Friday, July 31, 2015

A day in Portland









One of my best friends is in town this week, so we've made a couple tourists out of ourselves and have been exploring our new home.  We headed into Downtown Portland and hit up a couple bakeries and the infamous VooDoo Doughnuts.  It was the hottest day of the year, but that didn't matter because I had my best shorts and nautical vibe on my side.  My nautical vibe was supplied by PinkBlush Maternity, a maternity boutique that sells cute maternity clothes and maternity dresses. The soft, breathable shirt kept me cool and comfortable as I strolled the hipster streets of Portlandia. And with that distressed denim I looked like I fit right in among all the edginess.


It was a hot day, it was a fun day.  It was a day of cruisin' around the city feeling proud of my bump. The chocolate chip cookie sandwich with espresso cream was just the cherry on top.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Our new favorite coffee spot


Going out to get coffee is one of my favorite things to do.  In my daily world of little structure and running around chasing a little one, going out and grabbing a good cup of jo makes me feel human.  So when we moved, finding that irreplaceable go-to coffee shop was high on our list (as my husband is a big coffee guy, too).

Enter Thatcher's.

This place didn't appear when searching for local coffee shops or gluten-free friendly places.  Tim happened to come across it when he was looking at a Google Map search.  Admittedly, I had low expectations.  We had been to a few coffee shops since we moved that claimed to be gluten-free friendly, but weren't, were overpriced, or over-sweetened.

We got to Thatcher's and immediately loved it!

Here's why:

Gluten-free friendly:  They have a variety of gluten-free pastries that are decently priced and worth the money.  They're the type who know how to make a good gluten-free muffin not taste gluten-free. Some of their selection includes: banana bread, cookies, an almond muffin, and brownies.

Friendly service:  The ladies and dudes are nice.  And that matters at a coffee shop.

Kid friendly:  There are usually a ton of moms and babies when we go.  They have a little kid section with a kiddie table and a couple toys.  And every mom loves a good kiddie section.

Their sizing options:  I love that they offer an 8oz size.  I like to get coffee, but only a little!  Their smallest in iced is 12oz.

They're local.  Who doesn't love to support a local business?

Their quality:  They make some their syrups in house, so they're not overly sweet.  And they know how to add just the right amount of sweetener.

They have almond milk:  For those who have more than one allergy, this is the place to be.

Five stars in my book.  When dealing with food sensitives, going out for food in general tends to be a let down.  When you find that place where you can check your allergies at the door and know you're taken care of, it's a breath of fresh air.  They'll have my business as long as we live here.





Monday, July 27, 2015

From the weekend

Can we get a weekend to recover from the weekend?  That's my only thought going into Monday, which can't be a good sign.  But I have a to-do list and a strong cup of jo next to me.  So I'm basically unstoppable.

I hope you had a great weekend.  Here are some scenes from ours:

Ella having some serious water fun on the patio.  This brought me so much joy!  All last week I was feelin' like a sub par parent.   I had more on my plate than usual and wasn't sure if I was giving Ella the attention and playtime she needed.  But all it took was a mixing bowl, some water, and a hot day to brighten our Friday

We were greeted by rain Saturday morning which was incredibly refreshing for us and our grass. We've encountered a bit of irony since moving to Washington.  It's been an unusually hot Summer with little rain -- something we're used to coming from San Diego.  But we love that rainfall and those cooler temps!

My nephew at his 4th birthday party.  Kiddo birthday parties are so fun.  Aidyn was so excited for the day, it was the cutest.

His Jurassic World cake.  The coolest.

Ella, of course loved it.

A post-rainfall sky.



Our weekend pit stop at our favorite coffee shop.  Ella was pretty excited about getting her own pastry.

Capped off the weekend with a homemade Greek salad -- one of my favorite dishes.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Sorry, baseboards

Well guys, I didn't clean the baseboards.  Or get rid of any moving boxes from the garage.  But I sold an air conditioner, made some banana bread, and was approached with a couple opportunities for the blog.  The latter (well, and the formers) I'm really excited about, but that meant some real time needed to be dedicated to get some work done this week.  And even with just a small change in my daily schedule, I needed to learn how to better balance my days.  I wrote more to-do lists than usual and had my planner glued to my side.  I loved it!  It was this week I was especially thankful for the opportunity to be at home with my family and pursue what I love.

As for this weekend, baseboards and boxes are still on my list.  As well as my nephew's 4th birthday party and a whole lot of errands in preparation for the upcoming out-of-town visits.

