April 2015 | Olive and Tate

The Last Day and the link up

This is it.

The very last day that this space will be called Newlyweds:North.
At some point on Friday, the new name will launch and I'll have a new brand to call my own.

It's hard to believe all that has changed in two years - that I'm even still blogging is a small miracle in my opinion. No longer newlyweds, no longer northerners, instead we're parents and partners. It's really all more than I ever could have imagined when I created the name Newlyweds:North.

For our last Throw Back post, I think this story should fit the bill. 

And for my Can't Live Without It, I think I have to keep it blog related and say that I can't live without my blog designer! I've used Designer Blogs for every single face lift that this baby has seen, including the new name logo which is being finalized as we speak! Their prices are unreal, the designs are classic with a pop of whimsy and their team is super easy to work with.


So pretty, right??

Check out their blog for tips on creating your brand, design ideas and free printables like this beauty.

Wanna play?

Grab that image above, write a post about something that you cannot live without, link back to me, Cait and Laura and viola!

Two Days

This week is flying by like whoa. I'm sure it's because I'm nervous about the big reveal and that I'll miss Newlyweds:North and not because, you know, we're gutting a house and raising a wild animal, but hey, who knows. 

As a fun little heads up, I'm one of the bloggers who is hosting an Insta Loop giveaway for $250 to Rifle Paper Co that you'll def want to check out. Set your alarms for tonight at 9:15 EST. Go ahead and get on that, you know you want to.

Ok, enough random chatter. 
Tonight's Newlyweds:North walk down Memory Lane is one of my all time favorite throwback posts. 

Did ya'll know that Justin bought our house in Maine sight unseen by either of us. 
He at least saw it online. 
I did not.

Yep, that happened.

The name change is really very rapidly approaching and freaking me out a little. 
I'm going to try to be a big girl about it but I can tell you that I'm going to need ya'll to promise that you'll keep coming back to listen to be babble in run on sentences about my boobs, machine washable non-belly hugging tops and paint colors.


Don't forget to Link Up Thursday night at 9pm for Can't Live Without It!


3 Days and A Reader Request

Today's post is courtesy of a reader, Jessica, who sent me this email:

Hey Stephanie! 

 My best friend is having a baby in the beginning of May and it's the first of my close friends to do so!! I was wondering if you had any advice for a gift I could bring her/the baby when I visit them in the hospital? I don't have a huge budget but I want it to be something more thoughtful than another onesie or stuffed animal (as I'm sure they already have lots of those). Also, she doesn't know if she's having a boy or a girl and I'd like to pick this up before the baby arrives so something non-gender specific would probably be best!! Any suggestions? Maybe something you received or would have liked to receive?

Honestly, I love this question. I find it really hard to find a perfect baby gift that is useful, meaningful, thoughtful and not something that the babe will outgrow in days. Toss in the unknown gender and I'm impressed Jessica just didn't give up and offer a coupon book of babysitting tokens (which, by the way, would be an awesome birth present).

I spent some time pondering this one and came up with what I think are a few cute options.
 I shared them with Jessica but thought maybe a few of you might like some inspiration as well.

On The Night You Were Born

My best friend Megan brought this book to the hospital when she met Gray for the first time. I won't lie, it's one of those baby story books that makes every mama cry (Love You Forever drives me to medicate) - it just plays our hormones for a fool. If giving as a Welcome To The World gift, I would write the baby's name and birth date in the inside cover with a little message about how thrilled you are to meet him or her.

Another book option is finding a children's book that was written with the babe's birth state, town or location in mind. We were given Count To Sleep Maine and Blueberries For Sal to honor our little Mainer. The Count to Sleep series is available for tons of locals and many authors create children's books for their home state. This is such a personal gift and one that will mean something to the new mama each time she pulls it out for bedtime stories.

Baby Book
Keeping with the book theme, I love a classic Baby Book. I think the idea of an old fashioned baby book has gone out of style (thanks to silly things like blogging) but I love seeing my mother's handwriting in our baby books. There are many inexpensive options at Hallmark or Etsy shops and they of course come in gender neutral designs - this one is perfection. 

