A Simplified Look at 2019 || My Plan for the New Year

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I don’t usually share my “behind the scenes” plans for this space. However polished or unpolished as it may seem, I usually feel like I’m winging it and, even three or four years later, struggle to stick to a consistent plan or schedule. So sharing that plan feels scary.

Although this blog has slowly become my job, I try really hard to keep it as relaxed and fun for me as possible because I know the second it gets too structured and full of “have to’s” I’ll resent it. That said, since it is a job, I’ve been treating it as such for the past few years and know that it will flop and I’ll end up compromising on quality and turn into a puddle of stress if I don’t have goals and structure.

So I’m sharing my 2019 goals to both give you sweet readers a heads up for what to expect AND to keep myself accountable.

Last year, I used my Pace and Pattern planner religiously and, of course, I’m so excited to use the 2019 version this year. I’ll be using it in conjunction with an Ink & Volt planner which is a bit more streamlined and minimalistic than the P&P. I love Pace and Pattern because they’re AMAZING at forcing you to sit down and create goals that will actually happen. It’s an all encompassing planning that allows you to focus on your life as a whole, with space to plan, schedule, dream, make mistakes, and reevaluate. (Side note* this post isn’t sponsored by either company, but I did receive both planners to share my authentic experience with you throughout the year.)

So, without further ado, here are my goals for 2019, both for SL&Co. and for my personal life. This year will be a big one — I’m having baby #3 in May, we’re hoping for me to work enough hours on my blog and freelance work that I can take over a lot of our income, providing us with freedom to travel and live “tiny”, and both my girls will be in school part-time this Fall, freeing me up to (hopefully) work even more on this space. I’m so excited for what this new year holds.


Goals for the SL&Co.

  • Focus on long term partnerships between fewer brands

    • This is so beneficial for so many reasons. Mostly, it allows me to dedicate my time and energy to promoting fewer brands who I really, really believe in and can develop a relationship with. Furthermore, it helps you all, my readers, to make more informed choices by watching how a brand interacts with my real life over a period of time, instead of in a single blog post. My collabs will run for 3 months or 6 months. I’ll likely still have “one-time” partnerships interspersed throughout each month, but I’m really hoping to focusing mostly on long term relationships.

    • You can always keep track of who my “Ambassador” brands are by looking at the footer of my homepage.

  • Collaborate with brands who aren’t strictly fashion related

    • As my lifestyle becomes more “conscious” I hope to incorporate more posts on living an all around “slow and conscious” lifestyle, from downsizing, to lessening waste, to tackling newborn life as slowly and intentionally as possible. As always, I LOVE suggestions for what would be most helpful for you to read about, so please, email me or message me.

  • Write more “authentically”/real life inspired posts/updates

    • Although sponsored posts take a lot of time, I’m hoping to mix more unsponsored content in this year as well as tailor my sponsored posts to feel less “review-y” and more “here’s how a piece fits into my day to day life”. My latest post with Encircled is an example of one way I can do this.

  • Work only (as far as it’s possible) with brands who prioritize extended sizing and inclusivity in their marketing and production

    • This issue of exclusion and sizeism has been on my heart for months and although I don’t quite know yet where my voice fits in the narrative, I’m hoping to consciously shed light on brands who create clothes for women of all sizes/budgets/backgrounds. It’s hard when I’ll be the one “modeling” them for my site, but I’m hoping textual review will be enough for now. If you have ideas of how I can do more, please let me know!

  • Host raw conversations and listen

    • This will primarily happen via Instagram, because I love the community there and feel it’s a great platform for hosting true discussions, instead of me “preaching” from my blog.

  • Start up a semi-regular (monthly?) newletter to share happenings, discount codes, thoughts from my heart that don’t make it on the blog, and more. (Sign up below!)

    • Bonus points for letting me know what would be most meaningful to you in a newsletter!

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Personal Goals

  • Tackle one zero-waste goal each month

    • Join me! Emily from A Day Pack and a few others have already expressed their interested in joining me each month with a new zero waste challenge. The goal can be personal to your own life, but I’ll be sharing my monthly “schedule” and my progress with the hashtag #InspiringZeroWaste

  • Journal through my pregnancy

    • I’m terrible at regular journaling, but I love to do it. Journaling during pregnancy has been therapeutic while I carried each of my babies.

