6 Last-Minute Holiday Gift Ideas for Mom from Mom-Owned Businesses in the LA-OC Area

beauty, fashion, Holidays, Lifestyle, Mom & Baby, Travel

I’m so excited to share this list of great gift ideas for mom from some of my favorite mom-owned businesses in the LA-OC area! In addition to sharing the list below, I’m featuring these gifts LIVE on KTLA Morning News in Los Angeles today, Dec. 22, 2021 at around 11:45 a.m., and I’m so hopeful you’ll tune in! *UPDATE* If you missed the live TV segment, you can view the recorded version here.

Monogrammed Travel Bag from The Monogrammed Home in San Marino

Okay, so… You made your list, checked it twice, and… Oops! You STILL need a gift for mom!!

This is when some of you will quickly run to Target to find a mug that says “MOM” or grab whatever overpriced, picked-over item you can find at Tiffany’s or Nordstrom. Don’t be one of those people wandering blankly around the big chain store only to get mom ANOTHER robe or slippers. Didn’t you get her that last year? Crap, you can’t remember!

Y’all… Don’t do this to mom! Yes, those gifts mentioned above are nice… I have thoroughly enjoyed every robe I’ve been gifted… BUT!!! (This is an important “but,” thus needed additional emphasis) … I need y’all to think of what kind of gift mom really deserves after what she has been up to this holiday season…

Those holiday cards your friends and family received? She designed, signed, and addressed those… Not to mention she licked all 75 envelopes!

Your kids’ reindeer antler headband, the “holiday themed red sweater,” and new dress shoes (grew out of last year’s shoes) that their teacher required you to buy and have your child wear for their school holiday performance… MOM.

Who coordinated the family holiday outings? Photos with Santa, holiday lights show, kids’ museum holiday activities, etc., etc. … MOM.

Who made cookies for Santa? Sure, the kids helped… But, it was probably MOM who had to set it up and clean it up! ALL THOSE SPRINKLES AHHH!!!

Gifts for your neighbors, extended family, newspaper delivery person, mail carrier, kids’ teachers, etc… MOM!!

All the dang wrapping… MOM.

And who usually makes Christmas Eve dinner and/or Christmas Day brunch as everyone enjoys their new gifts or watches football… not always but usually MOM!!!

The exception to all these tasks listed above is a mom who has an incredibly helpful and/or available partner, a mom who has the financial means to outsource everything, or the mom who just stopped giving a F—! Nevertheless, the holiday hustle can get to any mom no matter the level of support she receives.

SO, LET’S HOOK MOM UP THIS YEAR, Y’ALL! Let’s get her something that’s truly unique and thoughtful while also supporting a local MOM-owned business!

REASONS TO BUY FROM A LOCAL MOM-OWNED BUSINESS:

  • Shopping local is a great way to give back to your community where you live and want to see prosper. Local stores tend to keep their profits local, hire local employees, and donate to local charities and organizations.
  • It’s the best shopping method to limit your environmental impact. There’s less shipping and typically more local products available, so less transportation needed.
  • The experience is unmatched! You’ll have the opportunity to personally connect with a member of your community who really cares about their customers! Also, the knowledge of their products is superior to some of the big box chains that hire seasonal employees. Because they’re passionate about their products and filling a need in their community, local business owners often go the extra mile to make sure you are a happy customer!
  • If you love your mom, you’ll also love supporting another local mom. Imagine your own mom putting her blood, sweat and tears into a business on top of all her mom-ing… That is one bad mother!
  • Interesting products! Local businesses sell products that fulfill the interests of the owner and the owner’s customers. They are not limited to some national chain store’s sales and marketing plan, so you’ll often get some really unique and special product options!
  • It’s hard to trust last-minute shipping these days with all the supply shortages and shipping delays we’re seeing on the news. When you shop local, you’re typically perusing all the products currently in stock, so you don’t have to worry about your gift not making it to mom before Christmas.

Now that I’ve convinced you that shopping at a local, mom-owned business is the way to go, below is a list of my favorite gift ideas from mom-owned businesses in Southern California. These business stretch from Sunset Beach to Montrose, and all have ways to secure gifts in these last couple days leading up to Christmas. I’ve included gift ideas for every type of mom – the new mom, the expecting mom, and moms who love wine, traveling, skincare and wellness.

6 Holiday Gift Ideas for Mom from Local Mom-Owned Businesses:

FOR THE EXPECTING MOM

Cleobella Taylor Mama Bag in Cognac

Cleobella Taylor Mama Bag

This leather bag is so chic and high-quality that you’d have no idea it’s actually a diaper bag! Perfect for the stylish new mom who doesn’t always want to look like she’s hauling around baby gear! The braided detailing on the handle and zipper pulls is gorgeous, and it comes in three different colors (black, moccasin and cognac) to fit any mom’s style. I personally love how this bag is well designed for versatility. You can wear it as a backpack, crossbody, or with your hands for style and convenience. Multiple pockets are large enough to hold all the essentials. I can even squeeze my laptop into it in case I need to mix work with mom life. I fully intend to carry this bag even when we’re out of the diaper phase! Cleobella was founded by a SoCal mom, along with her husband, who desired ethically handmade fashion inspired by her global travels. The brand is deeply rooted in its commitment to sustainability and employment that uplifts independent artisans around the world. One percent of every purchase goes back to charities that support our planet and people who need it most. 

How to Buy: The Taylor Mama Bag is available to purchase in-person at the Cleobella boutique in Sunset Beach located at 16792 14th St Sunset Beach, CA 90742. The boutique will be open from 10a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 22-23. The company website www.cleobella.com offers expedited shipping options from their local headquarters, in addition to e-gift cards for those extra last-minute shoppers. Be sure to use the code KTLA at checkout for 20% off your order! The code is good through December.

FOR THE NEW MOM

Saranoni Mommy-and-Me Matching Luxury Blankets at Babies, Bellies & Bosoms

Keep mama and baby cozy this winter with luxury matching blankets from Saranoni found at Bellies, Babies & Bosoms in Montrose. Saranoni’s Bamboni Collection is made from bamboo fibers that are converted to rayon, so the blanket’s cloud-like fabric is light, breathable, stretchy, and as soft as ever! When you’re snuggled up with this blanket, “you’ll feel like you’re wrapped in a cupcake!” said Laura, the owner of Bellies, Babies & Bosoms. The blankets will undoubtedly bring comfort and warmth to mommy and baby this holiday season, and I’m obsessed with the idea of giving a matching mommy-and-baby gift to a new mom! The blankets come in a variety of colors and patterns to match mom’s style and home. If you purchase the “Mudcloth” print, Saranoni will donate a portion of proceeds to Well-Africa, an organization that strives to end child slavery, build schools, and educate children in West Africa. Love a gift that gives back!

How to Buy: Saranoni’s Bamboni Collection of blankets are available to purchase at Bellies, Babies & Bosoms in Montrose, a quaint historic community just north of Glendale. I love this shop because it was founded by a mom in 2003 with the passion to promote breastfeeding, support new mothers and be a sanctuary for all motherhood needs. She carries so many special gifts for new parents and babies! Bellies is located at 2430 Honolulu Avenue, Montrose, CA 91020 and will be open from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. on Dec. 22-23 and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Dec. 24.

FOR THE BEAUTY LOVING MOM

Tinted Lip Jellies from Facile Dermatology and Boutique

Just in time for the holidays, Facile launched its fan-favorite lip moisturizer in a collection of brand-new Tinted Lip Jellies with a plumping complex that instantly boosts hydration and leaves lips looking fuller, firmer, and more defined with each wear. The Tinted Lip Jellies come in three effortless shades: Rose, Rouge, and Berry. I tried all three shades and each of them looked good on my skin tone, but my favorite is the Rose to wear every day for a very natural look. Glossy but never sticky, the Tinted Lip Jellies soften and condition lips with a long-lasting, hydrating blend of Peptides, Jojoba Oil, and Essential Fatty Acids, leaving lips with a wash of beautiful color. Not only are these lip jellies amazing for your lips, every purchase goes toward an amazing cause! Throughout the month of December, Facile will be donating 20% of all Lip Jelly sales to NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) which provides advocacy, education, support, and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives. Co-founded by skincare-obsessed entrepreneur and mom Danielle Nadick Levy and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Nancy Samolitis. Facile opened in 2016 and quickly garnered a celeb following from beauties like Mandy Moore, Lucy Hale and Dove Cameron. If you really want to win big with mom, accompany the Lip Jellies with a gift card for mom to get a personalized treatment at Facile. They do it all from mini facials to fillers to microneedling and PRP injections! Perfect for any beauty or skincare loving mama!