On a final note, thank you for continuing to stop by to read.  Or maybe if you just stumbled upon this page for the first time.  In that case, thanks for stopping by.  Your time is valuable, I appreciate you taking a few minutes to spend it with me.

Have a great weekend.  I'll be back Monday with a report on the dryer sheets/baseboards deal.

Here are some highlights:

Spending some quality time with my little one.  Catching a Disney classic.

Ella assisting daddy in decorating our place.


 Ready to roll with "Lamby Pie" and "Mr. Bear."  I always thought it'd be so cute to have a little one who loves stuffed animals!

I'm in love with this outdoor welcome mat.  Probably more than I should be.  But it brightens my day every time I get home.

You're never too old for rainbow sprinkles. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Chocolate eclair cake (gluten-free)



Was this cake a project!  What I thought would be an easy (but delicious) childhood recipe turned into a couple failed attempts and an ultimate science project.  Thankfully, the final result was worth the effort.

The original recipe can be found here.  Read on for the gluten-free and (mostly) lactose-free recipe.

What you'll need:

3 packages (8 oz) of gluten-free graham crackers (I used the Kinnikinnick Foods Smorables)
2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
4 cups (Lactaid) milk
2 (9 ounce) packages of So Delicious Dairy Free Cool Whip (use 16 ounces)
1 (16 ounce) package chocolate frosting (I used Duncan Hines)

What to do:

Line a 9x13 inch backing pan with graham crackers.  In large bowl, combine milk and pudding (according to directions on box).  Fold the cool whip into the pudding.  Spread a layer of the pudding mixture over the graham crackers.  Alternate the graham cracker and pudding layers up to the top of the pan.  Cook container of frosting, uncovered in microwave for 1 minute on half power.  Pour over the top of the cake.  Refrigerate for at least 12 hours before serving.

Notes:

  • Lactaid is (so far) the only milk I've found to work with instant pudding.  Almond milk didn't work well.
  • Gluten-free graham crackers aren't the same size or shape as classic graham crackers, so they don't fit perfectly in the pan.  This part you can improvise a bit by putting 2 on top of each other if they're not fitting to the edge exactly.  The graham crackers soften in the fridge, so it won't matter.
  • Specialty ingredients are often hard to find.  For the more rare allergy-friendly alternatives, I have the best luck at Whole Foods.  The price tends to not vary much since specialty items are usually more expensive no matter where you find them.
We were all smiles about this one!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

WILW: Budgeting


I have grown to love budgeting. That's not to say I don't get frustrated from time to time, but budgeting has given me an appreciation for money and what we spend our money on.  Learning how to budget has also given me a discipline that will (hopefully) pay off later in life. 

Budgeting is a constant work in progress. Incomes change, bills change. We're always learning how to adapt and make do with the current numbers in front of us. Tim and I, just in the 2 years we've been married, have lived on various budgets. Some stringent, others more lenient.   

Since we're newly accommodating to our latest situation, I thought I'd share some thoughts that have gotten us through those tight-budget times and helped us to budget successfully. 

Having an emergency fund is key. This can be a particularly hard one for recent grads paying student loans and potentially living paycheck to paycheck, but setting aside whatever you can into a fund for those "oh shit" moments is priceless. This may mean sacrificing a movie here or there or coffee runs, but it's a relief knowing that when an emergency hits, you won't have to resort to a credit card. 

It's all in the 'tude. You can look at budgeting one of two ways. Either 1) it's restricting and limiting your current lifestyle or 2) it's setting you up for an easier lifestyle later on. It's, at times, hard to stick my energy on the latter, but when I'm falling in a rut I remind myself that saying a small "no" to something today is setting me up to be able to say a big "yes" later on. 

Find your splurge. We have to be able to treat ourselves every now and then. Depriving ourselves of every little thing could easily lead to a "screw it, let's put it on the credit card." Maybe it's movies, maybe it's books, or games, or dinners. For Tim and I it's coffee. Going out for coffee is our us time. Maybe one day we'll be able to add dinner dates, a budget for a babysitter, etc. For now, we're happy with our coffee dates.

Find a system that works best for you. There's Dave Ramsey's envelope system, there are budgeting apps like EveryDollar and Mint. A system that may work for one situation may not work for another. Tim and I for a long while stuck to the cash system and it helped us significantly in saving for Ella's arrival, but when Tim started working a lot more hours it became harder to manage. We then switched over to using apps as we both could stay on top of our budget.

