A Tiny Christmas || Keeping Christmas 2018 Simple

DSC_0237.JPG

It’s officially our first “tiny” Christmas in the RV and, although I’ve always tried to keep the holidays simple and pressure free as much as I could, this year it feels like we’re taking it to new lengths, literally.

This season has, as it usually does, felt like a blur, but I’ve tried to keep my mindset on doing “less but better” be it an activity, buying a gift, or deciding whether to decorate or not. I’ll keep this post short and sweet, but I’m excited to share a few photos of our Christmas setup and a few (really simple) goals I’ve been sticking to over the past month or so.

ACS_0174.JPG

1. Keep Decorations to a Minimum

As much as I love to deck the halls, this year it felt overwhelming to try to add too much Christmas decor, especially when we’re still in the organizing and settling in phase of RV life. I stuck to setting up a mini artificial tree (reusable and easier to clean up than a real tree) and buying one pre-lit garland for the kitchen.

For the tree, the girls and I made salt dough ornaments and made a little garland using cotton balls and yarn and filled in the gaps with the few ornaments we already had (plus the addition of our RV ornament that I couldn’t say no to).

Our living area feels festive but not overwhelming and I’m not worried about where to put it all when we take it all down.

2. Focus on cultivating a sense of Christmas, rather than feeling pressured to do It all

This has been huge for me. We live in a very tourist-y area with LOTS going on over the holidays and although we’ve done a few of the events, I’m hoping to portray to my girls that the holidays can still be festive and exciting without having to be busy. So, we’ve decorated cookies, read Christmas stories, gone sledding and drank hot cocoa, and even went to the Denver Zoo lights, but I don’t feel pressure to say yes to every Christmas-y thing that comes our way.

DSC_0218.JPG

3. Keep gifts simple, but don’t stress if others don’t

Perhaps the most important tip for me this year has been to not stress about what I can’t control. I love gifts of experiences for my kids and meaningful things that don’t take up much space and encourage exploration and creativity. But. Not everyone else does. I can make my “wish list” for my family, pass it on to relatives with the note that we live in an RV so please don’t go overboard, and leave it at that.

As the packages for my kiddos arrive at our doorstep I try to appreciate the love that went into them, thankful for how many people love my girls. Instead of feeling stress about the new toys we will have to make space for, I’m working on controlling only what I can control.

How are you keeping the holidays simple this year?

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

ACS_0158.JPG

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!

ACS_0156.JPG

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.

When "World Changing" Is Just Another Buzz Word (And How to Combat It)

ACS_0105.JPG

I’ve been sharing about incredible brands here for a while. Brands who literally change lives. Brands who, through quiet and beautiful production, make the world a safer, healthier place. Brands who aren’t afraid to do big things to help those in need. Brands who shouldn’t be taken lightly.

And after several years of sharing brand after brand, I can tend to have a “dumbed down” perspective of just how important the work these brands are doing is. Another brand that combats trafficking. Another brand that uses upcycled material. Another brand that employs at-risk women.

Is my privilege showing yet?

I know about the issues, but I’m not directly affected by most of them. I’ve never employed a woman fleeing for her life. I’ve never known the struggle of choosing to take a stand and use eco-friendly materials, or not use plastic in production. I’ve never traveled to far off villages to learn the art forms passed down from generation to generation in hopes to capture something similar for consumes in the West. And I don’t think most of us have.

When I feel myself loosing my “awe”, I slow down. I reevaluate why I write here and why I’ve decided to make a living out of showcasing brands who make the world a little better.

I don’t think I’m alone here. The echo of amazing, humanitarian, eco-friendly, ethical brand reverberating over and over again can warrant a quick applause and appreciation for beauty without much thought or action afterwards.

But I never want this space to become a numbed review of products. I never want to stop feeling the weight of what the brands I partner with accomplish (paired with my own inability to fully comprehend it). And I want the same for you, the people who choose to come here because you know fashion can/should be better.

So, when I brag about a brand, let’s feel the weight of what they’re doing in an industry that pushes against it. And let’s support that.

Which leads me to today’s brand. An offshoot of a non-profit organization doing truly astounding things in the lives of women whose options are sorely limited.

Meet Darzah

“Darzah” is the Arabic word for “stitch”. It symbolizes the literal process of embroidering product and also the journey each woman takes to arrive within Darzah’s safe walls. A part of A Child’s Cup Full, Darzah employs refugee women in northern West Bank, in an area where unemployment rates for women can be as high as 63%.

Employing women seems like a non-issue to those of us who live where we have easy access to jobs, don’t face blatant discrimination daily, and who haven’t had to literally flee for our lives. But for these women who A Child’s Cup Full employs, the opposite is their reality. These women have had to fight for themselves and their families and when a woman doesn’t have access to a job, the alternatives aren’t pretty.

