Thursday, December 19, 2019

Holiday Christmas Cards

Back in July I had a greeting card company, basic invite, reach out to me to see if I wanted to work with them. Most of you know that I want to stay true to my brand and only post about companies and brands that I want to work with and would use or do use. In July I wasn't really thinking about holiday cards, but told them to keep me in mind if they wanted to work together closer to Christmas. As a photographer, I am always looking for companies to recommend to my clients.

Fast forward to two weeks ago and they reached back out. I was eager to see what the cards would look like and what the benefits of this brand compared to others would be. I also waited to agree to do this post until I knew for sure it was a quality product that I would use. 

Basic invite is a greeting card company that allows you to customize the greeting cards which is a HUGE advantage for me and one of the reasons that I was so excited to order cards from this company and work with them. When I plan a session I do it based on the styling of the shoot. I usually have in mind colors, location, etc. When I have tried to order holiday picture cards in the past, unless I knew which cards I was going to order ahead of time, a lot of the ones I liked the best I couldn't use because they didn't work with the colors in my photos. Basic invite has 180 colors to customize your card with and 3 foil colors that can be raised or flat on the card. You can preview your card while creating it online with all the different color options to make sure you like the fit. I absolutely loved playing around with all the options and finding the best fit for my cards. They also offer pages and pages of different card options. 

Along with customizing the greeting cards you can chose from 40 different envelope colors. The envelopes are all peel and stick so they can easily be closed. They also offer an address capturing service that allows you to request friend's and family's addresses over social media. The addresses are stored in the account and can be selected when designing the cards. Address printing is offered at no additional cost. This is a huge time saver especially if you have a large family or are a company looking to send to clients. 

If you are still unsure or want to make sure the quality and colors are perfect before placing an order they also offer samples. I ordered samples of 4 different styles with 4 different photos to check the quality and colors before I even did this post. They all came back beautiful and exactly how they appeared when I was done customizing them.

If you are interested in checking out their selection of 2019 Christmas cards or 
office Christmas party invitations click the links and they are currently offering 15% off with code 15FF51.

**Thank you basic invite for sponsoring this post, all opinions are my own**

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thanksgiving/ Black Friday Sales

I have been getting questions about sales and trying to put together a list of some of my favorite places to shop during the holiday sales. Some of the sales have started and some have not. I am speculating on the sales they have run in the past for what will be offered but most have been these same deals for years.

J Crew 50% off and 60% off sale:

J Crew Factory 60% off:

Abercrombie 50% off and free shipping:

Abercrombie Kids 40% off and free shipping:

American Eagle 40% off and free shipping:

Target :


Zara usually does 30% off sitewide:

Asos usually does 20% off sitewide:

Missguided 50% off:

Urban Outfitters Buy 1 get 1 50% off:

Old Navy 50% no exclusions and it appears some items have been restocked!:

Ssense Golden Goose Sneaker Sale:

Spiritual Gangster 40% off:

Amazon great deals on kindles, fire sticks, books, etc.:

Hopefully this list is helpful!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

LTK Day #4 Jcpenny

Today's sale is for a store that we regularly stop into when we are at the mall (maybe because it is one of the few left in that mall?!)

My original plan was to try and put together a few family holiday looks, but I wasn't able to find much left in my size. It seems like our local store is always picked over so I just let the girls pick out some of their favorite items. Besides the fancy dresses all the items were added to their Christmas lists.

Shop these looks through my profile (youngwidowedstylishmama) for extra savings today! or click the link on the top of this blog SHOP MY LOOKS to take you to these styles!

Monday, November 18, 2019


I didn't really post much about yesterday's sale because I am not really familiar with the brand. I did post what it was on my Instagram stories for those interested, but I wasn't comfortable giving recommendations, etc since I haven't used the products.

LTK Day #3 is one of my favorite stores! Anyone else add to wish list instead of to cart? I always have a wish list going strong on this site haha.

This is one of my favorite retailers because they carry petites and also wide fit in shoes. They were also one of the first retailers I came across that also carried maternity right after I had my girls and realized that there was a huge lack of cute maternity stuff.

Head over to the app to see shop today's deal or click the link on the top of this blog page (shop my looks) and it will take you to all these items to shop.

Check back tomorrow for the next deal....

