5 favorite non-toxic skincare products boosting my wellness +fertility

Non-toxic + clean skincare products I’m using to boost my wellness & support my infertility journey

Over the last 3 months, I’ve done a complete overhaul of my life to create a toxic-free space in hopes of bettering our chances at conceiving our double rainbow baby and just living a life that promotes health and vitality, instead of taking away from it. I've changed what's on my plate, and I’m eating about 90% plant based, so I knew it was time to change what I was putting on my skin, the most absorbent organ in my body.

Most recently, I cleaned out my bathroom and I was so surprised to learn how many things I was using that was not only hurting my chances of getting pregnant but that was just plain filled with bad things in general. Some of the biggest culprits were my lotions, my cleaner [isn’t that supposed to remove the bad stuff] and my candles! I’ve always been a sucker for clean packaging and I realized that’s not the best way to choose what products you put into your skin.

non toxic skincare products for fertility.JPG

After going to the infertility doctor and having him basically tell me I'm too old to have children without the help of IVF, I started researching all the things. I was determined to prove him wrong, because even though I'm about to be 40, I don't feel like there is something wrong with me, I feel healthy. I know from once going Vegan, I can heal with the power of food, and I was ready to change whatever i needed to in order to get this body ready for our rainbow baby. I started making adjusts to my whole life to get what I want. Said goodbye to pizza [dairy + carbs], eliminated all the caffeine and bad-for-me drinks, and started saying 'no' more often, and embarked on an oils journey in an effort to ease my stress. While all of this was effective at calming my mind and body internally, what was I doing externally to support this infertility journey I am on?

infertility books to read for non toxic living.JPG

I started reading all the books about fertility and my thyroid condition and quickly learned, many people have successfully had children after the age of 40, and after having many miscarriages. I also learned that there is very little regulation for the skincare and beauty industries and companies are allowed to use carcinogens, hormone disruptors, neurotoxins in many of the products I was putting on my body through my skin. I realized that many of these toxic products I was using every day to "look younger" may have just been negatively affecting my ability to get pregnant and to carry a baby past 12weeks. For those of you new around here, Jason and I, have two angel babies up in heaven and we have been working on getting pregnant with our double rainbow baby for almost 14 months now.

I knew after reading the book, It starts with the Egg, which had an entire chapter on facts as to how these things can harm your eggs, that my skincare routine was having a direct effect on my reproductive system. And I learned that most of the products I was using had these in them.

Non-toxic + clean skincare products I’m using to boost my wellness & support my infertility journey.JPG

I have so much to share that I have learned, and I want to tell you all about what's working for me now after I basically did a full toxic overhaul in my home and with my body. I'm talking all about my skincare routine now, and what products have really made a difference.

These are 5 of my favorite non-toxic, all natural skin care brands I'm using to support my infertility journey and to live a more toxic life.

clean non toxic skincare products.JPG

The first thing I needed to think about was how I was washing and preparing my face in the morning and at night. I was using a cleanser at night, a toner, and a nightly face lotion. In the morning, I was washing it with the same cleanser, using an exfoliator pad [with all the chemicals], and then applying a serum, then a skin cream, an eye serum, eye wrinkle cream, a toner, a lotion, and I think that's it. I think back about my old routine now and can't help but think about all the chemicals I was applying daily with the products that were supposed to be cleansing my skin all before I even applied any of the harmful makeup I was so used to using my whole life.

I knew that as I made these non-toxic changes, I wanted to find brands to really understood my aging and toxic filled skin. I wanted products that had ZERO sulfates, SLES, SLS, parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates, mineral oils, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, triclosan, and triclocarban in it. But I also wanted a product that worked and that also HAD things in it that would help fix my skin issues. Basically, I wanted a product that gave me results for my skin issues but didn't give me all the harsh side effects of most of the products I was using.

tumeric minimal clean living image.JPG

Priori : Naturally clean Adaptive Skincare

When I found priori, the first thing I looked for was to make sure that it didn’t have any of those harmful ingredients I was trying to avoid but I also wanted to know that it wasn’t going to take 85 different products to fix my sun spots, fine lines and imperfections. Priori is an adaptive line that uses science and the right ingredients to create something that responds to your individual environment, nutrition and genetic needs. The new TTC line that I have been using, has shown me results. They feature a highly potent compound of 3 kinds of colorless turmeric root, plus green tea, grape seed and licorice to create a product that helps with brightening, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

I’ve been using the cleanser and nothing I have ever used has left my skin feeling so soft. It doesn’t dry out the skin, and leaves it feeling hydrated. At morning and night I apply the skin restore creme, which is going to work on my fine lines and inflammation. And then every other night I apply the Illumination treatment before bed. This is designed specifically to reduce the appearance of uneven skin tones, and adapts to my specific skin type to brighten and illuminate my discolored skin areas.

priori TTC tumeric based non toxic skincare.JPG
priori clean tumeric based skincare.JPG
priori skincare non toxic turmeric based facewash.JPG

Primally Pure: Non-toxic deodorant and skin care

One of the first things I changed about my beauty routine was my deodorant. It’s one of the most used products in my bathroom because I may forget to wash my face or apply lotion on some days, but I never forget my deodorant. I read so many stories about all the scientific theories about how deodorants are related to breast cancer and it scared me. But, honestly, I couldn’t find a natural deodorant that worked! Until Primally Pure. Seriously obsessed with this company and love all their products. I now use their dry shampoo (smells heavenly and works amazingly!) and their geranium complexion face spray for my afternoon refresh. Dying to get in on their body butters and flower bath salts next!

Click here and use code HEIDI10 for 10% off your purchase and don’t tell anyone because it’s not out yet but starting black friday thru Thanksgiving weekend, you get 15% off ! [shhh, secret}.

LRG_DSC01366.JPG

Young Living Essential Oils

I recently had a friend reach out to me and tell me that she thinks I should use essential oils. I, like most of you reading this, thought nope, not gonna be part of that pyramid scheme. I politely declined and then she mentioned that maybe I should just try this one drink, that was known to aid in infertility. Clearly, that consumed me and I caved, I bought the starter kit one month ago and I haven't looked back.

We use the oils everyday, from wellness + immunity roller blends to get us over this cold and flu season, to a few drops of lemon on our dryer balls, to diffusers to make the house smell like the holidays instead of toxic candles burning all day.

I'm working on a blog post called, "my first month as a crazy oil lady," that will include all the ways I used my oils and grew to appreciate the way they contribute to our fertility journey and healthy non-toxic home but for now, I'll just put my favorite radiating face serum blend right here for you: It's a game changer.

M A M A G L O W F A C E S E R U M:

using oils from the starter kit ONLY, combine in 2oz amber bottle and fill with jojoba oil

  • 15 drops frankincense [promotes healthy growing skin, good for breakouts]

  • 15 drops copaiba [driver oil which increases other oils when combined]

  • 10 drops lavender [improves mood and decreases feelings of sadness]

    [for an extra punch of goodness, add this-not in starter kit but you need it]

  • 20 drops blue tansy

I just add a drop to my Priori illumination creme and it's heaven in a drop.

essential oil flatlay.JPG
radiant face serum with essential oils.JPG

Herbivore Botanicals: Body essentials for self care

One of the main things everyone talks about when infertility comes up is stress. The pressure that comes along with infertility, miscarriages and trying to conceive is, immense, to say the least. It is so hard to turn the brain off. I try my best to find some alone time that I allow myself to think about the process, the good and the bad of it. I find that if I carve out specific moments to cry, dream, hope, or just be sad about the fact that we can't get pregnant it helps me to sleep better or to move on with my day. I take at least 5 minutes a day, ALONE, to think about my journey. Sometimes it's in bed, sometimes I sit in the car alone after Jason and Finn have gone inside, but one of my favorite ways to reflect and accept what's happening is a long quiet bath filled with herbivore botanicals goodness.

This coconut milk bath soak is moisturizing and softens my skin plus it smells delicious.

herbivore coconut milk bath.JPG

Dr.Bronners Toothpaste

Much like my deodorant, toothpaste is something I literally wanted to change immediately. I have tried SOOO many toothpaste brands and when I finally stumbled on the fact that Dr.Bronners had toothpaste, not just soap, I was in. It doesn't leave that gritty feel after you brush and it has natural ingredients that really do leave you with fresh breath! I love Dr. Bronners toothpaste but I love their mission even more; We’re fighting for a marketplace where consumers are not misled and where organic standards are applied to body care just as they are to food. YES!

IMG_0686.JPG
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” —Maya Angelou.

I leave you with this quote by women goddess Maya Angelou and I challenge you to make some changes in your home and take out some of the toxic things that may be harmful to you, your family and your children. If you're struggling with fertility, it can be a lonely place and I understand. I love this community I have found through social media, and I will continue to share my journey with all of you in hopes that someone reads this and feels a little less alone. Please feel free to reach out if you want to discuss anything further with me, I'm here and I'm an open book!

non toxic beauty routine.JPG
non toxic skin care pinterest graphic.jpg

#thedailymoments || week 7

My life seems pretty boring lately, but sometimes that's just what I need.  Slow moments just spent at home, no plans and without a schedule. 

morning light kisses with mom.JPG

These days most of us are living busy over-scheduled lives.  It's easy to lose track of the moments that really matter, which can often be the most ordinary parts of our days.   In the midst of all the responsibilities of our day, we need to remember to check in with ourselves so that we don't lose sight of who we really are and what is really important to us.   This series, #TheDailyMoments was started by my good friend @steph.pollock and as soon as I saw her first post, and when she said, 

It's these small moments that make up a lifetime of beautiful ones,

I knew this was something I needed to join in on.

morning light shining bright.JPG
potty training living room hangs.JPG
roses are red violets are blue toddler loves you.JPG

If I haven't told you enough yet, I am not a morning person.  If I had it my way I would lay in bed until 9, drink my coffee, listen to morning acoustic radio on Spotify and scroll the gram or pin all the things.  But as any parent knows, once you have kids, you say goodbye to all things slow in the morning. 

