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The Link Up: The Well-Reviewed Backpacks Emily Bought for Her Kids, Mallory’s $25 Athletic Shorts, and A Trendy Pair Of Pants We’re Wearing Right Now

Hello all! In case you missed it here’s a little housekeeping…it’s finally happened: Emily made the big Portland move (ah)! We’re all very excited for her & the entire Henderson family. With Brian, Emily, Charlie, and Birdie (and ARCIFORM) up there, you can expect lots more fun farm content coming your way very soon (also ah)! But before all that, let’s focus on today. We’ve got a great link up for you so let’s get right on to it.

This week’s home tour is Jessica Hart’s fun, whimsy LA home (don’t skip this one btw). She called on her friend and designer Carlos Mota to make her dream home come together in a colorful, yet elegant way. Every room has something special in this house, and if you were wondering how to do cabana stripes well, this home tour will teach you.

From Emily: In hopes of not having a janky backpack that falls apart, I read a bunch of reviews (for the first time probably ever), and the clear kids backpack winners are LL Bean and Pottery Barn Kids. The kids were not impressed with LL Bean’s designs as much, so we went with Pottery Barn Kids…they had a million to choose from and after 45 min of passionate debate Bird went with a bunny and floral motif (shocker) and Charlie with a glow in the dark shark backpack both of which Brian and I actually really like. PLUS you get to monogram for free, and they’re very high quality. We love both backpacks equally 🙂

From Caitlin: I know I’m talking about Megababe ALL THE TIME (you’ve seen me link up all their products at this point) but AHH. Please let me sing the praises of their recently released Smoothie Deodorant!!! It’s WAY different from any natural deodorant I’ve tried – the formula is even different from Megababe’s other offerings and it’s way more “standard” feeling, like white and substantial instead of liquid-y, if that makes sense – and it’s UNREAL. I don’t know WHAT is in the “fruit enzymes” or how it “balances pH” but it’s awesome. It almost like…resets my armpits? And it kind of smells like a lemon bar or like sunscreen and fruity pebbles, but in a really nice way where people have asked me what I’m wearing and I’ve been like “GIRL, it’s DEODORANT!!!” I just hit bottom on my first tube and happily reordered. A BILLION STARS.

Also From Caitlin: Grab your coffee and settle in for this uber-long read (like, 20-30 minutes) about a string of museum robberies, a billion-dollar jewel heist, and some modern-day European outlaws. It’s a true story that reads like the plot of a Dan Brown novel – catchy and connected and unbelievable – and you’ll learn a ton along the way. If you loved that Netflix documentary about the theft at the Gardner museum, this will be right up your alley.

From Ajai: I keep going back to look at this wall-hanging (I’ve put it in my cart about twenty times). I can’t decide if I need a pair or just one. I love the attention to detail on this piece, and how it feels calming yet commands attention, it’s a conversational piece indeed. 

From Mallory: I live in workout shorts so whenever I find an affordable and comfy pair I snag it FAST. I think you can guess where this is going but I was in Target the other day and found these baddies for only $25. The fabric is VERY soft and thin and they don’t have the stupid built-in underwear that most workout shorts have. I sized down on these (usually I’m a small but I had to exchange them for an XS) and I got mine in navy (although the black is nice too). I’m a big fan!!

Also From Mallory: I’m in the market for a new curling iron and I’ve always loved the wand but mine has a tapered end and it looks dumb on my now shorter hair. My sister has a 1-inch wand that doesn’t taper and I love it…just wondering: is there a difference between the cheap and expensive ones?? For example, is this $17 curling iron going to do worse things to my hair than this $60 curling iron or this even more expensive $160 curling iron? At the end of the day, you’re heating and frying your hair so what’s the point of spending a lot of money on a curling iron???

