easy 2-step pork tenderloin & mashed potatoes

food

This is my go-to entertaining meal. It is so quick, so easy, and sure to get some compliments to the chef 😉 YUMZVILLE. Lol Trust. Try it once and you will do this all the time. 

 

Getchyo chef face on…

 

What you need (feeds about 4-6):

  • 2 fresh pork tenderloins
  • 2 large ziplock plastic bags
  • soya sauce
  • yellow mustard
  • honey
  • ~10 yellow flesh potatoes (I like to make more to have yummy leftovers)
  • cream cheese 
  • sour cream 
  • butter
  • salt/pepper


Pork Tenderloin:

Step 1: Marinate

  • Cut off any unwanted fat from the pork tenderloins
  • Open up 2 ziplock bags and place 1 pork tenderloin in each
  • Squeeze half the bottle of honey, half soya sauce, half mustard, into each bag
  • Close ziplock and massage into the pork tenderloin
  • Place in fridge for a min of 1-2 hours

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Step 2: Cook

  • Place pork tenderloins and pour marinade into an oven safe dish
  • Cook at 350F for about 45mins (or until cooked to your liking – remember, it still cooks a little bit after you take it out!)
  • Cut pork tenderloin into small slices and let sit in the gravy before serving

 

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Mashed Potatoes:

Step 1: Boil

  • We like to leave the skin on, but peel if you wish!
  • Wash and cut potatoes
  • Boil until fork goes easily in and out without any force
  • Drain 

 

Step 2: Mash with goodness

  • Add in half a stick of butter
  • A few tablespoons of cream cheese
  • A tablespoon of sour cream
  • Salt/pepper to your liking
  • Mash all together (add more butter/cream cheese/sour cream to your liking)

 

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SERVE. EAT. DIE OF DELICIOUSNESS. BYE.

 

 

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READ THIS before you visit a new mom

mama

 

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all…

 

I almost just want to end this post right here. It’s amazing how common sense this is, but how little it seems to be applied in real life. 

 

I’m literally giving you advice to NOT give your advice, haha.

 

As a new mom, you have a million thoughts running through your mind by the second. You are trying your absolute best to be, do, and learn so many things at once… on top of trying to be happy and ‘enjoy every minute’ while you are a total zombie from lack of sleep. Some might not know or perhaps they forget how much pressure a new mom is under and the very last thing she needs is something negative, judgemental, or unsupportive added into the mix. Or for that matter, to entertain and feed visitors in the first few weeks. Everyone heals differently, but for me… the first few weeks looked like this: lack of clothing because learning how to breastfeed is very real, wearing adult diapers (hawwwwt), couldn’t walk very well and had to sit on ice packs… because: baby. Imagine going through that AND then trying to look presentable AND putting out or preparing food and drinks for everyone, on maaaaybe 1hr of sleep, all while trying to feed, change and soothe your brand new baby. Hard pass… Hard. Pass.

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If you are going to visit a new mom and there is a chance, she might also be going through the same thing… you need to bring food, man. At the very least, bring it for yourself. What would be WONDERFUL is if you brought food for the new parent(s) or even a gift card for them to order food later on if you don’t know their preferences. 

 

The main thing to keep in mind before visiting a new mom is what they might be going through in those first few weeks/months.

Here is what might be going on behind her smile:

 

  • If she’s chosen to breastfeed, she is learning how and, in many cases, struggling. Whether it is latching or the supply, the struggle is so real, and the emotions attachedto feeding are very real.

 

  • She might be pumping in between or after every feed to increase her supply – this includes in the middle of the night. “Sleep when the baby sleeps” doesn’t really apply here.

 

  • She might only have a few minutes in between feeds to go to the washroom and get a glass of water.

 

  • She might have to take extra steps to increase her milk supply, or in my case, drink lactation tea 3-5x, take 6 specific vitamins, and 3 prescription pills a day to help with supply.

 

  • She is likely running on less than 1-2hrs of sleep. Those hours were likely broken up too (20 mins here, 20 mins there).

 

  • She’s trying her best to remember to eat and drink enough (also to maintain her milk supply), but has zero energy to actually make anything to eat or drink.

 

  • Hormones. Emotions. All the feels… sometimes without a reason. Be nice. All the support… All the encouragement. Do it. If you don’t like something they are doing, check your advice or loaded questions at the door before you go in.

 

  • She’s very likely feeling gross and just wanting desperately to shower but rarely finds the few minutes where it is appropriate to do so… and the second she comes out of the shower breastmilk leaks everywhere and she feels gross all over again literally seconds after that shower is over.

 

  • She is dodging all of the advice and comments on how to raise her baby coming at her from every angle… and just trying to learn things on her own and find her own way as a family unit.

 

  • Depending on their labour, she will likely still be healing and recovering. In my experience, I was sitting on ice packs for weeks, taking sitz baths when I found the time, could barely walk because of the whole labour situation but also because when you are pregnant your insides shift around and expand, and once that baby is out, it takes time for all of that to shrink and go back to “normal” – aka. my tummy felt like a bowl of jello with organs just floating around. You’re welcome for that visual. Sitting up, rolling over, even sometimes standing was painful.

 

For most, once the baby is here, that is what everyone thinks and asks about – of course! They are new to this world and everyone wants to love them! It’s wonderful. But not many think to ask how the new parents are doing or how the new mom is healing and coping with postpartum. Some moms may not want to talk about it, but I suspect most are willing and waiting to be asked, because talking about it is also a helpful way of healing.

 

Next time you visit a new mom, think of her first:

1

This is not the time to share negative opinions or judgemental advice – Only support and encouragement. “You’re doing such a great job” goes a loooooooong way.

 

2

Bring food or a gift card to order food and don’t expect to be entertained.

 

3

Ask how SHE is doing… then ask about the baby.

 

4

I also feel like this goes without say, but ALWAYS make sure to provide notice when planning a visit. Don’t do the ‘drop by’ to a new mom. Just don’t.