Finn has been waking up about 6am without fail these days, and he is READY to go.  He rolls out of bed, stands on his bed and opens his blinds (the half almost breaking them way) to see if the sun is up, which obvi it is [insert eye roll emoji].  Then he grabs all his favorite stuffed animals, turns off his sound machine, walks to his door and as he exits turns on his light, the hall light and everything else in between before barging into our room asking, "Mom, where's dad?"  

But this morning was different. [you should know we potty trained him almost 6 weeks ago, but it isn't perfect yet].  This morning, I heard the blinds, I heard his door open and then as I waited for our door to open, I heard his little run down the hallway instead.  I waited a few minutes to see if I heard him playing in the playroom, or getting a yogurt from the fridge [which generally comes after the "mom, where's dad part"] and I didn't hear any of that.  I laid there wishing that maybe, just maybe he went back to bed, but then, I get worried with the silence, and finally jumped out of bed.  Just as I walked down the hall, I heard him say, "Mom stay out!"  He was in the bathroom, undressed mind you, and had his diaper halfway off about to use the potty ALL BY HIMSELF!!  Say what?!  You heard me.  He got out of bed, went to the bathroom, took off his diaper and pooped on the toilet, without my help!!  Hallelujah! 

I promptly demanded a cookie at 6:03am and stormed off saying, "I don't need pants!" So please excuse the fact that all of the following images are mostly either in his underwear or naked.  That's life and I didn't feel like fighting him today. Xx Oo little man, you win.

pillow fort playtime in the living room.JPG
pillow fight.JPG
Daisy girl Sheltie dog.JPG
cuddle session with mom.JPG

Typical Day at the Wells casa includes Paw Patrol, Booba on Netflix or a Disney movie;  Bolt + Chicken Little are currently on repeat.  While Finn eats his breakfast, I either drink my tea, do the dishes or follow up on emails.  Sometimes I edit photos or plan my future Instagram posts for the week.  [Yes, not all of my posts are spontaneous, most of them are planned days in advance and I adjust the captions for my mood that day].  Today, after we built forts and then tore them down, we headed to the playroom and I shopped for Finn's new playroom makeover while he basically tore everything apart and hid all his toys in his wall storage thingy.

I cant wait for the new space because most of the stuff that's currently in there is from his first nursery almost 3 years ago!  The new room is going to have all the Bohemian Oasis feels with lots of natural colors and organic textiles.  I already ordered this awesome green velvet futon and this storage ottoman that will double as seating and toy wrangling.  I can already picture him having playdates with his friends and finding them building forts and falling asleep in there.  I'm working on an inspiration board blog post for the space and when it's done, I'll insert it here. ;-) . But for now, here's a sneak peek.

playroom turned workspace.JPG

side note: If you haven't looked at H&M home, you're missing out.  But be warned, check the sizing!  I order things thinking they are life size, and almost every time they come looking like they belong in a dollhouse.  But, we've gotten tons of great things from there!  Ordering this cute cutting board for Finn's Ikea Kitchen makeover hack cause I know it will be the perfect "small" size!  

Playroom storage.JPG
toddler playroom.JPG

When all my chores are done and I'm done working for a bit, I usually try and get Finn outside before naptime.  We go back and forth from the front yard to the back, from paying soccer, jumping on the trampoline and playing in the "pool."  [Husband refuses to get a small pool because he is afraid of the mold].  I know, I know...

Today, Finn asked to take our 13 years old girl, Daisy for a walk.  And so we did.

toddler walking sheltie dog.JPG
selfie with mom in our messy entryway.JPG
california kids patio decor.JPG
mom lets play baseball.JPG
let play baseball kids playing.JPG
ceramic art for the yard.JPG

These ceramic mushrooms came from a little artsy fair in Laguna Beach called, Sawdust.  Have you guys ever been??  When I met my husband, he was living in Laguna Beach and I was in Manhattan Beach so every year when I came to visit we would go to this art fair.  The lady who makes these has been making them and  selling them at the fair for years.  The first couple of years we went, we would say to each other, who buys those?  This year, the year we bought our first home in southern California together, we went back and we both said, let's get those!  We decided to get one for every year we visit the fair from now on and I can't wait to fill our new home with a bunch of these little mushrooms!

backyard potty training.JPG
patio littered with little ones littles.JPG
at the car wash kid style.JPG
splashing mom and saying sorry.JPG

I've said it before but i'll say it again, Daddy is the fun one!  He jumps on the trampoline with him, he runs around the house with him and he even let's him use the hose.  I tried to be the fun one today and let Finn help me fill up the pool and then I turned around and found myself the target.  Drenched to my knees in water, it was finally nap time!

The first thing he does when he wakes up from nap time is ask where Daddy is, and runs outside to see if he's home.  He usually helps him take off his shoes and changes his clothes and before I know it they are back in the backyard playing the pool again!

kids climb the weirdest things.JPG
daddies little mini me.JPG
tiny water footprints.JPG
so cal toddler loves the water.JPG

Some days I want to keep him up all night and play and other nights I can't wait to get through bath time and get him to bed to I can have a cocktail and a real dinner that he wouldn't even think of touching.  Tonight we had caprese salad my way, and my favorite homeade margarita with fresh lemons and limes and a splash of squirt.  So good.  And that's how we do it over here at #thewellscasa. Goodnight.

toddler and his sheltie dog.JPG
bathtime bubbles.JPG
caprese salad foodie goals.JPG
after bathtime hallway run.JPG

Just as Steph did, I am inviting you to do the same, join us in this movement of letting life be more enjoyable just by letting it be exactly what it is.  Tag your photos with #thedailymoments so we can all share in the joy of the simple moments that make up a lifetime of happiness.

The Daily Moments || Week 1

The Daily Moments || Week 2

The Daily Moments || Week 3

The Daily Moments || Week 4

The Daily Moments || Week 6

 

#thedailymoments || Week 6

#thedailymoments || Week 6

backyard naked booty hanging.jpg

These days most of us are living busy over-scheduled lives.  It's easy to lose track of the moments that really matter, which can often be the most ordinary parts of our days.   In the midst of all the responsibilities of our day, we need to remember to check in with ourselves so that we don't lose sight of who we really are and what is really important to us.   This series, #TheDailyMoments was started by my good friend @steph.pollock and as soon as I saw her first post, and when she said, 

It's these small moments that make up a lifetime of beautiful ones,

I knew this was something I needed to join in on.

kids toy giraffe.jpg

This weeks recap might sound a little scrambled because that's exactly how my brain feels currently.  Today was a day to just go slowly, breathe and do only what I was capable of doing at the moment.

I took these pictures on Wednesday.  We had our first fertility appt the day before and my best friend, Debi's funeral is on Saturday.   Needless to say, my brain has been working overtime.  I know i've been stressed to say the least but yesterday at the doctor, my blood pressure was higher than it's ever been, even when I was in labor with Finn.  It was 165/101.  That's ridiculously not normal.

snuggle sessh with the stuffed animals.jpg
meltdown city.jpg
living room dance party with mama.jpg
potty break.jpg

I tried to not stress by having a super slow morning, just Finn and I.  Daddy wakes up at 4:30 to head to Orange Theory, and he comes home to shower around 6am.  Right about that time Finn wakes up ready to go, and I am positive [no matter what Jason claims is "quiet"] that he is woken up by the loudness that my husband is when he gets home.   You see, I am N O T a morning person.  Maybe it's because I never drank coffee, but I do not roll out of bed ready to go, so this 6am wake-up call usually doesn't work for me.

So basically, Finn runs into the kitchen demanding I get up and get him some "lunch."  I cuddle on the couch and hope he comes to cuddle me too.  Sometimes I win, and sometimes I find myself in the playroom at 7am.

We turn on music, we dance, we play outside and I usually get to make myself some tea and breakfast around 10am.  Today, we spent most of the morning outside, played in our "pool" and looked up at the sky as my ray of sunshine Debi shined down upon us until about 11:30 am when it was time for a mommy break [screen time].  

golden coil planner.jpg
mamas coffee break at 10am.jpg
hide and seek in a pillow fort.jpg
makeshift bathtub.jpg
human jungle gym.jpg

Today I was tired.  Mentally exhausted from my visit to the fertility clinic and the anxiousness about what is to come this weekend. I wanted to spend my nap time actually taking a nap, but Finn had other ideas.  He usually goes down at 1pm and today, he took one full hour to calm down and get to sleep.   

