How We’re Getting Through Winter

The temperature is dropping quickly here in Idaho. Yesterday in was 19 degrees and we “enjoyed” our first snowfall. By “enjoy” I mean we are all so excited to wake up to the white stuff–it’s so beautiful!–and then Greta wants to go build a snowman so we spend 30 minutes digging out all the snow clothes and layering it on and then she only plays outside 5 minutes because it is freezing! And it is. I don’t blame her. I like being inside, sipping hot cider and cuddled up with a blanket when it snows, personally. We have a long winter ahead of us and although Greta-the-great is usually gung ho when it comes to playing outside through the other seasons–sun up to sun down!–I dare say she takes after me when it comes to being cold–I can barely tolerate it.

In preparation for the winter ahead, I restarted our Kiwi Crate subscription–an activity box delivered to your door full of hands-on art projects, science, games, imaginative play, recipes and then some. We had it for a few months when Faye was first born and Greta absolutely loved doing the activities that came in the crate. I loved that it kept her busy and happy while my hands were tied up with a new baby. Each month there is a new theme–gardening, dinosaurs, space was a hit!–this month it was a medieval theme. I could see Greta’s eyes light up as soon as she opened the box and there was an illustration of a castle.

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We had some of her cousins over and they had the castle put together within a couple minutes and then for the next hour, added every sticker that came with it and all the flags and then came the different voices for the characters–my favorite part.

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I have never received a crate that Greta didn’t pour over for an extended period of time. They are all so engaging and it was nice to see that Greta was equally as interested in playing with the castle as her boy cousins were. Which meant, my sister and I could sit back and just catch up.

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Greta requested the castle stay in her room, so we cleared a spot on her bookcase for it. I am not sure Santa can top the cardboard castle come Christmas.

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The crate would make such a great holiday gift for friends or family with kids. Kiwi Crate plans start at just $16.95 and you can add materials for extra siblings for just $9.99/month with free shipping on ALL subscriptions! They have generously offered our readers 30% off on your first month subscription with code CLJ30. (Note: Promotional code excludes sibling add-ons.) You can even shop for individual arts and crafts and even party favors on the website–I think it would be so great for the kids’ table at Thanksgiving! 

How are you making it through winter? (If you say move to Florida–I hope you have a spare room. ;)

 This post is sponsored by Kiwi Crate. 



41 Comments

  • Reply November 21, 2014

    Kate

    Your response to all of this is good. Your blog will be so much better for it. I had stopped reading long ago because of the above statements. I’ll always remember young house love as being a class act and so respectable for not accepting freebies. Good luck-

  • Reply November 18, 2014

    Anna

    My issue with sponsored posts (well, I have two of them) is that these compaines are saturating the market. I have seen Blue Apron on every. single. blog. I read. The craft box. The water thing. It makes me NOT want to order their stuff just to show these companies how tiresome and lazy it is to bombard readers with their stuff all at the same time. For the Love of God–enough. My second issue is bloggers hawking things that they would NEVER pay for themselves. I have a very hard time believing that all of the bloggers pimping out Blue Apron would use that product regularly, on their own dime. That should be your litmus test. Take the first Blue Apron freebie (which you are also probably paid to write about in addition the the product). Then actually buy it continually for next year on your own dime. If you aren’t going to do that, why should I? One DIY blogger that I have read for years has been on four sponsored trips in the past three months.Resorts, NYC, everywhere. Would she actually pay out of her own pocket to spend three nights at an expensive resort and pay for all the top-end meals and activities? No way. Then why should I? It is the height of arrogance to try and sell people something that you don’t have a specific plan of buying for yourself in the future. I’m glad you have a new policy on this. I think this whole sponsorship thing is killing blogs. I may check in on the blogs I read once-a week. A year ago, I checked in daily.

    • Reply November 21, 2014

      Anonymous

      I agree 100% with everything Anna said. I still read all the blogs with sponsor posts (even if I read 4 in a row that are hawking the same thing) but I usually skip these posts. (Well, I did read one of the 1,000 about Blue Apron, and I must say, what an enormous waste of money. Just get a cookbook, people.) I’d love for everyone to adopt the same attitude towards sponsored posts that Young House Love (RIP) had, but I understand you gotta make the money in order to keep the blog going.

