01.16.2017

Weekend Recap // Los Olivos, Toddler Edition

{Traveling isn’t a joke with this little cutie!}

We headed up to Los Olivos this weekend for a little wine tasting and exploring, with little miss in tow. It’s funny, the first time we came up here, post her arrival, she slept, in our carrier, as we relaxed sipping a little vino….. and while we’ve been up several times since, this time was a completely different experience… maybe it was our induction into #ToddlerLife, but let me tell you, this girl was all over the place. Yet, if there is anything I learned from the first year of motherhood, it’s that flexibility is key. So, while this trip was markedly different than previous ones, it was still worth it…. My new saying is that a day of wine tasting with a toddler beats a day at home with a toddler…. or, maybe just that a day away, no matter how different than it is from past experiences, beats a day at home…

So, as we head into a new week, I welcome new experiences and pray for a higher level of flexibility! Have a good one friends.

{Picked up a little kombucha at our favorite spot on the way up.}

{We found spots that were kiddo friendly and allowed her room to roam, and us to sip!}

{When little miss sleeps…..}

{Morning stroll to breakfast in our favorite cozies (leggings, pullover, beanie, Harper’s leggings)}

{Yummy frittata}
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When we get home, I plan on making my favorite oatmeal bake for a quick, and healthy, morning option. And, since we will be welcoming some colder weather, I’m thinking about my favorite vegetable orzo soup too.

I grabbed a few last minute items for this upcoming trip including this crossover sweater (which I order in 1 size up), fringe cardigan, ruffle blouse, and this crochet tunic (I love it tied in front with my high waisted jeans)… oh, and I mentioned these platform shoes in last week’s weekend recap and ended up buying them for the trip. They’re super comfortable and run TTS…. and such a fun blush color for spring (even though we are in the middle of winter).

A few other everyday items that I am looking at include this open knit tunic (literally obsessed…. layer with a long sleeve tee underneath in the winter, and by itself in the spring), lace up cold shoulder option (I actually purchased it and sized up one, seems to run small), and these basic v-neck tees (I bought them last year and own them in grey, black, and white. They’re perfect for layering, a casual day, or even under a blazer for a more dressed up look.). I also love this tie front stripe tee, as well as this oversized option (pair them with any cardigan for a daytime option). I also think that sweatshirts are a great option as well, paired with a pair of distressed jeans, or layered with a favorite tunic. A few that I love right now include this option that has a side tie (and comes in a few colors), this open back option, and this velour pullover. I also love sleeveless sweater to layer under cardigans (one my favorites now comes in a rose color). These two are an investment, but excellent basics…. this black one, and this black option.

I also saw a few pairs of shoes that I absolutely love… this white flat (obsessed with the shape) and these slides…. both so cute and versatile.

There are also so many cute Valentine’s Day options for little miss… like this heart print romper, quilted roll cuff heart sweatshirt, red and white striped dress, and this floral dress.

01.13.2017

A Year Of Motherhood In Review + My Favorite Baby Products Of The Year

It’s hard for me to comprehend that a year has already gone by and little miss is 1 year old. I was filled with so many different emotions leading up to her birthday. A part of me was sad in realizing how fast her little life is already flying by…. and the realization that it will likely only continue to go faster. I am excited for this new chapter in motherhood…. and while having a toddler will present it’s own challenges and transitions, I look forward to watching her grow, flourish, and develop. I also felt incredibly nostalgic. So much of the last couple of years has been focused on transition and change…. from carrying her in my belly, to birthing her, to countless sleepless nights… learning how to travel with her…. breastfeeding…. baby snuggles and smells, the first smile, baby coos, how perfectly she fit in my arms…. I could go on and on….

I’ve shared this journey with all of you from the beginning (1, 3, 4/5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 moth updates) and have so appreciated your words of encouragement and support! My hope is to continue these updates, maybe on a bi-monthly basis…. it all just depends on how much change happens in a month… I’d love to know if you’d still like that!

With that…. here’s my 1 year motherhood update…..

General Thoughts + Feelings: In the very beginning of my motherhood journey I remember talking with one of my girlfriends about some of the difficulties I was having. She validated and encouraged me and I vividly remember her saying, “The days are long but the years are short.” Now, looking back 365 days later, I couldn’t agree more. I so remember those first few nights, when TJ nor I could get Harper to stop crying (no matter how well we swaddled her)…. we were incredibly sleep deprived (I think we were going on hour 72) and I just broke down crying (just what we needed right… another person crying!), feeling like such a failure. I remember people telling us, “Just wait until she is 3 months old…” and thinking to myself, “90 days?! WTF.” My mom encouraging us with “so much changes everyday, just be patient.” And all of that advice was so right. Every month that went by I was in awe… literally couldn’t believe how much she would change and how much time had passed since those first few sleepless nights.

I don’t think there is anything anyone can tell you to prepare you for motherhood. What works for one baby might not work for yours…. what works for one mom might not work for another mom (which is OK!!)… when someone tells you the sleep deprivation is real, you swear it won’t happen to you. I feel as if I had a fairly realistic image of what motherhood was going to be like, and I was still in shock as to how much change and transition there was. Yet, while no one can prepare you for the lows, no one can even come close to describing the highs…. my heart literally melts when I pick Harper up for the first time in the morning (her little smile and bed head curls… omg)…. and multiple times after that throughout the day. The excitement I felt when she did anything for the first time…. especially when she laughed (when I was singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star….” not sure what that says about my voice….)…..