How to Buy: Facile has two locations in West Hollywood (8457 Melrose Place, Los Angeles, CA 90069) and Pasadena (140 S. Lake Ave., Suite 104, Pasadena, CA 91101) where the products can be purchased on Dec. 22 or 23.

FOR THE WINE ENTHUSIAST MOM

Aervana Travel Aerator from Emerald Forest Gifts

This brand-new Travel Wine Aerator from Aervana is perfect for any wine lover who loves to travel or simply save space at home (glass decanters don’t travel well and take up lots of space!). This aerator is small enough to fit in your purse or drawer, plus, it comes with a cute carrying case and corkscrew. At the touch of a button, it turns tannic wine into smooth-as-velvet liquid in seconds! Simply attach the single tube that accompanies the Aervana Travel to the body of the aerator, slip it over an open wine bottle, and press the button on top.  Perfect for travel, road trips, the beach, picnics – anywhere! To be honest, my husband and I love this aerator so much that we use it at home most of the time!

How to Buy: Get the Aervana Travel Aerator before Christmas at mom-owned Emerald Forest Gifts in the San Fernando Valley located at 12638 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604. The owner, Michelle, started Emerald Forest Gifts in 1987 and is celebrating the store’s 36th Christmas Season! Known for carrying unique, elegant gifts for all occasions, Emerald Forest will even gift wrap your gift to make it easy for you to give to mom! Her shop will be open from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 22-23 and from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 24.

FOR THE WELLNESS WARRIOR MOM

Juna Essential Roller Set

If mom is always looking to optimize her wellbeing (or if she simply needs some help chilling out this holiday season – LOL!), Juna’s new essential oil rollerballs offer a therapeutic mood lifting experience throughout the day. The Essential Roller Set from Juna includes three nanoparticle mood-shifting rollerballs – Balance, Nightcap and Ease – designed with a complex blend of scientifically proven functional botanicals that will reset the mind and shift mood. Roll on temples, behind the ears, wrists, breathe deep and experience the mood shifting benefits.  The Balance helps you feel awake and clear; the Nightcap helps ease you into a deep sleep; and the Ease can help you shift your mood from overwhelmed to calm and relaxed. They are great for daily use, for on-the-go, fast, effective relief. Based in Dana Point, Juna creates plant powered products with over 40+ active botanicals that solve the stress, anxiety, and sleep issues women are facing daily. The wellness company was founded by two busy career women and mothers seeking an effective solution to optimize their every day.

How to Buy: The rollers are available to purchase with expedited shipping for Christmas on juna-world.com. If you use code KTLA at checkout, you’ll get 20% off your order! The code is good through December. Perfect time to consider getting Juna’s bestselling Nightcap drops, too! Juna also sells several of its plant-powered solutions in Erewhon markets.

FOR THE WELL-TRAVELED MOM

Personalized Jewelry Round and 3-Piece Travel Set from The Monogrammed Home

Nothing is more thoughtful than a personalized gift, and The Monogrammed Home can help you secure these monogrammed travel cases just in time for Christmas! I love this adorable Seersucker Jewelry Round and 3-Piece Stacking Set that can be used for toiletries, makeup, hair accessories, and whatever you can fit, ready to be monogrammed with mom’s name or initials! I also love the idea of monogramming the 3-piece set to stay organized around the house with labels like, “cords,” “sunscreen,” “vitamins,” “safety pins,” etc. The stacking set is available for $78 and comes in 7 different colors. The jewelry rounds are available for $38 and come in four different colors. Pricing includes monogramming, and customers can choose from over 100 monogram and font options and over 50 thread colors! You’re sure to find a style that mom will love! The Monogrammed Home is one of my most favorite gift shops close to my home! The shop offers a variety of thoughtful, personalized home and lifestyle gifts for everyone in your life. I seriously get every special occasion gift from this shop! The shop was founded by two sisters in 2014, who are now mothers.

How to Buy: Available online at the-monogrammed-home.com, by phone (626) 405-1153, or at The Monogrammed Home located at 2556 Mission St., San Marino, CA 91108. KTLA viewers will not incur a rush charge for purchases of the Jewelry Round or Stacking Set. Purchases placed today (Dec. 22, 2021) by 3 p.m. will be ready for pick up tomorrow (Dec. 23, 2021) between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Gift cards also are available to purchase. 

The Taylor Mama Bag from Cleobella is a perfect gift for an expecting mom!

MOMS! Which of these gifts would you like to receive? Let me know in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram at @maggiehjackson!

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. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

A Few of My Favorite Things – Great Holiday Gift Ideas!

beauty, fashion, Health & Wellness, Holidays, Lifestyle, Mom & Baby

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens… These holiday gift ideas have me feeling so smitten!

Okay, okay… I’ll drop the cheesiness…

But, seriously, below is a list of a few of my favorite things divided in two categories: things in my vanity and things in my closet. I use many of these items daily! I wanted to share a list of my favorite things as an easy gift guide resource for those of you struggling to find a holiday present for a deserving lady in your life. I’ve tried, tested and approved all these items, so I know any smart, chic lady like myself (LOL) would love these!

When all your shopping is done, come back to this list and choose something for yourself, too! I’ve rounded up a wide range of affordable and luxe items that I feel are truly spectacular! After a long almost two years of pandemic craziness, we can all use a little holiday pick-me-up 🙂

One of my FAVORITE things: Coola Sunless Tan Firming Lotion

A Few of My Favorite Things:

In My Vanity:

Supergoop Glow Screen – A 40 SPF sunscreen that doubles as a primer while leaving your skin with a dewy and glowy finish… YES, PLEASE! I seriously think I look more awake, fresh, and youthful after putting this on! And, its so easy to apply makeup on top, too! *virtual high five*

Drunk Elephant The Littles Gift Set – I love ALL of Drunk Elephant’s products and these are my most favorite go-to’s! If you’re interested in trying Drunk Elephant but don’t know which product to start with, or if you love Drunk Elephant and need some travel size products, this gift set is PERFECT!

Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara – I love this mascara because not only does it make my lashes look long and full, it’s a nourishing product made with clean ingredients that doesn’t flake off — all while still being easy to remove at the end of the day! I have deep set eyes, so I always struggle with my mascara smudging, and this is one of the best mascaras I’ve found!

Aquis Hair Turban – This towel is amazing at absorbing water while limiting damage to your wet hair. I love how easy it is to tie up and wear around while I do my makeup and get dressed.

Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer – Worth the hype – and the price tag! Less noise, less damage to my hair, and dries my hair faster!

Coola Sunless Tan Firming Lotion – I’ve tried so many sunless tanners in my lifetime and this has been my favorite so far! It’s so easy to apply, and I never get fake looking streaks. The color is very natural. There is a slight hint of a smell that comes with most self tanning lotions, but I find it not as strong compared to others I’ve used. I love that it’s made with clean ingredients, too… Used it during my pregnancies!

Bond No. 9 Madison Avenue Perfume – I found this sexy scent when I was shopping in Vegas, and I love it, because I don’t have a single girlfriend who wears it… Bond No. 9 Madison Avenue is MY SCENT, ok?! But, now I’m sharing with you, because I know you’ll love it! It’s sexy, but not too skanky… It’s high energy but not too annoyingly happy… ya get me? It’s my favorite perfume to wear for special occasions.

Versace Bright Crystal Perfume – This perfume is so versatile, so I like to wear it daily. It’s fresh, floral and bright… the way I want to feel going throughout my day. Any lady will like Versace!

In My Closet:

Veja Sneakers – These are the best sneakers to go with EVERYTHING! I’ve worn them with dresses, jeans, shorts and joggers. They’re classic and felt like a good upgrade to my everyday casual mama wardrobe. I like the Veja Campo style in white leather and natural suede, but Veja has lots of styles and colors to choose from to fit your personality!

Schutz Ariella Mules – The heels that go with (almost) everything! They’re like Cinderella’s glass slipper emulating a “barely there” look. The plastic is flexible, so they’re really quite comfortable! I’ve worn these for hours at a time and can dance in them, too!

