Today’s blog post is a mix of fun with both product recommendations and tips from a brand new mom (yours truly) on how to find baby items to fit your lifestyle! These are essentially the things I found myself shopping for while feeding little one at three in the morning, but let’s get into the details and why each item made the list!
I had originally registered for these but then we needed 8 more packs so we would always have extras in case one got lost or dropped on the floor. Another thing about this particular brand is I first liked them because they were orthodontist approved but turns out they are also great if you are looking for something that doesn’t impact babies latch when breastfeeding!
A number of things on this list are travel oriented and that is because with our lifestyle we (1) live in a small apartment and (2) our families are far away so we looked a lot at products that can be stored easily and also fly with us! This travel crib is insanely lightweight and approved for overnight sleep so it is perfect for when we visit grandparents!
Another travel item! Honestly, if we were planning on just one baby we probably would have started out with this stroller because not only is it insanely lightweight for travel but it works with baby’s car seat so even if I am just going to the mall I can quickly put it in the trunk of my sedan.
4. Any Crib With Wheels
We have the DaVinci Jenny Lind crib and love it, but I highly recommend anything with wheels. We ended up skipping the bassinet phase and just moved the crib in and out of our room every night – which again worked for our small living space.
When changing diapers on the go I realized I needed an easy way to keep diaper bag and car clean so any Amazon trash can and we use the Ubbi baggies but even grocery bags work too!
7. Second Diaper Bag (Full Size & Mini)
All about travel size! Since I go on walks a lot now I found having a quick diaper bag ready was crucial – I love the Storq diaper fanny pack because it even comes with a changing pad!
8. Stroller Attachments (Cup-holder, Bag straps)
These make mom’s life easier but also make great additions to registries for smaller or last minute gifts!
And finally to round out how we would have changed our registry, a few things we would have either waited on or removed include furniture like our rocking chair and dresser. We are so glad we found our chair and dresser second hand, this was a great way to save money and with 9 months to prep we were able to watch for the best deal!
We had a baby!! Last month we welcomed our daughter, and in lieu of a baby announcement with lots of personal details, let’s chat why we have chosen to keep her private on social media, and also how we are creatively sharing the joys of parenting in ways that work for us.
Just a few years ago, I remember watching my favorite family vlog channels on YouTube and thinking how exciting it would be to have a family of my own one day and share all the cute fun with the world. I had thought of how we would announce our kids, family shoots and making memories, and how we would include them in our content.
More recently I learned the many reasons why this isn’t the route for us and our daughter. From the obvious online dangers to the individuality of one’s digital footprint, it is important to us to minimize how much we share online.
Quick disclaimer: we are still figuring it all out! Some decisions on what to share or not share are easier than others, and how we handle this topic will likely evolve with time. So, below I thought we could share the creative ways we have documented parenthood and our daughter, that keep her private but still provide the glimpse into our lives that we are currently comfortable sharing.
Newborn Photo Ideas
For our baby announcement after he birth, we had these gorgeous portraits taken by Katie Brown Photography, and for us it worked to share images that did not include her face.
Out And About
Documenting baby girl’s first few outings has been the highlight of this postpartum period – getting fresh air is already good for you and baby, and then all the memories are an added bonus! For this style of photography, it is especially easy to use whatever baby carrier to conceal little one while still acknowledging their presence!
Nursery, Clothing, and Other Objects
I have loved sharing our journey building her nursery and wardrobe, and one thing that has worked for us is documenting those elements without specifically featuring baby!
And that is how we have navigated what to share and not share so far! As she gets older, we are excited to solidify our plan and comfortability level with what to share, and we are also excited to find more creative ways to document these sweet moments. Thank you for reading!
We are in the home stretch of this pregnancy waiting on baby girls arrival!! This has been such a wonderful journey and I feel insanely blessed to have had a healthy pregnancy and supportive experience. Now that our next adventure is almost here, I felt this would be the perfect time to round up everything I have learned and loved about maternity fashion and style as a plus size person (size 18 pre-pregnancy).
Body changes, especially with pregnancy, are different for everyone. So with this list it was important for me to find brands and pieces that can work for a variety of starting sizes and bump shapes. Additionally, one thing that was important to me personally was finding pieces that would also fit comfortably postpartum as a way to shop more sustainably and spend minimally. To shop all mentioned products, I have everything collected at the end of this article. Let’s get into it!
If you are looking for easy pieces, a maternity capsule wardrobe, and things to wear postpartum, Storq has it all! What I especially love about them is their size range (1 to 7 or XS to 3X) and how they choose comfortable fabrics that work for size fluctuation. From loungewear and nursing bras to button downs and outfits to wear out, they have all the essentials! Lastly, their sizing is generous. For me, I was able to size down in most pieces, so I recommend choosing your pre-pregnancy size or smaller.
