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Balancing Motherhood and Blogging!

October 18, 2017

Welcome to the fourth installment of The Mom Blog Collective: How to Balance Motherhood and Blogging.

If you’re new here, here’s the scoop. Once a month, our group of amazing and inspiring mamas will answer the same set of questions to do with blogging, Instagram, photography, collaborations, sponsored posts, balancing it all with motherhood, and more. We each have different perspectives and different opinions, so this is a fun way to learn from one another. We hope you’ll join along! Check out the hashtag #themomblogcollective to see everyone on Instagram, and I will also link you to all of the amazing blog posts at the bottom of my post!

 How often do you post on your blog/Instagram?

I post on Instagram every day! I think it is important to constantly be creating content and getting your name out there! Of course I go through times where I am too busy to take new photos, or I am seriously laking inspiration.  Times like that I might post 3 or 4 times a week! For my blog, I try so hard to get at least one post a week! More realistically though it is probably twice a month! OOPS! My poor blog does not get as much lovin’ as my Instagram!

When do you find time to blog/post?

Nap time USED to be gold! Let’s have a moment of silence for my three year old’s nap time that is no more. So after bedtime it is! If I can get the kiddos asleep by 8 that gives me a good three hours for TV, aimless Instagram scrolling, and blog writing!

How do you manage your time and “do it all”?

“Do it all??” HA, what does that even mean? Being a good wife, a mom, keep the house clean, dinner cooked, wedding photographer on the weekend, getting sponsored posts done during the week, keeping up on my blog, finding time to actually have friends! HOLY COW! I can’t do it all.  There isn’t enough time in the day! I tell my husband ALL the time how I wish sleep was optional.  I could get SO much done if I didn’t have to sleep! It’s all about managing my time.  Every Monday I like to look at my week and see what really needs done! I plan a few fun things in the mix so we can all get out of the house and then I go from there!

How many collaborations do you take on every month?

I don’t necessarily take on a certain number of sponsored posts, but more so a dollar amount.  Instagram and Blogging is my job.  I used to have a Etsy shop that was pretty successful but it took up SO much of my time and I wasn’t excited about it anymore.  That is when I started Instagram!  I keep track of the months ahead and how many sponsored posts I have and once I reach what I need to make for that month I will schedule any further sponsored posts for the next month. (are you following??)  I also do NOT want to fill my followers feed up with sponsored post after sponsored post so I try my very best to mix in authentic, “every day” type photos in the mix! It’s a hard balancing but I have realized the best way to keep me on track is to make a posting schedule each week.  That way I can make sure I am not cramming in too many sponsored posts for the week!

Check out what these other amazing mama’s have to say about balancing motherhood and blogging and show them all the love…

darlingnightingale.com | @darlingnightingale

XO Ashley

Moms Do Palms!

October 10, 2017

As a final farewell to summer (I was holding on as long as I could!) I FINALLY blogged our trip to Palm Springs…

Take 9 blogging mamas who have never met, The Weekend House in Palm Springs, and NO kiddos, and you get an unforgettable week and 8 new BFFS!  I am finally getting around to sharing with you some fun photos from our girls trip to Palm Springs! The Weekend House was a perfect location for endless laughs, talks, and stories! These girls are the best, our hubbies are the best for keeping the kids alive, and my soul felt so refreshed!  If you have been thinking of doing a girls trip, PLEASE DO IT! Mama’s need a break too!

See you girls next year!

 

XO Ashley

Traveling with Babies, HELP!

September 13, 2017

Who else is so overwhelmed when it comes to going on a trip with their kiddos? We went on a few little getaways this summer and you would have thought I was moving in for 3 months! Packing for the kids is NO joke! I have just a few products I wanted to share with you all that really helped Bexley feel comfortable no matter where she was, and made our trips a heck of a lot easier!

