Top Fashion Trends for Spring



70’s-inspired pieces are so huge this Spring (and will be this Summer too!). One of the top ways you’ll see the trend is with fringe-embellished clothes, bags, and even jewelry!

ways to wear fringe for spring

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Shirt dresses were huge on the runway and thankfully super-wearable for every woman! Try the classic white shirt dress or mix it up with prints or chambray!

shirtdresses for Spring

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Thank goodness for this trend, right? Swapping heels for sneakers is a welcome trend, especially when bright colors and retro designs are in!

 bright sneakers for Spring1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

Which of these trends are you most excited about?


Common Core Resources: Be A Learning Hero

She handed me her math homework and she smiled sweetly, ‘here you go…your favorite’.

She’s kidding, of course. Sort of.

I actually never had trouble with math while I was in school, but the sarcasm you likely sense is well placed for two reasons: First of all, English and Reading have always been my favorite subjects and therefore where I excelled, and the homework she typically hands me, while my husband proudly carries the ‘math genius’ crown in our home. (I always scored decently, but after watching him both do complicated problems in his head AND easily teach her, I’m happy to take second place.)

Delaney Homework

But the second reason could be, until recently, explained by two simple words: Common Core. I’ve seen the standards talked about and debated online. I’ve seen them used in my children’s classrooms. I know many a parent who has felt inadequate when faced with school work that used to seem simple to them, but now approached in a different fashion, feels foreign. And I’ve watched the Common Core in action at our kitchen island after school.

I can’t pretend my brain has seamlessly wrapped around every new concept, or skill being taught, but I CAN assure you, as my child’s first teacher, I believe it is my job to support their learning in any way I can.

When I was given the opportunity to explore, fully understanding that their goal is to help parents like you and I to succeed in our role as a support system for how our children are learning, I was excited. So many of the current resources are both spread out online or are aimed at helping educators as compared to those of us at home with our kiddos after school.

Be A Learning - Common Core Resources for Parents

BeALearningHero is a comprehensive set of tools in one location, providing both straight answers and a series of resources that make it possible for me to be an advocate for Delaney and Cooper (my current 5th and 3rd grader).

Be A Learning - Common Core Resources for Parents

This Instagram video moment gives you a quick introduction to the site: BeALearningHero.

Be A Learning - Common Core Resources for Parents

Knowing that Common Core is now being used in more than 40 states, this is IMPORTANT for us to understand. BeALearningHero is an extraordinary place to go. The site does many things very well. Let’s break it down:

  • Real-time, age specific help with homework – there are videos, tips and links. This is powerful for the moments when YOU – Mom and Dad simply don’t understand the concept.
  • Resources to understand the changes Common Core has implemented – while the curriculum varies from state to state and often from classroom to classroom, can answer questions about state standards, Common Core-Aligned assessments and tests like PARRC (Partnership for Assessment and for College and Careers) and Smarter Balanced that students are taking.
  • Tools to understand how English Language arts and Math are both being assessed and taught – if you are to look at your child’s work, it is clear these have changed from how we used to do them in school. What a difference it makes to be able to understand and assist.
  • Watch ‘skills in action’ – See videos that showcase success at different age levels from K-5 in Math, Writing and English. It is so powerful for you and your child to see these moments. Everything from math word problems to reading knowledge shows kids and adults using the same skills our kids are using in the classroom (and working on at home.)

Be A Learning - Common Core Resources for Parents

I can remember when I was the primary teacher my small people relied on. They haver certainly moved on to the right people – relying on the educators in their schools to help them grow and learn, but I truly believe it is important I not allow myself to feel confused by the new standards set by Common Core, by the ways in which my children are being assessed or how they are learning in the classroom – despite it being different from how I learned more than 20 years ago. I’m watching my children grow smarter and stronger, I am grateful BeALearningHero provides some of the tools I need to understand and those that can help me to grow with them.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Be a Learning Hero. The opinions and text are all mine.

Girl Power

Hey! This is Delaney Smith. I’m ten years old and I have been thinking that boys shouldn’t get all the credit for sports. I mean look at Hope Solo and Jenny Finch. Those two women inspire me. Just because I don’t like soccer or don’t pitch doesn’t mean I can’t LOVE them and the sports.