Darzah teaches these women artisans how to embroider stunning and traditional Palestinian designs on locally sourced leather from a family-owned supplier. These designs, called “Tatreez” embroidery, are traditionally passed down from mother to daughter, a beautiful (and literal) symbol of the new lives these women are walking into.

ACS_0043.JPG

These words, “employing women”, “local supplier”, “refugee”, “traditional techniques”…let them hit you. Let them sink a little bit deeper than they have before.

These are the brands that are changing the world, one life, one embroidered pair of shoes, at a time. And I hope we never forget the weight of that.

ACS_0110.JPG

*Thank you Darzah for sharing your story with me and sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions, creative direction, and photos are my own.*

RV Living: A Q&A + 7 Things I've Learned in Our First Month of Tiny

ACS_0031.JPG

We did a thing - a slightly crazy thing - forcing us into the lifestyle both my husband and I have craved for more than four years.

We bought an RV.

To live in. Full time.

With 2.5 kiddos.

The number of people choosing to “go tiny” is growing and, as someone who has always been in love with the concept of less but better, living in a big space allows for too much wiggle room (ie. hoarding). The confines of our tiny space allow for very little excess, and it’s a challenge that I’ve happily looked forward to for a long time.

A few of you asked about our square footage transitions, so here’s a quick run down of the size of the spaces we’ve lived in over the past few years. Our first (and only) home we’ve owned was a 2,400 square foot Victorian style home in Nebraska. It was beautiful and huge and we spent two years remodeling it, but we knew it wasn’t our forever space. From there, we moved to Colorado and our first condo here was a little two bedroom unit with enough space but no flexibility to make it our own. We left there and moved in with my parents for a season. We had a bedroom and a bunk-bed room for the girls. Now, our RV is a cozy 37 feet long with two pull outs for extra space, a bunk room for the kids and a separate “master bedroom” for AJ and I. It is small, don’t get me wrong, but it’s ours and it’s great. All of our extra belongings that we didn’t sell or donate (things like our dining room table and my piano, out of season clothes, and outdoor gear) are stored in a little shed on my parents property.

It’s been just about a month in our RV and, although the majority of our time here I’ve been battling morning sickness, we’ve gotten quite settled in and I’ve already learned so much. This blog post is simply me sharing my “initial lessons of tiny living” since I’m no where near an expert, and a quick attempt to answer a few of the most common questions I’ve gotten from you all. I plan on documenting much of our journey into tiny and plan to share a full tour once we get a few little projects out of the way and I feel the RV is closer to “done”. My goal is to get it finished by Christmas so we have room for a little Christmas tree.

For now, I want to share a few things I’ve learned this month and a few brands who’ve so sweetly agreed to help turn transform space from a weekend vacation home for wealthy elderly couples into a home for a family of four.

ACS_0030.JPG
  1. Bring the Essentials and Nothing More

    As I mentioned before, it was either, bring too much stuff and turn into a crazy woman, or choose just the essentials and create a place for each thing. Since we weren’t moving too far and had already downsized significantly after our move from the condo, I already had a pretty good idea of the things I’d need for the RV. We have just enough dishes for the four of us. We have just enough toys to not overwhelm the space (I can swap them out with others in storage to freshen up the excitement every now and than.) We have just enough clothes to fit our minimal storage options. And we have just enough bathroom essentials to get the job done.

    As for our clothes (one of the main questions I’m asked and one of my bigger hurdles thus far), here’s how I’m handling it: the RV has built-in storage alongside our queen size bed, over the top of it, and underneath it. The hang-up space is minimal (I’ll do a full tour soon!), so I had to create a mini-capsule of my most worn pieces. Since I’m getting more and more pregnant by the week, I knew I’d have to downsize and rely on pieces that are versatile, so it was an easy transition. I keep my extras under the bed, and my flat laying clothing and things like socks, bras, and underwear above the bed in the cupboards.

    The girls room has a lot of storage, so their clothes fit easily in the under the bed drawers. Aj’s closet is his own territory and I try not to look at it.

  2. Choose Aesthetically Pleasing Storage Solutions

Simply deciding where in the world to put everything was the biggest challenge. Our RV comes with lots of storage options, but of course, they’re not meant to house everything a family needs to survive, so I had to get a little bit creative. I’m thankful for brands like Urbana Sacs and Ten Thousand Villages who offer functional but beautiful (and eco-friendly/ethically made) storage solutions.

