Beauty + Style

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You guys know how I feel about baby stuff. But you know what is actually one of the most difficult parts of creating a baby registry for your first kid? You honestly have no idea what you will need.

Sure, sure, there are 8,000(,000,000) blog posts out there telling you what you should REALLY register for (cough), but the thing is, until you’ve lived with your baby, you can’t really know which products are going to save your life and which are just going to take up room in your already-too-tiny apartment.

That fact is one of the reasons why I love momma makers. Moms who start their own businesses creating products for other moms just seem to really get it. They’re not trying to make your life harder (you get enough of that from leaky diapers, ya know?); they actually want to solve a real problem you will really have.

Plus, who doesn’t love an entrepreneurial hustler, amiright?

You guys know my friend Haley, maker of the are-we-sure-they’re-not-magic Beluga Baby wraps? Well, through Haley I was connected to Lorene of Glitter & Spice. And what “why didn’t I think of that?” amazingness has Lorene cooked up for moms? Teething. Jewelry.

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Think about it: Little ones will chew on just about anything they can get their chubby little hands on when they’re teething. Necklaces, being that their location puts them in prime grabbing location, are one of the most popular options. So why wouldn’t you wear a necklace that doubled as a safe teether?

But before you start imaging something cheesy strung around your neck, you should know that, um, Lorene’s pieces have been in Vogue, Glamour, and Harper’s Bazaar.

Yeah, they’re that cute.

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She also has traditional teethers in cute shapes, like the super popular Cookie Teether. Trust me, it never stops being hilarious watching people freak out when they think you’re handing your three-month-old an Oreo.

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I won a necklace from Glitter & Spice in an Instagram contest, but I was so charmed (PUNZ) by the products that I couldn’t help but order a second necklace and a bracelet. I can’t even tell you how many times Viv is fussing and I just hand her the bracelet to gum for a while. Instant toys are the best kind of toys.

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And if you’re worried your kid won’t realize your new necklace is actually for them, don’t be. I literally had JUST snapped mine on, and Vivi immediately started chowing down. There’s something about those 100% silicone beads that they can’t ignore.

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Finally, the products are really safe. Lorene uses silicone that is BPA-free and has no phthalates, lead, or PVCs, and the wood beads are organic and untreated. Because you have other things to worry about (see: aforementioned leaky diaper).

Ready for the best part? I have a discount code for you! Enter JUSTINE20 during checkout for 20% off your Glitter & Spice purchase. Who doesn’t love a little savings? Trust me when I tell you they’re worth every penny. (And seriously, did I mention how cute?) Happy shopping!

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*contains affiliate links

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Hands down, one of the best parts of having a baby girl is the clothes. I probably would have enjoyed dressing a boy, too, but as a lover of girl clothes myself, it’s so much fun to style her in dresses, headbands, and bows.

That being said, I never want to be the type of person who forces my kid to wear uncomfortable clothes. Most days, she and I are lounging at home or running errands, so our “style” is pretty laid-back. I also prefer baby clothes that look like an outfit I might wear, as opposed to super matchy-matchy sets.

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That’s why I was so excited when I learned about the Sweet Peanut Clothing Company. This adorable company creates mix-and-match baby separates out of soft, organic cotton. Each piece is a streamlined design for easy, comfortable wear, and I love how most of the patterns are gender neutral. Sweet Peanut releases two new themed lines per year, and they’re all playful and bright.

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Also, this semi-crunchy mom can’t help but love that the fabric is never chemically treated and non-hazardous dyes are used to create the vivid colors.

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Plus, can we talk about how cute the clothes are?

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Of course, a cute model doesn’t hurt either! What are your favorite children’s brands?

*Clothing was provided for a review.

My mom has been in town for the last few days (and my dad over the weekend), so I’ve been able to accomplish a lot around the apartment that I’ve had on my to-do list for a while. One of those big tasks was redecorating our bedroom. I’m going to do a full reveal, but I also want to share a few of the smaller projects that make up the whole room. Today, we’re talking floral arrangements.

One of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had was when I was the Flowers Editor for a wedding magazine. I know a fair amount about flowers already from my mom, but my job was basically to look at beautiful bouquets all day, forecast the trends, schmooze with the top florists from around the city, and receive bouquets occasionally from vendors who wanted to impress us. I’ve never had so many fresh flowers around in my life.

