A Few of My Favorite Things (138)

[Stella & Dot outfit of the week:: Sanibel Reversible Pendant // Engravable Bar Necklace // Stitchfix top // Gap jeans // Toms booties]

[smiley tummy time]
[date night at SIMB]
[happy 5th birthday, Coco!]
[tub time @ 1 week vs. 10 weeks]

[celebrating Baby French!]

[double the cuteness]
It’s been a busy week trying to squeeze in a lot of stuff before our Thanksgiving holiday travel. I’ve been doing photo sessions and editing like a mad woman all week. We had 2 fun dinners out — one with my family at Varasano’s Pizzeria and one with just the two of us at Sun in My Belly over in the Decatur/Kirkwood area on Thursday. It was nice to get out of the house for a couple hours and be able to eat a nice meal without having to bounce a certain somebody on my lap… but I still missed her while we were gone. ­čÖé

In between more photo sessions over the weekend, we watched some football and I helped celebrate the impending arrival of my college friend’s baby girl. I can’t wait for Leighton’s newest friend to get here! We also celebrated Coco’s 5th birthday on 11/21. It’s hard to believe we’ve had her almost that long. She was our first baby, and we love her so dearly. Our family wouldn’t be the same without that silly, stubborn, lovable fur baby!

Also, it’s now freezing outside!! Hope everyone has a wonderfully fun, delicious, and safe Thanksgiving holiday week!

A Few of My Favorite Things (136)

[Stella & Dot outfit of the week:: Relic Statement Necklace // Aurora Studs (1 of 3 in the set) // Pave Chevron Ring // Old Navy shift dress // Sole Society booties]
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[neighborhood fall foliage]
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[Craig’s 33rd birthday]
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[rocking tummy time!]
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[scarecrow fun]
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[1 week vs. 6 weeks]
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[the husband is a baker, too]
[sessions with friends are the best kind]
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What a crazy busy week we had over at the Hayes house! We started it off with little to no sleep and ended up taking Leighton to the doctor just to make sure there wasn’t something wrong since she was suddenly crying uncontrollably, spitting up profusely, and wouldn’t sleep on her back. They said she may have acid reflux, so we’re doing a couple different things to help with that. On another note, they weighed her and she gained 12oz in less than a week!! She was up to 9 lbs 15oz at 5.5 weeks.

Craig’s birthday was Tuesday, and thankfully, Leighton graciously gave us a little more sleep as a gift. ­čÖé My sweet mom babysat her so I could take Craig out for a fancy steak dinner at one of Ford Fry’s newest Atlanta hot spots, Marcel. It was beyond fantastic from start to finish — you can read more about it in my post here. We can’t wait to go back!

I had a girls night out on Thursday with my mom and Leighton. I took them to the Atlanta Botanical Garden for the annual scarecrow exhibit, which is always a highlight of the fall season for me! We met up with a few of my old coworkers and strolled the gardens until Miss LL had enough and demanded to go home. ­čÖé

I also jumped full force back into work with a Stella & Dot Halloween-themed trunk show on Friday and 3 photo sessions over the weekend. It made for a whirlwind few days, but I’m so thankful for my loyal clients who continue to support my businesses! We topped the weekend off with a cookout at our friends’ house. With 6 adults and 4 kids, our group dinners sure have changed, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

restaurant review:: Marcel


For Craig’s 33rd birthday, we decided to try Ford Fry’s latest Atlanta installment, the European-inspired steak house, Marcel. It’s located in the ever-growing Westside Provisions District, which I love because we live 10-15 minutes from there. It’s amazing how much that area has been built up in the past few years!

Of the many restaurants Ford Fry has opened in Atlanta, we’ve been to┬ámost of them… JCT Kitchen, The Optimist, No. 246, King + Duke, and Superica. All are excellent, but in my humble opinion, I think Marcel is my new favorite. The atmosphere is something different from any other restaurant I’ve been to in the city… dark, moody, intimate, and a little quirky. Case in point┬á—┬áthat gold and black wallpaper covered with mice and fire hydrants.



Our meal started with the complimentary bread service below… they served us warm, buttery focaccia bread with ricotta cheese, charcuterie, and olives. Really? I don’t know if I can accept plain old bread and butter from now on.