Best Non-Maternity: Free People
Oversized sweaters and dresses? Yes please! While this brand only goes up to XL, various pieces often fit 3X or 4X with their oversized cut and stretchier materials. I highly recommend the Easy Street Tunic, Dahlia Dress, and Hot Shot Jumpsuit!
Best Budget: Target
From everyday basics to dressy picks, Target has so many options! Plus I am loving all their matching family selections! Pro tip: personally I have had more luck with the plus size department rather than maternity, as maternity does not have as wide a size range and the plus size pieces are often designed for some fluctuation. So whether you are looking for over-the-bump tops, cute overalls, or sun dresses, they have it all!
Best Active: Beyond Yoga
With new maternity and plus size lines, I have loved how easy and comfortable their leggings and jumpsuits have been even into the third trimester! Also, they have plenty of tanks long enough for your bump!
Best Single Product: Denim Joggers
Throughout pregnancy the one clothing item I have mourned wearing the most is jeans – and a major reason for why even sizing up does not work with denim is the fabric is already too stiff for your belly. BUT, to create a similar look, one of my wardrobe staples has been the denim joggers from rag and bone! On the pricier side and I wish they were inclusive beyond a XXL, but they have made so many casual outfits feel more put-together with the look of denim on sweatpants material!
If you are looking for a budget-friendly option up to a 3X, I also recommend these from LL Bean!
Best Designer: Selkie and Pleats Please
A tie between these two favorites! If you are looking for investment or special occasion these brands are your best friends! Selkie, I love their size range and most of their pieces have room whatever stage your bump is in. With Pleats Please, their one-size model may be confusing but it actually fits sizes 0 to 24! I have one skirt I wore before and during pregnancy that will still work after all because of how the pleats fit a variety of shapes!
Best Loungewear: Free Label
I have a tradition of wearing Free Label sets to my OB appointments because they look like jumpsuits but actually have easy belly access for ultrasounds! Love napping, hot girl walking, or running errands in these versatile pieces up to 5X!
Best Mom And Me: Ivy City Co
All the matching dresses from Newborn to 5X! I already have one cute matching moment ready for baby girl and I cannot wait! One thing I love is a lot of the dresses have stretchier waistbands and more room in the skirt to work for pregnancy and postpartum, making for another sustainable option to wear at all stages! Shop this dress and the mini version here!
Honorable Mentions: Sezane, Vince, Hill House, and Girlfriend Collective
Thank you for reading and checking out all these favorites! I hope these options encourage you to feel confident with your maternity style at any size! Shop everything mentioned in this post here!
I have been inspired by the “de-influencing” trend on TikTok to chat specifically about the evolution of consumer culture and what we can do to navigate it and not let it consume us. This is neither a list of overrated products, nor is it a call to just consume less, but rather an examination of how trends influence our need for “stuff,” and shopping tips from within the industry designed to encourage mindful spending. Similar articles to consider include this one on finance for shopaholics!
A little background on me: when I first jumped into the influencer and retail industries, I convinced myself I had to maintain a specific lifestyle I saw online. Similar to the Stanley Cup and Drunk Elephant girlies of today, in 2018 I HAD to have Tatcha face cream, Free People waffle sweaters in every color, eyelash extensions, etc. and I was willing to go into debt for that lifestyle because I thought I needed that “stuff” to create content. It took me years to get out of that debt and a lot of learning to figure out what I truly valued materialistically and financially. I still consume a lot today and still consider myself a shopaholic, but I feel like now I have a better understanding of my own financial values regarding “stuff” and that has given me considerable peace in a consuming world.
If there is one thing I could influence you on forever, it is confidence. So below I have started this mini series with tips to build your shopping confidence! From knowing what’s worth it or not to finding better deals in a way that works for YOU and what you value.
Think Deeply About What Is Important To You
This seems like a given, but define what luxuries are negotiable and non-negotiable for you. For example, I do not value traveling for vacation. Hot take, but growing up I lived overseas and traveled to work or study and those experiences were so wonderful and amazing that it devalued “vacation” for me. I find there can be a lot of pressure in spending a large sum on travel, lodging, and activities for a specific time window. So, staycations or traveling to visit family sounds more appealing to me as I save in this category. Another category where I am comfortable spending more is in everyday luxuries like coffee or fresh flowers. These bills add up and sometimes I will make coffee at home or skip the bouquet, but this is one luxury that I value so I enjoy it when I can. Examine your favorite things, and simply creating a hierarchy of eating out, coffee, manicures, vacations, clothes, etc. can help you visualize how you want your budget to be divided and make financial planning less stressful.
