Monday, January 28, 2019

Travel Essentials

Maybe it is the -0 temps we are supposed to be getting this week that has me thinking of warmer weather or getting out of town. I thought it would be the perfect time to share some of my favorite travel items!

1. Travel Charger- I bought this before going to France a few years ago and it has been quite useful. It comes with multiple foreign converter plugs, but can also be used in any outlet. I know when I travel I am always looking for outlets to charge all my electronics and this comes with multiple ports.

2. Samsung Camera- I prefer to travel or use this camera day to day than my DSLR. This little camera takes a great picture and can easily be thrown in my purse. It has changeable lenses and can be used in manual setting. With built-in wifi I am also able to upload my photos to my phone at the end of the day to edit and share.

3. Packing Cubes- These have changed the way I pack. I use a different cube for each category of clothing I am pack. When I am looking for clothes to wear I can easily find what I am looking for because they stay folded and organized in their cube. It also keeps everything from falling all over when I open and close the suitcase.

4. The Widow- Now that the girls entertain themselves during travel I love to catch up on reading. I usually bring quite a few books with me for downtime.

I recently picked this book up to read and if you like a book that keeps you guessing this is a good book. It tells the story from a few different character's point of view, which allows you to see what everyone is thinking and keeps you guessing. The story was disturbing, but kept me from wanting to put it down till the end. I am currently reading The Child, which is another book by the same author that also uses one of the characters from The Widow.

5. Tote- I received this tote as a gift and love it. I was using more expensive, similar sized totes to travel and they were getting destroyed. This bag has a zipper closure, which I prefer when I travel. I like to keep my bag closed so it doesn't spill out all over the airplane floor, etc. It is the perfect size to throw a ton in. This company allows you to personalize the bag with multiple different pattern choices and trims to chose from. I even have mine monogrammed. It still looks new after using it all last summer and traveling with it.

6. Passport Case- The retailer that sells the tote also sells accessories. I have one of their passport cases to keep my passport protected when I am traveling. I love that it can be personalized to match the tote.

7. Marble Suitcase- Last year when I came back from California the airline destroyed my suitcase. It was no longer rectangular and had holes in it. I couldn't even roll it to the car. I decided to replace it with this suitcase after looking at a ton. I had always used soft case suitcases, but was looking for something that might be more durable. This case so far has stood up to my expectations. I like the marble texture because it doesn't show the dirt from travel as much either.

8. Travel Steamer- This is a must now for me. After waiting in line to use an iron on a cruise I will never travel without this little thing anymore. It saves so much time and makes things so much easier. I no longer have to stand in lines to use irons or worry about what else was ironed before my item. The kids and I now have nice wrinkle free clothes without a headache.

9. Luggage Scale- Another must! My sister stood in the check-in line at the airport weighing and moving things around in her luggage so it wasn't overweight. Everyone in line was asking where I got the scale. It is one of those items you don't realize how useful it is until you own one. I always check my luggage before leaving for the airport to make sure it is under weight and if it isn't I move stuff between the suitcases. It also makes a great gift for a traveler!

10. Power bank- I keep this in my purse day to day, but definitely make sure it is ready to go when I travel. You never know when you will be stuck in an airport or delayed and need to charge your electronics. I also like to keep it in my bag in case my camera battery starts to get low to give it a quick charge.

11. Travel Wallet- I featured this wallet in another blog post already once, but since it is actually a travel wallet it had to make the list. I love this wallet. It is reasonably priced and perfect for travel. It has spots for everything you would need to have with you, keeping things organized. It comes in tons of colors and I picked one to match the stripe on my tote.

Hopefully, this list will come in handy if these are things you haven't thought to pack or are looking to make travel easier. I will be dreaming of my next vacation while we get snowed on in the -0 temps this week!

Friday, January 25, 2019

How to shop my looks!

What Is RewardStyle?

RewardStyle was something that I strived to be a part of. It was a huge goal that I wanted to meet with my blog…eventually. I never thought that I would be approved when I was. This is a HUGE accomplishment for me and something I am so proud of. RewardStyle is a company that works with other companies to build relationships with Influencers through them. They create partnerships and collaborations. It is also a way for me to make my blog and Instagram shoppable, as well as be part of

Why Is This Important To Me? 