I remember though, when she was first born, not being certain as to what my role would be….. scratch that, I knew I was mom, I just didn’t know if I was doing it right… the trial and error, the tears I shed (and still do occasionally… I mean, do we ever really know exactly what we’re doing as moms?? As parents for that matter….) at thinking I had failed, how perfect I wanted to be for her…. I also was under the impression that the moment she was placed on my chest that I would feel an instantaneous connection…. I know that happens for many moms, but for me, that took time (don’t get me wrong, I love her, I just didn’t know her…. we didn’t know each other). While I had an immense love for Harper, it was more one sided. It wasn’t until she began reciprocating in coos and laughs that I began to feel a special connection with her…. it’s one that has continued to grow and flourish over the months. One I feel so incredibly blessed that God provided me with.

So, in between those highs and lows, the certain and uncertain moments, are the everyday moments. Those might be the ones I love most. The mornings when we hang out together in her room… where she brings me books to read, explores independently…. the moments where we’re having lunch together…. or where we run errands together…. those are some of my favorites. It’s the homeostasis, it’s our groove, and it’s special for us…..

Feeding/Sleeping: Sleep. Oh sleep. Before becoming a parent, there was a lot of sleeping in on the weekends… now? I don’t think my body knows how to sleep in. Even when TJ and I had a few nights to ourselves we were up around 7:30am. Yet, I do considered myself blessed in this department. After the first several weeks, we seemed to fall into a schedule that worked for our family, and Harper began to sleep for longer segments in the evening. While we’ve had a few bumps along the way with sickness, teething, sleep transitions, and time changes, she’s maintained a 7:30pm-7:30am sleep cycle for about 9 months… and let me tell you, the first night this happened was ah-mazing. Heck, the first evening I got 5 straight hours of sleep I felt like a new woman (and immediately wondered if she was still alive!). I relied heavily on Baby Wise for the schedule, as well as my own tweaking based on Harper’s independent needs (oh, and if you’re looking for an eye cream to help with tired eyes, I swear by this eye serum!)

Nursing was a different story though. I remember when she was first born, being so worried that I wouldn’t be able to produce enough milk for her… or that she wouldn’t latch… or that something would go wrong….. Yet, none of those issues were problematic (thankfully). What ended up being my difficulty was something that wasn’t even on my radar before she was born. About 6 weeks postpartum, little miss flat out refused protested (with screams and cries) taking a bottle. We tried so many different bottles (8 to be exact) with no success. That period of time was probably the most difficult part of my motherhood journey (again, tears…. I’m an emotionally expressive person). I felt that I had lost a lot of independence…. that date nights were a thing of the past, and that she needed to be tied to my hip. I got 1.5 hour segments of time alone in the afternoon to run a quick errand… and it was hard. Very hard for me. For some women this wouldn’t be an issue. Yet, for me, it was my struggle. Nursing is demanding. It’s amazing what the female body can do, and I feel so blessed that I was able to nurse Harper for as long as I did (10 months), but it was also the hardest part of motherhood for me….

We eventually found Como Tomo bottles, and those helped immensely. We started by having TJ give her the bottle first thing in the morning, when she was hungry and hadn’t seen me yet. It was slow going, but she eventually warmed up to it. I remember when we were in Ojai for the weekend with some friends. I had a bottle of pumped milk and decided to just try to give it to her. When she took it, I felt such a sense of relief. It was at that point that we were also increasing her intake of solid foods… with the bottle + solid foods, we began the weening process. We dropped one feeding a week to ensure that Harper was emotionally okay….. the process took a month in total (she used this formula and it worked very well for us). I felt guilty when I made the decision to ween. Yet, I ultimately remembered what one nurse told me and that was, “A happy mom makes for a happy baby.”

Now, feeding time is an adventure. She’s a year at this point, and already has so many food preferences… avocado, bell peppers, salmon, strawberries, blueberries, almond butter and toast…. it’s easy to take her to a restaurant… it’s actually quite fun to have her sitting and eating at the table with us. We have dinner as a family…. she participates in those family dinner rituals too. Although…. since she is a toddler, we’re also testing limits…. so throwing food on the ground has become quite entertaining to her lately (any suggestions on how to stop this are welcome!)….

Postpartum Body/Fitness: I feel as if I had fairly reasonable expectations in this department, yet, it wasn’t at all what I expected. During pregnancy, I was at one of my most confident points…. post pregnancy was a little more difficult. I was under the impression, from everything I had read (from reputable sources too….) that because I was nursing the weight “would fall right off.” Um, that is not at all what happened for me…. and I wish I had never read that statement. I was very hard on myself (which you can see from previous motherhood updates), often wondering why I wasn’t losing the weight as fast as sources said I would with the nursing, healthy eating, and working out trifecta. It wasn’t until I dug a little deeper that I realized your body can also hold onto fat while you are nursing…. I mean, you have to have some sort of reserve to produce that milk…..

