Friday, January 30, 2015

Highlights and Super Bowls


I have one highlight from this week.

The "treat yoself" episode of Parks and Rec.

You must be thinking your week was either that boring or Parks and Rec was just that good.

It was just that good.  I jumped on the Parks and Rec bandwagon really late.  Some months ago, my husband showed me the clip of Donna and Tom's first "treat yoself" episode and that's what originally got me hooked.

Needless to say, when Donna and Tom busted out with a treat yoself 2017!, I died.  And yes, it was the highlight of my week.

This weekend is going to be all about getting ready for and watching the Super Bowl.  Last year, we didn't have a TV so that made the Super Bowl pretty underwhelming.  But this year we've got a TV a bbq wings recipe and veggie plate on the menu.  Our good friends who we haven't seen in quite a while are coming over for some pizza, drinks, and a Katy Perry half time show.

It should be a good time.

Go Seahawks.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Meal-spiration


I love chicken tenders.  A little bit of ranch, a little bit of bbq, some fries (or mashed potatoes) and I'm in food heaven.  Since having to go gluten-free though, it's rare to find them on a menu out at restaurants.  So I've done a little experimenting of my own in the kitchen.  They turned out particularly well last time, so I thought I'd share!

Buying gluten-free breadcrumbs can get expensive quickly.  And I don't know about you, but I don't bread enough to go through one of those packages.  I had some Udi's bread that was going stale (#classy), so I baked a few pieces at 350 degrees  until the bread was almost crisp.  I then put the bread in a food processor with a little (gf) flour, garlic, paprika, and pepper.  When the ingredients were well mixed, I made sure to fully cover each chicken tender with the mixture and put them in the oven (on a greased cookie sheet) to bake.

We made some sweet potato fries, threw together a salad and called the meal complete.

This one is going in the recipe books.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The audiobook


I used to not like audiobooks, because I used to be quite the purist when it came to reading.  I liked real books (and magazines) with lovely-smelling pages and hardcover prints.  (Not to mention the little dose of satisfaction that came with the flip of every page.)

I wish I could say I'm the type to unwind with a nice book and glass of wine in the evening, but I'm not.  I unwind with a good TV show.

With these habits, though, I noticed I began to read a lot less.  And I didn't like it.

Enter Audible. 

I toyed with the idea if the money was worth having the app.  And in all honesty, I'm still discerning that.  But I found a coupon code on Retailmenot.com for 60% off the subscription price for the first three months.  I decided to test it out for a whopping $5.95 and got Amy Poehler's Yes Please* (for free with the subscription).  It took me a week to get through the seven hour read.  I played it while doing things around the house and while in the car and getting ready in the morning.  Before long I found myself looking for my next read.  (Oprah's What I Know For Sure, if you're curious.)

I'll probably keep my subscription even when the RetailMeNot discount is no longer valid.  In my opinion, any app that can get me through a book in a week is some money well spent.  Also, anything that helps me to enjoy cleaning is practically a miracle worker.  So thanks, Amy for accompanying me as I steamed my floors.

*Amy's book feels like it was meant to be an audiobook.  The rhythm of the read, her narration, and her special guests made it especially worth listening to.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A weekend of dancing


This weekend was like most.  Tim worked on Saturday, we chilled, we brunched, and we worshiped.

But this weekend we did something that we need to do more often - we danced.  We didn't go out dancing or anything.  Tim and Ella had a mini dance party at brunch and we had an impromptu family dance party on Sunday evening.  Small dance parties sound insignificant, but they are anything but.  Coincidentally, I had just finished Amy Poehler's Yes Please the day prior where she insisted dance parties are a near necessity of life.  They help us refocus, relax, and "if you can dance freely without feeling embarrassed, you can basically do anything."

Our impromptu family dance party was probably one of my favorite moments we've shared as a family. Ella sat there on her Fisher Price xylophone providing the tunes, and Tim and I danced our little hearts out screaming Encore!  

Here's to dancing through the week.
Have a great Monday.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Haircut, color, and advice




This was a birthday present to myself.  I've always loved to change up my hair, but I haven't done so in quite a long time.  I've always tried not to take my hair too seriously and view it as a canvas that I can have fun with.  I'm turning 25 next month, so I thought I'd get back to my hair-dying roots (haha, get it?) and go a little blonder.

A couple tips for changing it up?

