Best At-Home Workout Finds on Amazon

Health & Wellness
Outdoor workouts at home

My husband and I have been working out at home long before the Covid-19 pandemic. After we had our first baby, we wanted to spend more time at home to be close to him, but it was still important for our mental and physical health to get our workouts in. So, we made a mini makeshift gym in our house with free weights, resistance bands and a floor mat to do what we could until we were ready to go back to our official gym. We ended up liking working out at home so much that we recently built a more legitimate gym in our garage! But, I still find myself working out all over our house – running the stairs while baby naps in her nursery, jumping rope and lifting free weights in the backyard while our toddler rides his bike, doing yoga in our living room, and other creative at-home workouts. We’ve found that there’s really no excuse not to squeeze in a 20-minute workout at home – especially when you have the right gear. Plus, we’ve saved tons of money by getting rid of our expensive gym membership!

Below, I’ve put together a round-up of my favorite at-home workout gear that you can easily find on Amazon. I also will be sharing some of my favorite workout moves on Instagram, so be sure to follow me @maggiehjackson for frequent updates.

Resistance Loop Bands

I use these resistance loop bands all the time for booty workouts. I love that they come in a fun pink palette, but they also come in a muted gray color palette for guys or those who aren’t super into pink like me. These hardly take up any space at all, so they’re easy to store for at-home workouts.

Ankle and Wrist Weights

I use these ankle weights way more than I ever thought I would. When the baby is napping and I want to do cardio, I’ll often strap these on and run up and down our stairs.

Yoga Mat

This pink yoga mat comes in six other colors. I don’t love the super thick yoga mats, because I want to feel steady when I’m jumping up and down and happen to step off the mat, so this 1/4-inch thick mat is perfect. I also like that it comes with its own carrying strap to take to a yoga class.

Jump Rope

Another great tool for at-home cardio is this jump rope. It comes in six colors, and for under $10, it’s a steal. My favorite way to use the jump rope is to break up weight training. I’ll jump rope for 1 minute straight, then do a weight circuit, and repeat.

5-Pound Free Weights

10-Pound Free Weights

We have adjustable dumbbells that go up to 50-pounds each, but I find myself always going back to my 5-pound and 10-pound free weights. I like that they are easily transportable, so I use them in our garage gym but also take outside or anywhere in the house where the baby is napping or playing.

Functional Trainer

We worked at home for a couple years before pulling the trigger on getting this functional trainer. If you want a full-body weightlifting workout, this is the only gym equipment you need. We’ve transformed our garage into an at-home gym and use this there.

Weight Bench

This adjustable weight bench works great with the functional trainer, but I also use it for other workout moves, like as a step-up bench for some cardio.

Perfect Pushup

I bought the Perfect Pushup stands for my husband as a gift several years ago, and they’re still used all the time in our at-home gym. They help keep uncomfortable weight off your wrists and encourage you to do a pushup with better form.

Home Gym Flooring

Get this home gym flooring to protect the floor in your home, as well as provide a safe, soft ground for your workouts.

adidas Women’s Cloudfoam Shoes

I have these adidas Cloudfoam shoes in black but heavily considering getting them in pink, too. They’re affordable and comfortable, so great for at-home workouts, running errands or chasing the kids around the park. I use these ONLY for weight and HIIT workouts – NOT running. These do not have the support I need for running. There’s so many color combos, so you can pick exactly the shoes you want for your style.

Workout Leggings with Side Pockets

These workout leggings are by 90 Degree but are so similar to my Lululemon Wunder Unders. In fact, I find myself wearing these leggings more than my Lulus these days. They have a side pocket, so they’re super convenient when I’m running around with my phone (or baby monitor!). The best part is that they’re about one-fourth the price as Lululemon leggings!

adidas Workout Cap

If you’re going to workout outside, like I often do, I like to wear a breathable cap to protect my face from the sun and keep me cool. This adidas workout cap matches with the Cloudform shoes that I recommended.

So, that wraps my Amazon list of fitness gear for home. What else would you like to see? Want to know more of my workout routine? My fave workout clothes? Let me know in the comments or contact me on Instagram.

XO Maggie

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love.

My 10 Best Books of 2020

Lifestyle
“Winging It” by Emma Isaacs was one of my favorite books I read in 2020
I’ve always enjoyed reading but often found myself too busy with work, kids and social activities to get through more than a couple books a year. And, when I read, I like to READ! No audiobooks or e-readers. I want to physically turn the pages as I lounge in my bed, a large bubble bath, or pool chair. I want to highlight my favorite lines and dog-ear the pages that I want to go back and reread once I finish the book. I want to connect with that book and make it mine forever… (Gosh, I never knew I had such a love affair with books until writing that! LOL)

This past year of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders put a hard stop to my “too busy” excuse. My work slowed down, trips were cancelled and social activities came to a halt. That all sucked, of course, but I was able to read more again. If I didn’t have a toddler and newborn baby (goodbye sleep!), I’m certain I would have read even more!

I enjoy meaningful fiction, memoirs, self-improvement, and books that celebrate and empower today’s modern women. So, if any of those genres interest you, read on for my most recommended reads from my time in quarantine. The list is in the order that I read them.

The 10 best books I read during quarantine

The 10 Best Books I Read During Quarantine:

1. Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals, a self-improvement book by Rachel Hollis


I found self-help guru Rachel Hollis in what I think was a backwards type of way. I think most people were fans of her Instagram first, then her books, then listened to her podcast, and then watched her Netflix special. I became her fan the complete opposite way around. My husband was on a conference trip and I was home alone for the first time since having baby Landon. I decided I’d watch the girliest thing I could find on Netflix that still had substance (no housewives or other reality shows)… Voila! Rachel Hollis’s “Made For More” special. This is no diss to Rachel, but from the Netflix description, I didn’t think my manly husband would be interested in watching a cute empowering lady dance on stage while inspiring women that they’re “made for more.” So, I watched it… And, Oh. My. God. I was crying. I LOVED Rachel Hollis! That Netflix special was the impetus to kickstarting a plan for achieving my life’s dreams. Then, reading her “Girl, Stop Apologizing” book provided me additional moments of self-reflection as well as tools to move forward in achieving those dreams. Rachel’s book taught me that I can always be thinking big and working toward big dreams, even while having a newborn, being a mom, working another job… There’s no excuse, really. I got a lot of valuable information from this book, but here are a couple of takeaways worth sharing that I dog-eared while reading:

1. The only thing standing between me and my new goal is the willingness to find time for it. It’s not whether or not I have the time, but whether this goal I have is so compelling, so beautiful, so necessary to my future happiness that I’m willing to trade my current comfort in order to achieve it (page 23). If I can’t commit the time in my schedule to becoming the person that I want to be, what am I even doing here? (page 25)

2. CONFIDENCE is a skill. And, we don’t need to apologize for it. A key part of confidence is how you look, and it only matters if YOU like the way you look, not from you looking any certain way. This felt important to me, because I’d already been working from home for over a year prior to COVID quarantine, and I was letting my daily appearance slip. I actually didn’t think it mattered much since many people never see me at home every day. And, according to some beauty influencers, I was actually doing the best thing possible for my skin by not slathering a bunch of makeup on every day. But, what’s very real is that WHEN YOU LOOK GOOD, YOU FEEL GOOD, AND WHEN YOU FEEL GOOD… YOU DO GOOD WORK! (pages 168-175). Now, I try to put on a little mascara every day and not look so homeless haha.

2. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, a self-improvement book by Steven Pressfield


This book was a much-needed wakeup call for why there are certain things in my life that I was struggling to get accomplished. This was a good book to read right after Rachel Hollis’s “Girl, Stop Apologizing,” because it sort of connected the two. This book is not just for artists. It’s for everyone. The WAR of art is resistance. And, resistance is fear. We all struggle with some resistance in our life. This book is a great guide to getting past that resistance and start doing the work you were put on this Earth to accomplish. This is a very quick read, so anyone and everyone should read it.

3. Little Fires Everywhere, a novel by Celeste Ng


This book was a fun read, because the setting and many of the characters reminded me of movies from the 90s while the story followed high school kids around in their day-to-day life. It was “10 Things I Hate About You” but with more substance, because the book also examined clashes between social, race and economic differences. The book follows three different mother-child relationships, and it really had me thinking a lot about what it means to be a good mother. Consider this scenario: Two families want the same Asian child and both can offer unconditional love. Is it better for the white, well-off family to adopt the child because they can provide everything the child will need for success, or is it better for the natural mother to raise the child, even though she can hardly pay her bills and may be considered “unfit” as a mom? Read to decide for yourself!

4. American Dirt, a novel by Jeanine Cummmins


This book had me hooked from the first page. Not only was this novel a page-turner, it was a very relevant read while following the trials of a Mexican immigrant woman and her young son fleeing Mexico’s violence for a safer life in the U.S. – all while being romantically pursued by a top drug lord. This book received a lot of praise but tons of criticism, as it was written by a white woman and many felt the main characters were not true representations of real immigrants and drug lords (the book’s immigrant was middle class and the drug lord was sophisticated and romantic). I can certainly see this misrepresentation being a problem and understand why critics are concerned that American readers may assume the book is loosely based on a true story. But, I know that this book is fiction. And, for me, it was helpful reading the book from the immigrant’s middle class perspective, because her journey was more relatable to me. I was able to get on her level throughout the whole book and understand her thinking. It helped me understand what ALL immigrants go through to get to a better life by reflecting on my own life. With that said, I understand most immigrants are poor, come from horrible backgrounds and abusive husbands, and their stories are important to be told. So, I’d love for there to be more books on this topic that also receive as much press attention and praise as “American Dirt.” If you have any curiosity about the Americas’ immigration crisis and also enjoy a thrilling romance novel, I recommend this book. Hopefully, we’ll see more novels on this subject.

5. Untamed, a memoir by Glennon Doyle


I think every woman should read this book, as it brings a lot of self-reflection while uncovering what it means to be female in today’s society. Doyle’s “Untamed” follows the notion that every woman has been caged in some way, whether by our patriarchal society, silent misogyny, her appearance, her sex preference, fear of judgement, her mental disorder, etc. As humans, it is our instinct to live free, uncaged lives, like animals. That feeling we have that something’s not right and we’re being held back is not us being disobedient, bad or strange – it’s that we’re being restricted from being our true selves.

The two most important ideas I took away from “Untamed” were this:
1. You don’t start living a beautiful, fulfilled life until you let go of others expectations. No one has lived your life before, so stop trying to follow someone else’s roadmap.
2. You’re not supposed to be happy all the time. You’re supposed to FEEL EVERYTHING. Stop trying to protect yourself from feeling the hard stuff. Some of my most profound moments of insight, self-discovery and Knowing have come during or after grieving or suffering.

6. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, a self-improvement and leadership book by Brene Brown


I love Brene Brown, and her book about the importance of vulnerability was a homerun for me. I’ve always had lots of feelings (LOL) and enjoy connecting and sharing with others. So, reading this book was a relief and a greenlight for me to continue being myself without guilt or worry. I especially enjoyed the section about shame. We all feel shame. Opening up, verbalizing and understanding your shame is the key to releasing yourself from shame. I also loved that she highlighted the importance of being vulnerable for our children. They can only be what they see, so be a role model and be brave enough to be vulnerable.

7. The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears, Christian literature by Mark Batterson


Since we couldn’t attend church during Covid, I was craving a good book to reconnect to my faith and stir some spiritual reflection. This book wasn’t perfect – it was quite repetitive and sometimes felt a little cheesy. I probably wouldn’t recommend it if you are at the beginning of your faith journey, because it might seem a little too “woo-woo” for skeptics. But, if you are like me, and you attended church growing up and have some familiarity with Christianity, I would recommend it to reignite your prayers. I had gotten in the habit of praying for simple acts of help from God, like “Please help me do this… Please help heal him… Please help here and please help there…”. I realized with these small requests that I was limiting God’s potential to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. This book reminded me that He is ALMIGHTY God, and can do ALL things. I used to feel embarrassed to ask God to answer my big prayers, because I thought, “Who am I to ask for such a big thing when there’s so much suffering in the world? Surely God should take care of the REAL needs first.” But I was reminded that God wants to answer all your prayers of need and want. He’s probably offended that you doubt his ability to answer them! He put that prayer on your heart for a reason. Pray for it and pray hard. If you’ve been neglecting prayer or need a push to pray bigger, I recommend this read.

8. The Healing Self: A Revolutionary New Plan to Supercharge Your Immunity and Stay Well for Life, a health and self-help book by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph E. Tanzi


I found this book interesting but not as revolutionary as I was hoping for. I’ve been on a new health journey for the last several years, and there really weren’t many ideas in this book that I hadn’t heard before. For your best immunity possible, Chopra and Rudolph challenge readers to start thinking of their health with a whole-system approach, or the “bodymind,” which is summarized as this: “body and mind are one domain, and every organ, tissue, and cell works toward the same goal: sustaining life.” This is an approach I’ve personally been working on for the last few years, so it wasn’t major news to me. What I did like, though, was all the scientific research that Chopra and Rudolph included in this book and how they emphasized how important it is for modern medicine to accept this whole-system approach and stop treating ailments as separate from the rest of the body and mind. What I ultimately got from the book is that I am responsible for supercharging my immunity to lead to a longer, healthier life, and to do that, I need to become the most whole person possible. I need to love more, connect more, continue my education, move more, strengthen my spirituality, stress less, and make a conscious effort to eat healthy. For those looking to kick-start their mind-body health journey, there was a great, easy-to-follow 7-day plan toward the back of the book.

