Lovely Simply

Style and Lifestyle in New England

Category: lifestyle

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

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.)

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

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

The Process of Pruning

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If you follow me on pinterest you will probably have noticed that I’ve been pinning oversized, cozy sweaters like a fiend. Part of my goal for embracing winter this year is to dress appropriately for it. I love wearing dresses, and I used to just keep wearing them straight through the coldest months with tights and then wonder why I was freezing. The reality is…for folks like myself who get cold when it dips below sixty, the deep chill of New England winters requires some classic New England dressing. L. l. Bean exists for a reason guys. We really DO need to layer a turtleneck or flannel underneath our sweaters. Heck, we may layer a turtleneck AND a flannel and then stuff our wool socked feet into Duck Boots before facing the elements. Anyway. All that being said, I have been hard at work stocking up a good collection of chunky sweaters.

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And believe me, the bare ankles displayed in the above photo only transpired because of the freakish bout of fifty degree days we had after a string of sub-zero temps. Because, climate change. Which always makes me itch with nerves when its unseasonably warm,  but then I also am reveling in it and feeling guilty for reveling and vowing to swear off plastic. Its a lot of emotions all at once, folks. Back to sweaters.

I stocked up on five new ones that I am crazy about– the kind of sweaters that go with everything ( like this one)– and subsequently went through my drawers to get rid of as many old ones as I could. Because I had sweaters. They just weren’t wisely bought ones, for the most part. I used to shop a lot more, before Redmond, back when I worked six days a week and it was my way of having “me” time…Which, upon retrospect, was not the best way to “indulge” myself because it led to piles of clothing that I’d wear once or twice and then either give away or just forget about. Since Red’s arrival, its not that I don’t like style….I do like it. Very much. But it DOES have to serve a more practical purpose for me. bb77e4ac-f3c9-4d32-9c0c-93d2e47a0065

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I went through my wardrobe when we moved in October and donated/gave away bags of things that I didn’t need. A reminder that those impulse purchases of pre-baby life were not necessary. And this past weekend I pruned a bit deeper and a bit further. So, here are my new rules for my closet.

  1. Did I wear it last season? (in this case– last winter)
  2. Do I love it?
  3. Does it go with several different outfits? (I have been guilty of buying a skirt that goes great with that ONE top….and nothing else.)
  4. Is it comfortable and easy to wear? (obviously I have some non practical pieces for special occasions but I don’t need a full wardrobe of that stuff)
  5. Is it something that fits my style? (we all have those items that USED to be “so us” but sort of aren’t anymore….)
  6. How many times will I wear it in a season? (if its less than three times, it really isn’t worth keeping.)769163c6-fe3f-4c49-ac18-8563141fcdcf15749d1e-29dd-4a97-89d2-1f47f7154f93

If an item doesn’t meet that criteria, than its out. That being said, I have a pretty big collection of vintage clothing that I don’t plan on getting rid of because I want to be able to give them to my daughter if I ever have one. But otherwise, I’m working hard to maintain these rules for 2017.

As far as what I do with it all, I sometimes sell it at Buffalo Exchange or Consign Trilogy, but typically I either give it away or donate it. I love handing stuff down to my sister and friends because then I get to see my clothing being worn and loved by someone else. 078376e5-42e3-489c-88d9-6ceb639ff8d6-1

The sweaters that I’m wearing in this series of photos have been on repeat since I got them. With leggings, skirts, skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans, over dresses– the whole gambit. And the black bucket bag pictured is another new regular accessory. Its that perfect size where I can just reach my hand into it and fish around to quickly find whatever I need. Have I mentioned that I’m not very organized? Cause I’m not very organized. This style sells out pretty quick (its from Ms. Littles Bag) so jump on it if you love it.