Levi Wedgie Straight Ankle Jeans – Since skinny jeans have been fading on the fashion circuit, I scoured the internet for a pair of new non-skinny jeans that didn’t make me look like I was a Gen Z-er (sorry Gen Z). I wanted jeans that were still a bit fitted but made me feel like a cool mom, ya know? Enter these Levi Wedgie Straight Ankle Jeans! They def give off some 90s vibes but with a much better fit. They don’t have a lot of stretch, so consider that when choosing sizes!

Madewell Cropped Sweatshirts – I am really digging copped sweatshirts lately to wear around the house, to mommy-and-baby play dates, running errands, etc. I love these from Madewell. They’re perfect for layering and look great with the Levi jeans and Veja sneakers listed above.

Reformation Dresses – Reformation knows how to make a flattering dress. I love all their dresses! I have a couple that are staples for winter and summer festivities. I absolutely love this cherry red one for the holidays!

Cleobella Taylor Mama Bag – My friend Taylor designed this diaper bag, and it’s been the perfect bag for Lucy and me. I love that it’s so chic and doesn’t look like a diaper bag! The leather is soft, and the braided detailing is beautiful! I can even fit my laptop in it when I need to balance work and mom-ing. It comes in three different colors, too!

Salvatore Ferragamo Chain Wallet – After carrying around a big diaper bag during the day, the last thing I want to do is carry a large purse with me for a night out. This little chain wallet is so chic and perfect for date night or mommy’s night out.

Lunya Pajamas Washable Silk Set – Never knew I could get this excited about PJs, but I need to share that these are the ULTIMATE pajamas! The silk is soft, cool, and machine washable (bonus!). Plus, they make me feel luxurious! I’ve never found a set of PJs where I felt both comfortable and sexy in front of my husband. These are it! They come in a few colors and styles, so pick your fave!

Beechwood Crew Pajamas – I’m a sucker for matching with my mini, and Beechwood Crew has launched several fun holiday prints for the whole family to coordinate! A former colleague of mine launched Beechwood Crew with her longtime BFF earlier this year. They wanted an alternative to cheap, fast fashion for their families with high-quality, small-batch pieces they will wear forever… And they did it! The quality is amazing, and the PJs are so soft, warm and comfy – perfect for the holidays! Make sure you order before December 15 to get your made-to-order PJs in time for Christmas! And don’t forget to use my code MAGGIE15 to get 15% off your order! YAY!

Stackers Jewelry Box Set – I love this convenient and space-saving way to store and organize jewelry. It also looks really sophisticated and modern in our home.

David Yurman Cable Classic Collection Bracelet – A timeless heirloom bracelet that you can make personal – how fabulous is that?! My husband gifted me this bracelet with the green gemstone to represent our first baby who was born in August (the August birthstone is green Peridot). I love that you can get different versions of the David Yurman Cable bracelets and create a beautiful stacking look that’s classy enough to wear to church, chic to wear to brunch, or fancy for a night out. This would definitely be a special gift!

Ladies, tell me which of these gifts you’d like to receive in the comments below! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and LTK for more fun shopping and gift guides like this one!

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. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Cookies – My Favorite Easy Cookie Recipe With Only 5 Ingredients!

Holidays, Kitchen, Lifestyle

‘Tis the season for holiday baking!

Baking these easy cookies with my son!

During the holidays when I was growing up, the kitchens of the women in my family were always filled with fresh baked goodies. I guess that’s why when Dec. 1 rolls around, I get an itch my bones to start baking! I especially love baking my grandmothers’ recipes to honor their tradition. After sharing a couple treats with our family, my favorite thing to do is box up the goodies to share with neighbors as a holiday gift. It’s been a great activity to do with my toddler, too! He loves helping me in the kitchen, and he also gets to experience the joy of giving a homemade gift to people we care about.

As I’ve chatted with a few of my mom friends the last couple of holiday seasons, it’s come to my attention that the tradition of holiday baking is slowly dying. We either don’t want easily accessible sugar tempting us in our kitchens, don’t have the time to bake, or simply don’t have the interest!

Then comes along that one person in your office or friend group who suggests a holiday cookie exchange… Or, your friend last-minute asks you to bring a homemade treat to share at her holiday party… Or, you need a quick thoughtful gift for a child’s teacher or a special person on your gift list you accidentally forgot to shop for…

Don’t worry, girl, I got you with this SUPER EASY Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Cookies recipe!! It’s made with only 5 ingredients and takes around 20 minutes to make! Yummy crunchy peanut butter, chocolate chips, chopped pecans, sugar and eggs are what it takes to make these gooey, loaded cookies! And, these cookies taste SO GOOD that people will think you’ve slaved in the kitchen for hours making them from scratch… But, only you and I know that it only took 20 minutes!

My Grandmother Holmes always had these at her house around Christmastime. Every year, the day after Christmas, we would drive from Texas to go visit her in Tennessee and stay with her for several days. Our family always enjoyed snacking on these cookies at her home, so my mother got her recipe and I’ve been baking them every holiday season since! I’ll also make them a couple other times throughout the year for quick “I’m thinking of you” gifts – great for new mamas (did anyone else get a sweet tooth right after giving birth?), get-well-soon gifts, and simple thank-you’s!

Another pro about these cookies – they’re gluten-free! I like to convince myself they’re healthier gluten-free, so I can have two instead of just one! ‘Tis the season, right?!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Cookies

RECIPE: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Cookies

These flavorful cookies are gooey and loaded with crunchy peanuts and pecans! The sweetness from the semi-sweet chocolate chips make them perfect for a holiday treat – or anytime!

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cooking Time: 12-15 minutes | Total Time: 20 minutes

Makes around 22-24 cookies

Ingredients:

-2 eggs blended

-1 cup sugar

-1 cup crunchy peanut butter

-1 cup chopped pecans

-1 cup chocolate chips (I like to use Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Premium Chips)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together eggs and sugar until combined.
  2. Stir in peanut butter, chips and nuts.
  3. Drop by tablespoon on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until edges are brown
  5. Cool and serve.

Put a few cookies in these festive treat bags with a Christmassy bow to share with neighbors, teachers, the mailman, friends, family, everybody!

Don’t forget to *kiss the cook!*

Let me know if you plan to make these cookies by commenting below or connecting with me on Instagram!

Happy Holidays!

XO Maggie

Yummy Gooey Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Cookies!

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. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

Non-Candy Halloween Treats

Health & Wellness, Home, Kitchen, Lifestyle, Mom & Baby

Blake’s Seed Based Rice Crispy Treats are a yummy (and healthy!) treat for the whole family!

First of all, I know many of you may have read the headline for this blog post and rolled your eyes… Look, I’m a kid who grew up in the late ’80s and ’90s (Gushers! Mountain Dew! Pop Tarts! Sugar on top of SUGAR!), and I promise you that I’m NOT ready to give up the tradition of genuine TREATS for Halloween! What is Halloween without candy, anyway?! But, as I review the holiday activities we have planned this month… WHOA… it’s major compared to when I was a kid! We don’t just have a class Halloween party and the classic trick-or-treating… We also have the pumpkin patch visit, the multi-family immersive Nights of the Jack experience, our local YMCA trunk-or-treat… and I’ve already said no to a few other local Halloween festivities that include kids getting treats! I realized that if we don’t take the time to be mindful of moderation, the candy exposure can get really out of hand!

So, here I am… being that annoying healthy mom that I used to roll my eyes at before I had kids. I assumed “her” kids drank kale smoothies for breakfast and their favorite treat was the olive bar at Whole Foods… Well, I’m here to tell you that my kids DO NOT drink kale smoothies for breakfast and my oldest wouldn’t touch an olive with a 9-foot pole. But, I do know that my kids can appreciate “treats” in forms other than candy, like nutrient-packed muffins, festive shaped foods and seasonal flavors!

I put together this list of non-candy Halloween treats for parents desiring to limit the candy craziness this year. Whether you want to create healthier habits for your family, dread the kids’ candy sugar high, or responsible for sending a non-candy treat to school for the class Halloween party, these non-candy Halloween treat ideas are great for parents who need an easy, individually wrapped goody this fall season! From pumpkin rice crispy treats to pumpkin dog treats, there’s something for the whole family to snack on and feel good about!