9. Winging It: Stop Thinking, Start Doing: Why Action Beats Planning Every Time, a nonfiction business book by Emma Isaacs


Attention all working women (or any woman with a dream): Read this book! Even if you are not an entrepreneur, like Isaacs, this book has so many wonderful tips for women to follow their dreams and career goals. The book’s concept follows the idea that we’re all just “winging it.” Everybody. Do you think Steve Jobs knew how to run one of the world’s largest computer and consumer product companies before he did? No. He figured it out as he went. Don’t wait until you have all the experience, the right timing, all the money, or perfect people around you. You know that thing you’ve always wanted to do? Stop giving excuses for why you haven’t done it, and start doing it! Isaacs’s book provides advice and the confidence boost you need to get started and “wing it!”

10. Greenlights, a memoir by Matthew McConaughey


As a fellow Texan and UT Longhorn, I’ve always been a big McConaughey fan. And, let’s be real, he was my celebrity crush for a long time, too. For the last couple of years, I’ve been impressed by his publicized desire to make a difference in areas of life that are important to him and his attempt to inspire others to do the same. I was interested in this book with all the press hype built up around it, but honestly did not expect to love it as much as I did. I think I read this book faster than any other book on this list. Not only has McConaughey lived a very fascinating life that’s detailed throughout this book, he shows us how to truly LIVE – make the mistakes, follow your intuition, don’t apologize for who you are, and make a conscious effort to make a difference in this world. Just keep livin’…

Now that I’m back on my book reading train, I don’t want to get off! Please send me your favorite books, so I can add them to my reading list. Email me at maggieholmesjackson at gmail dot com or connect on Instagram.

XO Maggie

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love.

Must-Have Products for Postpartum C-Section Mamas

Mom & Baby
Postpartum Newborn Photo with Baby Landon

Did you know that over 30% of births are C-section deliveries? It’s much more common than most realize! When I was pregnant with my first baby, I never even considered what it may be like to have a C-section until I found out at a third trimester ultrasound appointment that my baby was breech (bottom-side down instead of being in the correct head down position). After discussing options with my doctor and husband, we decided that a C-section would be the safest delivery for baby and me.

Since C-sections are so common, I really didn’t think much about how challenging recovery may be. Fast forward to my first day postpartum… WHAT THE HECK?! I can’t get up, I can’t pee by myself, I’ve been sliced open and OUCH!! And, now I’m only sleeping at 3 hour intervals and have a little infant who wants to suck on my nipples ALL. THE. TIME. … HELP!!! No one told me it would be this HARD!!

So, I’m here to tell you that C-sections are not easy, especially for you mamas who may have labored and attempted a vaginal birth and/or had difficulty with pain management during the C-section (like me). In speaking with my husband about this (who is a surgeon), he believes that if you don’t get ahead of the pain before it starts, it can be a much more difficult recovery. Some of the C-section moms I’ve talked to who had good pain management walk out of the hospital two days later like it was no big deal. But, other moms I talk to who had a different surgery experience hardly get out of their bed for the first four days!! I never knew this prior to my first C-section, so it was a bit of a shock when I was struggling with lots of pain afterward.

Anyway…

I’m also here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be so shocking like it was to me if you feel prepared. I have put together a list of my most favorite products I used post C-section. I literally ordered several of these products on my iPhone from my hospital bed to have waiting for me when I arrived home! Because I found these so helpful, I’m always emailing and texting this list to my mama friends who are either planning a C-section or when I find out their vaginal birth turned into an unexpected C-section delivery. I’ve had a couple of girl friends sincerely thank me for sending them this list, because they, too, were surprised at what a challenge the first couple weeks would be post delivery.

Most importantly, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay and totally normal to be scared prior to going into your C-section surgery. I chose to have a C-section with my second baby (who was not breech) and still was totally freaked out the days leading up to the surgery. But, that C-section went SO SMOOTH and recovery was way easier for that baby than my first baby (I’ll have to tell my birth stories another time to fully get into the nitty gritty details). You can have a really good experience!

I know from speaking with my mama friends that vaginal delivery is not a walk in the park either! I recommend talking with a trusted friend (and your doctor!) about your fears whether you’re going to have a vaginal or C-section delivery. It’s good to hear honest feedback from mamas who’ve been there. Plus, they’ll likely reassure you, like I’m about to now, that it’s all TOTALLY WORTH IT! Your few days of discomfort and frustration will be filled with a lifetime of love from your precious new baby.

Check out my list of the top nine items for C-section mamas, below! This list also includes some items for mamas who plan to try breastfeeding.

Post C-Section Newborn Photo with Baby Lucy

TOP 9 ITEMS FOR C-SECTION RECOVERY (WHILE BREASTFEEDING):

1. Belly Binder: Belly Bandit – B.F.F. Post Pregnancy Belly Support Band


I had this wild feeling post C-section like all my insides were jumbled up and going to fall out… Okay, I know that wasn’t really what was going on, but still, this belly binder made me feel secure, like it was holding all of me together. It also helps with back support and being able to put on your stretchy pants over your now loose belly. The Belly Bandit brand is AMAZING. I felt like the B.F.F. belly band was made well, durable and held up for wearing it basically non-stop for 2-3 weeks.

2. Compression Leggings: Belly Bandit – Mother Tucker Leggings


Mamas, these Belly Bandit Mother Tucker compression leggings will be your best friend for a month (or two, or three!) post delivery. I wore the heck out of these babies. It helped with all my swelling as a result from the IV’s used during C-section, plus, it kept all my loose tummy skin tucked in. I sincerely think these leggings helped kick-start my “get my pre-baby body back” journey. I wore these so much that I decided to buy a second pair of compression leggings when I had my second baby. But, I didn’t want to shell out the same money, so I bought these dupes: MOTHERS ESSENTIALS Postpartum High Waist Tummy Compression Control Slimming Leggings. Honestly, they were very similar – maybe not as thick as the Belly Bandit brand – but, I think they worked the same!

