File Folder System

I have been meaning to address, for years, our current filing system. Prior to the pandemic, my husband used to own a blocky Restoration Hardware desk that housed a filing cabinet on one side. The desk was a heavy metal drag, weighing at over 80 pounds. At the time of purchase, it matched our Industrial loft (the one we rented) but after moving into a more minimalist space, we decided to upgrade it to a Herman Miller Sit-Stand desk. It was ideal for my husband who was transitioning to WFH, a situation that has lasted to this day.

With the loss of the filing cabinet we relegated all important documents to a storage bin. After moving a third time to an even smaller condo, the bin has been stowed in a shoe closet underneath the stairs. Out of sight, out of mind. But the messiness of the situation every time I had to find a file was driving me mad. I went back and forth between alternative storage options. For months, I debated over minimalist filing cabinets on wheels. My favorite happened to be Branch Furniture’s miniature system in white. But did I want to store yet another furniture piece by my minimalist WFH desk, which may be going away with the addition of a baby crib in the coming months?

I held out for a permanent solution for years. Every time I started to lose it with the unsightly temporary solution, I took a deep breath, and stock. At the best of times, I tried to keep things as organized as possible using file folders. At the worst of times, I simply threw papers haphazardly into the bin for a later date. Breathe, and walk away. Sometimes, that’s the solution.

The solution came whilst perusing baby items at Target. I was walking by the stationary aisle (as I returned organizational baskets I did not need, AGAIN), when one single clear bin caught my eye. It was this plastic hanging file crate with lid.

I have since purchased and taken home said file crate and finished a project that I’ve long been ignoring. Which is to say, I went through every document we had on file and decluttered what we did not need. Papers that could be digitized and uploaded were done so. Medical receipts, for example, were photographed and uploaded onto our HSA account for reimbursement. It is a task I have been avoiding for far too long! One might argue that I could digitize all paperwork but I am a paper person at the end of the day, and want to keep the most important ones at hand.

There is so much to fall in love with this product. I love the lid which protects our papers from dust. I love the handles on the bin that make carrying the crate out of the closet easier. Notches on either side allow for hanging file folders and better organization. Overall, it is light, easy to move around, and easy to store. Plus, it looks absolutely minimalist.

When it comes to tiny spaces, tiny wins are BIG.

A Place to Rest with a Kind Bassinet

This post is written in partnership with Dock-A-Tot. They’ve created a sustainable bassinet option that is both affordable and practical. More importantly, they have done so without comprising good design or function. We have been gifted their Kind Bassinet to try, along with a nursing pillow and swaddle set. All opinions herein are my own. I receive no commissions for any of the Dock-A-Tot products shall you choose to purchase from my links after reading this review. I simply believe in the product and want to share what Dock-A-Tot has made. As always, thank you for supporting the companies that support this space.

A road of sleepless nights and parental unrest lies before us, or so we are told. Preparing for a newborn is much like preparing for battle. Make sure you’ve got the right gear, good training, a general idea of what you’re up against, and comrades to back you up. We are still stuck on the gear part. When it comes to gathering baby arsenal, let me be the first to say that we are of the pared-back type. It may not be your cup of tea. You can judge for yourself by looking at our curated baby registry list. However, there have been a few items that we wanted on hand right away. One of which was a place to rest. Dock-A-Tot recently released their Kind Essential Bassinet, and it fit the bill of sustainable, simple, safe and slow.

Kind to Earth

Dock-A-Tot’s Kind Essential Bassinet is fully sustainable. It is made of responsibly harvested corrugated cardboard (WHAT?!) that folds flat for portability. The light-weight allows petite mamas such as myself to carry it around the house and on travels effortlessly. Plus it ships for less! The cardboard acts as the frame of the bassinet, and a Sorona foam core mattress lies on top of the cardboard base. It comes with a machine washable, OEKO-TEK standard 1 certified cotton sheet as well. Shipped in a box that doubles as a carrying case (reuse, recycle), this bassinet is as easy to stow away as it is to assemble. Plus, with each bassinet purchase, a tree in planted on baby’s behalf.

Things I like about the box. It is fully recyclable. Simply remove mattress and sheet, and place box in recycle bin. But not so fast! A better option is to up-cycle the box. This could serve as a toy bin, doll crib, pet-bed, and more. Store their favorite books for easy reach. Use it to corral their toys. I would even consider using this as an organizing bin inside the closet or pantry. With boxes, the possibilities are endless.

Kind to Mama

With this bassinet, we can walk down the street to grandparents’ house and have a place to rest baby and mama’s tired arms. That is, without lugging more stuff that would require a car or wagon. It is also easy to move from room to room. Sometimes, mama just needs her space. Being able to put this bassinet in the living room so that someone else can have baby duty while mama gets some shut-eye is heavenly. Bonus points for the fact that any of the grandparent’s can lift this, too! The bassinet weighs a total 5 pounds. Look, in my fourth trimester, I am not planning on carrying ANYTHING, if possible.

Kind to Baby

The Kind Bassinet is a safe space for baby to sleep or nap. The cotton sheet is super soft and the mattress is water-resistant. The sheet is washable in case of accidents during those early months of life. I know baby will be comfortable on the Sorona foam mattress, which by the way is made up of 37% plant-based recycled fibers! Producing Sorona® uses 30% less energy and releases 63% fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to the production of nylon 6. At the end of the day, the product you get is a firm, flat surface on which to lay baby down while being mindful of your impact.

