Beauty + Style

This post was sponsored by JORD Wood Watches.

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I think one of the easiest ways to make any outfit look a little more pulled together is to add another layer.

Y’all know how much I love my basic white T and jeans, but I could just as easily wear that outfit to a job interview or a nice dinner out if I threw on a blazer or even a killer scarf and hat. The point is: layers mean business. And they’re just the ticket to make an outfit look a little more intentional.

The problem is, it’s still hot out there, you guys. Like, blazing. So even though my favorite style season is upon us, I can’t just throw on a sweater and boots and pretend that I won’t sweat to death.

Enter the vest.

I know, I know; you just hear that word and think of this. I know I do. But irregardless (if you don’t get that joke, we can’t be friends), I actually like vests in real life. And when you’re staring a steamy autumn in the face, they are the perfect solution to layers that won’t give you heat exhaustion.

Here are the three vests I’ll be rocking this fall (no matter what Regina George thinks).

The Puffer Vest

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Does the puffer vest ever really go out of style? I hope not. The best thing about these fluffy little suckers is that you can wear them through winter, and they look just as good with a sweater and pencil skirt as they do with a button down, statement necklace, and jeans.

The Denim Vest

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I’ll be real: No one was more surprised than me when the denim vest made a comeback. The last time I wore one, I’m pretty sure my biggest concern was where I had left my social studies homework and what time is Even Stevens on? But the only secret to pulling off a denim vest is to wear it in the same context you would a jean jacket. The only difference? Easy-breezy arms. It’s also a great way to transition spaghetti-strapped maxi dresses into cooler temps during those last few weeks of summer.

The Drape-y Olive Vest

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Olives are actually one of the only two foods I hate, but when it comes to the color, I dig it. I would literally wear this color every day if I didn’t want to confuse people into thinking I think I’m an actual member of the armed forces. Olive is essentially fall’s answer to the khaki of summer, and I for one am totally into it — especially considering how perfectly it pairs with my 90-percent-black-and-white wardrobe. This drape-y cotton vest adds a bit of coziness to everything from summer dresses leggings and long-sleeved T’s.

So come on now…you don’t think ALL vests are disgusting, right?

Plus, did you catch my other favorite fall accessory?

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Lately, I’ve been absolutely obsessed with this wood watch from JORD. Mine is the Fieldcrest Series watch in zebrawood and maple, and it fits into my life the way a hand-hewn farm table fits into every gorgeous dining room you see on Pinterest right now. The color is neutral enough to match everything, but I love the actual woodgrain in the band and face — and how it makes my watch subtly unique from every other one in the series.

Here are a few more close-ups of that little beauty:

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Interested in getting your own? Shop their entire women’s line here.*

Plus, for a limited time JORD is giving away a $75 credit for their products! Enter here — you get a $20 credit just for entering. Giveaway ends September 25th.

*Affiliate links used


Luxury Wood Watch

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I’m having a clothing swap with a few girlfriends this weekend, so I started this week by cleaning out my closet and drawers. When I looked at my newly pared down wardrobe, one thing was hard to deny: I have a LOT of white shirts.

When Vivi was first born, while I wouldn’t say I completely let my sense of style go, I definitely had to make quicker choices. I needed to be comfortable, and I needed to be able to whip out a boob at a moment’s notice. (Ah, the joys of breastfeeding.)

White T’s became my go-to, and the love affair has only grown — even though I now I like to think I put more effort into my look than in those early days.

The problem is, when you’re staring down a drawer full of white shirts, things start to look a little…bland.

But while I’ll never let my white shirts go, I’m not quite ready to resign myself to boring style. So I decided to challenge myself to create three completely different looks that each featured my favorite wardrobe staple.

Look #1: White V-neck with a skirt and heels

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One of my favorite things about white T-shirts is how easy they are to dress up despite their otherwise casual nature. A slightly flared skirt with a pair of heeled sandals is the perfect look for lunch with a friend, or I could throw on a statement necklace for an evening out.

