I’m excited to share my first brand spotlight of 2023: Grateful Maria! Grateful Maria is a collection of fine jewelry created by Lorena Gloden. Lorena grew up in Colombia and now resides in Northwest Ohio.… More
COASTAL OHIO: LAKESIDE CHAUTAUQUA
Every summer I try and visit a new place along the Ohio coast and earlier this summer I had the pleasure of visiting Lakeside Chautauqua with my good friend Katie! People have always told me I would love Lakeside and let me tell you. None of them were wrong! Lakeside is the most charming coastal town with beautiful views of the lake, lovely historic homes and buildings, and the most quaint downtown filled with nautical inspired boutiques and coffee shops. It’s truly a gem.
I’m going to break this post down into a little bit of history of the coastal town and some tips if you plan on visiting soon.
ABOUT LAKESIDE CHAUTAUQUA
Lakeside Chautauqua is a private community along the shores of Lake Erie that was founded 150 years ago. You might be wondering, what in the heck does “Chautauqua” mean? The word originates from the Iroquois tribe and is meant to mean “two moccasins tied together” or “bag tied at the middle.” What this really represents is a community that welcomes all people to come together to grow spiritually, culturally, intellectually, and physically. Chautauqua focuses on four pillars which are religion, education, cultural arts and recreation.
Lakeside is truly such a unique place to visit. Founded by Methodist preachers in 1873, Lakeside soon became a faith-based summer resort and to this day, people still come to worship, rest and reconnect.
Since it’s founding, the coastal town has grown and become home to beautiful lakefront cottages, unique restaurants, and coastal inspired shopping boutiques.
You can read more about Lakeside and the Chautauqua movement here.
TIPS IF VISITING LAKESIDE
I had the advantage of visiting Lakeside with a friend who rented a home every summer growing up and she was able to give me the inside scoop about visiting! Below are some tips that will make your experience even more memorable!
- Lakeside is a private community and a Chautauqua Pass and an Auto Pass is required in order to get in during the summer. You can choose to forego the auto pass and park outside the gated community, but you still have to buy a pass to get in. So here is a big tip! General admittance is $28 for the day. We bought the half day pass which gets you three hours for $6. Every additional hour you stay is $1. So if you plan on going for like 8 hours, the half day pass will definitely save you money!! We ended up going from 11-3:30 and it was much cheaper than buying the full day pass. Another tip: the price increases for the month of July. So I recommend going in June or August. But really, after Labor Day in September would be the best time to visit because they don’t have the admissions fee! You can read more about their fees here.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes. You can drive your car in, but you will still be walking a lot so make sure you have on comfy sneakers or sandals! I wore my J.Crew Factory sneakers and they were perfect for walking around nonstop.
- Definitely be sure to play shuffleboard! It’s free and a great way to relax and enjoy the lake views. I had never played before and was a bit skeptical but I actually really enjoyed it!
- If you arrive early in the morning, you have to try a freshly baked donut from The Patio Restaurant- they are SO good.
- If you need a yummy place for lunch or dinner, try out the Hotel Lakeside Dining Room! It has beautiful views of the lake and the food is delicious. They offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch and afternoon tea!! Plus the hotel was built in 1875 so the historic vibe is very cool.
- If you have kids they have a kiddy pool right on the pier so bring your swimsuits!
- Lakeside has a ton of waterfront recreational activities. Whether you prefer swimming, sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, or fishing, there is something for everyone. Or you can just bring a book and enjoy the view from a comfy lounge chair.
- In addition to waterfront activities, visitors can play tennis, pickle ball, sand volleyball, and miniature golf, plus several playgrounds for the babes (including an inclusive one!).
- Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen!!
I might be forgetting some insider tips so my plan is to update this post as needed.
If you are planning a trip to Lakeside I’d love to hear all about it!
FAVORITE LAKE ERIE BEACHES
Our favorite time of year is here!! It’s beach season in Ohio (although I could definitely argue that the beaches are equally beautiful in the colder months too). Most people probably don’t realize that Ohio has a ton of beaches along Lake Erie and they can get quite crowded during the summer! Today I’m sharing some of our favorite Lake Erie beaches we’ve visited over the years. All of these beaches are on the western side of the state, but there are so many more beaches that we have yet to explore on the eastern side of the state in and around Cleveland. This is by no means a full list of Ohio beaches, but I thought it would be fun to share our favorites and encourage anyone interested in Coastal Ohio to visit one (or all) of these beaches!
Erie Beach at Maumee Bay State Park
This is our favorite beach and one that we visit the most frequently (it is the closest to where we live). I actually wrote a blog post about this beach back in 2020 and offer some tips for anyone beachin’ at this location. You can read that blog post here.
We love this beach because it’s actually quite large and is rarely too crowded. The views are some of my favorites and there is even a cute lighthouse you can see in the distance. But probably the best part of this beach is that it’s part of an Ohio State Park (Maumee Bay State Park) and there are a TON of activities for the family. They have biking, boating, hiking, cabins for rent, camping, fishing, canoeing, paddle boating, swimming, a pool, golfing, birding, and so much more. It’s truly an experience and my family has spent many a long weekend exploring and enjoying this park and beach.