Delaney Basketball Action 2: 42 Things I want My Kids to Know: ExtraordinaryMommy.comSoftball and basketball are my favorite sports. When I’m on the field or on the court, I’m usually a shortstop or a point guard, and I do love that.

For a long time I have been one of those girls who doesn’t like pink or likes to wear dresses. Not me. I like wearing sweatpants, one of my sports’ team shirts, and KD shoes.

Back in history a long time ago women were not allowed to vote or have an education. Susan B. Anthony changed voting. Now in this country girls can have an education. In other countries girls are not allowed to have an education. Think of Malala. She wanted an education and she fought for it. She is also another woman who inspires me. Later on Malala won the Nobel Peace Prize. Amazing! At one time girls were not allowed to play sports. I NEVER liked that. Back then people thought men were stronger than women. Men might beat women in an arm wrestling match but a woman’s hope beats men’s flexibility.

Delaney Softball Smash 2014

This year, I went to get school shoes for 5th grade. There were a lot of girl’s shoes. On absolutely all of the girl’s shoes there was pink. I want some brands to make girl’s shoes that don’t have any pink at all. If I could design my own shoes they would high tops that were blue, teal, and neon green. Anyway I got boy’s Nike shoes. They were red, grey, and white. They are kind of boring. For 6th grade I am hoping they have better shoes. Like my dream shoes.

I love being a girl. I love knowing there are other girls like me who don’t like to wear dresses and pink. There are other girls who like to play sports just like me. Being a girl is special to me. I think there should be a day dedicated to girls. Someday, maybe.

Protecting Our Children: The Power of 5 & The Fight Against Malnutrition

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Thank you to Amway and Nutrilite™ Power of 5 Campaign for inspiring this conversation.

My small dude is closing in on his ninth birthday. While he still has a couple of months to go, (two if I’m being exact) I was wandering around his room the other day, contemplating the number of things that haven’t changed since he was an infant….the chair I used to rock him to sleep, the itty-bitty baseball jersey we first bought as decoration, the ‘C-O-O-P-E-R-S-T-O-W-N’ (his name is Cooper) emblazoned across his wall… and this picture that was taken of me when I was expecting him.

Danielle Maternity Cooper

The thing about this picture? Not only is it one of my favorites…. Coop has refused to let me move it. In my world, it represents so much…not only the collection of dreams I had for him then, but those I still do. At that moment, I was wrapped up in the hope that I would have a healthy baby – ten fingers, ten toes, a strong beating heart, healthy lungs and everything that goes with it. There is so much I took for granted just thinking the word ‘healthy’, not even considering that he was blessed to be coming in to a family that could ensure his food and care.

It never occurred to me as it does to so many mothers, that the age of five is such an incredible milestone. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), children who do not receive the proper nutrition by the age of 5 – essentially within their first 1000 days – can suffer serious health consequences. Their bodies and brains don’t have the opportunity to develop as they should, they are stunted mentally and physically and that is a loss that cannot be recovered.

Launch of Nutrilite Little Bits Power of Five campaign. Zambia.

Why am I telling you this? Because I suspect that many of you, like me, think the idea that there are children in our big beautiful world struggling with malnutrition is heartbreaking. At yet it is happening. WHO tells us that seven million children under the age of five die of preventable causes each year….and 45% of those are related to malnutrition. And worse, what we understand to be ‘malnutrition’ is shifting as countries of all economic backgrounds – low, middle and high are facing this crisis to some degree. You see – ‘malnutrition’ as a condition can include undernutrition, overweight/obesity or a combination of these.

Amway - Nutrilite Little Bits

But here is the good news – we can do something about it because there are organizations banding together for GOOD.

So what is this GOOD? I think of it as being broken down in to bite-sized pieces that make it easy to understand – there is the Education, the Inspiration and the Action.

First, let’s talk about the Education:

Amway has sponsored the Malnutrition Mapping Project, a digital visualization of malnutrition and how it is currently effecting all countries – low, middle and high income. It was developed by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition  or GAIN to offer perspective on how proper nutrition effects the health of the people from all economies. There is data used from more than 30 different countries. The map allows you to compare and analyze everything from birth weight to anemia in children to obesity and diabetes in adults by country.