  1. DockATot Grand! I can not say enough amazing things about this product! Bexley started in the Deluxe size and we have since moved her up to the Grand size.  There hasn’t been a day in her life that she has not slept in her DockATot.  The reason I am mentioning this for travel is because it is so easy to bring with you and brings the comfort of their sleep no matter where they are. I know friends that have brought theirs and put it right on the hotel bed with them, in the crib that the hotel or rental you are staying at might provide, or in the pack n play that you bring from home.
  2. Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib. Portable cribs typically weigh 3,000 pounds and are the size of a elephant, that is why I LOVE this travel crib! It is very lightweight, very easy set up and can be worn as a backpack while traveling with it! It also fit the DockATot Grand PERFECTLY so it was love at first sight!
  3. A sound machine! I am so glad I decided to throw our sound machine in! This is especially a must if you use a sounds machine at home on a regular basis.  It just gives the baby another comfort while they fall asleep in a foreign place.
  4. TRIP by Boon. This is a travel drying rack and bottle or sippy cup brush.  It all folds up in a portable case and it so convenient to leave next to the sink and your hotel or rental.  Typically wherever you are staying would defiantly not have brushes and things you would need to clean bottles and sippy cups so this was such a important item that I honestly never would have even thought of!
  5. Ergo 360 or Ergo Omni 360.  Either would do the trick just fine but some sort of baby carrier where they can face in for naps and out when they are awake and you are out adventuring is such a must!  A stroller just doesn’t always work out, I never go anywhere without my Ergo!

That’s it! My top 5 travel must haves! (besides the essentials of course!)  Traveling with a baby is no easy task and I hope this list makes the idea of taking a trip sounds a little bit easier! The key is to make the baby feel as comfortable as possible!  If you have any must haves for traveling with a baby PLEASE let me know! I would love so much to hear what you all think!

Happy Travels!

 

XO Ashley

Tips for Better Photography!

September 5, 2017

I am so honored that you would come on over to little old me to get some photography tips, but I am sure glad you are here! I am SO happy to share a little bit of my process in taking photos for my blog and Instagram…

1. What do you use to take your photos?

Probably 90% of my photos are taken with a Fujifilm X100F, SUCH a amazing little camera, and great for travel or outings! You get beautiful DSLR quality photos without dragging around a 10 pound camera! 2% of my photos are taken with my iPhone, and about 8% of my photos are taken with a Canon 5D Mark III.  Don’t let what kind of camera you have discourage you in any way! Phones have such amazing cameras and you can create such a beautiful feed just with the camera you have in your pocket!

2. What apps do you use and your editing process.

I use Lightroom for all of my photos. BUT, if you don’t have access to Lightroom I would tell you to go check out the VSCO app if you haven’t already!

3. What photos of yours tend to do well? What do your followers really respond to?

Instagram is such a strange place and it is so hard to tell which photos will do well and which ones will be a total flop! You have to know your audience! What is your blog geared toward? What is your Instagram page geared to? Motherhood, fashion, your home? That is why your followers are here and that is what they want to see! Also, Instagram algorithm is wack so if you post the cutest photo of all time and it gets 10 likes, brush it off.  It’s not you, it’s the algorithm.

It’s so hard to explain such a HUGE topic into 3 tiny little questions! My quick tips would be…

  • Use the best camera you have with you at the time! iPhone? NO problem! Big ol’ DSLR? Perfect! Capture the moment with the best you’ve got!
  • Find a editing style that is unique to you and stick with it.  This will take practice and might change a few times before you find what you love! Just please don’t use Instagram filters! PLEASE! There are so many great photo specific editing apps out there. Find what you like best! (VSCO, Snapseed, Filmborn, just to name a few!
  • Last, stay true to you! People want to see who you really are through your Instagram page! They are following YOU after all! Be real, be silly, be honest, BE YOU!

 

(Shout out to the real MVP, the man that taught we all I know about photography,                                                                                   the greatest Instagram hubby of all the Instagram hubbys, @_ericm_ You DA BOMB!)

Also check out what a few other amazing ladies have to say about these same photography questions!

darlingnightingale.com | @darlingnightingale

occasionallyperfect.com | @occasionally_perfect

mrsseacannon.com | @mrsseacannon

britthavens.com | @britthavens

koleimpressions.com | @steph__pollock

cultivatemotherhood.com | @cultivatemotherhood

www.ashleynoel.life | @_ashley_noel_

hellobabybrown.com | @hellobabybrown

www.a-blessed-nest.com | @blessednestblog

thelovedesignedlife.com | @thelovedesignedlife

helloerin.com | @helloerinv

hopefeathersphotography.com | @hopefeathers

psimfromthemidwest.com | @hollynbaron

@fresh_delivery

XO Ashley

Teething bites!