The only negative to this beach is that the water is prone to toxic algae when the weather gets really hot. This means it’s not safe to swim. We’ve never actually swam in the water at this beach, but we will walk along the shore and get our feet a little wet. I wrote a blog post all about this algae issue and ways to help save Lake Erie from harmful toxins here.
East Harbor State Park
I know I said Erie Beach is our favorite beach, but the beach at East Harbor State Park is also up there as one that we visit frequently. This beach is also part of an Ohio State Park (East Harbor State Park) and there is so much to do beyond the beach. Visitors can enjoy everything from boating, fishing and swimming, to picnicking, camping, and hiking.
This beach is a lot smaller than Erie Beach and it gets REALLY crowded in the summer. You have to get there early if you want a spot. BUT, Rob and I have discovered that if you keep walking along the beach, past where you think it might end, you will discover 5-6 smaller or “private beaches” hidden between the trees. These little beaches can comfortably fit 6-8 people and if you are able to snag one early, you have privacy and incredible views! I wrote a blog post about this beach here.
Waterworks Park and The Port Clinton Lighthouse
Rob and I stumbled upon Waterworks Park and The Port Clinton Lighthouse earlier this spring and were so delighted by the views of the lake. Not only was the Lighthouse beautiful and the history fascinating, but there is a lovely public beach next to the lighthouse with gorgeous views of the lake. It was 40 degrees and snowing when we visited so literally no one was at the beach and we had the entire park to ourselves. It’s not a huge beach so I anticipate this being a popular beach when the weather is nice. We plan on going back with the kids later this summer. You can read more about this lighthouse here.
Main Street Beach in Vermillion
Vermillion is one of the cutest coastal towns we’ve visited in Ohio and it’s home to my favorite Erie and Anchor shop! We took Lilly to Vermillion in early 2020 before COVID hit for the opening of Erie and Anchor and were so charmed by the town and the cute Main Street Beach. The beach is smaller (like all Ohio beaches), but the views are next to none and there is a cute little lighthouse adjacent to the beach, which I mean, everyone loves a lighthouse!
We might be going back for a family trip in July and I cannot wait to explore this beach and town more!
As you can see we haven’t been to many Ohio beaches as we truly have our favorites, but we hope to explore many more and I’ll be sure to take you guys along for the ride!
BRAND SPOTLIGHT: SAILORMADE
With summer just around the corner (Yippee!) I thought it would be a perfect time to introduce a new brand to you all: Sailormade!
Based in Massachusetts, this family owned business designs nautical accessories that are inspired by life on the East Coast. Sailormade has been creating beautiful brass hardware for four generations! The classic and timeless designs are inspired by summers near the ocean and are handcrafted to the highest quality.
When it comes to jewelry, Sailormade offers so many different and unique designs. Whether you are looking for marine rope, nautical chain link bracelets, leather wrap bracelets, sterling silver, or coral inspired jewelry, I guarantee you will find something you love.
One of my favorite products that Sailormade makes though is the Rayminder Bracelet. The Rayminder Bracelet is part of the Rayminder Jewelry Collection and this line of jewelry pairs semi-precious gemstones with UV sensitive beads. As the rays of the sun get stronger and stronger, the clear gemstone will change to a bright color, reminding you to apply your sunscreen! How amazing is that?!
May just happens to be Skin Cancer Awareness Month so I’m more passionate than ever to share this brand and their Rayminder Collection with you guys. As I get older I’m understanding the importance of SPF and protecting our skin. I love that the Rayminder bracelet is something you can wear every day and be reminded to protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun. I also love how beautiful these bracelets are and how lovely they look styled alone or paired with your other favorite bracelets.
AND, to make this brand even more awesome: $1 of every unit sold is donated to IMPACT Melanoma. You guys know I’m a sucker for brands that give back and I’m so happy to support Sailormade in this endeavor.
As if you need more convincing, Sailormade offers more than just nautical inspired jewelry for men and women. They also sell baseball hats, dog accessories, keychains, coasters, and more. I promise that if you love coastal inspired products and love supporting family businesses, then you will love Sailormade.
Be sure to check out their website and give them some love on Instagram!
STYLE: THE SHANNON DRESS
One of my favorite classic brands, Duffield Lane, launched their spring resort collection and it’s my favorite collection to date! Think blue and white stripes, seersucker, bright pinks – all of my favorite things in one collection!
Duffield Lane was kind enough to send me the new Shannon Dress – yes the SHANNON (I think they designed this with me in mind 😉) and it’s the perfect classic navy seersucker dress. I’ve been wearing it on repeat and it quickly has become a favorite dress for this spring, summer and even fall!
I’m sharing a review of it and breaking it down based on style, fit and quality. Please note that these opinions are my own and although the dress was gifted, I’m sharing this blog post because I love this brand and this dress so much.
I think it goes without saying that this style of dress is completely on brand for me. I’m not sure what detail I love the most: the navy stripes, the seersucker, the flirty tiered skirt, the adjustable waist, or the nautical gold buttons. All of these details are just perfect. This style of dress will be forever classic and timeless and I cannot wait to wear it year after year.
