Monday, October 30, 2017

How to Create a Maternity Closet on a Budget

Women normally need a good maternity wardrobe from about 4 months into their pregnancy to a month post-pregnancy. That’s a long time not to have enough pieces you can rock. But I also understand the huge commitment and hesitation of spending tons of money for new specific items.

So, here are my tips on how to incorporate your current closet while finding ways to save on maternity additions.

Evaluate Your Closet and Make it Last
  • First thing I did when I needed a little more breathing room was look for items that fit comfortably while also hiding my slightly growing belly until I was ready to share our news. For work I was able to wear loose blouses and leave a pant button open. There are also such great belly band options to make your pants last, I’ve just never invested in one because my thighs and hips seem to grow with my belly so I have to go up a pant size anyways.
  • Sweaters, wraps, stretchy tops and skirts, or drawstring pants that are already in your closet are fabulous for your first and into second trimester. For example at 21 weeks I’m wearing a non-maternity sweater dress with leggings and boots.
  • From my first pregnancy, even though babies will be born in completely different seasons, I was able to pull and incorporate the maternity clothes I had saved. Save everything! I was able to have jeans, work tops, summer dresses that I will pair with leggings for a fall look, and some workout pants and tanks.
Where/How To Buy Retail
  • You’ll be surprised at how many options you will have a more budget-friendly retailers like Old Navy, Target, Walmart, Zulily, and even Amazon. These retailers have a huge selection and enable you to buy more pieces for less.
  • Specialty shops like Motherhood Maternity and A Pea in a Pod are expensive, but by finding a factory outlet in your area let’s you wear their fabulous pieces on a budget. For this pregnancy I found two great patterned pants that I can dress-up for work or dress-down for weekends that were only $13 each on clearance. Our outlet also offers additional coupons via a coupon book, so don’t forget to ask the mall’s customer service!
  • Watch for department store sales. Macy’s was having an amazing maternity sale right at the beginning of my pregnancy. I went through and picked everything I loved that was on super clearance and with my mom’s additional coupon I was able to get about 10 pieces for around $150.  It was a wonderful birthday gift and actually made me super excited to start my belly bump journey again.
Buy/Rent Pre-owned Maternity Clothes
  • It wouldn’t be a post without me mentioning pre-owned clothing. There are just so many options for buying used maternity looks. Here are some places to look:
    • Thrift Store
    • Consignment Stores
    • Yard/Garage Sales
    • Craigslist, FreeCycle, FaceBook groups, and other online selling groups
    • ThredUP
  • Renting is also now a fabulous option for those special occasions during your pregnancy. Some options include Le Tote, Mine for Nine, and Borrow For Your Bump.
Friend Connections/Swaps
  • Having a friend almost identical in size is the best! One of my best friends has gotten through both of her pregnancies and breastfeeding phases without having to purchase much at all because her dear friend (even being across the country) sends her all her maternity/nursing clothes for her to use. Having this option is fabulous especially if you are having kids about a year apart.
  • Reach out to your friend network and see if anyone can lend you items or if you can buy them off them. This is a great way to recycle and also a way for them to feel great about cleaning out their closet.
  • If you have a lot of preggo friends, hosting a clothes swap is a fabulous way to get new looks throughout your pregnancy without spending a penny!

Pin and Share!

This is such an exciting time! Feel and look beautiful from the inside out and your mama glow will be just radiant!

Let me know if any of these tips work for your maternity fashion.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Ice Cream Parlor Gender Reveal

I looked for gender reveal ideas for weeks and finally had a brilliant idea…ice cream! I knew I wanted us all to be surprised at once, including Miss. Hartley. So thinking of a creative idea that didn’t require one of us or a friend to coordinate was hard. And since I am a HUGE ice cream fan, I couldn’t imagine a better way to reveal the sex of baby #2. The plan was to just hand our sealed envelope to the nice person working to let them work their magic on hiding the color underneath a mountain of whipped cream and sprinkles.

However, this perfectly planned photoshoot DID NOT go this way. We went straight from our ultrasound appointment to meet our friend and photographer at the selected location. Excited and giddy we just couldn’t wait to see what was hidden in the envelope we were given. BUT, when we gave our envelope to the ice cream counter, we got the most awkward reaction…”Am I supposed to read this? There is nothing listed in this envelope”. What?!?!? Even after repeated requests to our sonographer to include a written sticky or note within, she didn’t. And after about 10 people at the ice cream parlor trying to read our little baby’s private parts with no luck, we declared this a huge #genderrevealfail. So after 4 days of waiting, we finally reset for a new day. And hey, what’s the big deal of waiting a few days more. It made the final reveal super anticipated!

Hartley was so adorable and absolutely LOVED this ice cream shoot. She was showing off all her poses and completely eating up all the attention. She also declared she was Team Blue with daddy.