Shadow Box
So this idea is a bit more unusual but I really think it would be perfection. I mentioned on Instagram the other day that I carried the baby's hospital bracelet around in my diaper bag until just a few days ago. I just didn't have a special place to put it and didn't want to lose it so I left it hidden away in a tiny pocket in my bag. I would have loved somewhere to put the little hospital details that are tiny and new. I suggested to Jessica that she run to Hobby Lobby (or any similar craft store) and snag a Shadow Box frame. They are super inexpensive and you can use the Hobby Lobby 40% coupon on your phone anytime. Search the aisles for sweet push pins (I've seen arrows, hearts and stars) and wrap it all up together. When you give it to the new mama in the hospital, tell her it's meant just for all of the sweet little hospital mementos. Can you imagine how sweet the teeny hospital hat, socks, baby hospital bracelets and a newborn photo would be displayed in a nursery? Mom can stash all of those items in the shadow box for safe keeping and then arrange it just the way she likes it when the newborn haze wears off.

Don't Forget Dad
Megan was also sweet enough to bring my husband a survival kit when she came to visit us. Snacks, drinks and a bottle of champagne with a perfect blue ribbon. The hospital will take care of mom and baby, but dad is sometimes left out in the cold. Having a bag of Goldfish, candy and a Gatorade really kept my husband content when he was being ignored during our 30th attempt at breastfeeding.

Ok, so ya'll spill. What's the one thing you would have loved a friend to bring you to the hospital post birth?

And, just in case you forgot, we are just 3 days away from the reveal of the new blog name! Any guesses on what it might be??

 Today's flashback post was by request from a reader and fellow blogger, Lisa, so ya'll can thank her for forcing this video footage upon you. And can I just say that whoa my hair was long and my teeth were white. Endless cups of Starbucks post baby and pregnancy hormones have taken their toll!

4 Days

Wanna know a secret?

I've been holding out on you.

Big Time.

In just 4 days, I am re-launching Newlyweds:North with a brand new name. 

I know that will be super weird and maybe a bit hard to get used to but I promise that nothing else will change around here. In fact, I'm not even changing my blog design, just the header with the new title, so that some things still feel familiar when you pop over here on Friday morning. 

I've been thinking about the name of this space and where are lives are now for a long time and, as much as I love it and it has served me well, the name Newlyweds:North just doesn't mean anything to me anymore. In fact, it's literally the opposite of where are lives are at this moment. 

As we approach our two year wedding anniversary, the baby's first birthday races toward me at break neck speed and we renovate our new home in the South, I just feel the call to jazz up the old girl and give her a fresh identity.

So, here's the deal:

This week just so happens to be the 2 year anniversary of my very first blog post. In fact, the day that the name game goes down will be on my Blogaversary. So all week I am going to celebrate the launch of the new name with flashback posts of our lives as Newlyweds:North mixed into our regular programming. I'm guessing some of you may not know about our first few days in Maine or that we found out we were moving just a few weeks before our wedding day. 

On Thursday night at 9pm, the Can't Live Without It link up will go live and so will my new name.
Over the weekend, my URL will update to a new .com (don't worry, the old url will auto-redirect you!), I'll be launching a Facebook page and changing my Instagram handle. 

I am super excited to finally unveil all that we've been working on and hope that you will stick with me through the process. I've loved sharing this space with you for the last two years, am so grateful for all that blogging has brought me. I look forward to coming to the space day after day because of ya'll. 

So, wanna read my first official blog post ever?

and for a real adventure post, check out this little gem.

See you tomorrow! 

Reno Update, Hot Mess Style

It's been a while since I've posted any details on the reno so I thought today was as good a day as any to share the dirty, dusty, chaotic details of the future abode.

It may be hard to believe, but in the shot above you are standing in my entry way and looking at  partial views of my kitchen, family room, powder bath and laundry room. That blue pipe just so happens to be the water line for my kitchen sink!

If I'm being honest, the last two weeks have been incredibly tedious for me. We are in the stage of the game where we are doing incredibly important work to the house but none of it is glamorous or even fun. And all of it is expensive.

If you aren't really into the details, then feel free to skip the next paragraph. 
If you're brave enough to read on then please brace yourselves.

At this point, we have rebuilt the foundation from previous water damage, re-framed and re-supported all three of the large windows, ripped out all of the interior walls (in fact, there is just one wall in the entire house - internal and external - that has not been touched), dug trenches in the concrete sub floor for new plumbing, sealed off two exterior doorways, removed all of the old wiring and installed new electrical, removed and relocated the water heater, completely re-plumbed the entire house, sheet rocked the entire ceiling, built framing for the new office/playroom, powder bath and laundry/mud room. The hall way has been re-shaped and framed, the master closet and bedroom has been re-shaped and framed, the hall bath has been created and all outlets, lights and switches have been placed.

the soon to be family room

Sounds fun, huh?

