I Stalk These Instagram Feeds

Instagram has taken off, tremendously. It seems like just yesterday when all of us would use the “Nashville” filter on the food we were eating at the time. It has evolved. Businesses thrive from it, celebrities communicate to their fans from it, and some people just use it instead of seeing the drama of the day on Facebook. I spend too much time on Instagram daily and I’m here to share my favorite accounts! I look at these accounts every single day to either keep me inspired or keep me in the know.

  1. FREE STUFF FINDER. If you aren’t following this, you aren’t living. This wonderful lady dedicates her time to share daily deals. Whether it be online or in store, the deals are always amazing. She shares food, clothing stores, makeup stores, home stores, etc.. If there are even amazing flight deals, she shares it! Seriously, GO FOLLOW ASAP.
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  2. The Samantha Show. I remember when Samantha was stationed at Fort Drum with her husband and she was just starting out blogging. I’ve watched her blog rise to the top over the years and it’s so impressive. She is a lifestyle/mom blogger who always tells it like it is. She is also very candid about suffering from anxiety, which I have, so it’s humbling to listen to her talk about it on her instastories. Whether it be great mom hacks, military shenanigans, or fashion, she has you covered.
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  3. Katelyn James Photography. Her Instagram immediately makes me smile. She is the one that influences me the most as a photographer and she has no idea who I am, haha! Her photography is so beautiful and she is always sharing tips via instastories or email. She makes motherhood work while also running a very successful business. #goals
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  4. Hazel and Olive. You guys have heard me talk about them often, but I swear they are my favorite clothing boutique in all of the land. I follow them mainly because they share new arrivals through their instastory, so it saves me time having to go through their website. I also follow them because I love a great fashion based feed. Tip: They share coupon codes in their instastories!
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  5. Casey Holmes. To be honest, I had no idea who she was until the makeup group at Fort Drum made a big deal about her moving there to be with her husband. But LET ME TELL YOU, she is makeup goals. She always shares her looks on her feed and you can find her tutorials on her Youtube channel for the look she shares. It’s amazing! She tells you what products she is wearing, as well. She shares what products work well and what products suck. She keeps it real!Sidenote: She also just started a fashion boutique soooooooo, there goes all of my money.
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What are your favorite instagram accounts to follow? Is there a celeb whose feed you can’t get enough of? Share with us!

When Did Just Being a Mom Stop Being Enough?

I went through all of the dream jobs when I was little- ballerina, pediatrician, journalist, ambassador in a foreign country (what, not all 10 year olds dream of that?!). But the older I got the more those dreams started to feel less like dreams and more like jobs- something I needed to do in order to make money. And when pressed I answered “teacher” on the outside and on the inside I was thinking “mom”. I never said that out loud because I wasn’t supposed to, right? I was supposed to have this magnificent career where I was changing the world. I was supposed to rise above the lot I had been given, get a college education, make everyone proud by having a fancy business card. But when I really thought about it, those prospects drained me. They left me feeling empty. Internally I knew, though it felt taboo to say, that I just wanted to be a mom.

I want my children to know that women can do or be anything. I want them to champion for women and equal pay. I want them to believe that their mom is strong and smart and capable. I want them to fight for legislation so that women have control of their own bodies. I want my son to be an example of how women should be respected and appreciated.

But I also want them to know that being a mom- JUST being a mom- is enough. If the fire inside a woman is fulfilled by raising tiny humans and maybe writing a blog every so often, than that’s ok. She’s still doing her part. She’s doing enough.

I often get asked in social situations “Do you do anything else?” when they find out that I am a stay-at-home mom. And I really don’t think there is any offense in that question- they’re being polite and making small talk. But each time I feel a twinge of self-doubt. Do I do anything else? I work part time from home to contribute to our pile of student loans. But SHOULD I be doing something else? Am I doing this wrong?