Saturday, November 16, 2019

12 days of LTK--Day 1

If you haven't downloaded the app yet, you need to! It is the easiest way to shop and find products. Unlike Pinterest where you find the perfect outfit and click the link to only end up at a dead end, this takes you right to the product. It isn't just for fashion you can search home décor and products as well. You can follow your favorite influencers or just do a general scroll or by search terms. My name on the app is youngwidowedstylishmama so head over and give me a follow! I do make a small commission on the purchases made through the links and it also helps me know what people actually like and are clicking on that I post.

For the next 12 days LTK is going to have exclusive sales for people in the app. Today starts day 1 with one of my favorite stores from when the girls were little. They pretty much exclusively wore clothing from this brand. I couldn't get enough of the warm, cozy outfits.

Even today we still buy their pajamas. Lily is obsessed with one piece footed pajamas and this is one of the only brands that carries them.

Head over to the SHOP MY LOOKS tab on top of this blog page to take you to my page and shop all my picks as well as find out today's promotion for this brand or just hop over to the app!

Don't forget to stop by daily to see the other sales that are going to be going on!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Tartan love for the little lady

Nothing says "holiday time" to me more than tartan pattern. I love when families show up in this classic pattern for holiday photos. This pattern is timeless and classy. I love when it is mixed with furs and sequins. It can make for such great holiday photos.

I decided to link some of my favorite pieces for little girls in this post.  A few of the items my own girls own.

What is your favorite holiday pattern? Do you love or hate tartan?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Stomach Cancer Awareness Month

November is stomach cancer awareness month and I will never stop providing information to others in hopes that it helps save someone else from going through what our family did.

No one ever expects to hear cancer and now it seems more and more young people are being diagnosed. I often wonder why this is? Is it the power of social media and just hearing about it more? Is it the chemicals all around us? Whatever it is, I see news of people being diagnosed all the time.

When Ray was sick we didn't hear of stomach cancer. Everyone would hear about breast cancer, but stomach cancer was unknown (at least to us). If maybe we had known what the symptoms were, what it took to diagnosis it maybe we would have caught it earlier. Stomach cancer is usually not found until it is pretty progressed so it may not have mattered.

The one thing I tell everyone is be your own advocate. He went to doctor after doctor thinking they were doing what they needed to do, but not getting any better. Tests were being done and he continued to feel worse. If we had known what test needed to be done maybe it would have made a difference? So much time was wasted on unnecessary tests and drugs prescribed.

I can't bring Ray back but I can educate anyone that will listen and hopefully it reaches someone that needs to hear it.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Halloween Thoughts 2019

This Halloween was different in so many ways. The girls are getting older and it really makes me sad. Never take for granted the days that they are little. Both being in middle school meant no Halloween parties, although both dressed up for school. I was a room mom every year except Summer's 1st year so it was a bit sad not having to run out and get supplies for the parties or organize anything.

On Halloween we always do a little party at our house and then my sister, brother, their significant others, and my bil all take them trick-or-treating while I pass out candy. This year my brother and his wife were in Brazil and my parents were with them. Their Grandma also just got out of the hospital and was unable to come see them either. It just felt a little different.

I guess I am starting to dread the day that they no longer want to dress up or go trick-or-treating.

Summer's Costume: Clearance find when Party City closed

Lily's Costume is linked:

Monday, September 23, 2019

Happy 1st birthday to my blog!

I did it! The blog has made it a year. Have I had gaps in posting? Yep, but I still made it! I have accomplished so much in this year too. I started this blog as basically a creative outlet and to put into words some of what I went through with Ray's cancer journey. Most people have said I was never really verbal about what the journey was like and what we actually experienced. I have gotten countless messages from people thanking me for sharing and that it in some way helped them or touched their own life.

When Love What Matters printed my story I connected with so many people that have gone through the same journey or just wanted to show support. Through the story being published members of a group that all have the gene found me and invited me to join their online group and I have learned invaluable information from them. This in itself was worth writing this blog.

The outfit sharing is a creative outlet for me. I love to style outfits and shop to find cute things or great deals. I love to dress myself and my girls. This part of the blog is most fun for me. Writing the Widow Wednesday posts leave me in tears quite often (as I have heard it does to the readers as well) so these are the posts I can have fun with. From finding the outfit, to styling it, finding the perfect location to shoot, and then writing the post it is time consuming but something I enjoy doing.