I would love to hear your methods of keeping your closet pruned!

outfit 1 details: frayed jeans c/o  (on sale! and order a size up– the run small)/ long grey sweater– sold out but similar herebucket bag c/o/ adidas/ beanie, old similar here

outfit 2 details: camel coat c/o/ similar sweater/

 

 

The Matter of Weaning

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This is a bit late in coming. Redmond is almost a year and a half old, and he weaned about three months ago. But part of my goal for this year is to get back into more “lifestyle” type posts, and to be honest, although I love style and try to at least put myself together every day, the thing that really occupies most of my time is mothering. I have worked with children since I was thirteen years old. I have a lot of “theories” about raising them…but until you have your own, all of that is just ideas and words. The past few months have been so exciting for me because I can finally put into real practice some of my ideas.

But when it came to breastfeeding, I knew basically nothing. I wrote about my journey a bit last year, but I just remember so vividly spending hours on the internet trying to find something that would encourage me while I was crying over the fact that I was using a nipple shield and that it hurt and that Redmond took an age to finish nursing when he was little.

So first off. We used the nipple shield until we weaned. I had PLENTY of milk (it took me two months to stop producing) and Red got all that he needed. So. If you can’t get your baby off the nipple shield or just don’t want to undergo the trauma of screaming baby while you attempt to shove your boob into babies mouth without the shield, just stop worrying about it. I spent so much time being afraid that people would judge me or think that I “wasn’t doing it right” because of the shield but…you know what? Who cares.

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Anyways. On to the actual topic of this post. I was terrified to wean. I was scared it would turn my happy baby into a terror. I had visions of Redmond pulling at my clothes, trying to wrench my boobs out, and me feeling like a milk machine but also like a mean mama. I wanted to wean when he was ready…but I also wanted to wean when I was ready. I had planned on going longer with Red, but I started wanting to begin trying for another baby and my body wasn’t able to nurse and return to a normal cycle. This is different for everyone…but even when we were only nursing for five minutes a day, I wasn’t getting a period and I figured the only way to get back to normal would be weaning. In November, we had a wedding to go to, and I wanted Redmond to be able  to go to sleep without nursing first so he wouldn’t give his grandparents a hard time while they babysat. I was really dragging my heels, but one night I just didn’t nurse him. He had eaten a big dinner, we had read some books, he snuggled my shoulder, I gave him his sippy cup of water, and laid him down. And he didn’t cry. He just went to sleep. And slept his usual twelve hours. And just like that, we were done. He never asked for it again. He never even hinted that he was interested. Now, maybe Redmond just didn’t care about nursing. Or maybe his intense love for solid food just swayed him away. But since he started on solids at around six months, I nudged Redmond towards being a pretty scheduled eater. We always nursed in the same spot (on the daybed in his room) and nowhere else. Because of that, when we were out and about or in any other room ofthe house he never tried to nurse. And for me, that was important. I loved breastfeeding, but I also liked maintaining my independence. I dropped his nursing sessions slowly– for a long time we were doing three a day– once when he woke up,  before his nap, and  before bed. I gently weaned him off of those first two over a matter of months and stuck with the final nurse until he was almost fifteen months old. And that was that. I didn’t replace the nurses with bottles– he never took them well — I just gave him little snacks or meals. img_3345

I really worried that when we were done nursing, I would desperately miss that snuggle time with Red. But now he actually cuddles me…he loves sitting on my lap for stories. He loves lying in bed with me. Before I lay him down for bed at night, I whisper a prayer into his ear while I hold him, and he nuzzles his head into my neck and it is such a sweet closeness that somehow means more to me…because he is cuddling me for me. Which feels so special. I still miss the essence of breastfeeding– knowing that I am building and nourishing a child–but it makes me look forward to a second infant that much more. And that’s pretty much all I’ve got to say I think. I would LOVE to answer any questions if you’re a new mom just starting out nursing. It was a hard journey for me but so deeply worth it. And I’d love to hear about your journeys as well! And I’m going to stop saying journey. Ok. Happy almost weekend!

