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Favorites Holidays

Easter + Spring Decor Favorites

Oh hey, April.  It’s almost Easter, and it’s my birthday month!  7 years ago last week, this happened:

Our Proposal: March 2010 | Sunset Celebration, Key West

I can’t believe it’s been that long since we got engaged in Mallory Square, it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago.  I’m ready to go back to Key West, get some sunshine, and celebrate again – this time with our little lady!  People watching on Duval Street is THE BEST.

Speaking of warmer weather, I’m so excited to say that it has been consistently around 50 degrees for over a week now.

We’ll just skip over the fact that we’re supposed to get snow tonight.  It’s fine.

That means we throw the windows open, put on some jams, do some Spring cleaning, and my favorite part: DECORATE!  At least while the baby naps.  We’re right in the trenches of the 4 month sleep regression, and we are so tired – but still trying to be festive!  Does anyone remember that Toys R Us commercial from years ago, with all of the singing bunnies?  I always pull that up this time of year and watch it just to laugh.  Seriously, it’s adorable – here’s a link.  You’re welcome.

For decor, think bunnies, eggs, tulips, and pastels all over the place. So cheerful and warm after a long, gray winter season.  I’ve been scouring my favorite stores for some deals on great Spring decor, and came up with a list of my favorites to share with you.

1.  Antique Sign from Sugarboo & Co.
Super cute, not over-the-top cheesy Easter sign.  I love the simple colors and cute message.  But then again, I’m pretty obsessed with anything Sugarboo.  Her items are a splurge, but also timeless and so unique.

2.  Forsythia Wreath
I found this artificial wreath at Target – their Smith & Hawken line has the best seasonal wreaths.  I love the little pops of yellow, and the fact that it doesn’t *look* artificial.

3.  Rae Dunn Easter Serving Tray
So, I knew that Rae Dunn had the sweetest little line of coffee mugs, but it wasn’t until recently that I found out she also makes serving trays, dinnerware, cookie jars, you name it!  Her work is simple, and charming, but also really hard to find.  You can usually get lucky with Rae Dunn finds at HomeGoods, TJMaxx, and Amazon/Ebay – but not always.  So if you find something of hers you like, snatch it up!

4.  Wire Farmhouse Basket
Don’t you love everything at World Market?  This basket reminds me of those antique egg collecting baskets that you’d see on old farms – it would be perfect to store your own eggs in your kitchen.  Or if you’re just using it for decorative use for Easter, you could fill it with these wooden Easter eggs, also from World Market.

Source: Cost Plus World Market

5.  Woolie Ball Garland

Let’s face it: I am addicted to garland + bunting.  Whether they be pennants, flag bunting, or ball garlands, I love them and want them all over my house, all of the time.  Hooray Everyday makes THE cutest felt woolie ball garlands, for every season/holiday/occasion imaginable.  This Hello Spring // Woolie Ball Garland is so appropriate for the season, and would look adorable hung just about anywhere.  If you’re looking for something a little more neutral, this pottery barn ivory garland looks like little bunny tails.

6.  Green Plaid Easter Bunny Doormat
Another World Market find.  The green plaid looks like a green gingham, which I love.  Plus, BUNNIES.  It’s also made from coconut husk, which means it’s super durable and will last for many seasons.

Source: A Bowl Full of Lemons Blog

Finally, if you’re in the mood for some serious organizing on top of your Spring cleaning, you need this book. Toni is one of my all-time favorite organizational bloggers out there – and her book is a must have.

Happy Spring!

Favorites Pregnancy/Baby

Second Trimester Favorites

Oh hey, third trimester.

DSC_1998Yep, I just entered the home stretch of pregnancy – and I can’t believe it!  I just had my glucose test last week – I bombed the 1-hour test, which was pretty stressful.  I thought that I was healthy enough that it wouldn’t be a problem, but I’ve learned it’s really common for healthy women to fail it.  I had to go in last Friday for the dreaded 3-hour Glucose Tolerance Test, and while it was rough (I hate having my blood drawn!), I got the news yesterday that I passed with flying colors.  So, yay!  I definitely have a lot more appreciation for my own mom after experiencing pregnancy for myself.  Between the morning sickness in the beginning, the crazy emotions, body changes, and all of the medical tests, I’ve realized just how much my mom went through to get me here.  Thanks, mom!