Once I read that statement, I started to be nicer to myself. There are definitely still parts of my body with a little more jiggle + wiggle than before, and I wouldn’t say I’m 100% happy with it, but I also try to remind myself of the miracle my body produced. I also try to be so very careful about the comments and views I have towards my body in front of Harper….. even though she isn’t talking up a storm (just yet) I know she sees and hears everything that goes on (I mean, she pretend cleans the floor like I do…. it’s funny, but a reminder that she’s already watching!)… the last thing I want her to have is poor body image.

In that light, I try to model healthy habits. I work out regularly and engage in physical activity that I like (as opposed to it being a chore). If I feel like a HIIT workout in the morning, I do that. If I want to run, I do it…. I try to be mindful of where I am physically and mentally…. I also try to demonstrate a healthy relationship with food. I don’t restrict anything (except dairy…. that’s just because my acupuncturist recommended I stay away from it for gut issues….)…. I eat bread, I eat meat, I eat fat…. and I also indulge here and there in sweets. By restricting I am teaching her nothing about moderation (or “Itsy bitsy indulgences” if you will.) or the value certain foods provide to my body.

While I say all of that, my fitness journey post pregnancy was quite a process. It was hard to figure out how to fit it all in…. yet, I made do with what I could and started out with at home workout videos (post here), BBG, and then runs and getting to the gym. I miss my regular spin and yoga classes and hopefully, as we progress in this year, I’ll be able to pick them up with a little more consistency (TJ bought me a bunch of SoulCycle classes for Christmas… and said he would rearrange his schedule to watch her whenever I wanted to go… so I’m taking advantage of that soon!). What I’ve realized in this whole journey is that you do what you can with what you have…. and if it’s important you’ll make the time for it…… which takes me to my next topic…. Relationships…

Relationships: This is a two fold topic for me: marriage + friends. Both of which are incredibly important to me.

When I found out we were expecting I was initially scared (post here). We had been married for 5 years before little miss… we had our routines and we were spontaneous. I was worried how our marriage would be impacted. TJ and I spent a lot of time talking about what we wanted our marriage to look like postpartum…. as well as the traditions and values we wanted to instill as a family. We both agreed that a strong marriage makes for a strong and happy family, so the commitment to always invest in us was paramount. How that was going to look was a little harder to plan. The first few weeks were hard…. we were sleep deprived, probably said things we didn’t mean at 1am with a screaming baby, and were in complete shock. Yet, as the weeks went by, and we communicated our needs to each other, things leveled off. And communicating is (was) the key to it all. We are constantly communicating…. whether that be appreciation or frustration…. it’s discussed. Which means we’re open and honest, something we hope Harper will feel too….

We continue to invest in the couple dyad. While date nights don’t happen with as much frequency as they did before, we have our weekly wine + music nights, with a favorite takeout meal… something that I look forward to every week. No TV, phones away. Lately, with Harper taking the bottle, we’ve been able to get away for a couple of nights. I remember sitting out at dinner and having a completely relaxed feeling come over me (maybe that was the wine….). It was so nice to be out with TJ, at night, with no need to rush home. We laughed, talked about the future, and of course about our little miss. When we came home the next day, we were recharged and ready to go. Maybe that’s something that has changed. Maybe I took it for granted before we became parents…. now, I cherish and look forward to those small little escapes.

As far as my friendships go I consider myself lucky that we’re all pretty much going through this journey of motherhood together. We don’t see each other as much as we would like, or catch up, but we all understand. A text that takes a few days to return is never something to apologize for… and it’s always nice when we catch up… it’s as if I am instantly validated in all my concerns. I’ve always felt as if girlfriends are an extension of your family. So it’s something I cherish and hope to pass on to Harper as well…

Favorite Moments: There have been so many over the past 365 days that I am surely forgetting most, but:

That first moment we heard her laugh was so special… we all looked at each other and said, “Wait, was that a laugh….” and then she just kept going. It was probably one of the moments I started to see her little personality flourish…..

Her dance moves. Oh. My. Gosh. If you follow along on instagram stories her twerking moves are unreal. This is the only time in her life that I will condone those moves. Ever.

Her sneaky little smile when she knows she is doing something that might not be ok….like running for Captain’s dog food.

Our trips to Hawaii. It was so special to have her in a place that has so many wonderful memories with my family.

Watching her take her first timid steps on our trip to Deer Valley…. and seeing her wonder at all the snow falling.

Our first Christmas together…. from her curiosity with tree flocking and ornaments…. to her complete disinterest in the presents that were carefully wrapped up for her.

When she slept through the entire Easter Bunny.

How nervous we were driving home with her in the car the day we left the hospital. I think I sat in the back seat with her for over a month.

Her little facial expressions. The newest is when she scrunches up her nose and smiles so big with squinting eyes. Heart melting.

How she says “hiiiiiii” to anyone and everyone…. with a little wave.

Playing chase with her…. it’s her new favorite game. It’s a great workout too.

One evening, in the very beginning, when she wouldn’t fall asleep at night, I remember just laying with her on my chest and she immediately fell asleep. It was just one of those moments that when she’s going off to college, or getting married, that I will always remember.

Favorite Products Of The Year: 

UppaBaby Stroller: We took this baby everywhere. From traveling to running errands, it has been our go-to…. I love that it grows with her as well…. she’s now in the toddler seat…. you can read more about my review here.  We have used this travel carrier for all of our travels… it’s great!

