Cutting out Chemicals in Your Home

Alright, let’s start this post off with a truth bomb. Chemicals are in everything, whether they are harmful or not. Several of the products I use and will mention in this post may not be completely “organic”, “natural”, “hollistic”, or kale approved. I’m not a “crunchy” momma. My kid will eat happy meals as she grows up. Sometimes, I don’t wipe down her high chair when we go out to eat *gasp*. I’m not afraid to take a pill when I’m sick. I clean my toilets with bleach – yes – I said bleach. I am simply a firm believer in limiting contact with unnecessary chemicals as much as I can. I love my essential oils, but I also enjoy using them as preventative measures. If I truly do need a doctor’s visit and medicine, I will gladly pay them a visit. However if someone in my house is sick, you better believe I’ll be diffusing allllll the Theives to try and contain the sickness πŸ™‚ I believe there is great power in finding balance in your life between the “natural” and “medicinal” worlds, and I’m still working on finding that balance! If you’re a crunchy momma or a my kid just ate a processed chicken nugget off the floor momma, there is a place for you here. Either way, don’t take offense to this post. I just want to share with you some products and lifestyle tips I have learned over the past year to help transition and cut out chemicals in our home.

A Quick Note

Before we get started, let’s just talk as friends for a moment. I know a lot of these products aren’t completely “safe” and there are more natural alternatives I could be using. However, we are on a budget and I’ve learned to make do with what we have! Cutting out chemicals is all about doing your research, and finding out what potentially harmful ingredients are in the things you use every day.

I’m not going to get into the knitty gritty here, and give you a huge list of chemicals to avoid. Studies and data can still be so inconclusive when it comes to potential side effects of harmful chemicals. It’s all about finding a balance and what you are comfortable with! For me, I would rather reduce my chances of exposure to anything harmful whenever I can. Because personally, I believe there’s a reason health issues continue to sky rocket around us – but that’s another post πŸ˜‰

My number one tip to you, is to download the EWG app. The EWG app is truly your one stop shop to find out more about ingredients in our every day products. They’ve created an awesome Guide to Healthy Cleaning which you can find here and do some research of your own. Most major products on their market are available in their database, and are rated on an A-F scale according to safety. I challenge you to search for some of your favorite products and see where they rank!

Cleaning

 

Alright, let’s start with these little babies. The lysol daily cleansing wipes. Lysol wipes are just something I can’t completely ditch. They are perfect for those quick cleanups, that still need some disinfecting. I ditched the lemon scented wipes, which have a D rating on EWG, mainly because of the ammonium chloride in them. These daily cleansing wipes are free of ammonia, fragrances and dyes, which means they’re safe for me to use on all of Emerson’s toys. My kitchen may not smell lemony fresh, but I’d rather ditch the artificial fragrance!

Once again, I can’t ditch my disinfecting spray. Call me crazy, but sometimes you just need to spray down all your door knobs and light switches, am I right? This seventh generation disinfecting spray is awesome. The old faithful Lysol sprays gave me a constant headache with their super heavy, artificial fragrance. This Seventh Generation spray (especially the lavender kind) smells heavenly, and does not bother my allergies or my noggin. It still kills 99.9% of those nasty germs without the unnecessary gunk.

Yet another Seventh Generation product here, is their free and clear dish soap. This is actually the first product I switched over to a safer option! This is rated a C on EWG for acute aquatic toxicity, but this is one of those instances where I give some grace. I’m weird, but I cannot stand a scented dish soap. My dishes don’t need to smell like an ocean breeze or lavender field, they just need to be clean. This stuff gets the job done, fights grease just as well if not better than Dawn, and it is SO gentle on my hands!

Ah, the cult classic Mrs. Meyer’s products. I adore their multi-surface sprays. My favorite year round scent is Lavender, however I can’t resist their seasonal lines πŸ˜€ These cleaners are truly the best for the every day grime that builds up on your counters, tables, shelves, you name it. I’ve used this to dust, to clean furniture, the walls, pretty much everything. The non-artificial fragrance lingers beautifully and doesn’t give me a headache. I can’t say enough good things about this cleaner.

Window cleaner. While it often feels like a lost cause, I love keeping our windows, and especially our sliding door streak free. Your average Windex is rated a D on EWG for ingredients like ammonium hydroxide and ethanolamine. I’ve recently found this natural glass cleaner from Grove Collaborative, and will never look back. *Side note, if you’re looking to purchase some safer cleaning products, Grove is the best place to do it! They offer tons and tons of safer cleaning products at discounted prices. You can even receive a free five piece Mrs. Meyer’s gift when you shop through my link hereΒ !*

Anyways, their glass cleaner comes as a concentrate, and you simply add it to water and you’re good to go. It smells divine, and shines up my windows and mirrors beautifully.

Alright ya’ll, I saved the best cleaning tip for last. Growing up my mom always made me clean the bathtub with that classic metallic green can of Comet. I hated it because the smell always gave me a nasty headache. Since then, I’ve learned an awesome trick that cleans your shower just as well! I use one of these dish sponges with the handle you can fill with soap. Simply fill up the handle with equal parts vinegar and dish soap, and that’s literally all you need! Give it a good shake, and you can literally scrub away the icky pink mold and soap scum that accumulates so easily in our showers. The vinegar smell doesn’t linger at all, and our shower shines just like it did with that nasty comet πŸ˜‰

Air Fresheners

We’ve all done it. We buy the cans of febreeze and air wick that have “lavender” and “essential oils” listed on the front, thinking we’re making a better choice for our homes. Well I hate to tell you, the lavender and chamomile air freshener is rated a F on EWG. Sodium borate and artificial fragrances make products like these so so harmful to you and your family. The best alternative I’ve found for a spray are the Mrs. Meyer’s room fresheners. Again, I love the lavender scent. I also love the spray nozzle on these bottles, as apposed to an aerosol can.

Of course, I would be amiss if I failed to mention essential oils when it comes to freshening your home. This particular blend is perfect for when the house just stinks, whether it’s from the trash or a particularly potent meal you cooked. Purification helps to eliminate all those nasty odors, while lemon makes the house smell clean!

Personal Care

Let’s talk about some personal care items (probably the most important items to switch first)! Think about it this way. Most people, especially women, unknowingly apply hundreds to thousands of chemicals to their bodies every day, without even thinking about their side effects. The personal care industry is basically unregulated, and companies are not required to fully disclose ingredient lists on their products. Can you say scary?

For the ingredients that are listed on products, there are definitely some to avoid. Aluminum for example, which is found in most anti perspirants. Say what you will about aluminum, it can be a very touchy subject when it comes to breast cancer and it’s possible correlation with aluminum. However breast cancer runs in my family, so I am going to take every preventative measure I can to protect myself.

My husband and I switched to natural deodorants about three months ago, so we have gone through the complete “detox” period. We both use a scent from Schmidt’s, and this rose and vanilla one smells divine! We switched over during the peak of Summer, and neither of us were noticeably stinkier after using these deodorants. Finding a natural deodorant that works for you can be a bit frustrating, as everybody’s natural PH and body composition is going to react differently to different ingredients. However I believe it’s worth finding one that works for you!

Toothpaste (and mouthwash in the background πŸ™‚ )

This is probably the switch that my husband rolled his eyes the most about. However some potentially dangerous ingredients lie within that little tube of toothpaste on your counter. Triclosan, SLS, artificial sweeteners, proplyene glycol and others are known hormone disruptors, can possibly be linked to cancer, irritation and more. Your mouth is one of the most absorbent places in your entire body, meaning what you put into it hits your bloodstream that much quicker. When toothpaste and mouthwash sit in your mouth for minutes at a time, think of what could possibly be entering your entire bloodstream!