Surprisingly, we are only a week or two off schedule with promises that we will catch up as soon as the next round of inspections happens. I hope that's true because our move has been scheduled for the last weekend in May, no matter what. We are at the mercy of the corporate relocation system and we will literally live amongst the chaos if we have to, but it sure won't be pretty. 

The best news in all of this is that we have been doing a TON of house shopping! 
I finally decided on my kitchen pendants and dining room chandeliers (yep, there will be two of them!) and can't wait to see them in action. I have a game plan for the play room that will be built around the Land of Nod rocket ship play tent (that I just had to have) and a day bed for extra seating and storage.

And I just have to say that, so far, this reno has had zero impact on our marriage.
Despite all of the warnings, we really haven't had any real issues as a result of the temporary apartment or the renovation. Honestly, I'm sure that's a result of all of our prior moves - I mean, most people haven't owned 3 houses in two years, lived in hotels and temporary apartments or bounced across the country like we have. Maybe all of the previous crazy has prepared us to take this batch of crazy in stride. 

In literally just a few days, the house should look very, very different. Real walls, our hardwoods installed, and a kitchen are just a week or two away! The Countdown is on, friends.

Wanna see more of the renovation, including all of the Before photos of our little charmer?
Click here for all of the gory details. 

Crushing It, Sale Style

Yes, it's Saturday, but I have something really important to tell ya'll.
Like, Earth shatteringly important.

I've already shared my love for Old Navy this season so I feel it to be my duty to tell ya'll that not only are they crushing it (again) with their new releases but they are having a one day 30% off online sale today. It's raining and gross here today so I'm on the sofa buying all of the things and tossing the baby puffs while he destroys the apartment.

I told you it was super important. 

And also, you're welcome.

Wanna see what's in my cart??

Can't Live Without It

Hallelujah, it's the weekend-ish.

I hope you're joining my go-to mama's and me for the Can't Live Without It Link Up - it's super easy, just grab that cute little image, link back to Laura, Cait and yours truly and write a quick post about something that you just can't live without.

This week, I'm bragging on something cheap and hot.

Yep, that's how I like it.

Especially when it comes to my curling iron.

The Infiniti Pro by Conair is my number one, must have hair tool. No matter how long or layered my hair is, this baby is up for the challenge. The barrel is 1 1/2 inches and the selling feature for me is the heat control. I can crank up the heat and curl my hair in record time. 

Bonus: this little guy heats up from stone cold to scalding in seconds.
Because, let's be honest, I don't need any excuses to toss my hair into a top knot day after day, especially not a lazy curling iron.

Ok, show me whatcha got!

Have a wonderful weekend, loves 

Mother's Day Gift Guide

Mother's Day

Need a handy little hint list to strategically leave around the house for your baby daddy?
Look no further, I've got you covered, mama.

To carry something other than baby wipes, this GiGi New York clutch has been on my wish list for ages. I just think her neutral tone and fun texture will always be a style win.

So, so many of my mama friends have recommended the famous Nifty Fifty lens as the best way to learn manual on my fancy camera and grab almost-pro style shots of my little.

My kid is obsessed with ripping dangly earrings from my head.
It is not fun.
Sweet, pretty colorful studs for the win.

Bangles are my favorite.
 Bangles with the coordinates of my babe's birth city and the city where we were married?
 I already wear one everyday with the city of my babe's birth but would love to add a matching bangle to commemorate our wedding location. And of course I need a matching bracelet for my go to necklace especially because it's on sale!

No shower? No problem. This gorgeous Tory Burch scent will cover the baby spit up and leave any mama feeling like she spent the morning at the spa (low standards, party of one).

And just in case I don't get around to deep cleaning any time soon, this Kate Spade beauty will cover my tracks (and look cute doing it).

Happy First Mother's Day to my infant mama friends!

I Survived #LillyforTarget (barely)

Yes, I went to the Lilly for Target launch on Sunday morning.
Yes, I reside in the state that had the longest lines and the fastest sell outs.
Yes, I survived. But barely.