We have this idea in our heads that being a stay-at-home mom- JUST a stay-at-home mom, is archaic. That we as women have come too far to be homemakers who have dinner ready for their spouse at the end of the day. For some women, the thought of being a stay-at-home mom is unfulfilling. Working outside the home brings them joy and that is amazing! For some awesome women I know, running a business that they are passionate about fills their souls in a way that being a parent can’t. And again, THAT is amazing. But I don’t have that. I don’t have dreams of an empire. I don’t have a passion for photography or an incredible skill at event planning. Instead, being a stay-at-home mom- JUST a stay-at-home mom is enough for me. I think the fact that we have the choice- career or no career- THAT’s what feminism is.

 

Fall Essentials

So if anyone knows me, they understand that shopping for clothes is one of my absolute favorite things to do. It’s the 100% basic in me. What can ya do? I’ve been scouting for the perfect pieces for my fall wardrobe here lately, and I’ve found so much!

  1. The PERFECT riding boots and booties. I get my riding boots from Payless because I personally think they hold out the longest. I don’t normally shop at Payless, but their riding boots last me at least two fall seasons! I found these online that are similar to the ones that I wear and I totally swear by them. They can go with so much! Pair them with leggings and an oversized sweater, skinny jeans and a flannel, or even a sweater dress! You can’t go wrong!
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    picture from Payless website

    I also LOVE a good pair of booties,! And the good thing about booties, is that you can wear them year round. They can go with a cute pair of shorts and a cute top, or any of the clothing combinations above! I have a pair in camel and tan! Here is a pair that I love and are similar to the ones I own, that are from Hazel and Olive Boutique.
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  2. Jeans! You HAVE to have like a million pairs of good jeans, always. Just me? Maybe. I am really digging the ripped jeans style right now because they add so much more detail into any outfit. And can anyone else tell me why ripped jeans cost more, but use less fabric? So silly. Express makes such great jeans and so the first picture shows jeans from there and the second picture shows jeans from Shop Impressions Boutique. They have so many styles to choose from!0091_07197083_0019_f30
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  3. A good flannel! American Eagle never lets me down when it comes time to a good flannel, and lets face it, neither does Old Navy. However, I found some cute ones on Vici Dolls’ website! Flannels can go with so many things! Leggings, skinny jeans, wrapped around your waist with a tank top, or even over a good tank dress. The possibilities are endless. This is one that I love from Vici:Taryn8.14.17-93_grande
  4. A go-to Floral dress! Florals stay trendy, hands down. Hazel and Olive, Shop Impressions, and even Saved by the Dress have some BEAUTIFUL floral dresses/tops. This dress happens to be from Hazel and Olive and I have it in blue, but I’m kind of digging this color, too!IMG_0709_779e00d7-0a8d-49b3-b1a4-fbe237b99f24
  5. All the sweaters/sweater dresses. ALL OF THEM. DON’T ASK QUESTIONS. DON’T HESITATE. JUST BUY ALL THE SWEATERS. They are the most fashionable and comfortable items in my closet. Most of them are oversized for comfort purposes but I love them either way. Here are some of my favorites!
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    Vici Dolls

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    Charlotte Russe

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    Vici Dolls

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    Vici Dolls

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    Vici Dolls

  6. Lastly, utility jackets! I’m pretty sure everyone needs an army green utility coat. I have ones from Old Navy and Charlotte Russe that I love, but when I came across this one on Vici, I about died:
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    AND THIS ONE MAKES MY HEART HAPPY:

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    Shop Impressions

    What are your go-to staples for fall? I love finding versatile pieces that I can wear in many different ways so I’m not stuck with a wardrobe full of clothes I can only wear occasionally. And as a busy mom, clothes get bonus points when they are comfortable and easy.

Three Things Thursday

We’re starting a new series called Three Things Thursday! Every once in a while we’ll each share three things we’re currently obsessed with. It may be a special drink from Starbucks or an article of clothing- there are no limits! So let’s get this started with our first Three Things Thursday.

