Having been on maternity leave for the past few months and having my leave fall over the holidays means that mama doesn’t have tons of extra funds to spend on new clothes (and let’s be… More
Happy New Year!
I hope you all enjoyed a joyous holiday season filled with family, friends, lots of laughter, good food, and too much wine.
Many people create goals or resolutions at the start of each year. I’ve never really been one to get into making new year resolutions so unlike most bloggers, I don’t have any resolutions to share. However, I do have dreams and aspirations for this little blog of mine [I’m still here too] and one of those ideas is to inspire others in any way that I can. Whether it be through fashion, home décor, or sharing my experience as a new mama, I hope to connect with a community of like-minded creatives and spread a little more positivity throughout the world.
One of my favorite topics to talk about as of late is how life has changed (for the better!) as a new mama. One topic that has been on my heart for the last couple of weeks is maternity leave. For those of you unfamiliar, I have been working for the past five years at a local non-profit that provides services to individuals with autism. I oversee the marketing, which in non-profit language translates into all the traditional marketing, social media, graphic design, and public relations. I love the work I do and the mission of the organization.
That being said, I also love being a mama! I’m due to return to work next week and I’m completely devastated about having to leave my baby girl. In all honesty I’ve really been struggling with having to leave L (if anyone even asks me about my leave I tend to burst into tears). Although I’ve been fortunate enough to have 12 full weeks off, I feel very strongly that the maternity leave in our country is completely unrealistic. Leaving a newborn after just three months is far too early. A baby changes SO fast and it’s so unfair that a mother (and father) must return to work so quickly and miss out on so many developmental changes. I fully advocate for at least one year of maternity leave for all mothers in order to be able to care for and bond with their baby.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the option for me to be a stay at home mom at this stage in our life. The past few weeks, and this week in particular, I’m having to really find ways to be at peace with going back to work. I’m sure other new mamas have similar feelings about returning to work after spending so many precious moments with their babies, so I’ve compiled a few ways in which I’m coping in the hopes that other new mamas will find ways to feel a little more at peace about having to return to work.
Support System – Having a strong support system has been a game changer for me. I am one that has always worn my feelings on my sleeve and it helps me so much to be able to talk about and voice my insecurities, worries, and fears. I’m so blessed to have such an understanding, patient, and loving husband. He is my rock and if it weren’t for him, I’d be a complete hot mess. [I rocked a Dad bod before being a dad, now I’m a real hunk] It also helps that our families live in the same city as us and have been tremendously helpful these past few months. A few family members will even be helping us out and watching L, and that makes a huge difference in putting my mind at ease!
Yoga – I’ve been practicing yoga for almost three years now. I started yoga as a way to harness my anxiety and it has become a way of life. The mind, body, and spiritual balance is just incredible and I’m grateful for each time I step onto my mat. I was able to continue my practice into the third trimester of my pregnancy. However, it did become increasingly difficult towards the end of pregnancy and it’s taken nine weeks postpartum to finally get back on the mat. I’m making a point to do at least a twenty-minute practice each morning to help center myself and ease my anxiety of returning to work. So far it’s helping and enabling me to think a little more clearly and positively.
Something New – Now this may sound superficial, but one of the ways that is helping me to get back to work is knowing that I have a new outfit and new handbag for the first day. I know this sounds so silly, but having something to look forward to on a day that I know is going to be insanely difficult actually helps spur some excitement. I also printed out a bunch of pictures of L that I’m bringing to the office to hang up all around my desk. It’s the little things that count here people.
Being Present Now – The last way in which I’m trying not to let my anxieties and worry get the best of me is by being present now. With all the social media and distractions nowadays it’s increasingly difficult for people to be present in their own lives. I’m making a point to get off my phone and completely focus on her when she’s awake and ready to play or cuddle. (She’s of course napping as I write this). I’m committed to enjoying every.single.moment with my sweet L. By being completely present, I can put my mind at ease that I’ve done everything humanely possible to make the best of this next week and enjoy all the baby cuddles, smiles, and giggles.
I would love to hear suggestions from all you mamas (and dads!) about how you have transitioned back into work after being on maternity leave. Hopefully some of the ways in which I am coping will inspire some of you and make the transition just a little bit easier.