Nuna Carseat:  Excellent safety ratings, lightweight (for a car seat), comfortable for her, and airline safety approved, this has been the best first car seat (which was recommended to me by a friend). As she grows, we’re thinking about purchasing this option.

Highchair: We have two (one at our house, one at my parents), and this one is by far my favorite. It’s compact, no crevices for food to get stuck in, and it’s the perfect size for her.

Bumbo Seat: This was such a great item to have when she was learning to sit. We brought it everywhere…. to restaurants, wine tasting…. it also had a little tray in front of it so we could put toys on it for her. I remember the first time she sat in it, I think it was the first time I realized how much she was growing.

Baby Bjorn Carrier: When I was able to go hands free it was a #GameChanger. I could cook, apply mascara, have a glass of wine (kidding, sort of, see below) and still have her close to me. We loved this one and can’t wait to use it more as she grows. (more reviews here)

Moby Tub: This was one of our absolute favorite finds (full review here). It made bath time so much easier…. and it grew with her from infancy to about just a couple months ago. I highly recommend.

Nail Filer/ Nail Clippers: I used the nail filer for the first few months of Harper’s life and they were an excellent alternative to clipping the nails. I never had to worry about hurting her and they were just as effective. As she got older, I switched to the nail clippers and they were another great option. I never clipped her and she didn’t seem to mind them (full review here).

Diaper pail: So, I think this speaks for itself, but this one was great. Sleek, minimized the smell, and incredibly sturdy. Loved the color options too.

Wipe Warmer: I think this was incredibly helpful in the early months… especially when we were doing evening diaper changes at night. It always ensured that the wipes would be warm and comfortable for her. I’d use it all over again, and will when we have another one someday.

Rock N’ Play: This girl loved this thing…. and we did too. This is what she slept in for the first few months… and we took it everywhere…. even down to the pool on our trip to Hawaii.

Nursing Cover: This was my go-to for nursing in public. It allowed easy access, while still covering up.

Wellness: When Harper was sick back in December, we relied on this humidifier (we actually all use it!) and this nasal aspirator. We highly recommend both… easy and effective.

Diaper Bag: I had two that I switched between depending on the activity. If we were traveling or doing something pretty active we relied on this backpack (TJ was even confident wearing it too!). When I was running errands, we were heading out to eat, or walking around the mall this one (almost identical) was my go-to.

Freshly Picked Moccasins: These have been my favorite shoes for little miss. While they are an investment, they are incredibly well made and perfect for her as she walks (and almost runs) around. They come in so many fun color options too!

High Chair/Shopping Cart Cover: I swear by this thing. Use it all the time. Love how it provides a little extra stability…. and helps things stay a little more sanitary..

Owlet Monitor: I wrote a whole post on this product. It helped us have peace of mind (especially when she transitioned into her own room at 6 months) and was just an added level of security. Please read the post for more information. 

01.12.2017

5 Ways I Stay Efficient During The Week + The Jacket That Makes It All Possible

I feel as if I’ve always been relatively efficient…. yet, when Harper arrived, I needed to tweak a few things here and there. You see, before little miss, I had all day long to finish what I needed to do (even in my 9-5 job I was able to complete work at home….)…. that all changed on January 7, 2016. Completely. And, with TJ being gone this past week, it really put the changes I made to the test…. and while I felt relatively frazzled, I still got crap done (I didn’t say it always looked pretty….). So, today I decided to share a few tips on how I attempt to remain efficient with a little one in tow 24/7…. and if you have anything to add to this list, I’d love to hear….

1. List, and more lists: So, I’ve always been a list maker… and have always used a paper planner (currently using this one)…. the phone just isn’t visual enough for me. I love the act of crossing items off as I go…. sort of like a “mini” accomplishment. Before little miss’ arrival, these lists were completed on Monday morning and were meant to be accomplished throughout the week…. yet, that’s a little too loose for me these days… “Ohhhh, I’ll just do that tomorrow….” and then it’s Friday. So, now I complete the list for the following day the evening before. I don’t pile stuff up, as to not set myself up for failure. I keep the list prioritized too. Low, medium, high…. and then…..

2. Schedule: I schedule in when I will get all the “things” completed… during little miss’ nap (easy e-mails, phone calls, shower (yes, sometimes that needs to be scheduled in….)), during her awake hours, during her afternoon nap, and then in the early evening when TJ gets home from work. It sounds rigid and not fun, but it’s actually what allows me to have some flexibility and fun…. after all that…..

3. Reminders: I set reminders. While I don’t use my phone for planning out my days/weeks/months, I do use the phone to give me reminders of important events (doctor’s appointments, a phone call that needs to be made, e-mails….) which ensures that I won’t forget. It’s kind of like my backup system to my daily planner….. (since I seem to have major #MomBrain lately….)

