Amazon Finds: Winter 2021

Wednesday, January 27, 2021


Although our financial guy won't be thrilled, I'm back with another list of my top Amazon buys - Haha! You can check out my post from the summer HERE.


{1} Yeti Mug - Like many other brands, I never want to believe the hype surrounding them. Well, here I am again falling on the sword because I am obsessed with these mugs! The larger 20oz tumbler is a fave for water, and the 14oz handle mug (SNAG IT NOW FOR $18-22, depending on color) is ideal for tea or coffee. Both have become essentials with pregnancy brain being a very real thing, but anyone would love them. For that reason, they truly make amazing gifts. 

{2} Rug Grips - You know you're an adult when something like this brings you joy. We've struggled to keep our kitchen runner in place for MONTHS, but these $12 miracle workers changed that in a matter of minutes. Neither my husband's heavy step nor my crazy dog's zoomies have moved it, and that's saying something. Highly, highly recommend! We'll for sure be ordering more. You can get either a 4-pack or 8-pack, but in hindsight, the 8-pack is a much better value. 

{3} Water Bottle Cabinet Organizer - I'm a sucker for clear, acrylic organizers, but stopped myself from buying these water bottle organizers time and time again. I really don't know what took me so long, but I was just hesitant. Did we really need them? Would they make a substantial difference for us? Answer: YES and YES. I wish I took before and after pictures because I was honestly floored. Now, these may not fit perfectly in every cabinet, so I recommend measuring before ordering. I initially got the 4-pack, and have now ordered an additional 2-pack to complete the system. Maybe it's my nesting phase kicking into high gear, but I think we can all find great peace in an organized space. 

{4} Faux Leather Placemats - Talk about a dupe! William-Sonoma sells nearly identical placemats for $25 a piece. I love the look of these placemats, but more importantly, how easy they are to clean. For a while, we were using round placemats and I just felt like they weren't cutting it with the crumbs. They were basically too small for our plates, resulting in a constant state of countertop mess. I'm actually thinking of ordering the white set next for a lighter, brighter look for Spring.

{5} Essence Mascara - To round out my picks, I'm changing categories and switching to beauty. I'll be honest, I rarely, if ever, recommend cosmetics from Amazon because there are so many counterfeit products out there. Essence is a drugstore brand that sells directly through Amazon, so I feel more comfortable purchasing, which is why I'm sharing it with to you. So, this mascara is $5! Yes, you read that correctly. It's amazing for the price. It's not an exact dupe for my beloved iTCosmetics Superhero mascara, but it's pretty damn close. My only compliant is that it transfers when I apply it to my lower lashes; otherwise, it's my go-to work-from-home mascara. 

Bonus buys for all my soon-to-be mamas! I personally cannot live without these products, and I know I'll love them just as much once the baby comes. For more pregnancy content, click HERE and HERE.


ALSO, if you're on Instagram, be sure to give me a follow (@thesassysuburbs) and check out today's post to win $150 Amazon gift card! 

Registry Picks & Second Trimester Recommendations

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Joggers | Tank Top | Cardigan

It still amazes me how quickly time is flying, especially when the world feels like it's standing still, but here we are. I'm nearing my third trimester and this sweet little babe is going to make her debut before we know it. Since so many of you requested that I share our registry picks and my most loved items during this stage of pregnancy, I wanted to get this post up sooner rather than later. There are lots of babies coming in Spring/Summer 2021 apparently! 

Registry

For ease of reference, here's the direct link to our registry: https://www.babylist.com/Lauren_Will_Rivera. I opted to utilize Babylist to consolidate our selections because it seemed like the most straightforward. Unlike a wedding registry, there are a ton of sites and stores to gather items from, so this worked best for us. I also loved how you could add notes for your friends and family, and there were multiple store options automatically listed, to ensure no one overpays for anything. 

In terms of big ticket items, we decided on the following: 

Nuna Pipa Lite Car Seat & Triv Stroller: When it came to the whole car seat/stroller system thing, I won't lie, I was incredibly overwhelmed. I watched a ton of YouTube reviews from a variety of different sources, and ultimately found that the Nuna brand offered the best options for a petite mom. Believe it or not, that is something to consider when you're buying baby gear. The Pipa Lite car seat and Triv stroller are the lightest on the market today; therefore, making both easily transferable from the backseat and trunk, respectively. I should note that although light, safety was in no way compromised. That was incredibly important to us, for obvious reasons. 