3. Belly Corset: Belly Bandit – C-Section & Postpartum Recovery Undies


Once I was ready to move on from the belly binder, I started wearing these “c-section recovery undies,” which I actually think is more of a corset, a few hours a day around the house. I liked this more than the binder, because it felt EVEN tighter, supporting my mid-section and helping speed up recovery. I also liked that it had special silver-infused fibers that are supposed to protect the incision site and minimize bacteria. I had a lot of pain in my hips and lower back after my second baby, and I noticed these “undies” helped keep my posture, which helped relieve the discomfort I was having in my hips and back. This also is from Belly Bandit – can you tell I like their products?!

4. Nursing Bras: CAKYE 3PACK Racerback Maternity Nursing Bra


I originally got these CAKYE nursing bras to simply wear at nighttime for easy breastfeeding while trying to get some sleep, but I ended up wearing them all the time! I spent a lot of time around the house the first few months with both babies and didn’t need any complicated nursing bras with snap straps, fitted cups, etc. These bras are so comfy and so easy for nursing! I’m small chested, but I think any size could enjoy having these to wear for sleep or just around their house. I also wore them out-and-about sometimes, too, because I honestly preferred them to many of my other nursing bras.

5. Big Panties: Kindred Bravely High Waist Postpartum Underwear & C-Section Recovery Panties


I heard the stories of many moms wearing adult diapers their first few weeks postpartum but was told that likely wouldn’t be necessary for me because bleeding is usually less for a C-section than with a vaginal birth. Still, there is bleeding, and it can last anywhere from 2-6 weeks. I quickly discovered that I couldn’t wear any of my normal pre-birth panties because they would rub my incision site – ouch! But, I didn’t want to keep wearing the gross mesh underwear they provide at the hospital either! Enter the granny panties!! I bought these Kindred Bravely C-section recovery panties to make me feel human again, and gahhhhh it was such a relief to throw away all those ugly hospital undies!

6. Nursing Pillow: Boppy Original Nursing Pillow


I love the Boppy breastfeeding pillow to not only help with my posture, but it also helped protect my incision site while nursing my newborn. I even used it as a barrier between me and my toddler who had a hard time understanding that mommy had a “boo boo” and couldn’t hold him in her lap like I used to.

7. Large Water Bottle: Takeya Originals Vacuum-Insulated Stainless-Steel Water Bottle, 40oz


Hydration is so important postpartum for recovery and breastfeeding. I drank water non-stop postpartum but was still always thirsty! Make sure you have a large water bottle within reach at all times. I like this Takeya water bottle, because it keeps drinks cold and has a narrow mouth for spill-free drinking. I actually think its better than my Hydroflask, and its half the price!

8. Nipple Soothies: Lansinoh Soothies Breast Gel Pads


Another breastfeeding mom recommended these Lansinoh soothies to me, and I’m so happy she did because I don’t know what I would have done without them! Breastfeeding was very painful for me for the first couple of weeks, and these helped relieve the pain so much! I would keep these in the fridge and then stick them on my nipples in between nursing sessions. Ahhhh… relief!

9. Scar Treatment: Embrace Active Scar Defense


I was lying in my hospital bed postpartum watching daytime TV when I saw pro tennis star and superwoman Serena Williams being interviewed about her birth experience, and she recommended Embrace Scar Therapy to help reduce the appearance of C-section scar. Since we all know Serena Williams is a badass who I assume has the highest standards for any product she uses, I immediately got on my iPhone and purchased a set of the silicon therapy pads. I believe it helped flatten and soften my scar, and I’ll be using this therapy again for my new scar that I have from my second C-section. Thanks, Serena.

C-section mamas! I’d love to hear from you about what products you liked and what may be missing from this list! Please email me here or connect with me on my Instagram.

XO Maggie

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love.

Valentine’s Day Steak Recipe + Last-Minute Valentine’s Gift Idea

Home, Kitchen
In my “sexy” kitchen where I drink LOTS of Nespresso coffee and will be cooking our Valentine’s Day dinner

Valentine’s Steak Dinner for At-Home Date Night:

A friend told me that she thinks our kitchen is “sexy,” which is why this is exactly where we’ll be spending Valentine’s Day this year (oh, and because we’re in a global pandemic!).

After putting the kids to bed, we’ll create a restaurant-inspired steak dinner experience right in our own kitchen – fancy napkins, candles lit, the whole deal! Our is plan to get steaks from our local Taylor’s Ol’ Fashioned Meat Market (they offer the best quality in the Pasadena area!) and use a cooking method that’s easier and tastier than grilling – the oven!

I grew up in Texas where 90% of the beef I ate came off the grill, especially steaks, so the first time I heard of cooking steaks in the oven, I thought NO WAY would it taste good! But, if you buy quality beef, I promise this will become your favorite way to cook steak! Scroll down for the steak recipe from the Kitchn that we’ll be using.

Last-Minute Valentine’s Gift Idea:

AND… For those of you spending much more time at home these days (who’s not?), I need to recommend the best gift idea that you can get last minute on Amazon Prime – a Nespresso coffee machine!

Our Nespresso machine and coffee organizer

My husband gifted me a Nespresso machine a couple years ago, and it is the gift that keeps giving every morning. I’m one of those that can’t do anything until I have a cup of coffee flowing through my veins, and Nespresso coffee is so delicious and delightful. There’s so many good flavors, and it makes every morning coffee feel like a special treat! And, I love how easy it is to make the coffee and clean up. It felt like such a major upgrade from our big coffee pot that we were making each morning.

This is the Nespresso machine my husband gifted me a couple years ago: Nespresso Vertuo Plus Coffee and Espresso Machine


But, Nespresso has a few machine options, depending on how much of a coffee lover you are. If you really want to impress your S.O., here is a top-notch machine for barista quality coffee: Nespresso Expert Original Espresso Machine


A few months ago, I purchased this EVERIE Glass Top Coffee Organizer, which has been so helpful in keeping our kitchen clean and organized. If you get a Nespresso machine from Amazon, I highly recommend adding this to your cart, too!


If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you should be able to get a Nespresso machine before Valentine’s Day.

