Lovely Simply

Style and Lifestyle in New England

BJ’s Sneak Peek

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This past Tuesday, my sister and I loaded up the kids (three in total) and headed to the New BJ’s in Manchester NH for a sneak peek of it before they open on the 17th of this month. We kept telling the kids we were going on an adventure, and luckily for us BJ’s had these awesome carts with little race cars attached which basically made Redmonds entire day.IMG_0818

After a potty trip for the toddlers (because if you think you gotta go, stop and go right away…) we started our little tour of the new building. The first thing we saw was a huge wall of pretty much all of Redmonds favorite kid foods. Annie’s Mac and cheese, bunny grahams–the good stuff. We were told that this is their wow wall for #wowwallwednesday and features new deals every week. IMG_0813

After that, we headed to the family section of the store. I loved this area because it had basically everything a young family with little ones (like us) could need–diapers, wipes, ect. There were also all the over the counter medications that we try to keep stocked–and my favorite aspect  was that the sizes were bigger than what you find in your average drug store. We  just survived two sick kiddos where we ran out of ibuprofen and had to do the dreaded evening run to get more, and I want to be fully prepared for next time.

We checked out the fresh produce area after that, and I was so impressed by the variety. They also had their own deli (which you can call ahead to and have your order ready for pickup) and prepared foods section. And best of all….a bakery. I’m still thinking about the cheesecakes we saw. They looked so good!

I remember BJ’s being much more of a bulk shopping experience when I went with my parents as a kid, but now they carry basically everything and you could EASILY do all your grocery and home shopping in one stop. Pet food, patio furniture, Easter dresses–they had it all.

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As you can tell from these photos, Redmond  fell in love with a giant chicken, and picked out a bouquet of flowers (which he licked. Because….toddlers are gross), and had an all around amazing time. He didn’t want to leave. I had to remind him that we were going to sing happy birthday and have a treat with one of my closest friends to lure him out. An adventure indeed.

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BJ’s was kind enough to give me some gift cards so that we can do some shopping for our family, so I will be sharing some recipes that we make with our buys on my Instagram (@simply_hannah.joy). Check back in and thanks for reading!

p.s. They still have the deal going on for first time Members here

This is a sponsored post on behalf of BJ’s Club, all opinions are my own

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BJ’s Comes to Manchester

BJ’s is coming to Manchester!

Grocery shopping is one of my favorite “duties” as a grown up. Redmond loves it, Laurie likes to be in his front pack looking around, and it turns into a fun outing for us. Meal planning is not one of my favorite duties though…even though I love cooking and I LIKE having a plan, it just is always daunting to me. Even with Pinterest. EVEN WITH PINTEREST. I know.

We have a pretty tight food budget, and the more Redmond eats, the harder it is to maintain, and I’ve been looking for some other options than the way I’ve been doing things. BJ’s Wholesale Club is opening a new location in Manchester, NH and I am super excited to visit their new location on their behalf and start saving. As a member of BJs ( and if you don’t already have one you can apply for one, here) families can save up to $500 a year on their groceries, gas, household items–pretty much everything. The membership right now is discounted and costs $25 year (normally $55!)* and we will be able to save 25% on normal grocery store prices which will make a HUGE difference to our budget. There’s also an Add-to-Card coupon feature where we can digitally clip coupons directly to our membership card for added discounts, which is cool since I never can keep track of coupons at the grocery store. I just looked at all the discouunts going on right now and got a little over excited, which I think shows that I am solidly a mom…because $2 off laundry detergent is worth celebrating.

My two little ones and I will be visiting next week, 3/6, to see the new club before the grand opening to the public on March 17th—and I’ll be on the lookout for the Wellsley Farms products specifically since they have a large selection of natural and organic items. I’ll be posting about our experience and some photos from the trip as well! So check out my Instagram next Tuesday for stories of our visit and follow along (@simply_hannah.joy) to see more!

*The $25 membership offer is only for new members

This is a sponsored post on behalf of BJ’s  Club, all opinions are my own

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Black Friday Situation

While I was pregnant, Pink blush maternity was my absolute hands down favorite store for maternity clothes. They carry non maternity pieces as well, like this moody floral dress, and I love them too. I had sort of forgotten what an adjustment it is to have to find pieces that fit my postpartum curves (specifically my GIANT NURSING BOOBS). I had also forgotten how hard it is to have to always think about being able to nurse in clothing. And I want it to be easy with this second baby. I feel like with Redmond I wore fussier outfits and would wrestle my boobs out to nurse him, but I canNOT be bothered this time around.