IMG_9880.jpg
screentime while we make lunch.jpg
rainbow light prenatal vitamins.jpg

It was beautiful outside, the first day that I felt a little breeze and not like I was going to melt.  So, I went into the backyard, plopped my feet up and closed my eyes while soaking in all that vitamin D.  Just as I felt myself nod off, my phone rang.  It was my other best friend, Cara and we ended up talking for almost 2hrs. As much as I thought I needed sleep, I needed this girl talk more.  Feeling refreshed and motivated, I started the dishes just as Finn walked out from his nap, "hi mommy!"

toddler bathtime.jpg
kids at nordstrom.jpg

Daddy called and asked us on a dinner date to Nordstrom because his alterations were ready to be picked up.  I scrambled to finish cleaning the kitchen and quickly showered [of course, not alone] and we were on our way only 15 minutes late.

dad and son at nordstrom.jpg
IMG_4783.jpg
IMG_9921.jpg

We came home and I think we both needed a moment as a family to smile and play so we kept Finn up past his bedtime, drank wine, listened to music and enjoyed these last few warm moments of summer nights.

son helping daddy with trash duty.jpg
trampoline with dad.jpg
kisses for daddy.jpg
no bedtime during summer.jpg
summer nights backyard hangs.jpg
IMG_0036.jpg
IMG_0022.jpg

It's been almost two weeks since I lost my dearest Debi.  Since then, I have dedicated this weekly series to her.  Even though she isn't here with me, I can write these journals in her honor and hope that she's up there reading them with her signature eye roll and a smile.

Dear Debi, "I don't know when I will be able to function on a normal level again, I'm sure I will spend many more days looking up at the sky and talking to you and wishing you were here. But, I can promise you this, not a moment will be wasted on loving this oh so beautiful life in honor of the joy and happiness you brought into my life and to Finn's life.  We will honor you by truly loving every breath we take; the good, the bad and everything in between."

These are small moments of our day, exactly 2 weeks since you left us. I miss you and I love you. 

IMG_8125 2.JPG

Just as Steph did, I am inviting you to do the same, join us in this movement of letting life be more enjoyable just by letting it be exactly what it is.  Tag your photos with #thedailymoments so we can all share in the joy of the simple moments that make up a lifetime of happiness.

The Daily Moments || Week 1

The Daily Moments || Week 2

The Daily Moments || Week 3

The Daily Moments || Week 4

#thedailymoments || Week 3

#thedailymoments || Week 3

If you want to start from the beginning of this series, start here Week 1.  Then here Week 2

IMG_7859.jpg

These days most of us are living busy over-scheduled lives.  It's easy to lose track of the moments that really matter, which can often be the most ordinary parts of our days.   In the midst of all the responsibilities of our day, we need to remember to check in with ourselves so that we don't lose sight of who we really are and what is really important to us.   This series, #TheDailyMoments was started by my good friend @steph.pollock and as soon as I saw her first post, and when she said, 

It's these small moments that make up a lifetime of beautiful ones,

I knew this was something I needed to join in on.

Last week I added some short captions, and this week I had a little more time so I'm using this as more of a journal.  So when I look back a year, two years, or even 5 years from now, I can relive the season I was in currently, and either be thankful I'm out of it, or grateful for the new season i'm currently experiencing.

 Potty Training a naked toddler in my dream kitchen

Potty Training a naked toddler in my dream kitchen

Finn crawled into our bed at 4am, he told me, "mommy my tummy."  I'm pretty sure he was telling me that he wanted to potty because when he actually crawled out of bed at 5:45, he told daddy..."I want to use the potty!"  We're on day 4 of potty training today and we haven't left the house since last Friday morning.  I'm working on a full potty training post and will link it here soon, but it seems to be going well with only 2 accidents in 4 days.  So this morning we went to Target to get a BIG SURPRISE for Finn to celebrate goodbye to diapers.

starbucks coffee date with dad.jpg
patty cake daddy style.jpg

I assured Jason Target opens at 7, but he wanted to go by his normal Starbucks first.  We sat as a family and chatted about our days all before 8am and it was such a nice change compared to Jason waking up at 4:30 to go to the gym and us just saying goodbye as he left for work most mornings.  I spotted an elderly man reading the Wall Street Journal and even though he numerous other tables were open, he decided to squeeze into the table next to us unfazed by the crazy toddler trying to tear the blinds off the window.  I don't know why but I love watched elderly people.  He was writing a to-do list to himself on a small piece of paper and it made me smile because no days everyone is glued to their phones.
 

elderly man taking notes at starbucks.jpg

Jason left to put Finn in the car while I cleaned up the table and as I was leaving this young business sitting alone across the room stopped me... he said, "That's so awesome!  Do you guys have breakfast together every morning?"  I wanted to answer yes but it kinda made me sad that we actually don't ever do that.  I told him in an almost embarrassed way, "no, my husband is actually going out of town tomorrow so he wanted to spend some extra time with us before work today."  He applauded us for it again and we both smiled and went on our way.

 Daddy does the Target run with us

Daddy does the Target run with us

angry toddler paw patrol toys.jpg

I don't know, the last few days have been challenging for me.  Potty training is no joke and I just needed a break.  My patience level is at an all-time low and I can't stay calm and be present with my actions.  This toy we bought him as a celebration of joy, I almost threw it out the window, it was so hard trying to build while he was so excited and wanted to play with it.  I took a break and just breathed and then it turned out perfectly.

mama morning coffee with dog.jpg
naptime fights.jpg

This part is very hard to share but, I know when I look back at these images of this day.  I will only be able to think back about how hard it was for me.  My best friend has been in the ICU for the past couple of weeks, and can't get it off my mind.  I find anytime I can to go see her and today after I put Finn down for his nap, I had a sitter come over and I rushed to her bedside for only 30 min, until it was time to head back home and put my mom hat back on.

hospital visitor selfie.jpg
IMG_7850 2.jpg
IMG_7741 2-2.jpg
potty training peek a boo.jpg
potty training playroom portable toilet.jpg

I tried so hard to push my sadness aside today and to just be present with him.  We played outside in the sunshine until daddy came home. I then retreated to the guest bedroom for a little mental break alone while my two boys did push ups and yoga in the playroom.  I heard them on the other side of the wall and really felt so thankful in that moment.  

IMG_7870.jpg
IMG_7888.jpg
IMG_7891.jpg
IMG_7893.jpg

I cooked a comfort food dinner, the kind my bestie would love.  It was still 80 degrees outside, as we are in the middle of another heat wave so, we sat outside as a family and talked for a bit and then daddy took over.  I crawled into bed at 8:30pm.  He did bath time, bedtime and even did the dishes and laundry for me.  I need that today.

chicken and rice bake anthro style kitchen views.jpg
orange county sunset backyard palm trees.jpg

Just as Steph did, I am inviting you to do the same, join us in this movement of letting life be more enjoyable just by letting it be exactly what it is.  Tag your photos with #thedailymoments so we can all share in the joy of the simple moments that make up a lifetime of happiness.

The Daily Moments || Week 1

The Daily Moments || Week 2

The Daily Moments || Week 3

The Daily Moments || Week 4

This website contains some affiliate links to products that we use and love. A very small percentage of purchases made through these links goes to help support our family in a small way. Thank you for following along.

#thedailymoments || Week 2

#thedailymoments || Week 2

naked baby bum in the bathtub candid childhood.jpg

These days most of us are living busy over-scheduled lives.  It's easy to lose track of the moments that really matter, which can often be the most ordinary parts of our days.   In the midst of all the responsibilities of our day, we need to remember to check in with ourselves so that we don't lose sight of who we really are and what is really important to us.   This series, #TheDailyMoments was started by my good friend @steph.pollock and as soon as I saw her first post, and when she said, 

It's these small moments that make up a lifetime of beautiful ones,

I knew this was something I needed to join in on.

Last week I let the pictures speak for themselves, but this week I had a little more time so I added a few captions so you can get to know us a little better. 

 every single morning without fail, he wakes up and immediately asks for a yogurt.  He eats at least 3 of these a day.

every single morning without fail, he wakes up and immediately asks for a yogurt.  He eats at least 3 of these a day.

 we often have piles of clean laundry all over the house.  I wonder why?

we often have piles of clean laundry all over the house.  I wonder why?

  1 of 45 times today I told him not to pick his nose

 1 of 45 times today I told him not to pick his nose

 some days we spend no time in his room, and others days we can't get enough.  Today was one of those days.  Trains, drawing (while Finn erases), reading books, and wrestling

some days we spend no time in his room, and others days we can't get enough.  Today was one of those days.  Trains, drawing (while Finn erases), reading books, and wrestling

 then he told me he wanted to go to school. 

then he told me he wanted to go to school. 

