12 picture books for curling up by the fire this winter

Helga Laing Photo

I’m a beach girl at heart, but I’m slowly learning to embrace winter. (All the new books about hygge are helping). There are so many beautifully written and illustrated and picture books about winter, and they really do make the cold weather outside seem a little more charming and our fireplace feel a little more cozy. I rounded up some books we love curling up with on chilly winter nights. Push play to see my segment on Studio 5:

Also, Chronicle Books is generously giving away five of these books to one lucky winner!

Head to Instagram to enter the giveaway.

  1. Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner: A delightful tale of the secret kingdom of animals that lies under the snow each winter. In the back, there is a glossary of animals and what they do in the wintertime. My kids are fascinated by it and I learned a few new things from it too.
  2. Sleep Tight Farm by Eugene Doyle: The most beautifully illustrated tale of putting a farm to bed for winter.
  3. Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Pak: A brother and sister explore nature during their neighborhood’s transition from fall to winter. The illustrations beautifully capture the magic of the first snow of winter. I love how Kenard Pak’s books depict the beauty in each season. This book is the perfect way to welcome winter.
  4. Bunny Slopes by Claudia Rueda: My kids love interactive books and this is one of them! Kids get to help a bunny navigate his way through the slopes and see what happens when he falls down a rabbit hole.
  5. Mice Skating by Annie Silvestro: A magically illustrated story about a winter-loving mouse who braves the snow while everyone else is nestled underground. Will she be able to convince her friends how fun winter can be?
  6. The Story of Snow by Mark Cassino and Jon Nelson: This book is SO cool. It teaches kids how snowflakes are formed and how they really look close up. It was compiled by a fine art and natural history photographer with a specialty in snow crystals and a teacher and physicist who has studied ice crystals and clouds for 15 years. The book is filled with actual photos of all different kinds of snow crystals and kid-friendly facts about them. We’ll never look at snowflakes the same way again!
  7. Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer: This is a cute story of a fox searching for the right thing to do as winter approaches. He watches his animal friends do what they do every winter, but burrowing in the mud or wrapping himself in a chrysalis just doesn’t seem to be meant for him.
  8. William’s Winter Nap by Linda Ashman: A rhyming, counting book about a little boy and all the animals who tap on his door, one at a time, to snuggle up with him.
  9. Say Zoop by Herve Tullet: We love Herve Tullet books at our house and his newest one just might be our favorite! It’s an interactive journey through sounds. All my kids have fun with this one—from my toddler up to my 2nd-grader.
  10. The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers: If I had to pick a favorite author…don’t make me pick. But we adore Oliver Jeffers, and this book about a boy who literally (ha) eats books is so much fun. He’s devouring books and getting smarter at a rapid speed, but something has to give when his stomach can’t keep up and the words in his belly start to get all tangled up.
  11. Snow Sisters! by Kerri Kokias: This is a brand new book about two sisters who enjoy winter in their own unique ways. I especially relate to the one who chooses to curl up inside with a book and a cup of cocoa instead of braving the cold. This book is charming and would be especially fun for sisters.
  12. The Mitten by Jan Brett: Jan Brett is another favorite author, and The Mitten is one of her best books. In “The Mitten,” based on a Ukrainian tale, a little boy asks him grandma to make him white mittens, despite her caution that they’ll be easy to lose in the snow. Sure enough, the boy unknowingly drops one in the snow, and woodland animals cozy up in it one by one. When the boy finds his mitten, it’s strangely overstretched. The fun of Jan Brett’s books is that on the left side of every page, you can see what the main character is doing while the story continues, and get a sneak peek at what is coming next on the right side of the page.

 

My winter capsule wardrobe

Sweater: Ella Bloom // Bandana: Madewell

 

I’ve been thinking of doing a capsule wardrobe for years, but the timing was finally right this fall. I was sick of not wearing half of my clothes and buying more to feel like I had more options, but I never really did. It felt like a vicious cycle of consumerism. And I’d much rather spend my money on traveling than buying more clothes than I need! I’ve had my winter capsule wardrobe for a little over a month now and I love it more than I ever thought I would.

Here’s why I love my capsule wardrobe:

  • I have way less clothes, but I somehow feel like I have more options.
  • I only own clothes that are good quality, fit well, and I feel great in.
  • I’m saving money (and wardrobe space) by not buying that trendy on-sale dress.
  • I’m much more thoughtful and disciplined about what I bring into my wardrobe, and that mindset is affecting other areas of my life too. I’m much more intentional about the toys, kitchen items and everything else we bring into our home.
Jacket: Madewell from Uptown Cheapskate

My winter capsule has 30 items total:

  • 14 tops
  • 4 pairs of pants
  • 6 dresses
  • 6 pairs of shoes (including rain and snow boots)

(I’m not counting outerwear, pjs, loungewear, workout clothes, or accessories.)