So it’s double bonus because their regular line of women’s clothing is pretty much all nursing friendly (like the dress I’m wearing here–which is a little more booby than I usually go for BUT they’re basically impossible to control right now….#breastfeedingproblems) and they are all the perfect mix of casual and cool. Anyway. If you want some cute, easy, nursing friendly, or maternity duds, head over because they’re having a Black Friday sale and everything is 40% off with the code BLACKFRIDAY. Easy.

Dress c/o Pink blush maternity

Early Spring in Pinstripes 


Spring time is a weird and wacky period in New England. Or at least in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, which are the respective corners of NE that I’ve inhabited. It can be 80 degrees, 40 degrees, and anywhere in between. With lots of rain. Lots and lots of rain. I always have a hard time dressing in the spring because it’s too early to put sweaters away but it feels wrong to be pulling on dark colors because WE SURVIVED WINTER and that deserves celebration. 


A few weeks ago, when my baby bump already felt huge but was perfectly camouflaged in this delightful Shirt dress, we spent the afternoon in Portsmouth. It was the first warm-ish sunny day that we’d had in weeks, and everyone was in a chummy, magnanimous mood. All the new englanders sort of emerge from their hibernation holes, pale skinned and desperate for iced coffee in those first few warm days. Myself included. 

There were folk bands playing on street corners, families tossing balls on the green, babies everywhere, and quite a few people having an ice cream cone. I wanted one. But I settled for brunch and the obvious iced coffee to go afterwards. It was heavenly. 

Redmond got delightfully filthy, gathered sticks, collected rocks in his pockets, and admired every baby that we passed. It was the sort of day that fills my bucket. I need days like that. Days with my husband, days where there is no real agenda, days where I put on a cute outfit and maybe some makeup and feel proud to be seen with my little family. Motherhood can be isolating–even as a part time working mom, there are still days where I have limited adult interaction, limited time with Nick, and I crave to just be with him. Away from the chores at home. Away from the dishes in the sink. Just us.


Sometimes I feel giddy when I remember that the “just us” will include another little human in a few months time. I cannot imagine loving anything as much as I love Redmond, and I am so excited to feel my heart expand and grow to fit our second precious child into. It is a beautiful time of life that we live in. On the days where the dog poops in the house (why? Why Lupe why?), my toddler won’t stop whining, and I spill green smoothie all over myself en route to work (yesterday, I’m looking at you…) it’s good to remember that.

Dress c/o Metisu (on sale now! Fits true to size and is fantastic quality. And hides an early baby bump magnificently.)

Cropped Spirits

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I have been missing. Quiet on every front for a few weeks now. Maybe it’s been months. The days blend a little bit once we hit this point in the winter. I surrender my flag–always weary of the cold, but more so because of the never ending energy of a toddler, the weariness in my bones, my longing to let him (and myself) run ragged outside, barefoot and delighted. Those days will come. But by February I am always, always defeated by Winter. And March becomes the opposite of its name– not a brave, knee-up, piccolo playing, jaunty march to the finish, but a desperate crawl. Maybe an army craw to stay within the theme here, but a crawl nonetheless. I never beat winter. 5ea416b3-a511-4b8c-97ce-38abf0f54b5a-2

e96dbb20-b82d-4c61-a040-9d3b15695736-1In other news, and more important than the weather, I have been building a baby in my womb. He or she is still tiny right now. I am finishing the first trimester this week, but my body remembers vividly what to do, and my belly has expanded, pushing at the edges, regaining its old shape– the one that Redmond created. Which is why I wore these culotte jeans pretty much as soon as they arrived from NA-KD because….let’s be honest, they’re not fitting me anymore. I put them away after an afternoon outing with a promise to come back to them next year. In the spring. When I have two babies. What a wild thought. I have been eager to try the culotte denim trend and I liked it. I adore the idea of it for the warmer months with a loose Tshirt and flat sneakers. Maybe lace up sandals and a crop top. An iced coffee in hand, and a leisurely walk, pushing the stroller, through a little downtown somewhere. That sounds nice. I don’t ask for much. Sun on my shoulders would go a long way. 


I love this clothing brand–the things they carry are hip and on trend and not terribly expensive. And you can get 20% off with the code HANNAh2017 if you, like me, are in desperate need of a little pick me up. I don’t indulge in retail therapy with terrible frequency. But these days….I need a little.