6 Non-Candy Halloween Treats for the Whole Family:

  1. Blake’s Seed Based Pumpkin Spice Rice Crispy Treats  

I have lots of memories around my mom making homemade rice crispy treats and purchasing the prepackaged cereal treats to put in my lunchbox as a kid. These are EVEN BETTER! Blake’s Seed Based Rice Crispy Treats come in many yummy flavors like strawberry, birthday cake, chocolate chips, and now PUMPKIN SPICE! Blake’s is the very first vegan rice crispy treat on the market, so it’s the perfect allergy-friendly trick-or-treat candy. They’re 90 calories, only have 7 grams of sugar, nut-free and gluten-free! If you live in Southern California like me, you can find Blake’s Seed Based Rice Crispy treats available in local Sprouts stores, or you can shop the snacks online at Amazon or on the company’s website.

Blake’s Seed Based Rice Crispy Treats are a perfect treat for Halloween!

2. Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips Ghosts & Bats   

We already eat Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips in our house as a better-for-you alternative to regular fried potato chips, so I was really excited that the brand came out with Halloween chips in spooktacular shapes! Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips Ghosts & Bats have the crispy crunch and flavor you want in a snack, but without all the artificial flavors and artificial preservatives that you don’t. The seasonal chips are packaged in individual-sized bags that are perfect for trick-or-treaters, classroom parties, or lunchbox treats. They are available in major retail stores across the nation, as well as online and Amazon, sold in individual bags or packs of 24.

My kids’ treat bags filled with Sensible Portions Veggie Chips Ghosts and Bats!

3. Bobo’s Pumpkin Spice Oat Bites  

I often get frustrated with store-bought muffins and snack bars, because the ingredients show that they may as well be cupcakes and candy bars! Not Bobo’s! The Bobo’s brand offers delicious, simple, handmade 100% whole grain oat bites and snacks and released a brand-new pumpkin spice flavor just in time for the holidays! The slow-burning oats give kids clean energy that won’t leave them with a crash, while satisfying their sweet tooth. Each bite is non-GMO, gluten-free and plant-based, and there’s a variety of flavors in addition to pumpkin spice, like apple pie, chocolate chip, coconut, lemon poppyseed and peanut butter & jelly! You can easily find them at your local Kroger flagship, Whole Foods Market, or Target and online at Amazon

4. Bare Baked Crunchy Apple Chips  

Nothing says fall like apple harvest season, which is the perfect reason to pass out Bare Baked Crunchy Apple Chips to trick-or-treaters!  Bare Baked Snacks are real apples baked into deliciously crunchy chips and never fried. The apple chips are non-GMO verified and have no added oils or preservatives. They’re sold at select retailers, or you can purchase in multi-packs online at Target and Amazon

5. Dole Mandarin Orange Jack-O-Lantern Fruit Cups  

Get a little crafty by turning Dole’s Mandarin Orange Fruit Cups into cute Jack-O-Lanterns! All you need is a black sharpie to draw a Jack-O-Lantern face on the cups! Bonus if you decide to add the green pipe cleaner for a stem! These are the perfect festive snack for a class party! Dole Fruit Bowls Mandarin Oranges in 100% Juice are made from the best sun-ripened fresh fruit that nature has to offer, and they’re non-GMO and naturally gluten free. Dole Fruit Bowls are available at all major grocery stores or you can get multipacks on Amazon.

6. Greenies Dental Treats, Pumpkin Spice Flavor  

If you want to share holiday treats with your furry family members or pass out treats to dogs trick-or-treating with kids, Greenies Dental Treats for dogs has launched a puppy-approved pumpkin spice flavor!  The unique texture of Greenies Dog Chews cleans down to the gumline to fight plaque and tartar and freshen breath. The treats are sold at Target, Amazon and Chewy.

Would you share these festive treats with your family? I’d love to hear what other better-for-you store-bought treats you pass out at Halloween! Please share with me in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram at @maggiehjackson!

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. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

6 Healthy Halloween Snacks

Health & Wellness, Home, Kitchen, Lifestyle, Mom & Baby
6 healthy Halloween snacks that are easy and fun to make with your kids!

Got a picky eater? I’ve found the best way to get my kids to eat healthy is to get them involved in the kitchen with me! And, what better way to celebrate the spooky season than with these fun Halloween inspired healthy treats! These snacks are SO EASY to make! Plus, they’re too fun not to eat! Hope you enjoy these fun treats with your kids all month long!

Green Goblin Smoothie Bowls

Halloween Snack Idea #1: Green Goblin Smoothie Bowl

Adding spinach into smoothies is one of the easiest ways to get kids to eat their greens! And, you can’t taste the spinach – promise! For this Green Goblin Smoothie Bowl, make a green smoothie, pour into a small bowl, and have your kids toppings like granola or coconut for hair, dried fruit like raisins, dates or cranberries for the eyes, and pumpkin seeds or marshmallows for the smile. Kids have lots of fun decorating their green goblin face! 

Here is my favorite easy Green Smoothie recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup water (or almond milk or oat milk)

Instructions:

Place all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy immediately.

Peanut Butter Spider Crackers

Halloween Snack Idea #2: Spider Crackers

Have your kids help assemble these spooky spider crackers made with round crackers (I like Ritz Whole Wheat Crackers), pretzel sticks, peanut butter (or another nut or sunflower seed butter) or cream cheese, and small dried fruit, like raisins or blueberries. 

Ingredients:

  • Round crackers
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Peanut butter (or your preferred nut/sunflower seed butter) or spreadable cream cheese
  • Small dried fruit like raisins, blueberries, cranberries, or Wilton Edible Candy Eyeballs

Instructions:

  1. Spread nut butter or cream cheese on two crackers thick enough to hold pretzels
  2. Break 4 pretzels in half
  3. Place the 8 half pretzels sticks around one cracker to resemble spider legs
  4. Top the cracker with the second cracker to secure the legs and make a sandwich
  5. Dip 2 dried fruit pieces in the nut butter or cream cheese and stick them to the top of the spider cracker sandwich to resemble eyes
  6. Enjoy!
Clementine Pumpkins and Banana Ghosts

Halloween Snack Idea #3: Clementine Pumpkins and Banana Ghosts

These fruity treats are so easy to make and fun to eat! Peel clementines and cut celery into small sticks. Have kids add the celery sticks to clementines as stems to make pumpkins! Peel bananas and cut in half. Have your children add mini chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth to create ghosts!

Spooky Grilled Cheese

Halloween Snack Idea #4: Spooky Grilled Cheese

Turn everyone’s favorite lunch into a frightful treat with Halloween shaped cookie cutters and dark rye bread! You can use wheat or white bread, but the dark rye bread is much more spooky! Plus, my toddler surprisingly loves it! Because of its color, he calls it “chocolate bread,” even though it tastes nothing like chocolate! Your kiddo will have lots of fun using cookie cutters to make ghosts, bats and pumpkins in their bread, but I recommend leaving the stovetop cooking to parents!

Ingredients: (makes 1 grilled cheese)

  • 2 slices dark rye bread
  • 1-2 slices of pre-sliced cheddar cheese (depending on how cheesy you like your sandwich!)
  • Butter

Instructions:

  1. Melt butter over medium high heat in pan on stovetop.
  2. Take one slice of bread and use Halloween cookie cutter to cut shape into middle of bread. Butter one side of the bread cut-out bread.
  3. Take the other slice of bread and butter one side.
  4. Place both slices of bread in pan with the buttered side up.
  5. After cooking for a couple minutes and letting the bread get to your toasty preference, flip both sides of bread to cook the other side. Immediately place cheese on the slice of bread without the cut-out.
  6. Continue cooking until cheese is melty.
  7. Place cut-out side bread on top of cheese and press down so the cheese sticks the slices together.
  8. Serve and enjoy!
Creepy Eyes Cereal Bar

Halloween Snack Idea #5: Creepy Eyes Cereal Bars

Add funny eyes to pre-made cereal bars (or my favorite 3-ingredient cheerio bars seen here!) by rolling cream cheese into tiny little balls and adding a mini chocolate chips for eyes. If you’re low on time, it’s fun to add these eyes to anything pre-made, like muffins or frozen waffles!