What Feeling Are You Searching For
This is a big lesson I have learned since following the “de-influencing” trend on social media. I realized that plenty of my purchases were fueled by the desire or promise that I would FEEL complete, happy, organized, whatever just like how someone else seems to feel in the highlight reel of their feed. If I see a product I like, I save the information and see how long I can go before pulling the trigger – is the desire still there? But more importantly, is this something I need, is it something I just want (which is still a valid reason to buy something), or do I just think I will feel cool like that person? For me, I stopped viewing purchases as a way to model my life and emotions around someone else, and instead a way to add value to my life and what I already have. For example, last month I really wanted a Stanley cup because they look cool and aesthetic and I liked the features, but I remembered I already have a water bottle with a lot of the same features, just not the same brand and I realized the only value a Stanley cup would bring me is looking like other people. Ultimately, I decided the purchase just wasn’t important or valuable to me and what I already have, so examining the feeling that we attribute to product can help open our eyes to the bigger picture. Not only did I not need it, but I didn’t want it that badly either.
Learn To Budget Realistically
Strict budgets are no fun. If you are in a season of re-evaluating your finances, I highly recommend modeling your budget close to your current spending habits. Maybe have a realistic and an ideal budget for yourself to help you reach your spending goals in a way that makes sense for you. Another tactic that has worked for me is having budget ranges for certain categories. Maybe on your current budget you cannot exceed X dollars on restaurant food, but creating a budget of Y-X could motivate you to save a little more in that category without the pressure of meeting every goal every time.
Save Money By Understanding Marketing Strategy
I feel like this could be its own article itself, but there are so many specific ways to save money just by understanding how the retail industry works and what products are truly worth it. This topic also touches on “the feeling” again but just like with social media, marketing is about convincing you that you will feel however way if you just had x, y, AND z.
I have spoken about this in previous articles on major sales and seasonal shopping, and I feel like this statement below from years ago still fits how I feel about this:
“If I am speaking frankly I feel like people truly do not realize how much they are influenced. Being influenced is ok, but it is certainly difficult to know what you truly want or need when very specific products are all over your screens.”
Beyond this initial retail insight that products are strategically marketed to you, there is plenty of strategy to learn how to bypass the madness: from actually getting good deals to developing your taste and seeing consumerism without designer shades. Our next blog post, similar to the one linked above, will expand on specific retail industry tips on markup prices, sale trends, and manufacturing – so stay tuned and thank you for reading!
As Con and I prep for the new year (and prep to become parents!!), one big goal for us has been prioritizing our quality time. So for 2023 something we hope to maintain even when baby girl is here is our weekly date night!
We already do not like spending much on date nights and since we first got to know each other through quarantine, we now feel like experts on dinner and a movie at home! Previously Con and I have shared some of our favorite dates during quarantine specifically, and below we are highlighting some new ideas as well as ways to make time for each other with a little one!
Thrift or Shop Second Hand Together
Go to a garage or estate sale together! Or maybe a curated vintage shop! You do not have to buy anything, but it creates a fun outing to see what interesting and unique pieces are out there!
Visit a Gallery
Another “go and see” opportunity! Visit a local museum or art show and wander around! You can also make this a fun opportunity to get to know someone by having set questions to ask regarding each other’s favorite piece – or one idea is to each pick out what work of art most reminds you of them!
Catch a Local Open-Mic Night
Another local venture! Check out local talent with snacks and drinks before or after dinner out!
Do an Online Class Together
Anything from yoga and fitness to parenting prep, meditation and more! This is one option to do something new together without needing a babysitter!
Build a Fort
Make it a fun movie night with nostalgic cozy vibes, and don’t forget the popcorn!
One of our favorite ideas! Walk to your local park with blankets, cushions, snacks, and maybe even take-out and just chill outside for a bit! Bonus: if brining baby use the stroller to stash everything!
Visit a Bookstore
Bookstore dates are one of my favs because you can add a scavenger hunt to it! Maybe you are actually looking for your next read, but along the way find creative ways to get to know each other by looking for works/passages/etc that fit various things on the scavenger hunt you write beforehand!
At Home Spa Night
Do some face masks together while you cuddle on the couch!
Be Tourists in your own Town!
This one is more open-ended but see what there is to explore near you that you haven’t! Maybe there is a unique walking tour in your area!
And those are a few ways Con and I plan on spending time together (beyond new recipes and shows at home) as we prep for our next chapter! What are some of your favorite date ideas that didn’t make the list?
