Fashion & Beauty

My family has lived in Georgia for a total of more than a decade, but I admit, we haven’t seen as much of it as we’d like. We’re creatures of habit, and we tend to frequent the same places we’ve always gone. That’s mostly my doing, I’m sure. I tend to prefer the familiar. But since Juliza and I started having fun with fashion, I’ve become a lot more adventurous.

Why? Well, let’s just say our back yard makes for OK photos in a pinch, but I can only take so many photos on red clay and patchy grass before I crave a different backdrop. And since Juliza is much more comfortable and natural when we shoot outdoors, I’ve been doing my best to find unique locations for us to shoot. Last week, we took an unexpected hike on a park trail to find beautiful graffiti. I’ll share that outfit later. This week, we found an absolutely enchanting backdrop just 5 minutes from our house.

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Hello waterfall!

While we go to parks all the time, we never knew this one existed, and we definitely didn’t know there was a waterfall. I’m attracted to water like moth to a flame. Blame my Caribbean upbringing. So this was a real treat. Even better? It made the perfect backdrop for an outfit by a company that cares about nature as much as we do: Tor Organics on Etsy.

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We’ve been supporting a lot of small shops lately, and we LOVE anything handmade. But Tor is among our favorites because they are a shop after my own heart — they make stylish fashion sustainable. There are too few brands doing that, so we are more than happy to lend them our support.

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Now let’s talk about this pinafore skirt. Can we say fabulous? The color is amazing, and I love the suspender straps. The fabric is super soft and thick, but not hot, so the skirt is beautifully full. Juliza had a ball twirling in it. And I had a ball shooting her in it. Can you tell? I only took a few hundred photos :)

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And honestly? The hardest part of this shoot was getting Juliza to turn away from the waterfall. She was so captivated by it that she wouldn’t turn toward me, no matter how much I called her name. Lol! Such is life when you’re shooting photos of a toddler who just wants to enjoy the scenery. And when it was time to go? She didn’t exactly get upset, but she was clearly not ready.

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Don’t worry Juju. Now that we know it exists, we’ll be back to visit the waterfall. We’ll also be working with Tor Organics as Brand Enthusiasts for the next few months, so you’ll see more of them, too :)

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OK. I admit I’m having a whole lot of fun with Juliza’s newfound fashionista persona. Since she is really shy around other people (read: She doesn’t like very many people at all), I love seeing her light up in front of the camera. I’m also getting a real kick out of styling all her little outfits.

Case in point: I’ve been seeing slashed/cut/shredded leggings and jeans everywhere for the past few weeks. I thought they’d be super cute on her, and I even found a store making them in her size. But DIY’er that I am, I knew I could make them myself. And make I did.

DIY Slashed Leggings for a Toddler (or Anyone)

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You’ll Need:

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  • Leggings (preferably old or inexpensive ones, like these from Walmart)
  • Chalk pencil or disappearing ink marker
  • Scissors

For best results, the leggings should fit pretty snugly. If they’re loose, the slashed effect won’t look the same.

Lay your leggings out flat and mark the places where you want to slash with the chalk pencil. I’ve seen people slash all the way down the front middle of both legs, just a couple on one knee, all the way down the sides, etc. There are a million ways you could go with this. Whatever you choose, it is a good idea to leave at least an inch of vertical space between slashes. I chose to do one long slash across the middle, then a shorter slash, alternating sides each time. Like this:

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Once you’re happy with the placement of your marks, it’s time to cut. If your slashes are in the middle front of the leggings, you’ll want to fold them so the crease goes straight through the middle of your slashes.

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Cut on the fold. In my case, I cut every other slash this way, since the others were placed off center. When you unfold the leggings and lay them flat again, you may find that you have to extend the slashes a bit to center them properly. Just cut a little more in either direction. No biggie.

To cut the off-center slashes, I simply pinched the fabric so it would fold in the center of the mark, then made a small cut on the fold.

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This is the result.

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This is super simple, and my oldest is already asking me to make her a pair. Shoot. I’ll probably make a pair (or three) for myself too, though I may be more conservative with the cuts.

So, what do they look like when worn? Get ready for image overload, because they were too cute for just a couple of pics.

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Seriously, how freaking cute are they? The heart eyes emoji is the only one that could properly capture my swoon level.

Now, for the rest of her fit. Can we talk about this tee for a second?

