She’s a Nashville-based blogger and mom to two-year-old Matilda Jewel, who writes two blogs, Whoa, Wait, Walmart? and A Girl James. We love the way she edits the fashion market (and beyond)—not just for herself and her family–but really for her friends and readers. She has great taste, a generous spirit, and is always thinking about the price. We’re so glad we met her.
Give us a little background on yourself/what you do/how you came to it.
I don’t care where things come from; I care how they look and make me feel. Money doesn’t have to impact the ability to be stylish.I grew up in Walmart’s hometown: Bentonville, Arkansas. Growing up, my sisters and I were taught to hunt for a good deal, even at Walmart. Going to line reviews with my Walmart-buyer mother inspired me to major in Fashion and Interiors Merchandising in college. After a short stint in product development on furniture and several retail jobs, I decided I should step back and decide what was important to me. Climbing a corporate ladder or working in retail weren’t going to make me happy. I love people; I wanted to help people. Setting aside the creative field, I got a Masters of Arts in Teaching English Language Learners. I spent the next five years teaching the most precious children in the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools.
When my daughter was born, I chose to stay home with her (part-time at first, fulltime now) and our income was cut in half. (Good thing shopping for a bargain is a rush for me!) I had always wanted to start a blog. Being home fulltime with Matilda gave me the opportunity to do it. A Girl James is a space created for sharing deals I find and things I make. As I said earlier, I love helping people. In this season of life, I’m not helping them learn how to read, but rather helping them enjoy the things around them (in simple, inexpensive ways).
Throughout my life, I have constantly had exchanges that include someone saying, “That’s from Walmart?” Those reactions were the inspiration for a regular post on my blog called, Whoa, wait. Walmart? It focused on the amazingly cute products you can find on their aisles. Don’t get me wrong sometimes you have to dig. (Remember, I love the hunt.) I was toying with the idea of letting Whoa, wait. Walmart? stand on it’s own. My dear friend and (as she put it) style soul mate, Amanda Jerkins, encouraged me to do it. So, I asked her to come along for the wonderful ride. You can find us on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter. It has been a blast!
Do you work in a home office, and if you do, how do you deal with working from home (while parenting)?
My version of a home office is my living room, bedroom, or kitchen. I get most of my work done during naptime or in the evenings. My husband is great about helping out when he is home. It’s amazing what you can accomplish during 20 minutes at home while they run to the store!
What would you say is your “mom uniform”?
I’ve been living in cutoffs or jeggings, a flowing top, and my Walmart sandals. (The ones featured on Momfilter.)
Do you cook much–if you don’t, what are your ways around not cooking, and if you do, what are your go-tos–both for yourself, and for your kid?
I love to cook! Although, being the worlds worst menu planner often inhibits what ends up happening at dinner. Our dinners usually end up being last minute, whatever we have in the house. The one meal we make every single week is pizza. We are obsessed with Trader Joe’s. Have you tried their pizza dough? Oh man, it’s delicious. Our favorite is the regular, but they have whole wheat as well. It costs $1.99. The best part is that pizza making it is a family event. My husband rolls out the dough. Matilda spreads pizza sauce, while I chopped fresh spinach in the food processor. Then we add some basil and top it off with mozzarella. It bakes on a pizza stone (what I bake everything on) at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. So simple and we get another veggie in Matilda’s mouth.
What’s your weeknight family dinner routine?
My husband usually gets home from work around 5:30 pm. We eat together at our bar or dining table around 6:00 pm. Eating together is important to us. Some nights Matilda eats something (baked sweet potatoes and avocados are her favorites) before us if we’re going out on a date. We still sit down at the table with her.
How do you celebrate your child’s birthdays?