From Jess: I’ve always stayed away from printed pants because I of course had the dumb idea in my head that they wouldn’t be “flattering” on my body type. But then I tried on these green check wide leg ones and I couldn’t love them more! It’s my ideal pattern in a fun but still neutral-ish color, and they are SO COMFORTABLE. Light as a feather and stretchy. If you are someone that is more of an in-between size, the sales gal recommended sizing down. Since they are stretchy, they apparently will loosen more as you wear them. Also at 5’4″ they are ever so slightly cropped. So if you want them actually cropped (and are a shorty like me) you’ll need to get them hemmed. Story of my life. But I actually really like the length so to each their own!

Anyway, that’s all the time we have this beautiful Sunday, so we’re gonna wrap it up and chat next week!! This time next Sunday work for you guys? Great. See you then xx

Opening Image Credit: Design by Carlos Mota | Photo by Douglas Freidman| via Architectural Digest

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1 month ago

State also makes very good kids backpacks and they are very cute.

1 month ago

Wow, there’s a waiting list on the Smoothie deodorant. It must be good!

1 month ago

Caitlin if you’re into art heist stories, the Boston Globe has a podcast called Last Seen, about the Gardner heist that’s really good.
thanks for the backpack recommendations as well! Our daughter’s beloved Wonder Woman backpack (purchased very cheap at a big box store, not to be named), already has a busted zipper and some loose threads. We’re on the hunt for something equally cute but better construction. Did you do any research on the Hanna Anderson backpacks? Those are also pretty cute.

1 month ago

DESIGN: Interesting article about using an ancient Persian building design to keep cool:
READ: Loved “When Stars Collide” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, “The Last Thing He Told Me” by Laura Dave, “Seven Days in June” by Tia Williams and “Interior Chinatown” by Charles Yu.
WATCHED: Started “Cobra Kai” on Netflix and as high school students in the 80’s we have enjoyed the nostalgia. I watched “Silver Skates” on Netflix primarily for the Russian filming locations and costumes as it was a pretty standard love-story.

1 month ago
Reply to  Kj

Very interesting article about the wind catchers, thank you for sharing it!

1 month ago

From a teacher perspective- PLEASE get a backpack that fits folders. No tiny (mini) backpacks. They are the bane of our existence. 😀 Sincerely, All Teachers

1 month ago

Wow it blows my GenX mind to see that very grandmilennial home for that couple when 15 years ago they would have had all white walls, crushed car cube coffee tables mid century everything and Banksy inspired / Damien Hirst art..

1 month ago
Reply to  kk

Some people still have gorgeous homes like that. Wouldn’t it be boring if everyone like the same thing forever?

1 month ago
Reply to  Emma

I’m not a fan of overly trendy or of the moment design in any style. My English grandma furnished her house with heirlooms, jumble sale antiques and mothy Persian rugs. When it was done it was done. Forever. The chairs were oak and horsehair, they weren’t going anywhere. And it looked fabulous for forty years because it was personal to her, not trendy or disposable. That’s a very old school European approach – and the look that is now in vogue in the USA lol. Personally, decorating for myself, I try to only have things that I love, and my relationship to those things deepens over time because I love them. Of course style evolves over time with life changes, mood and budget, but my basics remain… The Nichols rug I saved from the trash with my Karl Springer tables from CL still bring me joy 15 years later… I didn’t know what they were when I found them, I just liked them.. they educated ME- and they weren’t trendy when I got them… DIY done over time hits differently than a decorator though.

1 month ago

Mallory–Get the cheap curling iron! I’ve had the same Conair curling iron for probably a decade and it’s still going strong. I think it cost $10.

Julie P
1 month ago

So for whatever reason this post didn’t show up on the Insider Community so I came over to the blog to get my fix.

I second the Pottery Barn backpacks – bonus they come in 4 sizes so you can choose what size works for your child. AND they have matching lunch boxes that clip onto the front. 🙂

Sariah Tambre
1 month ago

I adore this home tour! It’s a whimsical home (not whimsy).