 

5

If you’re wanting to bring a gift but don’t know what to get… bring something for her. Most people will gift to the baby (which is still so wonderful), but not many gift to the parents.

Top 2 suggestions:

  1. A nice face cream she can put on to feel herself again (I was gifted Laniege Lavender Water Sleeping Mask and it quickly became my nightly ritual to feel myself again before heading to bed)
  2. or an UberEats gift card!

 

6

Don’t make her ask you to wash your hands. I always felt such a sigh of relief when a visitor would wash their hands without me feeling so anxious about awkwardly asking them to. Give the mama a break and ask where the sink is when you put your coat down. 

 


photography cred: @ashlyndawnphotography

new mama shopping list

mama, Uncategorized

When you come home from the hospital after having your first baby, you are forever changed. You are forever changed in ways you can’t even imagine. I thought for such a long time I was going to be a “chill” new mom, and I think in some ways I am, but it’s certainly much more intimidating than I had initially thought. Intellectually, of course you understand you are going to be a mom and responsible for that child… but when that reality hits you IRL and that baby is in your arms… wowza. It is a consuming thought once you fully realize this baby depends on no one else but you. Once you get over that initial ‘yikes this is very real’ moment, it’s magical. You get to shape that tiny human into your vision of ‘the best’! (Keyword: “initial” moment… as this seems to be a recurring realization.)

Below are a few products that have helped me so far in this very new journey called motherhood. Of course, you can also register for these ahead of time too! If you need help on what to register for, check out my baby registry reco.

 

  • Baby Care Basics & A to Z of Children’s Health. My amazing sister (who was a NICU nurse at SickKids Hospital in Toronto and is now a nurse in Labour & Delivery at a different hospital) gifted me these two books. Our pediatrician growing up (Dr. Norman Saunders) is one of the authors in both of these, so I had an immediate and special attachment to these books as soon as I saw the cover (as you know… you should ALWAYS judge a book by the cover, right?). Check them out. They are pretty amazing, especially for those first few months but also for all of those health and development thoughts that constantly run through your brain as a new mom.

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  • The Wonder Weeks App. So… this WAS free, and then it was $3ish (I think) and now apparently it is $6. I don’t know what’s happening… but for the price of a Starbucks coffee, I’d say it’s kind of worth it? It is a pretty great app that goes by your due date (not your actual labour date) and predicts when your baby is going through their next developmental phase. It also explains what the phase is, what they go through and why, how to recognize it, etc. It has the prediction down to the very day!

The Wonder Weeks App

 

  • Sitz Bath & Healing Spray. Taking sitz baths and using this spray helped my healing a lot. Of course, if you have a C-section, you wouldn’t necessarily need these

 

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  • Braun Thermometer 2 in 1 No-Touch. I love this thermometer. Some people say it isn’t as accurate as other types, but it is easy, quick, and simple to use. We’ve used it quite a few times so far and it was definitely accurate as we compared to what the doctor was getting on their rectal thermometer.

 

  • Evenflo Bottles & Brush. This was the first bottle brand we tried and our guy took it right away with zero issues. I also recommend the Evenflo brush too! It comes with a little attachment at the bottom to clean the nipples easier and it suctions right on your counter for easy access. (*Tip: It’s also nice to have a quick sterilizer you can throw everything into. We use the Tommee Tippee Microwave Sterilizer and it’s super easy and effective. I hear the Medela Quick Clean Bags are also good too!)

 

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  • The What to Expect App. (Free). I had this when I was pregnant and loved it then too. It updates every week with the size and developments of your baby and then once the baby is here, it updates with their new development stages, advice and tips for that age, helpful product recommendations, etc.

 

What to Expect App

 

  • Kinedu App. (Free with upgrade options). This is a pretty cool app because it gives you activities you can do with your baby to help them in whatever developmental stage they are currently in.

Kinedu App

 

  • Slumber Party Podcast. (Free). This podcast was the best find ever. Amanda Jewsen is a baby sleep specialist in Toronto and this is her podcast. It’s filled with lots of stories, tips, tricks and advice on baby sleep.

Slumber Party Podcast

 

If you plan on breastfeeding…

 

  • Haakaa. GAME CHANGING PRODUCT. I have the 150mL and love it. When you are feeding on one side, do you notice your other side leaking a lot of milk? That’s what happened to me and it was all wasted and soaking up into the breast pad! Devastating. This handy dandy product suctions onto the side you are not feeding on and collects all of that milk! Just careful not to spill it… spilled breastmilk you can definitely cry over.

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  • Medela Pump. This is the pump I have and I really like it. It comes with a battery option so you can take it on the go if you need to. (*Tip: Awkward, but if you get really sore nipples from breastfeeding and pumping, I highly recommend asking your doctor about the Jack Newman cream. It’s amazing and helps so fast.)

 

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  • Breastmilk Storage Bags. Some brands stand on their own with a more structured bottom, but really, they all kind of do the same thing. I like the Lansinoh ones best so far and we haven’t had any leak… yet! Fingers crossed*

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  • Mother’s Milk Lactation Tea. Boy, does this work! It helps increase your milk supply and it actually tastes delicious. (*Tip: If you are looking to help with your milk supply, ask your doctor about Fenugreek. It is a natural vitamin, no prescription necessary, and it helps with supply as well.)

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  • Nursing Pillow. Your back and arms can hurt so much when breastfeeding. Having a nursing pillow is so helpful, especially for those middle of the night feeds. I would just sleep with it between my knees and then use it when he needed to be fed. We also used it for him to lay in safely during the day.

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  • Nursing Timer App. (Free). This was super helpful in the early days when you are tracking time in between feeds, the amount of feeds and the amount of diapers each day. It was so easy to use this and then reference when we were at our doctor appts.

Nursing Timer App

 

our wedding story + tips on how to make it stress-free

wedding

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin

 

I fall in love with my husband more and more each day. We make the perfect team and I knew early into our relationship that he was “the one” for me. Our wedding had some interesting events, but it truly was the best day ever. I wish I could go back and re-live it all the time and just be as present as possible in every moment. Below is our wedding story along with some tips that might be helpful wif you’re planning your big day!