And while I love the idea of surrounding our home with fresh flowers on the daily, it’s simply not practical. But I do love the look, which is why I’ve embraced silk or artificial blooms.

The trouble with artificial flowers is that, often times, they look…well, fake. And that utterly defeats the purpose. So I’ve come up with a few rules to selecting the best-looking faux flowers for your home.

Don’t forget to pay careful attention to your color choices.

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In general, I have a really hard time finding flowers in primary shades that look realistic. It’s just a tough job to create a dye the same color as what you find in nature, and the primary hues lack the depth you see in the real thing. It works for wreaths or displays that need to be seen from a distance, but otherwise, I say skip reds, blues, yellows (except in the case of sunflowers), and even most oranges.

Do embrace pastels and jewel tones.

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Pastels are almost always a safe bet when it comes to faux flowers because — surprise! — they closely resemble a lot of real flowers. But if you’re looking to make a statement, go for something in the jewel tone family. At least it’s another natural color.

Do opt for texture.

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Big fluffy flowers are easier to fake than anything more architecturally shaped. The softer petals will all blend together in a big puff of flowers, give the appearance of softness and texture without triggering anyone’s attention that they’re not real.

Don’t be afraid to think beyond flowers.

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Cherry blossoms, pussy willows, and other stick-like options are great for adding height or finishing off more modern decor. Plus, they just tend to look more authentic. This is a great option for first-time faux flower buyers because it’s really hard to mess up.

Don’t forget your greens.

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Real life flowers always have greenery, so your faux displays should too. Greenery is also another option if you’re not ready to jump on the flower bandwagon just yet. Plus, they tend to look more real as well.

Don’t do this…ever:

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Natural colors, remember? Just trust me on that one.

Now…for the arranging!

Do select a variety of flowers in the same color family.

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Don’t worry about matching your flowers exactly — that’s not how it happens in nature! A variety of blush shades creates a romantic blend that looks more realistic as well.

Do trim your stems to fit your container.

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Just like you would a real bunch of flowers, use wire cutters to trim the stems to fit your container for easier arranging.

Do pick a focal point.

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Create cohesive bouquets by picking a showstopper centerpiece (in my case, a large peony) and arranging your supporting flowers around it. Then tuck in a bit of greenery to finish off the look.

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Ta da! I’m pretty pleased with how the whole thing turned out.

Do you decorate with faux flowers? What are your best tips for making them look more realistic?

{imperfect is the new black}

{imperfect is the new black}

Insecurities are a funny thing. Over the years, I feel like I’ve been pretty open on this blog about mine. In general, I don’t consider myself an insecure person, but that hasn’t always been the case.

For the most part, I’m a person of very cyclical moods. About once a year, I experience what I consider to be some kind of depression or low point. (I say “consider” because I’ve never been officially diagnosed with anything.) It typically lasts anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. It’s usually marked by an increase in mood swings, sensitivity, and a marked uptick in my insecurities. (And, you may have noticed, a lack of blog posts. The blog starts to feel incredibly insignificant during these lows, and I can’t imagine anyone caring what I have to say about anything.)

It’s not fun, but I at least feel more in control of these times than I used to because I’m now able to recognize them for what they are. Anyone familiar with depression can tell you what a liar it is — it tells you you’re not good enough, you’re unlovable, you’re just not enough. So, for me, there is power in being able to feel those things but still step back in my mind and remind myself I won’t always feel that way and that they probably aren’t true.

The insecurities I deal with have evolved over the years, but they’re usually a mix of doubts about something superficial (in high school, the size of my thighs; now, my teeth and nose) and something social (in high school, that my friends and family didn’t really like me; now, that my friends and family don’t really like me).

It’s at this point that I feel obligated to remind you that, in my rational mind, I know my friends and family love me. I do. You don’t need to tell me you do; I know it. Depression just makes me not believe it for a while, or wonder when the day will come that they will stop loving me.

I think everyone handles these feelings differently, for better or worse. For me, I workout (the best therapy for me) and I think about it — a lot. I reason on my feelings, what brings them on and what I can do about it. Often the answer to the latter is simply to ride out the storm and keep reminding myself that depression is a liar. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever really discussed these feelings publicly — I’d venture a guess that most of the people in my life don’t even know I deal with them.