Birthdays are very important to me. Not my birthday necessarily, but I want my husband and daughter to feel special and loved. Matilda’s first birthday was huge, with tons of people. I kept telling myself her second birthday was going to be simple and small. It wasn’t simple or small. I can’t contain myself when it comes to giving her joy. Having said that, elaborate and big doesn’t have to mean expensive. Her party this year had a circus theme. I made almost everything: pennant banners, cages for the stuffed animals, and signs. My mom made the adorable cake. The whole party cost less than $75, including her presents.
Best kid purchase/bang for your buck?
Matilda loves Ikea toys! They are unique, adorable, and inexpensive.
Any rules about TV/screens?
We just try keeping it in moderation. She loves to watch TV or play games on our iPhones or iPad. It has been so sweet to relive my favorite Disney movies through her eyes. The TV is only on if we are actually watching something. It doesn’t stay on; the unnecessary noise and waste of electricity drive me crazy. Oh, and no screens during mealtime.
What websites inspire you and for which parts of your life? Preferred social media is….?
What’s a typical weekend like?
Friday nights we usually go out to eat as a family (I choose Mexican; my mister chooses burgers. We always agree on sushi.) and then after Matilda goes to bed, we watch West Wing on Netflix or TiVoed Shark Tank episodes. Saturdays include a slow, lazy morning: homemade breakfast, dancing to Michael Kiwanuka or Josh Ritter on vinyl, and sipping coffee. After we get around, we usually do some grocery shopping and head to the park or pool. Sundays are busy and slow all at once with church, naptime or projects, and preparing for the week.
What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and never gets crossed off and nags at you?
Being a creative, I hoard things that have potential. Our garage is full of projects. There is this huge card catalog (free from the university my husband works for) that I’ve been planning on painting and putting wheels on. Thrift store chairs ($10 for the pair) that have beautiful frames, but just need to be recovered. This cycle will never end, and I love it.
Do you have a fail-safe beauty product or routine?
I’ve been washing my face with coconut oil for almost six months. I still have minor breakouts, but it has kept my skin clearer than any other product I’ve tried. My anxiety was through the roof when I rubbed oil on my face for the first time. I was raised to only use oil-free products.
Best family trip?
To save money, most of our vacations are planned around work trips for my husband. Back in May, my husband had a conference in St. Louis, we went and enjoyed the city. Their zoo is free and enormous! They also have a great downtown splash park called Citygarden that Matilda loved. However, being at the beach with my family… not much can beat that.
Any small business advice–like what is something you wish someone had told you when you started your business?
This is more blog advice and less business advice, but they might go hand in hand. Elsie from A Beautiful Mess wrote a post called 5 Tips for Bloggers. It was a nice reminder that I could comment on and like tons of blog posts, Instagram pictures, or Facebook pages without feeling like they were the competition. It was liberating to share the love.
There is no possible way I could live without my iPhone 5. The majority of my business is managed from it. Plus, I would never show up for any events or appointments if an alert didn’t tell me to.
Any personal/parenting “a-ha” tips?
Most of our days together, Matilda and I thoroughly enjoy each other’s company. Sometimes on really difficult days (you know, the ones filled with tears and timeouts) I stop and reflect on the day. Most of those days, I wasn’t parenting intentionally. I was probably trying to cross off too many things on my to-do list.
You feel your best when?
Creating has always been important to me. My husband lived in Italy several years ago, and one of his Italian friends worked as a deejay at night. He used to say that he deejayed to get his demons out. That is how I feel about making things or sharing my ideas; it gets my creative demons out.
Young-adult fiction is my vice. I will stay up all night for a book that has suspense and/or romantic tension.
Proudest moment in parenting?
My heart melts when Matilda says, “Thank you.” without being reminded.
Best parenting advice you ever got?
When Adam and I were engaged, we were on a road trip with my grandpa. He asked if we were ready to get married. My husband said yes, but asked if he had any advice. My grandpa quickly replied, “Don’t get mad at the same time.” We sort of laughed it off at the time, but that advice has been a foundation for our marriage. Eventually, we learned how applicable it is to parenting as well. No one will get anywhere if more than one person is mad. Everyone just needs to take a deep breath.