August 21, 2017

We (and by “we” I mean Bexley) are in the middle of busting through tooth number 7, and this one is not coming in without a fight!  Although I do love the extra cuddles she wants to give when she is teething, it is just so sad to see them uncomfortable! Am I right??? SO, it is my civic duty to share with you some of my all time favorite teethers to help Bexley bust out these stinken’ teeth! YOU CAN DO IT BEXLEY GIRL!

Our go to for all our teething need is Dr Brown’s! Here’s why, Dr Brown’s products are developed and designed by pediatric dentists to help prevent dental issues and to sooth and comfort! WIN, WIN my friends! I am officially sold! Moving on to my favorites…

 

  1. Coolees. Point number one, it’s shaped like a watermelon! I’m pretty sure I don’t need to go any further than that, but I will! These are made to hold cool to relieve sore gums and the perfect shape and size to reach all over the jaw line!  2. Nawgum. This teether is shaped like a cactus! I repeat, a cactus! It is Super easy to grip and filled with all kinds of different textures!3. Orthees These are so easy for the babies to hold on to, and they can naw on any side! It has a shape similar to a pacifier but has a teether end instead of a nipple! Totally awesome! 

We are fully equipped and ready to kick some teething booty!!!

Thank you Dr Browns!

 

XO Ashley

How to Build an Online Community and Define Your Brand

August 15, 2017

Welcome to the second installment of The Mom Blog Collective: How to Build an Online Community and Define Your Brand. If you’re new here, here’s the scoop. Every other week, our group of amazing and inspiring mamas will answer the same set of questions to do with blogging, Instagram, photography, collaborations, sponsored posts, balancing it all with motherhood, and more. We each have different perspectives and different opinions, so this is a fun way to learn from one another. We hope you’ll join along! Check out the hashtag #themomblogcollective to see everyone on Instagram, and I will also link you to all of the amazing blog posts here at the bottom of my post!

How to grow your Instagram? I can’t sit down and tell you the moment I even thought about growing my Instagram, but I think it was about 2 years ago! I started very small with some adorable little shops.  I got a few collabs started in trade for a post on my Instagram and then the shop would repost my photo! Therefore gaining exposure and followers! This grew more and more, therefore gaining more and more exposure and more followers!

Tip #1 being collaborate as much as possible and even if you didn’t get the product for free tag the shop anyways! They might repost your photo! WIN WIN!

Collaborations are just one way I would say I grew my Instagram.  The second, and seriously important in my book, is engaging!

Engage with your people! Talk to people on Instagram, comment on their photos, like their posts, respond when they comment on your photos! Your followers want to feel like they matter because, well DUH, they do!

Tip #2 engage!

Find new followers! Go out and find new followers, don’t wait for them to find you! What I mean by this is go to the explore page, or search a hashtag and comment and like peoples photos! This will get your name out there and have new people seeing you! Fingers crossed that some of them even begin to follow you!

Tip #3 As I like to call it, stalk people!

Just remember, My Instagram page didn’t grow overnight! It took me two years to get to where I am now and I still have SO much growing and learning to do! We are all in this together! One of my all time favorite quotes, “Community over Competition!” AIN’T THAT THE TRUTH!

 