Ashley:

1.  I’ve never been one to splurge on clothing. It’s just so hard for me to spend over like $30 on any one item. I know, I know, the more expensive clothes last longer. But really, what am I doing to my clothes that will wear them out fast? Plus, as a mom to a little one, I need something that is comfortable, easy, and inexpensive to replace when my kid smears peanut butter all over it. I am currently obsessed with the new line “A New Day” at Target. The materials are so soft and comfortable and I feel like every time I go to Target I buy another piece. I’m most obsessed with their tanks which are still inexpensive for Target shoppers (you know how new lines at Target tend to be a bit more pricey? Not this one!) and SO COMFORTABLE! I wear them by themselves with cute jeans or with skirts since it’s the middle of October but still almost 90 degrees here in VA.

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Photo: Tank- Target (here in Navy), Jeans- Old Navy (here)

2. I love easy, fast makeup so when I heard about the multibalm from Pixi by Petra, I was intrigued. The idea is that you can use this as both a lipstick and a blush. They carry this line at most Target stores so I stopped by that section (which is conveniently located at the end of the aisle-EEK!) and checked them out. They only had a few different colors which actually made me happy because I don’t do well with lots of makeup choices. I get very overwhelmed and end up buying nothing. I settled on “Baby Petal” because I thought it would look the best as a lipstick for me. I was quite wrong about that- I feel like as a lipstick it looks very washed out and like I’m dying. BUT, as a blush- I. AM. OBSESSED. It is the perfect shade and adds so much more color to my cheeks than my normal MAC blush.

3.  Normally I’m not a fan of the specialty drinks from Starbucks. I’m just going to say it- I do not like pumpkin spice lattes. THERE! But I saw an ad for the Maple Pecan Latte and had to try it. I could honestly do without the sugar topping and I get it with almond milk and holy yum. Do your fall loving heart a favor and get one. Just ignore the price tag. Those bad boys are expensive.

 

Melissa:

1. IKEA. I-freakin-KEA. I’ve never lived by an IKEA and would only get the chance to go when I was visiting my mom in NJ, but even then I would have my kids with me so I couldn’t fit anything into my backseat. But let me tell you, there is an IKEA about 45 minutes from my house here in WA and I can’t get enough of it. I went to about 8 different furniture stores to find the most perfect coffee table and low and behold, IKEA had it the whole time. And everything is cheap! And I know that you’re thinking because it’s cheap that it must mean it’s poor quality but it’s not! I ended up buying a desk, coffee table, bench/shoe storage, a toilet brush, 4 white bowls, and a nail kit for $350! LIKE WHAT?!?! Some of the items I bought are these:

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2. Kat Von D foundation. I have been using Kat Von D’s lock it foundation for about a month now and I’m totally obsessed. It has a matte finish which helps with my red face. It covers everything so well! And I’m pretty sure the liquid form can cover tattoos from what I’ve read online. Imagine the lightest color that she makes, and that’s what I wear.

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3. Late Start Wednesdays. The school district where I live has a thing called “Late Start Wednesdays” where the kids go to school an hour later in the mornings. Do you know what that means? That means that I can sleep an hour later. There is such an increase in my energy on these days and i’m obsessed with it. Thank you, Clover Park school district, from the bottom of my heart. Picture with Savanna, showing that I’m happier on Wednesday mornings:

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How to Survive NYC With a Toddler: Part 1

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a great traveler. I love to travel, don’t get me wrong. One of our favorite things to do as a couple is dream of all the places we want to go. But when it comes down to it, I suck at traveling. It stresses me out. Leading up to it I’m excited. I research places to go, I pack way in advance, I get all the travel size everything. But then the day comes and I am a ball of stress. I worry about how we’re going to get from place to place. I worry about where we’re going to eat with multiple food restrictions. I worry about safety in such a big, unknown place. I worry about pissing people off on the airplane with a noisy toddler. I am not a go-with-the-flow kind of person. It helps me if I plan and feel prepared. Here are some tips I learned from this trip:

It’s All About the Gear

The first thing you need when you’re traveling to NYC with a baby or toddler or even an older child is a great stroller that is easy to fold down. We found our stroller second hand (which is, in my opinion, the best way to get strollers) and it is amazing. It’s not as skinny or as fancy as some of the others we saw people using in NYC but it served our purposes and it weighs next to nothing. It also has storage on the bottom which is a MUST for diaper bags and what not.