My girlfriend Ashley not only furnished me with a giant coffee but was holding my spot in line when I arrived. Thank god, because the line at my local Target looked like this:

and yes, it was raining. and yes, we stood there anyway. 
I wish I had the words to accurately describe the pandemonium that ensued after the doors were unlocked and the masses sprinted (yes, sprinted) towards the incredibly small section of Lilly items. 

Luckily, I was so enamored with the humanity of it all that I snapped a few shots of the action.
 It was really something to witness

Adult women with their children in tow were screaming, grabbing, pushing and shoving to get their hands on hot pink beach towels. I literally have never seen anything like it in my life. 

There were rumors that our Target did not receive the Lilly shipment until 4 am and therefor the selling floor was not fully stocked. So what's a polite, Southern woman to do?

Well, bum rush a Target stock cart of course! 

and if you're a real lady, you just camp out at the warehouse doors so that you can knock the Target employees out of the way for that illusive beach tote! 

 [a crowd loitering by the warehouse, hopping to get lucky]

We got caught in the movement of the crowd and hit the women's clothing first (where we of course witnessed women grabbing handfuls of the same item). The section was so small that it was literally gone in seconds. I'd say we were the 20th or so people through the door and the racks were already almost picked clean. Luckily, I'm tall and could reach over people but it was, without a doubt, gone before 90% of the line made it through the door. 

Women were literally running around the apparel section yelling, "where is it?! where is the Lilly!?". 
It's gone, baby. 
It's gone.

After we crawled to the safety that was the aisle, we realized that we hadn't even seen jewelry, bags or scarves. Ashley made a dash for the accessories and I made a run for the shoes. 

Not a damn thing left.

And, oh the home goods.
By the time we made it to the far corner of the store, this is what we saw.

After the initial chaos slowed, things really became desperate.
Women (and some men, who I hope earned a steak dinner that night) posted up outside of the dressing rooms begging for discarded shift dresses.

Poor, innocent pre-teens loitered about the clothing section occasionally saying "extra small??" to any woman walking toward them with a potentially unloved item in her hand.

 [the barterers and beggars lining the path from the dressing room to the Lilly section]

There were trades, steals, barters, buy offs and a lot of people mumbling about how some of these women needed to head to church after their public displays of Lilly fueled insanity. 

I snagged a few things - some of which I love, some that I grabbed because it was there for the taking.

 What can I say? 
The mob mentality brings out the beast in the best of us. 

Love: the navy, long white caftan, white and gold throw
Like: the white, one piece, carafe and Barbie pink sticky lip gloss
Lilly For Target

Speaking of the beasts, let's have just one last look, sha'll we?

Please note the woman who appears to be crawling on the floor.
As we say in the South, bless her heart.

The Watermark

A note to my readers: this post was written in 2015 and I have seen had another child. My policy is never to show either of my children's faces or identifying features on the internet (and I no longer have "personal" accounts on any platform). Please read on for more info on why and to learn how I watermarked my images in the past.

Today's post is a heavy one, so let's dive right in, shall we?

Recently, I have been asked a ton about the watermark that I put on some of my Instagram images. I've been asked how I add the watermark, how I choose what images to mark, how I place the watermark without distorting or compromising the image quality and why I add it.

Why I add a watermark to any photo of my child

 The How is easy, the Why is not so much, but today I'm going to explain both.

My current policy is that I add a watermark to any Instagram, Facebook or blog photo of my son when his face is completely visible. I will also watermark photos of my child pictured with other children (and I always, always, always ask their parent's permission to post - even to the point of sharing how many followers I have, that my account is public and that it is completely understandable to say no). Until recently, I did not mark my blog photos but after some recent revelations, I will from now on.

I choose to not watermark photos where he is pictured with me or my husband/another adult because, honestly, I assume no one wants to claim a photo of me in my sweatpants as their own.
Edit: since the publication of this post and further research, I now watermark my child even if he is pictured with me in my sweatpants. Photos of mothers and their babies or baby bumps are often stolen. 

To add my watermark to my photos, I use the app Phonto. It's free and super easy to use. As a bonus, it comes with a handful of filers that I really like but nine times out of ten, I only use Phonto for watermarking.

I always place the watermark next to or near his face so that it cannot be cropped out of a shot.

Within the app, you can pre-set your watermark text (mine is the name of my blog/instagram handle), style, size and color, making it super easy and efficient to add it to your edited photo.

Once your watermark is set, adding one takes a total of 5 steps and less than 15 seconds. 