  • Have regular “vulnerability dates” with my husband

    • I’ve realized that although when I write it seems to come naturally, in personal relationships, especially my marriage, vulnerability is really hard for me. These dates might be weekly or monthly, but I want to force myself to share something raw each time.

  • Practice more self-care that isn’t blog or work related

    • I’m hoping that making this a goal ahead of time will ingrain it in my mind when I’m deep in the haze of the newborn phase. Even now, I usually feel like work is my alone time and self-care (because I love my job!) but to be my healthiest and happiest I need more outlets than just blogging.


There you have it! I’m sure these goals will ebb and flow like they always do, but I hope laying them out here is encouraging and exciting to you too. I’d love to hear a few of your goals for 2019 in the comments and, as always, thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me and this little slice of the internet.

Handmade Beauty || A Simple Switch

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A few weeks ago, the girls and I did a little “nail polish detox”, where we sat down, went through each of my polishes in my (already small) collection and threw out the ones that weren’t at least “5 Free”. Although they didn’t necessarily understand the difference between the “bad and good colors”, they always ask each time we sit down for a little girl time if the polish is safe for their fingers.

As low maintenance as my beauty routine is, especially lately with my past two months of straight morning sickness (if you missed something, catch a little announcement here), I’ve dedicated the past few years to intentionally whittling down the contents of my beauty collection until I’m confident that each item in it is safe for my skin and, of course, my girl’s skin, lungs, eyes, and everything else, as well.

I shared a few of my favorite skincare brands several months ago but today I wanted to delve a bit deeper into the world of nail polish (admittedly not my strong suit, but one I’m learning more about) and share about a brand I’m honored to partner with for the next few months.

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What’s the trouble with conventional polishes?

Not surprisingly, most nail polishes, be they salon-worthy or purchased in the aisles of a dollar store, are laden with shockingly terrible chemicals. In fact, studies (and anyone with a sense of smell) show that even the air in most nail salons is harmful to breathe, let alone the polish they’re putting on your body.

Although I won’t pretend to be an expert, a quick Google search of “toxins in nail polish” is a little terrifying. Chemicals like triphenyl phosphate (or TPHP) are known endocrine disrupters, and are found inside the bodies of women who use polish containing it. Formaldehyde, a substance used to preserve dead bodies and a carcinogen, is also another guilty party inside most nail polishes. These, along with toluene and dibutyl phthalate are commonly cited as the other more harmful chemicals inside almost all nail polish brands.

Beauty products in America are notoriously unregulated and it’s hard to know who to trust, when brands who claim to be all-natural are actually laden with chemicals.

What is 7-Free Polish?

3-Free polishes were first to the scene, with 5-free close on its tail. Some brands, however, have cut the chemicals even more by offering 7-free options (a friend even told me that Target now sells a line that’s 10-free and I’ve even heard of 13-free). But what exactly are these polishes “free” from?

7-free specifcally, since that’s the polish I have experience using, is free from the 5 most common chemicals found in nail polishes with an addition of other 2 chemicals (Toluene, Dibutyl Pthalate, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, Triphenyl Phosphate (TPHP) and Xylene). I can’t even pronounce most of those words…why would I choose to put them on my fingers?

Why Handmade Beauty?

Handmade Beauty hails from Madrid, a culture not subjected to the US’s loose standards when it comes to beauty products. They use only organic ingredients, even for their nail polishes, and have opened up several salons in Spain. All of their ingredients are listed on their website and they’re wonderfully transparent about their commitment to producing better, safer products.

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I’m not someone who constantly needs a color on my nails, but when I do decide to get fancy, it’s wonderful to know that I can do so without worrying about myself, my kiddos, and my growing babe in the process.


*This post is part of an ongoing partnership with Handmade Beauty. All opinions and photographs are my own*

Phillip Adam || Organic Bathtime

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Bath time has always been my girls' most cherished rituals. They'd stay in the bath for hours if I let them, pretending to be fish or dinosaurs or puppies. Now that they're older and are starting to take charge of their "self-care" more often, the products I trust in their care are even more important. 

They love washing their own hair, making bubbles, and letting the conditioner "rest for a few minutes" in their hair just like mama does, and usually, splashing most of the contents of the bathtub onto the floor. 