Perfect Steak in the Oven Recipe by The Kitchn:

Serves: 2 | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 5-7 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 (1 pound, 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick) ribeye, T-bone, filet mignon, or strip steak
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Let the steak come to room temperature. Open the package and blot the steak dry with paper towels. Let the steak sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes on the counter; this helps it cook more evenly.
  2. Heat the skillet under the broiler 20 minutes before cooking. Turn on your oven’s broiler to high and place an oven rack 6 to 8 inches below the broiler element. Put the skillet on the rack to heat up with the oven.
  3. Rub the steak with oil. Drizzle a little oil over the steak and use your fingers or a brush to spread it evenly over the steak and on the sides. Sprinkle with half the salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Flip the steak and repeat on the other side.
  4. Place the skillet over high heat. Turn on a stove burner to high heat. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven using an oven mitt. Place it on the stovetop burner.
  5. Sear the steak for 30 seconds. Use kitchen tongs to place the steak in the middle of the hot pan. It should sizzle immediately. Sear for 30 seconds.
  6. Flip and sear the other side for 30 seconds. Flip the steak and sear the other side for 30 seconds.
  7. Broil the steak for 2 minutes. Carefully put the skillet back below the broiler. Close the oven door and cook the steak for 2 minutes.
  8. Flip and broil another 2 minutes. Pull out the skillet and carefully flip the steak using the tongs. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 2 minutes. At this point your steak will be medium-rare; if you prefer your steak closer to medium, add another 2 minutes to the oven time.
  9. Rest the steak. Take the steak out of the oven and transfer it to a clean cutting board. Tent it loosely with aluminum foil and let the steak rest for about 5 minutes.
  10. Slice and serve. Slice the steak and fan slices out on each plate. Serve immediately.

Enjoy! And, Happy Valentine’s Day!

XO Maggie

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love.

WOULDN’T IT BE COOL IF…

Thoughts

Have you ever thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if… (fill in blank.)”

For many years, I’ve filled that blank with, “Wouldn’t be cool if I was a writer.”

You see, I was a broadcast journalism major in college and loved writing stories. I thought I’d one day be the writer and host of a lighthearted TV show that shared my and others’ personal stories. I wanted to inspire people and make them smile. I also loved the creative aspect of storytelling and feeling proud of my finished work.

Well, I needed a job after college in a recession, so going down that path never happened for me. Instead, I’ve had a really fantastic career in public relations where I’ve still been able to exercise my writing and creativity muscle a bit.

However, the “wouldn’t it be cool if” thought has sat in the back of my mind for the last 10 years. So, during this pandemic while my PR work slowed, I decided, “What am I waiting for?! I can do it myself!”

So, here I am, being a bit vulnerable and launching a personal blog to showcase my writing while also hoping to uplift and entertain anyone who reads.

I used to be an extreme perfectionist and really suffered from the “disease to please” which kept me from taking any risks. Now, I take myself a little less seriously and just want to enjoy every day not living in fear. So, I’m doing this blog for me, but also, I hope someone out there may take interest in learning about or being entertained by topics that I’m passionate about – motherhood, design, travel and mental health.

My favorite part of writing is connecting with people. Should you have interest, I’d love for you to follow along and share your thoughts with me.

Cheers to being scared and doing it anyway, cheers to creating, and cheers to connecting!

XO, Maggie 

BABY REGISTRY MUST-HAVES

Mom & Baby

Now that I’ve had two VERY different babies, I feel that I have a good idea of the most essential baby products every mom needs to add to their registry. When making my registry, I attempted my best to be as minimalist as possible with both babies. I hate clutter, and I didn’t want excess baby stuff around the house. With that said, it can be really hard to predict all your baby’s preferences before they are born, and sometimes you end up buying a couple of versions of an item when one doesn’t work out (for example, I tried wayyy too many varieties of swaddles until I found one that worked for us).

Below is a master list of the best baby products I’ve used for both my babies. Plus, I provided a detailed list with product descriptions below that. In my opinion, this list includes the most vital items to add to your registry and covers all the gear and products you’ll need for the first 3-4 months. I also have a list of best postpartum products for C-section and breastfeeding moms that I’ll share soon, so be on the lookout!

MASTER BABY REGISTRY LIST:

-Everyday Stroller: UPPAbaby VISTA V2 Stroller

-Travel Stroller: Doona Infant Car Seat & Latch Base

-Wrap Carrier: Solly Baby

-Overall Baby Carrier: Omni 360 Ergobaby Carrier

-Bassinet: Design Dua Moses Basket

-Swaddle: Love To Dream Swaddle

-Sound Machine/Night Light: Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine and Night Light

-Travel Crib / Pack and Play: Lotus Travel Crib

-Bouncer: Fisher-Price Sweet Dreams Deluxe Bouncer

-Baby Lounger: DockATot Deluxe+

-Newborn Lounger: Boppy Newborn Lounger

-Activity Gym: Skip Hop Baby Play Mat and Activity Gym

-Nursing Pillow: Boppy Nursing Pillow

-Burp Cloths: KiddyStar Baby Burp Cloths

-Drool Bibs: KeaBabies Organic Baby Bandana Drool Bibs

-Nursing Cover: aden + anais Swaddle Blanket

-Manual Breast Pump: Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump

-Bottles: Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottle, Dr. Brown’s Glass Baby Bottles and Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottles

-Diaper Bag: Freshly Picked Diaper Bag Backpack

-Changing Pad Liners: Munchkin Waterproof Changing Pad Liners

-Diaper Changing Pad: PooPoose Diaper Changing Pad

-Diaper Pail: Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail

-Wipe Dispenser: OXO Tot Perfect Pull Wipes Dispenser

-Diapers: Huggies Little Snugglers Baby Diapers

-Bathtub: Angelcare Baby Bath

-Towel & Washcloths: Pottery Barn Gingham Baby Hooded Towel & Washcloths Set

-Bath Time Rinse Cup: Skip Hop Moby Bath Rinse Cup

-Baby Shampoo, Body Wash and Lotion: Noodle & Boo Newborn 2-in-1 Hair & Body Wash and Baby Lotion

-Rattle: SmartNoggin NogginStik Developmental Light-Up Rattle

-Teether: Itzy Ritzy Silicone Baby Teether

-Starter Book Set: Baby Einstein’s My First Library Board Book Set


DETAILED BABY REGISTRY LIST:

Strollers, Carriers and Items to Get Around with Baby:

Best Everyday Stroller: UPPAbaby VISTA V2 Stroller

OK, moms and dads, this is may be one of the most important items on your registry. Don’t overlook it and don’t roll your eyes like I did when I saw this stroller’s price tag. The UPPAbaby VISTA is everything you need and more for your first baby AND your second baby. That was the selling point for me. I felt pretty certain that I wanted a second baby fairly soon after my first, and the VISTA is perfect for two children. Currently, my 3 month old rides in the stroller and my toddler likes to ride on the UPPAbaby VISTA PiggyBack Ride-Along Board. He’ll also ride in the stroller on a rare occasion, but he is so busy and independent that the ride-along board is genius! The stroller is durable with a smooth ride, has a large basket to carry EVERYTHING underneath and works perfectly with the UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat. OK, so I’ll admit that I actually started resenting the VISTA 8 months into my first baby. It started feeling big and unnecessary, and we never liked taking it on an airplane, so I started using a small jogging stroller to primarily get around with Landon. It sat in our garage for a bit. But, now that we have a newborn, it’s all we’ve used for the last 3 months, and I know we’ll continue to use it to push around two children at once. I’m SO HAPPY we have this stroller!!