Tackle budgeting as a team. Usually one person handles the finances -- the spreadsheets, the bills, the tracking -- and that's great.  Depending on your current scenario though, it can be difficult to manage money alone with sometimes burdensome numbers looking back at you.  If you sit down and simply talk your budget out together, it helps to keep your situation in perspective and equips you to be able to help each other stay on track.

Have tangible goals and revisit progress often.  This one has helped us in the short time we've been married.  If you're sitting on a mountain of debt, it's important to know where you want and need your money to go.  It can seem insurmountable to achieve even little goals when we're constantly getting more statements in the mail.  By setting tangible goals, it gives us focus and ultimately momentum to reaching financial freedom.  List goals by importance and urgency and allocate any extra money earned (through selling items, bonuses, or side jobs) to the fund that helps you achieve your goal.

Budgeting has been a constant work in progress since Tim and I got married.  We've had ups and downs, and I'm sure more highs and lows will come our way.  We've learned, though, that these few pointers aid us well in staying focused and not veer from our budget or goals.  Everyone's current situation is different, if you have any budgeting insights or tips, I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

22 week update

As of today, I'm 22 weeks and 4 days.  Here's an update!


Maternity clothes?  Of course, but I'm still managing to wear my maxi skirts and dresses and more loosely-fitting shirts.
Stretch marks?  You bet.  None on my stomach as of yet, but some appeared on my legs and hips.
Sleep?  Sleeping hasn't yet been a problem.  Woo!
Best moment of the week?  Finding some good, inexpensive clothes that made me feel good.
Miss anything?  Soft eggs.  This hasn't changed.  Soft poached eggs on avocado and toast in the morning are my favorite.
Cravings?  Lemonade!  I rarely ever drink lemonade.  But the other day I could have walked a mile for a good glass.
Anything making you queasy?  Not a lot.  Scrambled eggs in the morning sometimes set me off, but my nose is not as sensitive as it was when I was when I was pregnant with Ella.
Gender?  Boy!
Symptoms?  Round ligament pain, aches and pains here and there, that pulling and heaviness feeling in the stomach.  A good symptom?  My hair doesn't need to be washed nearly as often.  Thanks, hormones for being on my side with that one.
Most excited for?  Friday.  My oh-so-generous brother and sister-in-law are giving us our nephew's old furniture, and I'm excited to start getting the babes' room in order!

I have good days and tired days, but these pregnant months are going by so quickly. Having Ella around during this pregnancy has taken some of the the pressure off.  Instead of worries and "what if's", it's "Ella, say hi to the baby", and wondering how they'll interact with each other. When pregnant with Ella, I felt like I was constantly on edge, it's been refreshing to sit back and enjoy these months.  

Monday, July 20, 2015

From the weekend

I have zero pictures from the weekend (well except this one), because this weekend was a little off. You know those weekends?  The ones you make big plans for and things don't work out for whatever reason?  Tim's in the middle of another transition at work which meant needing to get work done over the weekend.  We fit in errands when we could, but being out in the heat all day Sunday made this pregnant lady sick.


Thankfully, it had its highlights.  My newly married sister-in-law and her husband came over on Friday night for a visit.  I hadn't seen them since our wedding, so it was nice to catch up.  And then on Saturday, we went over to my brother and sister-in-law's place to watch the first Star Wars. Everyone has had enough over the fact that I haven't seen the series, so we're now making our way through the series.  All I have to say is seeing a young Harrison Ford was weird.

As for the week, we're gearing up for a round of out-of-state visits from friends and family.  One of my best friends will be coming out next week (!!) and right after she leaves, some of Tim's family will be here for most of August.  This means that this week I'll be doing things around the house that I've put off like getting boxes out of the garage and cleaning the baseboards.

We'll find out if Pinterest is correct in telling me that dryer sheets are the best way to clean baseboards.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Happy Monday.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Celebrating little victories

I went on walks this week, so it was pretty much a productive week.  I've been trying to stay active and healthy during this pregnancy, and I'd say I've been fairly successful (the "fairly" included because I still make decadent desserts like eclair cake).  This week felt like the week of practicing better habits and trying to better ourselves.  A lot of let's not get coffee today, we'll save it for this weekend, a lot of trying to get up earlier, getting outside even for only 15 minutes, consciously making an effort to fight anxiety.