The Kind Bassinet is compliant with US standards applicable to bassinets and meets children’s product safety standards. Just ensure that it sits firmly on the floor, and has no additional products inside while baby is sleeping. Of course, this works best in a pet-free home. Curious critters may want to snuggle along with your babe, so always keep an eye.

Kind to Our Wallet

As a frugalist, I always talk price. The price of the Dock-A-Tot bassinet is at a mere $119, thereby making it one of the more affordable bassinet options out there. Sure, it isn’t fancy. It doesn’t rock or wheel. But it is space saving, and in an urban, minimalist tiny home, that is the exact thing we need right now. It stores away quickly and well. It moves. The thing is, when it comes to adding a member of the family to a home, the question of space and whether there is enough of it will come up. This was the FIRST concern both of our parents had. But small living is a choice many young people make, because frankly, it is financially savvy. Any product that provides function given a small footprint is a winner in my world.

Final notes:

The Kind Essential Bassinet was designed well, in beautifully colored prints that engage baby’s imagination during awake time. There are many prints to choose from, all of which keep the home looking stylish. We chose to go with the Strawberry Thief print, to match my Dock-A-Tot nursing pillow (La Maman Wedge). However, I also liked the Willow Boughs print for a woodsy vibe. The prints are sealed with a non-toxic protective varnish that makes clean-up easy. Cute pedestal feet add stability and ornate detail to this cardboard box. Tool-free assembly takes me less than 30 seconds. Simply open the carboard box, lay down the base, followed by the mattress.

As we will both be partly working from home (me with the blog and dog-sitting, and him on a hybrid schedule), we need a place to set our loved one down nearby. This bassinet can be at the foot of our desks, by the couch, near the bed … anywhere else for that matter.

Bottom line: baby stuff is required for such a short period of time. Anything we can do to reduce the waste for 6 months of life is something worthwhile. I could croon all day about design and beauty, function and fit, but let’s be real. The sustainability that this bassinet option provides puts what we are doing as parents into perspective. Babies of the past have thrived on waaaay less stuff. Forego the most complicated bassinets that add to the headache, the bulky cradles that require an upgrade in living space, or the expensive tech that forces you to pick up additional work days. Your baby simply wants to be near you. You want them to have a safe space. And you want rest. This Kind Bassinet provides.

A most curated baby registry

Well, the baby shower is done and over with. After months of debating with ourselves over what a baby needs and doesn’t, it’s nice to finally be past it. Since we’ve made the decision to stay put in our small space, we were excruciatingly mindful of our list of wants. I have the confidence that we’ve developed enough decluttering skills to eschew our own stuff to make room for our baby’s things, so that wasn’t what was causing stress. Rather, it was the knowledge that loved ones were pooling their resources to help get this little one’s life started. And we did not want to be wasteful of their efforts. Because not having enough space is the main reason families upgrade their homes when adding a new member, I wanted to share the items that we’ve decided were essential in our curated baby registry.

Our criteria for a curated baby registry:

  • Neutral colors – a recurring theme I have is sticking to a strictly stream-lined palette, which deceives the onlooker of space and calms the body and mind.
  • Tiny footprint (in terms of real estate) – minimalist design that stows away nicely is the best descriptor!
  • Multi-functionality and longevity – I like things to have variability of use. Too much specialization leads to clutter.
  • Essentials limited to the first twelve months of life – we did not ask for items that would be irrelevant until further down the road. We figured, by then we can declutter the newborn stuff and trade in toddler items.
  • High quality brands – a requirement that addresses sustainability
  • Less is more – when in doubt, do without.

A most curated baby registry


  • Nuna Infant Car Seat – despite the fact that the baby will need an upgrade in 12 months, we prioritized safety.
  • Uppababy Cruz V2 Stroller – This stroller adapts to our infant car seat but also has a toddler seat of its own and can last for the first few years of baby’s life. A stroller was essential for us, as we love to be outdoors and walk dogs. We felt that Uppababy had better maneuverability compared to the Nuna.
  • Nuna Car Seat Adaptor for Uppababy – to use the stroller with the car seat.
  • Chicco Alfa Lite Travel Play Yard – The play yard doubles as a place to sleep when we are away from home, as well as a play pen at a relative’s house. We also like that we can set the baby down safely when we are boarding bigger, playful pups.
  • Baby Bjorn Carrier Mini – Another travel must-have. I am not sure I would want to take the stroller in and out of the car as it’s pretty heavy. While baby is young, I would much prefer to carry him this way. Plus this carrier is perfect for hikes, grocery shopping, or whenever strollers would be a pain to maneuver.
  • YogaSleep Rohm Travel Sound Machine – a portable sound machine for long car rides and travel.
  • Product of the North Elkin Diaper Bag – The diaper bag we chose is a backpack instead of a purse so that either parent can carry it. It also works well with the carrier, as a single person can wear the backpack in the back and the carrier in the front. This diaper bag is on the smaller side, which we like! It comes with a travel changing pad and the top handles allow it to hang from our stroller as well.