4. Versatile Pieces: When I was growing up, I always planned out my outfits the evening before… it helped me get out the door in time (I was terrified of being tardy… #RuleFollower). Not much has changed. So, since I could spend hours staring at my clothes, trying to figure out what to wear (#WastingTime), I still outfit plan the evening before, or reach for my go-to pieces (I shared my favorite basics yesterday) when I am in a pinch. These joggers and new fleece hooded pullover (which is so incredibly soft) are pieces I wear on the regular. I also believe that having items in my closet that I can wear for more than one activity helps immensely. I can simply toss them on, and seamlessly transition. I have a mom’s group that I am part of on Thursday mornings. I dress up more than usual for that, so when it’s time to get on the floor with Harper, I change. This jacket is one of those items perfect for a day like that. I wore it running errands as it’s featured today over said favorite pullover and joggers…. yet dressed it up for a casual dinner with TJ and Harper wearing my favorite mules (sick of them yet?), jeans,  petal pink silk blouse (which, if you’re looking for an amazing silk blouse to invest in, I recommend this one… I’ve had it for several years and it’s still in perfect condition.), and bolero hat (which I still wear, even though it’s winter….).

5. Meal Plan: I typically follow this shopping list/meal planning foundation for the week. It’s not always seamless, and I do occasionally have to head to the store in the middle of the week, but all-in-all it helps me to eat healthy and for us to have a delicious dinner at night! Annnnd, for those times that I am really not feeling the store (and that’s been a lot lately) I just joined instacart…. and let me tell you #GameChanger. Have any of you tried it??

6. Divide + Conquer: Since TJ and I value our time together, and because we enjoy having our evenings to watch a movie or just chat, we divide and conquer when he gets home. He typically takes Harper for about an hour so I can work on/finish a blog post and start dinner…. and then after we all eat together he washes the dishes (#keeper) and gives Harper her evening bath so I can wrap things up for the day. Again, it doesn’t always happen this way…. like this week for example…. but when it does, life just seems to run a little smoother.
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{Outfit Details || Jacket (olive color is on sale) | Joggers (TTS) | Hoodie (wearing XS, size up for a looser feel) | Beanie (similar) | Sneaker | Bag | Sunglasses}

01.11.2017

Recent Favorite Basics + A Top With A Twist

So, I woke up this morning thinking that it was Thursday. Imagine my disappointment when I realized it was Tuesday morning at 5:30am (insert emoji with the cringing eyes and tongue sticking out.). Not sure whyyyyy this week has been going so slow, but I’m thinking it has something to do with the fact that TJ has been out of town since early Sunday morning (work trip)…. so I’m doing double duty this week…. and to say it’s been interesting would be an understatement…. the words #Forgetful #Frazzled and #Exhausted quickly come to mind (maybe too quickly)…. and while I knew these few days wouldn’t be a cakewalk, I certainly wasn’t expecting to want to go to sleep for the evening at 5pm (kidding, sort of). All that aside, getting out of the house has been necessary (despite the rainy weather)… yet, with minimal time to pull myself together, I’ve relied on favorite basic,s and a few tricks, for looking more pulled together than I actually feel on the inside…..

1. Oversized Cardigan: Always. Always. Always. I’ve shared my obsession with them several times (sorry, I love them so), but there is something that feels so effortless. My favorites include the one featured here, along with this mauve colored chunky knit cardigan, and this camel colored drape front option. All have been on heavy rotation, and all pair perfectly with a basic tee, blouse, or lightweight sweater.

2. Loafers: I’m a sneaker addict. Yet, my loafer/mule collection is starting to rival it. My favorites, which I wear all the time, are these pointed toe beauties. Yet, I “borrowed” these from my mom’s closet… they are incredibly comfortable and I’m a huge fan of the pebbled texture. A mule is such an easy way to dress up any outfit… and they’re comfortable enough for pretty much any all day activity.

3. Beanie: #LifeSaver when you’re on day 5 of unwashed hair. Curl the ends, toss on the beanie, and head out the door. Need I say more? I’ve been loving this one lately. The color is neutral, the fit is sleek, and the little pom is too cute.

4. A Ruffle Hem: As of late, when I’m wanting to add a little something extra to my outfit, I reach for a top with some sort of ruffle. I love the feminine touch they add, and they’re the perfect addition to an otherwise basic top…. A few recent favorites include this black option, this grey tee, striped one shoulder top (just ordered for this weekend), and this subtle ruffle grey pullover.

You can bet that one of the above mentioned pieces will be worn tomorrow….. only #OneMoreDay. Happy hump day friends!
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 {Outfit Details || Top  c/o (wearing S, excellent price!) | Cardigan | Jeans (similar) | Loafers (so comfortable) | Beanie | Sunglasses | Bag}

01.10.2017

A Delicious + Healthy Weeknight (Or Day) Meal: Ground Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash

I’ve always tried to be aware of what I put into my body…. you know, minimizing processed foods and sugars (although, I do have quite a sweet tooth), heavy on the fruits + vegetables, with whole grains and lean meats tossed in the mix…. Yet, when I became pregnant with Harper, I became increasingly aware of where my food was coming from, and how my food was grown and raised. I felt that I was being entrusted with the responsibility to carry our growing baby, and I wanted to ensure that what I put into my body was good for her as well… That meant I became pretty strict…. especially with the meats I was consuming. They needed to be organic and raised on organic land…. no antibiotics, hormones, or steroids (since that’s the crap that gets stored in the animal’s fat + flesh…. and are then passed onto me… from what I have read in my research.).