Culotte jeans c/o Nakd

The Harder Days

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People talk a lot about how social media only presents one side of reality– the lovely side. I have written about that before, and about how I don’t really have a problem with it. Currently our world has some pretty devastatingly hideous aspects to it (and our country does too…) so we could all use a little bit of loveliness from time to time. That being said, as a mother, a woman, and just an all around human, I find growth not in perceived perfection but in joint struggle. If that makes sense. I’m Tired with a capital T lately. 023153b1-623d-4721-94b4-499b69d9d10f

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These photos were taken last weekend when I had a real outfit on (I do love this sweater with a passion) and had done my hair and was feeling pretty together. But in general, this week hasn’t been like that. I love being a mother. And I feel that I am pretty good at it…but sometimes I fail so spectacularly that it is almost comical. I think the biggest issue is that I am pretty tightly wound. Which is a little confusing because I consider myself a laid back person. I am not terribly particular. I don’t demand for things to be a certain way all the time. I am generally able to go with the flow. But at the same time I get really, really stressed really, really quickly. I admire women with multiple children that just sort of seem to let the crazy wash over them and smile or laugh our completely ignore it. I don’t know if that is an innate skill (in which case, I am lacking it) or something they have nurtured out of necessity (in which case, I have some serious nurturing to do) but I just don’t have it. Yet. ce0feec3-57c6-4bb9-94d7-18cbb4afcc0a

Part of my issue is that I have a fine tuned sense of guilt…which I am, of course, tempted to blame on MY mother who had her own fine tuned sense of guilt built through a tapestry of evangelical Christianity with just enough catholic sensibility to keep things interesting. But isn’t that always the go-to? To blame our mothers? And dear god, now I am a mother and I sure don’t want Redmond to start storing up his issues to blame on me in a few decades. No. Better to take the responsibility of it having been fashioned through life. My own life, through my own childhood and into this bizarre and terrifying world of adulthood. All of that to say, I expect myself to just succeed at an awful lot. At work, at marriage, at parenthood, at friendship. I expect to maintain a clean house. I expect myself to cook a really good, interesting, healthy meal every night. I expect myself to stay fit and never miss a workout. I expect myself to keep up this blog with some regularity. I expect myself to be dazzlingly successful at social media. I expect myself to be fully informed of everything going on in our country and world. The list just keeps going, and when one of the little spinning plates starts to wiggle, I am immediately convinced that ALL the plates are about to come crashing down and that it is my fault for being such a failure and such a big fat mess. I imagine this is familiar to most of us. I DON’T imagine that I am remotely unique in this. It’s basically what women put ourselves through and have put ourselves through for all of history. 25b996a1-6761-45df-abfa-ed489761ee16

c08e209c-820b-4074-ae00-ffce1d3a208d The problem, the real problem, with all of this is that when I am feeling those jabs of stress and failure (Which in the winter months is always a bit more present) my patience gets hit first. Suddenly the fact that my poor stuffy nosed toddler won’t eat his food like he usually does becomes an absolutely astronomical issue. It becomes the  new reality. It becomes, not just a temporary thing to sail through quietly and with a gentle understanding that Redmond doesn’t realize he should eat, that he only knows he doesn’t feel well and food isn’t good because he can’t taste anything with his stuffed nose. Instead, it is an affront to me. “What is wrong with you? You love cauliflower. Why don’t you eat anymore?” And as I’m saying it, I’m telling myself to be quiet. Leave him alone. But, of course I don’t listen to myself. Why would I?

When I am rushing to get out of the house in time, and Redmond won’t brush his teeth, I feel this frustration just welling up inside me. If the dog brushes against my legs depositing fur all over me, it is World War III. Because I can’t just let it slide. I can’t just give his teeth a quick brush and be done with it. It has to be thorough. I have to win. As if Redmond is busy keeping a score card like I apparently am with a check list reading”Redmond, 4. Mom, 6. I’m getting close.” I can’t just brush the dog fur off and keep going. I suddenly blame it on her like she PURPOSEFULLY SHED A LITTLE EXTRA just to spite me.