Find a stylist you trust before dealing with color.  I've gotten my hair colored by a couple stylists that I hadn't previously been to.  Having pictures and describing what I wanted just didn't do.  I ended up paying a pretty penny for something I was less than satisfied with.  KC from Hairdrezzers on Fire in Normal Heights was recommended to me by a good friend.  I went to her for the chop a few months back, and I'd never been more satisfied with a haircut in my life.  KC is also incredibly friendly and easy to talk to (which means a lot coming from someone who can't deal with small talk). Based on my previous experience, I knew I could trust her opinion and spending a couple hours with her would be full of good conversation.

Take risks.  It's just hair.  It'll grow back.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Nine months

one month
two months
three months
four months


I couldn't pick one for five months, so I chose three.
six months.
seven months
eight months


nine months
I haven't documented much of Ella's development on here.  But as she hits the nine month mark today, I thought what better way to celebrate the milestone than to write about it?

The last nine months have been nothing like I thought they were going to be. Sleeping was easy. Breastfeeding was not.  And the postpartum anxiety and depression were highly unexpected.  But here we are, nine months later.  And we're all okay.  And in one piece.  We're good and we're learning and we're enjoying it.

Ella has been a good sleeper since 6 weeks old.  Maybe it was pure luck or maybe it was the fact that she got on a feeding schedule pretty quickly, we haven't complained.  She's never been a cuddly baby.  If I found a onesie that said "Miss Independent" I'd buy it and she'd live in it.  She's likes to be put in bed with the light off to get her beauty rest.  And that is fine by me.  The three words we've heard most often from people to describe her have been "alert", "calm", and "curious".  And that couldn't be more true (unless when handed off to a strange face than she has a total breakdown).

She started crawling at seven months, started standing at seven and a half.  She's more interested in remotes, tissue boxes, and DVD cases than she is any of the toys that have been gifted to her.  She loves bouncing, standing, waving.  Oh, and screaming.  Oh how she loves to scream... in church, in restaurants.  It's important to note these screams are happy screams, which bodes well among all the strangers around her.

One of my favorite things about her is she lights up and smiles every time we look in her closet.  It gets me hopeful one day I'll have a younger shopping buddy to ensure I stay cool and hip.  She knows to smile when the camera's pointed at her, which makes taking selfies with her especially fun.  She makes me laugh when I laugh at something Tim says and then she starts to laugh 'cause we're laughing.  It turns into one, big, ridiculous laughing fest.

She wins for cutest laugh.

She freaks me out most when she stands up and opens a cupboard in the kitchen.  Or heads for the electrical outlet, arm extended.  It's time to baby proof.  Like yesterday.

She warms my heart most when she greets me with a big and bright smile when I see her in the morning.  (She's the only happy morning person in this joint.)  And when she puts her head on my shoulder when she's getting ready to go down for a nap.  Like I said, cuddling is rare, so when it happens it's special.

She makes me feel like a good mom when she laughs at my attempts to be funny and silly.  We can dance and sing and I can attempt to do ridiculous accents and there's no judgy eyes or glaring looks. Just us.  And it's wonderful.

I have learned the cliche "they grow up so fast" to be true.  As little as a new mom wants to hear those five words, it's said for a reason.  So we've been trying to soak up and enjoy our time with her as a chunky-cheeked, smiley, sweet, screaming baby girl.

I've changed since having Ella.  I've become more of a feminist, which sounds strange when used in the context of a stay-at-home mom.  I now get a little too heated when out looking for girls clothing. (Only boys are geniuses, apparently.)  I appreciate and respect all moms ever in the history of the world.  We all know it's a feat, to be a mom.  But until you have a screaming child grabbing her own poop can you really understand.  One of my new favorite past times is jamming out with Ella on her Fisher Price xylophone and dancing for her every time she takes the little yellow drumming tool.  I've learned to care a little less about others opinions of me.  I've been too busy in my own corner getting my own stuff together so I can be the best for my daughter and husband.  I've learned as long as you have a cute baby in your arms, you won't have a problem with small talk and going to the bathroom now sometimes feels like a mini-vacation.  I've also been surprised by how I never grow tired of kissing her chunkster cheeks and how I miss her when she goes to sleep.

I've learned that having a kid is funny, and fun, and always surprising.  And that though these past nine months have been hard at points, I wouldn't have traded them for anything.

Happy nine months, sweet girl.  You're still an absolute joy.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday, monday

Deep in conversation.
"Woah...."

A baby in a highchair with some puppies on her shirt.

Bawler baby.

Football-watching party.

We're a smile big sort of family.