I adore the fit of this dress. I’m eight months postpartum and I’m still figuring out this new post baby body. It’s extra important to me right now that I feel good in what I’m wearing and this dress makes me feel amazing. I love the adjustable waist and the length of this dress. I’m petite and many times I find myself having to hem dresses (otherwise I get swallowed in them). The one critique I have is the sleeves. Initially they were a bit snug, but the more I wear this dress, the more they stretch out so the material is a bit flexible! I feel so confident in this dress and that makes it a new favorite.
Per usual, the quality of this Duffield Lane dress is outstanding. The attention to detail is just beautiful. I love that the fabric is thin enough that I won’t be hot as the weather continues to warm, but it’s not too thin that it’s see through. I’ve always had a positive experience with the quality of fabric and craftsmanship of my Duffield Lane pieces and this Shannon dress doesn’t disappoint.
If you have been eyeing this dress (or any piece from Duffield Lane), I highly recommend investing in it! I promise you will feel and look amazing. You definitely will not be disappointed!
Here are a few other styles I’m loving from the latest Resort Collection.
McKenna Crew Neck in Pink and Blue Stripe
BRAND SPOTLIGHT: THE BEACH AND BACK
I’m so excited to share this month’s Brand Spotlight with you! If you love jewelry that is classic, elegant and coastal inspired then you will love the beach and back.
Based in New Jersey, Carey dreamed up the idea of the beach and back in 2020 when she wanted to create a brand that would unite fellow beachgoers. With a background in graphic design and an extensive career doing product development in the fashion industry, Carey had the tools she needed to branch out and create her own brand.
The mission of the brand is simple: to create simple and elegant pieces inspired by the ocean. I’ve had the pleasure of owning three of her bracelets and I can tell you firsthand how lovely this jewelry is to wear and style.
As a fellow coastal lover, I love the simple designs of her jewelry. The ocean wave bracelet is my favorite! The simplicity of the blue waves paired with a gold bangle is the perfect amount of coastal. It’s truly such a unique design. I love to pair this bracelet with other the beach and back bracelets or with a few other bracelets from my favorite brands.
I also find the design of the Marco Island slider bracelets so beautiful. The hand drawn tulip shell accent is so pretty! I love to style these slider bracelets with the ocean wave bracelet. They are equally gorgeous styled separately though – they are just so elegant and timeless. Plus these bracelets are designed to be easily adjustable which I love!
Clearly I’m a fan of the designs and style, but I’m also a fan of the quality. I love jewelry, especially bracelets. But I’m also a mom to two littles and so my jewelry needs to be durable. I can honestly wear these bracelets all day and not worry if a certain little chunk tries to grab or tug on them. These bracelets are truly top notch and made out of beautiful materials.
You guys know I love supporting small businesses and I hope you take the time to check out the beach and back. I promise you won’t be disappointed and you will come to love this coastal brand.
And while you are shopping, be sure to use the code SOLTATTHEBEACH for 15% off!
MOTHERHOOD: LIFE AS A STAY AT HOME MOM
For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a stay at home mom. Sure I have/had dreams of a career and I’m really dang proud of the career I had up until this point. But something deep down always longed to be at home with my babies some day. I truly feel so lucky that the time for me to be able to stay home is now.
Growing up, my mom was a SAHM. I can honestly say I had a charmed childhood. My parents gave us the greatest gift of having one parent home and both parents always involved. Having my mom home with us meant everything and I think it’s the reason I always wanted to be a SAHM. And my mom made it look so easy and glamorous.
My experience so far though is not what I expected. Now that I’m in the thick of it myself, it is the hardest job and the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. What a blessing to be able to spend all day with my babies, watching them grow and learn and become independent little humans. As much as I love it though, the days are long and sometimes lonely. I have no idea how my mom had so much patience and energy and how she made it look so easy. And she did it with FIVE kids!!
The first couple of weeks were really hard for me. I cried a lot and questioned my decision every day. Most of my days consisted of managing one meltdown after another as the kids alternated between wanting my undivided attention. I just couldn’t figure out how to juggle two kids, their schedules and finding time for Rob, let alone myself. And many days I still struggle with this, but slowly but surely I am learning patience and learning how to manage feeling frazzled.
I think it’s important that I share the good parts and the challenging parts of being a SAHM. Being a mom is HARD. Society expects a lot out of moms and there is very little appreciation for the work we do. (This really is true for parents in general). Below I’m sharing the parts I love and the parts that have really challenged me as a person and as a mom. And I’m teaming up with fellow SAHM (who has become a dear friend) Taylor from Living Taylored who is sharing her experience being a SAHM. Check out her experience here.
WHAT I LOVE
My favorite and most obvious reason for loving being a SAHM is the opportunity to be home with my babies. What a blessing to be able to spend all day at home with them, playing, laughing, and watching them grow. I truly feel so blessed to be Lilly and Teddy’s mom and I feel even more blessed to be in a position where one parent can stay home. I’m hoping that as we continue to grow and get ourselves into a routine I can be better at planning out fun activities for us. I have always envisioned taking my kids to parks, the zoo, the art museum, Lake Erie and the islands, visiting daddy at work – all the normal things we used to do before Covid. Now I just have to be more creative with activities that keep us busy and get us out of the house (we do a lot of driving around town, visiting the river and picking up curbside orders).