Some weeks, I feel like I am away from Redmond a lot. I am not a full time stay at home mom, and having grown up with one, I think I expect to be both. A working mother who is also somehow simultaneously a full time stay at home mom. Last night after Redmond went to bed, I was just hit heavily with all of my shortcomings, all of my failures (see that guilt there?) throughout the week. The moments where I had raised my voice. The times when I had felt that choking frustration rushing to my head. The times when I had scolded him for tiny things, for things that didn’t really matter. And for all the hours I had been away from him…leaving him (I imagined) only with the memories of my displeasure in him. “Does he know that I love him?” I asked my husband. A stupid question. Of course he knows that I love him. I tell him a thousand times a day. I tell him with words, with kisses, with smiles, with hugs, with my absolute infatuation of him, my precious little son. They call it “mom guilt” but I am more inclined to call it “woman guilt.” Something that has been groomed throughout the centuries and leaves us feeling like most of the world is resting on our shoulders. And you know what? Maybe it would be better if the world WERE resting on our shoulders. But, as it stands, it is not. As it stands, my son loves me. Even if I do lose my temper sometimes, even if I can be impatient, and testy, and short with him. I realized today while I walked with him on my back and our dog on her leash, that so often, HE is not the problem. And for that matter she (the dog) is not either. I am the problem. And not in a  I am a problem, I’m such a mess, blah blah self hatred kind of way. No, I am the problem in that all I need to do in most of these situations is breathe. Get outside. Realize it’s not that important. Its my outlook, in those moments, that is the issue. Easier said than done. Easy to write this while he sleeps, deeply, a really long nap for his second day in a row. Harder to implement later perhaps if he doesn’t eat his dinner, and I am hit with worry about his skinny little body and, good lord Redmond you are not built in a manner that allows you to go a week barely eating! Get it together! But. If I write it out, sometimes (often) it serves as a reminder. I always tell my little students that writing things down helps to cement the learning, and it does. For me at least, it does.

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sweater c/o Hope Ave Boutique// jeans c/o Wild Blue Denim//Reds Moccasins c/o Sweet n’ Swag

Days with Red

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Last year, I remember thinking that next winter (this winter) would be challenging. The combination of freezing weather, active toddler, and giant dog is not exactly a dream for anyone. Last winter was mild, and it was so easy to just zip Redmond into his snow suit, bundle myself up, and take the whole crew out for a long walk. And that was kind of all he needed for stimulation and excitement…Not so much anymore.

I’m much busier this year with everything than I was last year and am away from Redmond more. We only have three days a week that we are fully together–the rest of the days are partial or half days, so they don’t take as much forethought. But I’ve tried to get creative with my stay-at-home mom days for a few reasons.

Reason one: I actually really, really, really do not like “playing” with kids. I don’t enjoy driving cars around. I don’t like chasing toddlers and having tickle fights and riling them up. I am basically a huge fun sucker, and you pretty much are never going to find me sitting on the ground with my kid while he tells me what to play. Because of that, I make sure to find alternate ways to spend quality time with my son.

Reason two: I’m an extrovert and staying home all day just makes me grumpy, lonely, and sad. Redmond seems to be trending towards extrovert as well, and he likes to be out and about.

Reason three: I want Redmond to be well behaved when in public. If I can rely on him to listen and respond when we are at a restaurant, or in a store, it makes me want to take him to do special things more. My dad always said that he wanted to have children that he could enjoy. And I feel the same way. Practice makes perfect, so I try to give Redmond Public Practice with relative frequency.

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All that being said, I have been trying to be creative with our at-home time as well. So I thought I’d compile a little list of things we do out, and things we do at home. I try to imagine filling Redmond’s little bucket while I fill my own. He needs physical touch, ways to get his energy out, unadulterated attention, and learning experiences. And I need some alone time, a daily work out, and the ability to maintain the household tasks that fulfill me (like cooking.) So, with those things in mind, here are some of the ways we fill our day.

  1. Gym time. I talk about this all the time on here and with my mom friends. To me, it is the “me” time that I need. I attend 4-5 classes a week and then I’ll usually run, or do yoga, or just go to the sauna afterwards. There is a fantastic childcare room that Redmond always enjoys, and I love that he is getting those hours of socialization since he doesn’t go to daycare. My passes pay for two hours of childcare, and I usually take advantage of most of that time.
  2. Shopping dates. This one is pretty basic. And Redmond loves shopping. Nowadays, I often will let him walk next to me if we are just going in for a few things. He oohs and aahs at everything, but usually abides by my “only looking” rule and keeps his hands to himself. Its the best place to practice that skill.
  3. Coffee dates. Nick and I used to eat out quite a bit Pre-baby. Now, we are a bit more careful with our income and keep it to just a few times a month. But I still enjoy the luxurious feeling of being out at a coffee shop, or treating myself (and Redmond) to a pastry. Redmond enjoys the individual attention (since I always put my phone away for these things) and I enjoy eating/drinking something I didn’t make.
  4. Greenhouse outings. A lot of these photos were taken at our local greenhouse which is one of my favorite places around. We go there allllll the time. Lots of space for Redmond to run around, plus there is a friendly cat in residence and a whole bunch of birds. Usually we end up buying a little plant or something, but it is basically free entertainment for the family.
  5. Swim days. My gym has an amazing indoor pool and on mornings or afternoons where I want to take up a few hours, we will hit that up.
  6. Library. Obviously. Nothing new there. We actually rarely take books out…I’m horrible about returning them and we have a ton of our own…but I lead a baby story hour once a week, and we will just hang around playing in the kid area afterwards. And sometimes we visit libraries in fancy towns just to use their fancy toys.
  7. Woods walks. When it isn’t freezing/muddy/icy/raining, we will go to our local woods. Redmond walks on his own and collects things, and I try to keep our dog from running into the wilderness. c557b551-84cc-42e9-a2ca-04ec0d9883932799081f-735f-4852-b7c6-b931ee96384d(I know this photo is blurry, but it so fully encompasses Redmond at the greenhouse.)fe08b300-ee52-4c38-8935-d2fa7863b7a9