  • Baby Bay USA bassinet – this bassinet allows us to sleep in the same room without having to sleep in the same bed. There are so many reasons why I love this bassinet, all of which I outlined in my blog post review!
  • Hatch Rest+ 2nd Gen – this was something Mike wanted to have on the registry but I have heard mixed reviews. It serves as a sound machine and a night-light, but we already have the portable sound machine which I believe will suffice. I think it is an over-priced gadget that claims to train kids into a sleep routine.
  • Crane Top Fill Humidifier – I like the clean look and that it holds a lot of water and fills from the top. It also doubles as a night light.
  • Lalo Play Gym – Mike’s dad gifted us this play gym for Christmas. He is just so excited to play with baby. I actually got a play gym handed down to me from by high-school BFF that is tinier and more minimalist. But I will likely be bringing the Lalo along to grandpa’s house. Everyone recommended the LoveEvery play gym. But I found it to be big, bulk, and an eye-sore. While I understand that brain development is crucial to a growing child, I also believe that play gyms are not what we should rely on. I would love nature to be his true play gym, so that’s why I felt like my friend’s minimalist one will do. Also, we really didn’t put any toys or books on the list. That was an intentional choice. I figured the library will provide a million reads, and toys would come by way of regular stuff lying around the house. In the end, we got them anyway as gifts.
  • This baby camera – We went with the Wyze V2 Pan camera instead of the more expensive Nanit. Our friends validated our decision. The Nanit requires an additional yearly subscription which adds to the high price point. Also, baby must wear something in order to use the sleep monitoring function, which their baby can’t sleep with. They literally use it as a camera. On the other hand, my cousin has the Wyze camera for both his kids and it does the job monitoring if they are awake or asleep in the nursery. Sometimes, simpler is better.
  • Crane Baby’s Cotton Crib Sheet – I put ONE crib sheet on the registry. After the baby shower, we decided to get a second one in case of late-night accidents.


  • Stokke Clikk High Chair – One advice I got from a current mama is to get a high-chair that doesn’t have fabric. We actually got a free hand-me-down high chair with fabric on it but we gave that to my mom and dad so that we don’t need to bring one around between houses. Another girlfriend really recommended the Stokke Tripp-Trapp high chair, but it was a bit bulkier and had a higher price point. Plus it was heavier too! I fell in love with the lightness and portability of the Clikk High Chair. It is the perfect option for us travel-nerds, as it deconstructs into just a few pieces that is easy to carry around. If you want to see it in action, there are plenty of awesome videos on YouTube for this chair. Of course, I chose white, but I very seriously thought about breaking my cardinal neutral color rule for the blue.
  • Nanobebe Flexy Silicone Bottle – We just needed a few bottles and this just happened to catch my eye. I want to try nursing 100% but am prepared for it to be a nightmare. Reality remains to be determined.
  • Lalo First Bites Full Kit – We only wanted to buy one dining kit for the babe. Some people buy a bunch of plates, bowls, cups, spoons and forks. One of each was fine by us!
  • Oxo Tot Bottle Brush with Stand – We learned from our hospital that you should have a designated bottle brush for baby stuff, so that’s what this was for.
  • Hakaa New Mom Starter Kit – Since I plan to nurse, a fellow mama said this was a life-saver for those leaky moments.


  • Frida Baby Soft Sink Bather Bundle – We don’t have any bathtubs in our home. But my best friend used this for the first six months of her baby’s life. We have three bathrooms and have designated the guest bathroom sink as the baby’s new “bath tub”. I love how it is easy to assemble, dries quickly, and once again, is perfect for travel!
  • Lalo The Bath Tub – We added this to the registry for when the baby outgrows the sink. We will have to use a shower area in the guest bathroom downstairs for bath time.
  • Towels, washcloths, bath products – Of course, essentials. One towel, a few washcloths, and starter packs.
  • Burt’s Bee’s Baby Wipes – We bought wipes to make diaper changing easier. We also bought a wipes container after the registry. Our best friends said they cut the wipes in half to reduce waste and stored it in a container since stuffing it into the original wipes packaging was impossible. I think this is a wonderful frugal hack, and well worth the $10 container!
  • Esembly’s Full Time Diapering System – I wrote about our wish to use cloth diapers here.
  • Dekor Diaper Pail with Esembly Pail Pouch – the pail pouch is to hold the cloth diapers until laundry day. The dekor pail was voted best and is compatible with Esembly’s pail pouch.


Of course, with gratitude, we received more than what we listed on the registry. Big surprises included baby clothes, a full-sized crib, sleeping sacks, blankets, toys and books. We also received non-essential-but-usable items such as glider, baby gate, bottle drying rack, pacifier sterilizer, bottle warmer, disposable diapers and more.

*This blog post contain affiliate links. Shall you make a purchase via my link, TheDebtist will receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this space.

Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

Baby Bay Bassinet Meets Small Space Dweller’s Dreams

lt is easier to curate a home for yourself than it is to curate one for someone else. Who am I to decide what’s right, functional, or preferable by this tiny human on the way? Yet here we are, as future parents, with that exact job. Deciding baby stuff can be overwhelming. But sticking to your values lends light at the end of a dark, long tunnel. For our home, my requirements are to live simply, choose ethically, prioritize function, and seek beauty. If you think that’s too big an ask, then you haven’t heard about Baby Bay. They provide bassinets that meet this small space dweller’s dreams.

Baby Bay Bassinet In Small Spaces

An important deciding factor on any furniture purchase for us is how much real estate something takes up. Our total square footage in our upstairs living area is less than 900 square feet. Always has been, to be honest. I am a small space dweller and I love it. But it comes with serious decision-making!