I love that by being home, I can focus my attention on my kids. When I was working it was exceptionally difficult to disconnect from parenting while at work and from working while at home. I constantly felt guilty that I wasn’t present at my job or as a parent. Being a SAHM means I can focus one hundred percent on the needs of my babies and not have to worry about extra responsibilities.
Another aspect that I enjoy about being at home full time is being able to take care of the house. For as long as I can remember I have loved cleaning and organizing. It gives me great satisfaction to be able to play house all day. Although, I will say it requires extra effort to keep things tidy with two kiddos in tow. I saw something on Instagram that said cleaning with kids is like raking leaves during a tornado and boy that is the truth! But, I’m beginning to let go of the mess and allow for it. It’s messy because my kids are young and they are exploring and learning. As a colleague said to Rob: our house right now is a home that is lived in and really, what more should you want for your home?!
With all that is going on in the world with COVID, being able to stay at home and not be in a position that requires our kids to be in daycare or school gives me great peace of mind. I know 90% of parents don’t have this option so I can only imagine the mental and emotional worry parents are going through right now. I know myself and I know that worry would weigh heavy on me. So I’m thankful I can keep my babies close for a little while longer before Lilly has to go to school.
Being a SAHM comes with so many challenges that I never expected. Whether it’s feeling lonely, feeling exhausted, feeling the weight and responsibility of raising two littles, or sticking to a strict budget, there are so many aspects of this role that surprised me. I’m thankful for my mom, my sister and the many moms I’ve come to know on Instagram who have listened, supported and encouraged me. These women have most certainly gotten me through some difficult moments and now more than ever I think it’s important to have a community of moms who you can lean on for support.
The biggest challenge so far for me is finding time for self care. Some days I feel like I have zero time for myself. And just to be clear, a five minute shower does not count as self care or time alone. I thought staying home would give me so much more time to work on my blog and grow my brand, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m lucky if I get five minutes a day to spend taking pictures and styling outfits. Usually it happens with a lot of bribery and an upset child or two (which really isn’t that fun then).
Another hard part about being a SAHM is thinking you have so much time to get things done but you don’t. Most days you barely have time to eat, shower and use the bathroom. You do whatever you need to do to keep the kids engaged and happy and that means you go from one activity to the next, many times at a very rapid pace. I’ve had to really lower my expectations of what I want to get done (I’m talking blogging, decorating, working out, cleaning the dishes, laundry, vacuuming the floors, organizing the kids clothes, rearranging the playroom, etc). I make a list of what I HAVE to get done for the week and try to do one thing on that list each day. I remind myself daily that my kids are only this little for a fleeting moment and all the chores can wait.
Meal times are exceptionally stressful for me, with lunch being the hardest. Trying to make lunch for Lilly and me and keep Teddy occupied and keep the dog from eating everyone’s food is enough to send me over the edge some days. And usually by this point in the day I’m exhausted, which just adds to the stress and chaos. Sometimes I feel guilty that I watch the clock like a hawk waiting for nap time to arrive.
Despite some of these challenges, I’m learning so much about myself and how to be a better person and a better mom. I’m learning so much about patience and grace and letting things go. I’m learning that in order to take care of my kids, I first have to take care of myself. Sometimes that doesn’t always happen, but when days allow for me to slow down and take a break, I take them.
I’m learning that the days are not perfect. But they consist of perfect moments. I love watching my kids play and learn and use their imagination. I love watching them figure out a new skill or understand a new concept. I love taking them on walks and exploring our cute downtown. I love that they feel safe with me and come to me for comfort.
Time is going so fast, yet the days are so long, the nights sometimes longer and some days just really seem hard. But at the end of the day, there is no where else I would rather be than at home with my kids. I don’t want to miss a moment with them and I know I’m incredibly blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity.
And yes I wrote this blog post over several weeks during naptime while Teddy slept on me. And honestly I wouldn’t change any of it.
BRAND SPOTLIGHT: BUOY COAST
This week I’m chatting all about a charming small business called Buoy Coast! Inspired by coastal Maine (a state I desperately want to visit!!) Buoy Coast sells classic clothing and accessories.
This East Coast based brand is female founded and family run. The owner, Maura, created Buoy Coast because of her love for the New England coastline and the coastal way of life. Offering products that range from cozy sweatshirts, to baseball hats, to trendy tees and canvas totes, Buoy Coast has something for the entire family.
I can attest firsthand to how cozy their sweatshirts are! I am wearing the Fort Williams Hoodie and I love the relaxed feel and fit – almost like a worn hoodie that you’ve had forever and can’t part with. We took these pictures in 25 degree weather down near the water (which always feels colder) and I can tell you this sweatshirt kept me quite warm!
I love that all of the products come branded with their buoy logo. I love it’s simplicity but I also love that it tells a story immediately and that story is one of coastal living. The logo is classic and preppy all in one and I’m sure any nautical loving customer would be proud to wear this brand on all of their boating and coastal adventures.
Not only does Buoy Coast offer top notch clothing, but they also have great quality accessories. I love the fit of their classic cairn baseball hat. This hat comes in seven different colors! It’s seriously hard to choose my favorite, but I am obviously partial to the melon.