Halloween Snack Idea #6: Green Halloween “Cupcakes”

My toddler loves these green “superpower” muffins, made with spinach, bananas, rolled oats and sweetened with honey! I love the ghastly green vibes of these for Halloween! Top with Nutella spread for “icing” and have your kids add Halloween sprinkles to make healthy-ish cupcakes! 

Which healthy Halloween snack do you want to try with your kiddos? Let me know in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @maggiehjackson!

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.

The Best Hair Tools and Products for Long, Voluminous Hair

beauty, Lifestyle
Good Hair Day

On most days, my mom hair is in a low ponytail under a hat while I bounce between running errands, chasing after kiddos, working from home and still trying to somehow squeeze in a workout. But, when I do get the opportunity to get “done up,” I actually love taking the time to style my hair!

I know spending time to fix your hair can sound exhausting to some moms, especially you new mamas who are just trying to find 10 minutes to take a shower! But, if you are able to take some personal time to style your hair, I highly recommend it.

Doing my hair helps me feel like a normal human again – not just an exhausted mommy who rarely has a reason to wear anything else besides athleisure! And, styling my hair gives me a major confidence boost!! I’ve always loved the saying, “When you look good, you feel good!” For me, I feel so much happier (and sexier!) when I take care of my appearance.

I’m sharing this post with my favorite haircare products and tools for three reasons:

(1) I often get asked how I curl my hair or what I do to get volume.

(2) Despite popular belief, good hair does not have to be super expensive!

(3) I hope this post inspires you to get yourself glammed up soon to give yourself a jolt of confidence!

So, if any of those reasons interest you, read on! If not, read on anyway and click on some product links to give my pocketbook a boost (shameless plug – LOL!!).

First, about my hair…

I’ve been very fortunate that I never lost a lot of hair after having my babies, as I know that’s a huge challenge (and totally normal!) for most moms postpartum. I have very fine hair, but I have A LOT of it. Because it’s fine, it tangles so easily. But, because I have a lot, I’m able to make my hair very voluminous with the right products and tools. My natural hair is stick straight and a mousy light brown color. I had platinum blonde hair as a child, and ever since puberty stole my beautiful blonde locks, I’ve been coloring to get it back. I currently get my hair colored once every 8-10 weeks, and my hairdresser does the balayage technique. I do not wear hair extensions. I keep my hair growing long with regular trims, rarely putting lots of heat on it, and protecting it with a nourishing treatment that I’ve linked below. Read on for all my favorite hair products and tools.

My Favorite Haircare Products and Tools:

UNITE Hair Blonda Shampoo

I’ve tried several blonde toning shampoos, and UNITE’s Blonda is my absolute favorite. My hair consistently looks brighter after I use it even if its been several weeks since I’ve been to the salon. I typically use it once a week on Friday or Saturday, so my hair looks extra bright blonde for any weekend date nights or socializing with friends.

L’Oreal EverPure Moisture Shampoo

I have pretty dry hair as a result of living in Southern California (where it never rains), dying my hair, and breastfeeding (babies suck all hydration from you!), and this moisture shampoo keeps my hair soft and silky. Plus, because it’s sulfate free, its very gentle and doesn’t wash away my color. I love that this shampoo is inexpensive and widely available, so I can easily pick it up when I’m running errands. See, I told you haircare does not have to be expensive!

L’Oreal EverPure Moisture Conditioner

The counterpart to L’Oreal’s Ever Pure Shampoo, this conditioner also is my go-to for all the same reasons!

Milk Anti-Frizz Leave-In Nourishing Treatment

I discovered this leave-in conditioning treatment from my phenomenal hairstylist Janelle Harris-Gearhart while she was working at Garrett Markenson’s salon. Garrett is the founder of Reverie, which creates exceptional clean haircare products for all types of hair. His Milk treatment is amazing for my hair – on both dry and wet hair! I put about six pumps in my palm and run it through my wet hair. After blowdrying, I add another three pumps throughout my hair to smooth and protect it from any additional heat I may put on with curling irons. This treatment keeps my hair healthy and encourages long lengths!

OUAI Wave Spray

When I want to add texture to my hair, I use OUAI’s wave spray. It’s like adding gorgeous beach waves to your hair without getting in the ocean! OUAI recommends adding it to wet hair, but I like to add a light mist to my dry hair before curling or using my wave wand.

TRESemmé TRES Two Hair Spray For a Frizz-Free Look Extra Hold

I have tried many expensive hairsprays, but I keep coming back to Tresemme for its effectiveness, affordability and availability. I’ve been using Tresemme hairspray for over 15 years – ever since high school when I’d perform on stage in beauty pageants and dance contests!

Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer

Believe the hype, y’all! The Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer is worth the high price tag. Although I have naturally fine hair, I have A LOT of it, and it takes sooo long to dry! Not only does this hair dryer dry my hair far faster than any other I’ve used, Dyson claims that it increases smoothness by 75%, increases shine by 132% and decreases frizz and flyaways by up to 61%. My hair looks like I got a professional blowout at home!

Hot Tools Professional Nano Ceramic Flipperless Curling Wand

You can’t beat Hot Tools’ professional grade products. According to Hot Tools, the wand has “Advanced Nano Ceramic technology that helps create sleek, glossy shine, and reduce frizz. What’s more, there’s no ‘stick’…hair glides effortlessly along the wand.” I use this wand when I want loose gorgeous waves. This wand provides my most favorite hairstyle look that I know how to do; however, it takes me the longest time to do it. When I wrap my hair around the wand, it takes about 15 seconds of heat to hold each piece, and that takes a long time with the amount of hair I have! That being said, I think it’s definitely worth the purchase for the look you can achieve!

Gorgeous loose beachy waves with Hot Tools Flipperless Curling Wand

Alure Three Barrel Wave Wand

I was seeing tons of influencers on Instagram tout this other more expensive 3-barrel wand for mermaid-like waves, so I was really interested in what all the hype was about. One of my girlfriend’s had a similar hairstyle, so I inquired and she spilled the secret on this much more affordable wand from Alure on Amazon! This wand works so well at creating smaller waves that give off a beachy mermaid hair vibe! And, because it has a clamp, unlike my Hot Tools wand above, it is a lot faster to style! This has become one of my go-to looks this summer!

Mermaid waves with 3-barrel wand

Conair Double Ceramic Curling Iron

I have used these affordable Conair curling wands for YEARS. I had my last one for 15+ years before I decided it may be time to upgrade. This cute rose cold ceramic wand works great for my hair. It creates classic loose curls and doesn’t take too much time. My hair will hold a loose wave from this wand for two days, which I really love. All I have to do on day two is lightly run a comb through my hair, and voila!

Classic big curls with Conair Ceramic Curling Wand

Batiste Dry Shampoo

Batiste has the best dry shampoo on the market, in my opinion! It’s light, smells great, affordable, and most importantly, WORKS! I don’t get a yucky white residue in my hair, and there’s no weird extra stick. I sometimes will even use this dry shampoo on clean hair just to get an extra boost of volume on my roots. HIGHLY recommend!!!

Conair Gel Grips Paddle Brush

Here’s another Conair tool I’ve been using for many, many years. These paddle brushes last forever, they’re affordable and effective! I use this brush while I’m blow drying my hair. I get super tangly hair because its so fine, and this brush is helpful and detangling without creating more tangles or ripping out my hair.

Conair Teasing Brush

I’m originally from Texas where “the higher the hair, the closer to God,” so I’ve always been a fan of adding some lift to my roots. I like this teasing brush more than a comb because its gentler on my hair and easier to get a bit of volume. When I use a comb, I have to really back comb my hair aggressively which does lots of damage, but this brush only takes a few strokes to get the lift I want.

Silk Pillowcase

My grandmother gifted me a silk pillowcase when I was in elementary school, and I never went back to a normal pillowcase again. First of all, they’re simply cool and comfortable! But, if you also care about how your hair looks in the morning plus want to protect it over time, silk pillowcases are amazing for protecting your strands and reducing frizz. I love this silk pillowcase from Amazon, because its affordable and comes in lots of colors! Silk pillowcases are fantastic for your skin, too!

Silk Scrunchie

Now that scrunchies are back in style, I’m wondering why they left in the first place! They’re so much gentler on hair than regular hair ties! I especially love this silk scrunchie for preventing hair breakage! And, it looks so stylish!