1. upload edited, final photo from camera roll 
2. Phonto has a crop option pop up first, you can just skip it because you should already have a square cropped photo (if editing for Insta)
3. tap the photo, tap your watermark in the pop up
4. place watermark where you'd like it in your photo
(edit: to curve the watermark around the baby's face, tap on the watermark, choose style, then style again at the top of the screen and then curving)
5. save photo to camera roll or directly upload to Instagram

If you start playing around in Phonto and don't care for it, then no worries, there are a ton of free watermarking apps you can use - all of them will serve your purpose. 
 That makes my Instagram process look a little something like this:

take photo on DSLR
upload to my phone via the wifi on my memory card
edit the photo for crop, color and clarity on Afterlight
add watermark in Phonto
upload to Instagram 

I get that some of you may think that process sounds tedious and annoying. But here's the deal: I'm closing in on 2k Instagram followers and I would assume that 1,900 of them are strangers. Some are spam accounts, some are other bow shops, some like the aesthetic of my feed but none of them need to be able to screen cap a photo of my baby and use it as their own. 

When I was (gigantically) pregnant with Gray, I made it my policy to attempt to protect his privacy as much as possible. I mean, I don't know from experience but I can assume that having a mom who blogs is super lame. Prior to the babe's birth, I had a conversation with my Husband and we set out to ensure that his full name, date of birth and personal milestones (such as potty training or development and behavioral milestones and/or concerns) would remain private. Most of you know that we call our son by a nickname and that is the name that I use here on the blog. I was also strategic in when I announced his birth on all of my social media platforms and will discuss his birth city but not date and time. Each blogger has a different stance on privacy and a different set of criteria and I respect each one, this is simply what works for our family. 

So why are so many people curious about the watermark all of the sudden?

I'm sure that many of you have heard of celebrities or bigger bloggers having photos of their children stolen from Instagram and re-posted with someone else claiming to be their parent. If that isn't terrifying (and weird) enough, there is a scary new trend that is utilizing stolen baby photos called role playing. If you haven't heard of the phenomenon that is Baby Role Play, then by all means, please search the hashtag babyrp or adoptionrp. I use the word phenomenon because, at this moment, the hashtag babyrp has been used on 34,000 photos.

 Essentially, role playing accounts steal photos of babies, children, pregnant women and sometimes pregnant women with their other child and post them as their own fantasy baby. When they post, they then create a story about that child - their name, parent's names, unique things about them, etc. They make families with other accounts, marry off the babies to other adopted babies and so forth. I can tell you from experience that searching through that hashtag hoping not to see a photo of your child or a child that you know is a sickening task.

Update: I stumbled across this conversation while looking through the hashtag and honestly, it brings to light an interesting (and incredibly disturbing) perspective

It seems that to those playing these games, a photo of a baby is just that - a photo of an anonymous child. But I can guarantee that the parents of those children feel a deep sense of devastation when they discover that their baby was considered "a random baby off of Google" and therefor fodder for an online game. After reading the above Google comment, I had a discussion with a girlfriend in which she told me that she has done every single thing in her power to erase her child's image from the internet yet, despite her best and extensive efforts, her toddler's image is still one that can (and will) pop up in Google images.

Based on my time spent searching such hashtags, I recently learned that I was mistaken about a few things regarding the type of photo that might be stolen of a baby. I waited to start watermarking until Gray looked like himself and was no longer a generic looking newborn. Huge mistake. From what I could tell, a newborn photo (especially one of twins) is the most commonly stolen picture. Because of that, I recently did a purge of my Instagram account and deleted close to 100 photos from my feed.

With that being said, I have absolutely zero concerns as to how a watermark affects the quality of an image on my Instagram account. I am adding the mark to protect my son's likeness and that's that. 

So, now that I have all of this crazy in mind, I have begun to look for more interesting ways to photo Gray for public viewing - maybe a shot of his shoes or his chubby fingers would be a better look for my feed, stretch my photography skills and protect his likeness. 

 And can we be real for a second? 
Most people do not want to see endless photos of my baby anyway. 
I think he is the Cutest Baby On Earth but that doesn't mean everyone else on the planet does too. Scaling back on baby face photos means that I'm diversifying my feed and keeping an eye out for details in my life that are beautiful in their own right.  

So, you asked for it and there it is - the longest ever explanation of why I watermark some of my photos.

Is it cocktail hour yet?