Today I want to share with you some of my favorite things from my second trimester.  The trimester that my midwife lovingly refers to as “the honeymoon”, and I can see why.  It was pretty amazing, especially after experiencing the ridiculousness (so.much.nausea.) of first tri.  I felt oddly normal aside from my growing bump, but with 200% of my energy back.  I also got 200% of my appetite back…fighting off dairy-free ice cream is a real struggle.  I also hit a few milestones – the baby now responds to my voice which is so cute, and I was finally asked by a stranger recently when I’m due.  That makes it real! 🙂

secondtri1.) Gabrialla Maternity Support Belt
If you follow my Instagram, you know I post a lot about running during pregnancy.  Staying fit while you’re growing a human is hard work, and with that comes a lot of aches and pains as your body stretches to accommodate the little one.  I started getting pretty severe round ligament pain on my left side around 16 weeks, which made running really uncomfortable and not to mention the weight that the baby puts on your bladder makes it feel like you’re going to pee yourself with every stride.  Sexy, no?  A friend and fellow runner recommended this support belt, and it has been LIFE CHANGING (thanks, Michele!).  It can be worn right under my running tops without chafing, and really holds the belly in place.  Right now I only wear this for high impact workouts, but I can see myself in it more often once I get to the middle/end of the third trimester.  Highly recommend, but go with one size up for comfort.

2.) Snoogle Pregnancy Pillow
After the first trimester is over and your belly starts growing, you’re not supposed to sleep on your back anymore to avoid putting too much pressure on the blood vessels going to your legs, and the baby.  Jeremy surprised me with this amazing pillow at the beginning of the second trimester as a way to help with this.  It is super comfortable, and has a washable slipcover.  True story: he steals it in the morning if I get out of bed before him…he (not so secretly) wants one for himself!

3.) Gap Maternity Leggings
So, the Gap is pretty much the holy grail for affordable, quality maternity clothing.  Once I had a visible belly, I hated the way that my normal clothing fit and felt on my body.  I picked up two pairs of their Pure Body Leggings – in black, and charcoal – and love them.  I bought the demi panel leggings, and was worried that the band under the belly wouldn’t be comfortable, but I was wrong.  The band is wide and very elastic, so these have become a staple in my closet.  The best part is that these don’t *look* like maternity clothing, which means I’ll keep wearing them after the baby comes.  The Gap almost always has a 35-50% off + free shipping sale running, which keeps their clothing even less expensive than Target or Old Navy.  You can sign up for their emails here to be notified of upcoming sales, and get 25% off your first order.

4.) Cindy’s Kitchen Balsamic Vinaigrette
I get asked pretty often what weird things I’m craving, and the truth is I don’t really have many cravings, I just want more of what I liked to eat before pregnancy.  If I had to pick one thing that I really want most of the time, it would be this vinaigrette.  I want to put it on just about everything – chicken, salads, peaches, drink it straight from the bottle – which is a little unusual I guess.  This stuff is SO good, though.

5.) Suzanne Bowen Barre Workouts
In my first trimester favorites, I mentioned that I’d been doing some Jillian Michaels workouts – which were great!  I love HIIT workouts, but pulled an oblique muscle around 14 weeks after one of these workouts, which was a clear sign that my abs could no longer handle that kind of strain.  A minor tear in an oblique is one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced, because you use your core for EVERYTHING.  I had to take a full two weeks off of any exercise, and if we’re being honest, most movement.  During that time, I researched more challenging prenatal workouts and came across the BarreAmped method.  I’ve always equated prenatal workouts with being too easy, but these (especially the Sleek & Toned DVD) are TOUGH.  I vividly remember having to stop every 45 seconds during the first workout because my muscles were being burned out so quickly…there may also have been some swear words.  If you are skeptical at all, just take a quick glance at any Barre instructor’s butt.  That should be enough evidence that these routines work.  This + running 5-6 days a week has kept me feeling really fit!

6.) La Croix Curate’ – Watermelon
I don’t have a problem with La Croix, you have a problem.  I can stop drinking it whenever I want.  Okay, not really…this stuff saved me in the first trimester, and I’m still addicted now.

7.) Mindful Birthing book
As someone with a type A personality who struggles with anxiety at times, I’ve used a lot of mindfulness techniques over the years to get myself into a healthy, comfortable headspace.  So when I found this book on Amazon (which also came highly recommended by my doula), I snatched it up quickly!  The author applies the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction technique to the process and pain of labor and childbirth.  I just finished the book, and while I can’t yet attest to it’s effectiveness during labor, I’m already finding the meditation and mindfulness exercises to be extremely helpful in everyday life.  I’ll offer a full review once this little one arrives!