How I created my capsule:

I actually love getting rid of things and paring down my possessions. Sometimes a little too much. So, I took a couple of weeks to slowly and thoughtfully let go of items I didn’t wear often or ever, that I didn’t feel attractive in, that fit poorly, were defective in any way, or were too high-maintenance (must wear with undershirt or iron before each use). I hung on to items I wear often, are super comfortable, and are versatile.

I sold my discarded items at a local thrift store and used that money to go towards a few items I needed to complete my wardrobe (a dressy wool coat, black jeans, and a couple of long-sleeved shirts). My favorite shops are Madewell, Loft, J. Crew, and a few local boutiques.

My goal was to narrow my wardrobe down to somewhere between 30-40 items but didn’t want to get too hung up on an arbitrary number—just wanted to create a minimized wardrobe I love, and I have!

Dress: H&M

Getting ready is so much faster because I can easily see all of my options, and I know my go-tos for special occasions, for casual days, and for date nights. And I don’t think anyone has noticed that I keep wearing my favorites. Maybe they do, but I don’t really care, because I love them! This type of wardrobe just fits my lifestyle and mindset so well.

I like fashion and putting outfits together, but I don’t love the shopping side of it or the constant spending or keeping up with trends. I feel like this wardrobe has given me the permission I needed to invest in classic, good-quality pieces that will last a long time instead of buying things I get over or that go out of style quickly and justifying that they’re on sale! I think this will be a lifelong system for me.

My husband sees how much I love the changes I’ve made and he asked me to help him create his own capsule wardrobe. The kids are next!

I’d love to hear some of your favorite places to buy staples and if you’ve ever done a capsule wardrobe.

I used Unfancy and Simplified Life as resources for my capsule wardrobing. Hailey Devine, Little Miss Fearless, and Lizzy Loves Health have some great tips too!

Dress: Piper and Scoot // Cardigan: Urban Outfitters

My favorite developmental toys for kids

I’m trying to live more minimally and decrease the clutter that makes its way into our house.

So when the time came to buy Christmas gifts for my kids this year, I felt a little stressed about finding things that were in line with my desire for simplicity and purpose in our toy room.

I want toys that encourage my kids to use their brains and toys that they won’t get sick of after a few weeks (or a few days!) and that I will feel good about having in my home for a long time. That means no loud, annoying, cheap (easily breakable) or tacky toys.

I’m so excited to share my picks! I linked all of the products for you, so all you have to do is click on the images to check them out. Please share your own favorite toys in the comments!

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My favorite iPad games for kids

I’m very particular about the way my kids spend time with technology. It can quickly become time-wasting and brain-numbing. I think the biggest concern for me is that it can take away from time they could be spending imagining, interacting with others or learning in a more productive way. But our kids are growing up in a tech-savvy world, and I don’t want to shield them from it or demonize it. I want my kids to know how to take advantage of it for the positive tool it can be.

I was so excited to find a learning program that is in line with how I want technology to be used in our home. Osmo is an award-winning game system that uses the iPad and iPhone for interactive, hands-on learning.

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12 Christmas picture books for the 12 days of Christmas

I had so much fun scouring library shelves and stores for the best Christmas picture books. I went to my friend Julie Bristow, who has a knack for finding the best traditional Christmas books, to add to my list of new favorites. Here are our top 12 picks! We love the idea of wrapping these up and opening one a day with your family for the 12 days of Christmas. Merry Christmas and happy reading!

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10 picture books that cultivate gratitude

According to research, cultivating gratitude is one of the simplest but most powerful paths to a happier, more fulfilled life. Gratitude dispels entitlement and indifference, selfishness and hopelessness. That’s why it’s so important for me to teach my children to have grateful mindsets. One of my favorite ways to teach the value of gratitude is to cuddle up with and read a fun book with them. I teamed up with Miranda Rosbach to share 10 picture books for cultivating grateful mindset.

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16 picture books that teach love and acceptance

There have been so many acts of violence happening close to home and across oceans, and I’ve been thinking of the people who caused those tragic events.

Where was their sense of self-love and reverence for life?

How can I teach my children to deeply love and accept themselves and others, despite our weaknesses and differences?

I started looking for picture books that displayed these messages beautifully and in a way that reaches kids’ hearts and minds.

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