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Listen, I know people have different ideas about the “leash” for kids. I know I did. Until I thought about my incredibly high energy toddler dashing in between an insane amount of people because kid is FAST. I decided to try it and it was super helpful at the zoo. It kept him close but still allowed him to move.

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What to Wear

I have never walked more in my life. IN. MY. LIFE! Luckily we walk a lot at home so I was able to keep up and didn’t feel like I was dying. But the right pair of shoes are necessary. I learned from people watching that in NYC, there are very few people who are wearing heels or cute sandals. Most people we wearing cute tennis shoes. I brought my Sanuk sandals and through four whole days of walking almost all day, my feet didn’t hurt once. They’re amazing. Honest.

Layering is your best friend. I brought a light sweater (long cardigan style) for me and a zip up sweatshirt for Wyatt and we were comfortable when it was a little chilly.

Keeping Baby Happy

SNACKS FOR DAYS! When you think you’ve packed enough snacks- you’re wrong. Throw some more in there. We lucked out in that our hotel was blocks away from a Whole Foods so we were able to restock. Snacks got us through a lot of waiting, a long subway ride, too much time in a stroller, the list goes on. SNACKS. I can’t say it enough.

A paci holder (does it have a better name?) is a MUST. If your toddler is anything like ours, we lose pacis like I lose hair ties. They vanish! I think they live with the missing socks. We got this super cute one from a friend when we were pregnant. It’s monogrammed with his initials but really ANY paci holder will do. But it is necessary.

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Lightweight blanket. I packed my Turkish towel that was given to me by a friend and is my best travel buddy. It’s super lightweight and great for warm weather. The mornings there were chilly so I was able to cover Wyatt with it and then also use it to shield him from the sun when he fell asleep.

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For the Airport

Cover for your carseat and stroller. Per a tip from some friends on Facebook, I ordered a cover for our carseat and stroller and am so glad I did. Those things get thrown around. These covers kept our gear clean and in good shape. You can find them in the carseat aisle at Target too but they are cheaper on Amazon.

A great carrier. You can wear baby through security which is very helpful. We have the Tula and it is very comfortable. I wore him at the end of our trip to the Bronx Zoo so he could take a nap and he slept in it for the entire trip back to Manhattan on the subway and I wasn’t in pain. They are pricy, but worth it. Shout out to my sister who got us ours!

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Stay tuned soon for a post about everything we did that was child friendly and the things we did that, well, weren’t.

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Hello from Washington!

 

Hey everyone! I made it to Washington state and I am ALIVE! Boy oh boy did we have a long trip. Most of you know that I am a photographer on the side and I took a LOT of pictures on our cross country road trip. However, my iMac is in storage somewhere so I’ll be posting cell phone pictures throughout this post.

The day before I left, I had dinner and drinks with my best friends and we all cried our little hearts out. I did NOT want to leave. Michael would tell you that I pretty much did nothing as far as helping with the move, because I was in denial. It was so hard and still is.

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The drive felt like forever. And ever. And ever.

When we left Fort Drum, we headed to Niagara Falls. Michael and I had already been but we wanted to take the girls onto the Maid of the Mist. Savanna was NOT having it but Madison enjoyed it. Michael GoPro-ed the whole thing so I’m excited to see his video when he is done. We all looked pretty fly in the blue rain ponchos they gave us. Savanna was just terrified going onto the boat and pretty much wanted to hold on tight like the ship was sinking. I’m over here like “Calm down, Rose.” She didn’t understand.