8.) Pregnant Chicken Blog
Let’s get real for a second, shall we?  Pregnancy is beautiful, and amazing, and a miraculous journey.  But it’s also pretty weird and gross, sometimes.  Now that I’m in the beginning of the third trimester, I’m starting to transition from “oh yay, baby kicks!” to “NO ONE TOLD ME THERE WOULD BE CANKLES”.  Amy, the author over at Pregnant Chicken, has a hilarious way of delivering otherwise serious information.  I love how she keeps it real, honest, and throws in a few swears here and there – it feels like you’re listening to a friend talk.  I especially love her weekly emails, and baby registry suggestions.  If you’re newly pregnant, please do yourself a favor and hop over there for a read.  So refreshing!

What were your favorites during the easiest trimester?
Smied Watermark

Favorites Pregnancy/Baby

First Trimester Favorites

I found out I was pregnant at roughly 4 weeks along.

Anyone who tells you that pregnancy is an amazing, special time is a magical pregnancy unicorn, at least when they’re talking about the first trimester.  I know every pregnancy is different for each woman, but in my case, the first trimester was ROUGH.

the-first-trimester-of-pregnancy-is-one-long-all-day-hangover-except-the-only-thing-you-over-indulged-in-the-night-before-was-netflix--7bf96I spent the first two weeks after I found out, wondering how I got so lucky that I was feeling so “normal”.  Aside from my boobs feeling like overfilled water balloons, and still being shocked by the news, I wasn’t fatigued or feeling sick at all.  I was still able to eat the foods I enjoyed normally, and was able to workout and run 4-5 days a week.  I vividly remember being halfway through a run during week 5 and thinking “I feel so great, I must just be one of the lucky ones!”…I didn’t even have time to knock on wood before week 6 showed up and knocked me right on my ass.  This was right around the time we’d started our bed project – I had to abandon Jeremy halfway through and tell him to finish it himself.  Sorry, honey.

First it started with aversions to foods I normally loved, since my go-to meals strangely just didn’t sound appetizing anymore.  Within a few days, this progressed to complete food aversion.  It got to the point where if I could just go without food of any kind for the foreseeable future and not die of starvation, that would have been my first choice.  Everything sounded, looked, and smelled disgusting, and I wanted to throw a tantrum every time my stomach would growl because DON’T MAKE ME EAT, body!  I was also completely exhausted – there were times when I would have to take a break from walking up the stairs, or brushing my teeth by sitting on the bathroom floor, because it felt like I’d just run 100 miles.  I was feeling so terrible that I had to give my ticket away to a Neil DeGrasse-Tyson talk, an event that I’d been looking forward to for MONTHS.  So sad.

Once the nausea kicked in full-force, it was pretty awful.  So bad in fact, that in an effort to avoid having to call out sick or hide getting sick at work, that I actually kept an oversized Tupperware “puke bowl” in my car.  Gross, I know.  Thankfully, I never actually threw up, but felt like I was on the verge of it 24/7.   I don’t know how women with Hyperemesis do it, you ladies deserve a gold medal for surviving that.  I could barely handle how I was feeling – I would come home from work every evening, try to choke down some mashed potatoes or applesauce, then crawl in bed and just cry about how awful I felt.  The worst part was not knowing if/when my hormones would settle and the sick feeling would end, and suffering alone since we didn’t want to tell anyone until the second trimester.  I remember sitting on the couch one night with Jeremy halfway through week 6, saying “I don’t know how I’m going to do this.  I can’t handle being pregnant and I have 34 weeks to go.”  I felt so miserable, ungrateful and guilty.  I know several women who have had a hard time conceiving, and here I was, complaining about how awful I was feeling while this amazing thing was happening.  It was a confusing time, emotionally.  Luckily, the major nausea tapered off within 4 weeks, my moods leveled out, and food sounds super-appetizing again now that I’m in the second trimester.  And by super-appetizing, I mean I may or may not be turning into a culinary vacuum cleaner.

In lieu of this month’s favorites, here are some of my first trimester favorites that helped make the hardest trimester a little bit more bearable.

FTF1.  Chimes Ginger Chews
Jeremy brought home some of these chews from Zingerman’s a while ago, and I never really tried them until I started feeling sick.  I’ve heard lots of good things about ginger for nausea, so I always kept a few of these on hand just in case.  In my purse, in the car, in my pocket, etc…  They’re really spicy without being too sweet, which really helped ease the nausea when I wasn’t sure I could make it through work without getting sick.  Plus, they’re low in sugar which is much better than popping sour candy or Preggie Pop Drops, which I found were just glorified Jolly Ranchers.

