This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FronteraExperience #CollectiveBias
Before the birth of our baby, J and I went on dates just about every week. We'd go out and grab dinner, a movie, walk around town and shop, we loved being out and about together! Now that we have our little one, date nights are far and few in between. That is, until we discovered the joys of date nights at home! We can do all of those things at home, here is to the continuation of date nights!
We are both introverts anyways, so finding out our love for just staying at home was kind of a no brainer. While it may sound like a downer to spend your time at home, here is how you can spice up your night and enjoy time with your loved one!
Coming from Texas and being part Mexican, mexican cuisine is pretty much my comfort food! For our date nights, we have discovered that we love cooking together. Lately we stumbled upon Frontera® Frozen Skillets at Target that make date night delicious, and allow us more quality time! We cooked up the Frontera® Chicken Taco Skillet and y'all... This dish is delicious! I am very ingredient conscious now after having our baby, and this meal has quality ingredients that you can read in plain English. Our home was immediately filled with the delicious smell of chicken, roasted tomatoes, and peppers. I can't wait to also try out the other recipes they carry. While cooking we talk about our day and share the highlights. With us both working, and adding a baby to the mix, our days are filled with stories! This is our quiet time just us to work together, I love every bit of it!
Continuing with our date night, we head down to our living room and pick a movie for the night! We love comedy so that's normally what we lean towards. Date nights wouldn't be complete without playing games and we love mexican train, five crowns, or rummy. I love being able to spend date nights at home for so many reasons. It's a whole lot cheaper, we get to spend quality time together without a bunch of outside noise, and we get to do fun things like prepare our dinner together as a team. After a long day sometimes we don't have the time or energy to make an extravagant meal, but we also don't want to sacrifice flavor! I'm so happy we found these meals and can't wait to incorporate them into future date nights.
What is your favorite thing to do for date night? I'd love to hear what you and your significant other do!
We loved the Chicken Taco Skillet meal so much, that we can't wait to try out the other recipes, and even use this enchilada sauce the next time I make enchiladas! (Which is literally every week, I got my husband obsessed with Mexican food y'all!) The skillets have allowed us to branch out and try new foods, and are just packed with flavor. Seriously, once these start cooking the aroma of deliciousness will soon take over your home. Having this new go to date night meal, allows us to spend less time fretting over what to eat, and more time enjoying each other's company!
I never thought I'd be a breast pumping mom, but here we are! I am 90% breast pumping and have realized a lot of mamas struggle with pumping and have reached out to me for advice. I'm such a newbie at all of this but I hope I can help those who want to either build up their supply or start exclusively breast pumping.
I personally have a Spectra pump but I rented a Medela from the hospital while waiting for it to arrive. I love them both in their own ways, but I feel my Spectra has more controls and settings. Nonetheless, they all do the same job and have most of the same parts. Spectra consists of the flanges (what you put your girls in), a three part membrane with cases, a filter, the connecting tubes, and the machine. I personally have a plug in one, but it does come in a battery version. There are different settings for speed, vacuum, and also a let down mode option. While pumping, I usually keep it at 50-54 speed and at L03 or L04. I massage my breasts during if I feel lumps, but the massage setting is great as well. This blog post explains it all very well!
I recommend finding a pumping schedule for you and trying to pump for at least 20 minutes every time. In the beginning your baby will eat a lot closer together in time, so you want to always try and stay ahead. So say your baby is taking a nap, pump during that time and keep a bottle out and store anything you have left over. It's a lot easier in the beginning when they are only eating a few ounces, so your oversupply can go into freezer storage. Milk is good at room temperature for about four or five hours so this gives your babe a perfect timeline for when they wake up to eat next. Now at almost two months old she eats four ounces every four to five hours. So every four hours I'm pumping and have a bottle ready and anything over the four ounces goes in another bottle or milk storage bag. I filmed a typical day in my life with my pumping routine. It works great for us, but will soon change as I go back to work ha ha!
With your breast pump, it comes pretty standard, but make sure you get the correct nipple size for your comfort and for the best breast pumping experience. You can get help from a Lactation Consultant while in the hospital to determine what size you are. If you find yourself not getting a good suction, which can result to not getting a lot of milk out, it could be the size isn't right. Also, check and make sure all of your parts are intact, I know the white filter can sometimes be off and it all makes a huge difference!
So I've already touched on the electric machines, but let's be real we don't always get 20-30 minutes to be strapped to a machine ha ha! My Medela hand pump is a life saver. If she let's me, I will lay her down to nap and hand pump both sides for about 15 minutes each. I am able to get 2 ounces on each side during that time which is a full bottle for her. I find myself using my handpump throughout the day more than my electric pump because I can pump while doing other tasks in the home. I strive to pump with my Spectra three times a day, once early morning, one during her bigger afternoon nap, and again in the evening when my husband gets home. All of the time in between I use my handy dandy hand pump!