Hand soap – I know. It just rinses off with water, why does it really matter? Well think of how many times a day you wash your hands. The artificial fragrances and SLS build up so quickly, it definitely matters! I love all of the Mrs. Meyer’s hand soaps! They clean thoroughly, and don’t dry my hands out!

Yup. I’m posting a photo of my feminine products on the internet, for the world to see. However these are worth the public humiliation πŸ™‚ Once again, this one got a pretty big eye roll out of my husband. However I paid less for this pack of pads than I usually do for my old Always ones, they are chlorine free, and they are SO SOFT. Seriously, I don’t know how I’ll ever wear anything else after these. They don’t scratch or irritate the already sensitive skin, they are free of synthetic dyes, funky fragrances, and “hold up” just as well as your typical pad. Two thumbs up for these babies.

Of course, I have to mention Beautycounter in this post. With everything from skincare, to makeup, to hair care, the number of chemicals women apply to their bodies is astounding. Beautycounter has taken away any fear of harsh chemicals in my skincare and makeup routine, and I don’t even mind letting Emerson play with the products πŸ˜‰

Laundry

Alright ya’ll, laundry is one of the areas in our home I really haven’t switched over to safer products yet. My husband works in a restaurant, and comes home smelling like fried chicken. As appealing as that sounds, the smell lingers on his clothes, and even transfers onto mine in the wash. Because of that, we can’t get away with using an unscented detergent, as much as I would like to. I haven’t explored the realm of natural laundry detergents yet for this reason, so if you have an awesome suggestion of one please let me know!

However, I do enjoy using wool dryer balls as opposed to dryer sheets for our clothes. I order these dryer balls from Grove, and absolutely love them! They definitely help reduce the static in our clothes, and still keep them nice and soft. You can even add a few drops of essential oils to the wool, to give your clothes a little extra boost – instead of using those icky scent boosters!

And that my friends, are a few steps we’ve taken and products I use in our home to help reduce the chemicals we’re exposed to! I strongly encourage you to do your own research, and make choices accordingly. Every family is different, but they all deserve the best!

 

A Simple Guide to Mom Proof Meal Planning

Cooking has always been a struggle for me ya’ll. Until the last year or so, I rarely cooked at home (my poor husband). I have always dreamed of being the mom in the neighborhood with the best cooking. You know, the mom that EVERYONE wanted to come home from college to visit, just so they could get one of her home cooked meals. Yeah, that’s who I want to be. The only problem is, I’m no Giada when it comes to the kitchen. I like to think of myself as more of a Chef Boyardee πŸ˜‰ I never really cooked much as a kid, and was struck with a slap of reality in college. I made your basic pasta dishes and a mean grilled cheese. But calling myself a ‘great cook’ still seemed so far out of reach. Fast forward 5 years – and before having our daughter, I worked in food service and literally was around food 9+ hours a day. So naturally the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was cook. This led to a lot of eating out, and wasted food in our fridge. It took the birth of our daughter, and becoming a stay at home mom for me to finally embrace my inner chef and really embrace cooking at home. Mainly because of our now one person income, I was forced to strap down in the kitchen. I created the resources I’m about to share with you for myself, and have been using them for the last nine to ten months or so. I have found a system that really works for me and my family, and we have finally found our groove when it comes to cooking at eating at home! I am SO excited to share with you my latest project – A Simple Guide to Mom Proof Meal Planning.

Before we get started, I would like to say this. Every family is different and functions differently, so take from this what you will. I’m going to share the steps and simple tricks that help myself and my family, however they may not work for you and that’s ok! Take these resources and use them however you see fit! I will say, that a lot of what has helped me stay on top of meal planning is keeping everything in one location and easy to access. It does take some work up front. Successful meal planning takes some effort and yes – planning. However if you’re like me, you’re tired of eating out, not knowing what you’re going to eat and wasting food. This system has helped my husband and I so much, I can’t wait to share it! And yes, I’m going to make you scroll all the way to the bottom of the post to find the freebies πŸ˜‰

Alright, before we get started I just want to share to real pictures with you. Here are two photos of our fridge and pantry, un-edited, not cleaned up, nothing. I just wanted to share with you how a little ambition and staying on top of things can work to your benefit! Our fridge used to always be full of pyrex containers with old yucky leftovers, expired eggs and overall filth! Our pantry was in a constant state of disarray, had little organization, and the shelves were literally overflowing with expired products and old boxes. Since I have started meal planning, Our fridge naturally cleans itself out, we finish all of our leftovers, and the pantry stays at a manageable chaos πŸ™‚

 

The Recipe BoxΒ 

So my first tip to successful meal planning is this – find a simple way to store your recipes! For me, that’s a recipe box. A lot of my recipes have came from Pinterest and various cookbooks/magazines, so at dinner time I was always stuck hunting for the right recipe. Ten minutes later, and I’m already cutting into precious cooking time! It takes some time up front, but sit down and convert ALL of your recipes to cards or in a notebook, and store them in one location. If you want to, you can even go all out and alphabetize them – you do you girl!

I found this recipe box in the Target dollar spot (which is where 75% of my house is from) and I am SO glad I found it! I was storing my recipes in a notebook that I kept beside the fridge, but it just wasn’t functional enough for me to pull out and use while I was cooking. This little box is so simple and cute, it will match any of my future kitchens, and it’s small enough to not take up too much precious counter space.

Like any good recipe box should, this one came with several pre-printed recipe cards and dividers. If you can’t find a recipe box with pre-made cards, I gotcha girlfriend πŸ˜‰ Just hold out to the end of this post! I labeled all the dividers with the appropriate labels for my style of cooking, and boom! One centralized home for all of my recipes.

Here’s a quick glimpse at the recipe card. You can print it on your own index cards, or just print several on one sheet of paper, whatever suits your fancy. I included the prep time and cook time right at the top of the cards, because to me that’s the most important part. Whether you’re looking for something to whip up quick, or you have more time to labor in the kitchen you know what you’re looking for. Step one of our meal plan, complete!

The Master Grocery List

Now I will admit, I’m sort of skipping a step here. In between the recipe box and these lists, I would add in the master grocery list (again, see bottom of this post)! However I have been using this system long enough, I no longer use my master list, and it’s empty πŸ™‚ So I figured it would be useless to include a cute photo of an empty list, so instead I will briefly explain it to you.

The master grocery list is designed as your ‘build to’ list. If you’re newly married, or just moved out on your own, you’re probably still working on building an arsenal of recipes. As you do this, take the time to sit down and write common ingredients together on a list for yourself. You can also add in typical items that you buy weekly like eggs, milk, your favorite cereal etc. Once you have the master list compiled together, you have a basic grocery list outline to shop off of! This is seriously one of the easiest ways to control your spending, help your meal planning, and feel like a total boss in the kitchen. You won’t be walking into the grocery store empty handed, and walk out with a cart full of junk food. The master list will help you nail down your pantry staples, so you always have what you need to cook with on hand! I suggest printing it out and sticking it on your fridge so you see it frequently. That way it is easy to add items to, and easy to remind yourself of what you need to pick up in the store.