Annnnd, now that little miss is eating all the foods that we do, it’s something that continues to be of importance to me in food preparation and grocery shopping. So, when I was introduced to Foster Farms Organic Ground Turkey, I was eager to try it out… it met all of the above criteria, and was at an excellent price point (because, let’s be honest, organic isn’t cheap….). I loved it so much that I’ve teamed up with them to bring you a Turkey Tuesday dish that has become a regular staple in our household…. stuffed acorn squash. It’s hearty, nutritious, and little miss + hubby approved (oh, and my sister tested it out too and gave it two thumbs up….). If you’re short on time during the week, you can always prepare the turkey  and acorn squash ahead, and simply reheat them when it’s time for dinner…..

Ingredients

1 Package Foster Farms Organic Ground Turkey (I found mine at Costco, in a two pack, for a little over $15!)
1 package of riced cauliflower (found at Trader Joe’s… or you can rice it on your own….)
Spinach
Green Onions
Avocado
1 Medium to Large Acorn Squash
1 Cup Diced Onions
1 Jar Of Salsa Verde (my favorite is from Trader Joe’s)
2 tsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)
Salt
Pepper
Garlic
Olive Oil

Directions For Acorn Squash
Pre-heat the oven to 450° (if your oven has a convection setting, I recommend using it as it will bake faster.). With a sharp knife (trust me, you want it to be sharp…) cut the squash in half length wise. Line a baking sheet with tin foil, place the acorn squash halves on the sheet, place 1 tsp of ghee in each acorn squash, then sprinkle with salt + pepper. Place in the oven for 45 minutes- 1 hour (30-45 minutes with convection). You’ll know the squash is cooked when you can easily pierce it with a fork.

Directions For The Ground Turkey (cook while acorn squash is roasting)
I found the ground turkey to be incredibly flavorful, so I was happy that I didn’t use too many seasonings. I sprayed a frying pan with non-stick oil and tossed in the ground turkey. I sprinkled the turkey with some salt + pepper, and cooked it until it was done. About 15 minutes.

Directions For Cauliflower Rice (prepare while turkey is cooking)
Place some olive oil in a sauté pan, along with some garlic + diced onion (amount is up to you). After about 3 minutes, toss in the cauliflower rice and sauté. After about 5-7 minutes, pour in about 3/4 of the salsa verde (or all of it if you like, you just don’t want to have too much liquid) and mix it all together. After about 5 minutes, take 2-3 handfuls of spinach and place in the pan with the cauliflower rice. Mix together. Continue to cook the cauliflower until it is tender. This can take about 20-25 minutes. Once the rice is done, combine it with the cooked ground turkey and mix together.

Assembly
Once the acorn squash is tender, remove it from the oven. Place it on a plate. Scoop in the desired amount of the turkey mixture into the acorn squash. Top with mashed avocado, diced green onions, and additional salsa to taste… and, a few chips adds a nice little crunch….

That’s it! The whole process sounds labor intensive, but all in is a pretty simple dish to make… not much chopping, just a lot of tossing into a pan. I’ve always felt that delicious + nutritious meals should be easy and simple… that way they can become a seamless part of my lifestyle. This one makes the cut. Hope you enjoy it as much as our family does!

*Thank you to Foster Farms for sponsoring this post and allowing itsy bitsy indulgences to content create. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

01.09.2017

Weekend Recap // Little Miss Turns 1

This weekend was pretty much spent either reminiscing over the past year, or celebrating our little miss turning 1. On Friday evening, TJ and I chatted for a little bit about where we were a year ago (our last night together as just a couple) and where were now (sipping wine…. stark contrast from a year ago)…. then on Saturday morning we woke up and celebrated little miss…. which was followed by a little champagne and pizza where TJ and I cheers-ed to surviving our first year of parenthood together…. and to the memories of this coming year….

It’s funny, I went back and forth as to the type of party to have for Harper. It initially was only going to be our family…. then we decided to invite a handful of close and local friends. I had zero intention of decorating as much as I did, but then last Sunday, as my mom and I got to talking about the logistics of the day, things got a little festive and what you see here today is what we ended up with (I took almost all of my inspiration from this party with some small, personal tweeks). It ended up being a small gathering of about 15 adults and 8 kiddos, which was the perfect size….. we could chat with everyone who was there (which is always important to me), the little ones all got along, and we enjoyed delicious Mexican food and treats. And while I know little miss will never remember it, as I look back, it was a celebration of our little family. A year of growth, a year of change, and a year with the most special gift we’ve ever given our marriage…. I’ll be sharing a “Year of Motherhood” post this Friday, but in the meantime, I’ve shared all the details of this past weekend’s festivities…..

{I was obsessed with all the decorations which I found on Amazon… and they were surprisingly very affordable. Tassel balloon, 1 gold balloon, white papel picado, tassel garland, white garland.}

{We opted for pretty succulents and bright gerbera daisies + wax flowers to decorate the tables. My mom made the succulent pots for my sister’s engagement party, so I was excited to be able to use them to decorate this party.}

{These ombré plates + cups were my fav!}

{One of my childhood friends, who has two kiddos of her own, made these amazing cactus cookies for the party. I was obsessed.}

{We got Harper this little naked cake for her to smash…. yet, she was much more timid than this picture would lead you to believe…. that handful of cake was thanks to daddy!… but once she had a bite she went back for seconds and thirds….}

{And just like that our little baby became a toddler…. (my sweater (on sale), Haper’s dress}

{We celebrated surviving our first year of parenthood with some champagne + pizza.}
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I’ve been having some database issues with the blog, so if you are looking for any post from last week, they have mysteriously disappeared. So, I guess you know what my plans are Monday morning…. That aside, I’ll be switching up Wellness Wednesday this week by sharing a delicious recipe on Tuesday. Stay tuned….