 I usually get to drink my morning coffee around 10 or 11am

I usually get to drink my morning coffee around 10 or 11am

 human jungle gym for hours today

human jungle gym for hours today

 he would tell me, mom you draw this...and then immediately after I would draw a perfect stick figure that looked just like him, he would promptly erase it

he would tell me, mom you draw this...and then immediately after I would draw a perfect stick figure that looked just like him, he would promptly erase it

 dodgie lost his tags today and he now has a huge hole in his rear end... how long with this lovie last?

dodgie lost his tags today and he now has a huge hole in his rear end... how long with this lovie last?

 beach park days are the best

beach park days are the best

 except for when you have to drop everything because your toddler who isn't water ready, heads straight for the water.

except for when you have to drop everything because your toddler who isn't water ready, heads straight for the water.

 i try so hard to look natural for the self timer, maybe by week 10...i'll look kinda normal

i try so hard to look natural for the self timer, maybe by week 10...i'll look kinda normal

IMG_7275 2.jpg
IMG_7297 2.jpg
 let's bury mommy

let's bury mommy

 this dude could love on beans + brocilli (which is what he calls guacamole)

this dude could love on beans + brocilli (which is what he calls guacamole)

 i got to shower today.   truth be told, i have zero idea how to use essential oils but after every shower i sprinkle a few drops of geranium and eucalyptus and it smells just like i'm at the spa

i got to shower today.   truth be told, i have zero idea how to use essential oils but after every shower i sprinkle a few drops of geranium and eucalyptus and it smells just like i'm at the spa

 "momma sit on my lap" - i love a good cuddle sessh before naptime

"momma sit on my lap" - i love a good cuddle sessh before naptime

 my first child always needs to be really up in the mix.  Right before this she sat on his lap

my first child always needs to be really up in the mix.  Right before this she sat on his lap

 when you're supposed to be napping but your playing hide and seek instead

when you're supposed to be napping but your playing hide and seek instead

 Finn's really enjoying these new counter stools

Finn's really enjoying these new counter stools

 one pot fajita pasta tonight

one pot fajita pasta tonight

 daddy's working late, so off to start that dinner time hustle

daddy's working late, so off to start that dinner time hustle

Just as Steph did, I am inviting you to do the same, join us in this movement of letting life be more enjoyable just by letting it be exactly what it is.  Tag your photos with #thedailymoments so we can all share in the joy of the simple moments that make up a lifetime of happiness.

The Daily Moments || Week 1

The Daily Moments || Week 2

The Daily Moments || Week 3

The Daily Moments || Week 4

 

This website contains some affiliate links to products that we use and love. A very small percentage of purchases made through these links goes to help support our family in a small way. Thank you for following along.

6 photography tips to create the perfect Holiday Cards

6 photography tips to create the perfect holiday cards

A huge thank you to Snapfish for sponsoring this post.  I received a credit towards my holiday card order in exchange for this review.  As always, I only share products I truly am obsessed with and all images and opinions are my own. 

Use code HEIDI40 at checkout for 40% off

AQ1A0039.jpg

The moment you go to your mailbox on Nov 30 and receive your first-holiday card, a state of panic comes over you.  How can I be so late? I don’t even have my pictures taken yet!?  Here in California is stays warm through those fall months and we don’t get snow so it’s easy to not get that holiday spirit early on.  

I do have to admit, even though a whole new level of envy and anxiety sets in when that over-achieving Mom sends me her cards that early, it does get me excited about the holidays.

AQ1A0441.jpg

I rarely check my mailbox, until December rolls around.  It’s true, nothing good comes from that metal tin until Christmas cards begin to arrive.  There’s nothing like receiving a picture filled card from friends and family during the holidays.  Am I right?  

So you start to think? What picture will I use? What will we all wear? What location has the perfect landscape? How can I make this year's card perfect?  All good questions but the truth is, you don’t need perfect, you just need to be you. 

AQ1A0183.jpg

Holiday cards are a way to celebrate all the good things this year has brought as you get ready for the new year. Sending seasons greetings to the ones you love, having that personal connection with a picture of you in their mailbox, let’s you share this year's joys with your friends and family.  Whatever goodness came this year, whether it is a new marriage, new home, job promotion or even just celebrating a good year, Christmas cards are something everyone looks forward too.  Luckily, you still have time to get that memorable Holiday card out that snags the front space on everyone’s fridge this year. 

Here are 6 photography tips to create the perfect holiday cards this year:

1. First things first.  Hire a professional to do the job.  Yes, iPhone photos are amazing these days and print beautifully and if you happen to have one of those right place, right time amazingly candid photos in your camera roll to use, USE IT!  Totally acceptable.  However, many of us, including yours truly, take 27 candids all of that perfectly curated shot only to scroll through and delete them all.  If that’s you, here’s why you need that professional. These cards may be keepsakes for grandma and grandpa or Mom and dad of their little ones each year, so you want these images to stand out.  If you're like me, we only do one family photos session a year, and this it, so hiring someone who knows what they are doing really is necessary.

IMG_3762.JPG

2. Don’t wait for a snowstorm or the perfect sunset to take those images.  Little known fact, I believe the best lighting is a cloudy day.  It brings this whole soft and ethereal feel to the photos if you ask me.  Bright sunny days, are hard to shoot in.  They cause shadows and nobody wants to be overshadowed by a shadow, right? [hahah]. Truth be told even though I love a cloudy day shoot, I dream of one day taking my photos in the rain,  you know, all The Notebook circa 2004 style.  All I’m saying is the pictures aren’t made by the perfect weather, they are made by you, the perfect people. 

AQ1A0166.jpg
AQ1A0218.jpg

3. Find simple and beautiful backdrops in your neighborhood. You don’t have to drive an hour away to stand in a winter wonderland or get all sandy at the beach [although I love a good beach scene] to get the perfect holiday image. Go the minimalist route and find a white wall to stand in front of or stop by that empty field you drive by on your way to work, or that brick wall down at your local mall, that’s the best one! Just find a blank canvas, grab your family and shoot.  Then you can choose from about 1000 designs on Snapfish to make your card pop. 

AQ1A0087.jpg

4. Use the same color palette but don’t be matchy-matchy. Nothing says Sears family Christmas cards like a family all dressed in white shirts and jeans, so, don’t do that.  Here are a few tips on styling your outfits: Pick 3-4 colors [no more than 5] and stick with those. Start with one person's outfit, probably your own because that’s easiest. Try and add in one print to bring it all together.  Add some texture with a scarf or vest.  And most importantly, be comfortable.  The last thing you want is to be fidgeting with your sleeves or pulling down your shirt throughout the whole shoot.  Nothing ruins a photo like you tugging your dress down in every photo. 

AQ1A0282.jpg

5. Embrace perfectly imperfect. We’ve all been that person.  The one who spends hours on Pinterest looking for the right outfits, the right backdrop, and the right poses for our family photos. Oh wait, that’s probably how you ended up here.  He he.  Well ok, so maybe your that person who’s more concerned with telling all your family members to look at the camera, or smile, or "look happy everyone."  And then all your images end up with your mouth open or your finger pointed covering your kid's face. Well here’s my number one tip, skip the perfectly posed, and go for the I’m having the best day of my life look.  Some of my most beloved images are ones where no one is looking at the camera.  It’s those candid, heartfelt moments and emotions that are snapped in between takes that are my favorite and those can’t be planned. 

AQ1A0249.jpg
AQ1A0051.jpg

6.  Don’t skimp on the quality of your cards.  I’ve tried several companies over the years and abandoned some once I saw the flimsy paper or poor image resolution.  This year I used Snapfish and I was super impressed by so many levels. I’m not super good at sending photos to family members with updates, so my holiday cards are the only keepsake they’ll have.  We didn’t even send a birth announcement for our first child because I just never found the time.  [It still bugs me I missed that] so, ever since then I’ve been determined to do one photo shoot a year and it’s for Holiday cards.  Needless to say, since this card is the only thing I send all year, the quality needs to be good.  Photos printed on good paper, don’t have to be expensive or take forever to get.  Snapfish has tons of designs, and cardstock options and they get the job done in a couple of days. 

AQ1A0363.jpg

Lastly, don't take this process too seriously.  These photos should show your playful and happy side and if you make this a stressful event, it will show through in the photos.  Have fun, play around, have a tickle fight, throw your little one in the air and laugh, and you'll end up front and center in everyone's fridge this year.  

AQ1A0235.jpg

 

With Snapfish you have so many great layout options including these gold foil cards I chose.  They offer fast shipping for your procrastinators like me too.  And to save even more time, you can have you return address printed for free.  I won't be using any other company besides Snapfish from now on for all my card needs.  USE CODE HEIDI40  for 40% off your order.

9D8E0971-6A1D-416E-A85C-6555515F4530 2.jpg
This website contains some affiliate links to products that we use and love. A very small percentage of purchases made through these links goes to help support our family in a small way. Thank you for following along.

A family trip to the Museum of Ice Cream | San Francisco

Today I'm blogging all about that one time I found myself in a pretty spectacular museum that’s 100% kid friendly.  We spoke to the Co-founder who told us he built the museum with the hopes to inspire children to love art in a magical way.  The Museum of Ice Cream lives up to all hype and more.  I'll share my tips on how I scored tickets, what to bring (and not bring), my favorite rooms, and how long it takes to fully explore everything behind those pink walls.  Also dumping a large amount of super fun and frame-worthy photos so, enjoy friends!

2CE4AA38-1BB4-4323-AEA2-D99270711B12.jpg

Two things:
One, my favorite color is white.
Two, Vanilla ice cream is the most popular ice cream flavor, which happens to also be my favorite.  My grandpa taught me young, the best way to eat it is smothered with maple syrup.  Don’t knock it until you try it, it’s delicious.

22DDC9E3-C6B1-4842-8E2B-39AD20F7C43A.jpg
C9CE1FC6-BE99-46A1-89E9-72D54D97E161.jpg

Being from LA I still have a ton of friends down in that area, and last year my feed was full of yellow banana swings, pink cotton candy walls, and pictures of smiling friends in a blue pool filled with rainbow sprinkles. So, of course, I needed to see this for myself.  I planned to go next time I was down in southern cal and then found out they were sold out through forever.  Yup.  Forever.