In my quest for ethically made, organic, and kid-approved shampoo brands, I stumbled across Phillip Adam and they were sweet enough to send over some products for us all to enjoy. 

Although I originally intended to use Phillip Adam's apple cider vinegar shampoo and conditioner on myself, I was excited to find out that it's perfect for kids and has had amazing results on both of my girls' (very different) hair. 

Phillip Adam is a Canadian brand that uses only natural ingredients. Their products are all vegan, cruelty free, gluten free and free of parabens, SLS's and GMO's. Their apple cider vinegar products are their best selling and it's not surprising - they smell incredible, work amazing on all types of hair, and give your hair/scalp all of the benefits of ACV with a few added ingredients for a boost.

I've never been one to splurge on body products - even when my kids were younger I had a hard time justifying buying pricey, ultra-healthy shampoos and body products. Although they're definitely a bit more than your drugstore or supermarket products, Phillip Adam is a brand making high quality, ethical and healthy products at an approachable price-point. Safe and ethical isn't the case for the majority of products on the shelves, so finding brands I can trust for my whole family is something worth sharing about. 

What ethical skincare brands do you love for your family (or yourself)? I'm always on the hunt for more!


*This post is in partnership with Phillip Adam. All photos and opinions are my own.* 

Cultivating Lagom with Lakeshore Dry Goods

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More than anything, savoring is about gratitude...It’s about keeping in mind that you live right now, allowing yourself to focus on the moment and appreciate the life you lead, to focus on all that you do have, not what you don’t. Cliche? Totally.
— Meik Wiking, "The Little Book of Hygge"

I've been known to obsess over "atmosphere". I can never sit down to work until the room feels cozy enough. I've purposefully gone to cafe's that are a bit more expensive, just because I appreciate the "vibe" more. I like to feel inspired, at ease, home-y, whether I'm writing a blog post, hosting a get-together, or just spending time with my family. If you read my blog post on cultivating a sense of home in "unlikely" seasons, you'll know that this phase of our life has been anything but home-y. We're currently in-between homes and, true to myself, I've found ways to create cozy, intentional moments even when we have no space to call our own. 

It's usually as simple as a familiar routine, hanging up some simple decor to make our temporary room feel like home, or for me, of course, creating a little "coffee corner" for myself to wake up in each morning. 

Believe it or not, I'm not the only one who is obsessed with atmosphere and "coziness". 

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It turns out that there are entire cultures and lifestyles built around this idea of "the art of creating intimacy" and coziness and the more I learn about it all, the more it speaks to what my soul already loves and craves. 

I've spend the past few months reading three books on the subject. 

Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living (here)

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets of Happy Living (here)

The Little Book of Lykke: Secrets of the World's Happiest People (here)

Each of these books are a little bit different, but each one hinges on the Scandinavian culture of slow, thoughtful living, a topic that, not surprisingly, I fall more in love with by the day. The words Lykke, Hygge, and Lagom have English translations, but ones that, I think, fall short of the native meanings. 


hygge

Pronunciation /ˈhʊɡə//ˈh(j)uːɡə/

NOUN

A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)


lykke 

Pronunciation/"lye-kee"

felicity, happiness {noun}


lagom

Pronunciation/

Lagom (pronounced [ˈlɑ̀ːɡɔm]) is a Swedish word meaning "just the right amount"... "enough, sufficient, adequate, just right". Lagom is also widely translated as "in moderation", "in balance", "perfect-simple", and "suitable" (in matter of amounts).


Although Scandinavian blood runs deep in my family, I can't claim to fully understand the depth and implications of living in a culture that so truly believes in these ideals. America, quite apparently, is far from the "just the right amount" mindset and our culture of more, bigger, and better has a tendency to distract. 

However. 

One of my deepest longings is to create a slow, thoughtful lifestyle for myself and my family. A lifestyle that doesn't continually need more. A family-culture centered around these notions of "less is more", gratitude, comfortable aesthetic, and experiences over things. Hygge, Lykke, and Lagom are, quite possibly, my biggest inspirations for Simply Liv & Co. other than my desire to grow the sustainable fashion movement. Unbeknownst to me, these concepts were so ingrained in me that I sought to live them out long before I knew what they were called, or even that cultures before me had done so for years and years and years. 

I strive to showcase products here that are both beautiful and functional. Lagom. Just enough. 