Look #2: Boyfriend T-shirt with high-waisted skinny jeans, heels, and a pendant necklace

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Honestly, this is what you can likely find me in almost any given day. (Minus the heels — my day-to-day is more of a sneakers or wedges look.) I used to shy away from baggy tops because I felt like I needed to highlight the narrowest part of my body, but I love how versatile boyfriend T’s are, especially when you tuck them into high-waists. And that pendant? Perfect for Vivi to play with as I carry her to and fro.

Look #3: White button-down with belted shorts and sneakers

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Rompers were all the rage this year, but I found it hard to find one that was truly flattering on my body but still modest enough to wear in real life. My solution? Pairing a matching top and shorts. I love how summery this outfit feels without feeling like a costume (the belt helps break up all the white), and contrasting sneakers add just enough visual interest to still feel a little dressed up (even though they’re so comfortable).

What are your “mom uniform” staples?

Bébé de Luxe Coconut & Oat Milk Bath

One of my favorite parts of being Vivi’s mom is our bedtime routine. I’ve mentioned before the practical value of establishing a regular routine to wind-down a baby so they go to sleep more peacefully, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t get something out of it too.

I often say that, for me, the best part of sleep training (besides, you know, the sleep) is that I get to end every day madly in love with my baby. From the moment we start our routine, Vivi is typically calmer and cuddlier until the moment I lay her down in her crib. We end virtually every day with songs and snuggles and a peaceful parting.

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Granted, there are times this doesn’t happen. (I wrote this post last night, and, of course, that was actually one of the evenings we ended with an overtired baby and a lot of frustration.) But those times just serve to make me even more grateful for the fact that that is not our routine — it’s the exception.

Typically, our nights go like this:

5:00/5:30: Family dinner

6:00: Vivi gets a bath (usually Joey does the bath so I can have a few minutes to unwind to myself, but if he’s working late I sub in)

6:20-7:00: Joey and Vivi play and spend time together

7:00: Joey reads to Vivi while I nurse her, then he says her bedtime prayer and I’ll rock her and sing a couple of songs before putting my now very sleepy babe to bed

While I would say the last few moments are my favorite part of the routine, Joey would undoubtedly say the bath and playtime are his favorite moments. I also love sitting in the living room and listening to Vivi belly laugh as she plays with her bath toys and splashes with her Dada. It’s such a great way for us all to relax and for Vivi and Joey to bond before bedtime.

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A few months back, my friend Haley introduced me to a new kind of bath cleanser that has helped turn our evening routine into an even more relaxing — and, dare I say, spa-like? — experience for Vivi: Bébé de Luxe Coconut & Oat Milk Bath.

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When we started giving Vivi baths after she came home from the hospital, we noticed pretty quickly that she had extremely sensitive skin. She was prone to rashes if we used any non-organic soaps, and we had to make sure all lotions and creams were formulated for delicate skin. So when I visited Haley in Vancouver when Vivi was about six months old, I was fascinated when I watched her sprinkle this delicious-smelling powder into her daughter’s bath.

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“You have to try this,” she told me. “It smells like cookies.”

Um…a baby that looks AND smells good enough to eat? Sold.

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The Coconut & Oat Bath is made from 100 percent certified organic and food-grade ingredients (thus the whole “smells like cookies” thing). Besides providing rinse-free cleansing, the oatmeal also soothes and moisturizes dry or itchy skin. And the coconut milk has natural anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Amanda, the owner of the company, recently posted on Instagram a photo of her son’s squirty bath toys — she had been using them in his bath (with the Coconut & Oat Milk) for over six months, and none of them had developed any kind of mold or mildew. That’s kind of amazing.

Using the milk bath is easy — just sprinkle three-ish tablespoons into warm running water, let your babe splash around for a while, and then dry off. No other soap or rinsing is required. And while I typically follow up Vivi’s bath by slicking her head to toe in baby lotion, I’ve noticed it’s less necessary when using the milk bath than it is with regular soap. Even better, mommas can get in on the action by using the powder as an exfoliating face mask — just mix the Coconut & Oat Milk Bath with a bit of water to make a paste and rub in circular motions on your face for instant glow. (Because, let’s be real: Mommas are in need of a spa experience too.)