This is important to me for many reasons. The first is that I can easily share items that I love with you. I have the ability to direct link products making it easy to shop.

I can also build partnerships and collaborations with companies. I always have and always will stay true to products and companies I believe in.

This is one way a blog can make money and offset the costs of running it. I started this as a hobby, but it does cost me money to run my blog. Building partnerships and sharing products I already believe in and love while making money is a dream job for me. When you shop through my links I make a small (very small) commission. In the end it all adds up and helps me to continue creating content and running the blog.

How Do You Shop My Posts?

This is one of the most asked questions I receive. I guess since I have been shopping through blogs and for a while I didn’t realize others wouldn’t understand or know how. It is actually super easy and will probably change the way you shop or browse!

How To Shop My Blog Posts

Shopping my blog post is extremely easy. Any item that I am able to link, I link in a carousal of photos that you can scroll through and click on. When you click on the photo it will take you directly to the item on the retailer’s website. I also from time to time will link other options if it is sold out or similar items I also love.

You can also go to the top of my blog headings and click on the tab that says, SHOP MY LOOKS. This will take you directly to my page and you can shop all my and Instagram posts. 

What Is is an app that you can download to shop my looks or other Influencer’s looks. You can search for specific products to shop or just scroll, sort of like the Instagram feed, just for shopping. This has changed the way I shop. I almost always check out this app to see what the latest styles are or products. It isn’t just for adults or clothes. They have furniture, children, family, etc. The categories to shop are also broken down on top if you rather search Under $50 or only Children’s Products, etc. When you download the app you can follow your favorite Influencers so that they show up in your feed when you are shopping. You can also save products (heart them) from here to come back to later. This also gives you the ability to screenshot Influencers that are part of this app’s photos on Instagram and receive an email with all the product information from their post.

1. Download the app  in the app store
2. Click the magnifying glass on the bottom right of the screen
3. In the new screen on the top by the magnifying glass type in youngwidowedstylishmama and under that bar hit the Influencer Search
4. Click Follow!


I do share different things on my Instagram and, than on my blog. I try to post daily on these sites as opposed to the 3 posts a week on my blog. To shop my Instagram posts you can access my page WITHOUT downloading the app by going into my bio and clicking the link (see photo below). It will take you to my and you can shop from there.  If you do have the app you can screenshot the photo and it will send you an email with all the products.

What If You Still Can’t Figure It Out?

Send me a message! I am always willing to help. I can send the direct link or find a different product or size, etc if you need. I am always up for a fashion/product challenge. If a link doesn’t work, let me know!

What You Can Do To Support Me?

Follow me, leave me comments, likes, etc! Even if you don’t buy the product, but like the style let me know. I also try to base what I post on the feedback and analytics I get. I can see which products were more popular than others. Share my pages! If I can build a reader base that helps with companies wanting to work with me. If you think someone will enjoy what I share recommend my page. I won’t think you are a weirdo it is super sweet and shows me so much support. If it wasn’t for the constant support of the people that have pushed me to do this I probably wouldn’t have.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Widow Wednesday--Deciding on Hospice care

When Ray entered the hospital the final time we were told we needed to decide on hospice care. Up till this point he was determined to fight it. We looked into experimental treatments, his was too progressed, and also went for second opinions. It was all exhausting being told the same thing over and over.

He wanted to come home with hospice care and I was absolutely frightened. I didn't want to care for someone dying. Up to this point, aside from the visitors, I was his primary caregiver and I knew this was more than I could handle. I made this known and thought he should stay at the hospital. The family all decided that they would take shifts to care for him. I was still reluctant, but agreed because this is what he wanted.

We turned our master bedroom into a hospital room. Our master had never been used prior because we had slept in one of the bedrooms upstairs to be closer to the girls. My parents brought old carpet to put over our carpet since he had so many drainage tubes coming out of him and I didn't want to ruin anything. Our bed was disassembled and a hospital bed was delivered. We also moved the couch from our office into the bedroom for people to sit on in the room with him or to sleep on and a tv for him to watch.