A131FDF1-4131-4901-868E-58A00F5A834E.jpg
7CDB5310-EF37-4F80-BEEC-FF518CA2F0B4.jpg

When I found out they were building one in San Francisco, I quickly made this my lifelong quest to get the golden ticket to the modern day Willy Wonka Factory.  I got on the email list, I stole (well, borrowed) my husbands platinum Amex and I set my alarm for the pre-sale date.  They offer the first tickets to Amex holders only, and then to the general public after two days. Basically you get an email the day before letting you know the tickets for Amex holders will be available at 9am on X date.  I set my alarm, called the number at 9:02 am, sat on hold for a few minutes only to hear a recording telling me they were sold out and to call AMEX directly.  While on hold I went online and I was able to book them that way.  So skip the call and just be ready to book online the moment tickets go on sale.

It wasn't an easy task, but I got two tickets on a Thursday in September.  Now, the SF location is sold out until Feb of 2018. But you can get on the email list to see where their next location is happening.  I think they have one in NYC that sold out 30,000 tickets in 5 days!  When you buy your tickets just be ready, I wasn't at all prepared.  You have to list the names of who's attending ON THE TICKET, so know who you’re going with and know their schedule.  You also have to pick a specific time on a specific day AT THE TIME of purchase.   Lots of good time slots get taken first, so have a few dates that work for everyone prepared.  If your dying to attend TMOIC you must be flexible with your dates and times.  Like most things everyone is dying to see, it isn’t easy to get into.

B500C67B-5693-4CAF-8BB8-793D3EBE8DD9.jpg
C1A9350C-44DA-4F71-B786-212271EA9B5A.jpg

We went on a Thursday at 2 pm.  The building was inconspicuous until you saw the bright pink banner and pink velvet robe directing a line of people to the glass door with the bright pink wall behind it. We didn't wait in line long, just until a small family showed up behind us.  They take you in, in groups, every 10-15 minutes or so.  You move from small room to small room, and you can stay in each room as long as you want, you just can't go backward.  They told us it would take about 45min to an hour depending on how fast or slow we go through each space.

C5C3C9B3-8311-476A-AACB-C80B10895C7D.jpg

At the first stop, we are greeted by what I will call a very seasoned Disneyland employee on steroids.  The brightest, most cheerful humans I've ever come in contact with. She shouted at us, "Before you enter, you must think of a team name!"  Now, for the record had I known I was was going to be traveling with the group I got in line next to, I probably would have planned this better. [take note- whoever your grouped with at the entry, is who you’ll be with for your entire experience and all your pictures]. Don't get me wrong, our group was great, but it consisted of an 80 year who was coming to the museum alone, she definitely didn't expect this type of museum experience, I guarantee that! And a small family of 3.  Two brothers, a sister and one of their small children.  She must have been 8 or 9 and they were in their 40s.  White washed jeans (not the fashion-y kind) and t-shirts they've probably had since high school.  The little girl shouted, "Sour gummy bears!"  The lady jumped with joy and said, "I love that on my ice cream, it's the perfect topping and team name.  You all may now enter the museum of ice cream!"  Jason looked at me with a concerned look on his face.  He isn't the biggest fan of crowded places or loud people; nor is he a fan of Ice Cream.  (He's that guy who eats the rainbow sherbet) but he loves me, so in we went.

C46DAA52-07C2-42B7-B911-574A01991D6D.jpg
72F82278-AACD-4973-AC4F-C19C8B876213.jpg
4D40CB27-3550-4B5C-AB3B-ED14F8923442.JPG
67BAD79D-46F6-4494-81A0-E575504E0DEE.jpg

I was running a little late and couldn't find parking.  As I noted you are scheduled for a specific time on your tickets and they will give 15 grace period but after that, you won't get in.  So, I quickly grabbed my camera in one hand and my phone in the other.  I knew I didn't want my massive diaper bag/purse in all my pictures so I left it in the car.  Big mistake!  Everytime I wanted to snap a picture I had to put my camera or phone and sunglasses on the floor.  If I were you, I would just bring a small bag that you can throw all your small necessities in. Jason carried Finn, we didn't take a stroller and I am not even sure if they would have allowed one.  If you have a walking toddler, plan on leaving the stroller in the car, and chasing him around the entire time. [but, that’s kind of the point, right]?

6BBF6057-D0DC-49C7-924E-46BF1BB65E27.jpg

We started in the first hallway, it wasn't even a room.  It was actually one of my favorite places we stopped in because we were the only people in there.  Because they filter you in every 15 minutes or so, it gives the group ahead of your time to take pics, explore, etc before the next group comes in.   But don't go too slow or what happened to us, will happen to you.

D7A867DA-5508-4E7B-B876-B25376A96515.jpg

I won't talk too much about the rooms because each museum is different and images should give you a glimpse into the goodness the museum has to offer. The first actually room we went into was an interactive room.  They had a carnival-like game of ring toss set up.  I was busy taking pictures that almost missed my hot husband hit 5 in the row while holding a wiggly toddler. Man, did I score the jackpot with this guy!  Just wait until we take him to the fair and walk away with 85 oversized stuffed animals and 3 basketballs.

5817F07F-AFC9-47AD-8E68-D7100FF32080.jpg
9B381990-E7ED-4D03-81D4-B833191AAB43.jpg

We moved from room to room, snapped a few pictures and each space took us about 3-4min.  I started out using my camera but honestly using my iPhone was easier and the lighting was great! Now, fast forward to the 5 room.  It was this one, with the white walls and the letter magnets.  It should have held about 7 people at a time and then all the sudden, we were surrounded my about 100 GoPro executives.  The owner decided to host a massive all company event that same day at the same time.  I wouldn't say they were the most polite group of people.  They basically took over every single room until we got to the sprinkle room.  It was hard to take pictures, it was hard to grab Finn as he weaved in and out of people's legs and was off in a flash.  But the good news, he couldn't go far and there was a ton of people watching him.

C26F270C-FB2B-44B0-8D70-3C202410B3E6.jpg
D294A7C1-3770-45D8-8D95-9CB8A84A1D09.jpg
D4B7EE85-F9FB-41E2-9A53-1CD6364AF710.jpg

When we got to the top of the stairs after about 45min, Jason looked at me with a face of concern and said, "We're only at the bathrooms?  This is only the halfway point!"  Remember somewhere up there I said it was supposed to take 45 min total. Well ya, we hadn't even gotten to the sprinkle pool yet!
When you get to the top of the stairs you hit a wall and another velvet rope.  We finally made it to the sprinkle pool, of course with 67 of my closest GoPro buddies.  They let them go as a group for about 10 minutes as we tried to entertain our 21month old toddler.  As we stood with a crowd of people, a younger looking man who was dressed quite nicely said, "it will be just a minute folks, does anyone have any questions for me? I am (insert name here) the co-founder of TMOIC.  I totally have no idea what he said because I was dying of heat while trying to wrestle Finn in my arms.  Until Jason said, I have a question, "How did you come up with the idea for this?"  I was like who are you talking to? And then saw the cameras and realized he was being filmed for some sort of documentary or something.  He went on to talk about how he wanted a place for children to explore and learn and touch and feel art. I'm sure it was profoundly better said then that, but I was too busy thinking about what part of the pool I was going to 'swim' into.

8059D3E7-F0A7-45BD-8FE2-C487D858C776.jpg
CBB10541-9397-453F-B0D5-E2F95A3803D4.jpg
E6B8F2CA-0C31-4CC6-B65C-275A852E10E4.jpg

Finally, after what felt like an hour, we were in! It was time for the sprinkle pool! They make you remove your shoes and valuables and then you can jump right in! Don't worry, the sprinkles aren't real but they are small and they do stick to you! I found sprinkles for days after that trip!

5616AC68-77B2-4785-B5A4-F4761658BFD6.JPG
FB90BD03-E276-4F6A-B7CA-F179D19F558A.jpg

We rounded the next corner and at that point, we both were kinda done.  It took us almost 2hrs to get through it all and I think that would have been much faster had the other events not been happening on the same day.   All in all, 100% worth it.  And Finn had the best time!  Let's just say, if the Museum of Ice Cream sold season passes, we would definitely be holding one.

1257771C-69EA-458E-888D-C76E52B8A2BE.jpg
F6BE4AE1-25A6-4F89-8399-661DA6DB0190.jpg
F2F702C8-8E26-478F-AE3E-5279AF190716.jpg

How to Establish Your Brand and Build Your Online Community | #Themomblogcollective Week 2

Welcome to the second installment of The Mom Blog Collective: How to Build and Online Community and Define Your Brand. If you're new here, here's the scoop. Every other week, our group of amazing and inspiring mamas will answer the same set of questions to do with blogging, Instagram, photography, collaborations, sponsored posts, balancing it all with motherhood, and more. We each have different perspectives and different opinions, so this is a fun way to learn from one another. We hope you'll join along! Check out the hashtag #themomblogcollective to see everyone on Instagram, and I will also link you to all of the amazing blog posts here at the bottom of my post!