Malnutrition Mapping Project, sponsored by Amway™

This education is the first step in understanding malnutrition on a global scale – from its effects in the United States to further south in Central and South America and across the ocean in Africa.

Next, be inspired by the work that is currently being done and the help that is currently being offered every day.

Amway™ and its Nutrilite™ Power of 5 Campaign are already fighting childhood malnutrition. Nutrilite™ Little Bits™ are a a micronutrient supplement that are currently being distributed in a handful of countries including the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa and Zambia. Little Bits™ are designed to provide children essential vitamins and minerals, helping them not only to survive, but to flourish through their first 5 years of life.

And finally, to Action.

You knew I was going to tell you that you could help too, right?

Nutrilite™ Power of 5 Campaign

Of course you can donate. That is the easiest thing to do. Giving $5 or $10 allows Amway™ and its Nutrilite™ Power of 5 Campaign to continue to do the good work they are doing, to continue to fight malnutrition worldwide and allow small people to grow up to be big people, sailing past the age of five just like my Cooper has done.

But beyond that, and you can read about it on the Nutrilite™ Power of 5 website under ‘Get Involved’ – you can Participate in a Raise Your Hand event – they are hoping to break the 30,006-person Guinness World Record™ for the largest collage of handprints. April 7th is World Health Day – take the time to share the Malnutrition Mapping Project that I shared with you above so that others can understand malnutrition on a global scale.

Or you can be an Advocate. Tell someone you support the Nutrilite™ Power of 5 Campaign, you believe in their message and where they can learn more.

Thank you, as always, for being here and for believing in the power of good.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Amway. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone. 

A Beautiful Mess: When Your Insides and Outsides Don’t Match

I’ve sat down to write this more than a dozen times and each one has ended with a tightness in my chest, an inability to breathe, and often tears.

It’s fear, I know. I’ve developed a fear of writing.

I’m no stranger to the tears as of late. They’ve been a regular companion for the last few months, such a frequent guest that I often don’t realize they’ve arrived until I’m questioned about them.

Life is beautiful.

Life is messy. Especially lately.

I know you wouldn’t be able to tell from spending any time with me online. I have long preferred to focus on the good, the ‘beautiful’ instead of the messy.

Delaney Mom Getting Ready

But for the past while, I have been holding myself together by a collection of chewing gum, sports shoelaces, salty tears, the listening ears of a few friends and the tiny hands that seem to know just when to reach out and grab me.

Cooper Kiss

Family Cards Game Spring Break 2015

I know you often only see the happy, the smiling, the ‘good’ side of our world ….as that is all I’ve had the strength to share. And often the hard, the messy and the painful isn’t my story to broadcast. The quagmire of pain that can keep you up at night, that arrives in the form of a late night phone call, rocking your world and making it impossible for anything to ever be the same, that can have you at first opening your computer to work and then slamming it shut with an inherent inability to function falls into the category of ‘no one’s business’ and ends up looking to the outside world a lot like this.

Mum Danielle

Or like this.

FamilyPrePAO Soccer

Because again, sadness isn’t a story I often share or one I’ve chosen to reveal….for so many reasons…. Not because I prefer an image of perfection, but rather because the sadness is hard, it is scary, because I have been, for months now, paralyzed by a deep fear of my own inadequacies and most importantly, those stories are not entirely mine to reveal.

And yet it is the most kind, innocuous comments  that appear on simple Instagram pictures with my small dude  like, ‘I just love how wonderful you seem to balance it all and generally have a positive outlook’ that finally prompted me to write this…. just to say, I don’t. I can’t. I never feel that way.

Instagram Cooper Mom

My outsides and my insides don’t always match.

They don’t match for the online world, they don’t match for people I see every day, and they don’t match for my small people. Because sometimes putting on a brave face when you’re hurting is part of being an adult. And a mother. And a friend. And a business owner.

Is that always the case? No.

Let’s face it…. you don’t want me to complain every day. You don’t want me to cry and rant every day. You don’t want to know how hard it is to get out of bed sometimes. You don’t want to know how angry and hurt I am.