When Lakeshore Dry Goods reached out to me to collaborate, I wasn't sure how I was going to authentically share about towels. For one thing, I can't take a decent photo in them and, despite how much I use mine, it seems somehow different than sharing about a glamorous, easily photograph-able "capsule wardrobe staple", like I normally do. 

But, perhaps my mindset was all wrong. 

Perhaps the pieces that you use day in and day out, whether it's straight out of the shower, or in your real-life morning routine, or simply because your 3 and 4 year old love to look like mama, perhaps these are the pieces worth sharing about the most. 

Lakeshore Dry Goods uses organic, ethically sourced and sewn cotton to create their towels, which is noticeably gentler on hair and magically reduces frizz and tangles. Both of which, coming from a mother of two girls with insanely tangle-able hair, is a miracle straight from the hygge gods. 

It might seem silly to link a cotton towel to my "dream lifestyle" but, if I understand it correctly, living a lifestyle of "lagom" is about surrounding yourself with things that are both beautiful and functional. My girls look forward to each bath time, knowing that at the end, they'll cozy up with their very own "big girl" towel, just like mama does. 

I've been known to leave my Lakeshore towel on for almost an entire day, because it takes so much of the effort out of my normal hair-care routine. It reduces drying time, makes it easier to style my hair, is so much less bulky than a normal towel, and of course, I can focus on other things like making breakfast for my kiddos or enjoying my coffee in the morning for just a few minutes longer. 

My philosophy about enjoying the little things is so much simpler and more do-able when I'm not worried about silly things like spending time on my hair - a philosophy notably Danish and Swedish who are masters at the minimally undone looks. 

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Notoriously low-maintenance and a lover of all things simple, easy, and of course, beautiful, it's no surprise that my love for these simple towels is a reflection of my love for something much bigger: a lifestyle that I'm daily trying to emulate. And choosing the right towel, or the right coffee corner, or the best time to stay in and say no - it's all part of the hygge I'm constantly trying to achieve.

How do the concepts of hygge and lagom resonate with you? 


*This post was sponsored by Lakeshore Dry Goods, intentionally structured around these ideals that I try to portray in my everyday life. All opinions, photos, and obsessions with Scandinavia are my own.* 

Ungalli Clothing || Recycled Fashion for the Whole Family

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There are few things I appreciate more than a "one stop" shop. Buying consciously is tricky enough, but having to shop separate retails for each member of your family (and do the necessary research to make sure each shop fits your values and of course, budget,) is no easy feat. Furthermore, practicality, comfort, and kid-friendliness are huge pluses when I shop anywhere for my girls. 

We're all for the twirly dress and tutu, but when a day at the lake beckons, we need clothes that can translate from home to camping trip and back again. 

Enter Ungalli Clothing. In a few short weeks, these pieces from the family (and eco) friendly store have become our go-to for anything from lounging at home to a campfire to a camping trip turned picnic at the lake.  

Ungalli is a Canadian brand focused on education and transparency. When co-founders (and sisters) Hailey and Bree learned about the effects of the fast fashion industry both on the environment and on the hands and lives making our clothing, they knew there had to be a better, more sustainable option. Ungalli was born out of their desire to spread awareness while creating an earth-friendly, worker-friendly product. 

Their pieces are made with recycled materials, specifically plastic water bottles, which are shredded and refined into yarn and re-made as recycled polyester. One Ungalli tee gives new life to approximately 10 plastic water bottles, which means that my family alone is wearing about 30-ish plastic bottles that would have otherwise ended up in landfill. 

In addition to their eco-friendly fabrics, Ungalli designs and manufactures all of their clothing locally, reducing their carbon footprint and supporting their local economy. 

The brand offers just about everything from tees to joggers to hoodies to hats. There are even goodies for pets and kiddos. Ungalli spreads the love even further by offering custom tee printing for businesses, using their recycled fabrics. 

With comparable pricing, comfortable pieces, and designs that are easy for anyone to wear, Ungalli is lessening the footprint of the fashion industry one tee at a time.

And, just to end on a realistic note, in case you think photoshoots with toddlers is as happy as it looks, here's a shot of Mara, after she fell in the lake. 


*This post was sponsored by Ungalli Clothing. All photographs, opinions, and crying children are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make SL&Co. possible!*