We are heading up to Los Olivos for the extended weekend this coming Saturday, and I can’t wait (little miss is joining us this time around and I’m thinking a visit to the ostrich farm is in oder…). The weather is going tot be nice and mild so I have my eye on this mid length ribbed cardigan (in black, but the grey is pretty too), this grey wrap sweater (thinking about sizing up for a looser feel), this grey sweatshirt (I love the little ties around the wrist), and this off the shoulder open knit.A few other items I’m loving for everyday living include layered grey and striped pullover (seriously so cute), asymmetrical drape front cardigan, open knit cardigan (perfect for layering and an excellent price!), and this easy going hoodie (I think I like the lilac color….).

I’m also loving chambray tops…. a welcome change from heavy knits I guess… and have my eye on this one shoulder ruffle option, frayed edge popover, and this tank. I think the chambray looks super chic with black denim…. white denim in the spring and summer…. and denim x denim (one of my favs) with a chic loafer.

I also spotted these platform sneakers in blush and I’m pretty much #obsessed (they give my 5’1 frame a boost!)…. I also love these chambray slip-ons (perfect for spring), and these perforated peep-toe booties.

 Harper received a few Nordstrom gift cards for her birthday so I’ve done a little shopping for her and am debating between these adorable polka dot sweat pants, embroidered jeans (um, tooooo cute!), chambray embroidered top, and this chambray dress.

12.29.2016

2016: A Year In Review

{The first outing we ever took with Harper…. I remember how nervous we were!}

It’s hard for me to believe that this year is actually coming to an end in a mere 3 days. 2016 was filled with so many transitions, highs and lows, adjustments, and amazing memories. To think I began the year eagerly awaiting the arrival of little miss, and am now closing out the year with an almost one year old is a firm reminder to me of how fast life flies by(at the risk of sounding cliche…. but it’s so true). While I plan on doing a “year in review” with Harper’s first birthday, I thought I would share a quick review of some of my favorite posts/memories from this past year. I feel so blessed to have had every experience of this year…. regardless of the emotion is invoked…. there were nights that I spent crying, feeling like I wasn’t meant to be a mom…. as if I didn’t know what I was doing…. and then moments where I felt on top of the world…. we had so many fun trips…. and worked through the changes of having a little one in tow…. bonds were strengthened with friends over becoming new moms, and in the same token, time became more valuable….. I saw an amazing side of TJ, that of a father, and we made some pretty big life decisions.

With all that, I’m looking forward to the coming year… watching Harper grow, seeing what the life changes bring to our family, and just watching the year evolve. I have some ideas for the blog as well, and would love to hear your feedback… I’ve received e-mails from people mentioning they would love to see some more fitness posts…. others motherhood…. and some requested more fashion. I plan on continuing with everything I’ve done over the past 4 years…. but thought about adding a few different series:

Tea Talk (since I don’t drink coffee….): Ask me any of your questions, I’ll answer them in a post
Fitness Videos: I just started these towards the end of the year, but would love to continue to incorporate them if you all like them (working out with baby, post Christmas workout)
Weekend Sales/Deals (this would go out Saturday or Sunday)

If you have any further ideas for posts in the coming year, please always feel free to e-mail me! I hope you all have a wonderful rest of 2016…. a fun evening ringing it in… and an even better start to 2017! I’ll see you in the New Year friends! xx

{This was actually one of my favorite outfits when I was pregnant…. and was one of the very last pregnancy posts I did…. (cardigan, flats, similar jeans, similar top}

{Our first getaway as a family of 3 to Los Olivos….}

{I loved sharing how I find work (out)-life balance with Anthropologie (my post here), and in the process found a favorite pair of leggings (!!!)}

{I loved sharing my fitness journey, and post-baby body struggles, in this post… and then sharing my favorite at home workout videos… both posts spurred my Wellness Wednesday series, which I plan on continuing into 2017.}

{The “Rice Cakes, 5 Ways,” was by far one of the most popular food posts of the year….}

{Our family trip to Napa was the first time we took Harper on a plane…. we were so nervous for the 1 hour flight….and so proud of ourselves when it was over!}

{This was one of my all time favorite outfits of the year…. I loved the statement earrings (currently on SALE!), and my jacket was one of my favorite finds from Forever 21 (sadly, no longer available!)….}

{I made a pretty big life change….}

{And shared what my mom taught me about style}

{Being able to make cocktails with healthy twists again was for sure a highlight for me in 2016… (similar top)}

{Hands down, one of my favorite dresses of the summer}

{My favorite beauty smoothie, that I still drink weekly!}

{Our Hawaii trip was incredibly special to my entire family…}

{Shared my thoughts as to why I was no longer doing BBG….}

{Annnnd, a recipe for a refreshing, lighter, margarita (is it margarita season yet??!)