I prefer minimalist products. No bulky pieces of wood for me. My side chairs in the living room are made of wire instead of being arm chairs. My couch is low as can be to give the mirage of taller ceilings. The headboard to the master bed isn’t solid. The stools at the kitchen counter have no backs. My desk sits on rails. And our Baby Bay bassinet has slats all the way around. My rule of thumb, to state the obvious, is to choose furniture that maximizes light, air, and the feeling of space.

The Baby Bay also wins in design. It has a half-moon shape, which allows it to fit bed-side. It also fits in a nook by my desk, next to the dining table, or in the small hall by the kitchen counter. The flat end tucks nicely against a wall, counter, table, or bed. And underneath the adjustable mattress base is plenty of room for more storage or a pet bed.

Baby Bay Bassinet’s Small Footprint

When I say small footprint, I am referring to the carbon kind. The bassinets are made in Germany. They are constructed with solid beechwood that is naturally anti-bacterial. Sourced ethically, the wood remains untreated, making it safe for baby. The company also provides organic jersey sheets and takes pride that their products are manufactured responsibly.

More importantly, the bassinets are upcyclable. Meaning, there are all sorts of ways in which to turn this bassinet into alternative furniture once it is outgrown. Unlike other bassinets that remain just that, this one is multi-functional! It converts to a larger crib if you place two bays together to form a rectangular crib. It can also double as a bench for little folk by removing the rail and lowering the base. Some mothers turned the bassinet into a work desk by removing the mattress and placing a seat at the end. Lower the mattress even more and it can turn into a pet bed. Or a doll bench. Or a toy ‘box’. I could also see it functioning as a coffee or bar cart. Entertain guests with this wheelable cocktail counter! Which brings me to my next point…

Baby Bay Bassinet’s Functionality

When it comes down to it, I chose this bassinet for its functionality. I’ve already given examples of its variability, but it doesn’t come close to its function. Since I plan to nurse as best I can, I wanted a bay that was bedside. Reason being, I want to avoid getting up in the middle of the night to walk to a crib, even one in the same room. Especially in those early weeks, I will be tired and recovering. However, I also knew that keeping the baby in our bed would cause anxiety in me, as I am such a sound sleeper! This bassinet gives baby a place to sleep safely while still being within arms reach for those nightly feedings. Having him bedside will allow me to bond and nurture, without having to physically go to him.

The first few nights after the hospital, one of my main priorities is rest. With the help of my husband (who can also position the bay next to his side of the bed), I will be able to recover while providing for my newborn. My husband has the task of waking him, changing him, burping him, and putting him back to sleep before and after each feeding. Since the bay can sit on either side of the bed, it doesn’t always have to be me, me, me. Therefore, Baby Bay gives back to mamas, too!

Rest assured of this bassinet’s safety. There’s a function that locks the bassinet into the base of parent’s beds. In a state like California where earthquakes are possible, that might be the bay’s selling point. I also liked that my baby would always be within arms reach, in case of emergencies. Lastly, I can peek over my side of the bed and make sure the baby is safely sleeping.

Life After Baby with Baby Bay

This bassinet has the option to add caster wheels, making it wheelable. The portability of the baby around the house gives us more flexibility. So many parents say that they can’t even shower or use the restroom because they’re too afraid to leave their baby alone. With Baby Bay, we can bring the baby close to the glass shower stall, where we can keep an eye. Actually, we can bring them anywhere in the home!

The wheels give me hope that, in due time, I will have a remote part of my previous life back. I don’t want to be a parent tied to a baby monitor, or hovering anxiously over a crib. But I also want to be near my baby. For those who say you cannot have the best of both worlds, I’d like to step up to the challenge and try.

Call it the stuff of dreams, but I would love to be put-putting around the kitchen, writing blog posts at a desk, entertaining guests on the balcony, or reading a book in the living room while still being a present mom. The saving grace of our small space is that there is a centric spot reserved for the bay wherein we can keep an eye from multiple rooms. Additionally, the living space is consolidated on the same floor. She may be small, but our space is mighty functional. I think that the Baby Bay bassinet provides solutions that mothers could only once dream of. This mum, anyway!

This post was sponsored by BabyBay USA. The minute I learned of them, I was enamored by what they were doing. All thoughts and opinions in this space are my own. I do my best in sourcing what I believe to be the best products for the personal values this blog represents. For those wishing to try BabyBay (highly recommend!), you can take advantage of my discount code SAMANTHA10 if you purchase on their site. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this space.

Maternity Beauty Must-Haves

Today we are talking beauty as it relates to pregnant persons. I, myself, have had my fair-share of feeling frumpy during pregnancy. Some days, I wake up and feel altogether BLEH. That’s absolutely normal and okay! There are, however, a few beauty routines that freshen me up and make me feel confident again. These routines aren’t meant to hide the fact that I am carrying another person. Rather, they help me glow in all my maternal glory. I’ve always kept a fairly minimalist beauty routine, but it has changed slightly during this time. Thankfully, I have honed in on my arsenal of maternity beauty must-haves, and wish to pass them along today.

As a side note, I truly believe that less is more in the beauty world. When hormones run amok, the last thing you want to lather on your already-inflamed skin are chemically-loaded creams and powders. This would be adding insult to injury. Yes, it could hide the symptoms temporarily, but it could also aggravate the situation. Plus, my goal is not to hide myself from the world. I want that which will allow me to face everyday with confidence. I attack generalized feelings of pregnancy “blah-ness” in three key areas: My gut, my face, and my body.