Are there any hair products you absolutely love that I need to add to this list? Please let me know in the comments below or by connecting with me on Instagram at @maggiehjackson!

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.

Best New LA Restaurants for Date Night (Plus, What to Wear!)

fashion, Lifestyle, Travel

After 18 months of homeschooling, Zoom-ing, and being stuck at home with the kiddos during this crazy pandemic, parents are more than deserving of an adults-only night out!

And, you’re in luck! Quite a few superb restaurants have opened in LA during the pandemic despite the hospitality industry’s struggle to maintain strong business in the rollercoaster of lockdowns and quarantines. These new restaurants on my list are so good that they’re not just surviving during these unsteady times – they’re thriving!! So, in addition to our need to escape repetitive (and exhausting!) parental duties, exploring one of these awesome new hot spots is another great reason for you to get out of the house with your S.O.!

But OMG what do we wear out these days? I don’t know about you, but most of my pandemic time with kiddos has been spent in yoga pants! I absolutely LOVE a good excuse to get dressed up, and as dining establishments continue to reopen, I’ve been so excited shopping for new looks to wear out on date nights on my fave e-retail site REVOLVE! If you’re stumped on what to wear, I’ve included some date night outfit ideas for each restaurant below!

Here are my top six new restaurants in Los Angeles for date night!

  1. Saso, Pasadena
My kind of cocktail: Txolo Squinkles made with tequila, mezcal, poblano liqueur, lime, grapefruit

Located in the historic Pasadena Playhouse, the new Saso serves Basque-inspired coastal cuisine, creating the perfect balance of century-old traditions mixed with farm-fresh fare. Everything at Saso is beautiful, fresh and vibrant — the open-air atmosphere, the flower adorned cocktails, the luscious crab claws and melt-in-your-mouth Wagyu steak. Make sure you start with the croquettes and fried oysters. Not only are they perfectly prepared, but their dipping sauces are addictingly yummy! My only knock on this place is that I thought it was a bit overpriced, but it’s much cheaper than taking a trip to Spain so WORTH IT!

What to Wear to Saso: Saso has a very California casual vibe, so go for something that feels bohemian chic. You’ll feel cool in a puff sleeve black top and high-rise black jeans. Throw a leather jacket over your shoulders if you sit on the patio. Shop this look here.

2. Agnes, Pasadena

Barbecued Pork Collar – honey mustard marinated, apricot mostarda, pink peppercorns

At Old Town Pasadena’s newcomer Agnes, gastronauts will love the open kitchen where they can interact with the chefs creating hearty proteins from the hearth. The best spot for date night, though, is the airy back patio where you can linger over beautiful cheese and meat boards and scratch-made pastas while sipping locally inspired cocktails, like the Descanso (mezcal, Luxardo, green chartreuse, lime, serrano chili) and the Tournament of Roses (aperol, fresh watermelon, Cremant, rosemary). Plan to make your reservations weeks in advance, as a table on the patio at this hot spot has been extremely hard to come by!

What to Wear to Agnes: The restaurant’s open kitchen and airy patio provide a laidback atmosphere. But, you’re on date night, so you gotta look cute! Go for this flowy off-the-shoulder top paired with wide-leg jeans for a look that’s on trend with a dab of hottness! Shop this look here.

3. Cinque Terre WEST and Enoteca 5, Pacific Palisades 

I took this photo of the beautiful Burrata at Enoteca 5 during our media preview dinner

Pacific Palisades’ Lingurian restaurant Cinque Terre WEST opened right before the pandemic hit, and the restaurant’s exceptional food and warm hospitality was such a hit that it stayed open with the support of the community. Locals love the restaurant’s farmers’ market driven menu and outstanding wine list so much that the owners just opened an intimate wine bar next door called Enoteca 5. I was lucky enough to be invited to a private media preview of the new space, and I cannot wait to bring my husband back for date night! The menu changes seasonally, but standouts on the menu I tried included the cheese and charcuterie board (get the Lardo di Colonnata AKA cured pork belly – its like butter in your mouth!!), the Burrata (stone fruit, pea tendrils, sourdough toast, saba), Black Truffle Pizza (mozzarella, goat cheese, black truffle), Papparadelle alla Bolognese, and Risotto del Giorno. The sommelier will steer you toward the best Italian and Californian wine pairings for your meal. Executive Chef Gianba Vinzoni and his wife Marlo are so warm and kind, making every guest feel like family here! Simple, romantic, and authentic, this venue transports couples to a date night in Italy!

What to Wear to Cinque Terre WEST and Enoteca 5: The vibe is dressy casual. The restaurant is tucked into a strip mall, but the amazing Italian food and wine are upscale. The crowd is beachy but wealthy. Look effortless, but look stylish and smart. That’s where this House of Harlow ribbed dress comes in. The soft ribbed fabric says, I’m comfortable, but the dress quality and feminine cut says, I care… but not too much. Shop this look here.

4. Lucky’s, Malibu

A feast for the eyes! Photo credit: Blue Ladybug Studio

The popular Montecito steakhouse has landed in Malibu and provides a fabulous option for an upscale date night! Lucky’s is worth the drive up the PCH to rub elbows with the beautiful beachy “it” crowd and indulge in steakhouse specialties. My Texan heritage requires me to order steak for my entree, and Lucky’s chars them just right served with sinful sauces like cognac peppercorn cream and red wine horseradish. The chopped salad with prosciutto and shrimp is divine, the sides are top-notch (hashed browns with gruyere cheese!!), and the cocktails are strong. Start with a martini and live your best life with your bae in the ‘Bu.

What to Wear to Lucky’s Malibu: This is a classic upscale steakhouse, but you’re in Malibu, so they typical LBD won’t do. Choose a polished yet youthful dress that’s not too stuffy, like this pretty dress made with champagne chiffon fabric. This dress is formal but fun – perfect to match Lucky’s atmosphere! Shop this look here.

5. Gigi’s, Hollywood

The intimate dining room and bar at Gigi’s | Photo Credit: Shade Degges Photography

I’m a sucker for a great adults-only night out in Hollywood to make me feel young and free of diaper duty again, and Gigi’s checks all the boxes: beautiful atmosphere, excellent service, perfect people watching, Insta-worthy strong cocktails and delectable food. Gigi’s serves French bistro fare, so you still feel fancy when your husband orders the cheeseburger with caramelized onions, pickles and frites, but I’m more of a whole roasted branzino girl myself. You’ll have to plan your date night several weeks in advance, because reservations at this celebrity favored restaurant are HOT!

What to Wear to Gigi’s: This restaurant is the pre-party that you never want to end – and it might not if you can snag a spot at the bar after dinner! With Gigi’s lively atmosphere and sophisticated aesthetic, you want a dress that’s both sexy and refined. This is not an appropriate place to wear your barely-there bodycon dress from your last trip to Vegas pre-kids circa 2016 (But, if you do decide to go in that direction, we don’t blame you for trying to relive the glory days!). May I suggest this ribbed bodycon dress instead? I love its midi length with a super sexy high slit and cut out back! Yes, go for it! Shop here.

6. Merois, West Hollywood

These views!!

Merois is everything you want from a date night dinner spot in Los Angeles: outstanding Eurasian cuisine from renowned Chef Wolfgang Puck, upscale atmosphere, jaw-dropping rooftop views of Los Angeles, impeccable service and a beautiful crowd. It’s definitely a see-and-be-seen place at West Hollywood’s hottest new hotel, The Pendry, so expect to see some familiar faces. In between bites of Hamachi Tartare and Shanghai Lobster, you’ll probably say something like, “Don’t look now, but isn’t that the one guy from Stranger Things?” From my last decade spent working in the hospitality industry, these are the types of hotel restaurants that get me giddy. Everything at Merois comes together just right for an impressive and memorable dining experience with your forever dinner date.

What to Wear to Merois: Pick an outfit that’s stylish yet timeless. You may finally get discovered by some big shot agent at this restaurant, so you should look like the leading lady. Hey, you never know! I love the classic silhouette on this Majorelle dress, and the ruffles and terracotta color are on trend. Shop this look here.

The cutest yet sexiest dress from Revolve

Where should we go on date night next? Which outfit is your favorite? Give me your best LA restaurant recommendations and tell me your favorite looks in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram at @maggiehjackson! You can shop all my date night looks by clicking the image below and following me on @shop.ltk!