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We had about 230 guests and chose an outdoor wedding venue for our ceremony and reception, so we needed the weather gods to be on our side! Luckily, they were. No rain, but it was CRAZY hot for September. (P.S. If your wedding is going to be outdoors and it is calling for rain that day… plant a root vegetable upside down on the morning of your wedding day. It’s an old wives’ tale, but we did this for my friend’s wedding which was 98% chance of rain… and it didn’t rain for her ceremony! So… you know.. it was obviously the upside down carrot.) 

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BIGGEST TIP: Hire your own coordinator for the day…

Of course, a lot goes into planning a wedding and when both the bride and groom have pretty big families, even more stress is involved. If we could have budgeted for it, I would have hired a wedding planner from the beginning to alleviate some of that stress and make the planning a bit more enjoyable rather than overwhelming. As much as you want to please everyone else, it’s your wedding and once it is said and done, you are the one that is going to remember it forever… nobody else. So, do it the way you want and the way you dreamt of, as much as you can. One of the best things we did was hire a coordinator for the day. Mallory, from Lasting Events, was a true life saver throughout the entire day. There were many things I relied on Mallory for on my wedding day and one moment in particular comes to mind… I talk about this a bit more below but moments into our cocktail hour, a guest accidentally spilled red wine on my wedding dress. My heart DROPPED. Literally every bride’s worst nightmare coming true IRL. I looked up and in sheer panic, I called, “MALLORYYYYYY!” and she came to my rescue, grabbed my hand, and escorted the crying bride through the guests and into the bridal suite to try and get rid of the stain as fast as possible. Myyyyy hero 🙂 

TIP: If you are selecting an officiant, choose one that resonates with the both of you as a couple. 

When it was time to find our officiant we were recommended Cathy Davis & Company. When going through the list of officants on her team, we both got an immediate “good vibe” feeling when we came to Paul’s profile. Paul ended up being more than a perfect fit for us, and had us laughing and smiling from moment one. So happy he was available on our wedding day to… make that day legit!

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TIP: Choose your vendors wisely. Read all the reviews…

The venue was Chateau des Charmes in Niagara, ON. To avoid travel fees, we used a lot of Niagara based vendors, but also mixed in a few Toronto vendors. We loved every single one of our vendors (including Chateau des Charmes!), except for one, Vintage Hotels. If you are planning a wedding with Vintage Hotels, I would strongly recommend considering some other options.

We heard good things about Queens Landing, one of the Vintage Hotels, and selected them as our caterer. The caterer is one of the most expensive decisions when planning a wedding, and for the size of guest count we had, we ended up spending a lot with them. Along with the booking you and your guests get a room block for the eve of your wedding. We were so excited to stay there!

Unfortunately, as soon as we signed the agreement, everything that was contractually agreed to, wasn’t followed through. For example, the very first thing was booking the rooms. They told us to go ahead and tell our guests to start booking. Great! So, we did! I then started getting call after call from our guests saying they couldn’t book. They were told there wasn’t a room block for our wedding and, in fact, Queens Landing had “never heard” of this wedding before. I finally got a hold of someone at Vintage Hotels and they told me that Queens Landing was actually sold out the night of our wedding and couldn’t even accommodate us! The bride & groom! With a binding contract! So, they moved us over to their sister hotel, Pillar & Post, with very few rooms available, so we then could only invite a handful of guests to stay at the same hotel. Everyone else had to book their own accommodations elsewhere. Not a great start to the vendor experience, but mistakes happen… The sad part is that this patterned continued and continued with very little acknowledgment or apology by anyone from the company.

Next up was the tasting. We were so excited! We brought our parents and drove from Toronto to Niagara. We confirmed ahead of time that the tasting was for us + our parents, but when we arrived there was a table set for two and they argued with us and said, “the kitchen is only prepared for 2 people”. I had to pull up emails to prove the confirmation of us adding our parents and by then they were mad at us, I guess (?), and served us in a terrible and unfriendly manner. It was disappointing because most of us had to take a day off work to drive down and were just looking forward to enjoying the tasting… but, it was kind of ruined by the service.

After this, we were told the payment installments would be charged spaced out over several months from when we signed to our wedding day – almost a full year. Since this was the most expensive item on our wedding budget, having it all spaced out throughout the year was imperative. Somehow, their team did not put through the payments on those terms and ended up charging us the full amount, days before our wedding. You definitely want more stress leading up to your wedding, so that was totally perfect for us. We love the stress! Lots of health benefits.

Last of all was the wedding day itself. Our expectations for our wedding caterer were simply to adhere to allergies, the main courses chosen by our guests, and be fully staffed to stay on schedule. None of these were met, haha. Guests were served incorrect courses (scary because we had quite a few guests with serious allergies!), they were short staffed and made the entire evening 45mins behind schedule. We expressed our disappointment one on one, but never received an appropriate apology, until we made a public review. Even then, they sent us a 1-night accommodation voucher that could only be used Sunday to Thursday for their cheapest room. A.K.A. we would have to take a day off work to use it and it would cost us more in gas to get there than the voucher was worth. Pillar & Post was certainly beautiful, but Vintage Hotels/Queens Lansing overall was a terrible experience and caused a lot of additional stress and chaos throughout our entire wedding planning journey. Mistakes happen… all we really wanted was for them to acknowledge and take responsibility for their broken promises but their customer service was so poor which is disappointing in itself, but even more so when you are spending a decent amount for their service. We found out afterwards that Vintage Hotels is known for their poor customer service. Super unfortunate for all parties involved.

Long story short, if you are considering Vintage Hotels, I’d suggest looking at alternatives… you can’t re-live this day and it should be as perfect as possible for you. This is the one thing I would change if I could do it over again.

We LOVEDDDDDDD all of our other vendors. Here is a list of Toronto/Niagara based vendors we would highly recommend!