  • Reply November 18, 2014

    meghanmass

    Sort of surprised to see some of the comments above. I don’t like the sponsored posts either but I get it. You have a family to take care of. But it definitely would be nice to see more decor posts – I love how your visions come together. I also understand that you don’t necessarily have something new decor-wise to post every day so again, the sponsored posts don’t make smoke come out of my ears like they seem to do to some others. Actually, I think you do the sponsored posts pretty well – I get more irritated with them over at Bower Power! And she just did a Kiwi Crate post as well which seemed less authentic than yours. I hope my comment encourages you a bit after some of the comments above.

  • Reply November 17, 2014

    Amy@fivekindsofhappy.com

    I feel like everyone has just copied the previous comments and jumped on the bandwagon of grizzling!! We don’t pay you to read your blog. I’m surprised readers can be so demanding of just an average family writing about their life and home. I get that you want to please your readers as the blog is like a job for you… but just know that not everyone is all up in arms about the fact that you get freebies.

  • Reply November 17, 2014

    Krystal

    My goodness everyone! Why is it so easy to point that negative finger? I love a good design blog just as much as anyone else. But Chris and Julia are not just a design blog…..they are a family so it is only natural they also promote ‘family’ things ie. kids stuff, dinner parties, etc. They are passing along their thoughts and opinions on things that some of us may not have heard about. And if they get paid for it…..score for them! Who wouldn’t mind a few freebies here and there. It would be worse if they got all this free stuff and never mentioned or provided their opinions on it. And as for the Soma water comment about making their guests wait to take pictures…come on. Their friends and family all know that this blog is part of who they are and it is only natural that some of that falls into their personal time. Those pictures probably only took a matter of minutes compared to the hours spend enjoying each others company. It is a shame how so many bloggers are now having to defend their actions when they have done nothing wrong. Julia and Chris……you are doing fabulous!

  • Reply November 17, 2014

    jane

    I agree with all the comments about sponsored posts. I don’t follow a lot of blogs, thes ones I do I read every time they post. When they get off topic to offer their opinion on a sponsored product its frustrating. I’m glad you addressed it. Your readers made you popular it might be your blog and your ftee range to do what you’d like, but you lose readers by ignoring them.

  • Reply November 15, 2014

    CTDC

    I just wanted to say I really enjoy your blog. Blogs require work to maintain, and the price of that work is sometimes sponsored content. I think the question is the ratio of sponsored to “genuine” content, and how transparent the bloggers are about which is which. I think you are fine on both things.

    As with any blog, some posts appeal to me more than others, whether sponsored or not. But that’s the wonderful thing about the Internet– no one forces me to read it. You guys have produced a lot of great content, and I still enjoy stopping by to read each post.

  • Reply November 15, 2014

    Wendy

    Heard about the mean comments happening over here, and decided to come see for myself
    Wow. just…wow. I’m sorry that some “loyal” readers are only loyal if you write what they want to see. This is YOUR blog, and you have every right to write whatever you want. Maybe some of them don’t get what it takes to run a blog? I like your blog, and even your sponsored content. Those who don’t like the sponsored content may quit reading, but you’ve gained a new follower in me. I’m off to subscribe!

  • Reply November 14, 2014

    Trisha

    I actually just heard about you- other bloggers were talking about your nasty commenters and how unfair they were being to you so I came by to see. All I am going to say is that this is your space. You share a piece of what you do here and those that discover you are lucky to be a part of that. If doing sponsored material is a part of who you are now (and lets face it, every major, and most minor, websites in the world host sponsored material, sponsored reviews, sponsored giveways and media buys) and some leave, then they leave. I can promise you that there will be plenty of readers that will find you and enjoy what you are providing.

    Every time I changed genres I had to wait for a new audience to find me- and they do.

    You do not have to publish this, I just wanted to stop by as a fellow blogger (one that does sponsored, personal, and DIY material) that you just keep sharing all of you- do not let the negativity get you down.