The Fridge Fancies

Next up we have the real bread and butter of this meal planning system. I am a visual learner, and an overall visual person. I have to see something and physical write things down if I want them to stick. That is why I decided to create these lists! Now I will also note, these have been MUCH more effective to me as dry erase boards, instead of just printing a new sheet every week and putting them in a binder. The binder gets stuck under a pile of junk and never gets looked at again, you know the drill. So my tip to you is to stick these bad boys up on the fridge where you can see them every day!

So to make these lists super functional, I purchased these simple document frames from Wal-Mart (make sure you get the document ones, that fit an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper) and glued magnets to the back of them. Stick your lists inside and – boom! You have yourself a reusable weekly meal planning and grocery list. Having these front and center on the fridge has been so beneficial to me. I can look and see what we have planned for dinner the next day, and thaw my meat and ingredients accordingly. My husband gets paid bi-weekly, so we go grocery shopping on pay day and try and make the trip last for two weeks at a time. We buy our meat in bulk, freeze the majority of it and thaw it as needed throughout the week. This is where the problem always came up. I would forget to lay meat out the night before, and we wouldn’t have anything to cook by the time we got home from work. Seeing our nightly meals in front of the fridge helps remind me what I need to lay out!

I will also note, take into account the week’s events when it comes to your meal planning. My husband has softball games on Friday nights, so he usually will grab dinner on his way home – meaning we don’t need a meal that night. Taking a few minutes to plan your families meals and events will help save you money in the long run!

Beside of the weekly layout, I also have a re-usable grocery list printed up! This is a serious game changer ya’ll. Meal planner’s exist all over the place, and you can even get cute pre-made ones in Target. But can you find a cute and re-useable grocery list to match? I don’t think so πŸ˜‰ Keep this wherever it will be easily accessible in your kitchen, and for me that’s right beside the meal planner.

To keep things as functional as possible, this awesome little basket lives underneath my lists. I actually got this several years ago in the school supply section. It’s one of those locker accessories that we all just had to have in middle school – but it also serves a great purpose in my kitchen! I keep a few pens, sharpies and my dry erase markers in it for easy access. And this is where the functionality comes in! As your cooking or snacking throughout the day, when you run out of an item – write it down! Instead of just tossing it in the trash can and forgetting about it, take the extra few seconds, grab your expo marker and add it to your grocery list. When it comes time to grocery shop, your list is ready to go – no more scrambling at the last minute to sort through your shelves and decide what you need. This has been SUCH a huge help to us, and we don’t buy extra items and things we don’t need.

When it comes time to go shopping, you can do one of two things. You can either snap a photo of your list on your phone, and you have your list with you in your pocket! Or if you’re like me and a little extra OCD, you can transfer your list to a traditional paper.

I also will pull out the recipe cards for the week, and place them in the basket as well. Instead of shuffling through my box at dinner time I have everything I need at the tip of my fingers.

The Grocery List

I always have notepads on the side of the fridge, ready for random scribblings and grocery lists. Call me old school, but I somehow shop quicker and more effectively if I have a paper list that I can cross items off of! So when it comes time to go grocery shopping, I simply transfer all the items on my dry erase list onto my notepad.

This is where the OCD really kicks in ya’ll, so bare with me. However I have learned that staying organized and planning ahead is key to saving money when it comes to grocery shopping!

My husband and I do our grocery shopping between Aldi and Wal-Mart. Most things we purchase in Aldi and LOVE, however there are those few things you just can’t skimp on and need the name brand. That’s where Wal-Mart comes in.

So when it comes to fashioning my lists, I start off by going through my recipe box and pulling out anywhere from 10-12 meals for the next two weeks. I’ll write all those meals down on a list, along with some sides, desserts and snacks for us throughout the two weeks. Then on two other lists, I’ll write down what items we need from both grocery stores. I’ll go through the meals I have planned, and make sure we have all necessary ingredients, and add anything if necessary. Ten minutes later, and I have my lists ready to go!

And there you have it ladies and gents, my quick and simple routine when it comes to meal planning. It’s nothing fancy and extremely simple, but I’ve found it works perfect for my family. Below you’ll find a free download for the resources that I use! I left them as plain and simple as I possibly could. They’re neutral so they’ll match any decor, and spacious enough for your own writing. They’re plain enough and you can be as detailed or as simple as you want with them, so I hope you enjoy!

Freebies

Download the Master Grocery List here.

Download the Weekly Grocery List here.

Download the Weekly Meal Planner here.

Download the Recipe Card here.

A Quick and Easy Fall Makeup Tutorial

Hey friends! I’ve been wanting to write this post for quite some time, and I’m finally sitting down to pull it all together – so I’m excited to share this with you! For those of you who don’t know me, I am a Beautycounter consultant and passionate about all things safer beauty. Beautycounter is a company created by our founder, Gregg Renfrew, that is gaining national attention. We have skincare, bodycare, haircare, kids and baby products, and my most favorite – makeup – all formulated without over 1500 ingredients that can be potentially toxic and harmful to our bodies! I won’t go into any more detail about the brand right now, that’s worth a separate post πŸ˜‰ But because of the safer ingredient lists on our products, many are skeptical if everything is actually effective. The answer is YES! Everything is extremely high performing, just like your usual drugstore and high end brands – they even perform better than several products I used to use! Long story short, I’m sharing this post with you because I love Fall, and I love Fall makeup even more. I want to show you first hand that you can achieve a beautiful Fall makeup look with safer products, without sacrificing effectiveness! So here we go! I give you a quick and easy Fall makeup tutorial featuring Beautycounter products!

 

Just to give you an idea of the effectiveness of our products, here’s a glamorous before photo. Also, don’t mind my stained t-shirt in all the photos. We’re staying in today, and I’m not about to get dressed just to take a photo #realtalk πŸ˜‰

Step 1: Foundation

For our first step, we’re going to apply our Tint Skin Hydrating Foundation. I am currently wearing the shade Linen, however once my true pasty self comes to form in the Fall and Winter weather I will need the shade Porcelain. Since this is more of a ‘glam’ look, I decided to use our Tint Skin foundation to give more coverage than what the Dew Skin offers!

I applied the foundation simply with my fingers, but you can also use a brush or makeup sponge – whatever you like! I love our foundation for two reasons.

One, it’s SO buildable! I used one layer of the foundation today, however you can apply a second layer for a night out or a special event without looking cakey and gross!

Two, the Tint Skin is formulated with Jojoba Esters to help moisturize, soothe and soften your skin. In other words – it’s a foundation that is actually going to care for your skin while giving you the coverage you desire! Shop the Tint Skin here.

Step 2: Concealer

Next, we’re going to apply the Touch Up Concealer Pen. It’s important to apply concealer AFTER your foundation, because it will end up saving you some product! Foundation will naturally give you some coverage and help mask any imperfections, so you can add in concealer wherever you need a little extra umph! I use the touchup concealer pen in the shade fair.

As goofy as this looks, it’s worth the results! If you have terrible under eye bags and darkness like I do, it’s important to apply your concealer in an inverted triangle shape. Dragging the concealer below the under eye area will naturally draw the light down your cheeks, and away from the problem area! I blended my concealer with my pinky finger, being extremely delicate around the under eye area.

I adore our touch up concealer pen because of the brush applicator. It’s so easy to apply the product precisely where you need it! It is also formulated with knotgrass, which helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Over time your skin will appear brighter and firmer! Yes please πŸ™‚ Shop the concealer pen here.