Best Travel Stroller: Doona Infant Car Seat & Latch Base

For those of you who travel a lot, in and out of Ubers, or don’t feel like reinstalling the car seat every time you change cars, this stroller + car seat duo is for you. I know some moms that use this as their primary stroller and infant car seat, but that didn’t work for us because I now need a stroller that carries two at a time and also one with more storage capacity. I also don’t think the “ride” is smooth enough for long excursions. But, this stroller is genius. I took it on a work trip when I had to be in and out of taxis and Ubers, and the ease of folding up the wheels and converting the stroller to a car seat convinced me there is no need for any other travel stroller until your baby outgrows this one around 1 year old.

Best Wrap Carrier: Solly Baby

Our Solly Baby wrap was used ALL the time!
Lucy lived in her Solly Baby wrap the first 3 months

My second baby, Lucy, lived in the Solly wrap for her first three months. There was a bit of a learning curve to get the super long piece of fabric tied into a tight, comfy wrap, but it was totally worth it, because I don’t know what I would have done if she wasn’t in that wrap. She loved being super close to mom as I did chores around the house, cooked dinner and put my first baby to bed.

Best Overall Baby Carrier: Omni 360 Ergobaby Carrier

This carrier is best for longterm wear and grows with your baby until the toddler years. I’ve used the Ergobaby for long walks and hikes where a stroller was too difficult to bring or when baby just didn’t want to be anywhere else but on me. And, unlike the Solly, my husband will wear it!

Sleep Necessities:

Favorite Bassinet: Design Dua Moses Basket

I think the bassinet is one of the hardest things to buy. A baby’s sleep is so unpredictable for the first few months and every baby is different. I did not know this until my first was born. I borrowed the Halo bassinet from a friend, and I’m so glad I borrowed instead of purchased, because he may have only slept in it two or three nights. He hated being anywhere other than my chest the first two months, and after that, he was always in the DockATot (more on that below) or trying to sleep on his tummy. I ended up putting him in the crib un-swaddled really early compared to most babies. For my second baby, I didn’t want to invest in an expensive bassinet until after she was born and I knew what sort of sleeper she was. Instead, I purchased the Design Dua Moses basket to get us started. Yes, it’s not necessarily cheap, but it doesn’t have the shocking price tag like the Snoo or Halo. I figured that even if she never slept in it once, at least it looked cute for me to take pictures of her in (crazy mom here). Since it was an attractive basket, I also knew we also could use it for storing stuffed animals or toys. Plus, she could use it for her baby dolls when she’s older. Well, she turned out to be a decent sleeper for a newborn and she actually slept in it for a few weeks! But, I still moved her out of it and into her crib early, because I figured I wanted to get her used to the crib while she was sleeping well. It now holds all her stuffed animals.

Favorite Swaddle: Love To Dream Swaddle

My first baby hated being swaddled, but maybe that’s because we never tried the Love to Dream swaddle, which leaves their arms in the natural up position. Lucy would calm down immediately when putting her in this swaddle. I also bought the next version up where you can remove the arms for when baby starts rolling. My first baby woke up every couple of hours, but Lucy has done 8 hours straight in the Love to Dream swaddle! Plus, I love how babies look like super cute little burritos in it!

Sound Machine / Night Light: Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine and Night Light


I love the Hatch sound machine and night light and currently use it for our infant Lucy. I love that I can control the light color and brightness, plus the sound and volume all from my phone. I use it to play a lullaby as we’re getting ready for bed, then switch to white noise when it’s time for lights out. I used a different sound machine and separate night light for Landon when he was a baby, and while it was just OKAY, this has all the bells and whistles. It’s great for when they get older and you want to help them understand when it’s okay to get out of bed by changing the light from red to green. I’ve heard so many sleep success stories from mommies who’ve used this!

Best Travel Crib / Pack and Play: Lotus Travel Crib


We traveled with both of our babies fairly soon after they were born, so we needed a travel crib. This Lotus Travel Crib by Guava Family is so easy to use. It folds into an easy-to-carry bag and pops out for easy set-up. I know some moms who use this in their home as a space to contain their crawling baby, too. It’s worth the price tag for how convenient and easy it is to use, plus, it looks good!

Places for Baby to Sit and Play:

Favorite Bouncer:Fisher-Price Sweet Dreams Deluxe Bouncer
Lucy loves the Fisher Price Deluxe Bouncer

For my first baby, we used Fisher Price’s Rock ‘n Play, but that product was recalled before Lucy was born. That was okay with me, because Landon never really liked sitting in there for long anyway. He didn’t like looking up at the sky and would get bored. I decided a bouncer would be better for Lucy, and after looking into options, this Fisher Price Deluxe Bouncer seemed like the perfect fit. The price was right AND it offered some entertainment with the dangling animals above her head – which she stares at and tries to reach for ALL the time. I considered something a bit more pleasing to the eye, like Babybjorn, but I learned my lesson the first time with a place for baby to sit that didn’t have any entertaining attachments to it. Baby gets bored! And, I need a safe place for baby to sit while I try to cook dinner, get dressed, chase the toddler, etc. The other bouncer options out there are so expensive and didn’t feel worth it for doing the same thing as Fisher Price’s bouncer. Plus, babies only use it for a few months!

Best Baby Lounger: DockATot Deluxe+


Baby naps ALL the time, and you need places for those impromptu naps other than the bassinet or crib. I absolutely LOVE the DockATot and tell all my friends what a lifesaver it was for my first baby. If Landon wasn’t on my chest, he would ONLY sleep in the DockATot for his first few months of life. I know, technically, this is against the safe sleeping rules. But, we were just trying to survive, y’all! Plus, I slept in the same room as him and was awake every couple of hours, anyway. Lucy loved taking naps in it as I did chores around the house by her. The material is high quality, it’s durable, washable, easy on the eyes, and it fits most babies through 8 months. This is a product I don’t know what we would have done without.