P.S. In case you haven't seen it yet, my best friend Meg has written a post about protecting her daughter's privacy that is most definitely worth a read.

Go Get It

I have a very unhappy, snuggly, wild animal of a teething babe on my hands so today's post is going to be quick and dirty.

As you all know, I rock a mom uniform and feel that it's my duty to help you rock yours. 
Wanna step it up a notch without putting in an effort, money or dry cleaning ridiculousness?
I own this top in 2 colors.

It's from Target, less than $25 and machine washable.

It hides your tummy and is long enough that you can bend over to pick up a tossed teething toy without showing your mom undies to the world. 

 It comes in navy which is dark enough to not be the least bit sheer and mint, which is just the flirtiest bit sheer thanks to the gorgeous color.

Pair it with white jeans for baby class at the library and dark denim for a date night.
 Go on now, go get it. 

You're welcome. 


Ready for a shocker?
This weekend we ate, laid around and hung out with our baby and our friends.
I know, I know, you could never have guessed that! 

Wanna see pics?

Well then, it's your lucky day!

Friday night was pizza night at a new joint that played a part in our engagement weekend. I'll have to tell ya'll that story some day!

On Saturday, my freshman year roommate drove down from Charlotte with her 13 month old twin boys. We destroyed a local dining establishment and called in Brunch and then hit the zoo.

Whatever, the moms needed the mom time.
| my dress | my necklace |

Next time we'll clearly hit the mall.
Or hire babysitters.

(I would like to state for the record that no, I am not pregnant, even though I look like I'm smuggling a bump in this photo. Perhaps the wind was blowing or perhaps it was the bottle of wine I had for dinner the night before)

Honestly, it amazes how much motherhood has brought back into my life as far as friendships goes. I met Christine for the first time when we were 17 years old and here we are a decade and a half later dragging our sons around a zoo so that we can chat about being stay at home moms to our holligans.

We sacrifice so much to be mothers and yet motherhood can bring us so much beyond being a caregiver.

On Sunday, I was treated to a Mom Spa Day solo trip to Target, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.

I don't know if that's really worth blogging about, but it felt like Heaven on Earth to me.

| necklace | shoes |

We spent the rest of the day being lazy and watching the Masters.
And, in case you've been wondering what our temporary apartment looks like, here ya go!
Warning: not for the OCD

Like the good wife that I am, I escaped all of the golf for an al fresco girl's dinner full of wine and cheese plates.

There is nothing better than a dinner that consists of carbs and cheese.

 Except maybe coming home to a sleeping baby and a husband doing the dishes.

 I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Can't Live Without It The Link Up

It's official!
My Friday posts are now basking in the limelight as a fabulous Link Up! Thank you to my amazing co-hosts Cait and Laura for teaming up with me each week. 

Wanna join us? It's so easy - just blog about one thing that you can't live without, grab that image, pop it in your post and then link back to Laura, Cait and yours truly. We can't wait to visit your blogs and see what you're loving this week.

Ok, let's get down to business.

My Can't Live Without It this week is my wallet.

And yes, she is a little worn. She worked hard for it, honey.  

Despite the fact that this wallet can survive anything (including my diaper bag and trips around the world) I have actually owned two of the exact same Hobo (the Lauren in Cloud) in my time. Why? My bag was once stolen and while I took forever to decide on a new purse, I didn't even bother shopping for a new wallet. This puppy is sturdy, has tons of pockets and is made of gorgeous, soft leather. As a bonus, I can fit my iPhone 5c in one of the side pockets turning my wallet into a faux clutch. Yes, please.

It's your turn!
Ready, Set, Go!

P.S. Have a fabulous weekend!

Spring Must Haves on the Cheap

old navy

Ok, let's get super honest for a second.
I still don't love my body after baby.
(and yes, my baby is 9 months old. whatever)
Coincidentally, I still very much love wine after baby goes to bed.
I also have not found the love for working out.
So there you have it.

With that being said, I needed a few warm weather pieces that will prevent me from sweating profusely and also fit my giant butt. 

Thank all the things for Old Navy.
This it totally not a sponsored post, I just love how much crap I can get there for less than $100. Frankly, I'm not in the mood to spend a ton on my current size (it's scary to see that particular letter in a clothing tag) and all of my summer gear is currently holding court in a warehouse full of packing crates somewhere. So, off I went to Old Navy and I think I found some seriously flattering pieces.