TIP: Be organized.

If you are in the event planning or PR industry, you feel me. There is something called a “run of show” which is basically a really detailed schedule of the entire day, encompassing everyone’s timelines and expectations, including bridal party, vendor arrivals/departures, venue set up, MC, DJ, song cues, mealtimes, etc. It’s time consuming to make but a real lifesaver on the day! I highly recommend doing this, even just for extra peace of mind. I also created a binder including all vendor contracts and agreements, seating chart, guest list with all of their allergy notes and main course selections, contact sheet with emails and phone numbers for all vendors and anyone that we might need to get a hold of, envelopes with the final installments for certain vendors that needed to be paid on the day, etc. Let me know if you are interested in learning more about what I had in here and how I organized this or the run of show – happy to share! It was such a relief to have everything written down and on hand during the day.

 

TIP: Do a ‘first look’ with your fiancé!

I got ready at Pillar & Post and my husband got ready at a nearby Airbnb. Initially I was hesitant to do a “first look”, because all I could think about is that the groom traditionally sees his bride for the first time as she is walking down the aisle. Now, looking back, I am so glad we did this. It saved us so much time from the bridal party having to stand around while we did our bride & groom pictures and allowed us to be present with our guests in between the ceremony and reception. It also makes this moment just between you and your fiancé, which is that much more special. 

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TIP: Jokes… Do ALL THE FIRST LOOKS!

I didn’t even really know this was a thing but since I had the best photographers evaaaa, they suggested I do a father-daughter first look and a bridal party first look. AND they turned out SO freakin’ cute. Do this. Do it! Do it even if you don’t want to because when you look at the pictures afterwards you will be so happy you did. 

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TIP: If tradition isn’t your thing… break it!

When it came time to select my bridal party, I felt so much pressure to keep it a small number. I wrote out a list of those I felt closest to and it was a ‘big’ list. 13! I couldn’t imagine walking down the aisle without every single one of those gals with me. So, I decided to not “match” the number of groomsmen, and not cut people just to make it a small bridal party because that was more the norm… I selected all 13 gals and had “bride peeps” instead of traditional bridesmaids. I tried to take a bit of the stress out of being a bridesmaid and asked them to find a dress within a champagne colour scheme, to accommodate everyone’s style, comfort, and budget. I suggested they sit with their significant others during the ceremony and just had my sister, the maid of honour, stand up with me. I tried to make it more as if they had the status of a bridesmaid but got to enjoy like a guest. 

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TIP: Add personal touches…

The weekend we chose for our wedding was actually the birthday weekend of a few of our guests. I wanted to show that we recognized and appreciated that they came out to celebrate us that weekend, instead of their own celebrations! I had cookies made by Bake Shoppe TO and placed them at their seats.

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We also wanted to include a personalized take away for everyone, so we had their names laser cut, and used as their name cards. 

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Part of our ceremony was on grass. Having been a guest at a few outdoor weddings, sometimes for the gals it is annoying to wear heels on grass, as stilettos can poke right through! I made a little bowl of heel stoppers in various sizes for guests to grab before they headed to the ceremony. 

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When it comes time for dancing, sometimes those heels are begging to be taken off! We had a basket of different sized flip flops near the dance floor for guests to kick off their heels… Because: Ouch.

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TIP: Include those that are looking down and dancing above…

You never really know how fortunate you are to have someone until they aren’t there anymore. I think on your wedding day this becomes even more real. It’s an important day for you and you want everyone you love there to support and celebrate with you. Unfortunately, a few family members close to us passed away before our wedding day. I included a table to recognize those that were there in spirit.

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In addition to this, my sister made me the most beautiful maid of honour gift. Luckily, she gave it to me the night before my wedding, because I cried for quite a bit when she handed it to me. It was a ribbon to go around my bouquet, so I could have both of my grandmas and my godmother, walking down the aisle with me. She sewed my grandma’s necklace, my other grandma’s wedding band, and my godmother’s ring, onto the ribbon. It was the most perfect thing I could have ever dreamt of.

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TIP: Get crafty wherever you can…

Fortunately, my fiancé (now husband) is very handy. He actually built our head table and our backdrop! One of my favourite songs is ‘ you are the best thing’ by Ray LaMontange. So, we had this laser cut and pasted onto our backdrop. 

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One of my best friends is into graphic design, so I leaned on her to design our menus, table numbers, and seating chart. I just printed off, cut them to size and put them into place.

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Since a lot of our bridal party were staying in different places, I wanted to make sure they all still felt included and special. Coming from a PR background, I know how special a room drop can feel! So, I went to everyone’s hotel or Airbnb the night before they checked in and dropped off little “next morning kits” that I made for the bridal party. It included things like Advil, lip balm, mouthwash, hair ties, band aids, etc.

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TIP: Don’t serve coloured beverages during cocktail hour…

I learned this the hard way and my heart is still a little broken over it. I chose our venue because of the grounds and where we would host cocktail hour. To me, it was magical and all I could think of was a movie-like wedding during cocktail hour, with all guests mingling outside with great music and a beautiful scenery. I had selected every song that played during that hour and we had our receiving line structured at the end of our ceremony so it would give us a chance to enjoy cocktail hour with our guests afterwards. This was also timed for the sunset, where we would mingle with our guests and then take a few sunset pictures as bride and groom and sneak in family pictures before the reception began.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do any of those things and I was in the bridal suite for our cocktail hour. A few moments into our receiving line a guest had accidentally spilled red wine on my dress. For the bride, you dream of your wedding and most of all, your wedding dress! I knew I wanted this exact dress for years. I ordered it, got it tailored to fit me perfectly and comfortably, and couldn’t wait to spend the day and evening in it. It’s crazy when you think about it, you spend so much time selecting the perfect dress and you only get to wear it for a few hours your entire life!