While the Triv stroller doesn't allow for a second seat, should we have another baby in the near future, it does come with a conversion ring that allows the car seat to snap right into the base, which will be perfect for those early months. The main stroller seat is also suitable from newborn to 40+ pounds, so the system should serve us well for the foreseeable future. If and when we have another baby, we'll deal with the double stroller/mutli-kid transportation conundrum. Another plus, the Nuna line is beautiful, in my opinion, with aesthetically pleasing color variations that would fit any family's needs. We opted for the Birch car seat and Frost stroller to keep things gender neutral yet chic. 

Owlet Sleep Sock & Monitor (not included on registry because we got it on deep discount via Costco.com): We were undecided on whether to go with the Owlet or Nanit for a few weeks, but ultimately chose the Owlet because the (i) camera did not require a stationary stick above the crib and (ii) the sock seemed like the easiest and most flexible way to monitor the baby. The Nanit also required additional bands/sleep sacks to track the baby's sleep and stats, and honestly, the Costco bundle was so incredibly priced for all it came with, we couldn't pass it up.

Peg Perego Siesta High Chair: This high chair was actually a popular recommendation by all of you! Our overall goal with most of our selections were to invest in quality items that could be used for years to come and, if possible, were usable throughout the different baby stages. The Siesta looks a bit more like a traditional high chair than I wanted, because of the multitude of ways it can be adapted in height and recline, it really does grows with baby from infancy to toddlerhood. To make floor cleanup easy, I also registered for a Gathre mat

Snoo Bassinet (not included on registry because my mom graciously gifted it to us): Next to the car seat/stroller situation, this was our most hotly debated topic. There are extreme options about the Snoo - either you love it or you hate it. We arrived at our decision after I listened to the "Happiest Baby on the Block" audiobook, written by the inventor of the Snoo. Personally, before you even consider this bassinet, I think you need to see if you and your partner align with Dr. Karp's principles. My husband and I were agreeable to most of his positions, so we pulled the trigger, because candidly, sleep (not cash) is king when it comes to surviving life with a newborn. Also, my husband is a frontline worker and cannot be performing procedures on patients if he's only had 2 hours of sleep. We needed to set ourselves up for as much success as possible. Yes, it's expensive, but you can always rent it, if you're on the fence. We didn't feel comfortable doing this during COVID, and wanted to have this for future children, so that's why we wanted to buy it. 

Second Trimester Recap & Recommendations

As I'm sure you've heard, the second trimester is deemed the "honeymoon phase" of pregnancy because MOST women feel great. This trimester just brought new symptoms, like leg cramps, back pain and insomnia, while nausea and vomiting did subside. On a positive note, I've been feeling well enough to exercise a few days a week, which really has made all the difference for me mentally. Although not many will say this, it is difficult as a woman to watch your body drastically change over a few short months. Those changes are for an incredible purpose, and are clearly outside of one's control, but can be a challenge to handle nonetheless. If you're struggling, my advice is to start moving, no matter what it is - a walk, prenatal yoga, etc. - just move when you can. 

In terms of routines, not much has changed from my first trimester (you can read all about my recap and top recommendations HERE) because those products have proven to be amazing throughout this part of pregnancy as well; however, I have added a few new items with second trimester-related body changes and hormonal shifts. 

Maternity/Nursing PJs: Here's a fun fact - By your second trimester, nothing feels comfortable because your all pre-pregnancy stuff just too tight - Enter these amazing maternity/nursing PJs from Amazon. I absolutely love these because they're sleek enough to wear working from home throughout the day, but are soft and cool enough to sleep all night in. 