And yes, I bought shorts.
They will not see the light of day until I get some serious color on these thighs but the loose fit is actually not the least attractive thing I've slapped on my lower half recently. Win! 

If you are in need of a majorly slimming and concealing piece, I cannot recommend this dress enough.

Check the slideshow for all of the info! 

See you on Friday for the first ever Can't Live Without It Link Up!

Linking Up with Annie for Thoughts on Thursday

Winner, winner, chicken dinner

Congratulations to Meghann G who is the winner of the Laura Cox Designs Give Away! 
If today wasn't your lucky day, don't fret! You can still use the coupon code NEWLYWEDSNORTH to save 15% on everything in Laura's shop! Seriously, if you haven't hopped over to Etsy and taken a peek at her Spring pieces then you must ASAP (the code expires on Friday!).

I want to take a minute to thank ya'll for supporting my collaborations with other business, blogs and small shops. As the blog grows, I am being presented with more and more opportunities to work with others but my loyalties will always lie with my readers. A completely transparent review and recommendation is the only type of review that I am interested in publishing. If you ever have any questions about a product that I blog about, please feel free to email me!

And speaking of collabs and working with other bloggers, don't forget that I am teaming up with Cait and Laura to officially launch The Can't Live Without It Link Up on Friday! We hope that you'll grab the Link Up image and blog about one thing that you simply cannot live without. It's the perfect way to kick off your weekend!

And because I haven't published a list of who I'm reading recently, take a peek at the blogs that I read every day

for gorgeous photos and beauty bests
for bump dates
for amazing home reno inspiration (a hanging bed?!)
for amazing baby boy style
for amazing style posts
and of course, Cait and Laura

5 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started Blogging

The other night I had drinks with a girlfriend who is thinking about starting a blog. The day before she shot me an email asking for some newbie blogging advice and the novel I sent her in return prompted her to politely ask if maybe we could just meet for drinks and talk through my suggestions. 
I think it's safe to say that I overwhelmed her. 

my personal blogger mantra, immortalized in gold foil. 

The truth is, there are so many things that I wish I'd known before I started my blog - so many lessons learned the hard way, through trial and error and thanks to the advice of other bloggers. After a round (or 4) of cocktails, it became clear to me that there were really 5 key thing that I thought she should know if she decided to pursue blogging. Wanna know what they are?

Good, because lucky for you, I'm writing them down!

1. Consider Privacy Before Your First Post
So here's the deal - we, as bloggers, are putting our private lives out there for the public to see. That's the name of the game right? Of course it is, but before you begin blogging you must consider what private information you are willing to divulge to the entire world. Even if you have a small following, your life instantly becomes accessible via Google, saved forever thanks to a screen cap and your photos are just a copy and paste away from belonging to someone else.

 Each of us handles security in a different way - some of us share our last name, some of us don't, some of us share our children's faces and some of us choose not to, some of us disclose our home town, others keep that private - whatever you decide is best for you is perfect, but you must consider it from the start. Why? Well, if you choose to disclose your last name early on in your blogging career but then decide that you'd prefer your full name not be public, it will be nearly impossible to track down all of the instances that your dropped your last name in a post. Every "Merry Christmas from the Smiths!" will be buried deep in years worth of posts and the battle becomes a lost cause or a constant source of stress. I've noticed that many bloggers (including myself) reevaluate their privacy policies when they add a baby to the mix, but why not evaluate what you are comfortable sharing from the start, saving yourself the hassle of establishing new boundaries once your announce a pregnancy.

2. Photos Are King

Maine Living Room detail shot published in 2013 + Maine Living Room detail shot published 2015

I look back on some of my earlier posts and cringe at the photos. Honestly, if some of my images popped up on my Reader, I wouldn't have clicked on the link. It has taken me forever to learn that one clean, crisp image is better than a dozen iPhone photos. If you have professional photos occasionally taken of your family, ask your photog to snag a quick pic or two of you solo to use as your About image/Instagram profile photo/Button graphic etc. You can easily grab a great high res photo using a DSLR or by asking a friend to grab a shot on her fancy camera. I've taken a blog head shot or two and working with friends can make being the photographer's subject so much less awkward! I edit all of my photos on my iPhone using the Afterlight app but many bloggers love PicMonkey for adding text, making collages and editing their images. 