Step 3: Blush

Next, we’re adding some beautiful Fall color to our face! I’m using the satin powder blush in the shade sorbet. Now if you were to look at this shade on my website, it looks extremely intimidating. But I promise you with a light hand it is absolutely stunning, and it is the perfect berry shade for fall!

I applied the blush with a fluffy angled blush brush (say that five times fast!) To easily find the apples of my cheeks, I smile and start to apply the blush on my cheek bones, and then blend it back towards my hairline. Our blush powders are triple milled, meaning they are ultra smooth and incredibly creamy for a powder! They swatch on your hand like a dream, and apply to the face so easily. As far as staying power goes, they are honestly the longest lasting blushes I own (and I’m a die hard NARS blush addict.) What’s the magic ingredient you ask? Butterpowder. Butterpowder boosts the pigments color and wear, so you don’t have to worry about it fading away!

Shop the satin powder blush collection here

Step 4: Eyebrows

Eyebrows eyebrows eyebrows. Your brows are so important ya’ll, and they deserve a little TLC! You’ll see in the photo below how they can frame your face, and the difference a filled in brow can make! I use our brow pencil in the shade medium and it’s a perfect match for my brows and hair. One side of the pencil has an awesome spooly brush to help tame those wild hairs, and the other is the pencil itself!

The proof is in the pudding ladies – look at the difference! My right (your left) brow is filled in and full. My left brow is crying for help! A filled in brow lifts the eye area, and frames the rest of your face perfectly.

Now that looks better, doesn’t it! Both brows are filled in and beautiful! Shop the color define brow pencil here.

Step 6: Eyeshadow

The real gem of this post – our Velvet Eyeshadow palette in Romantic. I’m in love ya’ll. Before Beautycounter I was an eyeshadow snob. I wouldn’t settle for anything less than Anastasia quality (the Modern Renaissance Palette is my fav!) And I have to tell you, these shadows are just as good if not better! The Romantic Palette is perfect for those gorgeous berry fall looks that everyone loves!

I wanted to keep this look fairly simple, so I used the three colors on the right of the palette. I placed Dusk all over my eyelid. (Photo below)

I placed Truffle in my crease with a fluffy brush (photo below.)

And I used Candlelight as a highlight under my brows! It is a super simple three shadow look, yet still looks beautifully put together. Shop the Romantic Palette here.

Step 7: Mascara

 

If leave the house with anything on my face ya’ll, it will at least be mascara! A good mascara is so important. It lifts the lashes, makes the lash line appear thicker, and your eyes more awake (can I get an Amen?!) Beautycounter offers two mascara formulas, one is volumizing and one is lengthening. Layer the two together, and you get the most beautiful, dramatic lashes you could dream of! However today, I just used the volumizing mascara.

I prefer a pretty thick lash, so I always apply two coats of mascara. Before finding Beautycounter’s mascara, I would always wake up in the mornings with watery, red and irritated eyes. The eye boogers were real ya’ll! It wasn’t until I switched over to Beautycounter’s that I realized my mascara was irritating my eyes! Even after removing my makeup at night, I was waking up with the remnants of mascara irritating my eyes. Did you know many mascaras on the market today are formulated with carbon black? It’s used to give mascaras and eyeliners the deep black pigment we all love. So what’s so bad about it? Carbon black is a known human carcinogen, and is also used as a reinforcing filler in tires. Tires! I’m not sharing this to scare you, it’s just important to be aware of what you’re putting in and on your body! However you don’t have to worry about carbon black in Beautycounter’s mascara. It is formulated with caranuba and rice bran wax, as well as bataua oil to help soften and condition your lashes! Shop the volumzing mascara here.

Step 8: Lipstick

This little beauty pulls the whole look together! One of the easiest ways to pull off a beautiful Fall look is with a deeper color lipstick. This is Beautycounter’s sheer lipstick in the shade plum. It looks very dark in the tube, but once applied it is the absolute perfect wearable berry color! Don’t let the deep color of a Fall lip scare you, with minimal makeup on the rest of your face it can be absolutely stunning! I love these sheer lipsticks for so many reasons, but mainly because of their fragrance. Any time you see ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ that means you need to do some serious hunting to find out what synthetic ingredients are in your product to give them their artificial scent. There are so many products on the market I can’t use because their artificial heavy fragrance bothers my allergies and gives me a headache. However these sheer lipsticks contain natural vanilla, so there’s absolutely no artificial fragrance to worry about!

Is this color not absolutely beautiful?! To me, a Fall look is all about the lip color. It’s so easy to pull off a deeper than normal color by going minimal across the rest of your face! I didn’t choose to wear a super dramatic eye, and used a light hand with my blush so the focus of the face is the lip color. I absolutely love how beautifully these products pull together to create this look, you better believe I’ll be wearing this a lot this Fall!

So there you have it friends. Here’s a super simple yet beautiful Fall makeup tutorial using safer beauty products! Everything is free of fillers, synthetic fragrances and harsh chemicals. Now yes, I am a Beautycounter consultant, so you can say I’m a bit biased towards all of these products. However I used these products for quite some time before I even became a consultant. They are safe, effective and I feel 100% comfortable wearing them around my little one! I hope you all enjoyed this look, let me know if you’d like to see more blog tutorials!

DIY Pink Lemonade Birthday Party

It was your average Tuesday, and my daughter Emerson and I were on our usual Target run. We went in for diapers, and walked out with $40+ in supplies for her birthday party … that was in three months. That folks, is what the Target Dollar Spot does to a girl. It pulls you in with bright colors and cute patterns, and sucks you dry until your husband won’t let you in Target by yourself anymore. Anyways, that was the day I decided on the theme for my daughters first birthday party – a Pink Lemonade Stand! Now we all know how the Dollar Spot in Target works. The good stuff goes quick, so if you see something you like you have to pick it up quick or it will be gone! I immediately called my husband and asked what he thought, (true story, he’s allergic to lemons :D) and he gave me the go ahead. From then on, it was operation DIY Pink Lemonade Birthday Party!

Several weeks and even more Hobby Lobby trips later, I got to see everything come together. I realize I am totally that mom that may have gone a little overboard, but your child only has one first birthday and I wanted to have beautiful pictures for her to remember it by! I am so pleased with how everything came out, so let’s dig right in to the details! Everything was either purchased from Target’s Dollar Spot, or created on my Cricut Explore Air.

One of my favorite elements of the party was this sweet area we had set up for our guests to sign a keepsake for Emerson. The chalkboard frame and decor came from the Dollar Spot, and I simply wrote a quick little message with a chalk marker. My husband cut up an old palette for me to stain, and fashioned a farmhouse frame for everyone to sign! My Mother-in-Law bought us a sweet frame for our wedding that everyone signed, so I knew I wanted to do something similar for Emerson’s party. I am so pleased with how it turned out!

I really put my Cricut to work for this ya’ll. The fabric pennant banner came from the Dollar Spot, and I cut out everything else with my Cricut! I thought this was the perfect way to display her monthly photos, with a lemon in each corner. I glued each photo and the extra lemons to strands of fishing line and simply tied them to curtain rod – so easy! I was so pleased with how this turned out.

Throughout Emerson’s first year I’ve also been taking photos of her with my Polaroid. I found this cute pink fringe ribbon in you guessed it – the Dollar Spot – and tied it in between our bookshelves for a simple banner. Add a few cute clothespins, and you’re good to go!