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After I noticed the spill, my heart dropped. I remember even saying to my fiancé that morning, “please don’t have red wine at dinner tonight so we avoid any stains on my dress!” And then, Bam. Didn’t even make it to dinner, lol. My coordinator and mom (and one of my photographers, Kelly) held my hands as the tears strolled down and took me right into the bridal suite. 

They did an incredible job at trying to get the stain out. We used soda, we used white wine, we used all the things. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a change of clothes! I was just all nakey and crying waiting for the stain to be out, knowing that I was missing the exact moment I crafted the entire day to be around. I know the spill was totally innocent… things happen… I just wish I had a pair of jeans and shirt I could have thrown on so I could have gone back to the cocktail hour while my dress was being worked on. If everything had to happen the way it did, I just wish I threw a change of clothes in my bag! OR told the bar to only serve white wine while the receiving line is still in progress. <- PRO TIP right there.

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TIP: Think of unique pictures you might want to capture on the day.

I saved a few photos that I saw on Instagram that I thought were pretty cute. I shared these with my photographers in hopes we could capture something similar on the day or evening of our wedding. They remembered every idea that I wanted to try, and made each vision come true. Here are a few of these special moments…

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BIGGEST TIP #2: Just enjoy.

Things are going to go wrong, but you just have to roll with it. If I can have red wine spilled on my wedding dress and still look back on it as a magical day… I think that says a lot. You don’t get the day back so just be present and enjoy every minute. Take mental pictures of the entire day, because it is truly the best. You are marrying your best friend and have found your person. That is something that is rare and should be celebrated. Enjoy. Be happy. Be thankful. Be thankful for everyone that came to support and celebrate you. Be thankful that you found your person. That’s all that really matters and that is what the day is all about… not what colour linen should have been on the table, or what type of flowers were used, or if someone was served chicken instead of salmon.

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Also… be comfy! I wore flats my entire wedding day and it was the best decision ever.

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photography cred: julian & kelly moniz

recommended wedding vendors in toronto & niagara

wedding

VENUE: Chateau des Charmes

Great experience. We worked with two event coordinators as there was a bit of restructuring from the time of our booking to the day of our wedding. Both coordinators were lovely and everything worked out as planned.

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PHOTOGRAPHER: Julian & Kelly Moniz

The absolute best. I think Julian & Kelly Moniz were the very first vendor we hired and it was the best decision. We are so happy with our pictures and they had such good vibes (sup millennialsssss) on the day. They were such a pleasure to spend the day with and I highly recommend them!

 

VIDEOGRAPHER: Love Stories 

We loved our video and they were great to spend the day with! It took a little longer than expected to receive the files, but we were happy in the end. Their site doesn’t seem to be live anymore, so they may not be doing wedding videos any longer.

 

FLORIST: Stok Floral

Great experience. My bouquet was one of my favourite pieces from the entire day. I loved it. It was so perfect and exactly what I asked for. They also did our arch, flower arrangments, and our bridal party florals, including: small bouquets, flower crowns, boutonnières, and corsages.

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DECOR: Simply Beautiful Decor

Beautiful decor and such a pleasant team work with! Very responsive and we worked solely through email due to the distance, since they are based out of Niagara. They were so accommodating and sent pictures over email so we could make our final decor decisions.

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COORDINATOR: Lasting Events

The best decision we ever made was hiring Mallory as our coordinator. Do it.

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OFFICIANT: Paul Fletcher with Cathy Davis & Co.

Paul was so amazing and was the perfect fit for us! Highly recommend him if you are looking for an officiant.

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PERSONALIZED COOKIES: Bake Shoppe TO

So nice and easy to work with. They have wedding cakes too!!

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LASER CUT NAMES: FranJohnson House

Ordered off of Etsy and super easy! I even had a few last minute additions and she shipped them right away for me. 

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LASER CUT BACKDROP SIGN: Wedding Appeal

Ordered off of Etsy and opted to pick up as it wasn’t too far from my house. Great experience and the sign turned out perfect.

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RINGS: Local Jeweler & Staghead Designs

My husband wanted something unique for this band and went with a wood band. Staghead also has some pretty unique bands like antler, various types of wood, and different metals.

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DJ: Hurrishane

He was so good! He actually was the DJ at a wedding of a close friend so we knew ahead of time that he was awesome. So nice to work with and very open to our vision and suggestions!

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BRIDE

HAIR: Andrea Thomson 

She is my hairstylist (colour & cut!) and was a QUEEN and came to Niagara to do my wedding hair and a few of my bride gals as well. 

 

MAKEUP: Belvale Beauty

I did my own makeup for my wedding!

 

DRESS: Grace Loves Lace

I got the INCA Gown. I was really nervous ordering my wedding dress online, but their team is amazing and works with you to size and customize your dress appropriately.

 

NAILS: Raw Beauty Bar

If you are in the west end of Toronto, check them out! They are my fave nail spot. Always so friendly, have romcoms playing and candy! Who doesn’t love nails & candy??

 

 

photography cred: julian & kelly moniz

what do you put on a baby registry??

mama

I was super fortunate to have an older sister who is a mom of three and a sister-in-law who is a mom of two. I remember asking my sister, “how do people have kids without having an older sister… like what do they do? WHO DO THEY GO TO?!” I had no clue what I “needed” to have ahead of time and what I “should” have on my registry. I mean, I knew what I waaaaaanted (thank you moms of Instagram, love you). I ended up sitting down with them to figure out if my registry was outrageous… Was it normal? Was it offensive? I don’t want people to be mad at me – ARE THEY GOING TO BE MAD I’M ASKING FOR THIS? Oh… you’re not an insane people pleaser to the point it kind of ruins your life? True, true, true, true, trueeeee. Same, me neither. Twinz.

 

Here is what I was super happy about that we had on our registry, and/or what I wish we had put on that we ended up getting later:

 

We used MyRegistry.com so it was easier to have multiple stores or websites, instead of committing to everything from one place. Although, if you are going to do one place, I would suggest SnuggleBugz or Amazon. For our registry, we did a mix of big and small things, because sometimes group gifts are where it’s at.