A huge goal for any blogger is to become a Rewardstyle and/or Shopstyle blogger and I achieved both this year! I never in a million years expected to be accepted so it was a huge surprise to me, usually you need large follower numbers and I have a small following but very loyal. I have built this end of my blog by staying true to me and products I believe in and truly love. My next goal is to build this into something more people find and read and continue to support me through using my links to shop (yes, I make a small commission when you do!)

If you have been reading here since the beginning or anywhere in between...THANK YOU! You have pushed me outside my comfort zone to share things I wouldn't normally share and given me an outlet for my creativity.

Outfit linked below as well as similar shoes (mine are old)

Friday, September 20, 2019

In-between weather days

This time of the year is so hard to dress for. Cool in the morning and evening and hot during the day. Either I like to layer or wear outfits like this. This dress is so cozy, (if you haven't noticed a common theme to my outfits) it is a brushed fleece material.

I paired it with these wedge sandals that I have had for a few years to dress it up a little. I could easily have worn it with flats, mules, booties, or even tennis shoes. I linked a few pairs that look similar to the ones I have on. I love this style, the buckles up the front really give an outfit some character, that otherwise would be rather plain.

This bracelet is a HUGE steal. I ordered a few different ones from this retailer to try because although I love my Victoria Emerson one, it is expensive and broke. They have great customer service and sent me a new one, but I still was looking for another alternative. I have a few from this other retailer and I am impressed for the price.

This time of the year is my favorite though, so I am going to embrace the weather changes even if I have to change multiple times a day to keep up with the weather.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Widow Wednesday--Important support

I know a few weeks ago I did a whole post on the support from my WTE mom group. I wanted to touch on the support from my other friends. I don't want to call out specific people because no matter how big or small the help it is all remembered and appreciated.

So often I get asked, "What should I do for someone that is going through the same thing?" and honestly every person is different. Different people need different support while going through this. We were fortunate enough to have the help of family and friends when it came to things around the house or help watching the kids, etc. We had good medical insurance and didn't really incur any bills from his illness. We regularly received calls and texts asking what we needed. People would drop off food and send cards.

At the time I would hate people asking how I was doing, because I wasn't sick. Looking back I realize how important that was. I know I probably just said "fine", but opening that communication is important. No one can understand that role unless they are in it. I never wanted attention on me, as I said I was "fine" I wasn't sick.

After Ray died the people that included us for a sense of normalcy and to get us back out. I won't forget the friends that invited us out to eat with them, to events, etc. Some of these same friends have been through some things now and I have always felt bad that I haven't been able to support in the same way. That is one thing I have learned. I can help other widows and talk to them, support them, or people that are sick, but when someone has lost someone I can't seem to face it.

I had friends step up and put on fundraisers for the girls. I can't say how much this means. A big fear for me is always how to pay for potential medical bills they may one day have. That money is all tucked away for when they should need it.

I could probably make this a very long post with everything that was done and the support we received but just knowing I had people to lean on and give us a sense of a normal life back meant the world.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Widow Wednesday--Life Update

I know I said I would update on why I have been not posting as much and quite honestly I know it seems like to do a post all I have to do is sit down and do it or take a few pics and post but a lot of time and planning go into a post. My widow Wednesday posts can bring up a lot of feelings for me and can be emotionally draining at times. My outfit posts require time to put together the looks, find a location, shoot the looks, link the items, and finally write the posts.

My time lately was focused on the kid's last few weeks off of school. We took the trip to Niagara Falls kind of last minute after having a change in original plans and then when we came back I was dealing with the school.

I know I have posts about this and you can search my blog if you want to read them, but Ray was dyslexic and I believe both girls are as well. Since Kindergarten, they have shown signs. The short side of the story is they were tested in 3rd and 4th grade and neither showed a learning disability. When Lily entered 4th I had started a program on my own that showed success, as well as had researched a lot and knew it was dyslexia. After pushing she was retested (different measures were used) and qualified. Needless to say, not many in the schools even know what dyslexia is, yet statistics show 1 in 5 students have it, or what to do for a kid that does have it.