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 Items for Safe and Fun Family Beach Days!

Lifestyle, Mom & Baby, Travel

School’s out and everyone’s ready for fun in the sun! After being in lockdown last summer, I know many families are eager to visit their local beach or travel to a beach destination for vacation!

Living in Southern California, my family goes to the beach all the time. We absolutely love it. My husband surfs, I paddle board, our kiddos dig in the sand and dip their toes in the water. Needless to say, we consider ourselves professional beach goers.

My baby Lucy and me on a recent family beach day

The best part about a family beach day? All the sweet memories playing in the sand and jumping over waves with your little ones!

The worse part? All the STUFF you have to haul to the beach to have a safe, cool and fun beach day. Seriously — why do kids need SO MUCH STUFF?!?! Before kids, my husband and I showed up to the beach on our bikes with two towels and a water bottle. That was it. Man… those were the days!! Nowadays, with two kids under 3 years old, we arrive to the beach with our SUV trunk full!

Let me back up a bit… When my husband and I were kidless, we’d lay in the sand watching all these families struggle hauling all their stuff to the beach, and we swore to each other we would NOT be those people! We’d cringe as we watched dads dragging wagons full of gear back and forth across the sand from their car to their spot on the beach. Moms had their arms full of babies and shoulders weighed down with packed bags. Big kids would drag bags and toys behind them. Watching them go back and forth multiple times in the hot sun looked painful. I always thought, Can’t you just make one trip? The sight itself served as birth control for a few years. We did not want to give up our simple beach days that we loved so much!

Fast forward to today… After a few disastrous beach days with kids (and painfully going back and forth to the car to drag all our stuff to the beach), we finally got it right. We are now SMART about our beach days and have all the best portable gear to keep us cool, safe and, most importantly, have FUN!

While our beach days today aren’t as simple as our lives pre-kiddos, we still love them. And, I want you to love your beach days with your family, too!! Here are my must-have product recommendations to have a great, easy beach day with your family!

SHADE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!

CoolCabanas Large CoolCabana 5

First and foremost, shade is a top priority for your family beach days – especially if you have little babies like us! You need a space that is cool and comfortable so your kids can get a break from the sun. I love CoolCabanas because they’re lightweight and easy to setup – even for one person! Plus, they come in a variety of colors and patterns to fit your style. Our family has the medium size in navy stripes and the large size in lemon scarletta – both feel super chic and summery! Use my code MAGGIE10 to get 10% off your order at http://www.coolcabanas.com!

Here’s the shade mistakes we made before getting CoolCabanas:

  1. Regular beach cabana – The metal frame of a regular beach cabana is SO HEAVY!! And, it takes more than one person to set up. If it’s really windy out, just forget it!
  2. Beach umbrella – Not enough shade for the whole family, especially if you have active kiddos! My 8-month-old is exploring and crawling, and I can’t keep her under a tiny umbrella!
  3. Three-sided beach tent – If it’s really sunny out with little wind, these tents can trap the air inside and get so hot! We were trying to protect ourselves from the sun but ended up sweating nonstop in the shade of this tent!

Do yourself a favor and make family cabana setup easier by getting a CoolCabana! Check out all of CoolCabanas options at http://www.coolcabanas.com, and be sure to use my code MAGGIE10 to get 10% off your order!

STAY HYDRATED AND KEEP COOL!

YETI Hopper Backflip 24 Soft Cooler

Everyone knows YETI makes the most legit durable, high-tech equipment that can withstand all sorts of crazy outdoor adventures worthy of praise from people who live the wildest life. That being said, YETI is our go-to brand for everything we do outdoors because we know we can trust it to last a long time and, most importantly, WORK!

After a few trips to the beach with a couple soft coolers that leaked and didn’t keep our food and drinks cold enough for all day in the sun, we turned to YETI and discovered the YETI Hopper Backflip 24 Soft Cooler… It’s a backpack, y’all! GENIUS! Like, why didn’t I think of this?! Instead of lugging our former coolers on our shoulders (with all our other shoulder bags that we take to the beach), we’re now hands-free with an ergonomically designed backpack that promises superior cold-holding, a 100% leakproof zipper, a tough shell and can hold up to 20 cans of soda or beer! Get with the program and get this cooler!!

YETI Rambler and Rambler Jr. Water Bottles

Keep your water cold all day long with YETI’s amazing Rambler Water Bottles. My favorite is the 26 oz. size with chug cap for easy drinking. I love that YETI has a Rambler Jr. for kids, too! And, as a well-deserved convenience to parents, its straw cap is leak resistant when closed and both the bottle and cap are dishwasher safe. I’m so grateful for one less kid/baby item to hand wash!!

PROTECT YOUR SKIN!

Supergoop! PLAY Sunscreen + Supergoop! Sunnyscreen

The face sunscreen made popular by celebrities and influencers now has a sunscreen for the whole family! I started using Supergoop! CC Screen years ago and fell in love with the brand for its clean ingredients, non-greasy feel and effectiveness, so I was thrilled when I found out they have a sunscreen for face and body, called PLAY, that our whole family can use. The SPF 50 formula can be used on face and body, it’s water and sweat resistant for up to 80 minutes and made with reef-safe, clean, cruelty-free ingredients. It also smells amazing! It comes in a spray, a lotion and a large 18 fl. oz. pump bottle for the whole family to share.

We like to take Supergoop! PLAY Sunscreen in the spray bottle to the beach for the whole family to use!

I’m also so happy that Supergoop! has developed a sunscreen safe for little babies called Sunnyscreen. It’s 100% non-nano mineral formula checks all the boxes, meaning it’s pediatrician tested, hypoallergenic, & fragrance & silicone free. Sunnyscreen comes in a spot-on sunscreen spray, stick and lotion. I personally prefer the spray for our family, because its the simplest to use on my little 8-month-old.

KEEP KIDS SAFE IN THE WATER!

Splash About’s Go Splash Swim Vest

Our toddler was gifted this Go Splash Swim Vest for his 2nd birthday, and it has been one of the best items of our summer! It has a built-in float system that helps kids learn to swim as they’re splashing around in the pool or ocean. As a former swim instructor, I love that this swim vest encourages kids to use their arms compared to other floaties that keep arms lifted. I need to note that this is NOT a lifesaving device, and you should still always monitor your child when wearing this swim vest in and around water.

My son Landon in his Go Splash Swim Vest

One of the best things about this swim vest is that its lightweight and lays flat, so it’s packable! We brought it with us on vacation to Hawaii recently, and our toddler wore it every day! I was so thankful we packed it with us in our suitcase!

DON’T BRING THE BEACH HOME WITH YOU!

Tesalate Sand-Free Beach Towel

When you go to the beach, sand gets everywhere – especially when you have kids! Luckily, Tesalate has made the ULTIMATE beach towel! Made with AbsorbLite Microfiber, Tesalate’s beach towel is engineered for sand to slip off easily. It’s also ultra-absorbent, retaining up to a liter of water, and it dries in half the time as regular beach towels. I love that its compact and light, so easy to pack – no more bulky towels! Our family has two XL sized towels, which are great to lay next to each other for our whole family to spread out. The towels come in individual and XL size and a variety of beautiful designs. The regular size are $59 and XL are $99 and available at http://www.tesalate.com.

PROTECT EYES, EARS AND FACE WITH AFFORDABLE, PACKABLE SUN HATS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!

I’m embarrassed to admit that when I was younger, I often purposely left my beach hat at home simply because I didn’t have a place to pack it in my suitcase or didn’t want to have to carry it around all day. Now that I know better about the importance of protecting my skin, I refuse to step out of the house for a day in the sun without a hat. Luckily, there are so many great packable hat options out there nowadays, and tons of options can easily be found on Amazon for an affordable price!

Lucy and me rocking our packable sun hats on vacation in Hawaii!

When shopping for sun hats for your family, it’s important to find one that has a wide brim to cover your face, ears and neck. Here’s a few great packable sun hat option for the family:

For Women: FURTALK Rollup Packable Visor

I love this visor because, not only is it packable, it’s super cute! It’s especially great for really hot days when I want to wear my hair up off my neck or if I want to swim around without getting my hair wet. It’s rolls up, so it’s compact and easy to stash in your beach bag or suitcase. It comes with an adjustable velcro closure, so you don’t have to worry about purchasing the correct size!