And I can’t leave this blog post without talking about their tote bags! I’m in love! These tote bags are amazing quality – the perfect beach tote. They are just stunning and crafted with the most durable heavy weight cotton canvas. I have the Picnic Point Tote and I love the navy and red stripe webbing that gives this tote that classic, timeless look. The signature buoy logo on the front exterior and inside pocket gives it that extra preppy look which I love.
I cannot wait to use this tote at the lake this summer. It’s seriously so roomy and would be perfect for beach days, picnics and I’m pretty positive this tote would make a great diaper bag.
I’ve become such a fan of Buoy Coast. I love their products and their story. But I also love that they are socially responsible and give back. A portion of all their proceeds are donated to HFC, which is a non-profit raising awareness of Alzheimer’s. Have I convinced you to go give this brand some love yet?! I am one hundred percent confident that if you love the coastal lifestyle, then you will love Buoy Coast!
p.s. Be sure to follow them on Instagram!
MOTHERHOOD: OUR FEEDING JOURNEY
I can’t believe my precious baby boy is 5.5 months old! The newborn stage with Teddy has flown by SO much faster than it did with Lilly. I feel like I blinked and now here we are, halfway to one year.
Teddy is the sweetest boy who is so generous with his smiles and his cuddles. He adores his big sister and watches her with fascination all day long. And now that he’s rolling, standing and pulling himself up, I suspect he’ll be trying to match her energy from here on out. We have loved loved loved watching this precious boy develop into the (big) tiny human that he is.
But anyone with kids knows that the newborn years can be tough. One of my biggest emotional challenges with Teddy has been our feeding journey. He has been an excellent and voracious eater. But it hasn’t gone as planned. After hanging on for as long as I could, I sadly gave up breastfeeding at five months and Teddy is now on all formula. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for me knowing that this is our last baby. I wanted to nurse him as long as possible for many reasons, one of the biggest being Covid and providing him with my immunity. But, we’ve had some challenges over the past few months that made keeping up with nursing really hard and I had to take into account my mental health and the mental and emotional health of my family. And, I truly believe that the FED IS BEST method is the only way to feed your baby.
Breastfeeding in general is HARD. Not only do you experience physical discomfort, but you worry if your baby is getting enough, you carry the responsibility of being the only one who can feed your baby, and most of your day is spent nursing or pumping. There is a lot of pressure on moms to breastfeed. And I understand why to a point. Breastfeeding is so good for the baby and for the mom. It provides extra immunity to the baby, it promotes a healthy bond between mom and baby, it decreases the chance of SIDS, you can feed the baby anywhere at anytime and not have to worry about milk temperature or milk spoiling – the list goes on. I am one hundred an advocate for breastfeeding but I’m also an advocate that you do what’s best for you and your baby. At the end of the day, FED IS BEST.
Breastfeeding with Lilly was REALLY hard. I had to fight tooth and nail to nurse her until she was six months. I did everything I possibly could to keep the milk supply up. I ate oatmeal multiple times a day, drank a ridiculous amount of mothers milk tea, ate lactation bars, drank water, etc. And I still had to supplement with formula. And I’m really dang proud I got her to six months.
Teddy started out really strong and we had an easy go the first three months. He ate every 1.5-2 hours and was always so happy and content after nursing. However, the stress and strain of life since October (going back to work and then quitting my job (really leaving behind a career), covid, sick kids, and surgery for Rob just to name a few) had taken a toll on me and my milk supply significantly dropped over the course of a few weeks. I went from producing 4-7 ounces of milk to 2-3 and then to less than one. As this was happening Teddy went from eating 2-3 ounces to 5-7 and my body couldn’t keep up. I started supplementing with formula, which led to a preference in bottles over nursing for him. At some point we switched to all bottles that were half breast and half formula, but pumping around the clock with a three year old and a baby and being the only parent home during the day is really dang hard. I started missing pumping sessions because I just didn’t have time and this signaled to my body that it didn’t need to produce as much.
I’ve been feeling incredibly guilty and disappointed that this is the way our feeding journey has gone. I feel guilty I don’t have time to do all the lactation things I did when I nursed Lilly. I feel guilty that during the time of covid I won’t be able to give him my antibodies much longer. I feel guilty that I’m a little bit relieved to be done nursing because now the responsibility of me being the only one who is able to feed him has lifted. (In the beginning I worried so much that something would happen to me and I wouldn’t be able to feed him). And this guilt feeling leaves me so angry and frustrated. Moms shouldn’t feel this way or have so much worry and anxiety about feeding their babies. It shouldn’t matter how we feed our babies. What matters is that we feed them and that they are healthy and growing.
I admit that this has been a really emotional post for me to write and I cried several times while trying to write it over the last few weeks. I try to remember that every month that I nursed him or pumped gave him an incredible boost, and the first three months of exclusively nursing helped us form a connection that I love and cherish. I also know that breastfeeding is challenging or not even an option for many moms, so I’m thankful that we had as much time as we did.
I hope that by sharing my journey I can help other moms who are feeling bad or discouraged about breastfeeding. It’s an emotional ride for sure, but let’s all remember we are doing our best and your baby adores you and loves you no matter which feeding method you choose. I couldn’t have nursed Teddy as long as I did without the support of Rob and my family. I’m incredibly grateful for their encouragement and support throughout this journey.