 

BabyBjorn Bouncer. Humphrey LOVES this. It’s also super handy for them to be in while you get a few things done around the house. Sometimes I put him in this while I do my hair/makeup when we are going out and he just watches me and laughs and then I laugh at him laughing, and then I cry because he is so cute and then I still get nothing done… because: cuteness overload + hormones. Also, the cover just slides on and off so it is super easy to wash for those diaper explosions… yum.

 

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Multi-Use Cover. Milk Snob has some cute ones!

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Change Pad & Change Pad Covers.

 

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MESA Car Seat. If you have more than one car, you could always get an extra base so you can click into either car. Other items for the car: Mirror, Car Seat Protector, and Window Sun Protector (we like this one because it allows you to still open the window!)

 

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UppaBaby Stroller. We went with the Vista for the option to attach a second seat later on. This one is so easy!! We love it. It literally turns on a dime… which I never fully understood this phrase until getting this stroller. Honestly, get it just to turn around dimes. Do it. Other items for the stroller: Toys + Straps, The Mommy Hook, and Stroller Organizer.

 

UppaBaby VISTA Stroller

 

Bassinet + Bassinet Sheets.

Crib Sheets & Breathable Bumper. Other items for the crib: Matress Cover & Crib Skirt.

 

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Diaper Caddy. Items to keep in your diaper caddy: Diapers (okay ‘obvious-police’ CALM DOWN), Diaper Cream, Hand Sanitizer, Wipes, and a small toy to distract their little hands while you change them.

 

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Diaper Pail. We went with Ubbi because you can use any garbage bag with it. Kewl.

 

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Carrier. I love the Ergobaby 360 because it allows you to do front and back facing and it is so easy & quick to put on.

 

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Play with Pieces Playmat. This one is super easy and quick to lay out or roll up when you are not using… and I like it… and that’s what counts. You have to be around things you like. So… get whatever you like. Bye.

 

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Ingenuity Play Yard. This is so helpful to have if your place has a second level. We keep this on the main floor and then we don’t have to run up and down for all naps and diaper changes. It is also handy for travel and the crib mattress pad can lower for extended use from baby to toddler.

 

Ingenuity Play Yard

 

Boon 3 Stage Bathtub. There is also a handy bath tub insert you can buy if you prefer to do baths in your actual bathtub. It’s called a Baby Dam Bathtub Divider. Other bath items: Wash Cloths, Towels, Body Cream, Bath Gel, and Hairbrush (a tiny brush comes in the Safety 1st Nursery Kit.)

 

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Diaper Bag. I got the Itzy Ritzy Boss Diaper Bag and love it. I love that it zips open all the way down so you can easily see and access what is at the bottom of the bag. It has so many compartments on the inside and it has two insulated pockets.

 

Itzy Ritzy Bag

 

Hatch. This is my favie. It is run by an app on your phone and you can control the sound and light colour options and even put on a timer. For right now, it is great for bed time and white noise, but as they get older it helps to encourage an appropriate wake up time. For example, “When the light turns blue you can come and get mommy/daddy.” *Tip: I heard that white or blue light are not good for sleeping and can interrupt the sleep cycle. 

 

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Boon Grass Drying Rack. Love this! Holds everything perfectly.

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Cleaning Supplies: Aleva Naturals Bottle Wash and Multi-Purpose Toy Cleaner.

 

Burp Cloths & Receiving Blankets

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Clothes appropriate for the season based on size. Appropriate for the season is the key point of this… because if they aren’t the right season then they don’t wear them and then they are too big and you’re sending them off to college and you have all of these unused, adorable baby outfits that no one got to wear. And then you’re going to cry with your dog, folding all of these clothes and think how fast the time went and then you’re going to cry again because you’re so proud of them going to college, and then… THE POINT IS… buy clothes for the season. Bye.

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Juddlies Onesies. I’m a huge fan of Juddlies specifically, because they are zipper (not buttons or snaps because literally no one has time or patience for that) and they have a double zipper so you can just zip up the bottom for quick diaper changes. Zip, Zap, Zip.

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Gift Card: Prenatal/Postnatal Pilates. Game changer. If you are in the Toronto area, I highly recommend trying out The Bump Method.

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P.S. Asking your shower guests to bring books (new or used) instead of a card, is so helpful to build your little baby library and ends up being so sentimental reading books from your loved ones. 

top 10 tips for current preggers

mama

When I was pregnant, I looked up ALL the things. The planner inside me wanted to be as organized and prepared as I possibly could. Here are a few of my top tips that I either wish I knew about sooner or I wish I had taken a bit more seriously now that I look back.

Remember, everyone, every pregnancy, every body, and every babe is different. This is just what worked for me and things I found helpful. I hope some of these help you too but if not, you keep doin’ you, sista!

 

1

Sign up for ALL the free things: 

(This list may apply to Canadian residents only, but there are a ton of US offers too! Just search around… I think US residents are actually offered a few more freebies than Canadians)
  1. If you are in Toronto/GTA (I think Ottawa does one too), you MUST go to The Baby Show. If you have the time, go both days! You get so many free samples. I literally came home with BAGS of free wipes, diapers, bottles, snacks, etc. I even won a free month of childcare!
  2. Sign up for No Baby Unhugged. Huggies will send you a free pack of newborn diapers and wipes.
  3. Sign up for Nestle Baby & Me. They send you a free sample pack with a few formula goodies.
  4. Sign up on Enfamil A+. They send you a welcome kit with lots of formula goodies. Some are coupons for free product that you go pick up in store!
  5. Sign up for Similac Club. They send you goodies in the mail, including “Similac cheques” that you use in store towards your purchase.
  6. Sign up for Baby Box Co. They used to send you a baby box filled with samples. Now, instead of the box, they give you a sleep sack and a bag of samples. The sleep sack is plain white and cute – gender neutral. If you had your heart set on the baby box, it is now available for purchase.
  7. Create a registry with Babies”R”Us and they give you a free swag bag.
  8. Sign up for the Thyme Maternity Bump Rewards and buy when they have an event. They often have events and give out an entire swag bag with no minimum purchase to spend.
  9. Apparently, Amazon also gives you a welcome box if you create an Amazon Baby Registry. However, I did create one and people purchased off of it and we met all of the “minimum” requirements to receive the welcome box, but we never received anything… so I wouldn’t get your hopes up for that one.