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Juliza and I have jumped head first into the world of Instagram brand repping, and she is a “brand enthusiast” for the shop that makes this tee, Little Royal Tees. It’s a small shop that makes awesome printed tees for babies and kids. And this Lauryn Hill tee? We are in love!

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I cannot get enough of it! The top and the Timberland work boots were the perfect badass complements to the slashed leggings. I’m already brainstorming other ways to style the shirt.

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And, also, plus, if you love this tee, there are 2 others in the same style: Tupac and LL Cool J. We may or may not have already grabbed the Tupac tee. Yes, please and thank you.

So what about you? Would you make or wear these slashed leggings for yourself or your little one?

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One of the things I’ve made it a point to do is make my girls feel empowered about their hair. In a world where naturally curly hair among Black women and girls is only just approaching the realm of mainstream, it is important to me that they know they are beautiful just the way they are. So when I discover a clothing brand designed specifically to help me do that? Yes, please, and thank you!

A few weeks ago, I entered Juliza in a giveaway from FroBabies, an account specifically created to empower and celebrate children with naturally curly or kinky hair. Well, she won one of their fabulous t-shirts, and I couldn’t wait to style her in it!

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She’s Wearing: FroBabies t-shirt | Carters denim jeggings (similar), distressed by me | Timberland work boots | Bow necklace (similar) (aff)

As you can see, it took all of about 5 seconds for her to get into photo-ready form. Juliza really is quite the character, and I love her for it.

I styled her hair in a frohawk, and I dare say it is my favorite hairstyle on her, ever.

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Seriously, how cute is that?! Swoon!

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Anyway, I paired her super cute tee with a pair of jeggings from Carter’s that she’s had for a while. I decided to try my hand at shredding and distressing them. The result was far from perfect, but it was really cute! I’m going to practice on an old pair of jeans so I can do a better job next time.

We also got a pair of Timberland work boots recently, because they’re the perfect study baby shoes, they’re fly as hell and they go with everything.

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I can already tell this t-shirt is going to be in strong rotation this summer, and we’ll be buying another when she sizes out of it. I love the message behind the brand, and I can’t wait to see more from them! I’m more than happy to have Juliza wear it proudly.

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Shop Her Look

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Baby Juliza loves to play dress up. She asks to put on shoes pretty much the moment she wakes up in the morning, and she’ll only take them off to nurse or get up on the sofa or bed. When she wants to wear a tutu, she asks to put on her “princess.” I would say I don’t know where she gets it, but that would be a bold-faced lie. As anti-social as she tends to be, she lights up when she dresses up. So a few weeks ago, I decided to create an Instagram account to document her outfits and her #toddlerlife antics.

I’ve decided I’ll start sharing her outfits here too — or at least some (most?) of them. You can follow her on Instagram to see the rest, or search for the #babyjuliza hashtag. Anyway, fair warning? These blog posts will likely be photo heavy, because there are too many good ones not to share. Want to see what I mean? Start scrolling :)

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Cute, right? There are many more where those came from. But first, the details:

She’s wearing: Carter’s t-shirt | Harajuku Mini tutu leggings (similar & similar) | Jordan Flight SC3s | My necklace (similar) | Random sunglasses (similar Babiators) (aff)

I bought these leggings with the tutu attached from the Harajuku Kids line for Target on clearance when Juliza was probably 8 or 9 months old. Yes. I’m that mom who will buy cute stuff in much larger sizes in anticipation of the day my child will eventually wear them. Especially if they’re on clearance. I paired it with a cute white top that I borrowed from a two-piece outfit and her black Jordans.

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The sunglasses were found in our car. I have no idea how they got there, but she loves them. And the necklace was a last-minute addition. It’s my favorite, and I wear it all the time. The other day, she begged me to put it on her, and it was so cute that I decided she could wear it more often.

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Since the weather has been nice, we’ve been going outside almost every afternoon. It took being outside for approximately 30 seconds before she started running around and just having fun being Juju. We blew bubbles and went for a walk and just enjoyed the weather. All the while with her looking like a mini rock star and loving it. SMH. Where did I get this child and what am I going to do with her?

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So what do you say, fair readers? Would you like to see more of JuJu and her kid style? If you say yes, she has a heart for you — sort of…

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Shop her look, or at least similar items:

When I first went natural back in 2009, I was a product junkie. I would buy and try a new product — sometimes several new products — just about every week. After years of managing relaxed hair, it took a while before I figured out what worked for my hair. There was also the fact that products specifically designed for naturally curly hair were not nearly as readily available then as they are now. I had to order a lot of products online and hope for the best when I received them. Thankfully, times have changed. Now, I can walk into my local Walmart and find some of my favorite natural hair brands, including Shea Moisture and now, Carol’s Daughter.

