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How to Build a Maternity Capsule Wardrobe on a Budget

Building a Budget Maternity Wardrobe

 

Some of you beautiful Mommas out there LOVE being pregnant. You’re glowing, you’re excited, and you’ve never felt better! I wasn’t exactly in that boat.

I mean, I was absolutely thrilled to be having a baby, but I’m about the most impatient person in the world! 9 months seemed like an excruciatingly long wait, especially when I already felt like I’d been waiting 31 years to be a Mom. I felt nauseous, exhausted, and though I kept checking the mirror for it, I was definitely not seeing the infamous “glow”.

I’m prone to bloating even when not pregnant, so buttoning pants was out of the question pretty early on. (The ol’ hair tie trick saved me for a little while!)

First, I tried to rework my closet to accommodate the bloat. I was NOT going to be that pregnant girl wearing baggy t-shirts and athletic shorts, and let’s not even talk about buying a pair of jeans with elastic on the top. Ugh. (Eventually, I ended up doing both.)

Here were the biggest challenges to my maternity wardrobe:

  1. I’m a teacher. I needed to look professional during the week, but fashionable comfort was my go-to on the weekends.
  2. Being due in October in New York meant my closet needed to be equipped for 3 out of 4 seasons with temps ranging from 50 degrees (or less) to 90 degrees!
  3. I refused to spend a lot of my fashion budget on clothes I’d only be wearing for a few months.
  4. Pinterest made me want to be the cutest, most fashionable pregnant lady anyone had ever seen. (Yes, you might find a board on my Pinterest called Pregnancy Goals.)

For the first 2 trimesters, I was able to rework some of my existing wardrobe to fit my expanding belly.

Step One: Scour your closet, and KEEP these items:

-Long tank tops

-Long t-shirts

-Leggings, Especially LuLaRoe!

(If you haven’t heard of LLR, you need to find a consultant in your area. The leggings are like butter.)

-Those cotton sundresses hiding in the back of your closet that are way too short to wear but that you can’t stand to get rid of because they’re SO cute (These make adorable long shirts with leggings!)

-Stretchy dresses or summer dresses (They work even with a slight belly.)

-Stretchy maxi skirts

-Stretchy jeans (I know…jeggings aren’t exactly popular anymore. Dig ’em out from the back of your closet because when you don’t have ANY jeans, you’ll want these. Promise.)

-Cardigans

See? You actually have a really good start to your maternity wardrobe if you can breathe life back into some forgotten pieces in your closet. If you’re anything like me, these won’t work for your big belly in the third trimester, but they’ll get you through for now.

Take everything else from your closet and store it away somewhere for 9 months. This way, you won’t be staring longingly at those skinny jeans. It also makes getting dressed in the morning a little more organized.

Believe it or not, this entire outfit is non-maternity! The tank was something I found at the bottom of my summer tanks, and the pants were stretchy black jeans. Cardigans are still game if you leave them open!

Believe it or not, this entire outfit is non-maternity! The tank was at the bottom of my summer tanks, and the pants were stretchy black jeans. Cardigans are still game if you leave them open!

Clothing Items You Won’t Want to See Again for 9 Months or More:

-Crop tops (Some girls can totally pull this off. Me? No. I didn’t even have any to begin with unless we’re talking about my favorite Dave Matthews tank that accidentally shrunk in the dryer.)

-Skinny jeans without stretch

-Any tight dress with a zipper and no give to the fabric

-Heels (Again, some of you glamorous moms can pull this off. My feet were swollen, and I was way too tired to try to give off the impression that they weren’t.)

-Flowy shirts or tanks (These just weren’t flattering in my case- they made me look much larger.)

Now It’s Time to Shop! Here are the Basic Items You’ll Want to Get You Through the Next 9 Months:

Maternity Budget Capsule Wardrobe

Luckily, I had a few items given to me by friends. I was also able to hit up the local consignment shops for some gently used maternity items. But, I splurged on these items, and they were totally worth it.

1. Maternity Jeans. ($35)

This pair of cropped skinny jeans caught my eye because they would get me through almost every season of the pregnancy. Looking back, I wish I would’ve bought them a size bigger because they weren’t the most comfortable in the third trimester. In the beginning, a friend recommended buying full panel in any pants, and I was thanking her later. You’ll want to hike everything up over that belly!

2. This tank. In. Every. Color. ($13)

They’re long, they’re comfy, and they look cute under all your existing cardigans. And they’re everything on the weekends. And in the summer. Just get them.