2.  Bananas
So, bananas were my saving grace when my blood sugar would dip (because food sounded so gross that I just wouldn’t eat), which would then lead to serious nausea.  I learned the best way to fight the nausea was to never let myself get too hungry, so I always had bananas with me because they were a small amount of food with just enough sugar to keep me going.  I’m surprised I didn’t turn into one considering how many I ate.  I would send Jeremy to the grocery store and ask him to get 2-3 bundles of them, and they’d be gone in less than a week.  My first trimester record was 18 bananas in 5 days….yes, really.

3.  Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30
With the exception of the green haze of weeks 6-10, I was able to get these weekly workouts in when I was feeling good enough.  It was a workout I’d done before I got pregnant, and is a great way to get some endorphins flowing, build muscle, and get a little cardio in.  It was gentle enough that I was able to handle it even when I felt too weak to run or do intense strength training, but I still felt like I got a good workout in when I was done.  Now that I’m in the second trimester and my tiny belly is starting to make an appearance, I’ll have to adapt to another workout program that is easier on my abs (don’t want to get Diastasis Recti!), but this was great for the early days.

4.  Glow Nurture App
I downloaded this app shortly after I found out I was pregnant.  I love data and facts, so being able to see exactly how big the baby was at the moment, and how it was developing was really reassuring in the early days, when you don’t actually feel anything going on down there.  I still haven’t actually felt any movement yet, but I need less reassurance now that I’m out of the danger zone.  It also has a daily health log, and appointment reminders. The community forum can get a little catty, but I otherwise really enjoy the app.   Available on Android and iOs.

5.  La Croix Sparkling Water
This stuff is like the nectar of the gods during pregnancy.  When I couldn’t stomach food, but would get so nauseous from being hungry, this sparkling water would be my first go-to item.  The flavor (my favorites are Lime, and Cran-Raspberry) made it easier to take down than regular water, and the carbonation would fill my stomach up to take the nausea down long enough for me to eat something small.  If this sparkling water were a person, I would be in love with it – it was a life saver!

6.  Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatals
I did a ton of research on prenatals before I actually made a purchase, and this one had the best reviews as far as how good they were for you, and how little they aggravated reviewer’s stomachs.  When you already have all day nausea, you don’t want to add anything else into the mix to make it worse.  Thankfully, these prenatals have been great.  They don’t have a strong (read: gag-inducing) taste, and never upset my stomach even when I couldn’t stomach food along with them.  I also think they may have played a role in me never actually getting sick.

7.  The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
We were gifted this book by one of Jeremy’s coworkers, and I read through it just out of curiosity.  If you’re hoping for a more natural birth (hope is a strong word, since you can’t really plan much of it), this is a great read even for expectant mothers.  I’ve learned a ton about the actual stages of labor, and what to expect every step of the way.  Jeremy has recently picked it up as well, and it’s helped him to learn about the process of birth, and the best ways to be supportive during that time.  Because of this book, we’re in the process of interviewing Birth Doulas — even if you’re not interested in hiring a doula, this is a MUST read for anyone you want in the delivery room as your support.

8.  What to Expect When You’re Expecting
I know this book is the gold standard of pregnancy reading material, and I’m so glad I have it.  It is super-detailed, and extremely thorough without being cheesy, or biased as some prenatal books can be.  It is a great reference to have on hand when you’re experiencing weird symptoms, or are just curious about what should be happening during your current week of pregnancy.  I highly recommend it for first-time moms who don’t know what they’re in for, it’s been a great resource for me!

9.  Ingrid & Isabel Bellaband
As a first time soon-to-be mom, I’m definitely not naive to the fact that at some point my normal clothes (or at least some of them) won’t work for me when my bump grows to beached-whale proportions.  However, that didn’t stop me from trying to prevent spending money on maternity clothing just yet.  Tops were not an issue in the first trimester, but bottoms are a whole different story.  PREGNANCY BLOAT IS A REAL PROBLEM, guys.  By roughly week 8 or 9, it was too uncomfortable to try to button pants, but I was able to get by on the hair tie trick.  However by week 11, that wasn’t cutting it anymore.  Insert the Bellaband – it is a super-soft, smoothing band that you can wear over almost any unbuttoned/unzipped bottom, and it comes in several colors.  I picked mine up at Target, in the color “Natural” to see if I liked it.  Well, the verdict is in, and I LOVE it.  This has allowed me to stretch the use of my pre-pregnancy clothing since the only thing growing right now is my belly.  This is a MUST have, and I will definitely be picking it up in the other colors soon.