3. Brand Your Blog
Speaking of photos, it's important that the style of imagery that you cultivate for your blog be the same style that you use for your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook photos. Consider it your "look". If you prefer a dreamy quality to your photos or a crisp white shot, keep that style for all of your social media outlets. Your readers will identify and look for your Brand - so provide it! I also recommend using your blog name as your Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest handles and setting up a Facebook page for your blog. Doing so can ensure that your full name is not displayed for the public (if that is one of your privacy rules) and reinforces your brand multiple times a day. 

Consider your social media platforms another way in which your followers, readers and audience can get to know facets of your life. I tend to Instagram small details of my day, where my blog posts are broader in topic. I think those (sometimes very tedious) day to day details are more relatable than the lofty posts I penned on my Post Baby Boobs (come on, ya'll know you love those posts!).

4. Find Your Voice
The kindest compliment I can ever receive about my blog is when someone remarks that reading my posts is just like having a conversation with me in person. I want my blog to be a complete reflection of my individual voice. Penning a blog should be a way for you to express your true self on whatever your chosen platform of the day is. Are you wildly sarcastic (yes), do you sometimes say bad words (uh huh), do you talk in run on sentences (guilty)? Then, in my opinion, that is how you should write. Find the topics that inspire you - you'll know what they are because your words will be easy to find - and follow that path. If a blogging genre doesn't fit who you are then, by all means, don't force it simply for the sake of blogging. A perfect example would be any attempt I make at being a fashion blogger. It's just so wrong. You can literally see it in the photos. I'm uncomfortable, I'm not being myself and I'm trying to be a "blogger". On the other hand, when I wear my mom Old Navy boyfriend jeans and write about my recent machine washable clothing purchases, I feel like I'm being true to myself and my readers. Find your voice, your niche and your style and rock it. There is a reader for every blog (see what I did there? like that old saying "a lid for every pot". clever, huh?).

5. Commit
I think most people would be shocked at the time commitment that is blogging. Shooting and editing photos, drafting and polishing posts, reading and supporting other bloggers and marketing your work can and will take hours out of your day. Readers expect consistency and, in my experience, building a following requires dedication to your .blogspot. If you are thinking of launching a blog, I would highly suggest drafting a handful of posts to get your first week rolling - just until you get into the groove. After almost two years, I can honestly say that blogging has just become part of my daily routine. It's what I do at the end of the day, after the baby has been put to bed and while terrible reality TV blares in the background. And you thought blogging was glamorous! 

So there it is. My best advice for a hopeful blogger (who is probably too exhausted to start a blog after reading all of that). 

Can't Live Without It Giveaway!

Oh weekend, you are so, so close. 

This week flew by....and by flew by, I obviously mean the days slipped past and I still haven't finished doing that same load of laundry.
Better luck next week.

With the weekend just hours away, that means that it's time for another Can't Live Without Post! 
But, wait! There's more! (said in my best Bob Barker voice) 
This Can't Live Without It is way more fun than all of the rest.

Because there's a Give Away!

If you are sweet little readers and look at all of my "I'm obviously not a fashion blogger" photos, then I will reward your diligence with a Give Away.


If you follow me on Instagram, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I'm finally blogging this necklace from Laura Cox Designs. I basically wear it non-stop. 

Laura is a local blogger here in Greenville who whips up fab beaded necklaces on the side. When she Instagrammed this Horse Hair Tassel necklace I just had to have one for myself. 

And then I never took it off.

Shopping Small is important to me (duh, it's also my job) and I just love a handcrafted statement piece. Laura's shop is full of pieces that are perfectly priced and perfectly on trend for summer (like this layering necklace!).

I loved mine so much that I quickly snatched up another to give as a gift - and then had to force myself to hand it over to the recipient thanks to that fuchsia tassel.What can I say, I lose sight of the big picture when pink tassels and grey wooden beads are involved.

Luckily for ya'll, I was able to sweet talk Laura into letting me brag about her Shop, give away a credit for a necklace of your choice from her current collection and share a coupon code! I mean, if that doesn't make for a happy Easter weekend, I don't know what will! 

To save 15% on your purchase for the next 7 days at Laura Cox Designs, simply enter the code NEWLYWEDSNORTH at checkout.....and to win a beauty of your own, enter below!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner of the Give Away will close on Tuesday, April 7th and the winner will be announced on Wednesday, April 8th! 

 And don't forget to follow Laura on Instagram, The Reedy Review and at Laura Cox Designs.