The hospice nurse and social worker came in to explain what would happen. The nurse would come in to check vitals and as needed if we had an issue. The social worker brought the girl's books about dying. All I wanted was a timeline, what to expect, but that wasn't something anyone could tell us. It was up to his body and God.

When he came home from the hospital the girls bought Daddy some crazy daisies to put in the room. Every time I see those flowers at Kroger they still remind me of him and coming home to hospice. I had a very hard time having flowers around in the house for a very long time because they reminded me of sickness.

Ray was selective about who he wanted to see and when he wanted to see them. He had asked to see a few select friends and their family. People that he was closest to, even then he struggled. He didn't want them to see him like that.

The first bit he was home he would still come into the family room from time to time to sit. As time progressed he didn't leave his bed except to use the bathroom. That year he watched every single Detroit Tiger's game and had a weird obsession with TMZ. He would completely zone out during it and ask everyone to be quiet when it was on. He was never really into celebrities and it was pretty funny. I am still not sure why he was so into it when he was so sick at the end.

During this time I knew it was the end and he was accepting that he couldn't fight this. I took the opportunity to ask him what he wanted for his burial and funeral. I was quite surprised at what he did want and happy to be able to have that conversation. I would have expected him to want to be buried in some goofy outfit, but he wanted a suit. I did bury him in his Jordans though because he always had to have new Jordans for work, even when he was wearing a suit or dress clothes. I think he thought it helped him fit in with his students. He also wanted to be put into the wall and not in the ground, again something I would never have guessed. I went with his sister to buy a suit for his burial and his sister actually tried it on to see if it would fit him. That was fun explaining to the salesperson at the store.

My Dad went with some of his family to check out funeral homes and cemeteries. I was to make the final decisions, but plans needed to be put into place. I didn't have it in me to be "shopping" around for this stuff. It was  hard enough to do the final decisions.

Time was slowly closing in and I just felt like I was waiting for him to die and my life had been at a standstill for 8 months. All my hopes and dreams also slowly fading.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

ASOS sale picks and shopping tip!

If you have ever asked me where I shopped I can guarantee one of my responses is ASOS. I have been in love with this company for many years. They have a great selection of styles from shoes, clothes, gifts, accessories, bags, etc. They also carry petite, tall, maternity and plus sizes!

That is probably why this is one of my go-to places to always look for items. I absolutely love the petite options they offer. A lot of items are available in all size ranges too. I bought a bridesmaid dress here and they also offered it in the main, plus, and maternity section. I have linked mainly the petite items but a lot of them were available in the other sizes. If you ever need help locating and item I post or a different size...ASK!!! I will definitely look and send the link if it is available.

One of my biggest shopping secrets is SHOP OFF SEASON! I almost always check to see what they have offered in the outlet or sale area. A lot of my items from last year are now available in the sale section. I also will add things to my wish list to see if the prices drop.

One of the things I love most about shopping at ASOS is that they offer free returns. I will order multiple sizes at times and just return what doesn't work. I also pay the $19 a year for premier delivery, you get your order in 2 days! They ship from Europe so that is a very quick delivery option.

The items I linked above are all items I love or already own. The strapless jumpsuit I wore to a wedding and even the staff at the venue was stopping me to ask where it was from. The pink dress is just another color option in the bridesmaid dress I wore to my brother's wedding. I also wore the fruit jumpsuit on our cruise last year.

Right now thru the 21st with code ASOSSALEPLZ you get an extra 10% off sale items, which include all the items I linked above!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Children during illness

 Summer's 3rd birthday, Daddy felt well enough to go to Build a Bear and to Coney for lunch. 
Lily bought Daddy an Elmo shirt for Easter. 

Daddy's helpers
Family photo by Summer
Tubes and bags everywhere and still playing with his girls
Lily's 3rd birthday and one of the last photos of him with the girls

Whenever people would ask about the situation I would always respond, "It could be worse, the girls could understand." I always told everyone if he had to die I would rather it have happened the way it did, when they didn't really understand. They also were losing out on growing up with a great parent. That was so hard for me to accept then and even now. One of the first thoughts I had when we were told the news was, who is going to walk them down the aisle? I know, probably stupid and the last thing I should have been worried about, but still till this day I struggle going to weddings because of this. When I met Ray he couldn't wait to have kids and was always so good with them. I knew teaching was his thing because of how much he loved to be around and influence children. He was an awesome Dad. He took the girls everywhere with him and they meant the world to him.