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Carol’s Daughter is like the OG brand in the natural hair world. It was one of the first brands I tried when I went natural because even then, it had been around for more than 15 years. Lisa Price started making the products in her Brooklyn kitchen in 1993. But admittedly, I had not used their products in years because I’d found what works for my hair. So when Walmart offered to send me a couple of the current products to try, I couldn’t wait to give it another shot.

Wait, did I said a “couple” of products? Turns out it was more like eight different ones.

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I initially planned to try them on my own hair, but wash day came up for Juliza and I decided to try them in her hair. Her texture is much tighter than mine and Ja’Naya’s, and more prone to dryness, so the products that work well for us don’t really help her hair retain moisture as well. I was hopeful that the Carol’s Daughter line would help me change that.

First, let me say something: These products? Smell ah-mazing. Like no. Seriously. They smell heavenly. For most Black women I know, this is exceptionally important. We have to like the way our hair smells, and fragrances like lavender and vanilla will always be winners. The Carol’s Daughter black vanilla products smell good enough to eat. And the Hair Milk line has a lighter, almost almondy (did I make up that word) fragrance. Both are exactly the ways I’d like my hair to smell after a wash.

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I started her hair with the black vanilla sulfate-free shampoo and hydrating conditioner. I don’t use shampoo often, but because of Juliza’s last hairstyle, ponytails, I knew I needed to thoroughly wash out the product residue from the light gel I had used. It didn’t take much of the shampoo to work up a great lather. In fact, I may have used a bit too much.

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When I washed it out, her hair felt squeaky clean. Next, I moved on to the conditioner. My method with conditioner is too use a lot of it to get her hair nice and slick for easy detangling. I went a little heavier than necessary, but it made for a quick, painless detangling session.

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“Quick and painless” matters when dealing with a 2-year-old who completely freaks out every time water touches her face. And the black vanilla conditioner softened her hair so that the comb and Denman brush could glide right through it. I part the hair into about 10 sections, detangle, and twist.

Then I rinsed her hair and got her out of the tub. I wrapped it with a towel, but didn’t rub it dry. I didn’t want the towel to soak up all the moisture. Just enough so it wouldn’t drip. Then I coated her hair with the black vanilla leave-in conditioner spray about an hour before bedtime.

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The next morning, her hair was already starting to look a bit dull and dry, but that was typical right after a wash.

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I started the styling session with the Hair Milk line. I untwisted one section at a time, and sprayed it with Hair Milk refresher spray and coated it from root to tip with the combing cream. Next, I used the styling pudding from root to tip to style her hair in much smaller twists that would last longer. Her hair felt super soft and it sucked up the moisture like a sponge.

I usually style Juliza’s hair with only one product, but I think layering the three lightweight products is a better idea to help infuse moisture and seal it for retention. It also helped stretch her hair a bit. Her coils are super, super tight, which means her hair is deceptively long.

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Anyway, the result of the three products was shiny, bouncy, well-moisturized twists.

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Each morning, I sprayed her hair with the Hair Milk refresher spray to add some new moisture. On day 3, I untwisted to find a gorgeous, bouncy twist out. You betta werk, JuJu!

This is her best twistout after having twists in her hair for several days. Typically, I have to them out on day 1 to get shiny, bouncy curls. But this time, spraying her hair with the refresher spray every day really, really helped.

I have to say I’m impressed with Carol’s Daughter all over again, and I’m so, SO happy I’ll be able to find the line at Walmart at affordable prices, right alongside Shea Moisture, Miss Jessie’s, Jane Carter and other products for natural African American hair. Thank you for fulfilling that need, Walmart.

Now, to try these products on my own hair…

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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Last year was interesting. When my family and I lived in an apartment complex with a pool, we spent a lot of time in the water during the late spring and summer. All of us love to swim, and even infant Juliza loved bouncing and kicking as she floated. But when we moved into our current home in a community without a pool, we spent significantly less time in or around the water. As in we didn’t go to a pool a single time during the whole year. This year? We plan to rectify that. So when Walmart asked me to try a couple of swimsuits for Juliza from their Child of Mine by Carter’s line, I thought it would be a great way to get her ready for the water.