So let’s all choose to support each other and offer encouragement. And remember to give a mom you know a hug, because being a mom is the hardest job and sometimes we just need to know we are seen and appreciated.
And remember, fed is best!!
STYLE: LESSONS LEARNED FROM 30 DAYS OF STYLE
Last month I challenged myself to 30 Days of Daily Style. The purpose was to get dressed each day and learn to love and appreciate my current wardrobe. I also wanted to enjoy getting dressed again. Ever since having Teddy, my style significantly shifted to athletic wear (not a bad thing, I just like getting dolled up).
Over the last 30ish days (I had a few days where I was unable to share my outfit) I learned a couple of interesting lessons and gained some insight about what getting dressed each day means to me. Below are some of the thoughts I’ve had during this challenge.
But first, here are the top five looks based on engagement (likes, comments, and shares) on Instagram:
Bonus look: this was my personal favorite!
> Stick to the classics. Classic style is one of the ways I identify myself as a fashion blogger and it rang true during this challenge. The outfits that seemed the simplest and borderline boring were the most popular. I’m 100% convinced that’s becuase they were classic and timeless.
> Wear what you know works. This is similar to the first point, but slightly different. The harder I tried to be creative with my outfit the worse it performed on Instagram. I realized when I picked an outfit that was easy and that I felt comfortable in, I exuded confidence, which is how fashion and style should make you feel.
> Plan ahead. I had much greater success getting dressed and having a smoother morning when I planned and styled out my outfits the night before. It’s a little thing that you may not feeling like doing, but it makes a difference in the morning.
> I wear a lot of pants. Specifically denim jeans. This surprised me as i always have identified as a dress wearer. I think the combination of being a SAHM, nursing/pumping and having to be mobile at all times has caused me to become very casual during the cooler months.
> Keep it simple and dress for your lifestyle. Currently my life is being a stay at home mom with my two babies. This involves lots of playing, fort building, impromptu jaunts outside, spit up, diaper changes, meal prep, etc. I learned quickly that I can still get dressed and look stylish, but my outfit better be no fuss, easy to move in, and limited with the accessories. I have a new found love for classic athleisure wear after doing this challenge.
Thanks to all who followed along with me and supported my posts! It truly means a lot when you guys give feedback and love here on my blog and on Instagram.
SMALL BUSINESSES TO SHOP THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
It’s officially the holiday season! A few people in our neighborhood even have their Christmas lights up (not kidding!). I’m sure many people are shopping early this year so I want to make sure I share all my favorite small businesses with you guys early.
I’m a huge advocate of shopping small and shopping local. We always make a point to support as many small businesses as we can each holiday season.
Instead of offering a gift guide of specific items, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite brands. I’ve broken them into categories featuring artists, accessories, apparel, home, and jewelry. I’ve had the pleasure of either owning something, partnering with or getting to know each of the creatives behind these brands and I know how much it means to them when people shop small. So please give these brands some love in any way you can this holiday season, even if it’s just following them on social media, sharing their product, or sharing this blog post. Every interaction goes a long way!
It’s no secret that I love art and I love getting to know the artists. Below are some of my favorite artists. And I’m fortunate to have many of their works of art in my home.
Becky creates the most beautiful abstract and figurative coastal scenes. Her pieces of art invoke a feeling of peace and nostalgia for a simpler time. I have the pleasure of owning two of her pieces, one in Lilly’s playroom and one next to our piano. Both bring me so much joy. Shop her art here.
Brooke Lancaster Fine Art & Jewelry
Based in Savannah, GA (where I attended fashion school!!) and continuously inspired by the coastal, marshy landscape, Brooke creates the most vibrant pieces of art and jewelry. If you love modern/retro style, bold colors, and nautical vibes, then you will love Brooke’s artwork. I am so inspired and enamored by her collection of clothesline paintings. These paintings always evoke a sense of nostalgia in me and remind me of my own mom and grandma who used to hang clothes on the line. Brooke also creates beautiful pieces of jewelry that are cut from the paint palettes that she uses to create her fine art pieces. Learn more about Brooke and shop her art here.
Jen Strandberg Studio
Based out of NYC and Nantucket, Jen Strandberg Studio specializes in colorful coastal watercolors. Full of coastal scenes, summers on the water, and hydrangeas in full bloom, Jen’s artwork makes my nautical loving heart so very happy. She has since expanded to creating the most beautiful calendars, wrapping paper, and more. I have one of her pieces of art hanging in our playroom, as well as some of her stationary and I love them all! Shop her art here.