3. These T-Shirts ($15)

(See all the reasons above.)

4. A Maxi Dress (Prices vary)

For days you want to feel pretty but don’t want to sacrifice any comfort, go with a maxi! Be sure to check this site for coupons and clearance. If it’s not on sale when you’re shopping, try again next week. They run new promos all the time.

5. Cotton T-Shirt Dress (Prices vary)

Comfort + Fashion = Cute & Happy Mom. I actually wore this one to my baby shower. It was a Jack n’ Jill Baby-Q, so this dress was perfect.

6. Crop Stretch Pants ($32)

These were my faves because I could get away with wearing them to teach, but no one knew they were entirely made of stretch and had a stretchy panel. The best part is they have an elastic band you can tighten up at the top of the panel. That sounds super dorky, but trust me, when you can’t wear a belt, elastic is a lifesaver. Buy these a size up for sure.

7. Maternity Leggings (Prices Vary)

You’ll want several pair of these if you’re anything like me. I wore them almost every day to school during the cool weather months because I could get away with pairing them with a tank and cardigan, a light weight tunic, or even one of my regular-sized short dresses. On the weekends, there’s nothing better! This brand was amazing because they didn’t pill or fade, but they’re a little on the pricier end of the leggings market.

8. Lightweight Tunic ($20)

To finish off your wardrobe, you’ll want a few lightweight tunics for days you want to throw something on quickly without having to put in much thought. And there’s the whole comfort theme going again!

Reworking my wardrobe around comfort really worked to make my 9 months a lot easier. I even came to like my maternity wardrobe better than my normal one! I might even still wear my full panel leggings from time to time. 😉 What tips do you have for stretching your closet to make room for a baby belly?

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Fun Weddings

The Lazy & Cheap Way to Get Wedding Flowers for $500 or Less

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We’ve all seen the articles on Pinterest.

How to Have a Wedding for Under $5,000!

What to Cut Out of Your Wedding Budget

You Can Have a Wedding on the Cheap!

Maybe I can do this! I take a deep breath, click the article, and read. Of course, I find the only way to do this is to have 50 people in your backyard with friends to do all of the work. As much as I would love a backyard wedding, we  live in the middle of a busy neighborhood. I don’t know where everyone would go to the bathroom. We definitely don’t want to have to clean up our backyard after a wedding. It wouldn’t work. Maybe our wedding is going to have to be one of those crazy 20k weddings. Problem is, I already had one of those the first time around.

For my first wedding, I planned my heart out for almost a year and had a beautiful day with perfectly Pinterest everything. But I had the wrong partner. I was so focused on the wedding that I lost sight of what it was really about, and we both paid for that heavily in the end. I remember sobbing the day the wedding was over. We spent so much money, and though I was lucky enough to have parents that helped with that, part of me knew they had made a costly investment into a relationship we both knew in our heart of hearts wasn’t right for either of us. I will never forget that moment.

This time around, there were absolutely no doubts, and the purpose of the wedding was so much more clear. For me, this time, it’s wasn’t about having everything matchy-matchy and perfectly perfect. I had my priorities straight, and the only priority was starting this next chapter with a celebration we would never forget. The two of us discussed the wedding objectives:

  1. Have the most fun ever.
  2. Don’t go into debt over it.

Our wedding had to be easy and cheap, but still fun with those Pinterest wedding touches. With 4 months to plan and all of this insight under my belt, I knew what would be the first thing to go. Flowers.

At my first wedding, I easily spent almost $2,000 on flowers, and that’s actually on the cheaper end in the wedding world. It was a little less expensive to stick to one or two types of flowers for the bouquets and centerpieces instead of going all out with several flowers. Luckily, one-flower bouquets were all the rage. Gerber Daises, of course. They were beautiful, and we ordered all the centerpiece flowers loose instead of in arrangements to save money. Looking back, WHAT WAS I THINKING? Do you know what I would do with $2,000 extra dollars now? I could renovate a bathroom with that! The flowers were pretty, but does anyone notice flowers if they’re having fun? Have you ever looked back on a wedding and thought, “Wow. I remember that day. The flowers were amazing.”

Anyway, our first step was to find a venue that would be relatively inexpensive, which was easy enough because we aren’t fancy people & definitely didn’t want a museum-type wedding. We found the perfect place, an old concert hall owned by a local brewery with brick walls, cafe lights, and big wooden beer tables. It didn’t need much of anything else, and we knew the food & beer was going to be perfect.