    Trisha
    momdot.com
    momdotmedia.com

  • Reply November 14, 2014

    Angela

    I have to say that I am a bit taken back by some of the comments I see above. I’m sure it costs money to run your blog, and I don’t have a problem with you earning a living through sponsored content. I think you share things in a very creative and genuine way. What I had planned to just say is that I think you did a lovely job sharing Kiwi Crate. It looks like a fun way for kids to spend time indoors this winter, and I appreciate the reader discount.

    • Reply November 14, 2014

      Angela

      I commented earlier, but had to come back and say something else. The more I thought about some of the comments left on this blog, the angrier I got. I read a lot of blogs. I do a lot of reading in general. I would never expect a writer of any publication, whether a blogger or novelist, to provide me with free entertainment. Rather, pay for my entertainment. I know it costs money to run a website, and it takes up your valuable time. The time you take away from your family to share your tips and inspiration with us is worth something – a lot. Does Anonymous above expect to get the newspaper delivered for free or walk out of the book store without paying for a book? The sense of entitlement I have read in these comments is astounding. Really.

  • Reply November 14, 2014

    Sara

    This is my first visit to your blog (after being prompted to read the comments) and I want to say I am SORRY your regular readers aren’t adapting to your choice to run sponsored content. And I think this hate session in the form of comments is absurd. I have to say, if I had a problem with your sponsored content (which I don’t), I would have emailed you directly rather than commenting here.

  • Reply November 13, 2014

    Kate

    I’d also like to express my two cents, but in a positive way….

    I have followed your blog almost daily (weekdays) for the past year and a half. I would like to make a point of saying that I am NOT a homeowner, nor have I done ANY remodeling of any kind. Why am I here, you ask? Because I loved the way you transformed your home in Utah. On top of that, I have found some very inspirational posts that I have actually used your experience and directions to recreate for myself. Just off the top of my head, some of my favorites are:

    1- The do it yourself pom-pom curtains in the Utah house.
    2- The frog tape pointers.
    3- How to showcase your Christmas cards with gold spray paint, painted binder clips… Genius!!
    4- Coming across some of your BEAUTIFUL artwork. *that I will own someday*

    I think in today’s society where everyone has the outlet to express their beliefs, opinions, etc., that we have completely lost the decency to listen, not necessarily agree with, other people’s views, opinions, personal tastes, etc. If you do not like the sponsored posts, don’t read them. The magical thing about this is you don’t have to agree or LOVE everything they post…. You have the choice to stop reading this blog. Out of all the comments (negative ones in particular) I’m sure you have even more people at home, behind the safety of their computer screens agreeing with many of the commenter’s posts. On the other hand you also have just as many people respecting and admiring your choice to be open and share these experiences with us, sponsored or not. I have never commented on a blog post, but I felt compelled to speak out in a positive way and say that I enjoy your blog. The time you put into it, the relationships you’ve formed with multiple sponsors, and the great DIY projects. So for all of that I give you a big high five!

    • Reply November 13, 2014

      Jessica

      I have to disagree a little. While we are free to move on to other blogs that don’t include so many sponsored posts, it doesn’t help C&J at all for us to do that. Then they’ll just have a smaller readership, less money, and no idea why. It’s because people care that they write. It can help C&J steer their blog in a direction that will help them keep an income and sponsors coming in. I see it as a merciful thing!

      • November 14, 2014

        Kate

        And respectfully I disagree with you. I think there are PLENTY of people that will understand, and respect that to maintain a blog of this size, it’s time consuming. I think its fantastic they found a way to generate income from home, whether from free products, or ad revenue. I’m happy to see someone achieving success on something they created and started themselves. I view them as small business owners and will continue to support their blog.

      • November 17, 2014

        Jessica

        You are certainly free to disagree, but it will do Chris and Julia no good if their readers disappear. Like it or not, people do stop following blogs if the content is no longer interesting to them. Too many sponsored posts=disinterested readers.

        I’m glad they can generate income from home, too, as I believe it’s good for their children (and society in general) to have mom and dad around as much as possible. I want them to succeed, as do their other readers. Constructive criticism does not equal a loss of decency.