If you love impressionism and Ohio, then you have to check out Michelle Brunner Art. Michelle Brunner was my first Instagram turn real life friend! Michelle’s art speaks to my soul in a way that I can’t even describe. Her paintings bring me so much joy and they transport me to a place of peace and contentment. With a style that is somewhat abstract and somewhat impressionistic, Michelle’s focus on color and texture is just outstanding. A true reflection of Ohio Midwest living, Michelle’s paintings bring to life long summer days on the lake or relaxing car rides through Ohio’s’ farm country. Michelle Brunner Art is a perfect gift for the person in your life who loves modern art or coastal and farmhouse décor
Kelly Pelfrey Art
With a style that is contemporary and impressionistic, Kelly’s coastal scenes and still life scenes represent all that is southern. Based in South Carolina, Kelly does a beautiful job bringing the southern landscape to life. I love her use of color and texture and am instantly imported back to the marshy south when I see her work. A few months ago Kelly was so inspired by one of the photos I took on Lake Erie that she recreated it in painting form and a print of this beautiful piece of work is hanging in Teddy’s nursery. I’ve also been eyeing a few of her coastal birds to hang in our living room for months! Click here to learn more about Kelly.
Where Ocean Meets HB
Hannah is the artist behind Where Ocean Meets HB. Hannah and I actually met at the Savannah College of Art and Design. We have recently reconnected on Instagram and I’m so glad we did! She is an amazing artist whose coastal scenes stop me in my tracks. Her work is bold and fierce and so very beautiful. Her use of color, line and texture always stops me in my tracks. She offers everything from oil paintings, to greeting cards, to phone cases and more. Learn more about this artist and shop her work here.
BITS AND BOWS
Created by two sisters, Katie and Sarah, Bits and Bows is a preppy lifestyle brand that is famous for its innovative and feminine Bow Baseball Hat. Bits and Bows is not only stylish, preppy, and fun, but the mission of the brand is to create a community and sisterhood that focuses on “inclusivity, friendship, and self-actualization.” I mean, what’s not to love about that?! You can customize, monogram, and match your mini with their may style options. Learn more about their brand and shop their hats here.
If you are looking for beautifully crafted, timeless bows and headbands for your little girl, then Eva’s House is the place to shop! We have quite a collection of Eva’s bows and they are our favorite! Every hair accessory is handmade by Eva herself. Based in Switzerland, Eva is the sweetest person and I love supporting her and her small business. Shop her collection of hair accessories here.
Women owned and women founded, Shore Bags is a Midwest based brand located in Indiana. This is a newer brand to me and I have not tried their product yet, but I’m obsessed! Shore Bags creates 100% biodegradable and eco-positive tote bags and accessories. With a mission to help reduce the amount of plastic in the environment, Shore Bags uses all sustainable raw materials to design and create their products. I personally love the striped cabana tote! Shop their products and learn more about this brand here.
S. Lynch Knitwear
If you’ve been following me for awhile, then S.Lynch Knitwear will be no secret to you. I’m obsessed with Sam’s beautifully crafted hand knitted hats and scarves. Her hats are the only ones I wear in the winter – they are that warm! Plus she offers Mommy and me matching sets, which is a win in my book! Shop scarves, hats, gloves, and more here.
My friend Katie launched her Etsy shop of hair accessories in 2020. If you love preppy, coastal style, then you will love Katie’s colorful and vibrant headbands and scrunchies! It’s hard to find headbands that are comfortable and hers are some of the best! She also creates mommy and me sets so if you have a little, be sure to check out her shop!
Based in Avon Lake, Ohio, Coastal Cleveland celebrates coastal living and life on the water, specifically life on Lake Erie waters. Coastal Cleveland offers a variety of clothing for anyone who loves the water. From cozy collegiate crewneck sweatshirts, to the softest cotton t-shirts, all of the apparel designs are created by Erin, the owner. If you are native to the Ohio Northcoast, you will find shirts that give a nod to Avon Lake, Lakewood, Cleveland, and of course Lake Erie. In addition to running this business, Erin also maintains a blog where she shares her love for all things coastal, boats, Northcoast traveling, and everything in between.
If you love monogrammed gifts and apparel, then Deshler Designs is your new go-to. Whether you are shopping seasonal pajamas, mommy and me sets, personalized towels, or handbags, Deshler Designs has it all. There is a saying among preppy loving folk that if it is not moving, monogram it! And Deshler Designs offers customization and monogramming on all of their products. I personally am loving the Christmas outfits and jammies for Lilly and Teddy. Check out their shop here.
Duffield Lane creates timeless and classic styles that span generations. Located in Grand Rapids, MI, Duffield Lane’s styles are inspired by an effortless, coastal way of life. The brand started out as a pajama company but has since expanded to offer five collections a year. They are known for their perfect fits, bright preppy fabrics, and high quality craftsmanship. I’m not lying when I say I love every single piece I own from Duffield Lane. Shop their Mommy and Me styles here.
Erie and Anchor
You guys know my love for E&A runs DEEP. Erie and Anchor is an Ohio based company that sells unique nautical products. It’s a lifestyle brand designed for anyone who loves to live and play on Lake Erie. From cozy sweatshirts, to lightweight tees, to canvas totes, baseball hats, and wine tumblers – Erie and Anchor has something for everyone! For every purchase made, 5% of earnings are donated back to Lake Erie to help support water quality and research. The family based company is passionate about ensuring the lake will still be a place of enjoyment and relaxation for decades to come. Shop my favorite sweatshirts here.
Based in Minnesota, Northern Drift is an apparel company that celebrates the coastal summers of the Midwest. Their casual and classic clothing celebrates all that is beautiful about the Midwest region. Shop everything from tees to pullovers to crewneck sweatshirts to windbreakers and more. I personally am eyeing the Women’s Birch Quilted Quarter Zip Pullover. I love the color and it looks so cozy!! Shop their clothing here.