And a selfie.  'Cause why not?  Couple reasons.  One: I bought a shirt that wasn't black or white.  And two: I was having a good hair day.
We went out a lot this weekend.  After last week, all we wanted to do is simultaneously go out on the town and veg on the couch.  We made time for both.  We went shopping, and Tim got a few new shirts.  I made history and bought a skirt.  And we went out for probably one too many meals.

We also, of course, watched the Packers vs. Seahawks game which was only made entertaining by the close score and the Seahawks on point uniforms.  I'm not a football girl.  Hockey is my jam.  But I married into a Packers-loving family, so I sat next to Tim for moral support (and jokingly told him if I were single I'd be a Seahawks fan).

We closed out Sunday with The Newsroom.  We're about half way through that binge-watching party.

No spoilers, please.

Today we're enjoying the last bit of this long holiday weekend, getting ready for the week ahead, and praying to the Dear Lord this week is a little less chaotic than the last. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

TGIF


Green tea is good for the soul (and your body).

An accurate representation of this week.

Appetizers for one.

 A make-up-free mom with unwashed hair, her favorite mug, and a shot of caffeine.  (Some weeks are more glamorous than others.)
I think it's officially safe to say that we've had our first, true week of family chaos.

Tim was barely home this week.  Between 10:30PM calls into work and arriving home at 3:00AM, we missed him a lot this past week.  He's been spreading himself thin between the demands of his second job and what launch week entails.  It was during this week that I was constantly reminded I married a hardworking, driven, dedicated man.

That being said, I've never been happier to welcome back Friday into my life.  This week was a week where my five minute chiropractic adjustment was a mini-vacation, and I actually contemplated having Hershey Kisses for dinner.  So needless to say, I'm elated for this weekend.  From the outside looking in, it will be nothing special.  Maybe brunch, maybe some shopping, probably some cleaning.

But from my view, it will be perfect.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Breastfeeding and a mother's instinct


*I am 100% for breastfeeding.  I also believe you should be able to nourish your child in public.  I'm sharing a piece of my own experience.

Oh, breastfeeding.

It is the biggest deal these days in child rearing.  At least it seems like it is.

I am so not going to get into the whole boob vs. bottle thing.  There's more than enough out there already.  For this WILW post though, I'm going to share a bit of my experience and what I ultimately learned through the struggle of breastfeeding.

I had a horribly traumatic experience breastfeeding my baby.  I've often described it as worse than the actual birth.  It was painful and exhausting both emotionally and physically.  I'm not going to get into the details.  Because there's no ladylike way to talk about engorgement and cabbage leaves in your bra.  But what I will say is  I tried for a few weeks. And despite reading things like "push through the pain", and "it will get better" etc.  I knew in my gut what we were trying to accomplish was overall taking away from experiencing the joy of a new family. 

It wasn't working for me.

My husband was back at work a week after our baby was born.  In attempts to try everything I could to "best nourish" my baby, I resorted to pumping around the clock.  I spent most of my girl's first month in tears on the couch feeling like I had failed her and my body had failed me.  With the rise of things like The Business of Being Born and the whole natural movement, I thought formula was evil. That my daughter wouldn't thrive, and that stopping breastfeeding so soon would define me as a lazy, bad mom.

Someone who doesn't have kids or someone who has had a successful breastfeeding experience may read this and think this is nothing more than a dramatic tale.  But after reading multiple, multiple breastfeeding accounts from both new and seasoned moms, these emotions are common.

So why am I babbling?

To tell you that what works for one mom may not work for another.  And you need to be okay with that.  As the mom.  And as the person who might think things should be done a certain way.  I would have preferred not to be asked by total strangers if I nursed my child.  It's a private matter.  Not the competition that it seems like it's become.

Almost 9 months into parenthood, how to nourish your child seems like one of the easier decisions we'll have to make as parents.  If you've had a hard time breastfeeding or are harboring regret because your experience didn't go as you wished it did, it's okay.  You're doing the best you can.  Rest in that thought.

It took me months to come to terms with my experience.  And now, I'm only sad I lost that time with my new girl.

We're moms.  We're human.  We're doing what we can.  And sometimes, a lot of times, things aren't perfect.  As a new mom, I was doing the best I could.  I now rest assured in that thought.    

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Triple chocolate raspberry cookies


The gluten-free baking ventures continue!  We were recently invited to a Christmas party that required everyone to bring a dish.  I've never brought a dish to a potluck as married woman, so I wanted to bring a little more of a sophisticated dessert.  My best friend turned me on to the white chocolate/raspberry duo and I thought it was the perfect taste to take to a holiday party!  But as they say, you should never take something to a party you haven't made before.  But to that I said whatever as I usually stick to the basic chocolate cookie.