  • Reply November 13, 2014

    Laura

    Hey, C&J! I do agree that the sponsored posts are a bit heavy these days, but I get where you’re coming from. You need income. You have a family to support. So, until you reach a status where you don’t *need* sponsored posts, we just have to deal with them. And I am even fine with a post that had nothing to do with DIY (the water pitcher) because I think you would have had a Friendsgiving anyway–water pitcher or not. A lot of reality shows have obvious product placement in them, and often times they’re cheeky. I don’t truly think the Kardashians spend their time looking for LivingSocial deals and the cameras just happened to have been there. So, kudos to you both. I think your design aesthetic rings in as being genuinely you, which is what I like about this blog anyway.

    Speaking of which: any chance you can do a post featuring some of your favorite artists? I want to get some more art for my house (already have your “Moody” print hanging in my house), and I’d love to know names of specific artists that pique your interest.

    • Reply November 13, 2014

      Julia

      I love that idea! I’ll definitely post about some artists I love.

      • November 15, 2014

        Laura B.

        Oh! And I forgot to mention that I’ve given Kiwi Crate as a gift last year to a friend’s daughter. It’s so rare for kids to get mail these days, and she loved the monthly surprise right at her door. It really is a fabulous idea.

  • Reply November 12, 2014

    Jen

    I completely agree, it’s way too much. Even if you were not using the closet post to get a free closet, the fact that all the readers felt that you were doing that should give you a good indicator of the tone your blog now has. It’s not genuine anymore. Also, the comment section is exactly the place for this conversation, not personal email conversations. Listen to your readers , even if it is hard , everyone will respect you for it.

  • Reply November 12, 2014

    Robyn

    I’m not interested in an email response because people ask a question and deserve an answer in real time in my opinion. Curating some sort of response to criticism is lame, in my opinion. Say what it is and answer the question rather than offering the answer via email. I didn’t leave my email address because my full name is not important here. Whether I’m considered a ‘hater’ or a ‘troll’ is your decision not mine. I know what my intent is and that’s what matters to me. You should be grateful that people once enjoyed you enough to offer their opinions. You’ve received very respectful insightful comments today.

    I mostly skim your posts these days because they’re so heavily sponsored and it’s just not genuine. My friends and family would laugh me all the way to the nature box headquarters if I wrote their names on an Apple telling them where to sit when I invited them over. It’s just not relateable at all.

    Furthermore sponsored posts always leave me thinking, if they were paying what would they really do? Would your daughters room have half as much stuff, if you were paying? Is this why you’re donating stuff and becoming a minimalist one week and packing your living room with pillows and art the next? Did your entry not work the first time because you’re trying to fit sponsored stuff where you actually don’t want it or it isn’t your style?

    Everyone has heard the line from every blogger about how many sponsorships they get offered and turned down every month because they aren’t a good fit. I hope that’s not included in Monday’s response.

    Without readers sponsors won’t do you much good.

    I believe what people want to read about is attainable projects from a genuine person and you lost the voice that used to interest so many of us somewhere in Ace Hardware I suspect.

  • Reply November 12, 2014

    Sarah

    The only comment I have ever left on your blog was years ago, when I was praising you for how well I thought you were navigating the world of “freebies” and sponsorships, and how authentic and real your blog felt. I feel like since the time that I wrote that comment, I have become so disheartened with how much that has changed (and how much the blogging world has become saturated by sponsorship in general).

    It must be hard to say no when someone is offering you something that you want, but it just feels like almost everything in your new house has been sponsored, and that’s just not what I’m interested in as a reader. I’m interested in the people who are fixing up their house with creative ideas and their own money, but sadly I don’t even think a blog like that exists anymore.

    The tipping point for me is what others have mentioned – these sponsored posts that it feels like every other blog is doing (kiwicrate, nature box, the water carafe, blue apron, etc etc etc) make it feel SO disingenuous.

    All that being said, you probably aren’t going to start saying no to the freebies and sponsorships, so I’ll probably just read your blog with a grain of salt when I do come around, to be honest :( And just know that I am not leaving my email address because it contains my full name and I just don’t feel comfortable with that.