Maternity Beauty Must-Haves for the Gut

Photo by Ellie Ellien on Unsplash

It all begins with the gut. Holistic doctors have been touting this for years, and I think there is truth to it. The saying, “you are what you eat” didn’t come out of thin air. Personally, I have found that when I go through periods of eating unhealthy foods, my skin reacts with rashes, my body feels lethargic, and acne tends to appear out of thin air. I feel emotionally stressed, even without environmental stressors, which makes me believe my body is physically reacting to foods I am eating.

When it comes to feeling beautiful, you need to feed your body nutritional meals. This means eating a clean diet low in sugar, gluten, processed/frozen food, red meat, and yes, even caffeine. Clean eating is simply good hygiene. I see tremendous improvement whenever I do a week of clean eating. This is the first line of defense when my looks have gone down the way-side.

But there’s more than just eating well. One of my favorite ways to combat anything (sickness, inflammation, tiredness, overwhelm…) is to stay hydrated. I drink more than the recommended 8 cups of water a day. A tactic I use is to keep water within reach at all times. This Bink-Made Maternity bottle is helping moms stay on top of their hydration goals. I highly recommend!

I also like to take pre-natal vitamins and have been ingesting a daily dose of collagen for the last few years. My favorite collagen brand is this one from Thrive Market (affiliate link). I have recommended this brand of grass-fed collagen peptide to multiple friends and family members who have now become obsessed with the product! Of course, the beauty potions help too, which is why I want to address my favorite products for the face and body next.

Maternity Beauty Must-Haves for the Face

Photo by SUN STUDIO CREATIVE on Unsplash

In general, I choose naturally occurring oils and serums. Avoiding make-up is also something I do. My daily make-up routine during my pregnancy consists of Glossier’s lash stick (aff link) and a dehydrated eyebrow pomade from Merit called the Brow 1980 (aff link). I use the latter to tame brow hairs since I never shape, wax, thread, or do anything with my brows anyway. Once a month I’ll reach for additional make-up options, all of which are from the Merit Beauty line, for weddings or special occasions.

Instead of hiding behind powder, I stick to skin-replenishing routines. True Botanicals is my go-to brand, with Aesop not too far behind. My night-time routine involves a nourishing cleanser, a rich Chebula active serum, and a moisturizing eye cream. In the day-time, I turn to a light moisturizing face oil, more eye cream, and a bit of sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

On days when I feel especially pruney, I love to use True Botanical’s renew nutrient mist, which I carry with me on airplanes and car rides. For my pregnancy, I have switched to their calm nutrient mist as recommended by pregnant mothers, but I prefer the renew version and will likely switch back once I finish my bottle. I apply lip balm feverishly throughout the day as well. As a child, my lips were always bleeding and chapped. The habit of wearing lip balm has really saved me from those woes.

Maternity Beauty Must-Haves on the Body

Photo by Kadarius Seegars on Unsplash

On my body, I apply lotion when I wake up and after I shower. I also have been using a well-loved body oil on my belly. It is from the brand Rowsie Vain. They have a number of body oils and perfumes and I am enamored with her brand. Now, this isn’t scientific advice but I am currently at month eight and have somehow avoided stretch marks thus far! The cause of stretch marks have yet to be proven, but some theories include hormones (what doesn’t?), rapid growth that doesn’t give skin enough time to stretch, and thin skin wherein the collagen fibers break down due to stretching. I have already mentioned that I have been taking my beloved collagen for a year, and that I stay hydrated. But the belly oil is one thing I won’t stop doing, because I think it helps! Lastly, and this is bordering on the superfluous, this sugar exfoliating body scrub does wonders for my skin!

A Note on Brand Loyalty

I don’t stray too far from my tried-and-true favorites: True Botanicals, Aesop, Merit and Glossier. Everyone is different, but I do recommend finding a handful of brands that you LOVE and sticking with them. Our bodies suffer when we use multiple products and exchange them frequently. Allow your body and skin to get used to something, and then stick with it.

Of course, nothing beats sunshine, exercise, meditation and a good night’s rest!

For all my mama’s out there, let me know what you’ve grown to love! I am looking for post-partum products, too!

Curated Wardrobes: Maternity Clothes

Moons have passed since I’ve spoken about curating wardrobes, but I figure maternity clothes deserved a spotlight. The thing I miss most during this entire pregnancy isn’t the weekly tuna sandwiches or the cups of foregone coffee, but the ability to wear jeans on any given day. When it comes to getting dressed, I have (pre-pregnancy) mastered a formula that has simplified my routine, limited my wardrobe, and made me feel good. In general, it followed the guidelines of black tee, comfy jeans, one of two jackets, and a pair of Birkenstocks. Since getting pregnant, I’ve broken my reliable Birks, outgrew tiny black tees, and no longer fit in my jeans. Thank the heavens for maternity clothes.

Futile Resistance

When I first began my pregnancy journey, I was dubious as to whether I would actually need maternity clothes (HAH!). I didn’t announce my pregnancy until my fifth month. Even then, people were shocked to learn the news. At least, they acted like it (Thank you). Perhaps the yoga teacher training that I was taking during months 2 to 5 kept me in shape. Or the Turkey Trot I ran in month 4 shed some pounds. It was eventually replaced by a whole lotta turkey that very same evening. Eventually, my disillusion wore away, as my belly expanded over the holiday season where baby ran amok with his own holiday feast.