Is this too much back story for a recipe?  Probably.

Anyway.  The cookies turned out greeeaaat.  At least I liked 'em.  And so did a couple other people. I've been asked for the recipe a few times, so I thought I'd write a post on them.

The original recipe can be found here.  I cut the recipe in half and made some changes.  I also made them gluten free.

Here's what you'll need: 


1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3/4 cup Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
3/8 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/8 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/8 white chocolate chips
A few frozen raspberries.*

What to do:

1.  Preheat oven to 325 F.
2.  Cream cold butter until smooth.
3.  Add sugar, vanilla.  Cream together.
4.  Add eggs.  Mix well.
5.  Add flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda.  Combine.
6.  Stir in chocolate and white chocolate chips.
7.  Roll into balls and place on lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake 10-13 minutes.  (The GF dough may take a little longer to bake.)

*I made the original recipe where the raspberries are mixed into the dough, but I had some trouble with the cookies sticking to the cookie sheet.  My husband had the idea of taking a teaspoon, pushing a little divot into the balls of dough and place a couple frozen raspberries in the middle of the balls of dough.  They turned out great!

Monday, January 12, 2015

My style

When I was in college, I started a style blog as a class project.  The lukewarm blogger I was at the time, I didn't keep up with it.  From time to time, I regret not keeping the project going.  But I learned a lot about my personal style and ultimately found my style through documenting my outfits.

What's my style?


A little manly.

I think a little bit of my short run as a middle school tomboy has stuck with me.  Because in this picture I'm wearing an old pair of my husband's jeans.  A few months postpartum, a lot of my pants didn't fit me, and I was particularly feeling the "boyfriend" look at that time in my life.  And why pay 50 bucks for a pair of "boyfriend" jeans when you can just buy man pants?  I've also been known to shop in the men's section.  (Calm down, I love womanhood and all that.)  I just can't deny some good oversized man flannel.

Excuse my baby's fingerprints.


A little lazy.

"Simple" might be a more flattering word choice.

But when I get dressed in the morning, I like to be comfortable.  So you'll rarely see me in a skirt. Because I find them horribly uncomfortable.  I'm too paranoid in skirts.  Can I pick up that pen I just dropped?  Will the wind be out to get me?  And I've never really found the perfect skirt that flatters my figure (although I love a good pencil skirt).  I was the person who loved the gauchos in middle school.  They were comfortable.  I love huge, wide-legged flare pants.  I like jumpsuits.  I like turtlenecks. Because I think it takes little work to look chic and put together in a good jumpsuit or a good pair of flares.  Or in an oversized scarf (see above) or in a pair of leopard flats (also see above).


A little random.

My closet is full of hand-me-downs from grandmas and friends.  This sweater is from a friend.  It's a little big, so I went with the oversized-sweater, statement necklace, and tight pants vibe with this outfit.  I try to take pieces that may not totally suit me on their own and make it a part of an outfit that works well with my figure and style.



Full of black and white.

I try to add color into my wardrobe, but every time I'm out shopping I flock to the black and white. So much so that I told my husband last time I went shopping to not let me buy anything black or white.  He wasn't successful.  I bought that moto jacket and turtleneck in the picture above.  You just can't go wrong with black and white.  It's classic.  It's timeless.  But one of my goals for 2015 is to continue to look for the perfect fuchsia top.  (It's been a long hunt.)  Step aside, marsala.



And of course, a little feminine.

When trying to find a picture that shows the feminine side of my style, I kept going back to my wedding dress.  Which may be strange.   But I went with it.   When looking for my dress, I had no idea what style I wanted.  All I knew is I wanted it to be a little unconventional, simple and with a hint of detail.  And that's probably how I would describe the feminine aspect of my style.

YEAH YOU DO. (Picture found here.)

Style spirit animal*

I have quite a few style icons.  Nicole Richie, Kate Hudson, Blake Lively, being a few.  About 9 years ago I would have said my style spirit animal was Serena Vanderwoodsen.  Because. Obviously. But today.  The title goes to Claire Underwood from House of Cards.  Without question.  This woman's wardrobe is flawless (unlike her character...).  And every time I watch the show, I find myself just as into what she's wearing as I am the plot line.  (Yes, I watched the Golden Globes this weekend partially for the clothing.)

I've been wanting to get back into doing some style posts.  So here's what I hope to be the first of many!