As always, thanks for stopping by A Dash of Solt!
Shannon [and Rob too!]
p.s. These pictures were taken at Maumee Bay State Park – a local gem of Northwest Ohio with access to Erie Beach (one of my favorite places to take pictures and get my water fix!)
SHOP THE LOOK
Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been fascinated by fashion. I love the art that is couture fashion, but I also love studying fashion from decades past. My absolute favorite time period for fashion is the 1960s. All the styles were so classy and stylish. I even went through a phase in college where I tried desperately hard to dress like I was living in the ‘60s.
Nowadays, I still love and appreciate the runway and all the current trends. However, my personal style has evolved into something much more preppy and timeless.
I particularly enjoyed styling this outfit because each piece was bought in a different year and everything is still in fashion. The hot pink mini skirt is from my retail days working at The Limited (would you believe that I’ve owned this skirt for six years!). I adore this skirt, not only because it’s hot pink, but because it reminds me so much of something from the 1960s. It instantly reminds me of Swinging London.
The cable knit sweater is always a classic choice and everyone should own one for those cold winter days. I bought this one last year from Gap and it’s just perfect for layering. The fit is flattering and the soft cotton material feels so good.
If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen this J.Crew navy gingham blouse before. I literally wear it all the time. I love the fit; plus,gingham never goes out of style. I also have this shirt in pink and denim. It’s definitely a staple that everyone should have in their wardrobe.
I’ve always enjoyed pairing bright colors together. That’s probably why I love the Lilly Pulitzer brand so much (and the silhouettes are so 1960s – sense a theme?!). I could have paired this skirt with black, white, or gray, but the pop of blue and the gingham pattern just make it so much more fun.
Hopefully this timeless outfit provides some inspiration for your wardrobe or holiday attire. I’ve linked each item below so you can shop the look!
“A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.” – Anonymous
Words that were never more true. So many emotions have emerged these past few weeks as we have welcomed our sweet little bairn (Scottish word for baby for those that are not familiar – I’ve been watching too much Outlander) into this world. We have experienced fatigue like we never have before. We have felt immeasurable joy and pride in seeing mini versions of ourselves. We have experienced anxiety and despair while trying to calm a screaming baby. But most of all, we have felt love so great it brings us to tears.
Obviously when you bring a new human into the world, many things change. We have had to completely adapt to a new way of life (which we were anticipating, but it doesn’t make it any easier). There are so many things we have learned over these past few weeks and we want to share our experience with others, in the hope it will bring other new parents some hope or comfort. And hopefully this post will help anyone thinking about starting a family.
No Sleep. – This one is obvious, but you really don’t understand what it means until it happens. It LITERALLY means NO SLEEP. This has been by far the hardest adjustment for me. I’m an in bed by 9pm kind of girl who never pulled all-nighters and would beg my friends in college to leave the bars at midnight so I could go to bed. I need at least nine hours of sleep to function. Whelp, not anymore! I’ve lost count of how many all-nighters we’ve pulled in the past seven weeks.
The first week was by far the hardest. No one tells you that babies aren’t born with a built in circadian rhythm (aka, they don’t know night from day and have to learn that). That first week Miss L would not sleep at all at night, and definitely not in her bassinet. The only place she would sleep was on mom and dad. We would have to take 2-3 hour shifts holding her so the other could sleep. It was really rough.
But, everyone told us things would get easier, and it does. Each week Miss L adds on a little more sleep in between feedings. We are now up to 4.5 hours between feedings which means I can get more than an hour or two of sleep at a time. YAY!
Breastfeeding is really hard! – This was as big a shocker to me as the lack of sleep. I knew I always wanted to breastfeed, but I had no idea how hard of a job it would be. The first few weeks you are feeding that baby every two hours and it takes 30-45 minutes for each feeding. That gives a breastfeeding mom just over an hour to try and eat or take a shower or sleep or do just about anything.
Breastfeeding is also really painful at first. Your breasts are not used to being used like that, so you are constantly sore and in pain. Around week 4 I finally felt comfortable again and at week seven I actually enjoy feeding my sweet babe. I’ve come to realize what a blessing this special time is with her and I love the bonding that happens between us.