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The next step was a Pinterest search for how to do flowers on the cheap. There were lots of ideas from ordering flowers online (What if they arrive dead?) to getting all your friends to come over to break out the floral tape and DIY your bouquets. (Sounds messy.) Here was the problem. We didn’t have time for flower DIY! We were planning a wedding in 4 months, and working by day, which left almost no time to get into this whole crazy flower project.

Fast forward a few days, and we’re walking through our local Whole Foods. Everything there looks straight out of a magazine, including their flower bundles. They had single flowers or mixed bundles. I took a peak at the price tag… $7 for a bundle. BINGO. If no one knows you’re planning a wedding, flowers aren’t too expensive! I figured one bundle per table, plus some for the cake table and guest book set up, and I’d still be well under $200. That’s one less zero than the first time. I can still reno that bathroom!

The thing is, you can’t be picky about the type of flower you get. I knew very well we could walk into Whole Foods the morning of our wedding and be faced with a subpar collection of flowers, especially since the wedding was right after a holiday. Some websites do say you can call ahead to places like Trader Joe’s and tell them what kind of flower you would like them to stock up on.

So, I made my centerpieces mostly NOT about the flowers. We used growlers from all of our favorite local breweries to go with the beer theme, and each table was a different brewery. We went to each brewery and took a picture holding the table number, and we used a local brewery map to show people where they sat. I bought a few dried flowers from saveoncrafts.com in case I didn’t find any long stems for the growlers at Whole Foods.

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Fortunately, this fit with the whole boho-vintage theme. I wasn’t willing to be so flexible with the bouquets, though. The girls were wearing shades of neutral, so any color would have worked, but I fell in love with some flower designs I saw on Pinterest (obviously), and I couldn’t be so flexible after falling for those. I sent the picture to a florist right around the corner from our venue. I told her my budget was $300 and that I wanted something similar to the picture, but she could substitute with any in-season flowers or make them smaller to fit in the budget. For the guys, I showed her some boutonnieres made only from greenery, and I asked her to use what she had. Delivery and all, she came in under my budget. And that was for 8 girls and 8 guys! The trick here is to be open to interpretation, and don’t budge on the price. Call around to different places. If they want your business, they’ll make it fit.

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That’s us! Check out those beautiful flowers for under $300.

The day before the wedding my car was packed so full we could barely see out the windows. We put 3 big buckets in the backseat and filled them part of the way with water. We went into Whole Foods and bought 12 bundles of flowers. I honestly didn’t love the selection on that day as much as I did when I first went in, but I knew I was taking my chances.

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The morning of the wedding, one of my amazing friends went to the venue, cut all the stems, and put the flowers into vases, which were actually cups from Pier One for a couple bucks each. The flowers ended up not being the center of attention because the growlers took the stage, but it did add a fresh element to the table!

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If you’re willing to put perfection to the side and have a wedding that’s memorable and fun, let the flowers take the backseat. At the end of the day, what’s important is the celebration of the beginning of life with an amazing partner, not the beginning of a whole lot of debt!

Photos Amy Rockwell Photography

Venue Brown’s Brewery

Music DJ Vinny Vin

Ceremony Joy Burke

Bouquets & Boutonnieres Flowers by Pesha 

Design Chipped Paint & Pearls

Dress Allure from Jocelyn’s

Fun

Family Minute to Win It Game Night

Family Minute to Win It Night was a success! ...even though I was a big loser. #minutetowinit

My sister called me the other night to ask if I would set up some sort of game night. Of course, I couldn’t just bring a bunch of board games. No. It had to be a real competition with clear rules and a scoreboard. And a grand prize. We take game night seriously!

I did a quick Pinterest search for family game nights and gathered a bunch of games based on the TV show, Minute to Win It. On the show, contestants have one minute to complete little tasks that seem nearly impossible.

We picked the games that would be the funniest to watch, plus a bunch we had played at a party on New Year’s. (Doesn’t hurt that we had a little practice with those!)

Matt is really good at figuring out how to manage the point system. Instead of having to complete the task in a minute, we wanted to add another element of competition by noting who completed the activity in the fastest time. We gave 5 points to the first place time, 3 points to the second place time, 2 to third, and 1 to fourth. If we had a tie, those two faced off to determine the score.