When we are at home, I’ve been making an effort to spend time being still with Redmond. I have such a tendency to be always multi-tasking (I am currently typing this with Red squirming on my lap and taking everything out my desk drawers) that I sometimes forget to just be with him. Just me and him. With no distractions. When I have two children, this will be even more difficult, so its a muscle I’m learning to flex now. He loves to read stories, so we read together a few times a day. I don’t enjoy playing with children, but I do love reading to them.

When I am cooking dinner, I pull his little stool up (we have this one from Wildkin) and give him a few things to “help” with. Lately, that has been a jar with a spoon and some things to “stir” up (vegetable peels work great), or a cookie sheet of flour with cookie cutters and spatulas to make shapes with. The mess is easy to clean up, and its worth the peace and quiet I get with him standing beside me at the counter and not begging to be picked up. We do the same thing when we bake together for fun. And I always let him lick the spoon. 7f878796-5c0f-444c-91cc-14237c0b0cab

And of course there is nap time. I know that once our family expands I probably will no longer have the blessed two or so hours of quiet. But for now I treasure them. Just as I try to treasure every day with my little one. Because the hard days will fade away, and I will only remember missing the weight of him on my lap, his arms wrapped around my neck, the way he calls me in the morning when he wakes up in that little sing song voice…And I want to know that I didn’t let the hours escape from me. That I didn’t miss out on his little childhood.

I would love to hear what you all do to keep yourselves happy and sane and your babies content and stimulated! Leave ideas in the comments or on my Instagram (@simply_hannah.joy).

photo 1 details: black and white throw c/o modern burlap// distressed jeans c/o// wooden block toy c/o smiling tree  toys//Redmonds romper c/o Shedo Lane (UV protected)// Redmonds moccasins c/o sweet n’ swag//

photo 2: arrow sheets c/o modern burlap// love quilt c/o Addison Belle

photo 3: my overalls c/o// Redmonds joggers c/o Shedo Lane

(thanks to Cupcake Mag for connecting me with so many small businesses. I love being able to help support these companies)

 

Protect The Skin You’re In

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Get ready for some rambling folks. It does all connect back to this outfit. I promise. Because this dress is made of UPF fabric and protects your skin from the sun. Plus it is as soft as your most luxurious pajamas and it looks cute as all get out. This is one of my favorite outfits that I’ve featured on this blog. It’s from Shedo Lane and it’s only 45$. Which, as my cousin said, is basically free since by wearing it you’re actually making yourself healthier…I like her logic. And now, enter Ramble.

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It seems to be a phenomenon of our society that things that aren’t good for us are always in style. Smoking (back in the day). Tanning. Being overly skinny. You know? And why is being tan beautiful? I have a lot of theories about society and skin– in our country, if you are able to be tan, it means that you are able to afford to go on vacations, spend time relaxing on the beach or at the pool–that you don’t have to WORK all the time to survive. Even if it is subconscious, that’s what it means. Its shown in those ads that say “Look like you just got back from a tropical vacation! Try our tanning beds!” Why do I need to look like I just got back from a tropical vacation? I don’t have the money for that. And I don’t need to trick people into thinking I do to procure their envy or their admiration. Is any of this making sense? What I’m saying is, I’m done. The skin that covers my body is precious. And it happens to be pretty pale. And I am ready to accept that and embrace that and protect that. Because, I really, really, really want to see my grand kids. I really do. And I exercise, and eat well, and get myself checked, and do all the things to ensure that I’ll be here for a while. And I’m going to add ‘protect my skin’ to that list.

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And as far as sunscreen– I am prone to conspiracy theories when it comes to the regular brands (don’t laugh at me. I love a good conspiracy theory. And it isn’t my fault. Its my husbands.) Does anyone know of any super natural ones that work well? Drop it in the comments because I want to upgrade this year.

wrap dress c/o/white clutch  (it came with a set of make up. Love the make up, love the clutch)/ gold choker c/o (fair trade artisan jewelry), black choker, old similar here