darlingnightingale.com | @darlingnightingale

occasionallyperfect.com | @occasionally_perfect

mrsseacannon.com | @mrsseacannon

britthavens.com | @britthavens

koleimpressions.com | @steph__pollock

cultivatemotherhood.com | @cultivatemotherhood

www.ashleynoel.life | @_ashley_noel_

hellobabybrown.com | @hellobabybrown

www.a-blessed-nest.com | @blessednestblog

thelovedesignedlife.com | @thelovedesignedlife

kristlesclarity.com | @hereyeswereolivegreen

@amylouhawthorne

My top 5 tips on how to start a blog and Instagram…

August 1, 2017
I’m so excited to share a new series I am starting here on my blog called #TheMomBlogCollective. Twice a month, a group of 10 of us will be sharing a blog post on the same topic — related to blogging, instagram, working with brands, making money, photography, motherhood and more.
Each month we will feature a different guest blogger in addition to the ten of us! My favorite part is that while we will all be answering the same questions and writing about the same topics, it will give each of you a wide variety of perspectives. We each have a different blogging style, photography style, schedule!  It will be a great opportunity to read everyone’s posts and then figure out what works best for you. And if you have a topic you’d love to get an answer to in our series, search the hashtag #TheMomBlogCollective on Instagram and comment on any one of our photos under that hashtag to let us know! You can also leave comments on our blog posts.
To kick off the series, we’ll each be sharing our Top 5 Tips on Starting a Blog and Instagram Account…

I get asked this question ALL the time! A (BIG) part of me doesn’t feel qualified to answer this question.  I am still learning so much myself BUT for now I will try and share a little bit I know about starting up a blog and Instagram.  Hopefully it can inspire someone out there to just go for it! That leads me to tip number 1…

  1.  Just go for it!  What’s stopping you? I know setting up a blog can seem pretty intimidating to someone that it not tech savvy, thank goodness my husband knows what he is doing, because I am CLUELESS!
  2. POST POST POST!  Find your niche, and post on Instagram often. I would say once a day.  Also, try and blog as often as possible.  I know that’s a lot harder then posting on Instagram, so I would say aim for once or twice a week!
  3. Find your niche! My niche: cute babies (is that a niche??) My Instagram and Blog are filled with my family and babies.  I follow some amazing fashion blogs, cooking blogs, photography blogs, etc.  Find what you love and stick with that!
  4. Make your feed pretty.  I know this one is debatable and it is for sure NOT a must, but to me it is so important! Find a edit you love, and colors you love and try to stick with those to make a nice coherent feed! (like I said, totally not a must!)
  5. Engage with your followers! Comment back to people, leave comments on other people photos, respond to DMs, be a real person!  Be genuine and people will stick around and come back for more!
You can find all the other blog posts linked below:
Occasionally Perfect | @occasionally_perfect
XO Ashley

 

Sleep training 101.

July 10, 2017

So many of you have asked how I went about sleep training Bexley girl, so I wanted to give just a few tips I have to getting your baby to sleep through the night! With both Karis and Bexley I waited until they were 11 months old. (do it sooner if you want!)  I have no idea why that number?? That must have just been when I couldn’t take it any longer!! haha There are so many different sleep training methods out there, but this is what worked best for us!  With both Karis and Bexley we went with the “cry it out” method.

 

Cry it out, for those of you that aren’t super familiar is a technique to get your baby to learn to put themselves to sleep instead of relying on you nursing them, rocking them to sleep, etc.  Here if how Eric and I went about things.  First and I think very important is that we got Bexley out of our bedroom.  Ever since we brought her home her crib has been in our room so as soon as she wakes up she can pop her head right up and see us! NOT good for sleep training haha.  Second, we made the new space as cozy as possible.  We got a sound machine, I am diffusing essential oils each night, and she gets put in her Zipadee Zip (which she totally loves!)  Third, establish some type of bedtime routine.  This is so important to transition them into a time to get sleepy and know that bedtime is coming.  For now our routine with Bexley is pretty simple.  Her and Karis get a bath together, then I nurse her in the rocking chair (DO NOT nurse them until they fall asleep, that will defeat the whole sleep training purpose) then I cuddle her for a few minutes, and put her down to sleep.  When she gets a little bit older we will add story time to the routine also! Forth as long as she has a full belly, clean diaper, and is cozy, we let her cry.  The key to letting them cry is NOT to just leave them and let them cry all night long.  What Eric and I did (and you will know what is best for your baby) is let her cry for 3 minutes, then we went in to comfort her, then for 5 minutes, then for 8 minutes, then for 15 minutes.  By then she was asleep (YAY!!!) BUT if she was still awake we would not have gone any longer then 15 minutes in between us going in and comforting her.  This is what worked great for our family, and she has been sleeping 12 hours each night ever since! HALLELUJAH! 76 (2 of 19)

Here are some very important things to remember and know before starting sleep training!

