In my bag

In My Bag - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

In My Bag- Under the Monkey Bars blog

Classic tote :: Cuyana 
Wallet :: LODIS (mine’s 4 years old and still looks new)
Pouches :: One Truffle

Now that I’m tidying up my life, I need to decide which bags spark joy. This classic gray Cuyana tote I got for Christmas definitely does! It’s light as a feather, super soft, and sustainable. The company’s mission aligns with mine: fewer, better things. As I pare down what I own, I’m choosing quality over quantity. This timeless bag without flashy hardware goes with everything. It’s perfect for every day, and a great size for this busy Mom.

I’m totally in love with these pouches from One Truffle. I’ve had my eye on them for months. Everything in my bag goes into the clear pouches except my wallet, keys, phone, and sanitizer, making it super easy to grab what I need in a flash. My bag stays neat and organized with this system. 

Like most Moms, I manage to pack a lot in my bag so I'm always prepared!

Like most Moms, I manage to pack a lot in my bag so I’m always prepared!

In my Small Clarity Clutch
– The best cure for chapped lips: WAXALENE.
– Two kinds of LIP GLOSS so I always have just the right one.
– My favorite intensely thick HAND CREME.
SUNGLASSES won’t scratch in the pouch; no case necessary!
– Reusable COFFEE CUP SLEEVE because I’m super green and proud of it.

In my Large Clarity Clutch
– My bag hasn’t been without EPI-PENs since 2005.
– A REUSABLE BAG is an absolute must!
– My Great Aunt Flo’s pink leather CHECKBOOK stays close to my heart.
– Organic MINTS for the monkeys in case of emergency (you know the ones!).

What essentials do you carry in your bag?

Holiday Gift Guide 2015

Under the Monkey Bars Holiday Gift Guide 2015

1. For the selfie obsessed :: Fujifilm’s Instax Mini Instant Film Camera will be an instant hit this holiday. Jazz up the border of those plain polaroids with mini film stickers, or throw in an accessory bundle that includes a selfie lens, frames, stickers, album, and case. Don’t forget the film!

2. For the musicianKala Makala Shark Ukuleles come in a rainbow of colors and are easy on the wallet. Add a guide for self learners to get started on this entry level instrument. For tiny musicians, try the Hape Early Melodies Ukulele.

3. For the book worm…Naughty Mabel by Nathan Lane and Devlin Elliott is the new hilarious story of a naughty French bulldog that will entertain kids of all ages. Don’t miss Amazon’s list of 100 Children’s Books to Read in a Lifetime for filling the home library shelves. Add a fun headlamp to the stocking for monkeys to read in bed or the car.

4. For family game night…Jenga’s new GIANT game is 3ft tall and even more fun than the original. Play inside or outside with this hardwood classic.

5. For the techie… They’re asking for a phone but you’re not ready. FiLIP’s wearable watch with GPS locator displays date/time, calls, texts, and communicates location with up to 5 contacts. Consider the GizmoPal for younger kids. Families can stay connected without a smartphone. Now that’s smart.

6. For the movie lover…Schylling’s Star Wars jumbo inflatable R2D2 comes with sound and a remote control for kids of all ages to move the droid in every direction plus stunts and 360-degree spins! Seriously? A must for Star Wars fans.

7. For the artist….Coloring books are a must for kids of all ages this year. The Lost Ocean coloring book is the latest by pen and ink artist Johanna Basford. Not interested in going under the sea? Check out the Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, and Tangle Wood coloring books. If your little artist doesn’t have a human mannequin body for freehand drawing, it’s a must-have — and fits in the stocking!

8. For the builder…Tegu magnetic wooden block sets make the perfect green gift for any age. Magna-Tiles taught us that the more you have, the higher you can build. Choose a classic set of Tegu wooden blocks, this robot, horse, car, or helicopter…and don’t forget the travel tote! Tegu is truly an investment in imagination.

9. For the fashionista…StyleModel Pocket Sketchbook provides pre-drawn models and stickers for fashionistas to create unique designs. Some images are a little edgy, but my monkeys absolutely love these books. Neutral colored pencils help create just the right shading. Little designers who love animals will flip over StyleModel Doggy.

10. For the traveler…Boogie Board Jot eWriter takes lists, games, and drawing to a new level by saving tons of paper. It’s perfect for little monkeys to practice writing their letters or playing hangman in the car. For a more retro travel game, check out these reusable bingo cards for the car.

11. For the scientist…Crazy Aaron’s Made by Me Thinking Putty is new this year, allowing kids to mix their own colors without making a mess. This new kit adds to Crazy Aaron’s creative line of over 40 putties to knead, bounce, bend, tear, stretch, snap, or pop while you think. Don’t miss holiday themed Thinking Putty for the stocking!

12. For the doll lover…Lottie is an age appropriate English doll without makeup or high heels that my monkeys have played with consistently since last holiday season. New this year as a collaboration with the European Space Agency and winner of the 2015 Space Age Awards, Stargazer Lottie includes a telescope and tripod. Finn was designed as a playtime buddy that boys can relate to, with a healthy childlike boy shape and a kite to fly. No matter what Lottie doll you choose, it will be received with a smile and hours of wholesome play.