Lily entered a resource room class last year and made progress for the first time. I loved her teacher and her regular teacher, but before spring break her teacher went out on medical leave and the sub that was filling in wasn't there a lot because she was still in college. At this point she started complaining about going to school again, her grades were dropping, and her accommodations weren't being met. I had to contact the resource room teacher and explain.

Summer was retested again last year and again didn't qualify, but I had an issue with the testing and the results. I had a principal converse with me in ways that clearly showed he lacked knowledge in dyslexia and what a student that has it can achieve or will achieve and what it effects.

We went for middle school orientation and already things that were supposed to have been accommodated were not. I was then challenged about my concerns and again the conversation showed a lack in knowledge by the staff and I had had it.

I contacted the advocate who I had tried to reach before and she wanted to meet right away. We met and put in place a plan for both girls. This plan involves retesting Summer outside the school and also moving Lily districts. I didn't want to move Summer. This was such a hard decision to move her out of a school district she has been in since Kindergarten and friends she has grown up with. She seemed fine with the transition and I implemented the change of district.

Lily went to her old district for the first week of school and on Monday started the new one. She was really excited to go to the new school and I was for her. The staff was welcoming and the school seems much smaller and a better fit. She came home the first day crying and cried all last night and this morning. She complains the classes are too easy, yet the school said she tested as being in an even lower class. I am so conflicted on this change of schools and if this was a good move for her. I really feel like the districts don't know what to do with these kids that struggle with dyslexia. I think her reading and writing capabilities hinder her being able to show what she is really capable of.

I hope to be able to update this post in a few weeks with her progress as well as Summer's progress and where we are at with the districts.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Darker colors Fall Inspiration

I am back! Wednesday I will do an update post on what has been going on and why I have been missing on Instagram and the blog.

Today I wanted to share an outfit that I shot a while ago and haven't had a chance to post. Fall is by far my favorite season and I love the transitional fall weather. I love the cool mornings and evenings with the warmer afternoons. Sometimes it can be a challenge to dress for it and I just recommend layering!

Start with an easy base that you can add to and dress up or down. This dress is a great affordable find that can easily be layered. It can be worn with a leather jacket, cardigan, or sweatshirt over it.

I could also wear it with knee high boots, flats, booties, sandals, or even tennis shoes. I wore these fun Zara find from the sale to give it a pop of pattern. The Zara sale is over now but it is one of my favorite times to stock up on trendy pieces at a good price. These were under $15.

Below I will link the items that I have on and some other pieces that can be layered with this dress or shoes that would also go well!

Monday, August 19, 2019

End of Season Sales

I get asked all the time to share some of my shopping tricks. This is a big at the end of the season or off season. I get some of the best deals this way. Snow boots in July? Yes!!! My kids don't care if they are the prior season's stock. I score huge deals this way.

This dress is another example. I bought this at the end of the season last year at Target. I have actually bought quite a few things from Target this year with their new Wild Fable line, but before that I never shopped for myself at Target. I spotted a TON of this dress on the clearance racks. I grabbed one and tried it on and it was a perfect fit. Even the people in the fitting room and dressing room attendant all said this dress was made for me and I had to get it. I get compliments every time I wear it and the best part...I paid under $10 for it.

I am not much of a clearance shopper, but now I do head over and browse. You probably won't find me searching them unless I am looking for something specific. I tend to look for things that I can transition into the following season. Even though this is a summer dress the black color makes it something I would wear into the fall and even put a leather coat over.

This season star print has been huge too! I am glad I grabbed this when I did because it is on trend without breaking the bank.

Since I grabbed this last year I am going to link some other star print items that I love!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Widow Wednesday--9 Years

9 years. I can't believe it has been 9 years. For me the anniversaries of his death don't hit me as hard as the day he was diagnosed. Maybe being Christmas Eve and a holiday or maybe because when he died I finally felt he was at peace and not suffering anymore. I have always had a harder time with the anniversary of his diagnosis.

This year it fell on a Saturday, so we attended a memorial mass and dinner afterward. Normally, the girls and I will do something to remember him that day. Something he enjoyed to do or liked. This year it felt rushed with the mass. We made him a new flower for his vase and Lily and I took it to him on the way to mass. Of course this causes us issues almost every time. Not sure why I picked the top? It fell as I was trying to put it up and broke causing marbles to go all over (I use them to weigh it down). Lily was laughing and probably so was Ray. We ended up taking the old one apart and putting the new flowers in it and managed to get it up. It doesn't look great, but it is the thought that counts right?