On Summer's first doctor's visit as a newborn I didn't feel well enough to leave the house so he took her, a few days old, all by himself. He then followed that up by a trip to the dance studio and my parent's house. He was the one that took Summer to get her ear's pierced when she had them done. He absolutely loved being a father and wasn't afraid to do anything with them.

When Ray was first diagnosed the girls went to stay with my parents. My Dad had recently retired and my Mom was able to take a leave. It was so hard leaving them there though. At 1 and 2 I felt like they needed to be home with me. They didn't understand what was going on and were used to being with me.

As time went on and we learned our new normal at home I would bring them home to stay. Ray had a hard time with the noise though and I honestly think it was hard for him to be around them knowing what his outcome would be. He never said it but I could just tell. The Dad that once did everything with his daughters couldn't even hold them anymore because of all the tubes he had. I do have a few pictures of him with the girls playing on the floor when he did have a bit of energy, which wasn't often.

The girls were his little "nurses". They liked to help him in any way they could. They knew Daddy was sick, but sometimes medicine didn't make you better. I was trying to prepare them for the inevitable, but also didn't want them to be scared to be sick or for someone else to be.

During this time germs were a HUGE concern for me. If they brought home germs it could potentially make him very sick and kill him. Other people don't understand this so going to library classes or gymnastics, etc. there were almost always sick kids. I had to bring the girls home from wherever we were and always strip them down, put clothes straight in the wash, and give them baths.

I tried to keep things as normal for the girls as possible. I kept taking Summer to dance class, both of them to library classes, and Lily to gymnastics. They were also what kept me going at this time too.

Following up on my guilt post from last week I felt a ton of guilt with this too. I wanted to be with the girls, but I also knew Ray needed me too. It was a constant struggle with how to balance the time. I also felt this is the prime age for kids to be taught basic things (numbers, letters, cleanup, etc) and it wasn't being done. Everyone was focused on just keeping them happy and entertained.

When Ray entered into hospice care the nurse brought materials for the girls. Luckily, since I have a counseling background I was able to put into use what I had learned. I wanted the transition to be as easy as possible for them. I wanted life to be the same for them...minus Dad. I wanted them to know that they always have a Dad and I try to keep his memory alive every day with them. I talk about him all the time and tell them stories because I know if I don't they were too young and will forget. I show them pictures, I just want them to know how much he loved them.

He did write them a letter, with my encouragement, but since he felt doing anything like that admitted he was giving up he never wanted to. I really wish he would have personalized the letters a bit more to them, but at least I do have something to give them when they get older.

This post was probably the hardest post for me to write of all my posts because just thinking of what he is missing out on and the girls is so hard.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Spanx Leggings Dupe Review

As I am scrolling through my Instagram feed and Liketoknowit app I see all the Influencer's raving about Spanx leggings, but at $100 a pair I can't bring myself to buy them. I am not really a legging girl, I am more of a baggy sweat pant girl. In fact, my friend Jeni said she had never seen me wear a pair of leggings before Pilate's class.

I know that Target carries the Assets by Spanx brand and decided to see if they carry the leggings and they do! I ordered a pair to give them a try. At under $30 a pair I figured they are a great budget friendly alternative if they are nice. I know my readers are also looking for options to wear to work so I decided to order the dressier looking pair.

When I took them out of the package I laughed, they looked like they could fit Lily! I decided to try them anyways and I was surprised that they stretched nicely and hugged all the right places without being tight or restrictive. They come up over the waistline, which I really like. They smoothed the area and I didn't have to worry about my pants creeping down when I bent over. The color is great, not see thru at all. They are a nice, thick material and the stripe down the front makes them look more like a pant and less like a legging in my opinion.