  • Reply November 12, 2014

    Allison

    I’d say in general I’m not a fan of sponsored posts, I’d definitely prefer if they didn’t happen, but that ship has already sailed. I think it’s frustrating when they seemed forced, I’m guessing most folks (myself included) don’t mind the Ace Hardware posts. They’re informative DIY posts, that’s what brought me to the blog in the first place. Plus, most of their stuff isn’t necessarily exclusive, so it feels less like someone is trying to sell you something.

    It does comes off as a little (no matter how unintentional) disingenuous when you find out at the end of the post that it was an ad. Though I’m guessing most of us who read regularly can spot a post advertising something within the first few sentences. And it’s not just your blog and the stuff you’re choosing to advertise for, the water thing, the blue apron… when you’re seeing them on multiple sites it gets a little old. The water thing was particularly bothering, as I’m sure you would’ve done the dinner anyways, why throw an ad in there?

    Also, I didn’t get the impression that you were looking for a sponsor from that closet post, I find posts like that helpful, the comments are great for getting ideas and finding links to things other folks might find useful. If I find myself needing to redo a closet in the future I’d definitely go back to that post!

  • Reply November 12, 2014

    M.

    Here’s my two cents. I don’t mind sponsored posts. I understand that they are a way for bloggers, Youtubers, etc. to make money. It’s not a bad thing, and it’s just a part of the business world today. Unlike most people, however, they are up front about having sponsors, and I appreciate that. I appreciate the fact that they are so honest, and up front with us about it. And just because a post is sponsored, it doesn’t make it any less sincere, and honest. They get to try out a product, and give an honest review of it. Simple. So why make such a big deal out of it? It’s not a big deal, at all. As I stated above, sponsors are just a part of the business world today, especially as the business world is growing more online. Sponsored posts are to be expected.

    I love this blog, and it’s material. I love the tips provided too, whether they are sponsored or not.

    That’s just my two cents.

    Thanks for reading,

    -M.

    • Reply November 17, 2014

      Lauren C

      Yes, this. Thank you for making this point. I am a homeowner going through many renovations of my own. I am the primary cook in our household, constantly looking for new recipes and new kitchen gadgets to try or give as gifts. I am an Aunt to many, always looking for great gift ideas (and discounts on them are always a bonus!) I am hoping to someday be a mom, keeping an eye out for opinions on baby products and more.

      This is a lifestyle blog. This is a blog about a family, getting through everyday life, one day at a time. It’s not their responsibility to cater to the DIYers reading appetite every day.

      Chris and Julia, thank you for the content of your blog. I really enjoy it. Sometimes it applies to me, sometimes it doesn’t, but no matter what, I enjoy reading about how another average family is getting through life.

  • Reply November 12, 2014

    Christine

    My own kids are a bit too old for this, although they would have loved getting something like this a few years ago. I think it’s perfect as a gift idea with Christmas coming up next month, my nieces sure would have fun with these crates! :)

  • Reply November 12, 2014

    Lauren M

    Thanks for the holiday gift idea!

  • Reply November 12, 2014

    Mary

    This was also kind of the tipping point for me sponsor-wise. This has been the last few posts:
    1 Sponsored – Kiwicrate
    2 Asking for a sponsor – closets
    3 Sponsored – soma thing
    4 Food
    5 Sponsored – framebridge
    6 – actual decor post

    I had to go back 6 posts for an actual non-sponsored decor post. So, I think staggering them out a bit more or committing to a certain number of sponsored posts per month would be better received by readers. Just my two cents.

    I know negative feedback is hard. But, I think the good feedback here is that we love your actual real decor posts. Even the framebridge one was still good because it was still a good diy. others are not so smooth…

    • Reply November 12, 2014

      Julia

      Thanks for the feedback Mary. I had to laugh a little because the closets post was not asking for a sponsor! Haha. What? We have a long time relationship with Easy Closets (we used them for Greta’s closet in our last house) that we could definitely reach out to if we wanted to work with them again. This weekend we are making a trip to Utah to check out Ikea’s Pax system that we’ve also used. I’ve honestly never had a company reach out to me after we post about a project we’re getting started on. We really are just gathering information and research before we put a definite design together. And, as always, our commenters brought up some great points that we hadn’t thought about. Also note, the picture ledge post was not sponsored by Framebridge.