I didn’t upgrade my clothes until month five. I am fortunate to have a tiny frame, which also means that regular clothes have a boxy, loose fit on me. The years have taught me how to rock-it with my shapeless, petite figure. In the end, loose-fitting clothes served me well, as they transitioned into ever-tighter fitting maternity clothes. But for the majority of them, the fit was comically wrong in certain places. My clothes rode up, sagged down, or somehow achieved both in the same day.

I had resolve to resist buying clothes that would serve me for only a few months. It seemed wasteful from a monetary and environmental standpoint. I thought about buying ‘regular’ clothes in the form of flowy dresses or loose jumpers that would be wearable even after baby entered the real world. But alas, I can’t live life in flowy dresses all the time! The first person to buy me maternity clothes was my husband for Christmas, after seeing my confidence wane. When I succumbed to the pressures of a growing belly, I compromised by committing to my usual standards: neutral colors, versatile cuts, and only a handful of them. If I had to cave, it would be on my own terms.

After wearing maternity clothes for a few months, I have to say it’s definitely worth it. I wouldn’t have guessed to grow as much as I did, but the babe will gain half a pound per week towards the last few weeks. As in, there’s still a long way to grow.

Curating Wardrobes: Maternity Clothes

A gal can go crazy with maternity clothes. I mean, I never knew I had body image issues until I became pregnant. Mostly, because I had no body to be conscious of in the first place. But once I started growing, I realized how one could fall down a rabbit-hole of buying maternity clothes that make them feel (and look) good.

Some women swear they love their figures during pregnancy. I find this bolus in the middle of my body difficult to man-handle. Read as: this is all quite frustrating for me. My bowling ball belly prevents me from bending over my patients or getting close enough to them to work. It prevents me from doing my usual exercise routines. Like trying yoga inversions without toppling over, doing a push-up without scraping the floor, sitting up with no core to speak of, or even walking up the stairs with twenty extra pounds to carry. Even picking up dog poop on my dog walks became challenging.

For me, function mattered most, but there was the issue of appearance too. There were maternity clothes that saved me, and then there were maternity clothes that were beautiful and gifted to me by those who knew I wouldn’t allow myself to buy them. Meaning, the former ones allowed me to feel like myself and live life as normally as possible while the latter made me feel comfortable and confident. I’ll separate the lists into such categories.

Maternity Clothes That Saved Me

  • FIGS Maternity Scrub Pants: These are so comfortable to wear! My co-workers have been lending me their regular scrubs as I got bigger and bigger. One lent me an XS in month 6 and now I am outgrowing another co-worker’s size S at month 8. I’ve already requested to borrow a medium for my final month of work! But I did buy ONE pair of black Maternity Yola Skinny Pant and they have grown with me from month 5 until now. I know it will last me during the entirety of my pregnancy, and unlike sizing up in regular sizes, the maternity pants fit in all the right places, all the right ways. If you are early on in your pregnancy and working in health-care more than a few days a week, I would get these pants for work. Seriously, it was the best purchase for me.
  • FIGS Rafaela Oversized Scrub Top: These tops are NOT the FIGS maternity tops. I purchased a maternity top from the company but the cut was all wrong. For starters, the maternity top was way too long! It went to my knees (quite literally), which also says something about my height. And it wasn’t exactly that flowy. I didn’t want a belly that stuck out too much while I was working. Luckily, I already owned a few Mandarin Tops from FIGS and my usual XXS size has lasted me thus far (8 months). In fact, the fit is SO GOOD that a majority of my patients have no idea I am even pregnant. Seriously. The length hits right, and the flowiness covers my bump completely. I am happy that I owned these before, and can still use them after my pregnancy. It is the most versatile scrub top for women.
  • Beyond Yoga Leggings: Towards the end of my yoga teacher training, I was still trying to squeeze into my size 0 Lululemon pants. I have since sold them on Poshmark because they’ve started to look like pants that would fit my baby better than myself, and I heard that our bone structure changes after birth anyway. But what I did do is trade them in for Beyond Yoga’s Maternity Leggings. I have owned Beyond Yoga before and would go so far as to say that they are the softest, most comfortable leggings on the planet. So I knew that their maternity line had to be the same, and comfort is key. The stretchy belly band really molds to your growing baby. I wore these to my final yoga sessions religiously.
  • Eileen Fisher dresses and rompers: I already owned a number of dresses and rompers from the brand Eileen Fisher. I can attest to the fact that these looked good on me pre-pregnancy and served me well during pregnancy too! The cuts of EF are boxy and looser-fitting than other brands, and this brand is the only one that lasted me the full eight months without an upgrade. I think it’s worth a mention, as it saved not only me, but my wallet too!
  • Oysho: I fell in love with this Spanish active brand when I went to visit my sister in Madrid. So when my parents went to Spain this year, it was all I asked for! Oysho has a minimalist MUM section, from which I got some leggings and biker shorts. My sister also gifted me a loose-fitting pajama set that I have been wearing during the day, too! They ship to the US and are worth a gander. I like all their products, so even if you weren’t searching for maternity clothes at this very moment, you’ll find great active and lounge wear on their site.
  • Old Navy Basic Tees: I got a pair of long sleeve V-neck tees that I wear all the time! They come in black and white. If I was working in an office, I would have bought five or six of these tees and one pair of maternity denim jeans. That would have been my daily attire. Old Navy is a great source for cheap maternity wear. But because they aren’t high on the sustainability charts, I only opted to nab a few.