 

When we left Niagara, we visited my OG BEST FRIEND (still is, don’t worry Jess), in Toledo, Ohio. We stayed the night there and I got a little tipsy with my girl! Our kids got to play together for the first time in forever. Enjoyed the Roadhouse that night with her and then Chick-fil-A the next day with our families. Catching up with her is my favorite. We literally could talk all night about everything. It just comes natural after being apart for so long. I’m counting the days until I get to see her again.

 

Day two was CHICAGO! We checked into our overpriced hotel and headed to the Navy Pier. On the way there, we stopped by a little beach and the girls got to play in the sand for a minute. Fun fact: I didn’t know that Chicago had a beach. Wanna know why? Because I didn’t know it was along one of the Great Lakes. Just me? Yep. Anyways, Savanna got to ride the carasoul on the pier and Madison attempted the ferris wheel. We ended up going back to the hotel and Madison and Michael went to the pool while I stayed with Savanna. After that, we headed back to the pier to watch fireworks and Madison made it ten minutes before passing out on me so I took her back to the hotel. The next day, we explored downtown Chicago and all of its little monuments. I learned that walking up hills will never get easier and Savanna totally agreed with me on that. We went to the “Shameless house” and got our pictures taken outside. The cast didn’t realize I’d be coming that day so they didn’t buy plane tickets. Rude. Just a tip: if anyone visits that house, do not bring children. The outside of it was not in the best area and you could just smell all of the drugs.

 

After we went to the house, we drove to Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. And seriously, everyone should plan a trip there before they get old and wrinkly. This was our favorite part of the trip. Our hotel was only $100 and it included passes to Kalahari (dry) and Noah’s Ark, which is America’s largest water park, and a ton of coupons to use at every single place there. WD is only like two miles total but it’s just so amazing. The things to do there are endless. We wanted to extend our trip by a day so badly but knew that we couldn’t. Our family cannot wait to go back!! We had never even heard of it until our movers came and told us to stop there.

 

The next day, after the waterpark, we drove to Sioux Falls and stayed the night before heading to the Badlands! It was filled with endless valleys, canyons, and more hills. It was a sight to see, that’s for sure! The girls were yelling at Michael every time he got near a cliff. It was so cute! After that, we drove to Mount Rushmore! Madison was on cloud 9! She lives her presidents. It was so much smaller than what I expected it to be. Michael and I were so excited that our girls got to see this and have pictures to look back on when they are older. We ended up staying the night near there before heading to the Devil’s Tower. We didn’t stay long because, well, there really wasn’t much to do other than look at it. After that, we headed to Little Bighorn where it was scorching hot. Scorching. Savanna and I witnessed an Indian prayer circle so that was kind of cool! After that, we headed to stay the night in Billings, Montana.

 

The next day was the worst. Absolutely terrible. Most of my closest friends know that I hate driving on mountains. It’s absolutely terrifying to me and I guess I just don’t see whyyyyyy they can’t make a road that goes around the mountains. Just saying. Anyways, Michael wanted to take a scenic route to Yellowstone, which was whatever, it would be a piece of cake. No extreme mountains, just a scenic route to look at farmlands and cows, right?

WRONG.

In his defense, he wasn’t expecting what was coming our way, at all. Beartooth Highway. Beartooth freaking Highway, I hope to never ever see you again. Talk about scary. One of the worst experiences of my life. We drove separate cars and I tend to drive faster than him, and because I thought this was gonna be some sort of flat land Highway, I ended up way ahead of him without a care in the world. We had a meeting spot so I wasn’t concerned. All cell phone reception was gone, barely any rails along the hills and turns of the steep mountains, no oxygen, and I could go on and on. A couple of anxiety attacks later, Madison and I were ready to just die. We were so over it. We finally reached a little town after the highway and we stopped into one of the gift shops and there was a shirt that said “I survived the Beartooth Highway” and I snatched it right up. It was that bad, so bad that I am proud that I did it. Cut to, miles ahead, we made it to Yellowstone and waited for Michael and Savanna to reach our meeting spot (30 minutes later). We explored a little bit of Yellowstone and got caught in walking-bison-on-the-roads traffic jams. There were so many people there that we didn’t get to see some of the things that Michael wanted to see but, it was what it was. I’m excited NOT to go back.