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And while Joey might appreciate an upgrade to his bath time routine, I still think I come out the winner here. After all, I’m the one who gets to snuggle a baby who smells like cookies every night.

Great news! If you want to try Bébé de Luxe Coconut & Oat Milk Bath, Amanda is offering Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One readers a 10 percent off discount code! Just use JUSTINE10 when you check out — and just try not to give your baby a nibble.

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My family recently went on a trip to Virginia with some friends. I was excited about the trip, but, I’ll be honest, a little nervous for how Vivi would do in the car.

Joey and I tried to travel as much as we could before we had a baby, and most of our trips were out of the country. We both always felt like we should save the domestic trips for when we had kids. I think we both look forward to showing Vivi the Grand Canyon, national parks, and oceans and lakes throughout the United States — and it’s even better when we can drive there.

Vivi has done a major road trip before; we drove to Cleveland when she was about three months old. But a 10-month-old baby is different from a 3-month-old baby. For one, Vivi is a lot more mobile these days, meaning she expects to burn off some energy crawling and toddling around most of the day. For another, the older she gets, the more she expects out of entertainment. Meaning I can no longer expect her to be thrilled by what she sees out the window.

Fortunately, the trip went well — thanks to a little preparation. Here are the four things I’d recommend to any momma looking to hit the road:

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  1. Arguably the most important thing to help a road trip go smoother? A comfy outfit for the baby. These cute baby rompers from Lunaby Baby are the perfect choice for keeping little gals comfy and cool. Plus, they are pretty stinking cute. Vivi loved hers for lounging in her car seat and crawling around when we stopped to stretch our legs, and the breathable fabric is great since this summer has been so hot and muggy. This will definitely be one of our most-worn items this summer. (Psst…scroll to the end of this post for a discount code to get your own!)

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2. Vivi isn’t big into TV or movies yet, but she will watch short videos, especially if a song is involved. This extendable tablet holder made it easy to prop up Joey’s tablet and play her favorite music videos and a few Disney favorites. (Not going to lie; the adults in the car may have enjoyed this more than Vivi.)

3. One thing that really gets Vivi steamed in the car is when the sun is in her eyes. To prevent that (and keep the car cool), we use these retractable window shades. Plus, they’ll also tell you if the car is getting too hot!

4. The final thing that I never leave home without? Snacks, snacks, and more snacks. Vivi eats a lot of what I’m eating these days, but squeezy fruit and veggie puree packs are clutch when we’re on the go. Because a hungry baby is definitely not a happy baby.

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Now, let’s talk discounts! Whether you’re planning your own RTWAB (road trip with a baby…what? Is that not a thing?) or just love the look of a babe in a romper, I’m so excited to share a coupon code from Lunaby Baby with my readers! Use code JUSTINE10 when you check out for 10 percent off your entire order. The rompers, bibs, and colorful tights are all super reasonably priced, so you can walk away with a pretty great haul of seasonal basics for your baby. Happy shopping!

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Romper provided by Lunaby Baby; opinions 100% mine.

 

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For most of my life, I’ll admit I wasn’t that concerned about the ingredients of my skincare products or makeup. In general, I would swing through Walgreens and grab my bottle of Neutrogena face wash and a CoverGirl powder compact without thinking twice. As I got older, I started investing more in my makeup, but I was motivated more by a search for quality than a concern for safety.

As an adult, I starting being more aware of the ingredients in my food or how the animals I was eating had been treated and making better choices in that respect. But while I was paying a lot of attention to what was going in my body, I still hadn’t caught on that what went on it could be just as damaging.

Then I got pregnant.

Suddenly, my body wasn’t simply my own and what I exposed myself to I was also exposing my baby to. That’s a lot of pressure. It didn’t help that I was reading scores of disagreeing articles about the potential dangers of some of the most common beauty treatments. With the idea of “better safe than sorry,” I started looking for simple swaps I could make to safer products, for my baby as well as my own health.