Maternity Clothes That Look Great

  • Nesting Olive House Dresses: This house dress isn’t your old-school, boring duster. I was gifted a Nesting Olive House dress to try and I have to say that it is versatile, cute, comfortable, and seriously so useful! I literally can wear this for days on end, no matter what I am doing. I have worn them as pajamas, to lounge around the house, to do chores in, and even to run errands. When I have my periodic melt-down about not knowing what to wear to dinner with friends, my husband always suggests the Nesting Olive House Dress because he knows I can eat to my heart’s content without feeling constricted, and he knows I feel confident in it. That’s a game-changer for all maternity peeps! You can find my Instagram review of this dress here.
  • Vuori’s Alpine Sherpa Jacket: My parents gifted me this jacket in size XS for Christmas. I am pleasantly surprised to report that it fits really comfortable and hides my growing belly! The boxy cut is flattering, and I can wear these with my maternity yoga leggings from Beyond Yoga and Oysho. I literally have worn this jacket every day since receiving it. It is warm, comfy, and really utilitarian. Just my vibe! I own it in the Olive Green color which is sold out, but this one is a very similar jacket.
  • Isabella Oliver: My husband gifted me these 100% responsibly sourced, European made, zero-plastic packaged maternity clothes and I love it! The cuts are made for taller European figures, but I don’t even care. These were so comfortable around the waist that I have lounged in them for hours on my days off. Many a blog post was written and books read.

Now you may be wondering, where’s the rest?? But that’s all I invested in! If I had deeper pockets, or a less strict environmental conscience, or more room in my home, I might have been willing to try buy more options. For example, this Storq dress would have been lovely. And I was curious about Hatch’s maternity jeans (did I mention I REALLY miss my jeans?). I also would have loved to snag a Jenni Kayne cardigan. I probably would have felt cool in her over-sized poplin shirt as well. However, how much does cool factor really count?

Going down a rabbit-hole of buying more clothes wasn’t going to change the way my body looked, or improve my lifestyle one bit. It wasn’t going to help set us up for financial success, or allow us to spend more time with the baby once he arrives. The clothes would have been temporary fixes to a problem that is centered around vanity. For those reasons, I couldn’t get myself to buy more than the basics.

This post was written with the very best brands in mind. I hope this post helps point you in a few right directions. But I also hope it serves as a reminder that you don’t need to buy them all. Yes, some days you will wake up feeling VERY PREGNANT. For those days, pick a few good staple items to act as your best friend. But for the rest, make do, get by, and keep on keeping on. The baby will not care one iota what you look like in the photos, I promise.

Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

Family Growth in a Tiny Home

I suppose I wasn’t surprised when concerned friends and family started inquiring about what we were going to do with our living situation once the baby arrives. One of the first questions Mike’s mom asked was, “Where do you expect to put your baby? Surely not the downstairs bedroom?!”. My own mom piped in presumptuously, “Eventually you’ll need to move into a bigger house.” Mike’s dad was more concerned about how we were going to fit “all their stuff” in one room. Only my father offered to help move furniture around. But I’ve had my fair share of tiny spaces and fielding questions and comments on living in such. And we’ve decided as a couple to do as we always do, and make family growth work in our tiny home.

A history of tiny dwellings

It seems humorous to us that our own parents voiced concerns. We both grew up in tiny spaces. Mike lived in a two bedroom apartment with his dad and sister until college. He shared a room with his sister during childhood, and then with his dad in his teen years until his sister left for college when he was 17 years old. Apart from his senior year in high school, he essentially shared a room with someone until he graduated college. After which, he moved into a house with his buddies and upgraded his room to a garage. Absolute freedom.

My own story was similar. I moved ten times before high-school. While we sometimes lived in houses big enough to have our own rooms, we also lived in two bedroom apartments (thrice!). For six months we stayed at a one-bedroom Extended Stay America. The most cramped memory was when we immigrated to the United States. For about a month, all five of us slept in my father’s co-worker’s office space. My mom, dad, and brother shared a full-sized bed while my sister and I slept on the sliver of a floor between the bed and the computer desk. We weren’t even allowed to roam outside of the bedroom except for the few hours that the owner was away at work. My brother co-habited in my parent’s bedroom until he was three years old. And my sister and I definitely had our fair share of sharing spaces.

Our current tiny home

This may sound silly, but I realize that Mike and I have chosen tinier and tinier spaces. In the end, we kept arriving to the conclusion that less is more. Our first loft together was 1,595 square feet, which we rented the first year and a half of our marriage. The second loft which we purchased was 1,500 square feet. Comparable in size, but with a larger footprint downstairs, which we rented out. So our living space was slightly reduced to under 1,000 square feet. When our roommate left, we sold that property and sized down even further. Our current tiny home is 1,318 square feet. Similar to our first two lofts, this one has the secondary bedroom downstairs.

We live in a tiny home. That much is undeniable. However, I don’t find that as problematic for family growth as the layout. A split-level townhome (described as an ideal bachelor pad by a neighbor-mom who also lives in the same floor plan) isn’t exactly conducive for family living in the traditional sense. The upstairs space is about 900 square feet (or less?) comprised of the living area and the master bedroom.