*I don't know if this even makes sense.  But in my mind it's someone whose wardrobe you'd love to have.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

New schedules

Why not post a baby picture?
Welp.  I missed my Friday post.  Since this blog is a passion project, I try to write every day.  And post on weekdays.  But this week was a bit chaotic.  So I missed my Friday post.  And since I'm really trying to avoid the I've been too busy to blog lately I thought I'd post today.  Saturday.

So more on that chaotic week.  This week was the first week for a new schedule in our family.  My husband is working a few extra hours a week, which means a couple 13 hour days a week for him, work on Saturday, and one tired mama.  Aside from a new schedule, the game my husband has been working on in recent months is launching next Thursday.  So that also means a little more chaos and a few more hours put in over the weekend.  But it's good.  These are all exciting things happening. This will be the first credit my husband has on a released game.  And for this I'm incredibly proud of him.  I can honestly say he's worked tirelessly, and he deserves every bit of the path he's on.  #shamelesshusbandplug?

I'm glad I'm writing this post.  Simply for myself.  Because it's incredibly easy after a long, long day to get caught up in allll the little things.  The skipped naps, the cries of teething, the fourth round of dirty dishes.

The missed blog post.

But those things are temporary.  I can go to sleep at the end of the day and wake up the next with a clean slate.  The hard work?  That's every bit worth it.

One day in the future (hopefully on vacation) we'll look back on this time in our lives and think, what a freaking challenge.  But what a blessed time.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Resolutions


I love me a good New Years Resolution list.  This list usually resides on a new, crisp piece of stationary paper-clipped in my new, shiny planner (to really get me in the resolution-y mood, you know?).

But if I'm really being honest with myself, the practice for me over the years became a bit of a joke. Yeah!  I'm gonna do yoga!  And Yeah!  I'm gonna take a cooking class  and Yeah!  I'm gonna join a club! all flooded my mind with such excitement.  But usually, come March I have gotten lost in the chaos of life and my once fresh, crisp New Years List is left mangled and shoved underneath some (probably expired) coupons.

It's good that we try.  We try to be better people every year.  But I've come to learn that the "once a year mentality" is a dangerous one.  Because we wait until a new year to make a change.  And it's usually 3 or 5 changes.  So we get overwhelmed.  Because we're most likely looking at resolutions that take time and effort.  So we say we're going to do something, maybe make an effort, and then quickly get caught up in day-to-day life.

Maybe this isn't you.  Maybe you're the king or queen of making a New Years resolution and crossing 'em off your list come December 31st.  But if the painted picture above is you, I'm here to say don't worry.

I couldn't tell you what was on my New Years resolution list from last year.  But what I can tell you is any goal I wanted to achieve or any resolution I wanted to make throughout the year, I wrote it on a note card and put the card in a place I would see it daily.  I chose my bedroom mirror.  Upon success, I took the card down, put it in journal and dated it.  And I saw results.  But I didn't start practicing this until almost July.  That's the beauty in resolutions and goals and changes.  We don't need a ball drop to make a change in our lives.

On a Tuesday in the middle of July is just as good as January 1st.

Don't let a passed, shiny "January 1" let you get discouraged.  Start now.  Wednesday.  January 7th.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Back to it!


Happy 2015!  I mean, Happy Friends is Available on Netflix! I blogged a little less over the holiday break, so I've got lots to report.  And by "lots", I mean rediscovering The New Girl and an old pair of (pre-prego) heels.

Since we traveled for Thanksgiving, we kept our Christmas low key.  The following days were full of rearranging and decorating the apartment, movie watching, baking, and indulging in one too many cafe mistos.  (I got my husband a totally unnecessary milk frother for Christmas - best 40 bucks I've ever spent.)  I don't know about you, but I love laid back vacations.  I'm so not one of those people who has a jam-packed itinerary when on vacation.  I like to refocus and relax.  While away, that usually means on some beach, but on a good staycation that means soaking in all the time I can with my hubby before he starts a new, more intense work schedule.

As for New Years.  Well.  It's official.  I'm an 85-year-old grandma stuck in a 24-year-old's body.  I think I made it to about 10:20.  And woke up with my makeup on.  It was wild.  I may have not partied 'til the sun rose, but I did cross off 2 out of the 4 goals I had for this break.  So I consider these past couple weeks a success and well spent.

As much as I love the idea of being on perpetual vacation, there's always something about breaking out a new planner, reorganizing and starting fresh.  That is what I'll be doing this week - writing in planners, attending appointments, and crossing off those last two goals.

And, of course, finish binge watching The New Girl.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Some beauty products

Over the holidays I picked up and received some fun beauty products.  So I thought I'd share what I've been loving.