Because I don’t want to be that person. If I’m being perfectly honest, I miss me. I miss the me that just WAS happy all the time, that didn’t stare out her office window wishing for a way to put the pieces back together.

I keep hoping that if I act like me, if I look like me, maybe those insides and outsides will match again more often that not.

In the mean time, know this….I truly believe it is acceptable to keep some thoughts inside and I don’t believe it makes you (or me) inauthentic. The part of me that I share is still me, it just isn’t ALL of me. And I want you to know that I bet many of you do a bit of this too – keep a portion of you held back, choose to share a certain side, recognize that someone else’s story is not your story to share.

If the shiny, the happy, the good is what you share and you bury the rest beneath the version of you that feels right, it is ok. You aren’t alone. I certainly wish I could have skipped the last few months, but I’m hoping they are making me stronger.

I believe he Beautiful Mess is doing the same for you.

I have always said that I will never share if I get into a true fight with my husband, if I am mad at my parents or my in-laws. It has been my personal policy to avoid airing my battles in this space. I want to respect privacy, allow my family to maintain dignity and keep from revealing anything that would result in embarrassment. Naturally, I respect anyone who chooses otherwise, but this ‘policy’ means that sometimes the heart-breaking and brutal will continue to be masked by one smile after another, one sporting event after another, one beautiful, messy, average completely-out-of-balance moment after another.

Thank you for being here. I am, as always, grateful for you.

5 Must-Have Easter (and Spring!) Desserts

I can’t believe it’s almost Easter.  I love this  time of year. The trees are started to bud, grass is getting green and the sun is shining and more often than not, it is WARM.  I also love the desserts that come this time of year. You know, the ones that just remind you of spring? Carrot cake, little bird nest cookies and anything with coconut. Yum! I share a lot of desserts on my blog, All Things Mamma, each day – but some of my favorites are the ones that match perfectly with your Easter Ham. Check them out! I hope you get a few ideas for your own table this year.

Top 5 Must-Have Easter Desserts

#1 on my list is always….

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

These yummy and surprisingly simple cupcakes are delicious and can be made into a cakes or bars. Choose whichever option is easiest for you.

Next up is another one of my favorites – but it does take a little more time.  I think this year I’ll try this recipe as cupcakes!

Hummingbird Cake

Oh my goodness….If you’ve never had this cake or tried to make it – do yourself and everyone a favor and make it happen. It is simply divine.

This is a little spin on plain carrot cake and is oh so delicious….

Zucchini Carrot Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

The lemon cream cheese frosting makes these simple bars light and refreshing.  So perfect for get togethers.

If you’re looking for a show stopping dessert – this is it!

Chocolate Cheesecake Cake

A layer of chocolate cheesecake sandwiched in between chocolate cake and topped with a chocolate sour cream frosting and chocolate shavings.  No more explanation needed.  TRY IT!

This has always been a family favorite for birthdays, holidays and more!

These Coconut Cream Cupcakes are delicious and so easy to make!

Light and fluffy and sweet! These cupcakes are sure to please everyone who sits down at your table.

There you have it – 5 of my favorite Easter desserts. I hope you found something you’d like to try this year with your family!  Also, check out my All Things Easter and Spring Pinterest Board for more inspiration!

Family Game Night: Tips to Make it Memorable

It is Monday morning after a packed weekend of games – not the ‘family’ kind…though I’d like to tell you I participated – if cheering, clapping, losing my voice and standing in the cold can count as a sport. As is typical in our house, we were all in on the family front as my son and his team, the Rookies (with dad as coach) won a hard-fought, local soccer tournament.

Cooper PAO Soccer 2015 Family Game Night

Cooper PAO Soccer 2015 Family Game NightAs is always the case after a series like this, I’m desperate to spend time focused on our family at home. I love to watch my small people play. I love to watch them tackle sports they adore. But I always love a little time that is reserved just for the four of us – and time that allows me to ‘get in the game’….if you know what I mean. These traditional sports are mainly reserved for Coop, Delaney and of course Jeff as he is the coach for virtually every sport they play. I’m definitely fine with my job on the sidelines ( I don’t know the rules well enough to be on the field) but sometimes it is nice to PLAY.