I was the one who suggested leaving the most challenging task for last, allowing people to bet their points. I have to admit, I suggested this to benefit myself because I knew I’d end up low on the scoreboard, and I didn’t want to feel defeated before the games were done. (I’m good at a lot of things…coordination isn’t one of them!)

We had to grab a few supplies. Here’s what we bought or found around the house:

  • Plenty of ping pong balls
  • Solo cups
  • A pair of nylons
  • A tennis ball
  • An empty tissue box
  • A big belt (preferably the kind you can loop through the buckle so it fits all sizes)
  • A bucket
  • A clipboard
  • Four 4×6 index cards
  • A package of cookies
  • A slice of bread & some peanut butter
  • M&Ms
  • Straws
  • Poster board and markers for the score board

This should help you organize your next game night, and hopefully you perform better than I did in the lineup!

Cookie Face

Place a cookie on your forehead. You have one minute to wiggle that cookie down into your mouth without using your hands. It works best if the player is seated, and if your cookie hits the ground, start again. You might want to have plenty of cookies and a video camera on hand!

Movin’ On Up

Mark one of the Solo Cups as the special cup, or use a different color. I’ve seen a bunch of variations of this one, but we used 25 cups and started with the special cup on top. Moving cups from top to bottom, work that cup all the way back to the top again.

Suck It Up

Place 25 M&Ms on a plate. Move the M&Ms one at a time from one plate to the other using only a straw. Prepare to be lightheaded from this one! Or if you’re like me, you won’t even be able to get one M&M to move. Oops! I blame it on the cheap straws we bought with the tiny opening.

Bouncy Ball

Line up 6 solo cups in a single file line in front of you. Stand facing the lineup of cups. Bounce a ping pong ball into one cup at a time, removing the cups as you go. It doesn’t count if you bounce a ping pong ball into the second one unless you’ve made it in the first. My mom dominated this one!

Knock Out

This was my favorite because it was hysterical to watch! Clear an area on the floor and set up 12 cups spread as far out as possible in a large circle. Have each player place the nylon bottoms on their head with a tennis ball in the toe of one of the legs. The object is to knock down all 12 cups one at a time. If they knock down 2 at a time by accident, put them both back up.

On the Rebound

One player holds a clipboard near their waist with a bucket placed at their feet. The other player tries to bounce a ping pong ball off of the clipboard and into the bucket. They must get 5 balls in to win, and it’s not as easy as it looks! (No help from the clipboard holder!)

PB & B

To set this up, place a slice of bread with peanut butter on the floor (or on a lower surface). Bounce a ping pong ball off a higher surface trying to get it to land directly on the peanut butter with one bounce.

Shake It Off (AKA Junk in the Trunk)

This is another event you’ll want the camera out for! Tape the empty tissue box to the back of the belt. Players should place the belt on their waist and load the tissue box with 8 ping pong balls. Players need to shake all 8 ping pong balls out of the tissue box.

At this point, we counted up each player’s points and had them make their bets on slips of paper to prepare for the final challenge!

The Final Challenge- Yank Me

We picked this game as the final challenge because it is so difficult! In one minute, players need to stack 5 cups with index cards in between each and remove the index cards one at a time from top to bottom, without letting the cups fall. If you do it right, the cups will land one inside the other. If you mess it up, hopefully you didn’t bet all those points!

Fun Weddings

Date Night Calendar for Shower or Wedding

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So, Matt and I somehow pulled off planning a wedding in under 4 months. I guess that’s a post in itself I’ll have to write! It was actually not bad at all, and it turned out perfectly. It was so much less stress when we didn’t have to wait and think about every decision for months. (Plus I would’ve wasted about five times as much time drooling over Pinterest boards.)

I did a lot of crafting and DIY to try to save time and money, but my most creative idea actually didn’t come from Pinterest! It occurred to me after seeing a Groupon for one of those 12×12 photo calendars.

We wanted a way to have our guests contribute to some date night ideas for us, but we didn’t want to do the typical idea of writing a date night idea on a card. Realistically I probably would’ve just lost the cards or stuffed them in a box somewhere.

Instead, we ordered one of those photo calendars with photos of us for each month of the year. I tried to use match up pictures we had taken in that month the previous year. On the cover of the calendar, I added text with directions.

 

Leave some pens by the calendar, and let guests write their idea in a particular date. The best part was that our guests included local events like 5ks and local festivals that we might have otherwise forgotten about. The ideas will keep us busy all year long! Make sure your guests sign their name so you know who to thank after you have an amazing time.

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