On the last note, this week I went out alone with Ella for the first time -- for more than just a walk. (Please hold gasps.  Yes, my daughter is over a year old).  Any time I had been out before, it was to meet a friend or go to the grocery store or to the doctor.  Tim had always stayed with Ella.  Since my anxiety has peaked in the last year or so, and made its full presence while out and driving, I never took Ella out with me in fear of not being able to "show up" for her if I needed to.  But my anxiety has lessened a bit since we moved.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe cooler temps, maybe a more relaxed lifestyle overall.  Things like anxiety are fickle and weird.  But this week I worked up whatever I needed to and made the trek to our local Target.  On foot, yes, with Ella in the stroller, but off we went to pick up a few things we had run out of.  And, while out, I didn't think much of it, and that's huge.  My head would have normally been cluttered with "what if's", but it wasn't.  And I can't tell you what a relief that was and how human that made me feel.  Now on to the bigger, scarier challenges like putting her in the car seat, getting in the car, and facing the road, just her and I.  We'll get there.

But here's to the small victories of our week.  I'm sure going into the weekend celebrating the wins, most especially the little ones.


We tried to capture a shot or two of Ella holding the little blue heart for my gender reveal post.  This was our best attempt.


This post-walk smoothie made my Tuesday brighter.  Tasty, but healthy.  Mmm.  Also, that's SoDelicious coconut milk cool whip on top.  They're angels.


Broke out the baby storage to see what we already have for our little guy.  I can't believe that by Christmas we're going to have a baby that will fit into this tiny clothing!


A highlight for the whole family.  See below.  (Recipe coming next week!)


As to why she likes eating in the Bumbo in the middle of the floor, we do not know.  Her preference. 


This romper was a bit of an impulse buy.  I saw it was on clearance for 10 bucks at TJ Maxx, grabbed it off the rack, and didn't question it.  Because, babies in rompers.
  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Baby on a budget


When Tim and I found out we were expecting Ella, we were newlyweds and new hires paying San Diego cost of living and student loans.  So we had to be crafty and resourceful when it came to saving up and buying for baby number 1.  After going through the whole process with Ella, and now gearing up for baby number 2, I thought I'd share what I've learned about having a baby on a budget.

Save.  This is a big one.  Health insurance is an incredible blessing, but hospital bills always hit bank accounts hard.  If we could help it, we wanted to be able to pay off any medical bills as we received them, so building an "emergency baby fund" over the course of the 9 months was a must. We didn't put aside a set percentage; we couldn't afford to at the time.  But I would evaluate our finances often, and put aside whatever we could.  Since Ella's birth brought no surprises (thank God) we were able to pay the bills in full as we received them.

Research.  There is a whole industry built around having a baby.  What we often forget is we don't need much to have the little one around.  I researched having a baby on a budget many times and found countless tips on how many onesies are needed, how much clothing is really necessary, how coconut oil is a great alternative to baby lotion, etc.  There are a million resources (thank you, Pinterest) out there informing moms and dads of how to cut costs.

Buy over time.  This one helped Tim and I a great deal.  I'd set aside so much money per paycheck when I could and we'd buy what we needed a little at a time.  Clothing, bath accessories, etc.  For purchasing the bigger things like a cradle, mattress, and sheets, we'd put the money we set aside and save up to buy the bigger items.

Turn your registry into a list of needs.  We weren't around family when I was pregnant with Ella, so I wasn't expecting a baby shower, and therefore, didn't register.  However, generous friends and family would ask us for gift ideas and we would offer suggestions like grocery store gift cards to make post-baby daily life a little easier and more manageable.  (Take-out is a big go-to with a newborn!)  One of my good friends gifted us a gift card to Honest and I loaded up on diapers and wipes.

Know all baby products aren't necessary.  (See research)  It's easy to go down the baby aisle and think I need all the Johnson's products, but I've found (at least with Ella) coconut oil has been the best and most versatile product out there.  It's cleared any rash she's had and has worked wonders as a moisturizer.  A little coconut oil goes a long way, so a jar lasts forever.

(For the future) Buy gender neutral.  One of the tips I read was to buy gender neutral clothes, sheets, etc. for baby number one so you can reuse a lot of items come baby number 2.  This one was easy.  I like whites and grays and blues, so when buying for Ella I got a lot of neutrals.  Now we already have sheets, blankets, and outfits that we can use for our little dude.