(p.s.Breastfeeding makes you extremely thirsty! I recommend all mamas who are going to breastfeed to have a glass of water next to you at all times!)
Baby is just as scared as the parents. – Realizing that being born into this world was just as shocking for L as it was for us really helped to center us when she was upset. Many people don’t realize that for a baby, this is a whole new world, filled with unfamiliar sounds, smells, and faces. It’s a shock to their system (remember they’ve been comfortably cocooned for nine months) and it takes them awhile to become adjusted. The first couple of weeks when she would cry,I would always try and remember that she was just as scared as me and that definitely helped me to cope better and comfort her better. My mom sent me this piece a day or two after she was born and I still cry so hard when I read it. It’s so painfully beautiful, but it has helped SO much when trying to comfort L.
Set a routine earlier than later. – Setting a routine for L is something we JUST started doing. I am reading the book Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg and one of the ideas that has really stuck with me is putting baby on a flexible schedule as soon as possible. Tracy calls it the EASY method – Eat, Activity, Sleep, You (time for Mom). Babies need to be taught what is expected of them and they like a structured schedule. When I started implementing this idea about a week or two ago, I saw a huge change in how much more content baby (and mom!) have become. That being said, I’m also a huge advocate for figuring out what works for you and your family. There are so many books, ideas, and opinions coming at you from every direction and it’s really important to pause, listen to your baby, and implement things that work for your lifestyle.
Two products we have loved. – I thought it would be fun to share some of the baby items that we have come to love and use on a regular basis. The first item I highly recommend is the Boppy pillow. We have two of them (one for the nursery and one for downstairs). We use our pillows every single day (hubby even naps with them!). They make breastfeeding so much more comfortable, plus as baby grows you can use them to support their back when they begin to sit up on their own.
Another product we use daily is our rock n’ play seat/sleeper. L LOVES this seat. It has a vibrating function, as well as the ability to rock. I’m convinced she gets some of her best sleep in this seat. Plus, it folds up super easy and so traveling with it is a breeze.
We could talk all day about our experience the past few weeks, but we don’t want this post to be too long. Hopefully what we have shared will help other new parents or expecting parents. At the end of the day, having a baby is the most challenging but the most rewarding thing you will ever do. We can’t imagine life without our sweet L and cherish each day with her. She is such a blessing and a gift and we are so excited to embark on this new adventure with her.
Tis’ the season for holiday plaid! If you’ve been following me for awhile now, you know I’m a huge fan of tartan plaid (it’s those Scottish genes). When I saw this adorable sweater with a splash of plaid from J.Crew Factory I knew I couldn’t pass it up!
One of the things I love most about J.Crew is the quality of their clothing. The material of this sweater is top notch and even softer than I imagined (a must for this new mama!). Plus, the cut and long hemline are so flattering.
This sweater is a great holiday piece. The tartan makes it festive for any party and the black makes it easily transitional from day to night. I dressed it down with jeans, booties, and a fun necklace. If I wanted to dress it up, I would pair it with a mini skirt or nice pair of black skinny pants. Throw on some heels and pearls and you have a comfy, classic outfit for a work Christmas party or out to dinner with friends.
Each piece that I’ve styled is from J.Crew Factory. I’ve linked the details below!
On a side note, thank you all for the kind words and excitement about the arrival of Baby Lilly! She is already six weeks old! It’s amazing how quickly time goes now. But besides being sleep deprived, mom, dad and Lilly are all doing great!
SHOP THE LOOK!
It’s finally fall in Ohio! Which means I can fully embrace my maternity fall wardrobe (give me all the leggings, oversized sweaters, and plaid scarves!). I recently stumbled upon this cute boutique based out of Oregon. Thriver is a small online women’s boutique whose mission is to inspire and encourage women to be their best self. They select each individual piece with their customer’s style in mind.
If you are looking for some fun, stylish pieces to enhance your wardrobe, I highly recommend checking out this cute boutique!! They have classic, timeless pieces, as well as the latest trends (if you love the off the shoulder trend they have tons of cute pieces!).