I wasn’t alone in that goal. My friend Madison was experiencing a similar drive to make better choices about what she put on her skin, especially after experiencing two miscarriages before getting pregnant with her daughter, Ainsley. I remember reading Madison’s blog during her pregnancy (especially after I knew I was also pregnant but hadn’t announced it yet) and soaking up her advice and recommendations for safer or less chemical-laden products. Then, after her daughter was born, Madison was looking for more flexible work options and became a consultant for a brand called Beautycounter.

Beautycounter is a skincare and beauty company founded by a woman named Gregg Renfrew. She started the brand after realizing that so many personal care products are not as regulated as many people think — in fact, many use products linked to cancer, reproductive issues, and hormone disruption, all without ever informing consumers. Unlike the FDA, Beautycounter has banned more than 1,500 unsafe ingredients (many of which are banned by the European Union), creating one of the highest standards in the beauty industry.

They also rigorously screen all of their ingredients, working with scientists and industry leaders to reduce the exposure to toxic chemicals and develop safer alternatives. They also choose ingredients that are over 80 percent organic, natural, or plant-derived, and that are sourced responsibly. Oh, and they also don’t test on animals. And just in case you needed one more reason to trust the products, they don’t hide anything nasty under the guise of “fragrance,” “flavors,” or “preservatives” either.

Like I said, they really take this whole “safe skincare thing” seriously.

As I’ve watched Madison climb the ranks from a consultant to a director within the company, I was always curious to know more about the products. Madison obviously couldn’t say enough good things about them, so when she put out a post on Facebook asking if any of her friends would be interested in hosting a Beautycounter social, I reached out and told her I was interested.

So, what is a Beautycounter social? It’s a little bit of education, a little bit of shopping, and a little bit of having snacks and drinks with your girlfriends. Basically, a trifecta of my favorite things. I told Madison I wanted to host a physical social, but also that I wanted to have a blog component to share with anyone who couldn’t attend. After getting to try out more of the products, I’m really pleased with not only the way the products are made but also how they perform.

So! What do you need to know if you want to host your own social? Here’s a peek at what I did:

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What We Ate
Is it just me, or is a party really only as good as the snacks? (I’m kidding.)(Kind of.) Because Beautycounter is all about making healthier choices for your body, I decided to put together a menu that featured a lot of fresh, healthy ingredients…along with a few more decadent treats.

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Rather than an official main course, I opted to create a few heavier appetizers. I put together cucumber bites with a cream cheese-dill sauce (recipe here) and crisps with goat cheese, blackberries, and honey (recipe here).

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I also made a bruschetta and turkey meatballs.

SIMPLE HOMEMADE BRUSCHETTA
Ingredients:
1 container grape tomatoes, quartered
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
3-4 T fresh basil, chopped
3 T olive oil or avocado oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Combine all ingredients and let sit for 1 hour to overnight to let flavors mingle. Serve with crusty or toasted slices of French bread.

CROCKPOT TURKEY MEATBALLS
Ingredients:
1 jar marinara sauce (I used the bottled kind, but feel free to get fancy with something homemade. You’ll need about 4-6 cups.)
2 lbs 98% lean ground turkey meat
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1 egg
4 T fresh basil, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 T oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Pour the sauce into the crock pot.
2. Combine all of the meatball ingredients with a big spoon or your fingers.
3. Using your hands, roll the meatballs using about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture. Don’t pack too tightly.
4. Place the rolled meatballs into the sauce in the crockpot in a single layer.
5. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Serve with bread for dipping in the sauce.

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I also made mini fruit pizzas for dessert, but like a dummy completely forgot to take photos. Or, rather, like an animal who couldn’t wait to wolf down her mini fruit pizza. Whoops. I used this recipe to make them and topped each pizza with strawberries, raspberries, and a few pomegranate seeds.

For drinks, we had my summer drink of choices, rosé.

What We Did
The social started out with everyone having something to eat and drink and generally getting comfortable. My friends were good sports about letting me take pictures of them. (Thank you again, lovely ladies!)