It is my FAVORITE time of year! Yes, I love the holiday season plus the cozy winter weather, but more importantly I love how this is the time for self-reflection and planning for the future! Since before the blog I have loved setting and organizing goals for the year, also see below for previous musings on goals and personal organization:
In recent years I have truly witnessed the power of goal setting, manifestation, and all the positive things that come with believing good things can happen. Last year I dreamt of becoming a full time blogger, and the year before I dreamt of affording our wedding, two BIG goals I had no idea how they would play out BUT THEY DID. So that is why for 2023 my mantra is “be delusional.” Dream the big dreams even if they seem wild; you would be surprised what amazing things can really happen if you put the idea out there!
Next year, Connor and I have plenty of big things already on the horizon with our daughter’s arrival and my new working situation, but here is a look at our goals and how we hope to make them happen! A lot of our goals together focus on the health of our baby, building our home and her nursery, budgeting as a family, and one of my favorite goals is our weekly date night! This was Con’s idea and I love how we have already developed inexpensive ways to keep dating through marriage and I am confident we can keep the tradition after baby is here.
As for my career goals, there are so many that are close to my heart! One goal from this past year that didn’t happen was in-person events. I want to create a fun way to bring online community together, and tbd on what that will look like in 2023. Other notable business goals include officially creating my LLC, establishing side hustles, and growing my team!
Next, This is the fun part! Once I have an idea of the goals that are really important to me, I head to Pinterest and make a whole mood board dedicated to all the things that are on my heart, but make it aesthetic! This year I searched nursery inspo, date night ideas, fashion merchandising, girl boss vibes, and other fun things that match how I feel about the upcoming year!
And that’s a look at how I plan/visualize goals for the new year! I hope this inspires you to be delusional in 2023, and I am excited to see what you can accomplish!
Now that I am almost halfway through pregnancy (already??), my latest project has been building the registry and figuring what I need (and want) for baby girl’s arrival! Before I get into everything, the baby industry is WILD. There are so many products out there, and figuring out what is best for baby and budget is a challenge for every parent. The following products and opinions have been collected through advice I have received from parents, research into competitive product features, as well as my own experience selling baby products when I worked in retail. So, here are baby products I am either excited to try or hope to find a budget-friendly alternative.
Yes 1000%. Every review of this product I have seen has been a rave and the product design is brilliant. Personally I love the idea of a changing pad that is easy to clean rather than something that would stain frequently with covers that need to go through the wash.
If there is one item I am keeping on my registry despite the price point it is this. When I asked several moms about carriers in general one theme I saw was a number of them had ended up purchasing multiple different brands to find the right one and oftentimes concerns with other carriers revolved around back pain, ease of assembly, and size range for the child. Positive reviews from Artipoppe owners mention how quick it is to put it on with baby, the wide weight limit range, the back support from criss-cross straps, and the overall aesthetic of the product. Is it the best on the market? Maybe. Are you paying for the brand name and aesthetic? Yes.
Love this for traveling parents! I had looked at a few playpens (some more expensive than this with fewer features) and what I love is this can function as a crib, playard, and changing table on the go!
In my bottle research, I saw a lot of reccomendations for trial boxes so you and baby can experience what product fits you best, but after more research, I feel most confident in the Comotomo line. One feature that is really important to me is the bottle material so I had looked at both glass and silicone options. I also researched how easy different bottles are to clean, and this brand is one I am excited to try! The only negative review I saw mentioned that these bottles can tip more easily when being assembled, but I am still willing to test them myself!
The main appeal with these high chairs and other Stokke furniture is their convertibility both as the child ages and with other additional products and features. Personally, I am leaning towards cost-effective products in this category with (for example) the IKEA high chair. Also, I feel like decor-wise I would want my toddlers transitioning from high chairs to adult chairs when they are big enough!
Cribs can easily become a pricier registry item, but what I love about this one and similar products is how it can convert to a toddler bed! These items really boil down to style, price point, and convertible features!
For more content on shopping for baby on a budget, stay tuned for my strategy on shopping sale and second hand in my next blog post! And after that, I will also be curating a list of small but mighty items to add to your registry, from the best burp cloths and pacifiers to high chair mats for easy clean up!
Feels like a minute since we have done a style-focused blog post here! I have shared both how to build a capsule wardrobe and how to shop smarter with both sales and sustainable shopping, but today let’s chat how you can start your capsule wardrobe exclusively with budget-friendly pieces!
Shop Favorites From This Post Here!
For a quick collection of top capsule wardrobe picks, shop the widget above!