I actually like these so much I might have to order the faux leather pair to test next ;)

To shop the post click the photos below:

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Widow Wednesday--Feeling Guilty

Toward the beginning of summer, my parents decided I needed a break. My Dad said he would stay and help Ray and my Mom would take the girls and I down to Kentucky for a few days to visit my cousins. 

I was hesitant to go because I felt bad leaving him. I felt guilt the whole time he was sick...why wasn't it me? Why did he have to be the one sick? I never wanted anyone to feel sorry for me, I wasn't sick, he was the one that needed the attention and the concern. I felt guilty leaving him while he was sick to "have fun" or "get a break". Was it really a break? I mean I wasn't there physically, but my mind was constantly on him and how he was doing. 

If you are a Real Housewives of Orange County fan you may remember when Gretchen was thrown under the bus for going away on a trip while her fiancé was dying of cancer. I fully understood why she would have gone and how unless you are in that situation you have no idea what it is like to be in that spot. I think anyone that is in a caregiving position needs a break because it is so hard both mentally and emotionally.  You are never not around "sickness" and it begins to take its toll. 

When we were almost to Kentucky I got a call that they had to take Ray to the hospital because he wasn't feeling good. I was so upset. I knew I shouldn't have left. I felt the worst guilt. Why did I agree to go? I should be there. My Dad reassured me that there was nothing I could do that they couldn't, he was in good care and would be fine till we got back home. I, of course, tried to have fun and what should have been a break just left me wanting to be home and checking on him to make sure he was ok. 

When we returned home he was had been fine. One thing I learned was that I had to take care of myself too. I had to be strong for not only me, but also the girls. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Not a sneaker girl...until I tried these!

So, what is all the hype about Golden Goose sneakers? Are they really worth it!? Before our trip to California last year I decided to splurge on a pair and see if they really are that good. Let me tell you...I am hooked!

Golden Goose Sneakers

I am not much of a sneaker girl, so I was hesitant to buy these. What could really be that great about them? Well, let me tell you! They are made of super soft leather and are so cushiony. I have worn them to King's Island, all over California, and just day to day and they haven't disappointed. I actually don't mind wearing sneakers day to day now. They go with everything and since they have the destructed look already I don't mind wearing them even to places they might get a little dirty. 

 I am linking a few pairs below at a few different retailers. Mine are from last year, so I couldn't find the exact pair to link.


While I was browsing one of the retailers I like to shop at, I found some pretty decent looking dupes that had great reviews. It had me pretty curious to see if they really are that good. I decided to order a pair to see. Usually you get what you pay for, so I was pleasantly surprised when they came and are nicer than I imagined. They are almost as comfortable as my Golden Goose pair. They have a lot of cushion in them just like the other pair. The stitching on the shoe is actually stitched, I was expecting a cheap rubber imprint. These actually look less destressed than my Golden Goose. The only part that isn't as nice, where they should be leather they are a plastic material. All in all they are a very nice shoe and they will be in rotation. So if you are looking for the look, without the price, these definitely are a great option. 

I am linking the ones I bought below, as well as a few other pairs that I like. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Widow Wednesday--New Year Thoughts

Ever since Ray died the new year has had a different meaning. Every new year comes and I think, will this be my year? Will this be the year something feels different? That life finally feels like it is back on track? That I am not so lost? Will I finally find what I am meant to be doing?

Looking back on all the years since we have been on our own we have come so far. It is hard for me to actually see it until I do stop and think about it. When he died I was just at home taking care of the girls. Since then I have proudly built a photography business all on my own. All my clients are friends, family, and word of mouth customers and I am as busy as I can handle. I have found my place helping my friend with her Etsy shop (Privileged Door), creating wreaths. This blog, again another hobby, is growing!

When I stop and think, maybe I am finding my way. Maybe this is how things are meant to be. All of the things I have done since he died has afforded me to continue to be with the girls, which has been my ultimate goal. Maybe they are all leading to the bigger, better thing out there for me.

In the new year I hope to continue to grow in all three of these jobs/hobbies. I hope that my friends, family, and readers have a healthy, happy new year! That is always our prayer at night to be healthy and happy, because if you aren't those things you don't have anything.