For starters, we chose the Broiled Humboldt Fog and the Salad Marcel (not pictured). The salad was definitely large enough to split, which we did, and it was dense and filled with lots of goodies. The maple bacon vinaigrette was icing on the cake. Neither of us had ever heard of Humboldt Fog, and I am glad the server explained what it was, because I certainly wouldn’t have guessed goat cheese. It was served with a tomato gravy and crispy French bread. Craig almost licked the bowl clean.
We each chose the 8oz filet for our entrees and added on a couple of the large, sharable sides. There were several that sounded amazing, but we decided on a couple of the server’s favorites — Pommes Aligot and Spinach Gnudi. The potatoes were mashed and SO cheesy — you could see strings of cheese pulling with each bite. And the gnudi was described as being similar to the filling in manicotti, and it was delightful. The steaks were an excellent cut and were nicely prepared — definitely comparable to the best steaks we’ve had in the city.

And for birthday dessert… Baked Alaska! Such a fun presentation, which I always appreciate.They change the ingredients occasionally, and this one was perfectly fall appropriate with pumpkin spice cake, oatmeal rum ice cream, marshmallow, and salted caramel rum sauce. The flavors were divine, and I think I could have eaten the entire dish on my own.

One of the things I appreciated most about Marcel was the exceptional service. Just a few minutes after being seated, we already had our drink orders placed (the wine and cocktails were both excellent). The manager approached us not long after and asked if we’d like to move to a different table due to being seated next to a large group. We happily obliged in order to have a quieter booth, and we were surprised to be offered drinks on the house for the “inconvenience” — which really was no problem at all because we ended up with a nicer view of the restaurant from┬áa neat curved booth. I was impressed with the gesture, though, and the service continued to be wonderful throughout the meal.┬á

This was our first nice meal out since having our baby in September, and it was the perfect way to celebrate my sweet husband’s birthday. Ford Fry has done it again with another top notch restaurant option in Atlanta, and I’m so happy it’s close to home for us! We’ll most certainly be back.

A Few of My Favorite Things (135)

[Stella & Dot outfit of the week:: Engravable Bar w/Leighton’s birthdate // Legend Pendant in gold // Rebel Pendant in gold // Anthropologie top (last year)]
[1 month check-up fun]
[the best Halloween show in ATL]
[5 weeks and already so girly]
[ready for the spooky season]
[fall sessions have begun]
October is one of my most favorite months of the year. Why? So many reasons:: the kickoff of fall and all things pumpkin, college football, Halloween festivities, and celebrating Craig’s birthday.

This past week, I got to have my first mama’s night out, and it was glorious! I went to the Center to see the staff preview of The Ghastly Dreadfuls (the best Halloween show in town) with some of my old coworkers. It felt so nice to be out doing something normal. Craig also had a successful evening at home with Leighton, but I’m not surprised… he’s a pretty awesome dad.

We had a couple visits from friends bringing us more delicious meals, and we even managed a family dinner out with our friends and their 2 kids on Friday. I’ll just say I’m glad we chose to go to a loud, family-friendly Mexican restaurant. My, how Friday nights have changed, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Saturday, we had a little family tailgate at home with my parents, brother and sister-in-law, and her parents. Craig smoked a 12.5lb brisket, and we of course had several other tasty dishes to keep us full for an afternoon and evening of football watching on the projection screen in the basement. I had another photo session Sunday afternoon, and the gorgeous  weather could not have been more perfect. So happy that it’s fall!

HBD to my better half

Today is a good day — Craig┬áturns 33! I love celebrating birthdays, and this one is no exception, because it’s his first birthday as a daddy! That has to make it the best one ever, right?

It’s been one heck of a year for this guy…

At the end of 2014, Craig quit his insurance job that he’d been at for almost 9 years and in early Jan 2015, he started working in the agriculture business with my dad and brother. Regarding work, I’ve never seen him happier!


He found out on Jan 2nd that he was going to be a daddy! We spent the next many months preparing our home, hearts, and lives to welcome our baby.


He brought his beloved Super Sport (his first car) down to GA to start restoring it during downtime at work. It’s still a work in progress, but I know he’s so excited to get it back in working order so he can take it for a joy ride and relive the glory days of high school. ­čÖé


In April, he learned that he was going to be seriously outnumbered, because baby Hayes was a GIRL!!

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His handy skills (which are one of my many favorite things about him) got put to use big time this summer with the renovation of my parents’ new home in Marietta. Deck building, tons of demo work, installing a 24′ beam in the ceiling, drywalling, kitchen backsplash tiling, AC duct work in the attic in the middle of a hot GA summer… I think he’s a legitimate home renovator now!


We celebrated several family and friends’ weddings with fun out-of-state trips and also babymooned in Puerto Rico.