Next up we have my favorite part of the whole party, the lemonade bar. Because what’s a lemonade stand without lemonade?! Pretty much everything here came from the Dollar Spot. I absolutely love the treat bags so much, I didn’t even use them to give away πŸ™‚ I simply hung some twine and clipped them on with clothespins!

The handy old Cricut and some vinyl made the cutest personalized beverage dispenser too!

To top off the lemonade bar, these cute paper straws just had to happen. Who can say no when it comes to cute straws? The chalkboard lemon sign was such a sweet addition too! Add a little personalization with a chalk marker, and you have yourself a sweet lemonade bar!

And of course, what’s a party without the cutest scalloped napkins. Target gets me with these every time ya’ll. Every time!

This sweet little station was home to goodie bags for our guests to take home. I made some royal iced sugar cookies (which I am now realizing I never got a photo of) and bagged them up in cellophane treat bags for people to grab on their way out! The ‘one’ balloon topped everything off perfectly!

And next we have the center of attention for most of our photos – the highchair! I knew that I wanted a cute little spot for photos of the birthday girl! For the backdrop, I bought five colorful tablecloths and cut them into about 2 inch strips. We stapled some twine across the archway and tied each strip to the twine. The backdrop came together much easier than I thought it would, and didn’t take too long to assemble!

For the high chair banner, I found a few themed ones on Pinterest that I liked and tried to re-create them. All it took was some cardstock, my Cricut, and some fabric and I was all set! I bought 1/2 a yard of the pink and yellow polka dot fabric and cut them into about one inch strips. After they were all cut, I simply tied them onto the twine, just like the backdrop! I absolutely LOVE how it turned out. We threw a plain white table cloth on top of the high chair as well, to even the colors out for photos (and to protect it from the potential cake flinging πŸ™‚ )

I chose to go very simple on the dining room table, because I wanted to be sure people had enough room for their food! The cute striped table cloth came from the dollar spot, and brightened up the room so well. Then I stuffed a plain cylinder vase with pink and white table cloth, and placed the pinwheels on either side of the vase. Add some little decorations on either side of the vase, and we had a simple and cute centerpiece!

To top everything off, we placed a few decorations on our walkway outside. My Mother-in-Law found the sweet little lemonade stand at Hobby Lobby, and it made the perfect little welcome piece to all of our guests! The yard stakes were a sweet addition as well. All in all, I am so pleased with how Emerson’s first birthday party turned out. Even without all the decorations, we would have had a good time with our friends and family, but I wanted to throw a sweet little party for her that we could look back and show her photos of! We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, let alone the idea of having another child – and she only turns one once! That’s why to me, it was worth all the work and time spent to throw a beautiful birthday party for her. Happy Birthday my sweet babe!

Finding Support in the Side Hustle

Side Hustle’s. If you don’t have one yourself, you likely know someone who does. I don’t know who dubbed the term ‘side hustle,’ but I’d really like to shake their hand because I love it. Whether it’s driving an Uber, an Etsy shop, photography, selling products or even blogging, I honestly love a good side hustle. Many of people a part of my generation feel they need some extra income in the side to help them make ends meet, afford a special luxury, save for a house, etc. So I give a round of applause and a hats off to those of us that keep up with a side business beyond the normal 9-5! I’m going to divide the rest of this post into two sections: One for those of us with a side hustle, and those of us without. I encourage you to read through both, no matter which end of the spectrum you are on.

Those Without a Side Hustle

To my friends and those of you reading this without a side hustle, I just ask that you hear me out for the next few paragraphs.

Many of us with a side hustle promote our business through means of social media. That means we talk about our business just as much if not more than our personal lives on our pages. For whatever reason we decide to take on a side hustle, it is very important to us. Think of it this way. We willingly sign up for e-mails from Old Navy and JCrew, and our inboxes are flooded with their ads, sales and promotions every day. We open up the e-mail, check out the deals and choose to shop or move right along with our day. Think of a side hustle the same exact way. Many of us don’t build up e-mail lists, so the only way we can promote special sales and our products is through social media. You probably don’t bat an eye when you receive those promotional e-mails, right? But when you see another post about that stinking mascara or essential oils, you roll your eyes and complain.

So I’m here to ask you, please don’t. Take a moment and think about how hard you work during the day to provide for yourself and/or your family. Those with a side hustle are working just as hard to provide for themselves and their family, they’re just taking a bit of a different avenue than you are. I won’t lie, it definitely can be obnoxious to scroll through facebook and see post after post where someone is trying to get you to buy something. But if it really bothers you that much, simply unfollow the account!

Even if you don’t purchase anything from your friends business, support them in any other way that you can. Like the photos that they share, comment on their live videos, share their posts with your friends that may be interested in their page. That means more than you know! So much goes into a good social media strategy when it comes to advertising, so the more exposure someone can get the better!

To Those with a Side Hustle

Whatever your side hustle may be, I know it’s hard. I know sometimes you feel bad for picking up something extra and adding it to your plate. You probably feel like it’s taking time away from your family or other important things in your life. But for whatever reason, you have this side hustle and you’ve dedicated yourself to making it work.

And that’s just it – MAKE IT WORK. Sit down and create a plan for yourself, what do you have to do in order to make sure you have a sufficient amount of time to dedicate to your side hustle. Sometimes that means skipping a bubble bath, but if it means that much to you, you will make time for it. I won’t lie, it definitely does help if you have a supportive spouse to help you through the process. However if you don’t have someone to help you through it, you’ll come out even stronger!

I will say that just like finding a ‘mom tribe’ is important, finding a ‘side hustle tribe’ is just as important for your success. To me personally, blogging isn’t really my side hustle yet as I’m not getting any income off of it (however I hope to!) My side hustle right now is Beautycounter, and I am so thankful to have a team of girls that absolutely rock. Not only are they extremely successful in their Beautycounter businesses, but they are an awesome support system as well. When we have rough months and feel like no one is listening or interacting with us, we are there for each other to cheer one another on. Even if you aren’t in a direct sales type company with a team of people, I would recommend finding someone within the same area of work as you. Having someone to bounce ideas off of, vent to and share the struggles and victories with is invaluable!

All of that being said, running a successful side hustle is hard. I personally am a stay at home mom, so I do have a decent amount of time most days to devote to my business. Even still, some weeks I look back and feel so defeated. I didn’t get near as many likes on my posts, only a few people watched my live video, and no one placed any orders. That is why it’s so important to always focus on the positive! Talk to someone new about your business, design new business cards to share – you must never be complacent with your business! Even when it seems like everyone is ignoring what you have to say, I guarantee you’re making an impact on someone whether you know it or not! So don’t give up, and stay true to your goals. Let’s support one another in our side hustles!

Amazon Prime Day Deals for Moms

It’s the biggest shopping day next to black Friday – Amazon Prime Day! I personally appreciate Prime Day so much more because it’s not forcing people to work on a holiday and I don’t have to stand in a crowd of grumpy people to save $20 bucks. Prime day is a sale that only lasts a few hours, so you have to act quickly if you see anything you may want! It is available for Prime members only, however if you don’t want to pay for a full membership, you can sign up for the free 30 day trial and you’re good to do! Alright, that’s enough babbling. I tried to curate a list of items that mom’s especially would benefit from, so here are some of my picks for Prime Day 2018!

Baby Items

The pure cool mist humidiferΒ is perfect to keep in babies room year round. Because let’s be honest, babies get sick, they get congested and the air in their bedroom gets dry. I like to keep a humidifier running in my daughter’s room especially in the Winter months to help keep her skin from drying out too bad. A cool mist humidifier is best to use around little ones, so this one is perfect!