Maternity Tank Tops: My daily OOTD these days consist of either yoga pants or joggers, a tank top and a Barefoot Dreams cardigan (pictured above!). The biggest challenge, however, was finding tanks I could wear all day long with an ever-growing belly. Thankfully, Target knows what's up when it comes to inexpensive, but amazing, maternity clothes. These are 2 for $18 ($9.99 each) and wash beautifully. Be sure to order your pre-pregnancy size. When the tank arrives, it may look smaller than you expect, but I've found them to be like magic tops and they'll adjust effortlessly to your appropriate size. 

Maternity Underwear: I never thought I'd discuss underwear so publicly, but believe me when I say, THESE ARE LIFE CHANGING. They cover the bum, sit at the perfect spot below the belly, stay in place (yes, that's a problem with other maternity undies) and don't shrink in the wash. Just order them and give them a try for yourself. I promise, you won't be disappointed. 

8Sheep Organics Magnesium Lotion: As I noted, this trimester brought all sorts of pains, in addition to an unexpected, immense lack of sleep. My pregnancy pillow is still an amazing addition to our bed, but I was desperate after several weeks of waking 7-10 times a night. This brand of lotion kept popping up in my Facebook and Instagram ads, so I was super skeptical, BUT I've been happily surprised with my results so far. The primary ingredient that helps reduce pain and induce sleep is magnesium, so I would recommend checking with your doctor before ordering. From my own research and doctor confirmation, it's perfectly safe since its a low dose, topical application. I like to rub this on my feet, lower back and calves before bed, and have been able to reduce waking to 2-4 times a night. Woo hoo!!!  

Beyond Yoga Joggers: If you've been following along since my pregnancy started, you know the only pants I'll wear are by Beyond Yoga because of how incredibly soft yet supportive they are. Again, I love a multi-purpose product. The maternity line is named "Beyond the Bump" since the products are meant to also be worn postpartum, which helps justify the price, in my mind. When I saw they came out with maternity joggers, you know I had to click "add to cart" ASAP. I've worn these almost every day since they arrived mid-December, if you need any more of a testimonial...and yes, I've washed them multiple times already and they've held up great, haha! NOTE: All my yoga/loungewear clothes have a tendency to pill because my thighs rub together. It does not change my opinion of the quality and I simply use a fabric shaver after washing to bring any rough spots back to life. THIS is my fave shaver from Amazon (around $12). 

Beekman 1802 Deodorant: I've been using this natural deodorant since the start of the pandemic. Don't ask me why I switched at that particular time, but Native just wasn't cutting anymore it at that point. Maybe the stress sweat was too intense given the global crisis? Needless to say, this is the only one I'll ever use, and with a ton of hormonal changes, I've found myself still smelling fresh as a daisy. My husband even uses it now. It's that effective, yet safe! 

Laniege Vanilla Lip Mask: Although another oldie but goodie, pregnancy makes you incredibly dehydrated. Even after consuming almost 100oz of water a day, my lips were still chapped by the end of the night. I put this on before bed and like to reapply throughout the day. The original berry and vanilla are pregnancy-safe, but I can only speak to those. If neither of them float your boat, you'll have to do a bit more digging to confirm acceptability. 

Maternity/Nursing Bra: I've tried a TON of bras at all price points over the last few weeks (Amazon, Nordstrom, etc.) and this is the only one I've liked! Again, Target just seems to know something about maternity that the other stores don't. This one also has the versatility of being meant for nursing, so it's versatile and can be worn postpartum. I took a small, but may try a medium next time, since I'm already on the last hook. In my opinion, this bra is one of the only ones that offers both comfort and support. 

Beb Organic Soothing Serum: Safe for mom and baby, this serum has helped to reduce my hormonal acne when my face is inflamed. It doesn't cause clogged pores and has only clean ingredients. I've been using it sparingly, so they'll be product left for our sweet girl, but it's quickly become a staple in my maternity skincare routine. You can check out this Instagram post for more information and a promo code! 

I hope you enjoyed today's post. I know it was a long one, but my goal was to be as comprehensive and helpful as possible. Don't hesitate to reach out with any questions, and be sure to follow me on Instagram (@thesassysuburbs) for your daily dose of sass!