8F296636-1847-4BF1-846E-40B9C6C7E9BD.JPG

This weeks topic is: How to Establish Your Brand and Build Your Online Community

Those two things go hand and hand in my opinion.  In order to grow an authentic community of followers, you need to have a true brand all your own.  You need to establish what your brand is, and make sure that you continue to create a curated feed with your brand image in mind with every single post.  I believe most people follow me for a specific reason; either they love my photography style or aesthetic, they have a common connection with me like where I live or kids the same age, or when they read my posts I say something that resonates with them on a deeper level and inspires them in some way.  If I can connect with someone through my feed in one of those ways, I will gain them not only as a follower, but hopefully I'll engage with them enough and they will eventually join my community of followers who interact daily with me and possibly even meet IRL one day... (IRL=in real life).

Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't think I'm an expert on this topic by any means.  We've all been there, where it just feels like it takes a small miracle to get someone to click that 'follow' button or even just double click your picture, right?  I struggle daily watching that little number go up and down. I gain a few followers and then I lose just as many each day.  So, in this week, I'll be talking mostly about how I use my brand image to get my followers to stay with me, double tap my images, how I encourage comments, and eventually how I get them to join my community.

Here are my 6 key steps to start building your brand + community now!

Step 1: Create 5 key words to describe your brand image

Step 2: Get your colors and photography style consistent

Step 3: Define your core topics

Step 4: Plan out your posting schedule

Step 5: Ask followers to join your community

Step 6: Engage using specific hashtags

 

 -You can't be everything to everyone-

 

Step 1: Create 3-5 key words to describe the feeling you want for your feed.  What vibes, emotions, impressions do you want to leave with someone when they visit your page? Do you want your feed to emulate romantic, classic, bold, colorful, soft, whimsical, minimal, adventurous, playful, moody, or humorous?

In my opinion, the first step to creating your brand should be to figure out who are you really speaking to.  For me, I needed to create my own brand identity that would speak directly to my ideal follower.  I wanted my feed to be a true visual representation of myself through an authentic voice and consistent images so I could reach my true people.  Some words that describe my brand are authentic, bright, beachy, mom-friendly and organic, how would you describe yours?

 

 

-Create a clear identity through your photos-

FullSizeRender.jpg

Step 2:  Get your colors and photography style consistent.  When someone sees a picture of yours, they should clearly know it's your photo either by the style or the colors or both.  Based on the recommendation from @jennakutcher, and her Instagram Lab Course, I created a brand mood board/color theme.  It included my top 5 branding words and my top 5 colors of my feed, which helped me focus on my true brand image.  Canva is this awesome app you can use to get your "colors" by using a screen shot of your feed.   Here's mine:

When I take photos or edit photos, I try and stick to these 5 colors.

You can try it for your own feed here.  Just take a screen shot of your Instagram feed and it will pull out your top 5 colors for you.

(Our next post in this series is all about photography and editing your photos, so don't worry...more details on this to come!)

 CANVA COLOR PALETTE GENERATOR

CANVA COLOR PALETTE GENERATOR

 -Have a focused approach-

Step 3: Define your categories:  I talked a little about this in my last post.  The more you can narrow your focus, the easier it will be for someone to connect with you. I try and define my brand into 5 categories and concentrate my posts around those topics. Family + Marriage, Motherhood, WAHM Life, Beauty + Fashion, Home Decor.  This helps me be consistent and authentic in each and every post and differentiate myself from other bloggers out there.  Using your top categories you defined above, try to create a diverse but defined feed that flows and touches on each topic throughout the week.  Maybe Mondays are WAHM life, and then Tuesdays you try and post about home decor, etc.  This way, you always have something to talk about, and you aren't trying to come up with a witty caption every time you have a great image to post.  It gives you and your feed a more defined focus, which will, in turn, help people to connect with you and keep coming back for more each week because they know what to expect.

-Establish your top posting schedule-

FullSizeRender.jpg

Step 4: Define posting schedule and best times to post. 

You need to ask yourself how often you are willing to spend time on Instagram and how often you really have the time to create a post that will speak to your followers, create hashtags that flow with that photo and make time to engage with your followers who comment.   It's important to make a plan and stick to it so that your followers see you consistently.  Is it once a week?  Once a day? 3x a day?  What does it take to grow your community....that's entirely up to you!  

I recently switched over to a business account and found out that the majority of my followers are actually from Southern Cal and most of them are most active on Tuesday- Saturday.  These insights can help you determine a posting schedule that will create the most engagement on your photos.  If you find that most of your followers are in a different time zone, you should adjust your posting time to fit when they are most active.

For me, I started with once a day, about 4x a week.  Now I try and post before 9 am or after 6 pm 5x a week.  I generally take off the weekends because I have found my better engagement times are during the week.  If you don't want to switch to a business account, there are lots of other sites to view your analytics.  Once of the most popular is

- Include a call to action-

FullSizeRender.jpg

Step 5:  Think of your call to actions like a personal invite into your community.   Occasionally include a call to action; double tap if you love tacos as much as me, comment with your favorite place to buy children's clothes, click the link in my bio to see my tips on how to meal prep, etc.   The goal is to get people to engage on your posts.  People may not feel compelled to comment unless you ask them to, and they may not even respond to your question when you do, but you want them to get engaged any way you can.  Trust me it works.  One of my most engaged posts I ever had was about a postpartum struggle I was experiencing after my first baby.  It was a hard & honest post for me to write, but I was vulnerable and I asked for help or ideas from my followers on how to fix it.  So many people commented that they struggled with the same thing and how they dealt with the issue.  You can read about that here if you want more details, but trust me having a call to action will help your engagement and lead to more true followers.

Remember, your followers want to see you!  Not only in your real genuine voice but images of you!  That creates a connection better than any other.  I bet you if you scroll through your feed, you'll see your most liked photos are not the most perfect flat lay, or the most beautiful sunset, but they are ones you are in, and ones you have written a heart felt or authentic caption about yourself.  Try and do that at least once a week and I promise you, your have a community faster than you know it.

 -Engage using specific hashtags-

Step 6:  One of the best ways to find a new audience is through hashtags.  Using your categories above, search for your niche hashtags and include them in every post.  

I have my hashtags grouped into my categories and saved in my planning app.  (I use Planoly but there are a ton of planning apps out there).  You are allowed 30 hashtags a post, and I use every single one.  If you have a photo that gets great engagement you may end up in the top 9 photos of that hashtag and you will be seen by tons of new faces.  My goal is to get my post in at least 3 of my hashtags top 9 photos to gain followers in my specific niche.  Out of the 30 I am allowed, I'd say 10 are always the same, and then for the rest, I switch it up and use some hashtags that have TONS of posts on them and some that have under 2 thousand posts on them.  I use some that are more specific to my location or subject matter and then some that are broader or used more often.  There is some chatter about using hashtags in your caption or in your comments, and getting "shadow-banned" but I haven't noticed enough of a difference in either to comment on that.  I think we will end up having a more detailed week on this subject where I can expand more on the hashtag subject, but if you have specific questions, please feel free to comment here or on my IG.

-Time + patience are key- 

I leave you with this, you can spend all your time creating the perfect brand and image but if you don't spend time engaging with others, you will not be successful in building a community.  People want to know they are seen and heard, and not just another like on your images.  In between all the curating, planning, and writing you need to include time in your day to reach out to both current and potential followers and comment and like on their pages as well. Respond to your comments on your posts, and search your niche hashtags and engage consistently.  I know that takes TIME, and TIME is the key word here. In order to grow organically, you need to have patience and show yourself some grace if it isn't happening as fast as you'd like.  Remember in order to grow organically, you need to engage, and you'll see a return from your hard work.  That engagement takes time and patience.
In June of 2016, I had 916 followers, today I have over 8 thousand.  I found that as I posted more authentic and vulnerable posts and the more I engaged with my followers and potential followers, the more my community was growing. 

Each month we feature different guest bloggers in addition to our core 10. While we will all be answering the same questions and writing about the same topics, it will give each of you a wide variety of perspectives. We each have a different blogging style, photography style, schedule and more so it will be a great opportunity to read everyone's posts and gain a little insight from each one. 

 

Here are this weeks contributors: 

mrsseacannon.com | @mrsseacannon

britthavens.com | @britthavens

koleimpressions.com | @steph__pollock

cultivatemotherhood.com | @cultivatemotherhood

www.ashleynoel.life | @_ashley_noel_

hellobabybrown.com | @hellobabybrown

darlingnightingale.com | @darlingnightingale

www.a-blessed-nest.com | @blessednestblog

thelovedesignedlife.com | @thelovedesignedlife

GUESTS: 

kristlesclarity.com | @hereyeswereolivegreen

@amylouhawthorne

If you have a topic you'd love to get an answer to in our series, search the hashtag #TheMomBlogCollective on Instagram and comment on any one of our photos under that hashtag to let us know! You can also leave comments on our blog posts.

IMG_0766.JPG

8 stylish ways to kid proof your home

I wouldn't say that Jason and I necessarily have the same decorating aesthetic, so our home is the kitchen sink of styles.  Modern bohemian, eclectic, mid-century, call it whatever you like, but one thing is for sure, this living room is where most of our family time is spent.  And since this is where we make most of our memories, the last thing I wanted was to make it so fancy or clean that Finn felt like he couldn't touch anything. At the same time, I tried to avoid the living room that was taken over by toys and turned playroom look.  I think we've done a pretty good job making sure it is equally our space and Finns and I think it still manages to have a sense of cohesiveness, charm, and coziness all at the same time.