TheΒ Nuby Garden Fresh Fruitsicle Frozen Pop Tray is a real winner in my book ya’ll. The silicone mold is super easy to clean, and any frozen treats will pop out with ease! For the wee little babes, you can make milk pops with breastmilk or formula to help with teething. For the bigger babes, fill them with their favorite puree or juice!

TheΒ Babysense Video Baby Monitor with two cameras is also a great find! This has pretty much all the bells and whistles you could want out of a baby monitor. From a two way talking function to a temperature monitor it does it all! Even if you don’t have two children, two cameras are perfect for the little one who loves to wiggle all around their crib in the middle of the night.

TheΒ OPOLAR Handheld Portable Battery Operated Rechargeable USB Fan is a real blessing for Summer’s in the South! This is perfect to keep around little ones in the carseat, in the stroller, or anywhere else the heat is just unbearable! The enclosure keeps little fingers from breaking the blades (my kid already destroyed one fan) and it has a rechargeable battery, yay!Β 

This Melissa & Doug Wooden Construction Building Set is so adorable! Whether it’s for a little boy or little girl, I think this is absolutely perfect! It can help develop those fine motor skills for the little ones, and even serves as a fun crane for the older ones to play pretend with!Β 

The Cuddles & Cribs 2 Pack GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Fitted Crib Sheet. Because let’s be honest – poop happens – pee happens – drool happens – it all happens. And it happens a lot, so you can never have too many crib sheets! These are organic cotton and super soft, perfect for your little one to nuzzle up against every night!

8 in 1 Wooden Activity Cube Bead Maze. I have been looking for one of these for such a long time for my daughter! These wooden activity cubes are timeless to me, and I have yet to meet a kid that doesn’t like them. The solid wooden ones can be hard to come by these days, so this one is absolutely perfect!

JOOVY Qool Stroller. this one is pricey ya’ll, but it’s worth it. This little beauty converts from a single, all the way up to a triple stroller! If I could go back, I would buy a stroller like this from the very beginning. If you’re hoping to have more than one child, a convertible stroller like this is one of the best purchases you can make! Anything that Joovy makes is going to be high quality, so I imagine this stroller will sell out quickly.

Items for Momma

The Original Make-up Eraser. If you buy anything from the sale for yourself this needs to be it! If you know me, I am all about using as little chemicals in my home as possible, and that includes my makeup and skincare. This makeup eraser is seriously awesome. It’s a soft textured wash cloth that removes all your makeup just as well as a remover wipe, but all you have to do is moisten it with water! When it gets gunky just toss it in the washing machine, and you’re good to go!

Parker Baby Diaper Caddy. I guess this technically could have gone under the baby section, but I’m including this for momma’s because it’s a real sanity saver. Any diaper caddy in general is such a blessing because everything you need to take care of a new babe is within your hands reach, and it’s portable! The neutral color matches any decor and it has plenty of pockets for extra storage!

Sarah Wells Abby Breast Pump Bag. Not going to lie, a main reason I love this bag is because it looks like a longchamp. It’s gorgeous! But it’s real leather straps and a lifetime warranty are an extra special treat. It’s loaded with pockets to store your pump and any of your supplies, and it can wipe clean with ease! Even if you don’t use it as a pump bag, it’d make a super cute diaper bag too!

Leather iPhone Case. Keeping up with your kids is hard enough, let alone your wallet. This iPhone case is perfect for a busy momma, with card slots along the back to keep your most used cards close! And it’s actually stylish. Most cases with card holders are bulky and unattractive, but I think this one is so cute!

For the House

Space Saver Vacuum Storage Bags. Because kids have so many clothes and blankets. If you’re hoping to have more kids, you probably don’t want to totally purge their closets yet so these vacuum bags are perfect for storing clothes and toys in half the space!

6 Piece Hotel Luxury Soft 1800 Series Premium Bed Sheets Set. There is nothing better at the end of a long day then settling down into your nice comfy bed, and these sheets are perfect for that. I bought a set back in November, and they’re the only sheets I’ve kept on our bed since then! They have extra deep pockets and elastic to help everything stay put on our massive mattress, and they have washed and worn so well. I will definitely be ordering another set!

The Instant Pot. If you don’t have one, you need one. I really don’t need to say anything else. It’s the kitchen appliance you never knew you needed, perfect for the lazy cook like me!

The Cricut Explore Air 2 Bundle. If you’re a crafty gal like me, this is truly a must have. I could devote an entire post to the cricut (which I may do later). If you have ever thought about purchasing one for yourself, now is the time to do it!

Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker. Because who doesn’t love a cup of fresh cold brewed coffee in the Summer, am I right?

And that is all for my Prime Day roundup! I hope you guys found something you’re interested in! The deals go live in different increments throughout the next day, but several deals start at 3pm so make sure and stay on top of things if you’re interested! Happy shopping!

Why a Closet Declutter is Important for your Self Confidence

We’ve all been there. You’re already running late. Your toothbrush is hanging out of your mouth while you sort through hanger after hanger, and you can’t find anything to wear. Everything in your closet either doesn’t fit, or makes you long for your body in college – so you wear the same exact outfit you wore the last seven times you went out. This makes you feel bad about yourself, so when you do put on that outfit that fits, your self image has already plummeted to the floor. That my friend, is how you know it’s time for a closet declutter.

Now I’m going to start this post off with a real sucker punch to the throat for you. If you know me in real life, you know I am petite. I am an overwhelming five feet tall, towering over all the little kids in Target. (You get the picture. I’m tiny.) HOWEVER – It is COMPLETELY possible for petite girls to have issues with their self confidence and body type. Let me say that one more time for the people in the back.

IT IS COMPLETELY POSSIBLE FOR PETITE GIRLS TO HAVE ISSUES WITH THEIR SELF CONFIDENCE AND BODY TYPE.

Alright, I’m going to go off on a little rant before we start to talk about the whole closet declutter thing. If a petite girl goes shopping with her friends, and makes a negative comment about her own body, she likely is immediately met with comments like “oh please, you’re so skinny” or “yeah right, you can wear anything you want!” Now tell me – how is that being a supportive and uplifting friend? Yeah, it’s not. Just because petite girls may not have the same issues as their beautifully curvy friends doesn’t mean shopping for jeans is all unicorns and rainbows. Because let’s be honest – it’s a real shot to your womanhood when you can wear a dress from the girls section in Target.

Anyways – whatever your reason is for dreading getting dressed in the morning, it’s time to tackle it and get rid of it. For me, that means going through your clothes and finally getting rid of those things you’ve been holding on to for three years that “might fit again one day.” I find the easiest way to do this, is to empty out all of the contents of your closet, and go through each piece one by one. As you put items back into your closet, make sure they actually fit your body today – not last year.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment with all your old clothes. You were so much smaller when that cute maxi dress fit, but now it’s more like a tube top on you. Your thighs didn’t rub together when you used to wear that pencil skirt, but now you can’t zip it all the way. That peplum top fit you so well until you started breastfeeding, and then your boobs said otherwise.

Whatever your reason, whatever the memory – get rid of it. It can be so depressing and a huge blow to your self confidence to wake up in the morning and look at the same closet full of clothes that don’t fit anymore. They serve as a constant reminder of what was, instead of what you are today.