I recently purchased this amazingly comfy, oversized sweater from them. I figured it would fit the baby bump now and work great for post baby. The luxurious soft knit material and the dolman sleeves make it a dream to wear. Plus, the asymmetrical detail on the hem is so cute!
Since I’m in the last leg of my pregnancy, I’ve definitely styled it with comfort in mind. It’s perfect for a casual look with leggings, a scarf, and tennis shoes or boots. Or you can dress it up by styling it with skinny jeans, booties, and chunky necklace. Either way, it’s an amazingly comfy, versatile piece.
I’ve linked a few other items I have my eye on below. I highly recommend checking out this fun boutique! And, bonus! If you use the code “ShannonS” at checkout, you get 10% off your order! Plus, they always offer free shipping on all domestic orders. Be sure to comment below and let me know what you pick out!
MATERNITY LEGGINGS | SHOP THRIVER OFF BALANCE TOP (I’M WEARING A SIZE SMALL) | BLANKET SCARF | RIDING BOOTS (OLD) | LONGCHAMP
THRIVER MUST HAVE’S:
I’ve been wanting to write a post for the past couple of months that talks about maternity clothing. I’ve always loved fashion and over the past nine months I’ve enjoyed exploring different maternity styles. Pregnancy can get really uncomfortable at times and investing in a wardrobe that is comfortable and stylish is so essential to feeling your best while your body goes through new changes.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I was at a loss of what “maternity” pieces I would need and how much I would need. I probably went a little bit overboard with my purchases early on, but having pieces that are flattering and comfortable have made all the difference these last few weeks. To help out some other new mamas-to-be out there, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite pieces and what I think every new mama needs in her maternity wardrobe.
- Leggings – Hands down the BEST purchase I made while pregnant. Maternity leggings were one of the first items I purchased and I’ve definitely worn them into the ground. I invested in a thicker black pair as well as a thinner, cropped pair in navy. Both have been essential in helping me feel comfortable, but also stylish when paired with a tunic or oversized sweater.
- Fitted Tees – Fitted tees were a later investment that I wish I would have purchased earlier. I purchased two short sleeve ones from Target, two short sleeve from Gap Maternity and one long sleeve one from Gap Maternity. I would definitely invest in several of these – they are comfortable and make you feel like a million bucks, especially during that sweet time of your pregnancy when your bump is super cute (weeks 20-36).
- Tunics – Even without being pregnant I love a good tunic paired over leggings with boots or flats. Early in the pregnancy I was able to get away with wearing a ton of non-maternity tunics. Once I hit the 3rd trimester though, the non-maternity ones just looked unflattering and so I invested in four maternity tunics and I’m so happy I did! They are so flattering for your bump and are a dream to wear. Throw on a scarf or tassel necklace and you will look like one stylish mama!
- Fitted Dresses – This is a piece I didn’t invest in until late in my 2nd I bought my first fitted dress for my baby shower and from that point on I was obsessed. Fitted dresses hug you in all the right places and flatter your bump. I ended up purchasing a fun short sleeve one and a classic navy one. I regret not investing in several more, particularly some striped ones. Pink Blush has the cutest prints so I highly recommend purchasing a few!
- Maxi Dresses – Having been pregnant throughout all the warm months, maxi dresses have been essential to my wardrobe. They are SO easy and so flattering. I invested in two maternity ones and had an old empire waist one from J.Crew and I probably wore all three on a weekly basis. Plus, it’s easy to size up one or two sizes for maxi dresses if you want to shop some trendy ones from Forever 21, H&M, or even LOFT.
- Maternity Hoodie – My mom gifted me this gray maternity hoodie from Old Navy for my birthday in September and I’ve literally been living in it every chance I get. It’s insanely comfortable and looks so cute when paired with a fitted tee, leggings, baseball hat, and keds. It’s definitely my weekend go-to.
- Maternity Nightgown – I’m a huge fan of nightgowns and always have been. I highly recommend investing in several maternity nightgowns (some can even be used for nursing post baby). Eventually t-shirts will just not fit your bump right, so a maternity nightgown is where it’s at for a comfortable night’s sleep.