Best Newborn Lounger: Boppy Newborn Lounger

Both of my babies spent so much time in the Boppy Newborn Lounger. You may wonder why you’d need another lounger when I already recommended the DockATot, but like I said previously, you’ll want places to sit baby around the house. It’s much easier than hauling loungers up and down the stairs or into different rooms. We always kept this on our couch and its where I sat baby in between feeds and while watching TV when I was recovering from my C-section. It’s cozy for baby and easy for mama to wipe clean.

Favorite Activity Gym: Skip Hop Baby Play Mat and Activity Gym


We loved this Skip Hop play gym for both of our babies. It’s affordable and easy to look at with neutral colors. It’s where both of my babies rolled over for the first time. Lucy loves laying there and grabbing the toys. I considered getting a more expensive play gym for Lucy, but I’m glad I didn’t spend the money since I already had this one. These things take up space, and once baby can crawl and pull up, they like finding other things around the house to explore (Stairs! Cabinets! Drawers! And all the other hazards that will drive you crazy – LOL!). My goal is to have less baby stuff or things I can resell. I can’t imagine play gyms being easy to resell after a baby spits up on and destroys it for 6 months.

Feeding:

Best Nursing Pillow: Boppy Nursing Pillow


If you have any desire to breastfeed, do yourself a big favor and get this Boppy nursing pillow. I exclusively breastfed both my babies, and this pillow made it so much easier for me and baby to comfortably and successfully do it. And, when I say I EXCLUSIVELY breastfed, I mean we used NO BOTTLES. That’s right, my babies spent a huge chunk of their first few months camped out on this pillow, and it saved my shoulders and back. I used this for Landon until he was about 9 months and big enough to where I didn’t really need the extra support, and I’m still using it for Lucy at 3.5 months.

Best Burp Cloths: KiddyStar Baby Burp Cloths


I was gifted TONS of different burp cloths with my first baby, and after experimenting with all of them, these were the ones I kept going back to. I even bought more of them, so I didn’t have to keep washing them as often, even though I had tons of other different burp clothes in baby’s dresser. You don’t have to spend time unfolding them while rushing to clean up a spit-up disaster, they’re durable and soft. Star rating: 10+!

Favorite Drool Bibs: KeaBabies Organic Baby Bandana Drool Bibs


My first baby spit up so much after every feeding, and my second baby is a major drooler. These organic KeaBabies drool bibs are perfect to catch all the yucky so you’re not changing baby’s outfit 10 times a day! And, they are so soft and cute!

Best Nursing Cover: aden + anais Swaddle Blanket


Since exclusively breastfeeding both babies, that means I do a lot of nursing in public. Obviously, I’m all for the #NormalizeBreastfeeding movement, but there are some times and places you just don’t want to accidentally expose yourself (like at a football watching party with your husband’s guy friends). I preferred these cute, soft, Aden + Anais swaddles to cover myself and baby, because they’re so handy when out and about. I’ve also used them as a blanket for baby to lay on, to cover baby’s stroller, and to wipe up major diaper blow-outs or spit-up messes. They also keep their shape after washing. I had some swaddle blankets with my first baby that did not. Bonus: They come in lots of sweet patterns and colors.

Favorite Manual Breast Pump: Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump


The Haakaa is so helpful while breastfeeding, especially for the first couple of months. By using the Haakaa, I was able to establish a good milk supply, plus save TONS of milk without having to hook myself up to an electronic pump (some moms prefer not to use an electric pump until after regular nursing has been established with baby). I’d put the Haakaa on one breast while baby nursed from the other, and I’d make 2-6 ounces of milk to save. If I didn’t have the Haakaa, I’d have soaked nursing pads and burp cloths – and wasted liquid gold (aka breastmilk)! I was able to store so much milk in the freezer with my first baby that I never even used an electronic pump. As I mentioned above, I exclusively breastfed, so I didn’t need to pump while baby drank from bottle. I stored my milk in the Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags, which are easy to store because they lay flat on top of each other.

Bottles: Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottle, Dr. Brown’s Glass Baby Bottles and Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottles
As I’ve already said, I did not use bottles with my babies, but I feel like I can’t leave y’all hanging here since its such an important part of many babies’ first year. I asked all my mom friends their preferred bottle and everyone had a different answer! All babies are different and all bottles are different, so you may have to try a few to get a feel for what baby takes to. While every mom had a different tip related to bottle brands, the most popular brands I kept hearing over and over were Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottle, Dr. Brown’s Glass Baby Bottles and Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottles.

Diapering:

Favorite Diaper Bag: Freshly Picked Diaper Bag Backpack


I know I needed a backpack instead of a shoulder bag, because my pre-baby shoulder-strap purse was already hurting my neck and shoulders with all the stuff I carry around – there was no way I could carry around all the baby stuff on my shoulder. Plus, a backpack keeps hands free – great for shopping, throwing stuff in your car, and when you need to pick up your toddler who’s running away from you! This backpack is so pretty – just like a designer purse. I’ve had it for almost three years now, and it’s held up SO WELL. And, it carries so much stuff that I take it EVERYWHERE. I even put my laptop in it when we travel!

Favorite Changing Pad Liners: Munchkin Waterproof Changing Pad Liners


I never knew how handy these would be! Get these Munchkin changing pad liners, so you’re not constantly washing hard-to-clean items or items you just don’t want to remove from their designated spots, like the changing pad cover, DockATot, etc. I even kept one of these downstairs on the couch to change baby’s diaper to keep me from going upstairs to our official changing station.

Best Changing Pad: PooPoose Diaper Changing Pad


I really dislike the name of this product LOL but it does the job! I especially loved the soft straps for Landon when he started getting really squirmy around 5-6 months. Imagine trying to change a baby’s poopy diaper while they’re trying to touch their butt or roll over – yikes! This saves you! I bought the recommended PooPoose Changing Pad Cover in varsity grey.

Best Diaper Pail: Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail


I’m about to drop some realness on y’all… ALL diaper pails stink. There is no magic way to keep your diaper pail from stinking with the amount of wetness and funk that sits in a pail, even a stainless steel one. But, this Ubbi diaper pail does a pretty darn good job. We had ours for almost 2 years before it started stinking so bad that there was no saving it. That was 1.5 years after putting the really gross poopy diapers in there that you’ll soon discover after introducing your baby to solids. We bought a fresh, new Ubbi pail, and I’ve learned you can make yours last even longer by changing the bag every other day, adding the Ubbi Odor Absorbing Gels and bagging the super stinky poopy diapers in Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Bags prior to putting in the Ubbi pail. All I can say is, best wishes on your poop diaper journey!

Best Wipe Dispenser: OXO Tot Perfect Pull Wipes Dispenser


I never knew how vital this OXO Tot wipe dispenser would be! It sure comes in handy when you’re juggling holding baby’s legs, dropping the diaper in the diaper pail, and need to pull more wipes to clean the yucky – all while attempting not to get poop everywhere! Get this!