[disclaimer: Thank you to Lorena Canal for sending us this rug in exchange for an honest review.  As always, all views expressed here are my own.] 

stylish home.jpg
DSC07224.JPG
DSC06817.JPG

Here's what I thought about when decorating our favorite room in the house:

FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg

Stick to a color palette, and play with textures.  One thing that I love when decorating any room is to make it more about texture, and less about color.  Matchy-matchy has never been my jam.  I've never been a fan of the couch with 2-4 matching pillows on each side.  I like to mix a few of my favorite things in the same colors with a different texture that mesh well together.  My living room happens to be white and black with pops of natural, in the form of wood or greenery.  I do splash in some pops of brighter colors here and there but mainly try and keep true to black, white, tans or browns, and green.

IMG_0501.JPG
FullSizeRender.jpg

 

When looking for toys for Finn, I try and stay in the same color palette or find things that have the same accent colors as the rest of the room.  This way they don't stand out when scattered across the room.    One thing that works well is to curate a stack of kids books in the same color palette.  That way the books become part of the decor vs an eye sore. 

 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Less is more. A home should feel lived in and not perfectly clean.  But with that being said, it shouldn't feel like you have 6 kids when you only have one.  Try and keep the toys in the living room to a minimum.  A few balls, a handful of books, and 1-2 toys.  I like to rotate his toys every couple of weeks and only keep a few favorites in the living room. Periodically, I'll go through a purge and donate some and I'll swap out the others for some toys in his room and retire some from the living room to his bedroom.

FullSizeRender.jpg
DSC07484.JPG

Create a defined space for him.  We don't have a play pen or baby gates, Finn has access to the whole living room.  The way we are able to achieve this without him getting hurt or drawing all over the furniture is to create smaller spaces within our space that are JUST for him. We use rugs, his gathre mat, and this tee pee to make the living room feel like a play area, but still like an adults live here.  He's able to play independently while I fold laundry, send an email, or just enjoy my coffee.  All in the same space. He loves reading his books in the morning in his tee pee and in the afternoons, I usually put down our Gathre mat with some crayons or toys on it and Finn knows that's his space to play.  

DSC07145.JPG
DSC07050.JPG
DSC06899.JPG

Rugs can make a space feel more like home.  Am I right?  I love hardwoods but I love the coziness a rug brings to a large space.  Nothing beats cuddling up on a cushy rug with some pillows and a fluffy blanket for family movie night or stepping barefoot on a soft cushy rug first thing in the morning.  But with a toddler, let's be real...things happen (Photo evidence attached).  Finding a bright white or cream rug that fit my aesthetic was purely a dream until I found Lorena Canal's machine washable rugs.  You heard me, they make rugs you fit into my own at home washer and dryer- GENIUS! Skip the stress and work of spot cleaning or the million dollar rug cleaning bill and stay home while you clean your rug! Finn can eat, play or just relax on the floor with his favorite snack without a worry from this mama because I know I can fix any stain with a quick stop to our laundry room.  Plus it doesn't hurt that they come in so many prints and solids, so you can add design to your living room,  no matter your style.  These rugs are the overachievers of home accessories and my favorite elements of my home.   We fell in love with the style of the Berber Beige and I linked it for you here.

DSC06807.JPG
FullSizeRender.jpg

I have a basket problem. (and maybe a Target problem too)  I'll admit it, I can't pass up a good basket.  We use them in all of our rooms, they have tons of uses; laundry hampers, blanket holders, pillow keepers, and toy wranglers.  The baskets can not only help keep things in their place and help your room feel more organized and clean, but they can also bring some style to your space.  Stop hiding things in drawers + closets, and go grab yourself some baskets!

FullSizeRender.jpg

Utilize all the rooms unused space.  Using your wall for organization clears up the clutter on the floors.  I found this awesome wall basket with hooks at target and it's hanging right by our front door and it's perfect.  It helps get Finn involved with daily tasks and when I tell him it's time to go somewhere, he goes to the basket, grabs his shoes, and hat and is ready to go!

FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg

Distract, distract, distract.  This is a tactic I often use when Finn is getting into something he is not supposed to.  I'm sure that most parents know this "hey look over here!" tactic all too well.  I purposely put things on the fireplace ledge to deter Finn from grabbing the fireplace screen.  If the screen was the only thing on the ledge, you know that would be exactly what those little hands would go straight for.  All the items on the ledge are kid friendly and if he gets into the poof or the pillows, it's all safe for him to play with.  

FullSizeRender.jpg

Lastly, IMHO, you can never have enough blankets pillows and throws.  Since my toddler is so mobile, I find myself either chasing him or trying to stop him in his tracks by getting on his level.  We spend a ton of time, actually most of our time, on the floor.  That's where a soft rug, these pillows and lots of blankets come in handy cause somersaults aren't that fun on hardwood floors, trust me.

Sources and links are below.

Lorena Canal : Washable Rug Berber Beige
Caco & kai : Mexican Blanket/indigo pillows 
Fireplace accessories: Similar pillows from Targethere, here and here
T-nees T-pees: All natural Tee pee
Gathre Playmat:   Medium mat in Blanc midi
Toys:  Bla Bla kids knit dolls + Melissa & Doug wooden car toys
Target: Links for fireplace basket click here.  Links for hanging wall basket here.  Links for play area basket here.

DSC07198.JPG
DSC06913.JPG
FullSizeRender.jpg
DSC06926.JPG
FullSizeRender.jpg
DSC07093.JPG
DSC06798.JPG
FullSizeRender.jpg
This website contains some affiliate links to products that we use and love. A very small percentage of purchases made through these links goes to help support our family in a small way. Thank you for following along.

Ultimate gift guide for Her

Whether you are shopping for the host, the yoga enthusiast, the traveler, or the fashion guru this list works for everyone.  Everything in my top 15 is approved by yours truly and I could say I am one or all of those types of girls up there. This list is for every woman in your life: friend, mom, wife, sister, co-worker or yourself; these products are my happy place.  I've rounded up my favorite items for you to celebrate this Hallmark Holiday in style.  My top picks for the Ultimate Valentines Day gift Guide for her.

How many times have you been in your office, cubicle or work space on Valentine's Day and you squirm with every door open because it's a steady stream of flower arrangement after flower arrangement? And none of them have your name on them. Well, not this year...

Close your eyes and imagine this...  {well, I guess you'll need them open to keep reading. Lol}

You come home from a long workday (or a stressful trip to target in my case) and your husband or your man greets you at the door and says, "Don't worry about a thing, I've got everything under control."  Before he heads off to the kitchen to continue whipping up a home-cooked meal, he says, let's start here.  He opens the bathroom door and you see he's run you a warm bubble bath. {ok, this isn't 50 shades ladies, so don't go there...} Before he leaves he hands you a stack of the cutest bracelets, and says... put your hair in that top knot, hop in, relax and enjoy a good book.  {At this point, he's clearly outdone himself and if you aren't already married, you'll be ready to skip the ring and elope just to keep this man! ....ok, maybe not skip the ring part}  When you get out of the bubble bath you realize there's the most deliciously soft Turkish bath towel just waiting for you to wrap yourself in.  Now the part that's for both of you to enjoy {men, if I've lost you before this...don't worry....this part will make you happy} He says, I got you something to more comfortable to slip into while you open your other gifts. Sounds kinda amazing right? Well send this post to your main squeeze so they can take notes.  And if you haven't found that special someone yet, it's ok, Galentines Day is a real thing.  Invite a girlfriend over, have fun drinking wine and cooking a delicious meal together and each of you can gift the other with something from my must have list and that will be just as perfect.

*I have received some of the items below for review, but the opinions expressed are my own. #occperfsp #sp #sponsored

Now for the list.  This is the holy grail of gifts lists, I swear if you get any of these, you'll be virtually cheersing me with a glass of wine or cocktail.  These are things are my love language. Oh and some of them wanted to celebrate with you so they are offering a special discount code for you to use for a limited time.  So don't wait, take advantage of these sweet deals.

1.  BoxFox - perfectly pre-curated gift box
2. Herbivore Botanicals - Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Face Mist
3. Chez Moi - a book with style with home decor inspiration & more
4. Nashelle personalized oversized heart pendant Use code PerfectLoves20 for 20% off
5. Diptyque Paris- limited edition Rosa Mundi votive- candle
6. Ray-Ban double bridge aviator sunnies - iconic eyewear frames
7.  Eberjey Encajes Teddy - luxurious designer sleepwear
8. Hello Fresh food delivery- - fresh meal delivery Use code HeidiJo30 for $30 off your first box!
9.  Bela Bracelets - hair tie bracelets
10. BloomThat - same day flower delivery service
11.  Mullein & Sparrow Pink Himalayan Bath salts
12.  Daniel Wellington Limited Edition Somerset Watch Use code PERFECT15 for 15% off

13.  Sunday Dry Goods James-Turkish towel

14. MAST Brothers Smoke chocolate bars
15. Life Proper messenger bag Use code PERFECTLOVES20 for 20% until the 14th

1. BoxFox - curated gift boxes full of all the right things that make life easy for the lazy gifter.  Guys, if you don't wanna think about buying a bunch of things or heading out to the mall and running from store to store, this is your answer. They have boxes already put together or you can edit and build your own.  I use Box Fox for my girlfriends, moms, babysitters, everyone. They've done the work to find the best products to fill the boxes and they style it in a way Every Girl will love.   These boxes are Instagram post worthy for sure. $35-$120 Right now they are offering FREE SHIPPING ON YOUR FIRST BOX.