One non-maternity piece that has been essential to my pregnancy has been the swing dress from Old Navy. This dress style is amazingly comfortable and has so much room as your belly grows. I’ve worn the same four swing dresses throughout my entire pregnancy and I’ll still be able to wear them next summer.
One piece I did not include above are maternity jeans. I did invest in a pair from Gap Maternity, but truth be told they have not been my favorite piece. Many other mamas I’ve talked to swear by maternity jeans, so I think those are personal preference and it depends on where you buy them.
My favorite places to shop for maternity clothing has been Gap Maternity, Old Navy, and Target for basics, and Shop Pink Blush for fun dresses and tops. I’ve also heard from other mama-to-be’s that H&M has great, inexpensive pieces.
Hopefully this post helps some other new mamas out when it comes to deciding what and how much to buy for your pregnancy! I’ve linked a few pieces I bought above in my recommendations and below!
We can’t wait to introduce you all to our sweet baby girl in a few weeks!
Fitted Tees: Gap Maternity (multiple colors) | Target (multiple colors)
Tunics: Target – 1, 2, 3, 4 (similar)
Fitted Dress: Shop Pink Blush | Old Navy
Maternity Nightgown: Shop Pink Blush
One of the favorite fall activities around Northwest Ohio is apple picking at the famous MacQueen’s Orchard! MacQueen’s Orchard is a local family farm that has been around for over 55 years. Visitors and school tours come from near and far to check out the state of the art cider mill, pick apples, and enjoy warm apple cider with homemade donuts. It is truly a gem of Northwest Ohio and a great place to bring your family and friends.
This past weekend hubby and I made a date night (possibly our last before baby arrives!) of picking apples. Despite it being cloudy, the weather was a perfect 60 degrees for apple picking (YAY for being able to wear plaid again!). We came home with at least a ½ bushel of Granny Smith and Jonathan varieties.
I love experiencing different fall activities, but I really love fall for the fashion. Each season brings new styles and fall fashions always embrace the feeling of being comfy and cozy. Especially being in my ninth month of pregnancy (what!!), I’m all about feeling comfortable.
My favorite fall styles include J.Crew plaid shirts, oversized cardigans, chunky sweaters, boots (riding, Hunter, and booties!), cozy scarves, and leggings. The trends I’m loving this particular year are animal prints, plaid and tweed (no surprise with my Scottish heritage), and casual knits. J.Crew Factory has some great fall finds right now (like this plaid bell sleeve top). I also like shopping at Gap, Loft, and most recently, Nordstrom for the best fall fashions.
What are your favorite fall activities? What about your favorite fall fashions?
As always, thank you for stopping by A Dash of Solt!
Shannon [and Rob]
SHOP MY OUTFIT
This little labor of love has been my favorite design project to date! Regardless of gender, I knew I was going to have a blue and white nursery (it has to match the rest of the house, right?!). I also knew it was going to be a nautical theme. [I was SHOCKED]. When we found out we were having a girl, my inspiration tilted slightly towards a more preppy, classic look and a little less nautical (no worries – there are still plenty of nautical elements). [The little mermaid would find it comfortable.]
I spent countless hours on Pinterest, Pottery Barn, Wayfair, and every other design and home décor website researching the details. I knew I wanted an accent wall with wallpaper. I also knew I wanted mostly all white furniture. Once I picked out the major furniture pieces and narrowed down the wallpaper, it was easy to pick out the other details.
For the wallpaper I chose this pretty watercolor floral print from Spoonflower. I kept going back and forth between this print, a peony floral print, and sailboats. The striped rug from Wayfair actually made my decision because the large floral print was just too busy against the stripes.
The gallery wall came together better than I could have imagined. Three of the six pieces I already owned (the two anchor prints and the original sailboat painting from my favorite local artist, Michelle Brunner). My parents gifted us the adorable whale print when we told them we were pregnant, the seagull/sailboat print I picked out from Pottery Barn, and the sweet seascape with the little girl was an original painting we bought on our babymoon. All the pieces just complement each other so well and I couldn’t be happier! [Nothing on this wall is nautical, right?]