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On September 10th, his life changed forever when his daughter Leighton was born! Craig quickly jumped in and took charge with diaper changing and swaddle wrapping at the hospital, and he has been the sweetest, most loving daddy to his baby girl.


So after this monumental year that was 32, I can’t wait to see what 33 brings you, babe! I love you with all my heart, and watching you become a dad to our baby girl has made me love you even more every single day. I hope you have the happiest of birthdays (and maybe she’ll even let us get some sleep)!┬á


Leighton @ 1 month


Leighton turned one month old last weekend, and we also took our first out-of-state trip with her to celebrate my grandmother Nana’s 90th birthday. What a fun trip!

This past month has brought us little sleep and little contact with the outside world (other than wonderful visits from family and friends who came to deliver food). But I think it’s safe to say it’s also been the best, most joyful month of our lives. We’ve started to settle into a routine and are learning her many needs and how to care for our little girl. Being a new parent is not for the faint of heart, but it’s the most rewarding, fulfilling job and privilege.


Height + Weight: 21.75″ (73rd percentile on the growth chart!) | 9lbs 3oz (42nd percentile)

We had her one month checkup this morning, and she has grown a ton in just 3 weeks – almost 2 inches in height alone! The doctor was really happy with her stats, and we’re thankful for a healthy girl (with a very healthy appetite).

Milestones: She quickly blew past her birthweight within a week of being home from the hospital, thanks to a little growth spurt that caused her to want to eat almost non-stop for 3 days straight. She’s also been trying to hold her head up since week 1, and she’s definitely getting the hang of it more each day! She tends to eat every 2-3 hours and take a couple naps during the day, and she’s thankfully been sleeping 4-5 hours for the first stretch at night. We’re just starting to work on a sleep/feeding schedule and have transitioned her to her crib this week, which has proven to be exhausting. Please pray for us that we don’t go insane in the process! Hopefully we’ll regain some normalcy once she’s regularly sleeping longer amounts at night and gets used to taking naps in her crib instead of being held. (But really, is there much better than a sleeping baby cuddled in your arms?) 

Likes: She LOVES being held, and we discovered (during one of her many screaming fits) that she will usually calm down when we bounce around with her while listening to (and singing) songs played on Pandora. So far, she’s a big fan of country and hip hop. Such a perfect combo of her mom and dad – ha! She loves to eat, and she is obsessed with having her tiny hands by her face. She’s also taken to napping in the Solly Baby Wrap, which is a lifesaver for me when I’m home alone and need to get things done around the house.

Dislikes: Not being held! ­čÖé If she is not swaddled and being held during the day, she is likely wide awake and not happy about it. But I can’t say I mind too much… she’s just so teeny and cuddly, and I know that won’t last forever. She does not appreciate being made to wait even one minute to eat when she’s clearly starving to death. And when it’s time to be burped, she makes the funniest squeaking sounds and tries to stiffen her little body out so I can’t sit her up. Such a drama queen! ­čÖé

Fun stuff  & firsts: We’ve had a fun month filled with the start of football season, her newborn portrait session with my childhood best friend, our trip to Jacksonville for her first party, and the beginning of fall.

Leighton got to meet all three of her great-grandmothers in her first month, which has got to be some sort of record, especially given that they all live out of state. I really wanted them to meet her soon after she was born, and I’m so thankful that it worked out for that to happen!

So far, she’s gotten several nicknames: LL Cool Hayes, Lay Lay, Tooty Booty (I’m sure she’ll appreciate that when she’s older), LL, and Baby Bear (her puppy sister Coco is nicknamed Coco Bear).

We have had the best time laughing at her array of funny faces and noises. When she was born, her little cries sounded like a baby goat, and she makes the most hilarious oinking sound when she’s really hungry and starts to eat. It never fails to make us laugh. She also makes the sweetest little coos and sighs while she’s sleeping, and she loves putting her balled-up fist right next to her head. My favorite face that she makes is one that I call “baby bird,” which she does when she’s hungry (before getting downright angry). She purses her lips together and looks all around with the biggest, sweetest eyes. It’s the absolute cutest thing!

The first month of Leighton’s life has absolutely flown by. I couldn’t be more thankful for our healthy, thriving, happy little girl, and I’m excited to see what changes the next month brings!





celebrating 90

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My grandmother Nana┬áturned 90 this month — what an incredible milestone in life! We packed up what seemed like everything in our house to travel with the bebe down to Jacksonville, FL last weekend for her big celebration.