1 month ago

I have been through quite a few curling irons in my life, and my favorite has always been the hot tools brand ($50-60). I either get the white and black irons or the gold ones. I did try the purple one once and the handle melted… it was gnarly. But the other kinds work very well and you can adjust the temp so you don’t have to burn your hair (it doesn’t have to be at the max temp to be effective). Hope that helps!

1 month ago
Reply to  Ashlea

i also got this brand (the black and gold) and have been happy with it. snagged it during a sale at target for around $20.

1 month ago
Reply to  Ashlea

I have used a curling iron nearly every morning for 20 years, and it is my experience that the cheap ones will stop heating within a year. Also the little spring that clamps your hair to the iron will break. The spring breaks on the more expensive ones too, but you can buy replacement springs for a “professional” curling iron. The cheap ones are impossible to fix and you have to throw them away.
I have the Hot Shot Tools brand – it looks very similar to the Hot Tools brand (maybe just a different distributer?)

Liz M
1 month ago

Ok re: PB Backpacks! They are the best! My son is going into grade 2 and his looks brand new (got it 4 years ago for jk/sk/grade1 and used it at camp all summer) Still going strong with all the zippers working and no holes! They are well worth the full price. I got both my kids at PB outlet for like $20! Same with their lunch pails – the best. And yes, i know i am more passionate about a kids backpack than is normal 😉

Joyce Garrity
1 month ago

$130 for pants that will date??? never.

1 month ago

I would like to state for the record that the average woman (i.e. the 50% percentile on a growth chart) is 5’4″ tall. Even though I am 5’6″, I find it dumbfounding that pants are still typically made for a not-average body (absolutely acknowledging that this is not the only way fashion does this). I do suppose you can make pants shorter more easily than you can make them longer, if being totally practical? but still, it’s a head-scratcher for me.

1 month ago

Funny, I remember researching backpacks for “the best” before my kiddo started kindergarten. Preschool didn’t allow backpacks, only a specific size canvas tote bag that could be personalized with patches, fabric paint, etc. Anyway, we found the perfect backpack (size, supposedly well constructed, price, design he liked.) The zipper broke on the Sunday night before returning to school after winter break. Late, rainy night run to the local Ross store, grabbed an Adidas backpack that he approved of, think it was about $20. Used it through first year of middle school/6th grade, when finally decided it was too small to fit lap top, PE clothes & notebooks, even though it was still in great shape. Most kids with the cute PB packs switched out to something more sporty by 1st/2nd grade. Don’t make it too complicated, pick something that fits their body & your budget, that they’ll actually use.

1 month ago
Reply to  deb

Yes, agree, and I would say definitely don’t ever get it monogrammed. They are nice quality backpacks and should be passed on to another child when yours decides it’s so not cool anymore.

Annie K.
1 month ago

I like to joke that I’ve spent more time online shopping for backpacks than I got to spend deliberating over the purchase of my home. It’s SO true. And it will never stop. Because I will, or my kids will, perpetually be on the hunt.

I have never had this reaction to a home tour before – I literally can not see how it’s attractive. It reminds me of a kind of country bed and breakfast with themed rooms, where one might be stuffed with teddy bears and another antique dolls, and where my comment would be, “the people were really nice! The decor hadn’t been updated and felt very 80’s, but it was an experience.” I’m so glad that it’s their haven, and I don’t hold my taste above anyone’s, but it was fun to feel that mystery and disconnect. I’m officially not cool!

1 month ago

I’ll also put in a plug for Lands End backpacks (and lunchboxes). I expect my kids’ backpacks to last *many* years. We’ve been please with PBK, LLB, and LE. The PBK definitely feel the most substantial, but they all have lasted several years. For rolling backpacks (which my younger kids use for luggage), I definitely prefer LE and LLB, which have superior ‘pull pole’ designs.

For lower cost options, I’ve also been pleased with Wildkin backpacks and lunchboxes, especially for preschoolers. My favorite ‘diaper bag’ was actually a Wildkin backpack, haha. I used it for years. It was teal with big purple dots, which made it easy to distinguish!

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