I put small things like my makeup, my Hand Made Beauty non-toxic nail polish (read more about them in my last blog post!), a few house plants, bathroom essentials, and cleaning supplies in my Urbana Creative Sacs, made from sturdy eco-friendly recycled paper, and store them in the open shelving in the bathroom and inside the vanity. They also sent me a few larger Sacs that I put my socks and underwear in and our toilet paper in another large one. They’re such a versatile and beautiful storage option that can used and reused for years.

3. Add Pieces that Bring You Joy

Since there is literally no space for “eh”, I made a rule for myself long before we even bought the RV that I’d only fill it with necessities and pieces I truly loved. I’ve had to do some soul searching to continue to nail down my “personal style” but I knew I wanted the RV to feel bright, cozy, and not cluttered. I’m using a lot of whites (hopefully out of reach of places sticky fingers can reach) and bringing in rich, rustic colors like burnt orange, deep navy, and forest green green when I need color. Luckily, I had most of the pieces I brought to the RV, but a few new additions are my Anchal Project throw pillow, my vintage runner for the kitchen I found on Etsy, and a gorgeous throw blanket from Quiquattro.

Anchal Project is an amazing brand that I’m honored to be working with - their pieces are made by women artisans in India and their designs are modern but cozy. I have their 22” Cross-Stitch Toss Pillow in rust and I love the pop of color it adds to our otherwise minimal bedroom.

4. Functional and Multi-Use Products are Everything

Aside from the few decor items I have in the RV, all other space is used for functional but cute storage and functional/cute everyday items. I’ve also come to rely on multi-use products that can serve multiple functions. I made all purpose cleaner that can clean literally any surface in the camper. My decorations also double as pieces I can wear (I hung my fedoras on the wall and have a small space to hang clothes for display on one of our bedroom walls (once the painting is finished!). Getting creative and learning how to disguise the unsightly things like remotes and cords with pretty baskets is a fun challenge.

5. Kids Don’t Take Up As Much Space As Adults

The girls we’re probably more excited than AJ and I were when we moved in. Since they’re so close in age (20 months apart) they’re used to sharing a space and their little bunk room is their kingdom. I have a few designated spaces for things like art supplies, play dough, blocks, and other toys, so they can have their own choice of things to play with.

I got a few questions about how I plan to encourage the girls’ independence and give them “space” while living in an RV. Although this answer isn’t necessarily a quick and simple one, my summarized answer is that kids simply don’t need as much space as we assume, and they really don’t need as much “stuff” as we assume. My girls have incredible imaginations, love playing together (usually) and can turn literally any space into whatever they want. If I ever sense that one of them needs a break from the other (usually when nap time needs to happen), we sit down, take a break, and give them space to play (or rest) separately.

6. Brighten Up the Space Wherever You Can

RV’s and campers are not known for their aesthetically pleasing instagram-ability. In fact, I think the opposite is usually true. They come with dark interiors, small windows and weird brownish beige walls. I knew that taking all steps I could to brighten up the small space would be one of my first steps to making it feel like “home”. My goal is to bring in as much white as possible, which includes painting the walls (a big process that we’re currently in the middle of), taking the weird brown curtains down and replacing them with sheer, bright ones, and adding white bedding.

The folks at Doplnok have been chatting with me for a long time and we finally decided that now was the perfect time for us to try out their fair trade, organic cotton sheets. The sheets are made with GOTS certified organic cotton and the brand is Fair Trade certified, which gives me confidence that their backing up their claims with action. The sheets were shipped in a gorgeous reusable box that will be put to good use in our tiny home.

7. Routine and Finding Out of the House Space is Important

In addition to the above, I’ve tried to set predictable routines and, especially important, make sure to get outside/out of the RV time as often as possible.

We didn’t decide to go tiny so we could spend our entire days inside cooped up in a camper - we did it so we could essentially be forced to get out more often, explore our home, and try new things. It pushes us out of our comfort zones, and I think it can only be a healthy experience for all of us, despite the obvious challenges.

Wintertime will be one of the biggest hurdles. Some days, it will simply be too cold to be outside, so I’m going to make a “Wintertime Fun Jar” full of fun inside ideas to keep us busy on the days where the winter blues strike. I’m so excited for our first summer in here though. Setting up the patio, letting the girls picnic out front, and (hopefully) getting to travel with it are a few things I’m anxiously awaiting.


One month down - countless more to go! I can’t wait to get more projects finalized so I can share a full tour of the RV. Stay tuned and, as always, comment away with any and all questions you may have!

Considering RV/tiny home life with kids? Read about our first month as a family of four in a 37 foot RV.

*This post was partially sponsored by a few brands who’ve helped me make the transition into RV life. Thank you to Urbana Sacs, Anchal Project, and DOPLNOK for making this post possible.*

Handmade Beauty || A Simple Switch

ACS_0026.JPG

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.

ACS_0023.JPG

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.

ACS_0022.JPG

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*