2. Herbivore Botanicals - Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Face Mist.  These beauty products are hands down my fav.  All natural, and cruelty-free.  The make products that not only smells delicious,  it makes you feel amazing as well.  A must have in my purse at all times is their Rose hibiscus, coconut water hydrating face mist.  Ladies, this is created with pure plant actives and will give your skin a boost of moisture-enhancing and youth boosting hibiscus flower when you need it.  I use it to set my makeup, after a long plane ride, or right before bed.  It helps all skin types and doesn't make your face greasy or oily.  Plus the packaging is so gorg, it's good enough to leave out on the counter.  Am I right? $32 

3. Chez Moi - Books with style.  Ok, this may not be for everyone but I'm currently obsessed with making my home feel like home. This colorful book is filled with vibrant images and sketches full of inspiration to make your home a sanctuary away from the stresses of life.  Sarah Lavoine gave us 192 beautiful pages full of advice on everything from fashion to beauty and cooking all for the bargain price of $25. 

4. Nashelle personalized oversized heart pendant - not only is this my favorite piece of jewelry I own because it is the epitome of my style, but they are huge advocates about giving back.  They donate to numerous charities but the biggest thing they do is donate a plate of food for every single piece of jewelry sold through Feeding America.  So feel good about shopping because you're helping feed someone with each purchase.  My heart is engraved with J+H but their signature engraving is simply LOVE. Depending on the metal choice you can get this one of a kind piece for $38 or $105 for gold filled. (Mine is gold filled and I wear it at least 6 days a week.  Splurge for the good stuff, you'll thank me later.) 
USE CODE "PerfectLoves20" for 20% off your purchase through Valentines Day.

5. Diptyque Paris- limited edition Rosa Mundi votive- If this print looks familiar it's because it's the famous Domino paper by Antoinette Poisson and as if this wasn't enough to display this gorgeous candle in your home, it's paired with a limited edition fragrance by my favorite perfume maker, Dyptique.  Trust me on this one, it's worth it.  Smells bring back memories and this is a smell you want to remember. $68 

6. Ray-Ban double bridge aviator sunnies- The iconic Ray-Bans have stood the test of time, and aviators are always in style but these black and gold frames hit all the right latest trend marks.  Not too round, not too square, not too big and not too small, these will look good on all face shapes.  I know glasses are hard to buy for someone but these make it easy to win because they are super versatile. $175 

7. Eberjey Encajes Teddy - let's get personal for one hot second okay? I live for sweatpants, fluffy blankets and anything that I can get generally super cozy in. I've been wearing Cosabella panties since circa 2001, but the moment I found Eberjey my life changed.  For reals guys, this brand is full of the coziest, softest, airy fabrics your skin has ever felt. I own numerous panty sets from them but when I got married someone got me an eberjey teddy and I gladly threw my sweatpants to the side to experience the luxury of this pajama.  This teddy is an all in one, sexy, soft, luxurious, flattering and easy to wear pajama.  You'll look good, feel good and your man will love it also. I give you permission to buy this one for yourself.  Go ahead.  You deserve it. $97 

8. Hello Fresh food delivery- ok, this mom in stuff ain't easy...am I right? Where does the time go? Sometimes I look at the clock and it's 3 pm, my hair is in half falling top knot (not on fleek), I haven't showered, I'm still in my sweats, and I realize I have nothing to cook for dinner.  Hello Fresh to the rescue!  I wish I would have thought of this sooner! Life changing.  Fresh, healthy meals delivered to your door, with picture instructions that even your man can handle.  When we started this delivery service, the husband and I made a deal that one day a week he would be in charge of the cooking.  He obviously chooses the Hello Fresh delivery day as his night to cook every time! 
Use code HeidiJo30 for $30 off your first box.  

9. Bela Bracelets- "Wherever my hair ties go, I hope they're happy."   No, but seriously, why can't I ever find a hair tie when I need one?  Even though it's a necessity to have my hair up these days as a mom, I refuse to wear that elastic band on my wrist.  Avoid the dent in your arm and the eye sore by using these beauties.  Bela bracelets are dainty and stylish and they hide that band you so desperately need to have close by.  $25 

10. BloomThat -Flower delivery.  Seriously, who doesn't love fresh blooms? Bloom That delivers SAME DAY, just like Uber for flowers.  (limited SF area) or next day for the rest of the US.  Ashton Kutcher and Joe Montana invested in Bloom that because it's just that good.  The blooms are unique and on trend and their customer service is insane.  If you're sending flowers this year, use Bloom That, seriously. Oh, and ladies, they have some really cool succulent arrangements that your man would love, cause I believe men love surprise deliveries too! $32 and up
Ok, they don't really offer discounts but guess what- got you a hookup...ONE DAY ONLY until Feb 7th you get 15% off!

Use code PERFECTLOVES15  15% off your order

11. Mullein & Sparrow Pink Himalayan Bath salts- Bubble baths and bubbly are necessary to soothe the mind and body.  And with the right bath salts, like these, you'll slip into pure relaxation.  These Himalayan salts are made with all natural ingredients and the purest crystals that will replenish nutrients into the body, remove toxins, and aid in the relief of muscles, nerves, and joints. Ok...brb, gotta go start my own warm bath. $42 

12. Daniel Wellington Limited Edition Somerset Watch- Some words to describe a Daniel Wellington watch might start somewhere like perfection, end with timeless, and have minimalist and refined in between.  I bought my first DW almost 3 years ago and I still love it today. It's lightweight, easy to wear and literally takes my accessories game up a step.  The 36mm face size is big enough to stand out but it sits close to your wrist so it's also subtle.  They have tons of band choices and different metal choices, but this limited edition rose gold and navy has everything that speaks directly to my personal style. $199 

Use code PERFECT15 for 15% off

 13.  Sunday Dry Goods  James-Turkish towel - I'm seriously obsessed with soft, and cozy things.  A warm pile of soft laundry and some carbs, and I'm in heaven.  Sunday Dry Goods literally has made all my dreams come true with this oversize super plush, deliciously soft bamboo towel.  The unique weave in this one makes it highly absorbant and the coziest ever.  If towels aren't your jam, they also have scarves, blankets, throws and yes,  pretty much everything they make is worth freaking out over.  $64`

13. Sunday Dry Goods James-Turkish towel - I'm seriously obsessed with soft, and cozy things.  A warm pile of soft laundry and some carbs, and I'm in heaven.  Sunday Dry Goods literally has made all my dreams come true with this oversize super plush, deliciously soft bamboo towel.  The unique weave in this one makes it highly absorbant and the coziest ever.  If towels aren't your jam, they also have scarves, blankets, throws and yes,  pretty much everything they make is worth freaking out over. 
$64`

 14.  MAST Brothers  Smoke chocolate bar - Ok, Valentines Day isn't Valentines Day without chocolate.  If you go through the month of February without some form of chocolate in your life, you aren't fully living.  My husband has never had a sweet tooth (I know, it's annoying) but these MAST Brothers Chocolates are the way to anyone's heart, including his. Meet Smoke, this flavor features smoked coffee beans.  Yes, coffee and chocolate made out in a hipster eatery and had a baby with this one.  These $10 beautifully packaged bars are taking chocolate to a whole new place it has never been.  And if the taste is measured by its beauty alone, these bars would be pretty damn good.  Some of my other favorite flavors include Lavender, Lemongrass, Thyme, Olive Oil and Sea Salt...say what? Yum. $10 

14. MAST Brothers Smoke chocolate bar - Ok, Valentines Day isn't Valentines Day without chocolate.  If you go through the month of February without some form of chocolate in your life, you aren't fully living.  My husband has never had a sweet tooth (I know, it's annoying) but these MAST Brothers Chocolates are the way to anyone's heart, including his. Meet Smoke, this flavor features smoked coffee beans.  Yes, coffee and chocolate made out in a hipster eatery and had a baby with this one.  These $10 beautifully packaged bars are taking chocolate to a whole new place it has never been.  And if the taste is measured by its beauty alone, these bars would be pretty damn good.  Some of my other favorite flavors include Lavender, Lemongrass, Thyme, Olive Oil and Sea Salt...say what? Yum. $10 

15. Life Proper Messenger Bag - A woman's handbag is like her best friend, she never goes anywhere without it.  It's the most important accesory and a necessity for her daily life.  Finding the right bag can be hard.  But look no more.  This bag is it ladies.  I swear.  It's size is perfect.  It's highly functional and you can wear it with the cross body attachment for those on-the-go casual days or you can go for the bitchy-im cooler than you look and use the smaller hands to rest it in your elbow crack with your arm raised like your doing some curls, but your not. (what is that look anyway?)  They are designed using premium leather from ethically sourced houses, which creates a smooth leather finish and gives you all the feels of that new car smell.  You want this one.  I just know you do.  $270

Use code PERFECTLOVES20 for 20% until the 14th.