kids. The time the sunsets changes throughout the year ranging from late afternoon to evening. Try to do a late nap (if your child still naps).
6. Eat before your session. It's super important to have kids with a happy, full belly. We don't want Hangry Kids (or parents) for photos. 
7. Take a break every now and then! If your child is getting antsy or cranky during a photo shoot, let them play for a little bit. If they are in a better mood they will look happier in the final photos. (I LOVED that Lindsay took breaks with Vi and I think it helped to get her smile a little more during our shoot).
8. What to Bring: diaper bag, snacks, stroller, change of clothes for kids (just in case!), drinks (sippy cup or bottle of water), wipes for messes, brush/comb, hair clips or bobby pins, outfit extras (shoes! bowtie, etc.), pajamas (if need be) to change in to when the session is over and for the ride home.
If you're in the Chicagoland area and you're looking for a photographer for your family, a birthday party, engagement, wedding, high school graduation portrait, or any other special event I would highly recommend Lindsay!

p.s. In case you were wondering -- Lindsay took a LOT of photos, these are just the blog-approved ones :)


loving lately: pink shoes

I've been seeing pink shoes all over Instagram and now I really want a pair of pink sneakers AND sandals. and I'm sure my pink-obsessed two-year-old would love a pair too :)

sandals: one / two / three - I love the braid detail / four - scallops AND tassels! / five / six
sneakers: one - loveee -- but I'm not sure I can pull them off / two / three / four
toddler picks: one / two / three - perfect for summer / four / five / six / seven / eightnine

Which pair is your favorite?


toddler swimsuits

We took Vi swimming for the first time over the weekend and she loved it! I have a feeling we will be at the pool a lot this summer. She looked so cute in her little swimsuit it made me want me to buy another one. Here's some cute options for toddlers and little girls:
gingham: cobalt blue - I love the pink scallop detail / pink (similar suit for mama) / navy - I have a similar swimsuit so I'm tempted to buy this one for Vi so we can match! / monogram pink ruffle - this one is sooo Southern! It's also in blue
patterns: floral - I love this retro tropical print / sprinkles - Vi has this suit and it's SO cute in person! / watermelon - the watercolor watermelons are so fun! / flamingos
stripes: neon blue and pink / cherries / black and white one shoulder (matching for mama) / watermelon (matching for mama)

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