So, what were some of your first trimester favorites (or survival items)?  If you’re reading this and you’re in the middle of the first trimester, good luck to you – you can do it!  It gets so much better for most women, I promise!

Smied Watermark


Birthday + April Favorites

April is one of my favorite months.  Not only does Michigan weather start getting its act together, but it’s also my birthday month!  Wednesday was my actual birthday, and although I had to work, I came home to quite a surprise from Jeremy.  A homemade chorizo taco bar, margaritas, balloons, and he tried shooting confetti at me when I walked through the door, while blaring this song.  The spring in the confetti popper didn’t work though, so he sort of just ended up throwing it at me, and then the spring came flying out like a terrifying jack-in-the-box.  It was hilarious.  Also, TACOS.  Tacos, chips & salsa are my weakness – I could eat them for breakfast/lunch/dinner, and need to be supervised when I do, so I don’t eat myself to question is right up there with the meaning of life for me.

Spring + Birthdays are some of my favorite things, so for this post I decided to share some of my other current favorites with you.
1.  Fixer Upper Season 2
GUYS.  They just released this on Netflix last Tuesday, and I may or may not have binged over the course of two days.  I love Chip & Joanna, Chip’s goofy personality reminds me a LOT of my husband (who is nicknamed “the golden retriever of humans” because everyone just loves him).  Their house transformations are always amazing, but I get so sad when I watch, because I want them to come redo our house for free.  Her designs actually inspired me to put up white subway tile in our kitchen (before-and-after in an upcoming post!), and I have plans for some serious ship-lap in the near future.

2. LifeFactory Water Bottle Turquoise, 22oz.
I’ve made a pretty vocal effort to start drinking more water, so Jeremy picked this up as one of my birthday gifts.  It’s super cute, and the silicone grip is really nice.  Plastic water bottles have always weirded me out and leave a plastic/metallic aftertaste in the water, so I really appreciate that the bottle is made of glass.  I also love that the top enclosure doesn’t make an obnoxiously loud *POP* every time you open/close it to take a drink.

3.  Essie Chillato
Some women collect an obscene amount of shoes…for me, it’s nail polish.  With the weather warming up, I’ve been in the mood for spring-colored nails and picked up this beauty at CVS.  It’s like pastel yellow + lime green had a baby, and has a solid finish with two coats.  So pretty.

4. La Quercia N’duja Americana
This is a spicy prosciutto spread that Jeremy introduced me to, and it is soooo good.  It almost tastes like a spreadable pepperoni, with a little bit of heat.  We’ve tried it spread on crostini and crackers, and thrown it in pasta sauce, but I’m sure there are a million other things you can do with it.  They sell this at Zingerman’s, and Jeremy was actually just recently in a video promoting it.  There are scarves, space cheese kittens, and a flawless delivery on Jeremy’s part, watch it here.  You won’t be disappointed.  He’s ridiculous.

5.  Saucony Women’s Scoot LX Capri
I’ve had these for a while now, and they are easily the most comfortable pair of workout bottoms I own.  They’re light, flexible, airy, and super forgiving so they don’t squeeze you like some running tights can.  I can wear these in both warm and cold weather when running outdoors, and they keep me at a comfortable temperature.  I want them in more colors!

6. Chalk Markers
As I’ve mentioned before, I love making chalkboards.  I started out several years ago just using regular crayola chalk dipped in water, but for really fun/bold boards I love these chalk markers.  I did boards for a friend’s wedding last September, and these markers made the boards look so crisp and bright.  PS – that friend is Adrienne over at Appetites Anonymous, she’s a foodie with amazing cooking/styling skills  – check her blog out!

7.  Swagbucks
I make an extra $50/month through this website.  It’s an online rewards and cash back program, where you receive “swagbucks” for each survey you fill out, website you visit, etc.  Each swagbuck = 1 penny.  I’ve been a member for the last 5 years – so I can tell you it’s legit.  I save the gift cards I earn towards light fixtures and other home improvement wants (not needs), that wouldn’t normally fit in my budget.  You can sign up here.

8.  Smith + Hawken Boxwood Wreath – Target
If you follow my instagram, you know that I love a festive front door wreath!  The last few months we’ve had some pretty colorful wreaths up, so for spring I’ve been keeping an eye out for something a little more subtle.  I love the look of a Magnolia wreath, but haven’t been able to find a faux wreath that was affordable, and the cheaper ones look pretty obviously fake.  This boxwood wreath is a good alternative.  Its full, green, and a fresh look for our spring front door.

What are some of your favorites lately?
Smied Watermark