How to Get a Luxury Car for Less

Monday, December 21, 2020

Leave it to 2020 to keep throwing curveballs. Like many of you, life as we knew it changed drastically in a few short months. After finding out that we were pregnant, we quickly realized that we had a major purchase on the horizon as well...a new car. My lease was slated to expire in the midst of a global pandemic, and we had to decide what was going to be the right fit for our growing family. Always exciting, right? I personally hate all things car-related...Enter my car-loving husband. This post is in collaboration with him because the topic is truly outside of my wheelhouse, but so many of you wanted to know more about our experience. I hope you find these tips helpful! 

So, here's a bit of background for context.

We had leased a 2017 Volkswagon Tiguan Limited about 6 months before our wedding, when my Honda Accord's lease was up. I've always leased my vehicles, so the thought of buying for the first time worried me. Leasing always made cars more affordable and required minimum maintenance. I know, financially, the experts say buying is better, but leasing just always fit my lifestyle and financial restraints. Prior to my VW, I only ever drove Hondas. I think Hondas are amazing cars, by the way, if you are in the market. Once I drove a VW vehicle, however I fell in love with how German cars drove. I knew going forward, I really only wanted to explore German brands. 

We test drove a ton of car options, safety, of course in the early to mid-Fall months. We had a decent laundry list of items, namely a high-quality, mid-sized SUV that was all-wheel drive with safety features, a roomy interior and great trunk space. For years, we discussed a BMW, if the opportunity ever presented itself for the build, design and craftsmanship, particularly since we were going to buy this time around. My personal reason for agreeing to buy, as my husband recommended, was to alleviate the stress of constantly watching the odometer. Once COVID is behind us and baby girl is here, I anticipate traveling to New York at least monthly and taking many family trips state-side, since I do not see us getting on a plane any time soon. We also live in a state where places we like to shop and areas we enjoy frequenting are several miles away. Those things really add up. While the new car was technically mine, it was really going to be a family vehicle, since my husband drives stick and I literally can barely turn his car on...haha! After months of research and test-drives, we ultimately purchased a 2020 BMW x3 in white with mocha interior that had 7k miles on it. It was truly an amazing deal and I feel so fortunate because we did not settle. 

With all that in mind, here are our tips:

1) Shop towards the end of the year, if possible, since the dealerships are much more willing to negotiate, or during economic downturns, like COVID, in our case.  

2) Know you numbers. When buying, you always want to put at least 20% down and do not go beyond a 5-year loan agreement. Should you be unable to do that financially, look for a different car within your budget. You'll be underwater otherwise, especially with the accelerated depreciation on vehicles. 

3) Look for vehicles that were part of the dealership's loaner program. This is really the crux of how we got our deal. A loaner car is owned and used by the dealership when a customer comes in for service and requires a vehicle to use for a few days. They generally have very low mileage and are newer, so they're still under warranty; however, it should be noted that it may not qualify as a certified pre-owned. These are very rare to come by, so you might have to sacrifice some "wants" for the sake of the deal. We, thankfully, were able to find exactly what we were looking for. We just had to travel to Maryland to get it. 

4) Do not pay for any excess fees. There are only a handful of items you are legally required to pay. This is state-specific, so you'll have to do a bit of googling to figure that out. Remember: the finance office always houses the best negotiator in the building. That's where they'll corner you. DO NOT let them up sell you on extra warranties, document fees and such. 

5) Make sure any discounts are off of the MSRP, not the bottom line. This is how dealerships manipulate the transaction to make you think you're getting a bargain. Be sure to check out cars.com, edmonds.com, autotrader.com, etc. to determine what's fair and learn competitors' pricing. 

6) Play hardball, even if you really do need a car that day. The sales guy, while very nice, doesn't need to know your every detail of your personal history and current circumstances. Be as direct as possible, and do not show extreme emotions. Once they know they have you, you're done for. For example, when we were at the BMW dealership, we acted like we were more interested in the Q5 and vice versa. Also, do not share any specifics about your finances early on. They'll use that to manipulate the numbers against you (see tip #2 and #5). 

With that, we are thrilled with our purchase. Honestly, it was both an exhausting and rewarding process, like any car-related transaction. Ultimately, do your best not to settle and remember that you're (pun intended) in the driver's seat. 

Lauren xo

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