So, Family Game Night it is.

How you can you make a Family Game Night both successful and memorable? Inspired by a new show premiering on the Game Show Network, I’m sharing my top five favorite tips over on SheKnows as one of their Experts.

Just for fun, I’ll tell you my first tip….

Make it Regular. Choose the one night a week your family is guaranteed to be home. For you, that could be Friday or Sunday nights. In our house, most weekends are usurped by games (clearly) and there are definitely some practices during the week. While it has taken some juggling, and we do sometimes shift the day of the week based on the season, we’ve become fairly settled on Wednesdays. Yes, I know during the school year, that can’t be a late night ,but we work around it.

For my other thoughts (and because I’d love to know what you do in your family), head on over to visit me on SheKnows. And, if you are feeling so inspired, include GSN’s new show Idiotest in your family festivities. You’d be amazed how easy it is to LOSE to your small people if you aren’t paying attention!

Game Show Newtwork - Idiotest

The show, Idiotest, is based on a popular app that requires you to be paying attention to each question, each scene and gives you points based not only on correct answers, but a quick mind. I love the opportunity to face-off against my family when something other than Monopoly money and balls and strikes are on the table. (And the new Season premieres on Wednesday, April 1 at 8/7C)

I’d love to know how your family celebrates a night like this. What is your favorite ‘game’ to play together and how often do you do it? Are there special traditions you include?

Disclosure: Thank you to SheKnows Experts and the Game Show Network for inspiring this conversation. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Creating White Space: Tips for the Busy Mom

Raising children is an all-consuming task. Motherhood begins at sun up and barrels straight on to sun down, then right on through the night for the lucky ones. It’s overwhelming and busy, and sometimes the whole of it threatens to swallow us.

As one who is not always top notch at creating a little white space in life to just breathe, I’ve found myself making more of a conscious effort as of late to remove myself, sometimes for only a few moments, and take time to breath. It isn’t easy, and the always unwelcome companion of guilt likes to trail along more often than I care to admit, but finding those moments is important.

White space makes me a better mom.

But how do we do this, moms? How do we find the time, and take advantage of it, when there is so very much needed of us? What do we do when life is too full to step back?

It’s true, the demands are great. Between the kids who need you, the spouse who wants you, the house that begs for you, and the host of other people who are counting on you, time is spread thin. And if you’re anything like me, you can lay down at the end of the day and recount a handful of ways in which you failed someone or something.

You didn’t get a nutritious dinner on the table.

You didn’t get the baseball pants washed in time.

You couldn’t sit down with all the children who needed homework help, so someone had to figure it out on his own and he probably got half the paper wrong.

You were too exhausted to give your husband what he wanted when all the children settled.

You didn’t do this, didn’t accomplish that, dropped the ball here, and the list could go on…

What do you do when you feel like you’re falling at every turn?

Here are 3 Tips for Creating White Space When You Feel Like a Failure

1.) Start by thinking about all the things you did right

At the end of the night, when the house is finally, blissfully, quiet, think through the ways you succeeded that day. Because the truth is that when we constantly feel like we’re failing we will spin our wheels harder trying to succeed, and that leads to nothing but burn out.

2.) Set aside some time every day to be alone

I am careful when I say this, because I don’t want to encourage anyone to feel as though they should demand alone time. We don’t take these solitary moments because we feel we deserve them, but because we simply know we need them. And it doesn’t have to be long stretches of time. Getting out of bed fifteen minutes earlier to sit with your coffee before the house explodes with activity may be all it takes to charge your batteries.

3.) Be realistic with what you can really accomplish

Part of the struggle of motherhood is there because we place it directly upon ourselves to accomplish all the tasks every single day. We write out To-Do lists that are near impossible to complete, and we wonder why no one will help us, and why we feel so burned out by the time the day is finished.

Sweet moms – We don’t have to do it all. It’s okay if there’s dirt on the floor for a few days. It’s okay if your kids don’t get in the full 30 minutes of reading every single night. It’s alright if the laundry stays piled up for a little while, and if dinner isn’t organic, made from scratch, wholesome fare. It’s okay, moms.