I’m kind of a hermit when it comes to my own struggles. But I’m trying to be better about that because bottling it up (surprise!) doesn’t really seem to help anything.

I’m happy to tell you that, while this post was inspired by my latest bout of low-ness, I can already tell I’m coming out of it. Good talks with some close friends and a weekend with my family were huge helps to reaching the other side of this valley. But even though it’s (hopefully) almost over, the most lingering part of my lows are always the insecurities. Kind of like a bad cough.

I think about my insecurities a lot now as a mother of a daughter. Girls seem to be especially plagued by insecurity, almost to the point where it is weird if you’re confident. I don’t know if I can keep Vivian from having her own self doubts, but I never want her to feel crippled by them.

I want her to laugh loudly even if she thinks her laugh is obnoxious. I want her to wear the sleeveless dress she loves even if she doesn’t like her upper arms. I want her to get down on the dance floor even if she worries someone will think she looks ridiculous.

I want her to live her life bravely, even when she doesn’t feel brave.

And the fact is, I’m going to be her best example of how to do that. So I had better start being a good example.

Which brings me to my new project: Eradicating my superficial insecurities. I’ve decided I’m going to stop only taking photos from what I consider to be my “good side” — just because my nose and teeth are straighter from the left. I’m going to grin broadly — even though in the back of my mind I think my teeth are big and slightly bucky. And I’m going to do whatever I can to stop letting myself slip into the old habit of being who I think people want me to be — and just trust that anyone who does stop liking me was never all that great to have to begin with.

Because I want Vivi to do all those things too. Because, to me, she is perfect. And who else could she possibly be to be better?

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When you have a baby, you quickly realize that despite being an average of 7-8 pounds, the little darlings take a lot of stuff.

If you’ve read this blog for a while (or stumbled across any of my MANY “lists of things to organize and clean”), then you have probably gathered that I am not a fan of superfluous stuff. In fact, I spend a great deal of time and energy trying to remove as much unnecessary clutter from my life as possible.

So I viewed the whole “babies take a lot of stuff” mantra as more of a challenge than anything and set out trying to be as efficient with my purchases and baby registries as possible.

Did some stuff still make it into our apartment? Of course. (I’m only human.) But, for the most part, I’m pretty sure everything we have will be used if it hasn’t been already. And as a result, I’ve learned to really appreciate any baby item that can either solve multiple problems (like my swing/baby seat that allows me to put the baby somewhere safe and soothing while I get dressed in the morning AND keeps her entertained with multiple swing settings and a built-in white noise machine) or is a product that I know I will get tons and tons of use out of. Something that fits that description? My Beluga Baby Wrap.

My friend Haley started Beluga Baby when she had her (adorable) daughter, Sawyer. Haley wanted a business she could run from home while raising her newborn (I know, she’s basically Super Woman), selling a product that moms really need and would really use. Haley came up with the concept of her wrap because she loved the idea of baby wearing but wasn’t able to find a wrap that had everything she wanted. The other brands she tried were either too thick and hot or didn’t have the right amount of stretch to be comfortable for both mom and babe. After deciding to just make her own, she also knew she wanted to make it a sustainable product that was good for everyone, including the environment. That’s when she discovered the sustainable bamboo cotton blend that all Beluga Baby products are made from, as well as a supplier local to her Vancouver home. You can read more about the story behind Beluga Baby (and some of the benefits of baby wearing) on her website.

I had secretly been stalking Haley’s company for months (I love a gal with the gumption to start her own company!), so I was thrilled when she offered me a wrap to review in exchange for being a brand ambassador.

The first thing I noticed when it arrived is that this thing is so. Dang. Soft. I wanted to wrap myself in it. (Haley, business idea: Bamboo cotton onesies for grown-ups. Think about it. ;)) I couldn’t wait for my little girl to arrive so I could start wearing her around.

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From the first time we used it, I was impressed. This thing must be some kind of magic because — and I swear I’m not exaggerating — within minutes of getting situated in the wrap, Vivian always falls fast asleep. Every time! Regardless of how fussy or cranky she was previously, there’s something about being snuggled against me and hearing my heartbeat again that must remind her of the womb because she can’t resist curling up and taking an instant nap. I’ve worn her around Astoria during rush hour, and not even honking cars, loud music, or screaming pedestrians could disturb her slumber.