My gripe is with the second bedroom. Located on the first floor, it has a tiny stand-up shower in the bathroom and is positioned right next to the front door and the garage. The walkway to neighboring townhomes looks directly into the second bedroom. As a parent, I may worry about being on a separate floor, in case of emergencies. I also wonder if it’s bad that a stranger passing by would be geographically closer to the baby than we would. The solution may be to move the nursery upstairs.

Deciding on Family Growth in a Tiny Home

In the grand scheme of raising humans, I still find this banter on how tiny a home is to be quite frivolous. In the end, we have decided to stay, for now. I have found a solution by way of a bassinet on casters that would solve for the “where to put the baby” problem. Call it stubbornness, but I find the challenge to be endearing. I’d like to rise up with creative ways to exist in our current situation.

Expansion is the American dream. The solution for most people is to buy more stuff. Quick fixes solve problems, yes, but only for a quick amount of time. Mindset shifts, which take much longer, could result in more permanent solutions. We’ve spent the past six years of our married life finding ways to cut back – whether it be on waste, spending, stuff, to-do lists, social norms, expectations or space. These more permanent solutions are what yield the temporary one for our family growth in a tiny home dilemma.

Since we’ve always wanted to dabble in real estate, we have the fall-back option of buying a bigger space and renting this one out. However, like all else in life, I want to see what ‘staying and seeing’ yields. At the very least, I want to wait until the baby arrives to see what lifestyle we want to lead. Will we both work part-time and parent part-time? Will we resume our previous career schedules and make the same amount of money? Or will we value this tiny home as a means to stay close with our child, both geographically and because we don’t have to work and be away as much?

I have found peace with our decision in the mothers before me who have navigated similar terrain.

  • Erin Boyle managed family growth in a tiny New York 500 sq. foot apartment which she called home until her third babe was born.
  • Alison Mazurek lived with a baby (and then two…) in a 600 square foot apartment in Canada until past toddlerhood.
  • Our neighbor Leah is raising her son in the same townhome layout as ours, and he is thriving.
  • My own mother managed three wild children in a co-workers bedroom.

At the end of the day, I’ve landed on the same conclusion as when we adopted our cat Theo: There is always room for loved one. Family growth will be just fine in a tiny home.

Earn Money: EV Tax Rebate of $7,500

Last year, we upgraded my reliable Scion XB of 15 years to an electric vehicle. It was during a time when my wallet was taking a hit from insanely rising gas prices. The six months since then has made many of us forget the outrage, but there it sits on the wings. I am glad to have made the change, as we have community charging stations in our neighborhood that fills up my batt for free. It also helps that my husband works at an EV car company and can charge for free at work. Of course, he opts to stay at home and not drive at all whenever possible. But most pleasantly, there is an EV tax rebate for purchased new EV vehicles in 2022 by way of $7,500. If you think the gas I saved was chump-change, this may have you considering EV options for 2023.

A word on saving gas money:

I have always been one to temper our budget around gas. I have written about nixing my commute, and choosing to live where you can walk to work, school, or the supermarket. Our first home had a walk score of 98. I walked to the restaurants and coffee shops that I delivered bread to for my bakery, to the dental office I worked at, as well as the post-office, library, courthouse, and super market.

I dislike wasting gas money so much that we moved homes when I switched jobs that included a 30-mile commute. It’s not something regular people do. But with my husband working from home, we traded our first home for one two miles away from work. Of course, we also traded away the supermarket and the post-office. But with this post-pandemic way of life, we opted for a farm, citrus groves, swimming pools, and hiking trails. Don’t be fooled, as we also have a coffee shop and a brewery/winery less than half-a-mile from our front door. Instead of baking bread for restaurants and coffee shops, I started a dog-walking business that has become a reliable side hustle.

Now with an EV, we primarily use the one vehicle and pay $0 for gas. For reference, prior to making the move, we were spending almost $500 a month on gas. That arguably is the equivalent of a car payment.

I do miss my Scion though. It was a reliable fellow, and we had tons of memories from my formative twenties. I ended up selling my Scion to a dental assistant’s in-laws for a great deal. Whenever I wonder if it was a mistake, I think of the savings we made switching to an EV, and the hassle of storing an extra car outdoors where it will surely depreciate in value. I was lucky to have sold it when used vehicles were scarce, and the market for them at an all-time high. When in doubt, decluttering has been a standard I go by, one that has served me well.

How to Get the EV Tax Rebate

So on to the important information about getting this tax rebate. It’s as simple as filling out a form. First, you need to check out the qualifications for receiving credit if you purchased a vehicle in 2022. If you do qualify, head to this page and print out Form 8936. If you wish to consider buying a used EV vehicle in 2023, there is still a chance that you can receive credit. However the qualification requirements are more difficult to achieve and the rebate is less. You can check out information on used clean vehicle credit here.

As I said in the beginning, $7,500 is a huge incentive. We also installed solar panels on the roof of our new home at the beginning of the year which comes with its own 30% incentive (for the next tax year). However, it is nowhere near the price of the EV Tax rebate. The solar panel refund we expect to receive is around $4-5k. Now I understand that not everyone lives in a neighborhood with free EV chargers, or has a family member working for an EV company. In which case, I do highly recommend installing solar panels. I acknowledge that our particular circumstances are optimized for owning an EV, but even if yours are not, there are savings to be had!

Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash