ONE little MOMMA

What Day Is It?

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 SWEATER // PANTS (currently sold out, but these and these are similar) // SHOES // BAG // SUNNIES 

Although many of us have been second-guessing what season it really is (endless summer, anyone?), fall has finally arrived. The leaves are here to prove it, and I'm freaking out just a little bit as I look at the date on the calendar. Really? October 20? Are you kidding me? How?! 

That means I have a five-year-old turning six next week and an 11-month-old turning one just a few days later. And then comes Halloween, and then we start turning on the holidays at Nickel & Suede. Suddenly it's Thanksgiving and then Christmas, and wellthat all escalated really quickly. I'm definitely feeling like I'm on a slippery slope that will not stop until December 26. And I love it and I'm excited about it, but there is so much to do in that short amount of time. AKA, I see stress in my future. 

So what else to do but start making lists and planning ahead? I'm making lists of gifts to buy and traditions to plan ahead for. I'm scheduling in family outings and family time because otherwise things just get busy. I'm planning two birthday parties and buying extra cards and wrapping paper and wrapping supplies. Especially tape; there is never enough tape.

I'm also thinking ahead about holiday events that I will be attending from Thanksgiving to Christmas. This sweater from Nordstrom has my vote for all events where there will be food because it hides everything. "Yes, I'm supposed to look this fluffy. It's the sweater, not the pie." These pants are also current favorites because they can dress down something that is a little too sweet or neutralize a crazy top like this one. Nordstrom has so many great tops like this one (I'll be styling it next week) and this one (on sale!) that are perfect go-tos for your upcoming dressy-ish events. 

What are you doing to prepare for the impending storm of fun and craziness that surrounds the holidays? I'd love to hear your tips!

*Thank you Nordstrom for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own!

It Better Keep Getting Better


I got an email the other day that really sparked a few thoughts for me, and usually those kinds of thoughts end up coming out as a blog post. I'll share a little part of it.
"These last two nights I've been looking back in your blog at your first post and just your first  years of blogging."

This kind of an intro made me nervous. I first thought, "Oh no! What is she going to say? That I've changed? That she likes the old stuff better? That my old photos and content surprised her?" And then I kept reading, and what I found was such nice feedback that was exactly what I hope I'm doing every time I post something.

 "It's really inspiring and makes me feel hopeful. It's just nice to see where you started from and where you are now. It's not like you started out as an "amazing fashion blogger" and knew how to do it, what to wear, perfect pictures, shopped at Nordstrom, etc. It's cool to see your growth not only as a fashion blogger, but also your confidence in yourself. It gives me hope for myself and my personal growth."
Yes. I actually wore and posted this outfit.

She is totally right in that when I started blogging, I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't follow any fashion blogs or really any blogs at all. I learned everything I knew about blogging from a super successful craft blogger, so I didn't know the ins and outs of being a fashion blogger. As I got started, I realized that I liked sharing fashion more than crafts, and although I liked sharing personal things, I didn't really want to be a mommy blogger. So I worked on the skills of blogging, like photography and SEO and networking, and my little blog slowly started to grow. As I got better, more people were interested in seeing what I was putting out there. I shopped at thrift stores quite often, and Instagram was just gaining some ground. I didn't have a clue about helping other people shop or recommending items to actually buy. I just knew how to dress myself in my own way, and I had my three-year-old document it in real time.

Over time I studied more successful bloggers, I went to conferences, and I tried to improve on everything that I saw working for other people. I've redesigned my blog many times. I've gone from Easton taking my pictures to Soren to a professional photographer. I've gone from drafting and posting things in real time to sending them to an editor first. Instagram has changed from being behind-the-scenes real photos to a secondary mini-blog. I'm by no means a pro or a huge blogger or anything, but my blog has grown as I've made it better.

See? Better.

And as I look back at my blog, I can see the effect that blogging has had on me and my life. A lot of things have changed since I started just over four years ago. I've reached out of my comfort zone so many times. I've tried new things. I've put myself out there. I've learned and researched and worked to get better. My photos have gotten better. My writing has gotten better. I spend more money on clothes. I've learned how to not only enjoy the creative side of blogging, but also how to turn it into a secondary income for us. We've started a business, and I've used blogging knowledge to grow that business. We've shared the addition of two kids to our family plus the heartache of having a miscarriage. I've learned more about myself, and I've gotten more comfortable in my own skin. I've met other like-minded women and been in touch with so many of you in many ways.

I blog for a lot of reasons. I love to write. I enjoy sharing style. I like helping people with styling and beauty. I love the community. But the first thing I tell people that I want to do is to inspire. I want to uplift anyone who reads my blog in any way that I can. I want to help others see what they are capable of and to make it easy for someone to try new things. I want to make a difference.

Things have changed here at OLM and inside of me, because I truly want to always be improving. And I want that to come through to anyone who reads it. I hope that our small, family-owned start of Nickel & Suede can be an inspiration to people someday. I hope people go back and see what a bad job I did at blogging in the beginning. And I hope that jump starts them to start something that they feel overwhelmed by. Because everybody starts somewhere, and it's that story of growth that I hope to share.

Thank you for the years of feedback, support, and love you've shown me. It's made all the difference!

A Cold Weather Essential

Thanks to Koolaburra by UGG for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Photo credit - Sarah Sweeney
My favorite kind of mornings are when the crisp temps set in, and it's a struggle to get out of bed because the house is chilly and dark. On those days, as soon as my feet hit the floor, I'm anxious to slip on something cozy on my feet. Those boots or slippers usually stay on for the first few hours of they day - including during a trip to the bus stop, while I start a load of laundry, and as I get littles out of bed and dressed. They are definitely a fall and winter essential for me. I've tried many kinds of slippers and boots over the last few years, and I've found I definitely prefer a low boot. But it's got to be cute and something I want to wear, plus it has to be made of the right stuff or else my feet sweat and aren't comfortable.  

So when the new brand, Koolaburra by UGG, reached out to me I was excited to try them out. They asked me to pick out a pair of their sherling boots and try them out. I'm still on a fringe kick and hadn't picked up new boots this year, so I was immediately drawn to the Women's Cable Boots. And I'm loving them! I've been wearing them all over the house, and we've even had a few mornings and evenings that have required them. These have a combination of plush sheepskin, faux fur, and a cushioning Thinsulate sock liner. Sounds cozy, right? Plus I love that they are easy to wear out and about. They have several other classic boot styles like this one and this one if you are on the hunt for new cozy boots this year too.

10 Years of Work


Soren: TOP // PANTS // SHOES

This last month was a big one. I turned 30 and we had our ten-year anniversary. I'll have a recap on my birthday soon, but today I've got marriage on my mind. It's hard to believe how fast and how slow ten years can go.
We got married when I was still a baby (just barely 20), and Soren was almost 25. At the time I knew I was young, but besides college, getting married was next on my list. We had met in 2005, but hadn't started dating until 2006, and after we started dating, we got married really quickly. It was a pretty instant feeling of "You are the one for me." I'll have to share our love story one of these days, but today I'm actually going to share the tough part instead.
I've said more than once around here that our first seven years were really hard. And those seven years overlapped with the start of this blog, so for readers who have been with me since the beginning, you might remember me talking about marital struggles. One reader even said she wished I wouldn't talk about it so much because it made her sad. :( I didn't think I talked about it that much, but I was honest to some degree about not getting along well enough for fun date nights or having a terrible time when we did try to go on one. 
I don't remember everything about the rough times because we've had at least three solid good years where things have gotten better and better. And Soren told me last night that he doesn't remember things ever being bad, he just remembers them as the way they are now. (Eye roll.)  Okay, so I remember things being really hard, and I think that my growth is what has changed a lot of those things for me. And his growth too, because we have both changed in the last ten years. 
So a follower asked me the other day what made the first part of marriage so hard for us, and I think I've figured some of it out. I'm far enough away from it now that I think I can rationally look at things and see what the struggle was. And the reason we had such a hard time was because of how different we are. We are really, really different. 
When we were dating, we could see that we had the most important things in common. We both shared the same faith and the same long-term goals when it came to family, family life, and the kind of marriage we wanted. What we didn't have in common was how we approach struggles, how we disagree, how we face challenges, how we react, or pretty much anything that you deal with day to day. We have different interests, different talents, and different weaknesses. And not only that, his talents were/are my weaknesses and vice versa. We both really liked the good things about ourselves, which happened to be the things the other person was lacking. We were constantly seeing the other person's shortcomings in things that came easily to us. Soren also tends to be really honest and blunt, whereas I stuffed things and raged on the inside. It was a bad combination. We were both really unrefined when it came to working with someone else who had exactly what we were missing. 
As single people, we were successful all day long! He was super athletic and friendly and smart. He excelled in his classes, and everyone loved him. I was super organized and scheduled and accomplished. We both worked through school and were thrifty and hustled to achieve our goals. But as we got to know each other more and more after we were married, we started to see that the reasons we were each successful on our own were not the same. Operating as married people was very different from the single life!
Because we didn't communicate the same way or really operate the same way, we struggled to get along from day one. He had a low tolerance for some of the ways I did things, and I got really hurt by the smallest amount of honesty or sharpness coming from him. We were just so out of sync for so long. We tried counseling a little bit before we left college, but the first improvement there came from me going to eating disorder counseling on my own. I had not worked through or grown out of a lot of the insecurities or struggles I had from my teenage years, and those definitely caused us to struggle more. 
We moved to Seattle after college, and things really got a lot worse and slightly better while we were there. They got better because our first little guy, Easton, was born, and he gave us our first common love. We both loved him, and it felt great to finally have something in common. We also started One Little Belt, which gave us something else in common. But things also got worse because I got really depressed while we were there. Being in a new place with a husband who worked a ton and who I didn't get along with even when he was home was hard. Put having few friends, lots of rain and constant cloudiness on top of it all, and I can say I wasn't myself. I REALLY struggled and legit was crazy some days. Props to Soren for sticking it out then. I know I was tough to live with. 
We didn't stay in Seatttle long because the future didn't look bright there. A change needed to happen, so we looked at moving to the Midwest to be near family and to have a chance at an affordable house. We were still arguing frequently, and I was still getting my feelings hurt regularly. I didn't forgive easily, so at that point Soren was just in the dog house constantly. He wasn't happy, but I was miserable. 
We started marriage counseling again, and with the right counselor at the right time, things started to change. I knew divorce wasn't an option, if anything because of my kids, which I admit wasn't a great place to be working from. Soren wasn't a bad guy, I just didn't know how to love him anymore. But my kids loved their dad, and what I wanted most was for us to be a happy family and the awesome power couple that I had once thought we would be. It looked pretty hopeless to me, but it was so confusing as to why. Why were we in this place? Why didn't we get along if we were both so awesome on our own? Soren was frustrated that I wasn't 100% committed, and I was just so shocked that things were so hard. Hope was abundantly lacking at that time in my life. 
In the few years that we went to counseling, things started to shift. I was finally growing up and starting to be humble enough to forgive, and Soren was softening his words. As I forgave him and learned to understand what he meant and not what or how he said it, I could look past the roughness. My skin had to get a little thicker, but once it did, I could see that he wasn't out to hurt me. He was always trying to help me be my best me. His strengths were exactly what I needed to work on, and what better person to help me than him? His weaknesses were also what I could help him with, and together we could both help each other grow. That took a lot of humility. And it still does, every day.
Since starting Nickel & Suede, we have really been able to enjoy and appreciate each other's talents. He is so good at all of the things that I am not. And now I'm so glad for it! He can solve problems and make business decisions and handle tough situations in ways I can't. I can choose the colors and the styling and the creative things in ways that he doesn't understand, yet he trusts me completely. N&S couldn't grow as a business without both of our talents, and that has helped us realize how much that bleeds over into real life. 
Our kids are better for having parents with unique strengths. Our family as a unit is better. We are each constantly changing and adjusting because of things we learn from each other. Those things make life hard, but they make things better. 
I used to feel so stuck and so bugged at other couples who seemed to have an easy marriage and to be enjoying those early honeymoon years. And I wondered what was wrong with us. I think a lot of it was lessons that we hadn't each learned yet, but I really think it was because of our STRONG differences. Some people marry because they are so similar. They like the same things and have many of the same strengths. And that has GOT to be easier! But that's not what God had planned for us. He knew we both needed some polishing in different ways, and so He gave us each other. And if we didn't have the mutual faith in our marriage covenant, then I think we might have broken. It was a lot of pressure and enduring and stretching for those first years. 
Of course with kids and life and all of the normal busy-ness, we didn't actually get to do anything on the big day of our recent anniversary, but that was okay. Which in itself is a sign of where we are at. I didn't have high expectations of proof that we were happy at ten years because that proof shows up every day. We are still working on a lot of things, and life definitely gets in the way of our marriage all of the time. But we wake up every day committed and knowing the other person is doing their best. And there is no way I'd rather have it. 

Ten Tips for Growing Out a Pixie (and Staying Sane!)

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I've been rocking a pixie since December of 2014. And it's been a fun journey. I've learned so much about how to style short hair and how to take care of it. Over the last few months, you may have noticed my hair growing, little bit by little bit. I've decided to grow out my long pixie to more of a chin or mid-neck bob for now. I haven't decided what I want to do after that, but I know I need a little more hair to have more hair options open to me. Even as it's grown just a few inches, I've already had so much fun doing different things with my hair. And that is why I'm here today. 
Since I mentioned that I'm growing it out, I've heard from quite a few of you that you too are in the mullet/eww/gross growing-out phase. Well you aren't alone. I've been there and in some ways I'm still there, and I thought I'd share some of the ways I've been coping during this hair phase.
1. Pin back the front- in any way, shape or form. Whippy Cake recently grew her pixie out, and I got this tip from her. It really does work to save a rotten hair day. You can see the bottom layers and how they have grown without showing the lack of growth in the front. If you're like me, the back grows way faster than the front, so it's a constant mullet. 

2. Go in for trims and shaping. This is essential. You can't just stop getting it cut and expect it to look decent. If your hair was shaped for a pixie, it won't look good once it's no longer a pixie. I've still gone in every six to eight weeks since I started growing my hair just to have it shaped. She doesn't take much off, but she does take care of the mullet situation, and she shapes it to look like an intentional cut. Just be sure to tell your stylist that you are growing it out and that you know the back needs a trim while the front may not.

3. Get creative. I've found that with a pixie cut, my go-to look was straight and swept across my face. As I grow out my hair, wearing it down and straight isn't my best look. It's just not a cute shape for that. So I have been getting creative with braids, twists, tiny buns, and lots of bobby pins. If you follow me on IG, I've been trying to share videos of hair styling, and you can find them by searching the hashtag #OLMhair. 

4. Use curls or waves to hide a bad shape. If all else fails, add some texture to your hair with a flat iron or a curling wand. Usually curls will hide a lot of problems with shape, and pinned back curls will do an even better job of that. I have been know to try wearing my hair down, then I end up curling it, and then I end up pinning those curls back after they turn out wonky. It happens to all of us. 

5. Wear hats. Hats are your friend. As long as you have some kind of long bang you can show in the front, wear a cute felt fedora this fall and let that hair grow out under its shade. Also try a headscarf. I have a tutorial on IG for tying a long skinny scarf as a headscarf, and it works great to cover up a weird hair day.