To be honest, I’d been stressed about this trip for weeks. Taking a barely one month old baby on a 5 hour drive out of state did not seem like the most fun idea, especially considering she’d never spent more than an hour in her car seat. But we were pleasantly surprised at how well she traveled! She slept almost the entire trip down, and she was pretty easy the entire weekend. Maybe everyone was right by saying this really is a good age to travel with. ­čÖé My cousin Alli and her family were gracious enough to host us at their home so we didn’t have to be cooped up in a hotel room with a newborn, and it made our trip so much better. She even had mints on our pillows… Hotel Vogt is the 5 star!


We had the best time visiting with all of my mom’s family, and I’m so happy that all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and other extended relatives got to meet Leighton so early in her little life. Most importantly, our grandmother Nana got to hold and love on her newest great granddaughter! It was a sweet, lovely sight.

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Aside from visiting with family, we spent some time down in Avondale, which is the cutest area of boutiques and restaurants. We had a fantastic brunch at Brick Restaurant, and mama got a long-awaited mimosa! After helping with some birthday party setup, we headed back to Avondale for some football watching, beer drinking, and hot pretzel eating at the nicest Mellow Mushroom I’ve ever seen.

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Saturday night, we celebrated Nana’s 90th birthday with a big party at my aunt and uncle’s home, which used to belong to my grandparents. I love going back to this house because it brings back so many great childhood memories – and it’s a fantastic place for parties! Nana was surrounded by not only all of her family, but many of her lifelong friends, which was really neat to see. We dined on Cuban food outside under strings of lights and colorful lanterns, watched college football (not happy about that Georgia game), and watched a sweet slideshow documenting Nana’s wonderful life. It was a perfect celebration for our favorite Nana!

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A Few of My Favorite Things (134)

[WATCH out — Stella & Dot‘s newest collection launches this week!]
[Springbluff dinner tradition]
[checking pumpkins off the fall to-do list]
[1st date night post baby]
[Landry turns 1!]
Time has been flying since Leighton’s arrival. This week, she and I stayed home by ourselves while Craig went back to work finishing up the remodel at my parents’ house. My mom was sweet enough to come watch her for a few hours a couple days so I could get out of the house and run some errands… I even made it to Starbucks and Target! Such freedom! She also babysat her on Friday night so we could have a much-needed date night — our first since before Leighton was born. We went to Taqueria del Sol, one of our favorite low-key spots, and had delicious Mexican and ritas… made mama very happy!

I also had my first photo session since I went on maternity leave, and it was such a fun one to get started with. Our dear friends’ little girl is turning one this week, and we had a fun cake smash session to ring in her birthday. She was NOT a fan until she actually tasted the cake… then it was game on! Such a cutie pie.

We spent the rest of the rainy weekend watching football and just hanging out at home with our little monkey. Cheers to it finally feeling like fall around here!

Fall To-Do List 2015


I’m sure most people would think I’m nuts for making any sort of to-do list when I have a 3-week-old baby at home. But I have a thing for lists, and there are so many fun (and a few practical) things going on this season that I don’t want to miss out on or forget to do.┬áHere’s my list of things to do┬áthis fall::

1.Pick out pumpkins! We likely won’t make it to an actual pumpkin patch this year, but as long as we have some by our front door, I’ll be happy.

2. Find a Halloween costume for Leighton. We have a great neighborhood, and every year, we all celebrate with an outdoor potluck and kids parade through our streets for trick-or-treating. I’m so excited to finally have a little one to dress up this year!

3.┬áScarecrows in the Garden┬áat the Atlanta Botanical Garden. For the past several years, I’ve gone to this event with my puppet coworkers, and it’s my favorite fall tradition. This time, I’m meeting up with them for the Thursday night Fest of Ale and am planning to bring my mom and Leighton along for some outdoor fun!

4. Celebrate Craig’s 33rd birthday in October — his first one as a dad!

5. Eat lots of pumpkin bread (from local Smyrna bakery, McEntyre’s).

6. Go back to the Center for Puppetry Arts for a spooky adult puppet show! The Ghastly Dreadfuls show is back, and it’s my absolute favorite! If you’re in Atlanta in October, I highly recommend getting tickets.

7. Make Craig’s delicious┬áchili recipe┬áand┬áseveral other soups and stews this season.

8. Make Leighton’s birth announcements and work on her baby book.

9. Take Christmas card photos and send them out before Thanksgiving.

10. Visit the Center again in November for the grand opening of the newly expanded Museum! This project has been years in the making, and I’m really looking forward to going back to my old stomping grounds to see the finished product. It’s such a huge accomplishment for everyone involved!