Since we've been through the whole getting ready for a baby thing once already, we have significantly less to buy.  Things now on my radar are items like a double stroller, a wrap to wear this new little one (something I didn't do with Ella), and a winter wardrobe for both my babies.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

It's a...




Boy!

The big news was revealed at our 20 week ultrasound yesterday.  Ever since I got pregnant, I had a feeling it was a boy.  (Mother's intuition for the win.)  We only talked about boys names.  We've been referring to the baby as "he".  If we were instead told we were having a girl, it would have been quite the shocker.

Following in his sister's footsteps, Baby Boy Lochner is quite the mover.  He moves constantly, and made the ultrasound tech work to get all his measurements.  He was too busy doing somersaults, waving, and kicking to stay in position for a photo shoot.

Needless to say, we are thrilled.  I've always wanted a boy.  I think Ella will be the perfect big sister, and it will be fun to add to the already large clan of boy cousins.  I can't wait to start buying cute little dude clothes and prepping Ella's room for the newest addition.

The countdown continues!  Though it's now a little shorter 'cause they moved up my due date. Again.


Baby Boy Lochner coming to you (around) 11.20.2015!


Monday, July 13, 2015

From the weekend

We had a low key weekend.  A lot of napping, a lot of bing-watching Alias, a lot of maybe we can just get pizza for dinner?  It was the perfect 48-hour hiatus from the normal work week.

What a highlight this place was!  We discovered the perfect coffee shop.  It's so perfect I'm going to write a whole separate post about it.

Mom/daughter selfie!  I was all about getting the picture. Ella was all about my banana bread.

Pizza won the vote for Saturday night.  Our favorite pizza spot is Vancouver Pizza Company.  Their gluten-free pizzas are to-die.  And they have GF breadsticks!  I mean, those layers...

On Sunday, we got outside for some exercise.  It's been unusually hot here, so after a couple weeks of 100 degree temps, it was nice to get out and be in the sun for a while.  We headed over to Ft. Vancouver where there's a beautiful park and perfectly shaded sidewalks.  


We closed out the weekend with a home cooked meal that required a lot of chopping.  Sausage veggie hash with avocado.  It was delicious.  

Happy Monday.  I hope you enjoyed your weekend.  See you throughout the week!  There may or may not be a gender reveal post coming soon.  

Friday, July 10, 2015

A moment of rest

Yesterday is the third day in a row that I intended on cleaning the bathroom.  Ella and pregnancy had different plans for me this week.  Between chasing the little one around, ensuring we got some quality playtime in and the growing exhaustion from carrying around a stretching stomach, my cleaning supplies never made it out of the closet.

And it's made me feel a little crappy.  I mean, it's the bathroom.  Sure, it has two sinks, but I'm not conquering Everest or anything.

So today I woke up, sent Tim out for some caffeine, and started tidying up the place.  Dishwasher loaded, bed made, the usual.  I thought I'd put Ella down for her morning nap, maybe put on some Leon Bridges, and get my productivity on.  And as I leaned over for a diaper, I dislocated my knee, something that hasn't happened in a long while, but something that isn't unusual (sports and dance damage and all that).  I usually need a minute to pop it back in, but afterward my leg is left paralyzed, needs to be iced, and propped up.

As I sat there on the edge of the bed partially crying, partially laughing and undoubtedly looking like a hot mess, I had an "only human" moment if I've ever had one.  The whole week I've been pushing to keep going through the daily grind.  My body said, "chill", and I said "no, thanks."  And then I got a little, albeit painful, wake-up call from from old-knee-dearest informing me it was time to rest.

So I did.  I was in my pajamas for most of the day and had a bag of ice and big pillow as my companions.  I thought I'll get to the bathroom this weekend, and reflected on the all the highlights of my week (see below).

We push, we run, we hustle all in the name of being productive.  Every now and then we need to calm the storm and take a second to take care of ourselves.

A little evening frosty.  For some reason, when I'm pregnant, I crave things I used to eat when I was a kid.  I used to get these bad boys with my pops all the time during the Summer.  A fave for sure.

This little bug has been so good all week.  I felt so guilty I wasn't able to be on my top mom-game while I was couch-ridden letting my knee heal.  Thankfully, today is a new day and I can shower her with extra hugs and kisses.

Perusing the neighborhood on our morning walk.  Some of these streets hold gorgeous houses!  I've been taking notes for my dream home.

This is a picture from the 4th of July that I forgot to include in my July 4th post.  So clearly not a highlight from this week, but a highlight nonetheless.