Best Diapers: Huggies Little Snugglers Baby Diapers


Y’all, I really wanted to be Ms. Organic Mommy and use all the best “environmentally better” diapers. I tried them ALL for both my babies and none compare to Huggies Little Snugglers, especially for the 0-3 months stage. These are the only diapers I’ve found that limit blow-outs. You may think you want to use the organic brands, or even reusable diapers (seriously, good for you, I commend you…), but after you’ve ruined enough clothes and touched enough poop, you’ll want to switch to these.

Bath Time:

Favorite Bathtub: Angelcare Baby Bath

Lucy in the Angelcare baby bathtub

The Angelcare baby bathtub is such a simple and easy tub that we used for both babies. It’s inexpensive, but it’s held up so well! The colors haven’t faded and there’s no gross mold or any other residue left behind on the tub, unlike some of our other bath toys. Both my babies have loved bath time and never complained being in this tub. After bath, we store this under our sink, but we used to hang it behind the bathroom door in our old house. I really don’t think you need anything fancy for baby’s first bathtub. Get one that’s safe and easy to store, like the Angelcare!

Favorite Towel & Washcloths: Pottery Barn Gingham Baby Hooded Towel & Washcloths Set

Pottery Barn Gingham Towel & Washcloths Set can be personalized!

It was tough to choose my favorite baby towel and washcloths, because we received several as gifts that are all great and functional. However, I chose Pottery Barn’s gingham baby hooded towel and washcloth as my #1 choice because of the thick and soft material. It really held up after numerous washes. Plus, you can personalize it! My second favorite hooded baby towels are the super soft aden + anais Classic Hooded Baby Bath Towels, because they also are thick and hold up very well. I wash my babies’ bath towels more than my own because there always seems to be some sort of spit-up or poopy accident right before or after bath!

Favorite Rinse Cup: Skip Hop Moby Bath Rinse Cup


I underestimated how much I’d love a good rinse cup. This Skip Hop Moby Rise Cup keeps the water out of my babies’ eyes and makes it so easy to wash their hair tear-free. Now that Landon is older, he loves using it to help give baby a bath.

Best Baby Shampoo, Body Wash and Lotion: Noodle & Boo Newborn 2-in-1 Hair & Body Wash and Baby Lotion


All new mamas worry about their babies’ sensitive newborn skin and want to choose the most delicate, natural products. I love Noodle & Boo’s 2-in-1 Shampoo & Body Wash and Lotion because it checks all the boxes: non-toxic, plant-based, dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic, made in USA… AND it has a light irresistible newborn baby scent that will make you want to double you baby’s kisses post bath time.

Toys and Books:

Best Rattle: SmartNoggin NogginStik Developmental Light-Up Rattle



This SmartNoggin rattle encourages development in multiple ways, and both of my babies loved it. They love feeling the different textures, tracking the light and looking in the mirror at the bottom of the rattle. Since they liked it so much, I also would use it to encourage tummy time. I’d set it in front of them while on their tummies to look at.

Favorite Teether: Itzy Ritzy Silicone Baby Teether – BPA-Free Infant Teether with Easy-to-Hold Design and Textured Back Side to Massage and Soothe Sore, Swollen Gums, Cactus


Most any silicon teether will do, but I like that this one was large enough to where I didn’t lose it and the fact that it was a gender neutral cactus. It just felt very “LA” (LOL!) and didn’t scream “baby!” like many other crazy primary colored teethers.

Favorite Starter Books: Baby Einstein’s My First Library Board Book Set


This Baby Einstein book block is a great starter set to introduce your babies to reading and baby basics – colors, shapes, animals and such. I started reading immediately with both of my babies, and I’m so happy that Landon LOVES and interacts with his books at 2.5 years old.

Whew! That’s a lot of gear for baby! Did I forget anything that you other mamas found vital for your newborn baby? Let me know by emailing me here or connect with me on Instagram.

XO, Maggie

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love.

INTRODUCTION

Thoughts

Why, hello! However the Internet got you here, welcome!

This website serves as a destination to share about things that interest me – travel, design, mommy-baby stuff, favorite beauty and fashion finds, and mental health awareness. I hope this will be a place to connect with other moms and modern women as I blog about my favorite products and little hacks to make my life more simple and beautiful as a working mom with two babies.

Here’s some interesting facts about me:

  • I live in Southern California but was raised primarily in Texas. I also lived in Tennessee and North Carolina before the age of 15.
  • I have a broadcast journalism degree from The University of Texas at Austin, where I was in a sorority and on the pom squad.
  • I have two babies (one boy and one girl) and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
  • Like every good Southern Belle, I participated in beauty pageants from age 7 to 20. That was BEFORE the craziness of “Toddlers & Tiaras!”
  • I used to be a huge theater nerd enthusiast and performed in community theater for the majority of my childhood.
  • Swimming, soccer and field hockey were my favorite sports growing up. I also joined the basketball team to make friends when my family moved, but I was terrible!
  • I took French for nine years but still haven’t been to France! On my bucket list!
  • Favorite pastimes include reading, writing in my journal, cooking, hiking, running, decorating our home, listening to music, and spending the day poolside or at the beach with my family.
  • My favorite date nights with my husband involve comedy shows or concerts.
  • My favorite places to vacation thus far are Kauai, Los Cabos, St. Barth and Turks & Caicos (I favor beach destinations), but I also adore quick weekend escapes to Las Vegas, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara.
  • I’ve interviewed Garry Marshall, Lisa Kudrow, Ed Helms, Kristin Cavallari, Jayne Seymour, Kirk Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Snoop Dogg, will.i.am, Holly Madison, among other celebrities when I was working in entertainment news and PR.
  • I started writing in a journal when I was 7 and have been writing in one ever since – I have almost 20 volumes!
  • I am the youngest of three children and have two older brothers. My brother, Yancey, suffered from bipolar disorder and took his own life when he was 28 years old. I’m extremely passionate about mental health, suicide prevention and mental health anti-stigmatization.
  • I always liked working or having my own business. I started a dog-sitting business when I was 9 and became a Red Cross certified babysitter when I was 12. I started lifeguarding when I was 15 and always had a job or internship in college.
  • My husband and I purchased our first house in 2017 and we recently just completed a major remodel. I’m currently working on decorating the interior. It’s been quite the process but really fun! I’ll share some behind-the-scenes of the remodel and decor process on the blog.

Looking forward to connecting and sharing more of my passions and experiences with you!

XO Maggie