      All that being said, I hear you. We hear you. We’ll be making a statement about the sponsor situation on Monday. Until then, I really do appreciate the feedback and thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, too.

  • Reply November 12, 2014

    Meagan Briggs

    Hey ! We DO have a spare room! And we live in Florida! 5 miles from the ocean! Ok, no excuses now.

    Brin would die over this castle. I love the idea of these craft boxes.

  • Reply November 12, 2014

    Kelsey

    I agree with the two above, but I will say that I do not mind sponsored content if it makes sense in context with the rest of the blog. I know there a lot of expenses to upkeep a blog of this size and to fund the projects that are necessary to give it content.You want to redo your closet, so finding a sponsor for that makes sense. A closet redo fits with your blog and the theme of updating your recently purchased home, so I don’t think most readers would mind if you were lucky enough to find a sponsor in that space and shared it with us.

    With that said, there are some sponsored post that make no sense, like the water carafe or whatever it was. It felt out of place and not genuine to the rest of your blog. I always enjoy the post where I can tell it is coming from the heart and that you are proud to share something with your readers.

    • Reply November 12, 2014

      Julia

      Thanks Kelsey. I think a future post about the subject is in order.

  • Reply November 12, 2014

    Courtney

    I’d have to agree. My first thought upon seeing the title was, “Oh let me guess, another sponsored post.” It’s getting to be a bit much and feels really inauthentic.

    I don’t think the previous comment (nor mine) are off topic. This is the place for readers to COMMENT. It’s clear to see how the tone of the site is changing. Either towards sponsorship or a plea for it.

    Listen to your readers. Stay true to what you were.

    • Reply November 12, 2014

      Julia

      We hear you, Courtney! There’s more than a simple answer to this. I tried to email you, but it bounced back. Would love to shed some light on this.

      • November 12, 2014

        Liz

        I normally love your blog but all of the sponsored posts have rubbed me the wrong way as well. I tried to brush it off and convince myself that I was just being a grouch but then noticed that others are feeling the same. I’m curious to know what the simple explanation is – but perhaps it’s a secret that can only be shared via email? I love your taste and writing but I think it’s just the over-saturation of sponsored posts across ALL of blog land that is leaving readers disappointed – and I’m bummed when I see another lean in that direction. Most of my favorite blogs who used to be so relatable seemed to have jumped the shark recently. I should probably just change my expectations or find something to do with my spare time. Haha!

      • November 12, 2014

        Julia

        We’ll be making a general statement on our stance on Monday,but I’ll shoot you an email in the meantime. Always appreciate your comments, Liz!

  • Reply November 12, 2014

    Anonymous

    Normally I love reading your blog, don’t get me wrong. Especially to witness the evolution of your newer home. But after reading your blog for years and having it in my daily blog rotation, I am done. It looks as though you’ve fallen victim to soliciting crap for the majority of the time you blog. And what’s worse, you’ve been using your friends and daughter (and her cousins) to make money for your blog and to peddle crap to your readers who really just want to see what new thing you are accomplishing in your home. Also, I think we all caught on to your recent closet post. You were hoping some closet company saw and would offer to foot the bill on a new closet. Not sure I can take it anymore. I wonder how your friends felt when they came over for a nice dinner and had to wait while you took pictures of them without food, showcasing a water filter, so you can make blog money. I am sure some of your fan girls will ridicule me, which is fine, I USED to be a fan girl.

    • Reply November 12, 2014

      Julia

      Shoot. I really wish you didn’t leave this under an anonymous email because I would really love to have an honest conversation with you about this. I don’t think this is the place to do it because it is off topic from the post, but please send me an email julia@chrislovesjulia.com. Would love to clear the air. Hope to hear from you!

    • Reply November 12, 2014

      Anonymous

      So agree with all of this! This seems like the perfect place to have a conversation.

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