6. Take your vitamins and take good care of your hair. With short hair you get most of it cut off every couple of months anyway, so you always have new hair. But if you're growing it out, then you're keeping it. I stopped bleaching my ends as soon as I knew I was growing it out because I didn't want to fry the hair that I was so desperately trying to grow. Use a hair mask every few weeks, wash only twice a week, and go easy on the heat.

7. Change up the color. I know I just said to not fry your hair, but I do think a careful color job can make you fall back in love with your hair. I recently went darker with mine, and it's been a nice change while I wait and wait and wait and wait for it to grow.

8. Try a different part. As I've been growing my hair, I've tried more of a flipped part (think 90s), and that has been a fun way to change it up. My hair isn't long enough for a center part, but yours might be.

9. Stop thinking about it. There have been a lot of days in the last few months where I just didn't even think about my hair. I dry shampooed it, teased it a little, and tucked it behind my ears. It won't grow while you're watching it, so just try and forget about the hair and focus on something else.

10. Own it. Most of feeling confident is owning it. There are women out there who are cutting their hair, on purpose, to the length that yours is currently. Someone wants the cut you have. It just feels like a hack job to you because you don't want it anymore. So get creative, do your best, and own it.

If you've been through this process before, what helped you? Any other great tips you have to share?

Stitch Fix for Soren

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Thanks for Stitch Fix for sponsoring this post. It's a treat to be able to work with brands that I'd be first in line to support either way. As always opinions are all mine!

Soren's clothing- Stitch Fix for Men
PC: Sarah Sweeney
Recently Soren and I got to trade places a bit, and I at least had a lot of fun with it. He tagged along with me to a blog post photo shoot, and we put the camera on him for a change. He was a little less than excited about the picture taking, but I know he felt good in what he was wearing. And what clothes is he wearing, you ask? Stitch Fix for Men! Did you know there was such a thing?!
When I heard the news that Stitch Fix was going to be offering a subscription service for men, I was so excited. I think wives everywhere must have rejoiced! Talk about a home run. If your husband is like my husband, a box of well-curated, quality, stylish clothes showing up monthly is EXACTLY what he needs. Otherwise those kinds of pieces will never enter his closet. Ever.
 I immediately thought of Soren because he NEVER buys new clothes, and he recently did a major closet clean-out. Every few years we have to buy him an entire new wardrobe because he either gets a new job or hasn't shopped for clothing since the last time we overhauled his wardrobe. It's such a pain, and we never quite get it right. I'm a pro at buying my own clothes, but I haven't quite found my stride on picking things out for him. He and I have both been frustrated with his wardrobe offerings for some time now, and he has desperately been needing clothes for work events, date nights, family pictures, and just life outside of the N&S workshop. 
Honestly, for the past year, if we were going anywhere where he needed to look presentable, we would literally buy him something new to wear on our way there. I'm not kidding. 
Enter Stitch Fix for Men. It was exactly what we were hoping would save us, and it was a no-brainer for us to try it out. 
To get started, we filled out his style profile together, and I think we were both surprised at how easy it was to pick out his preferences. There were a lot of great options. I also added a note to his stylist about some specific items that I knew he needed - like a great basic tee that wouldn't stretch out at the neck. We hit subscribe, and his fix came within a few weeks. 
When it came in the mail, I'm not sure who was more excited to open it. I almost peeked at it before he got home, but I didn't, and he was happy to open it as soon as he walked in the door. He tried everything on, and my first impression was how well everything fit! Each piece was cut well to make him look his best. He did a great job at having an open mind and was overall really pleased with what came! He ended up keeping three of the five items, and to us, that definitely equaled success! My favorite piece might be the brown chinos or the gray henley - or maybe both of them together. :) 
We're both already looking forward to his next fix, and I'll keep you posted on how it goes. If you were wondering, I'm still receiving my monthly fix, and I just got the most amazing shearling vest last week. I try to keep just one item per fix that I can't find anywhere else, and I really enjoy the surprise on my doorstop too. 
If your husband has similar problems to Soren, I highly suggest this service for him. It's a fun thing to do together and it really couldn't make shopping for him any easier.