So after a few teasers with pink, blue and sprinkled ice cream we dug into our sundae to find out we are having a…


Using this opportunity in the retro-designed Jitterbug’s Ice Cream Café in Old Town Manassas, Virginia, we also snapped a few annual family photos. Thanks to the owners of Jitterbug’s and our fabulous photographer Heather Adams for making my vision come to life! Every pregnancy is unique and should be cherished. Capturing these special moments of our growing family means everything to me. For more pictures, check out Heather’s blog!

The Howdyshell house is going to be filled with all the sugar, spice, and everything nice that come with little girls and I couldn’t be more excited!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Loaded Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Ahhh I cannot believe we find out the baby’s gender today! The halfway mark in my pregnancy seems surreal. It has been flying by. I felt the baby (more than the tiny flutters) today and it just flooded me with memories and emotion thinking back on my first pregnancy. All the pregnancy pains (including no red wine during fall hehe) just drain away with those magical movements and you are quickly reminded how blessed you are to be carrying your little bundled of joy.

Alright, enough sappiness haha…who doesn’t love a fabulous banana bread? Sweets and bread have been my biggest pregnancy craving and has turned into my guilty pleasure for sure!

This recipe is to die for.  It completely fills my sweet tooth (which is ALL THE TIME) and a perfect healthy option that I feel good eating to start my day. Naturally sweetened with banana and honey and made with whole wheat flour, oatmeal, wheat germ, greek yogurt, dried blueberries, chocolate chips and walnuts, this is one of the most LOADED banana bread recipes you will find! Super indulgent but with all the good stuff for you!


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 heaping cup mashed banana (about 3 very ripe bananas)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 heaping cup blueberry greek yogurt (or unsweetened applesauce if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk (you can use skim, whole, almond, coconut milk, etc.)
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup of wheat germ
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts


 *Disclaimer – you can separate your wet and dry in two bowls before combining, but for me I just do everything all in one bowl and can’t tell the difference. Hartley adores making this recipe with me, so it’s totally toddler proof too 🙂
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In large bowl combine mashed banana, yogurt, honey, egg, milk and vanilla until well combined and creamy.
  3. Add whole wheat flour, wheat germ, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix until just combined (don’t overmix!).
  4. Add chocolate chips, dried blueberries, and walnuts.
  5. Pour into prepared loaf pan, sprinkle oats and extra walnuts over top (if desired), and bake for 50-60-minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven and cool. Cut into 12 slices and enjoy! Keep bread tightly wrapped to maintain moisture.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017

7-Ingredient Healthy Chicken Chili

I cannot believe it’s almost the middle of October! It is finally feeling like fall here in Virginia. Fall is my favorite. Fall means cool brisk mornings, leggings (I am a proud elastic pant wearer at 19 weeks pregnant), boots, scarfs, apple/pumpkin picking, and oh of course…lots of yummy chili. I’ve been playing around with chili variations including some vegetarian recipes, but this chicken version has turned to my favorite quick meal/meal prep version.

I’ve been short on meal prep time lately, so I turned to Pinterest in search for easy soups, chili, and casseroles that would make enough for our week. This recipe from Gimmie Some Oven was my inspiration behind this fabulous easy and healthy chili. I loved the idea of her recipe, but I needed a little oomph to it and wanted the ease of not cooking chicken. So by adding quinoa and using rotisserie chicken I got the added thickness I wanted with the ease and savvy approach of using the store-bought chicken (Wegmans has them for only $4.99 a bird). This recipe is super budget-friendly with the limited ingredients needed.

So why not kick off the fall season with a great new chili recipe!?! Oh and did I mention…it was husband approved!! Yes! AND what better than a recipe that doesn’t require ANY chopping?!?

All you do is de-meat (is that even a word?!?) your chicken once it’s cooled from the rack. I HATE this part…yuck. But once all the meat is pulled off and in a separate bowl, you can start your chili base (or if your meal prepping for a quick meal during the week, just store your pulled chicken in the fridge until the night you want to use). I use the organic chicken stock from Costco because it’s super clean and has great flavor. All I do is bring the stock, quinoa, spices, and salt and pepper to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes before adding your salsa, drained beans and chicken. Once salsa, beans and chicken are added, let simmer for another 10 minutes and that’s it! Perfect 7-Ingredient Healthy Chicken Chili in less than 25 minutes.


  • 1 carton (4 cups) chicken stock + 2 cups of water (or 6 cups of broth)
  • 4 cups cooked shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 2 (15-oz) cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups (16oz) salsa verde
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 tsp. of ground cumin and chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste (pantry items)
  • optional toppings: diced avocado, chopped fresh cilantro, shredded cheese, sour cream

Since I am more of a lifestyle blogger, I would love your feedback on the few recipes I share. These recipes are true to my kitchen and no I am not the perfect food stylist or photographer, but I do promise they taste yummy! Let me know what you think and happy fall ya’ll!