Other equipment you should look into is a Haakaa pump. These are great if you have a let down and usually leak throughout the day. Most moms will breastfeed one side and attach the haakaa pump to the other to catch all of that let down. For us pumping moms, this would be convenient if you find yourself hand pumping, you can attach this to the other side and then combine all of it together so nothing goes to waste. A Haakaa pump is basically a silicone pump that suctions on to your breast and catches any let down.You can search them on Amazon, or here.
Another great thing to consider is your nursing pads. I am wearing my washable Medela nursing pads all day, but after pumping I try and put my Medela soft shell shields on to protect my nipples. These are amazing and allow for airflow. The pumps pull out your nipples, so afterwards we are normally just squishing them again when we put our bras back on, which can be painful. These soft shell shields keep them out and let them slowly go back to their normal shape, and also has a sponge that catches any leakage. I will warn you though if you have a good let down, do not bend over because it will spill out of your shirt! I've learned this a few times ha ha. Other equipment you should consider investing in is nipple cream, gel packs, a pumping bra to hold your bottles in place, and good nursing pads. I linked all of the brands I use!
Build Your Supply
Now, when I was fresh out of the hospital and trying to get my milk in, I was pumping every two hours for about 30 minutes. This helped build up my supply and tell my body to produce milk quickly. I slowly started to space it out over the month to two and a half hours, three hours, and now I go four to six hours. You don't get much sleep the first few weeks so be prepared! It seems like a lot, but the more often you pump, the more your body will signal to produce milk to keep up. So, if you find yourself still barely producing, keep at the every two hours for a longer period of time before spacing it out more.
Also, you can power pump! Power pumping is pumping for 20 minutes (if your milk stops flowing before the 20 minute mark stop then), rest for 10 minutes. Then, pump for 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes, and pump for 10 minutes. Attempt this once a day, but you can do it three times a day for three days to really boost your supply. Also, listen to your body. Your breasts will become engorged and harden when they are full. You want to take care of yourself and prevent things like clogged milk ducts that can turn into mastitis.
While the routine I wrote above is a great way to build your supply, here are other things mamas swear by! Note, I am not a health professional and these are just ideas I or other mamas have tried out. Talk to your provider about taking certain things, as things like Fenugreek have been reported to boosting some mom's supply while completely delpleting others.
-oatmeal, garlic, carrots, nuts, ginger
-drinking lots of water
-Mother's milk tea
-upspring milk flow
Finding Your Routine
I think this is the most challenging part for moms wanting to breastfeed, when do you find the time? First, see how often your baby eats. I'll use mine for example and she eats every 4-5 hours. She typically wakes up at 4 am so I will feed her, change her and then lay her back down. I pump for 30 minutes in the morning and make a bottle out of it, saving any extra in the fridge or freezer. I rinse off my pump parts and put the second bottle in a bowl to be washed. I go back to bed, and at 8 am I pump again for 15-20 and feed her that first bottle I had left out. This time afterwards washing all the parts and the bottles.
If you can get really good you can pump right before your baby wakes up, but most of the time she ends up laying on me because she doesn't like to lay down by herself very long ha ha. I only wash my pump parts every other time I use them, because I'm using it again within a 5 hour time span and I figured if milk can sit out, my rinsed pump parts can too. I also read recently that moms will put the entire piece in a ziploc bag without rinsing off any milk and it can stay good for a full day; but I haven't tried that method. Find what works for you and don't feel too overwhelmed with having to figure out a schedule. It will be hard at first, but now I feel like it's second nature and pumping and washing is just a part of our day!
I hope this helps those of y'all who have come to me for advice. It's been a lot of trial and error for us, and hasn't been an easy road. It is very draining mentally and physically, but I am just so happy to still provide for her even if breastfeeding isn't working out for us! I am still striving to breast feed more and will just replace a pumping time with feeding her, and then pump the opposite side she doesn't eat off of. If you have any additional questions feel free to reach out to me in the comments or on my social media, I'd be happy to help!
This post is in collaboration with LilHappyMoments. I was sent product to review and not only was our experience magical, but all of my opinions are my own.
Sooo I am one of those moms that is a perfectionist. We went a few weeks ago to check out Walmart's halloween selection for babies and I was very disappointed. I also checked out Target and Amazon and everything was lame, weird, or worse: sold out. I was just at my whit's end and just wanted Sav to have a unique costume that was also super cute. Thankfully, a special gem of a person reached out to me that next day and wanted to collaborate! Lil Happy Moments definitely has created a happy moment for us and curated the best unicorn outfit ever.