Print this Under the Monkey Bars Holiday Gift Guide to take shopping with you, or click the image to pin it. Support your local toy stores and #shopsmall this Holiday season. The monkeys and I love to shop at the Dragon’s NestEureka, Jabberwocky, and Green Elephant Toys locally. What’s your favorite local toy and book store? What are your little monkeys wishing for this year? 


Note: This post was not sponsored by any of the companies included in the holiday gift guide. The opinions are my own. This post includes affiliate links, which means I could make a small commission on something you purchase at the corresponding site. However, products will not cost you more because of this. Thank you!

This and That…

Happy Halloween from Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Happy Halloween! I can’t believe it’s already October 31st.

Dressing up together for the first time ever, my monkeys’ costumes were inspired by the graphic novel Wonderland by Tommy Kovac. Sweet Pea is the sweetest Alice — especially with a curtsey. It’s not surprising that the Queen of Hearts costume makes Bean even sassier! We have a few friends joining the cast of characters from Alice in Wonderland tonight for trick-or-treat. 

How great is it that Halloween falls on a Saturday this year? Having the day off to enjoy the holiday is so delicious. We’ve been cooking, lounging, and reading all day. I just finished Me Before You. I’ve read 3 of Jojo Moyes books this month, and I don’t think I’ll be able to stop until I read them all. That good! I absolutely loved The Ship of Brides and One Plus One

Some really important information for tonight: Halloween Candy Wine Pairings. If you’re going to eat it, might as well pair it perfectly. Also critical: What Your Favorite Halloween Candy Says About You. When I used to eat Halloween candy, I was an M&M girl. Now my favorite indulgence is this organic chocolate bar. Seriously divine.

There are really sweet sales online this weekend. Have you heard of Pipsticks? This Mom-owned business sends super cute stickers monthly as a subscription. Think gifts for birthdays or scrapbookers. Use the code HALLOWEEKEND20 for 20% off. Tea Collection is offering 25% off everything — including Patagonia. 6 free cards at with code CARDSTRIAL. 20% off at thredUP with code FALL20. Bean just got an order yesterday with dresses from Pink Chicken, Truly Me, Zara, and Mini Boden — all new with tags! Back to school shopping seems to stretch out a bit at our house 🙂

Stay safe tonight, and have a great weekend!

Fall Threads

Fall Threads - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Fall Threads - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Fall Threads - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Plaid jacket :: Superdry from thredUP
Lace blouse :: Zara last season
Straight leg jeans :: AG {on sale!}
Black ankle boot :: Kork-Ease
Location :: Brown School Playground, Newburyport’s South End

I’m almost always wearing something second hand. It’s a great way to save money and be green. I spend way too much on food to pay full price for clothes — except shoes! If you missed my Shopping to Save post last Spring, head over for my top 10 tips for shopping thredUP, my favorite online consignment store. This plaid jacket was a total score for $20! Plaid plus fur? Yes, please! What Fall threads are your favorites?

Back to School

Back to School - Under the Monkey Bars

The countdown is on. T-11 days until school starts. YIKES! I’ve already seen so many first day of school pictures on Facebook. Thankfully we’re starting late this year as I’m not quite ready for my monkeys to go back to school!

How have three months passed so quickly? We’ve had quite a summer. We’ve laughed, cried, day tripped, and road tripped. Whether hanging around the house or on an adventure, we’ve learned a lot about each other and have crossed lines through virtually every item on our Summer Fun List. There are new scars, blonder curls, and taller girls.

I really can’t believe how much these monkeys have grown. Bean “borrowed” a few t-shirts of mine that have somehow stayed her room. She’s seriously almost my size! Together we cleaned out closets and drawers. Well, except for Sweet Pea who refuses. She’s a lot like me and doesn’t love change. It’s so hard to say good bye to old favorites, but try as she might, the 4/5’s just won’t fit!

We’re planning our back to school clothes shopping for late September when we can actually wear long sleeves, sweaters, and tights. The sales should be good, and as you know I love a good sale! At least we finished the school supply shopping. Target had such cute stuff that I apparently needed some supplies for myself and of course some new essentials for the homework station. Anything to get those monkeys excited and motivated, right?

We’re *trying* to go to bed a bit earlier every night. Even I’m sleeping in past 7am, which won’t get us to school on time! After school activities are on the calendar — yet not taking it over. The babysitter is booked for back to school night in September, our library book basket is filled, and new lunch boxes are ready to slide into last year’s backpacks.

All in all, these monkeys are ready to go back to school. But if you ask, “Are you ready for school?” They say no. They want to savor every last minute of summer. We just need these last days of summer to really be ready for the change and for “back to school.”  

I’m having a hard time letting go of my first and fourth graders. I’m trying to remember to say second and fifth. With each new grade, there are new friends, new experiences, and new challenges. The hardest part for me is letting them go. They always seem to grow up so much after entering the school’s metal doors in September. As much as I’d like to make time stand still, I know I need to hold my chin up and be ready for this next school year and whatever it brings.

Thank goodness for my friend’s annual Champagne and Kleenex party the first week of school. Together we’ll celebrate and mourn the start of the 2015-2016 school year. I really miss my monkeys when they go back to school, but great friends always make the transition easier! 

What are you doing to prepare for the new school year?