 

2

Start practicing your responses to unsolicited opinions and “advice”

I thought I prepared myself for this based on what everyone “warned” me about and everything I had read while I was pregnant, but I definitely was not prepared enough. I consider myself to be a relatively emotionally strong person, but I realized that I was more emotionally strong when it came to myself vs. my baby. If there was anything negative said about my baby or anything that implied “bad parenting”, I took it very personally. I’m using past tense for some reason, but this is still very much the case! For me, this is the hardest part of being a new parent so far.

Here are a few sayings that helped and continue to help me brush off unwanted advice or opinions in a positive way – I hope they help you too!

Comments along the lines of, “back in my day we didn’t have or do any of this and we all turned out fine!”

  • You turned out more than fine! 🙂 But the cool thing is that a lot of research and new studies have come out since then to show X,Y,Z, so this is actually really helpful for us. For now anyways… they change so fast!

A short and sweet one to have in your back pocket is always…

  • This is working for us right now and we really enjoy doing it this way.

OR, if all else fails and you feel like you might explode at one more comment… just thank them for the advice and change the subject… or ask a lot of questions to keep the conversation off of you and your new family!

  • That’s a great idea! (even if you hate the idea… just say it and move on…) Maybe we will give that a try! Hey – I keep forgetting to ask you, have you seen that new documentary on Netflix??

 

3

Pack your hospital bag(s)

Pack your bag, your partner’s bag and your little one’s bag. Pack it in advance so you can re-pack it a million times before you go. Logic.

Don’t know what to pack? Check out my hospital bag checklist, now that I look back on what I really needed/didn’t need.

 

4

Treat yo-self

Go get a manicure and pedicure!!! Have a bath! If you want to shave your legs but can’t reach… ask your partner to help you out. For me, I felt like I wanted to get ready to meet my little, tiny human, and a mani/pedi made me feel pampered just before! It’ll be the last time you get to do that for a little while, soak it all up while you can! And for some reason I just kept thinking of all of the doctors that would have to be all up in my situation… at the very least I could have a cute pedicure!

If you are in the west end of Toronto, I highly recommend Raw Beauty Bar. They play RomComs… they have candy… go. Go get a Starbucks and go to Raw Bar and you live your basic b*tch life as best you can!

Omg just wait too… The first shower you get to have at home, after your delivery, is THE most amazing feeling. I almost want to just re-live those first few minutes of washing all the hospital-ness off and feeling like me again. Magical. I’m excited for you.

 

5

Easy prenatals

I was initially on a natural prenatal vitamin that were huge (!) and I had to take it 3x a day. If that is your jam and you love it… do it! I did this for the first little bit, but found I wasn’t great at taking them and I’m also not the best at taking big pills… it’s a whole production… I have to drink a little and keep it in my mouth and put the pill in while the liquid is still in my mouth and then… I wait. I wait for the right moment that feels like it is okay to proceed with swallowing. IT’S RIDUCLOUS. Please tell me you do this too? And if you don’t do this because you are a normal human, than just tell me you do so I feel better.

SO, I switched to First Response Gummies (yum) and I never missed one. Because: candy.

Choose whatever works best for you, but the easier they are to take the more likely you are to be consistent at taking them!

 

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Be honest with yourself

Always be honest and true to how you are feeling. Hormones are powerful and your body is full of them right now! It’s okay to cry. What helped me most was to recognize when it felt “out of my control” and try to laugh about it or just acknowledge it.

I remember one time, I started to cry mid-conversation with my husband. We were talking about GROCERIES! I know… groceries are a very touchy subject and it can often get really emotional, right? Anywho, I started to cry mid-conversation and then as I was crying, I started to laugh and I said “I’m sorry… I don’t know why this is happening”. And he just looked at me and smiled, and said, “It’s okay. Your body is just doing what it is supposed to do.” And so obvisouly then I was like omg ilysm and cried more. So there ya go. You laugh! You cry! You do you… your emotions are always valid, and you just have to roll with it as best you can.

 

7

Snack, snack, snack

When I was pregnant, I found I only got nauseous when I was hungry. The more I could snack throughout the day, the less nauseous I was. If you feel nauseous throughout the day, try snacking more often and see if that helps!

I cut up a bunch of raw veggies and fruit and put them in to-go containers, so they were easy to throw in my work bag. I also had a lot of healthy snack bars, like KIND bars and Made Good. I obviously also had tubs of Häagen-Dazs in the freezer too… so… it’s all about balance, right? (Side note, why is Häagen-Dazs always on sale recently? I feel like for at least a year it has mysteriously been on “sale” and never full price. I am NOT complaining… but also intrigued. If you know… tell me. These are the questions that keep me up at night.)

If you’re feeling nauseous a lot, try Preggie Pops! They helped me a lot.

 

8

Relax… like actually

Take time to just relax. If something feels too much for you, people will understand! And if they don’t… they are silly! Not the good kind of silly (every time I say “silly” I picture Ross saying, “enough of the silliness!”) the bad kind of silly!

Often times I felt so exhausted that I thought I was at a level where I shouldn’t even be driving. The exhaustion is SO REAL. Just sleep man… you need it. Remember, you are growing a human in there! Your body needs to CHULLLLLLLLLLLLLL.

 

9

Take “nice” pictures

I almost didn’t take maternity photos. In fact, I wasn’t going to at all until a close friend offered to take some since she started dabbling in photography. She did an amazing job and has now started her own photography side gig. If you’re looking for a photog… check her out: @ashlyndawnphotography.

I am so happy I did this in the end, because you never get these moments back. You can’t recreate them for a picture later on. If you don’t take pictures you miss out on this opportunity forever. Do it! I mean, I guess technically you COULD use that belly pillow from Thyme Maternity that helps you try on maternity clothes… and take pictures with that to try and recreate the moment? But that sounds like a lot of drama.

Worst case, you don’t use them for anything but at least you have them to look back on this miraculous time in your life. It honestly is a miracle. Be grateful for every moment.

 

10

Make a list… or several

Your partner might hate you for doing this if you make lists for them as well (guilty) … but if you are like me, you like to check things off! It makes me feel accomplished and allows me to move onto the next task, and ultimately, just feel less anxious and less stressed.

I made several lists: hospital bag checklist, things to do around the house before baby is here, things to buy, thank you cards to send, things to get the nursery ready, etc. Making a list allowed me to visually see what still needed to get done prior to my due date and that alone made me feel less anxious as the time got closer.

photography cred: @ashlyndawnphotography

[retrospective] hospital bag list

mama

I remember a nurse from the Mother & Baby unit looking at my bag(s) commenting, “are you moving in?” and let me tell you…. LET ME TELL YOU… my hormones at that very moment… did not find that funny. I just awkwardly laughed back, but let me tell you… LET ME TELL YOU… I wanted to say other things back… ya you get it. You… get it. So, allow me to start this post by saying, you pack as much as your heart desires and forget everybody else. For me, it caused me less anxiety to have things there in case I needed them. And guess what! We had to stay there 3 days so I ended up using almost everything I brought. So … there. Lol (ps. It also really wasn’t even that much… it was a small backpack for my husband, a small duffle bag for me and a purse. ugh.)

 

Here is a refined list of what I would have packed if I were to do it again, or what I did pack that I was thankful for:

 

  • Cozy outfit for you, maybe even 2. (1) to change out of your gown and feel like you again and (2) to put on before you have visitors… or your go home outfit even. 

 

  • Socks, or if you’re a slipper gal, that works too. Something to make you feel cozy and that you can walk from your bed to the bathroom in.

 

  • Face Cloth and Face Wash. This will literally feel life changing. I brought travel/sample sized products that I got for free – great way to use them up!

 

  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, face cream, hair tie/hair band, etc. some rooms have showers if you are feeling up for it, bring body wash, etc. I waited until I got home to take my shower, but if I had to stay another day I 100% would have showered there. Don’t forget a body towel!)

 

  • Tablet/Phone/Headphones. Sometimes you are waiting a while and a movie or your favourite show can be a comforting distraction to help time pass by. Don’t forget your charger(s)!

 

  • Snacks & Water Bottle. If you have favourite snacks… pack’em! Sometimes hospital food isn’t top notch (shocker, I know) or depends on what time of night you are there… the food options could be slim. Better safe than sorry.

 

  • Nursing Pillow. I found this really helpful to have while learning how to breastfeed but it also came in handy just using to make the hospital bed a little more comfy. 

 

  • Nursing Bra & Nursing Pads. My favourite nursing bras so far are by Bravado and my favourite disposable nursing pads are Lansinoh or Johnson & Johnson. *Tip: bring a “sleep” nursing bra that just pulls to the side. It’s an actual game changer when you are exhausted.

 

  • Camera

 

  • Diapers… for you. If you are planning on delivering vaginally, just go straight for the adult diapers. I brought both pads and diapers because I wasn’t sure what was going to go down… just do diapers, man. So much easier and you don’t have to worry about ruining any undies if the pads aren’t positioned properley. I had to get over the emotional leap of “wow, not only am I going to purchase these but I am also going to wear them.”, but then I was like… why is this a big deal? So I marched right in there… picked up those diapers… and headed straight for the self checkout because I was too chicken to go to the cashier. Honestly though, they were life changing and I wore them for WEEKS after. That is what husbands are great at. “Oh, while you are out… I also need adult diapers. OKLOVEYOUBYE.” I used Always Discreet (size small).

 

  • [Partner] If your partner plans to be there, they need clothes & toiletries too, of course. But they also will need a comfy pillow & blanket.

 

  • [Baby] Newborn Diapers – a full pack. You don’t know how long you are going to be there for and it’s easier not to have to ask someone to run out and grab more. Huggies and Pampers are great! We have used both of them… but our favourite by far is Rascal & Friends or Pampers Pure.

 

  • [Baby] Wipes – a full pack. Some situations get pretty messy and a travel size pack of wipes ain’t gunna cut it. I think I even brought two packs… which was probably overkill, but LET ME LIVE MY LIFE. I love Aleva Naturals & Pampers Pure.

 

  • [Baby] Take Home Outfit(s). I packed 2 outfits and luckily I did because he leaked through his diaper, all over his first outfit in 2 mins. *Tip: have one of the outfits have a hood so you can protect their little neck from getting irritated by the car seat straps on the way home.

 

  • [Baby] Zipper Onesies. The zipper ones are fast and easy to get in and out to change them. My favourite are the Juddlies ones, but of course anything you like is perfect! Can also bring them a cozy hat to keep their head warm. If the pjs don’t have feet, bring little socks.

 

  • [Baby] Installed Car Seat. We use the UppaBaby MESA car seat & love it.

 

  • [Baby] Swaddle Blankets. I ended up loving the “cheat” ones by SwaddleMe, because they were just faster to get our guy into.

 

  • [Baby] Receiving/Multi-Purpose Blankets. I LOVE Wee Urban. They are so incredibly soft and they’re organic. 

 

  • [Baby] Burp cloths. You can totally just use a cloth or blanket for this, but if you have room just sneak a burp cloth in there if you don’t want to dirty your new baby blankets.

 

  • [Baby] Pacifier. Funnily enough our little man doesn’t take one now, but he DID take it at the hospital and it was an immediate game changer. I believe the two most popular brands that babies like are MAM & NUK. Just sterilize 2 or 3 and pop them in your bag so they are good to go!

 

 

photography cred: @ashlyndawnphotography