You’re doing okay.


At the end of the day when you lay down your head, you can rest in knowing that your children are loved. They’re seen and they’re known, and you have their backs. And you can rest assured that while you may not be excelling at every thing you do, you are pretty amazing at the most important thing.

Because a child who goes to bed loved is blessed, and the mother who pours herself out for him is the key to that blessing.

So don’t wear yourself thin, moms. Give yourself the freedom to step away every once in awhile, and breathe. Take it all in, the crazy hard whole of it, and then let it out and close your eyes, letting the peace of that white space moment cover you like a blanket.

You, dear mom, are extraordinary. Believe it.

Style: Day to Night ‘Date Night’ Outfit Ideas

I am going to assume that most of you ladies reading this are busy women. Working, raising children, cooking dinners, running errands — you know the drill. So when it comes to a fun night out, who has time to create a whole new outfit? I know I don’t. I just want to upgrade the outfit I have on. Unless, of course, there are remnants of the day left on my clothing to remind me of my day job! Thankfully, my kids are getting older and I don’t have as much of that anymore. So today I thought I would share with you three different ways to upgrade an outfit to be ready for an evening out.

Day to Night Outfit ideas

Day to night outfit ideas

Before we get started with some examples, let me share the best tips I’ve got to make an outfit fancier.

  • Heels – Hands down the best way to dress up an outfit — any outfit! — is to add a pair of sexy heels. If you’re not a heels kinda girl, wedges work too! Anything to give you height and lengthen your legs.
  • Cinch it up – When things are more streamlined you look more put together. Add a belt, a blazer, a tie anything to help create shape.
  • Jewelry – Another easy and sure-fire way to dress up an outfit is with jewelry. A statement necklace, rings, or some arm candy will spice it right up.
  • Makeup – I didn’t really touch on it here because we’re sharing outfit ideas, but think about adding some red lips or a cat eye. You’ll look fancier in no time.

Okay, let’s get started!

 Jeans & a Tee to Casual Night out

day to night outfit idea

We all love the easy jeans, tee and a pair of boots outfit. It’s comfortable, casual and still cute. But it’s not really date-night ready, if you know what I mean. So instead swap the riding boots for a pair of booties, cuff your jeans, half-tuck your shirt to show off a cute belt and add a blazer. Isn’t that simple? As you can see, the look is more pulled together and ready for a casual night out with friends.

Day to Night Leggings

day to night out ideas leggings

Everyone loves their leggings or yoga pants. It’s a known fact. But they’re not really all that fancy or date-night appropriate. An easy way to still have the comfort of the yoga pants but look more ‘dressed up’ is to swap out the leggings for a pair of jeggings! I know, it sounds so silly, but trust me on this one! The pair I’m wearing here are a lot thicker than leggings, have back pockets, and even can be cuffed so they look like real jeans! Add a cute pair of heels and a fancy necklace and you are good to go!

Dress it up

day to night outfit idea dress

Who would have thought that a dress could be casual? I didn’t either at first, but this long-sleeved sweater-dress from Zara is amazing. It’s like pajamas but cute. It can be worn for running errands during the day with a pair of sneakers and easily dressed up with a pair of booties, a cute belt and a fancy necklace and call your hubby! You are looking good lady!

I hope these gave you some ideas to upgrade your day-time outfit to date-ready in no time. I’d love to hear how you get ready for dates. Leave any date to night get ready tips in the comments.

Spring Accessories to Brighten Your Wardrobe

It’s been a snow-filled Winter for most of the country, so I am more than ready for a little Spring. Are ya with me?! Even if the weather isn’t cooperating for you yet, there are plenty of ways to infuse a little bit of Spring into your wardrobe!

My favorite Spring staple is always floral print. From shoes, to scarves, to jewelry there a multitude of options! Floral sneakers? Colorful cuffs? Yes, please.

floral print accessories for spring


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If floral print really isn’t your thing, then brights are a great alternative! Even if you’re still feeling the freeze, brights are the perfect way to add a little pep to your step! I mean, how could you not smile when wearing an attention-grabbing tangerine bag?!

brights for spring

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What are your favorite Spring accessories?