Now I am preaching to the choir in this post ya’ll. Like I said earlier, I still am a fairly petite girl, but pregnancy took my body out back, beat it with a stick, and left me with a jiggly mess. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss my pre-pregnancy body. However I’ve come to love my body the way it is today. My flat stomach is now graced with a beautiful mom pudge that hangs over my pants – and that’s ok. It’s a reminder that my little body GAVE BIRTH to a 7 1/2 pound baby girl. My thighs are much thicker than they used to be and are covered with stretch marks. But that’s ok, because they helped support my ballooning belly for nine months. Because of these things and many others, so many clothes in my collection don’t fit anymore.

Let’s even go beyond the fit of your clothes. Chances are, you aren’t going to wear that sequined tube dress that you always wore on your GNO’s in college. If you’re a working professional now, you probably don’t want to wear that tube top to the office. If you work from home or are a stay at home mom, you may not need quite as many dress slacks and blouses. It’s ok for your style needs to change as your stages in life change. Don’t hold on to pieces just because of the past.

Anyways, every time I got dressed, I would pick out the same cute little tank top and think to myself “maybe today’s the day it will fit.” And every time I was met with the same result. It hugged my belly much tighter than it used to, and it would be impossible to nurse my daughter in. Today I decided to stop being so hard on myself and remove the temptation for those negative thoughts. I purged my closet of all the clothes I’ve been holding on to for the last year and a half that “might fit again one day.”

Now when I open my closet doors, I am met with satisfaction. I can see all the pieces in my wardrobe that fit my body today, not tomorrow, TODAY. Is my wardrobe as large as I would like it to be? Of course not. I will hopefully add new pieces to my collection over time. And that’s ok! Our wardrobes should be like our stages in life, constantly changing and evolving to keep up with one another. Don’t let your closet become a place of despair and harsh thoughts. I challenge you to go home, declutter your closet and leave yourself with a little bit of happiness when you get dressed in the mornings.

PS – anyone else find the number of Target hangers in their closet disgusting? πŸ˜€

 

An Honest Stitchfix Review

Alright guys, I finally bit the bullet and tried out the Stitchfix clothing subscription box. If you haven’t heard of it before, it really is a neat idea. You fill out a pretty extensive ‘style profile’ where you answer questions about your lifestyle, clothing choices, likes and dislikes and so on. You are then ‘matched’ with a stylist and they curate a box of five pieces and send it your way. The initial styling fee is $20 just for the box to be curated, and then you have the option to purchase each piece on top of that – so keep that in mind. You are also given the option to set a budget for each type of clothing and accessories, based on how much you’d like to spend per piece. It really is a neat idea if shopping has become a hassle to you, whether it’s because of a lack of time, little ones, whatever! So here it is, my honest Stitchfix review.

The box arrived within a week of my initial contact. Everything came wrapped up nice and neat within this tissue paper and pretty box – points for presentation!

The first item in the box – the Liverpool Mirabella Capri Skinny Jeans. These jeans were $68, which would make them the most expensive pair of jeans in my collection. Let me preface the rest of the post by saying this. I am a bargain hunter. The clearance rack is my best friend and I never pay full price for anything. I recently saw a cute romper in Target that I loved, and it’s full price was $24. I waited and waited for it to go on clearance, and recently purchased it for $8. So needless to say, I had a really hard time justifying $68 for these jeans.

I will also say, I had a really hard time not purchasing them. I didn’t buy them mainly because of the price of the whole box, but we’ll get into that later. But anyways, these jeans ya’ll. They were amazing. As you can see, they don’t have the typical zipper and jean waistband – they’re elastic. ELASTIC YA’LL. They rose high enough on my midsection to hide my mom tummy and kept it nice and tucked in. I’m also extremely short, and the length on these jeans were absolutely perfect.

I will also be vain for a moment, they made my butt look good. I seriously loved everything about these jeans. The material, the stretch, the waistband, they were a great pick to include in my box. I will definitely be on the lookout for this brand in department stores, and hope I can score a cheaper pair!

Next is this sweet Callum Tulip Sleeve Blouse. This is the only item from the box I kept, priced at $38. Now $38 is a high price for me to pay for a blouse. But I’m currently in a state of awkwardness after having my daughter. I’m not unhappy with my body at all, but my body has changed so much that most of my dressier clothes don’t fit very well anymore. This top fits me perfectly, and made me feel so pretty!Β  It’s a soft polyester and has a light texture all over, with overlaying cap sleeves. It falls at my hips just right, and doesn’t hug me in any of the wrong places. I mainly kept this top because I can easily dress it down with jeans, or dress it up with a nice pair of slacks. It was definitely another winner of a pick in my box!

Next we have the Romey Cold Shoulder Knit top, coming in at $28. It is a super soft cotton blouse that is light and airy, perfect for summer.

I loved the detail of the sweet cold shoulder sleeves, and how they gathered into a subtle knot at the edge. Cold shoulder tops usually look funny on my petite frame, but this blouse hit in just the right spot on my shoulders. This blouse was very pretty and fit me well, I just couldn’t justify another $28 on a cotton t-shirt.

Lastly, we have the Tasha Knit Dress for $48. This is the main reason I did not keep my entire box. The dress fit well in length, and didn’t fall too far down underneath my arms (which is a usual problem for me). But the style of the dress just wasn’t me. I felt it made me look a little bit older, and I didn’t see myself wearing it often. The material felt nice and was decent quality, it fit very well, It just wasn’t my style.

I also received a pair of earrings that I totally forgot to take a photo of, so here’s a photo from their website.

They were very pretty, and would have fit into my collection very well! I just can’t justify $28 for a pair of costume jewlery earrings. I will say they were nice quality and by no means felt cheap, they just weren’t worth $28 to me.

So let’s round all of this up. Separately, all of these items would have cost me $210. Which is just absurd to me. However purchasing the entire box was $157. My favorite items were really just the tulip blouse and jeans, and I honestly saw myself donating the rest of the items within a year or so. Coming down to those two main pieces I loved, It just wasn’t worth the $157 to purchase the whole box.

If that’s within your price point and in your budget, then that’s wonderful! This is definitely a great service to receive pieces you may not find on your own. I’ve just reached a point in life where I regularly clean out my closet (or entire house) and get rid of the things I don’t find myself using or wearing. For $150, I just felt like I could go out and purchase more items that I would love and enjoy much more.

I will say that they nailed the fit of all of my clothes. As I said before, I am very petite and finding clothes that fit me well (especially post birth) has become difficult. I was anxious to see how these clothes fit without being able to try them on first, and the stylists absolutely nailed it – everything fit perfectly! Ten out of ten stars in that section!

For really matching my style, I’d say they got a four. The tulip blouse I purchased is perfect, and really matches my style. The other items I did think were cute, but if I saw them while out shopping in Loft or JCrew, I may have just walked by them.

And lastly, the cost. Four out of ten stars here, and the reason I won’t be ordering another box. The prices of the items weren’t awful, but definitely more than I usually spend on myself. You also have to keep in mind the $20 styling fee as well. If some of the items felt a little higher quality, I may not have such an issue paying a higher price tag, but for me the quality just wasn’t there. Overall it was a fun experience, receiving a surprise box of clothes and accessories on your doorstep is something new and exciting for sure! If you have the room in your budget and are looking to treat yourself – give it a try! However for me, things just weren’t worth the extra cash.

 

DIY Wooden Farmhouse Sign

Hey friends! Today I’m sharing with you a super easy project that even the crafty challenged can complete! We all see those gorgeous farmhouse signs all over Pinterest, but they cost an arm and a leg. I’ve got a quick tutorial for you so you can make your own DIY wooden farmhouse sign!