Every year they say it gets easier, but it doesn't. You just learn to live with it and the hurt/hole. If you are a widow and reading this then you know no one understands the hole that this loss has left. Yes, other people miss this person but it is different for you. They continue with their lives, but it is a hole that can never be filled in yours. Even if you remarry this person will never be the father of your children or the person to fill all those hopes and dreams that you once made. No one else understands how your daily life is different, not just holidays etc.

Every year I think...Do I post about it on my Facebook and other social media? or do I quietly honor him on our own? Then I receive messages before I even make a post and think that I am sure others want to have a space to honor him too and remember him.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Widow Wednesday--WTE support

I came across the WTE website while pregnant with Summer and besides getting the weekly emails I never looked at the site. Fast forward to being a stay-at-home mom with a baby at home I had time on my hands and stumbled across their forums. I lurked for quite a while until I realized I had just gone through what most of the questions were asking since I was pregnant again so soon and was able to answer quite a few. I slowly started posting and recognizing names. After our June 08 babies were born we started a Facebook page to continue our group and it turned into more than just "baby advice/talk". We found our way onto friend's lists and now names had faces attached.

I will never forget when the mail started to arrive from this group at the end of Ray's life. Multiple members of the group across the US and even other counties began to send cards and messages. These were from people I had never met. The outpouring of support was overwhelming, some included messages and others included gift cards for things for the kids and I. We received gift cards to grab dinner, have a coffee, or even go do an activity. It was such an incredible gift for us to receive.

I remember after Ray died I was asked by a mom that was more local to me if I would meet for lunch at the mall. I remember being so nervous. I had been friends online with this person for years, but had never met.

When we met I was given baskets full of "things" for the girls and I. I was so overwhelmed once again by the thoughtfulness and overwhelming support. Till this day I still have the spray from one of the baskets and every time I spray it it makes me think of this group and the kindness the girls and I were shown. They somehow pulled off this surprise by making an alternate group online and coordinating it all. I am not a person that likes to show my feelings, especially in front of people I don't know and I remember having a hard time remaining composed.

Till this day I remain connected with this group and really think they played a huge part in me getting through this time. They have remained a constant support in the years since and I am happy to call them all friends.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Summer wet hair styles!

Summer is usually filled with vacations, beach, and pool days and easy hair is a must for this busy mama. Just easy wash and go styles are helpful since mine takes so long to dry and style. The last thing I want to do after getting back from the beach and taking a shower is to have to dry my hair for an hour so I can go to dinner. I worked in collaboration with Jeni from Kimi K Salon and Spa in Rochester, MI to put together some easy, wet hair styles. 

Style #1

This style can be worn with or without a hat and if you wear a hat you can make it even easier and just do normal braids on each side since the top isn't seen. This is probably the easiest and quickest of the styles if you chose to do just normal braids. If you are a little more talented you can do french braids like mine are in the photo. 
Romper c/o Boohoo last year

Style #2

I just love this style! I feel it is so easy and looks perfect for even an easy wedding hairstyle. To achieve this look my hair was sectioned into 3 sections. The back section was braided and secured into a low bun. The sides were then twisted and wrapped around the bun and secured. That was all there was to it! 

Style #3

This style takes under 5 mins! What?! Start by making low ponytail. Make a hole in the middle of the ponytail and pull the rest of the hair through the hole. A little further down put in another hair elastic to make another ponytail and repeat the steps (make a hole and pull loose hair through the hole). Continue for length of the hair. We added a decorative hair tie to the bottom to give it a little extra.

Style #4

This one only sounds complicated and requires quite a few hair ties, but again can be completed fairly quickly. Start by pulling the top section into a hair tie and secure. The small pony that you made divide in half and pull each side under another section a few inches down and secure under that section as one piece with a hair tie. The pieces you separated will be one again in the hair tie. Continue with the remainder of hair. After the hair is all secured you can pull the pieces to separate them a little more. 

All these styles were completed very quickly and with wet hair! Thanks again to Jeni from Kimi K! 

Linked below are bathing suits and hair ties!