If you are a mama needing to fulfill your want for a custom costume that is unique to your babe and style, I highly suggest this shop! She allows you to fully customize everything and I received the outfit at lightning speed. Seriously, like Amazon Prime fast ha ha! So you have time if you order quickly. I wanted her to be a unicorn so badly, and was afraid I'd have to just settle on something else. Thankfully we had a fairy godmother who could make this Halloween a magical one. The link to her shop and Instagram will be below. I love that it's not like the typical costume that they just wear once and it sits in the closet. The custom onesie will pair nicely with cute pants and every girl needs a tutu in her closet. This headband is to. die. for. Seriously I've never seen something so cute!
Happy Halloween y'all!
Top: Momzellesimilar here | Scarf: thrifted, similar here | Jeans: Shop Pink Blush Maternitysimilar here | Boots: Target | Sunglasses: Coach | Lipstick: "Russian Red" by MAC
Moms!!! If you are breastfeeding, these type of tops will change your life. Literally. While I look oh so trendy and ready for fall, my top has a panel that lifts up and allows for easy nursing. I will have several pieces linked below that you can go through and see if one fits your style! I love the convenience of this because I am so not a pro breastfeeding mama like some, and struggle big time. Especially when she's screaming, I'm in the back seat of the car, and struggle enough to get the nipple shield on! This makes it so much easier and you just lift the top panel and boom! Honestly this top could probably even be used as a nursing cover, which is great too if you aren't in to carrying a nursing cover around. The pastor from my old church gave me this top and a few others and I need to go and buy more because of how amazing they are.
I absolutely love the fall time and here in Colorado it's the perfect weather. My little family and I went to the park and enjoyed a nice little stroll. This past weekend we enjoyed some yummy chili (which my husband swears is the best but it's so dang simple!) and the recipe I use is linkedhere.
Lately I have been embracing this whole new mom life and I feel so happy to finally have this role. I feel like it's changed me, I've even been talking to J about chopping all of my hair off! ha ha I think it's almost time to cave in and embrace the mom cut because oh my word my hair takes forever to do. And, not to mention, is constantly getting tangled in someone's little fingers. I have always loved my hair really long and had a personal goal of growing it to my stomach, but I don't know how much longer I can hang. It is constantly in a braid or a bun and postpartum has not been very good to my hair! Y'all, talk me down because I am so close to just chopping it all!
I go back to work soon which is exciting, and sad at the same time, but I am lucky to have had these 8 weeks with her. Also, my work is sending me and a few coworkers to Ohio in November which is going to be so much fun! I'm having J and the baby come too, so Lord pray for us as we navigate the airport and a long airplane ride with a baby ha ha. I have some exciting blog posts in the works and am so glad to have finally found my niche here on the internet. I hope you guys have enjoyed these last few month's of blog posts that are more motherhood based. I've enjoyed writing them and have so many ideas which has given me life again! Y'all have an amazing week! ♥
Shop this Look:
Shop Nursing Friendly Pieces:
Making money online... This is what y'all really care about right?! I will say it's not that simple. A lot of people start blogging for the sole hope of making money. I will tell you it's a part/full time job and you will be investing your time, and occasionally money, before you start making money.
As you know, I started my blog for fun and to update family, and then it turned into this where I share weekly posts about my life and motherhood. It takes a lot to write a post and you have to be willing to put in the work.
From my previous part of this series you already know how to make your Instagram stellar, which will really come in handy for this post. Your instagram has a lot to do with how successful your brand is if you choose it as your main other social media source. It's also super important for one of the programs I will be mentioning, because it is solely dependent on your Instagram. Now, how can you turn your amazing content into profit?
Sponsored posts are my secret. A sponsored post is where a company or brand will send you their product(s) and sometimes a monetary compensation as well in exchange for you writing a blog post about it. I am always transparent in when a post is sponsored, but a lot goes into it before your post even goes live. I have control in what companies I work with, and make sure it's always a genuine relationship. I never want to blog about something I don't support or agree with, or something that doesn't fit my blog's brand.
I work with three websites majorly that have been a huge contribution to my blog's income. I will break them down on how each of them work. I will not disclose how much I make because that's awkward to talk about, so don't make things weird.
Social Fabric may be my favorite because I've worked with them the most and they've allowed me to work with brands like John Frieda, Playtex Baby, Walmart, HP, Coca-Cola, and the list goes on. How it works is you sign up and enter all of your information about your blog and other social media channels.
Then, based on your niche and demographic there will be "shoppertunities" available that you apply for. I love this process because you are selling yourself to the brand and sharing your idea on how you would incorporate their product in a post. You fill out a few questions, sharing why you want to work with them and also a breakdown of your idea. (So if you are doing a recipe, you would list out the ingredients and steps.) You see how much you would get paid when you are applying which is great to get an upfront pay and it stay the same across the board. You can apply here: socialfabric.us and please put me as the referred by! Tips for being successful in this are to really have creative ideas. Think about what your blog demographic is and who your audience is. For example, I worked with Playtex baby for their bottles and worked in into a what's in my diaper bag post, while another blogger may have shared a DIY baby blanket and tied in the baby bottle. There is so much you can do, usually the brands will have a general outline and direction, but you can get pretty creative with it.