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Once everyone was settled, I played a video message from Madison explaining how we knew each other, how she got involved with the brand, and just what she loved about many of Beautycounter’s most popular items. It was so helpful hearing from someone who actually uses so many of them on a regular basis, and we pretty much spent the whole video saying, “Ooh, I want that!” and “Man, Madison is seriously adorable.” (We also agreed you have the best hair and skin, M! But I digress…)

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Then, it was time for the fun part: playing with the products! Madison had sent me several sample packs and full-sized products for my guests to test, and it was so helpful to be able to actually feel, smell, and see what we were looking at.

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I also loved being able to send each guest home with a little something from the line. Each person got one of the sampler packs I mentioned, and I also divided up a Charcoal Cleansing Bar so everyone could take a piece home to try out. (I’ve been using mine once a day since the social!)

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All in all, it was a super simple event to plan. Madison was extremely helpful in answering any questions I had and even offered to answer any questions online in real time if necessary.

Now for the fun part! You don’t have to have been at the physical party to shop the brand. Click my social host link here to see everything that Beautycounter has to offer, from naturally beautiful cosmetics to super safe skin care. I’ve been really loving the Protect All Over Sunscreen (it’s safe to use on Vivi and blends in way better than the other baby sunscreens I’ve tried without any chalky residue), the Rejuvenating Eye Cream (because thirty is right on the horizon, yo), the Charcoal Cleansing Bar (it sells out quickly whenever it’s in stock, so jump on that!) and the Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer (the perfect lightweight coverage). I’m planning to get one of the Lip Sheers and the new Purifying Charcoal Mask as well, and I can’t wait to try them out. Just be sure to use my link so Madison gets credit for the sales :)

Have any other questions about the brand or want to host your own social? Let me know or reach out to Madison directly — she’s seriously the best to work with.

Happy shopping!

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I really could not be more excited that summer is finally here. It’s not that we had a particularly difficult winter (we didn’t, fortunately for this stay-at-home momma), but there’s something about not having to bundle up myself and a baby anymore that sounds especially appealing.

Speaking of not bundling up, Viv and I are especially excited to spend the summer in the water, whether that be in her baby pool, in a real pool, or at the beach. I’ve been a water baby since before I can even remember (my mom once had a dream when my sister and I were little that she found gills behind our ears while giving us a bath), and I’m extremely excited to pass on that legacy to Vivi.

But what is a water baby without a great swimsuit?

When searching for a swimsuit for Vivi, I was somewhat surprised at the limited selection available for babies less than a year old. Sure, you can find a handful at the usual stand-by places (lookin’ at you, Target), but I wasn’t seeing anything I thought was a) cute, b) not too babyish, and c) something I thought she would actually wear and be happy in.

Then I learned about Red Dolly Swimwear. Red Dolly is a vintage-inspired swimwear line designed by California-based designer Heather Stepanik. She started out making suits for adults in cute, vintage styles (think high-waisted and flattering one-pieces), but she has since expanded the line to include baby items and accessories.

I totally fell for the line when I saw it, and I was thrilled when Heather offered to send me a couple suits to try.

Side note: It didn’t occur to me until later that by agreeing to review a swimsuit, I was agreeing to post photos of myself in a swimsuit here. Clearly, I was just so excited about the baby suit I wasn’t thinking clearly. Be kind.

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Fortunately for me, Red Dolly Swimwear is actually super post-maternity friendly. I had never worn a high-waisted swimsuit before, but turns out it actually covers all those areas you might be self-conscious about after growing a human in your body for nine months.

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The suits are also incredibly comfortable and great for chasing around that same tiny human once they’ve, I don’t know, started crawling around at lightning speed. After all, as another mom friend said to me recently, my days of relaxing at the beach are over for about the next ten years. That little stinker can move.

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And, like you needed me to tell you this, the baby suits are even BETTER. Is there anything better than a bikini and a baby belly together? I don’t think so.

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Vivi loves her suit and has already worn it about three times in the first week since it arrived. I was a little nervous she wouldn’t want to keep it on, but the soft, stretchy material is extremely comfortable and easy for her to move in. Win-win.

Even better, Red Dolly regularly offers discount codes on their suits to social fans. Check out their Facebook page here, or follow them on Instagram here.

**Suits provided by Red Dolly Swimwear, opinions my own.