 

After that, we stayed in a small city in the western part of Montana before driving all the way to Fort Lewis, Washington! We have already been here 13 days and explored a little bit of Seattle and Olympia. We bought year long passes to the Hands On Children’s Museum, went to every mall around, parks, saw the very first Starbucks (insert little dance), etc.. We are still in a hotel but we do get to move into our house TOMORROW. Madison started school last Wednesday (cue the tears) and Savanna started today (even more TEARS). We are so eager to get out of this hotel and let our girls do cartwheels without getting a noise complaint (eye rolling over here).

 

Hopefully soon, I’ll be able to post much better pictures of our trip! I’ll be sure to update on our journey here, as well!

Mighty Nest Review

I’m not one to normally sign up for monthly subscriptions. I tried Stitchfix which was less commital (you don’t have to have a delivery each month) and was less than thrilled with the clothes they would send me. But in my search to try to live a cleaner life, I was curious about Mighty Fix.

The deal: For $10 a month Mighty Nest will send you a product guaranteed to help you make small changes towards a cleaner lifestyle. The cool thing is that you can cancel at any point. You’re not going to be stuck with a package that you don’t like. If you like the products you can commit to a full year and get a discount.

Their pledge:

“We make it easier for families to create a healthy home. Each of our products has been thoroughly researched to be free of concerning chemicals and hand-picked for its quality and design.

No BPA, No Phthalates, No Lead, Real Materials, Time Tested, Durable, Safe Alternatives that Work”

I could commit to $10 a month- that seemed doable. And I have been super happy so far. Here are some of the items we have received that I love:

Duralex Lys glass food storage bowls

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This month we received two storage bowls. They’re both small, but perfect for lunch boxes. In fact, I like them more because they are so small. They fit a cut up sandwich for Wyatt or a small snack and don’t take up a bunch of room. The other day Wyatt didn’t finish his lunch so I was able to throw this into my purse for him to finish later when we went out. We only use glass food containers and so far I’m a fan of these. We normally use the Pyrex containers but the lids are always breaking! The edges of these containers are much more durable that Pyrex lids.

Wool Dryer Balls

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Dryer sheets aren’t terribly expensive but they are full of nasty chemicals. The product description says they reduce drying time. I’m not 100% sure about that, but they do reduce the chemicals in our laundry so I’m cool with just that. They also sell a package of the wool balls and essential oils to give your clothes a fresh scent. Note: these do not really help with static in blankets.

Suds Up Dish Brush

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I normally don’t like these dishsoap dispensing dish brushes because I feel like they never work, but this one actually does! We received this about a month ago and I don’t use it for all dishes, just when I need an extra scrub. Mostly I use the reusable dish cloths they sent me a few months ago. I also love that you stand it up when you’re done so you don’t get soap residue all over your sink or countertop. Plus, it’s super cute.

Reusable Shopping Bag

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These are my FAVORITE product so far. I know, it seems so silly that a reusable shopping bag would be my favorite product, but these bags are so so great. Not only do they fold up into this tiny little ball which makes it super convenient to throw into your purse or diaper bag, but they are comfortable to carry even when they are heavy. When we lived in a third floor apartment, these made carrying groceries up so much easier. The strap at the top is felt which makes it a little more comfy on your shoulder.

24-7bag3Because these are made of nylon, they are also perfect for the beach or pool. I have kept one in our pool bag this summer to throw wet clothes into. Since it’s machine washable you can just throw everything into the wash when you get home or let it air dry. I received two in my shipment but would easily order more.

 

There is SO MUCH more on the Mighty Nest website for you to purchase but we love getting our shipment each month to see what we’re going to get next. Sometimes it’s things I’ve actually wanted to try and sometimes it’s something I never really thought about. We’ve been using the service for about a year now and have used or are still using every single product they have sent. Win!

 

*all photos are from the Mighty Nest website