Linqia is a bit different because they come to you. You sign up on their website and fill out everything including your topics you have on your blog. Then, you will receive an email inviting you to different campaigns they think you'd be interested in and you say whether you're interested or not. If you are, it'll be evaluated again depending on if there's still openings and then you're accepted. Please note, it's not a consistent once a month email, it literally happens at random as they come. So don't feel discouraged if you go months without anything, but you can always reach out to them and see if there's any campaigns you could be considered for. In this blogging business sometimes you have to take the first step and reach out, there's nothing wrong with that!
From there, it will open up the campaign and you'll see its description, what needs to be included in the post, and also how many clicks you need. Yes, clicks. This sponsored post isn't guaranteed upfront money and you have to reach a certain number of clicks to get a certain number of money. The upside is, you get money for your clicks, even if it's under the target amount. Say you need 50, but only get 20; you will get paid for those 20 clicks to the link they provide you and are tracking. So even if you have a high number of blog page views, you need to have a good audience that will actually be clicking your links within your post. It sounds bad, but it's honestly a lot of fun and I've been able to work with brands like Hello Fresh. Sprouts, and ThredUp and had a great time making those posts. You can sign up here: Linqia
The good thing is if you exceed the number of clicks they set for you, they will generally bump up how many clicks you need for your next campaign, which means more money for you. Also, if you do a video (like I did for Hello Fresh and more recently Hill's Science Diet) they give you a flat fee on top of the potential pay.
Social Native is a more recent program I've signed up with and is quickly growing as my favorite! This one is for Instagram posts. I LOVE the opportunities they provide because you can literally work with anyone. One of my first posts was a promotion flyer for a movie where the image was provided, but since then they have all been where I take my own photo which I enjoy more because hello, themes are important!
With Social Native they email you campaigns, and tell you what the brand is looking for. So sometimes it will say what needs to be included, which hashtags and who to tag, what you can't say, etc. Pretty straight forward. They normally provide product or a budget to purchase the product, and then give you payment on top for posting. It's super easy to work with and I enjoy all the different opportunities there. I have worked with Vans, Rachel Ray's Nutrish, and Makeup Forever. This is a great opportunity for those that may not want to start a blog just yet, or if you are still working on it, and want to just get your feet wet. If you want to apply I can invite you, so shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and write your email so I can easily copy it to invite you.
This is why it's important to have a good Instagram, BUT you also need great social media channels across the board because Linqia and Social Fabric both require you to share it on all of them. So, if you don't already have an Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest... Set them up now! ha ha They will help your overall social media reach, and I also recommend trying to have the same name across the board if you can. Unfortunately with a name like "The Strattons" it was taken on a few of the platforms, so my tip for you starting out is get your name on all of them now if you can. I am just not creative and couldn't think of a better blog name, but I still wouldn't change it even now.
There are a TON of programs out there, but these are my top three and what I can tell you the most about based on experience. I'm signed up with a few others that have been great but these are the most popular and successful for me. What you need to remember is, you need to have amazing content and really build up your blog/Instagram before you can expect to be chosen for these sponsored posts. Try to only mention brands and companies by name on occasion, because a lot of the times they will be competitors and you want to keep things as simple as possible if you plan on doing sponsored content for companies.
Also, keep in mind that sponsored posts are just one avenue to making money from your blog. Affiliate networks, ads, guest posts, and so many others are all ways you can bring in money but I have found most success with sponsored content based on how my audience responds.
Another great thing, is you aren't restricted to just working through a third party to get these sponsored posts. You can go out and hustle yourself by contacting companies you want to work with and having them send you a product and/or payment for talking about them on your blog or Instagram. If you would like to see a blog post all about how I reach out to brands, and have successful email conversations with them, please leave a comment below and I'd be happy to give examples! This blogging world is so fascinating even now to me, and I feel like the possibilities for success are limitless. I love sharing what I've learned with others because I feel like there is room for everyone! I wish I had someone giving me tips and not having to spend 1-2 years figuring it out on my own ha ha!
I hope this gives y'all a good idea if you are in the stage of monetizing your blog and or Instagram. I definitely don't recommend striving to have sponsored posts until you've built up an audience and your content. The brands do look at your blog to make sure you are a fit and you have to have some sort of establishment already for success. I'm not saying you need to have a million followers at the moment, but definitely have good blog content and an audience that is active in your posts. If you guys would like me to take a step back and do a post on building up your blog and Instagram please let me know and I can definitely do a run down on the basics!