Supplies

To start things off, take a trip to your local craft store. For me, that’s Hobby Lobby. I’m usually not allowed in there unsupervised πŸ™‚ Just browse around until you find a few things that speak to you! I picked up these sweet scalloped edge wooden signs. The unfinished wood is perfect for the farmhouse feel.

For paint, this little beauty steals the show. I used a basic white acrylic that I already had at home, and I picked up this beautiful blue chalk paint. Chalk paint is the key to getting that true farmhouse feel. It dries completely matte and is a bit easier to distress than your typical acrylic.

Next choose some pretty embellishments. I went into the scrapbooking aisle and found these gorgeous fabric flowers. Less is more when it comes to a farmhouse style, so you don’t want to pick anything too crazy and distracting.

And that’s it! Pretty simple supply list, and you can easily find everything for under $15.

The Process

Now for the fun part! Take your wooden piece and give it a quick white wash with your acrylic paint. I used a sponge tip brush and only applied one coat to the surface. Since we’re putting the chalk paint on top, this coat doesn’t have to be perfect! Make sure you cover the edges evenly so the piece will look good from every angle.

Once the white coat is completely dry, it’s time to have some fun with the chalk paint. For this step, I used a wide and coarse bristled brush. Typically when you’re painting you want to use even strokes to minimize brush lines, but that is not the case with this project. I applied the paint in smaller amounts at a time, and let the coarse bristles of the brush do the work for me. You want to be able to see the white paint through your brush strokes. If you find that the paint is applying too heavily, keep a wet paper towel close by, and wipe down the paint as you go to give it the distressed look. Once you’re pleased with paint, it’s time to move on to the creative part!

The Stenciling

This next step is where things get fun, and you can get creative! Search around for a sweet quote, word or whatever you would like for your sign to say. I created these signs as mother’s day gifts for my mom and mother-in-law, so I decided to cover the majority of the sign with their name, and then a simple quote underneath that reads “(noun): one who spoils; gives lots of kisses.”

Once you have your quote picked up, you can choose how to stencil them onto the wood. You can pick up some letter stencils in your craft store and easily piece together your phrase or word, or you can make a stencil yourself, or you can even freehand it! The point is to paint your quote on, however you decide to do it. Instead of applying a perfect vinyl cutout or overlay, the slight flaws and blurry lines from stenciling give that perfect rustic touch to the farmhouse feel.

I myself have a Cricut Explore (I highly recommend it) so I decided to create my own stencil through their design space. I chose a font that had a typewriter feel to it, to help the text look more authentic to the farmhouse style. I cut the phrase out on thick cardstock so the paint wouldn’t bleed through, and started painting! To paint the letters on I used a dense sponge brush to make sure the paint was as evenly distributed as possible.

I used the same acrylic white paint that I white washed the pieces with. It took about two coats for me to get the paint as opaque as I wanted it. Make sure you let the paint fully dry before removing the stencil, or you may have a mess to clean up!

Here’s a close up of the text on the wood. I love how the style of the font is still clear, yet the imperfections from the paint and stencil make it look worn and rugged. I’m usually such a stickler for my projects looking perfect, so this was really refreshing! It was nice to not have to worry about every little detail of the stencil, and the end result is beautiful and rustic!

 

The Final Product

Here are the two finished farmhouse signs! Once all of your paint from the stencil is completely dry, you can add whatever embellishments you want – or leave it be! There is so much beauty in a simple farmhouse style, so you can totally just paint your piece and call it a day!

I however chose to add a few embellishments for a little more flair. I glued on the beautiful fabric flowers with some basic all purpose glue to each of the corners. For a finishing touch, I added some white mini clothespins so each Grandma can clip their favorite photos of their grandbabies to display. Because let’s be real, there aren’t many grandparents who don’t enjoy showing off their grandkids.

And that’s it! Wasn’t that a simple project? These simple farmhouse signs are kind of like the perfect pair of jeans. You can easily dress them up with a few simple embellishments, or you can leave them simple and let them speak for themselves. They are fully customizable, the possibilities are truly endless! I hope you found this inspiring and helpful, happy crafting friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Letter to the Hopeful Mom on Mother’s Day

a letter to a hopeful mom

a letter to a hopeful mom

Dear Hopeful Momma,

I don’t know you, but know that I am praying for you. I know that what is supposed to be a day of smiles and joy, often brings heartache and sadness for you. Each year Mother’s Day is a painful reminder of past events and tears shed. Take heart in the following words, and know that you’re not alone.

Life is hard, and social media makes it harder. Every new day brings a friends new post announcing a pregnancy, someone’s gender reveal video, and a squishy newborn hospital selfie. And with every post you put on a smile, give your congratulations and scroll right along. But your story doesn’t end there. You close your phone, lay down at night and let your mind take over. It’s in these quiet hours that you feel exposed, lonely and depressed. Will you ever be on the receiving end of those instagram comments? When will it be your turn to host a “touchdowns or tutus” reveal party? Why are you the only one in your circle of friends who can’t call themselves ‘Mom’?

Maybe you’ve been trying for months, or even years, and are beginning to give up. Maybe you’ve been through several unsuccessful rounds of IVF, only to lose hope. Maybe you’ve carried children, but lost them through miscarriage or stillbirth. All of these things will leave a girl distraught and lonely, asking herself all of those questions to herself at night. Your husband and family members are there for you with a listening ear, but it’s just not quite the same unless they’ve been through it.

You’re not alone my sweet friend. There are hundreds of thousands of women who have gone through the same struggle of starting a family, myself included. My husband and I lost our first child through miscarriage in 2015, and it messed me up, plain and simple. We weren’t ‘trying’ to start our family yet, however it was a welcome surprise. No matter the surprise, the weeks and months after our miscarriage were the hardest of my life – half because of hormones, and half because I let my thoughts take over. I placed my self worth and identity in something that was mine for a mere 10 weeks, and it was suddenly gone. Thankfully, I opened my heart to some kind and gentle souls around me and healed – slowly – but I healed.

I say all of this to hopefully offer a lending hand and a listening ear to you. Mother’s Day can be one heck of an emotional roller coaster for the woman struggling to start a family. While having all of these emotions is completely normal and healthy, don’t let them dictate your thoughts and identity. We all hold many titles on this earth – mother, daughter, wife, sister and friend. But that’s the thing – those are all EARTHLY titles. Just like your current emotions, those titles are only temporary. So why do we get so caught up in these things of the world? We must focus on the eternal, and our identity in Christ!

If you become so caught up in finding your identity in things of this world, you will be sorely disappointed. The Bible says our joy and identity are to be found in Christ alone! Think about it for a moment, to trust Jesus as your Savior means that you believe AND receive that he died on the cross for your sins. When we accept Jesus, the old is laid to rest and we are made new – our new identity in Christ. It is up to us how seriously we take this!

So my hopeful momma, I know you’re hurting. I know another Mother’s Day is coming, and you are dreading the thoughts and emotions of the day. Now more than ever, you are questioning if you will ever be able to give yourself the title Mom. It hurts to want something so badly, and not know why you haven’t received it. But please hold on to this. No matter how much you long for a child, God longs for you even more. He wants to have a lasting, personal relationship with you. He wants to guide you through these trials, so that you can come out stronger. I will leave you with this. Stop looking for approval and satisfaction from those in this world, and place your identity in the one who knows and loves you best – Jesus.