  1. As a mom listening to your baby cry is awful!! It brought me so much anxiety! Sleep training is NOT fun, but so worth it in the end!
  2. Never pick your baby up! When you go in to comfort them you can shush them, pat their back, sing a little lullaby, place your hang on them for comfort, but never pick them up! Trust me, as soon as you pick them up and then put them back down they will start crying 10 times harder!
  3. Set a routine and have a key word you use so your baby knows bed time is coming! I just say “shhhhhh” over and over as I walk her over to her crib and cuddle her.  After a few nights of this she will know what to expect! You can also say something like “night night”
  4. Get bedtime started early! There is nothing worse then trying to put a overly tired baby to sleep! We have been starting bath time around 6;30 and having Bexley in her crib around 7:15.  Of course this won’t work every night, but the nights we are home early, this seemed to be working great!
  5. Stay strong, and if you can’t stay strong then buy some earplugs and make your spouse stay strong!! haha
  6. There is nothing better then training your baby how to sleep! You will hardly remember the hard few days it took, but you will remember how happy you are to have a baby that finally sleeps through the night!

76 (4 of 19)I would love so much to hear what worked and didn’t work for all of you! I know every baby is so different! Happy sleep training my friends!

Xo Ashley

transition swaddle c/o Sleeping Baby |||crib c/o Micuna

ShopSmarter not harder.

June 30, 2017

insta (1 of 14) insta (4 of 14) insta (5 of 14) Ever since having kiddos, especially two, online shopping is my JAM!  I actually dread stepping foot into a store. (unless it’s a solo trip to Target, that’s a WHOLE different story!)

This, my friends, is why I must introduce to you my most amazing new discovery! ShopSmarter.com is an online shopper’s BFF. Here’s the deal…insta (3 of 14)

As a ShopSmarter member, you will receive 10% cash back on any online purchase made through the site. You can even get 20% cash back sometime!                                                                                              ALL the up to date coupons are right there for you to see for each store!                         No more searching the web trying to find the best coupons; you know we all do it! AND it compares prices for you with over 1,000 online retailers!

IF YOU CAN’T TELL HOW EXCITED I AM ABOUT THIS WITH ALL THE CAPS LOCKS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS, well I’m really excited! insta (6 of 14)insta (8 of 14)

So are you following??? If you’re a mama, or just someone who likes to find better things to do then spend hours walking around a store, ShopSmarter is a pure life saver!

  1. Want to earn money back on the things you are already buying anyways??
  2. Want to sit on your couch and shop in you pajamas??
  3. Want all the best coupons??

If you said yes, then do your self a favor and RUN to check out ShopSmarter.

 

If you answered no, well, we can no longer be friends. (JUST KIDDING) but really….

insta (10 of 14)

XO Ashley

 

 

Dr. Brown’s Giveaway!

June 9, 2017

Dr Brown’s products are saving the day over at the McFarland house and I am SO excited to be giving away some of my all time favorite products!

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  • Who else has a kid that carries a cup around with them 24/7?? Before kids I had no idea the struggle it would be to find a good sippy cup!! I have gone through WAY too many, and finally found some that we seriously love! Not to mention the adorable designs of them all! Mermaids, dinosaurs, monsters! TOO CUTE! My personal favorite are the Insulated cups!68 (7 of 12) 68 (6 of 12)
  • Another favorite of ours are their teethers! Poor little Bexley girl is gnawing on anything she can get her hands on! My all time favorites of Dr Brown’s are the adorable Watermelon teether and the Orthees.  They are the perfect size and shape for tiny hands and mouths!  Bexley can chew her little heart out! Total plus is, you can freeze the watermelon!
  • And my last favorite to share with you today is the infant-to-toddler toothbrush! So soft and easy for the kiddos to learn! AND it’s shaped like a cute little Elephant, which is not only adorable, but it keeps it standing upright so it doesn’t touch anything yucky! Winner!68 (5 of 12)

From bottles, cups, plates, pacifiers, and the cutest teethers!! I just love it all! Head over to my Instagram page to enter to win a fabulous bundle of all my favorites!

 

XO Ashley