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Reds blanket: c/o Audreys Bear

LBD of The Day

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The Little Black Dress is nothing new. Obviously. But this one is new to me, and I don’t have a single thing like it in my closet. I did have a moment when I opened the package where I was like…can I pull this off? Is it too cool for me? Because, I’m closing in on thirty and I worry that my “cool” is fading. If I ever had any “cool” in the first place. This dress is seriously cool. Like– it girl cool. And I am not an it girl, but I still freaking love it, and I have these fantasies of wearing it as the weather gets colder with tights and ankle boots to a fabulous sort of happy hour type place in Portsmouth or Kennebunkport. In my fantasy, Redmond is not necessarily throwing crayons across the table or pointing eagerly at my cocktail requesting a sip with his sweet, persistent “prease? prease? prease? prease?” I am, to be quite honest, sort of fiending for some grown up time. In November, a group of my dearest girl pals are coming to visit for a long weekend and I am so excited it feels like I could burst. You know what else this dress would be perfect for? Karaoke. Cause that is definitely happening when the four of us ladies are all reunited.

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Today, it is warm and humid. Redmond is still sleeping at 9:00. My nose is stuffed, and my eyes are tired, and I am thinking for the hundredth time that I want a vacation….somewhere quiet with my little family to just walk in the woods, drink hot cider, sleep into the late morning– you know. Nothing fancy. Just a recharge. Wouldn’t that be nice? But I am trying (trying, trying) to actively seize and enjoy every day in Redmond’s little life, because he is not so little anymore. And life is terribly short. And I am so very fortunate to have the life that I have. To remember this when I am tired, and feel that deep sense of being overwhelmed, makes all the difference.

 

dress c/o Dezzaladidas

That Seventies Thing

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As a teenager, I liked anything that was retro. I went through a long fifties stage, and I dabbled in a seventies phase as well– with bell bottoms, fringe, head scarves– you know, everything that keeps coming back into style. I guess they just really got it right back then, because I feel as if a little seventies flavor is always in style. This denim jumpsuit from Dezzal is basically a dream come true for me. Big huge bell bottom flares? Check. Lace up detail? Check. So freaking comfortable it feels like pajamas (apparently a must for me…)? Check. I wore it with a belt and clogs for a little added fanciness, but I am going to wear it today with lace up flats and unbelted to keep it a touch more casual. I also tried it on over a long sleeved turtleneck, and yeah, that’s going to be happening once the days are chillier.  img_9281

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img_9273These days, Redmond is walking all around. He gains more confidence every day, and I am at once achingly proud of him and terribly lonely for the little baby he once was. He is already moving into toddlerdom, and I feel like I’m not ready. I haven’t built up enough patience for the tantrums that are sure to mount. I haven’t gotten used to having a baby– I still feel excited and astounded sometimes when I remember I have this little human that was made inside of my body and he’s ours now. That novelty hasn’t worn off yet, and here he is climbing (and falling down) stairs, and going down the slide, and using words to communicate. And holding my hand and walking beside me. img_9271

 

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I don’t have the plethora of words that I usually have tonight. I just stuffed some broccoli, pasta, sausage, and tomato sauce into my face. It’s 9:00. I got home with Redmond a little late, and of course the dog had puked all over the floor. Which is what she does when she is annoyed . Toting Redmond, I cleaned up the vomit, let the dog out, fed her and the cat, nursed Redmond, and then finally got some food into my own belly. Better late than never. Nick is a coach and he has lots of evening games this time of the year. We miss him, but I am proud of how hard he works and how good he is at what he does. And I am proud of myself for managing…even though I only have one child (and a very large dog) to take care of– I still revel in the feeling of capability when the house is quiet, and the baby is sleeping, and things are sort of clean (because, lets be honest, them dishes ain’t getting washed tonight.) and I am rambling now. Far off the topic of a soft as butter jumpsuit and a pair of seventies style clogs. I’m going to turn it on in folks. img_9275

denim jumpsuit c/o Dezzal

clogs c/o Shop Amara (on sale for 25$!!)

Redmonds jumpsuit (on sale)

Redmonds shoes (on sale)