Meg and Marie
Based in the Midwest, Meg & Marie is a women’s clothing boutique that carries high quality pieces in classic, timeless, and preppy styles. From classic sweaters to preppy dresses and pretty blouses, Meg and Marie has something for the sophisticated woman who loves classic style. Shop this family owned boutique here.
Midwest based and female owned,. Rudder USA is a timeless, preppy brand with strong American values. At just 23 years old, Nicole officially launched Rudder USA in August 2020. Nicole created Rudder USA to be a common ground for people that love life around the water, boating, and the lifestyle that comes from those things. This brand is for the water lovers – from rivers to lakes to oceans – this brand values life on the water and the feeling associated with that lifestyle. The products reflect the classic, American style that you guys know I love. If you are a passionate boater, water lover, and love supporting small businesses, then you have to check out Rudder USA. You can shop all of their products here.
Shore Society, a favorite coastal Ohio apparel brand, prides itself on creating pieces that are reflective of the lakefront lifestyle that encompasses the Great Lakes and the Midwest. Founded in 2012 by Rachael Koenig, Shore Society products are inspired by the nautical aesthetic of Cleveland’s coast. In the seven years since its founding, Shore Society has expanded to include sweatshirts (for Lake Erie and Lake Michigan fans), tee shirts, hats, totes, mugs, candles, pennants, art prints, and so much more. It’s a lifestyle brand that offers something unique for all coastal lovers. They also launch incredibly fun, seasonal apparel products that are hugely popular.
Based in New England, Jaye’s Studio has a perfectly curated collection of classic, bright, and preppy products. The attention to detail makes this brand unique and their products one-of-a-kind. I love their beautiful and high quality pieces for the home, but I also love their pajama collection, which is bold, bright ,and so comfy! Shop Jaye’s Studio here.
Line and Cleat
Line and Cleat offers classic accessories for everyday living. Think preppy inspired tumblers, serving trays, drinkware, wine totes and more. Shop the collection here.
Handmade in Atlanta, GA, these nautical themed serving trays and cheese boards mimic the look of a classic boat deck. I personally love the contrasting dark and light wood of these trays and I love that a cleat hitch is used as the handles. I’ve literally never seen such a unique and beautifully crafted serving tray before. Choose from serving trays, carving boards, or cheese boards. You can customize each item with your monogram, your boat name, a special date, your last name, a “welcome home” if you are gifting it, the list goes on. Shop the collection here.
Reclaimed lobster welcome mats, canvas totes, and New England inspired clothing for adults and children, Sternlines has the coolest selection of products. Every doormat they create tells a different story as to where the rope originated from. The brand’s story is so cool and you should definitely check them out if you love coastal living. Shop the collection here.
Allison Cole Jewelry
A jewelry collection that is classic, nautical, and all handmade in New England. The owner, Nicole, proudly designs and makes every single piece of jewelry herself. I wear the monogram Essex bracelet every single day. Shop her collection here.
Kylie and Bryn
Handmade right here in Columbus, Ohio, Kylie and Bryn is a jewelry/accessory company with the brightest and prettiest African vinyl and wooden bead bracelets. The moment I laid eyes on these colorful, vibrant bracelets, I knew I needed a few to add to my accessory collection. All of the bracelets are handmade and the craftsmanship and quality is just beautiful. The owner, Amber, creates bracelets in the brightest of colors – from neon pink, to royal blue, turquoise, and kelly green to yellow, blush pink, and even rainbow! And, she offers school spirit inspired bracelets and customizable word bracelets. You can purchase the bracelets individually or as a medley stack. There are so many options to choose from!
Little Lavender Lobster
Little Lavender Lobster offers handmade jewelry, watercolors, custom stationary, and so much more – all created and designed by Rachel herself. Everything is inspired by coastal living in New England. The pearl stud earrings are my absolute favorite! Shop her collection here.
Mermaids and Madeleines
Mermaids and Madeleines offers the loveliest handmade coastal jewelry and art. Heather, the owner, designs and makes all the jewelry herself. I am fortunate to own the most beautiful necklace and alphabet letter print from her collection. Shop her jewelry and art here.
If you love baskets, bowls, handbags, and jewelry, you will love Sewcialite. All of the items are handmade out of rope (except the jewelry) by Roula herself. The rope creations are truly incredible. Roula recently launched a coastal inspired jewelry line and the pieces are exquisite. Shop the collection here.
I broke these small businesses down into specific categories, but don’t forget about the service industry. Gifting gift cards or paying for services such as photography (check out Kelly and Kelly Photography!), salons and spas, event coordination, florists and other services helps out many a small business! If you are looking for an event planner, then you should check out Pineapples and Parties! Local to northwest Ohio, P&P specializes in wedding planning and event planning. They work one on one with their clients to offer floral arrangements, wedding details, table decor and more. Learn more about their services here.
I hope this list provided you with some ideas for shopping small this holiday season. All of these brands are founded by some truly wonderful people so I hope you take the time to support their business in any way you can.
Slainte and Happy Holidays!