For Men: Quicksilver Bushmaster Bucket Hat

Okay, I know bucket hats are coming back around in style, but I have to admit that its been hard for me to jump back on the trend I used to wear in the ’90s. One great thing about bucket hats, though? They’re soft, so they’re easy to pack! I like this Quicksilver option for men, because it’s wide brim will protect the back of guys’ necks – something the usual ball cap or trucker hat does not do!

For Babies: SimpliKids Wide Brim Sun Hat

Both of my babies wore this SimpliKids Wide Brim Sun Hat, which offers UPF 50+ UV ray sun protection! I love that it comes in a variety of colors to match their little swimsuits or outfits. My favorite is the white eyelet for little girls!

WIPE OFF SAND AND KEEP LITTLE HANDS CLEAN!

Yipes! Wipes

How is it that little kids always find the yuckiest things to get their hands into?! With all the digging in the sand at the beach, kiddos hands can get particularly yucky! And that sand sticks! To clean little hands, I’m really excited about this new brand of wipes called Yipes! because they were developed to help foster a culture of hygiene while making it fun and approachable with their mascot, Yolanda the Yipes! Yak. They even created a kids’ board book about hygiene featuring Yolanda! And, it’s a product that parents can feel good about while being 94% biodegradable and made with 99% plant-derived ingredients. Yipes! are available in large canisters, as well as in individual, easy-to-use pocket-sized sachets (sold in pouches of 12), which are ideal for on-the-go—perfect for lunch boxes and beach trips! Find them at http://www.YipesWipes.com.

Here are some other important tips when taking your family to the beach:

  • Go early! Don’t wait until high noon when the sun is at its strongest. Plus, the earlier you go, the the less crowded it will be, so you’ll have an easier time finding parking and a great spot in the sand. Early evening also is a nice time to go for same reasons.
  • Don’t skimp on water. We always bring more water than we think we’ll need. And, we typically end up drinking all of it!
  • Snacks, snacks, snacks! There’s something about being near water that makes kids (and grown-ups!) extra hungry! Make sure you have enough to go around!
  • Be wary of the ocean, as most waves may not be manageable for little children. Our family is very familiar with SoCal beaches, so we know what to expect with our waves. I recommend watching the ocean for its wave size and take time to understand the strength of the undertow and which direction the current is going.
  • Appropriate shoes! On hot summer days, the sand can get really hot! I recommend buying water shoes so your little ones can run around without burning their feet. Sandals and flip flops are too challenging for little kids to keep on their feet in the sand.
  • Bring some fun beach toys that encourage exploration! For my kids’ ages (an almost 3 year old and 8 month old), we stick to toys that can be used to play on the sand rather than the water. We put all the toys inside one large sand bucket to make carrying them manageable. A blow up beach ball is also a great idea, because its inflatable which makes it easy to pack.
  • Apply sunscreen BEFORE you go to the beach. Little ones get too excited once they arrive to the beach to slow down and put on sunscreen. Plus, you risk giving them an accidental exfoliating massage, because they’re likely to get sand all over them immediately!
  • Remove sticky sand with baby powder. If you don’t want to take your baby into the ocean or under the public showers to rinse off sand, sprinkling baby powder on their skin and hair removes moisture and helps sand dust off easily.

Do you have any questions or additional family beach day tips? Let me know in the comments below, or follow me on Instagram at @maggiehjackson!

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.

Best Affordable Swimsuits for Summer

fashion, Lifestyle
The cutest lavender bikini from H&M

This summer, I’m all about AFFORDABLE SWIMSUITS! After a year of little social activity and few vacations, plus being pregnant last summer, I’m now ready to overhaul my old swimsuits for fashionable new ones!

I don’t know about you, but I like to change up my pool/beach looks while on vacation… which means I can’t be spending $100-$200 per ‘kini — OK?!?! Luckily, H&M has killed it this summer introducing TONS of affordable swimsuit options! And, many of the suits you can mix and match – like these ribbed bikini bottoms and matching tops!

I’ve outlined all my favorite affordable H&M swimsuits below. I can’t wait to wear some of these new suits at all the upcoming pool parties and travel we have planned this summer!

Affordable swimsuits from H&M
  1. Lavender Bikini Bottoms and Lavender Bikini Top – This lavender color is so pretty for this classic bikini. This will probably be my most worn swimsuit this summer!
  2. White Bikini Bottoms and White Bikini Top – I was hunting for an all white bikini to rock this summer, and this one fits so perfectly! I love that its ribbed, so the fabric is thick. It comes in multiple colors, so you can mix and match the bottoms with the tops!
  3. Neon Yellow Bikini Top and Neon Yellow Bikini Bottoms – I’m digging all the ’90s vibes this season and this neon suit feels so old school Sports Illustrated! This will look so good with a tan!
  4. Pink Brazilian Bikini Bottoms and Pink Brazilian Bikini Top – So girly and flirty! If you’re looking for a high waisted bikini, this one is so flattering!
  5. Black High-Legged Ribbed Swimsuit – I got this swimsuit in red and I love it! It’s sexy but also appropriate enough to wear in the water with kids.
  6. Red One-Piece – Ready to join the Summer Olympics in this number! Feels like Sporty Spice!
  7. Blue Striped One-Piece – Feelin’ the classic East Coast vibes with this suit! Perfect for rocking at the country club or a Fourth of July pool party.
  8. Pink Striped Shaping Swimsuit – This suit is ultra flattering with high leg cut and sculpting effect on waist. I love how girly it is with pink stripes and ruffles.

Which swimsuit is your favorite? Are you team one-piece or team bikini? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to follow with me on Instagram and LIKEtoKNOW.it for more easy, affordable fashion!

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.

Easy and Affordable Red, White & Blue Looks for Summer

fashion, Lifestyle
Love this red puff sleeve crop top from H&M!

I absolutely love summer! The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays, but I like to kick off the season of red, white and blue outfits with Memorial Day Weekend! I don’t know about you, but since its the first long holiday weekend in the COVID vaccination era, I’m ready to celebrate with family and friends! I can’t wait to get dressed up and see people again! Here are some easy red, white and blue looks to copy for poolside parties, backyard BBQs and date nights this summer!

Three easy red, white and blue looks to copy for summer!
Red, white & blue looks for Memorial Day Weekend, Fourth of July and ALL SUMMER!
  • Straw Fedora Hat – Nothing better than a classic straw fedora hat to wear all summer for all occasions – so easy for pool, beach or any outdoor party!
  • Red One Piece Swimsuit – I love that one-piece swimsuits have really made a fashionable comeback in the last few years. This one gives ’90s sporty vibes, which I love for being chic but also active in the pool with my kiddos!
  • White Swimsuit Cover Up Wrap – This Amazon cover-up is so affordable, comes in a variety of colors and comes in packs of two! I love this for when I’m at the pool and want to quickly get up to get a drink or go back to the hotel room but don’t want to get fully dressed.
  • White Birkenstocks – These have been my go-to sandals for the last year, because they’re so comfy and waterproof. Great shoes for running errands, staying cute at the pool or chasing my kids around!
  • White Crop Top – White linen crop tops will be my go-to with all my high waisted shorts and jeans this summer!
  • Blue Striped Paper Bag Waist Shorts – Bless the person who invented paper bag waist shorts! They are so comfy! These navy stripes are perfect for summer and can go with lots of outfits.
  • Elda Slide Sandal in Natural Raffia – This sandal gives me tropical vibes. Can’t wait to wear them on vacation and with all my dresses this summer!
  • Red Chandelier Earrings – I’ve worn these for the last couple years and they don’t get old! Perfect to dress up a casual outfit or add a pop of color!
  • Red Puff Sleeve Crop Top – This top looks so romantic and chic for a date night!
  • Distressed High Waist Levi’s – My most favorite “mom jeans” ever! They’re often sold out, so I’ve linked similar styles here and here.
  • Tule Block Heel Sandal in Black Leather – I’m digging the square toe this season. These sandals are ridiculously comfortable for heels. Can’t wait to wear these for date nights and evening social gatherings with friends!

What are you looking forward to wearing this summer? For more fashion inspo, be sure to follow me on Instagram at @maggiehjackson and LiketoKnow.it!

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.