Ask Jess: Camping planning tips, the one book I’d recommend to pregnant friends, Future Meetups and more!


Tank is old // Shorts are AGOLDE reviewed here! 

It’s Friday! I hope you have some restful and relaxing weekend plans ahead. Let’s jump into a few more reader questions today 🙂 

Are you planning any more camping adventures anytime soon? Loved following along with yours last summer and currently planning our own–do you have any tips for newbies? 

Never did I EVER thought I would turn into a camping lover. Like ever. That’s one of the great things that came out of the Pandemic is that I discovered my love for camping! (When you have no other vacation options, you try things you never thought you would, haha!) Turns out, it’s so much fun! And yes! We would love to go camping again soon–we actually talk about how we can’t wait to take LR camping! I think the “when” question will just depend on how easy of a baby she is? 😂

I have a whole blog post called, “How to Go Camping, a Novice Guide” that I’d recommend reading, as well as my “Camping Packing List.” Both are a great place to start! I feel like my biggest tip is probably to look on HipCamp, which is such a cool website and like an AirBnB for camping spots in your area! Also camping cooking is my favorite thing–I highly recommend following @KenaPeay for the most amazing camping cooking ideas, recipes and tips! 

Do you have any favorite books you’ve read in preparation for LR? 

I will say I am NOT the baby book person–I had zero interest in reading any books. (Neal on the other hand is the one who purchased “what to expect when you’re expecting” and several others. 🤣) I just think reading too much can cause more anxiety and also, nobody needs a book to tell them what is the best thing for THEM and THEIR child. Only you know that! 

Regardless, I was recommended “Cribsheet–a data driven guide to more relaxed parenting” by one of my doctors who said it’s a great “No BS–here are the facts laid out for you to make your own decisions” guide, and that appealed to me–so we purchased that (I haven’t read most of it because it’s a little past where I need to be reading right now and moves onto the older kid stage pretty quickly) but I actually think “Expecting Better: Why conventional pregnancy wisdom is wrong, and what you really need to know,” her pregnancy book, is a better book to read! It’s written by a mother and an economist who breaks down every study on every topic of pregnancy to allow you to see the data for yourself so you can make your own decisions. (I.E. how risky is eating turkey? Can you have that glass of wine? Etc). 

The BEST book that I’ve read though and the one I’d recommend to EVERY pregnant friend is NOT a self-help book, it’s called “Great with child: Letters to a Young Mother” and I read it based on Cup of Jo’s recommendation. I would HIGHLY recommend this one as a gift for any new mom! It’s the sweetest book and one of the only things I’ve read that actually shares all the amazing things about becoming a mother and how much you have to look forward to. (After so many responses of, “well, get ready to never sleep again!” and “your life is essentially over” this was a very welcome read!) If you’re feeling  anxious about your impending life change thinking, “what did I get myself into?”–read this book and nothing else. 

Do you ever use Agatha (AKA the air fryer–see review here!) for your Blue Apron recipes!? I just got my own and LOVE her, and have been thinking of trying BA too–but I really want to be able to put my air fryer to good use! 

HOORAY! So glad you are loving Agatha!! I do use her for my Blue Apron recipes!

I feel like I say this a lot but worth repeating here–one of my biggest misconceptions about Blue Apron was that I wouldn’t have a lot of creative liberty with the recipes, but that’s not at all true. You can grill things instead of pan-frying, you can sautee in a skillet instead of baking–you can air fry instead of using a skillet–basically, Blue Apron just provides the guardrails and the ingredients but you have so much freedom to do whatever you want.

The same goes for substitutions or additions–a lot of times I might have an extra veggie I want to use up that I’ll throw in as a BA side, or I won’t be in the mood for a seasoning they use but I’ll save that packet for another day and substitute something else I’m in the mood for–it’s surprisingly flexible! I like to say it takes the painful parts out of weeknight meals (planning and shopping) and leaves the fun parts (the actual cooking and enjoying delicious food)! 

That being said, I’ve often used Agatha for a lot of my BA recipes! I’ve used her to roast veggies, to make crispy potatoes, to cook chicken breasts, to make crispy flautas and quesadillas–the list goes on! Pretty much anything you would usually bake in an oven or pan-fry in a skillet can be easily air fried (or remember, Agatha can do anything an oven can do!)

Even though BA doesn’t provide air frying instructions specifically, google is your friend!! I hope that helps–if you missed it I did a really in-depth Blue Apron review breaking down your questions, who I think it’s a fit for, who it isn’t for, etc–you can read that here! 

Worth noting that BA is a paid blog sponsor–but as you know I’m really choosy about the sponsors that I take on, and I am TRULY in love with Blue Apron and their service has been such a godsend for us in the pandemic (and also in pregnancy now that I’m even MORE tired than usual and the thought of meal planning/shopping is even more of a struggle. 🤣)

Save $100 deal: Also, because they’re a sponsor I have access to a special link that will give you a $100 savings over your first five boxes if you sign up before this Sunday! Just click here and the $100 discount will auto-apply

Favorite designer splurge item? I have a $500 Nordstrom gift card I’m not sure what to do with! 

Hmmm that’s hard! To be honest I feel like I have so few designer items because I think so few designer things are actually worth the money and I just don’t really care much about designers/labels/etc. (So I’m not a great resource for designer shopping advice, sorry!!) There are a couple exceptions though: 

My #1 is my classic Chanel bag that Neal bought me for my 30th birthday, but I have no intention of ever owning another designer bag that expensive in my life. 😂 I have only ever wanted that one bag, so that one shall remain my sole designer bag indulgence. 

However, to answer your question, (I thought about this one a long time) I would put that gift card toward the classic Gucci loafers as the gift card will make a good dent in them and they are my favorite pair of investment shoes. They are so, so comfy, buttery soft. I truly don’t think they can be replicated, and they will withstand the test of time. If you take care of them they will still be in style to pass along to your niece, daughter, etc.

(Note, I know it says they’re convertible but I never fold them down like mules because I don’t want to wear out the back.) 

Are you planning any meet-ups this summer? (Hopefully it will be safe enough to do so post vaccines?!) 

YES!! Omg I would love to do this and cannot wait. 🤗 I just want to hug as many of you as I can! I should start planning now. Maybe we can have a couple because we need to make up for lost time? I will absolutely post more details as those are solidified, for now we just need to play it by ear until we know when it’s going to be safe to do so again! 

That’s all for now! I hope you have a wonderful weekend! 💛

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Jasmine Monroeau
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