When I decorate, I love to use pieces that are meaningful. The stunning Lilly artwork was created by one of my best friends who is an insanely talented, professional artist (check out her website!!). The ship wheel was gifted to us at our shower from one of my coworkers who loves to collect antiques and the Lilly letters were made by a good friend of Rob’s family. I love that each piece has a special story and I’m so excited to share these stories with Lilly.
It’s been such a joy to share this design process and reveal with you all. I’ve linked some of the details of the nursery below. We can’t wait to share this special space with Lilly in just a few short weeks!
Shannon and [Rob]
BABYLETTO CRIB | CHANGING TABLE | ROCKING CHAIR | WAYFAIR RUG | NAUTICAL MOBILE | SPOONFLOWER WALLPAPER
CRIB SHEET | GREY SHERPA BLANKET | PINK BASKET | LILLY PULITZER PINEAPPLE BLANKET | ELEPHANT SOUND MACHINE | LITTLE SAILOR WALL ART
Most people are familiar with the fashion term “LBD” – Little Black Dress. For those navy lovers out there though, you can’t go wrong with investing in a “LND” – Little Navy Dress. Every woman should own at least one LBD or LND that is flattering, comfortable, classic, and stylish.
Over the past year or so, I’ve definitely leaned towards having a preference for an all-navy wardrobe versus an all-black wardrobe. When I saw this little navy number in Old Navy’s new arrivals for maternity, I knew it would make a great transition piece for fall.
I’ve styled this particular look for all those fashionistas who are struggling to find a dress for an early fall wedding. September is by far my favorite month (it’s birthday month!!), but the temperature can be tricky, especially for an evening wedding. This particular dress from Old Navy is going to be perfect for a mid-September outdoor wedding that we are attending. If it’s warm that evening, the knee length hem and elbow length sleeves will help keep one cool. If it’s on the chiller side, the elbow length sleeves will provide a little extra coverage, without having to wear a sweater.
Plus, the fit of this particular dress is so flattering to this third trimester mama-to-be. The material is so comfortable and breathable – both a must for this time of year and this stage in pregnancy. I love that it accentuates baby, but doesn’t hug me so tight that I’m uncomfortable. And, you can’t beat the price point!
One of my favorite ways to style a navy dress is by pairing it with pearls and gold accessories. Both provide such a classic, preppy look – which you all should know by now is my style preference. One of my favorite places to shop for these preppy accessories is the East Coast brand, Kiel James Patrick (KJP). Hubby recently gifted me this beautiful Sarah Patrick bracelet (a jewelry line a part of the KJP line) for my birthday and I’m in love. [With the bracelet or me I wonder?] It’s seriously so gorgeous and delicate and pairs perfectly with another pearl strand bracelet I have from KJP. Paired with my KJP pearl earrings and chunky pearl necklace, they are the perfect accessories to glam up this LND.
I hope this post inspired you to think about investing in a LND that can easily be transitioned from season to season. You can shop all the outfit details by clicking on the links below!
Shannon [and Rob]
SHOP THE LOOK
LITTLE NAVY DRESS | SAM EDELMAN ESPADRILLE WEDGES | KJP PEARL STRAND BRACELET | KJP PEARL EARRINGS | SARAH PATRICK BRACELET | CHUNKY PEARL NECKLACE (SIMILAR) | COACH CLUTCH (OLD)
One of my absolute favorite things about fashion is discovering new brands. Whether it be clothing or accessories, I love the feeling of finding something new and different that can enhance my wardrobe. Being in the third trimester, clothing is getting to be a bit of a challenge. I’m definitely loving accessories and statement earrings that make this mama-to-be feel stylish and put together.
A few weeks ago on Instagram, I stumbled upon the cutest account called Shop Lu Lou. Shop Lu Lou is an East Coast based company that has the most adorable, preppy statement earrings and necklaces.
All the items are just so fun and pretty! And there is a style for everyone – whether you like tassels, baubles, hoops, or posts, Shop Lu Lou has a statement earring to match your style!
I have four pairs of earrings that I’m completely in love with. Not only are they adorable and fashionable, but they are extremely lightweight and don’t bother my sensitive ears like some earrings do. I highly recommend checking out Shop Lu Lou’s Instagram account and purchasing some of these fun pieces! I promise you won’t be disappointed!