We received two swimsuits: A cute ruffled two-piece, and a second two-piece with a rashguard top.

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The ruffled swimsuit is my favorite, and Juliza was only too happy to twirl in it. The fit was a bit too big, since it was a 3T and she’s currently wearing 2T, but it will likely fit better by summer. Still, the fish and polka dot print and the bright colors make for an unbelievable cute swimsuit. And the best part? It’s priced at just $9.97.

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I have a feeling this one is going to be a summer favorite.

The second suit features bold black and white stripes on the rashguard top.

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Though this suit is also a 3T and the top was a bit loose, the bottom fit a lot better. And I cannot tell you how much I love the mix of black and white stripes and polka dots. So much fun! I’m willing to bet my husband is going to prefer this suit between the two.

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The rashguard option is priced at $12.97, and it’s available in three other colors.

I think it’s safe to say Juliza is ready to swim this year. Now, I just have to invest in some swimming lessons for her.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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I’m Wearing: No Boundaries Lace Dress, $14.88 | Bohemian headbands, $3.88 (similar) | Kenneth Cole sandals (similar)

Second only to fall, I absolutely love spring. The monotony of spending winter is indoors finally coming to an end, and I swear — it couldn’t happen soon enough. Because I work from home and baby Juliza stays home with me, we can literally go a whole week without leaving the house at all. During the warmer months, we try to spend a little time in the back yard just about every day, but winter nixed our time outside. So when Walmart challenged me to share their new spring apparel, I couldn’t wait to find something flirty and cute and go outside to shoot it, with Juliza in tow.

Before I go further, let me tell you how impressed I am with Walmart’s spring fashion options. There are tons of bright colors, lightweight fabrics, florals and graphic patterns, flirty dresses in trendy silhouettes, and sweaters to help you transition. I stuck to the juniors department, as the options were more in alignment with my personal taste. But there was a lot to choose from, including this fabulous romper that I was SO disappointed wasn’t available in my size.

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Instead, I found this gorgeous, lacy handkerchief hem dress in coral — the perfect springy shade. Because it is made of lace, I wasn’t expecting much stretch, but the lace fabric and the lining actually both have quite a bit of give. The bodice easily stretched to go over my head, and the skirt fit easily over my hips without tightness or pulling. Score!

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When I found these fabulous headbands for — wait for it — $3.88, I knew exactly how I wanted to style the dress. I wanted to feel warm and free, so I went total boho.

I admit that since I had Juliza and gained back pretty much all the weight I lost a few years ago, I’ve been self-conscious about baring my arms. But today, it felt great to just wear what I liked and not worry about anything else.

Of course, Juliza had to get in on the action. My intent was to take photos with her, but she was too busy watching the geese in the pond behind us and generally toddlering to pay me any attention. When I tried to pick her up, this is what I got:

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Instead, my hubby and I got some great shots of her alone.

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Looks like she’s happy about the fact that spring means we can go outside, too! For more daily pics of Juliza and her toddler antics and fashion, follow her new Instagram page, @julizaann.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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It’s not hard to make baby Juliza cute. What can I say? She was kinda born that way. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from trying to make her cuter when I’m shopping for her clothes. At this age, though, when she’s growing like a weed, I can’t afford for that cute to be expensive. It’s just not worth it when she’ll only wear any given item for a few months, at best. This is why I love Child of Mine by Carter’s.

Carter’s is easily in my top three baby and kids clothing brands. Their stuff is soft and comfy, and it’s always cute. The Child of Mine by Carter’s brand brings all of that to Walmart customers at an even more affordable price.

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We already have lots of this brand among Juliza’s wardrobe, but I’ll never pass up an opportunity to try some more. Walmart sent us these adorable Child of Mine by Carter’s pajamas, and she couldn’t wait to try them on.

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The fabric is silky smooth, and I love the pattern on the pants and the graphic print on the top. One day, we took its advice and Juliza wore them all day.

It was still tough to get great photos, because the child wouldn’t stop moving. But I managed to capture a few shots that show just how happy she was in her new PJs. The set comes with a long-sleeved top, and two pairs of pants: Short and long. They’re the perfect transitional pajamas for the fluctuating weather of late winter/early Spring.

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My biggest complaint is that this brand only goes up to 24 months in sizing, so there’s not much she’ll actually be able to wear. As it is, these pajamas may only fit for another month or two before they’re too small. So I really need them to extend into toddler sizing. I’m going to miss this brand when she sizes out completely.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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