All About Basics
Jeans and Tees! These are pieces for everyday wear that can also be dressed up anytime! My top denim under $100 is Levi’s, and you can find discounted jeans either second-hand or by shopping outlet! For tees I find that in-house brands do well to compete with luxury brands. One example is BP at Nordstrom with basic tees, bodysuits, etc anywhere from $12 to $20 or so.
These are a few things I recommend for any wardrobe, and they just make life interesting! Some of these are perfect to mix and match and others are great to stand alone! My recommendations include a slip dress, a work appropriate dress, non-denim pants, a silk, crepe, or chiffon blouse, and anything else that can mix and match into the color palette!
As a plus size person this can be a challenging clothing category to find something that zips or buttons, but here are a few recommendations at a variety of sizes! I highly recommend including a trench coat first and then a pea coat followed by other basics like jackets and parkas!
This one is fun! Start with sneakers and booties, and then graduate to heels or whatever your heart desires!
And that is how you can start your capsule wardrobe on a budget with pieces that will last at a variety of price points! Stay tuned for more style content including fun sweater styles and size inclusive outerwear!
I have been officially blogging full time for 2 months now! So I thought I could share with you what lead to this moment and how I plan to position my business for the future!
Developing Your Brand
SO MUCH led up to the moment I decided to work for myself, and the archives of this blog paint that picture. I started my brand back in 2018 while still in college, writing lifestyle content, shooting outfit photos, and sharing my life from school to adulthood, dating, faith, marriage, and now motherhood! If you have been here the whole time you know there is A LOT going on here.
From the beginning I wanted to share my story, especially my struggles with body image and food. Through fashion and styling I have been able to focus my message on one important thing: your body and how you have been treated doesn’t prevent you from feeling beautiful and being the best version of yourself.
About 6 months into writing I named my blog She Laughs! This phrase is based on Proverbs 31:25 and to me, She Laughs embodies the idea that life should be lived without fear and rather joy. You are a gift; today is a gift, and I hope you enjoy it!
The finances are probably the biggest factor in deciding to be your own boss. For me, I first considered going full time back in March this year when I had one month of blog income that surpassed the income I had with my day job. I quickly ignored that thought in my head because while I was reaching some smaller goals with my business, those “good months” as I call them were still too sporadic. At the time the idea of holding onto predictable income seemed like the smart thing to do.
And then I didn’t have to make the leap! In July I was laid off from that corporate job and within a minute I knew this was the sign I needed to go full time. I had hoped to have a more stable financial picture, but the past few months of planning and strategizing campaigns and other projects has me significantly more hopeful for our future!
So that is the full tea on how this happened! Yes this is what I wanted, but I really do not know if I would have felt “ready” without that push!
Making It Official
Beyond generating sufficient income, so much more goes into building a business. Two big things I am currently working on include setting up my taxes and creating an LLC. Taxes can be daunting to diy but for a lot of bloggers it is “easy” (obviously not actually easy) to go the same route as any freelancer! Personally I am starting quarterly taxes once all the details are set up, and stay tuned for that official LLC!
Finding Help For The Long Haul
One big goal I have is to develop a team or create connections in order to grow in various areas of my business. It is so cool to see content creators with either management, assistants, or editors and I am really excited to grow to a point where I can expand the work I offer!
So all that is to say, this took a long time, did not happen how I expected, and stay tuned for all the new fun here!
With the fall season quickly approaching, now is a great time to reevaluate your wardrobe! In previous blog posts, I have shared how you can develop a capsule wardrobe, but today is all about how you can take that a step further, adding in pieces that are unique to you.
First, Identify Your Style
Find keywords to describe what you wear, or what you want to wear. For me, I like to describe my style as both extra and versatile. Extra, meaning I love statement pieces (ruffles, feathers, even sequins – the kinds of items that become the whole focus of an outfit) and Versatile, meaning I like pieces that have multiple purposes and can be comfy while dressed up or casual while refined.
Identify your keywords, then the next time you shop look for pieces that fit that description!
Next, Find Items That Speak To Your Story
Shopping unconfidently can create a bad habit for buying clothes you don’t fully like – from jeans you hope to squeeze into to a dress you never bothered to alter. Instead of seeing shopping as either a chore or an opportunity to spend, remind yourself that now that your capsule wardrobe is complete, you don’t need anything unless it truly speaks to you. Be ruthless with your criteria and only bring home something that captures the style and narrative you want.
Put It All Together!
As you begin to collect different pieces, this will add more color to your capsule wardrobe and give you a new picture to your total personal style. Now that I have both capsule and non-capsule pieces, I am able to see what fabrics, silhouettes, colors, etc I gravitate towards, and work with that to find what feels the most me!