Plus? She looks pretty stinking cute in it.

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I’ve started wearing Vivi when I need to get work done on the computer and she’s feeling particularly needy, as well as whenever I need to run a quick errand in town. I was a pretty colicky baby, so if Vivi is too, I’m sure this wrap will be incredibly helpful in being able to get things done while simultaneously soothing a fussy baby.

Case in point: It took about 45 minutes of running around my block to take all these pictures, and Vivian slept the entire time. Didn’t even make a peep. My photographer/sister even commented that her newborn shoots rarely went this smoothly. Gotta love that.

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Basically, this wrap is super comfortable for me and my baby AND is something I will use over and over again. (Plus, it folds up into a tiny little square, meaning this is one bit of baby stuff that hardly takes up any space.) And for me, that’s a win in the war against unnecessary baby stuff.

Want to get your own wrap? Head to BelugaBaby.ca and get your order in — they sell out fast! Haley’s even offering my readers 15% off with the code STOPME, so get on it! (And follow Beluga Baby on Instagram here for other news on new products, discounts, and special offers.)

Other mommas: What are your favorite bits of baby stuff that you can’t imagine going without? Do you wear your babies? Do you love it as much as I do?

{All photos by Figment Art & Photo Co.}

Man, it’s been all quiet on the western front of this blog this week, huh? (What? I don’t know.)

I have a couple of posts I want to write, including a recap of the three awesome baby showers my friends and family have had for us in the last couple months and a nursery update, but those will have to wait until next week. Because, if I’m totally honest, there’s something else on my mind.

Y’all know that for the most part, I have loved being pregnant. Really and truly. But as we embark on our final month of gestation, I have to admit that I’m rather ready to trade in this belly for a baby.

And if I’m really honest? A big part of that is that I just want to wear regular clothes again. I know; I’m totally shallow.

But it’s almost FALL, you guys. And that change in the season just does something to me. In particular, makes me salivate over boots and coats and dresses with sleeves.

And because it’s Friday, and Fridays are great days for frivolity, today we’re going to talk about some frivolous fashion. Because it’s my blog and I’ll be shallow if I want to.

Of course, I’m also aware that post-baby, our budget will be even stricter since we have another person to support (who is not bringing in any income…lazy baby…). Which is why I’ve decided to create my fall wishlist now so I won’t be tempted to deviate and buy anything I haven’t really, truly wanted for months. That seems pretty responsible for a frivolous fashion wishlist, right? (RIGHT?)

So here we go! My Fall 2015 Fashion Wishlist — and one of my first posts in a long time that doesn’t really have anything to do with pregnancy. You’re welcome.

Fall 2015 Wishlist

 

1. First things first, the thing I am most excited about is to have a normal waist again. And, yes, I’m aware that there is baby weight to lose and that I might not have my normal waist immediately. Get off my back, Debby Downer. But ONE DAY, it will be back, and I will be able to wear A-line dresses and skirts. And when that day comes, I am buying ALL the midi dresses/skirts and wearing them constantly. I cannot wait.

2. I want to get a nice fall jacket this year. These two drapey ones from MANGO are especially appealing to me because they seem cozy and forgiving, especially when you’re still getting your normal shape back.

3. Okay, I guess this isn’t truly a baby-free post, because this is most definitely a diaper bag. But isn’t it pretty? And since it’s technically for the baby, it’s a slight splurge I don’t have to feel guilty about. (Plus I do have all those gift cards to spend on it…)

4. At some point, I need to buy a new pair of jeans. This will probably be the last purchase on the list due to the aforementioned baby weight, but, again, ONE DAY.

5. I have been trying to buy black booties with a brown heel for the last 3+ years. And you know what? This is the year. I’ve decided. I’m mostly holding off on this purchase because I want to make sure my shoe size isn’t going to change during pregnancy. We’re almost done, though, and so far, so good. (Which is fortunate, because homegirl has some big feet already.)

Is anyone else already dreaming in fall clothing? I mean, I know it’s only mid-August, but these crisp mornings are hitting some trigger point in my brain that is impossible to ignore. And when all you can wear are loose dresses and pants with elastic belly bands, it’s really the little things (like clothes with an actual shape) that get you going.