{Provided a few tips on how I stay motivated, as well as an amazing treadmill workout…. this wrap top was one of the most popular items of 2016…. and IT’S BACK (just in a different color).}

{My guide on how to get soft waves…. and the products I use…}

{I shared “How I ‘meal plan‘ For The Week…” and it was one of the most viewed posts…. (leggings, sports bra (sold out)}

{Harper’s bedtime routine was another popular post…. and one I loved taking pictures for….}

{Shared my DIY for the step-hem and distressing jeans….}

{An extended weekend trip for our first visit to Boston…. TJ ended up accepting a new job based out there (but we’re still in CA), so it was fun to have the whole family there to support him during the interview process.}

{Shared the softest sweater I own}

{Annnnd, a few tips on traveling with a baby….}

{My all time favorite motto jacket + pullover combo (here)}

{My all time favorite pink cardigan (sadly, sold out) and how to add feminine touches to any outfit….}

{Our Deer Valley trip was an incredibly special trip for us all!}

{Ok, so, I have two favorite sweaters of the season….. (post here}

{A delicious dairy free chia seed pudding recipe….}

{Tasty festive cocktail…}

{My favorite shoot with little miss to date (oh, and this one too) (plaid top)}

{The ultimate running errands/travel outfitcozy joggers + oversized cardi}

12.28.2016

The Best Accessories For Any Occassion: Birthday…. NYE… Everyday…..

Every year I typically suffer from that post-Christmas hangover…. no, not from the annual red wine tasting our family engages in at Christmas dinner…. but more of an emotional hangover if you will. I love how festive people and places are, the growing anticipation, the merriment, and the traditions…. that when it ends, I’m often left with a little tinge of sadness. I delay taking down Christmas decorations (although, this year, I’m eager to take them down… one less thing for little miss to get into….), might play a Christmas song one day too long, and might still be snacking on Christmas cookies….

Yet, with my birthday being a mere 5 days after Christmas, and New Years the day after, I equate those two with the hair of the dog…. they ease the pain that Christmas is officially over for another 365 days…. and turn the attention to other festivities…

With that, we do have some fun plans for my birthday and NY (you can read about our low-key New Year’s plans here) which have me pretty excited! Tj and I will be heading up to LA for the evening the night before my birthday for a small celebration, just the two of us (Harper will be having a sleep over with her Aunty!). Then, we will reunite with my family the next evening for a mellow evening of homemade pizza (it’s something we started last year, and I’m kind of loving it)…. So, as I prepare for our adult-only dinner (and by that, I mean heading out to dinner at 6:30pm…. not 5:30pm….) I’m thinking about what I might want to wear, and am turning to my current wardrobe favorites…. dressed up with some new favorite accessories…. which will also be perfect for the New Year’s celebration…. as well as perfect options for dressing up everyday basics. The first look is one of my favorites. A simple cami (this is the cream color, but it’s more gold in person) and an oversized cardigan are always a favorite pairing…. simply topping them with dainty gold necklaces creates texture and dresses it up a bit. I opted to layer my new favorite initial necklace (a gift from TJ for Christmas….) with a hammered choker, and a detailed gold lariat.

{Details || Cami | Cardigan | Choker (c/o) (I also own and love the dainty option, and also purchased it as a gift for my sister… it’s on sale too!) | Initial Necklace | Gold Lariat}

A second look I am considering is pairing my all time favorite sweater with a statement pair of earrings…. which I snagged before Christmas with the intention of wearing them throughout the holidays. Yet, I also think they are a gorgeous option to dress up a basic outfit on a daily basis (assuming they don’t get pulled off by little miss…)….

{Details || Sweater | Earrings (currently on sale for $20)}

And, lastly, a simple gold cuff and a dainty thumb ring are an excellent subtle option if you tend to be a little more on the minimalistic side. I love how a gold cuff pairs with a chunky sweater when the hem of the sweater hits the edge of the bangle…. it’s the perfect juxtaposition. I’ve owned this cuff (smaller version) for a couple of years, but I also think the details on this option are gorgeous!

{Details || Sweater | Cuff | Ring}
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12.27.2016

The Ghost Of New Year’s Past + This New Year’s Heels

I’ve had my fair share of New Years celebrations over the year…. and have learned a thing or two from all of them….. What to drink, what not to drink…. what to wear, what not to wear…. what to expect, what not to expect…..

There was the year where I thought it was a good idea to sip on Grey Goose martinis for the entire evening (#LessonLearned)…. dancing the night away with TJ and a bunch of friends, in my favorite body con dress and nude pumps. Loved the outfit, hated my drink of choice the next morning (#StickWithChampagne).

Then there was the year TJ and I took a road trip up the CA coast. Our last stop was in Napa, where we opted to stay in for the evening…. getting massages, noshing on take-out, and sipping champagne… all from the comforts of our hotel room… in the coziest of pajamas.

Then there was last year. I was very pregnant, just waiting to pop. Likely the most anti-climatic way to start the NY…. in bed by 10:30pm, pregnancy pillow by my side, wearing the largest sweatshirt that TJ owned….

And now, we come to NY 2017. What to do, what to wear, what to drink, what to expect? Well, after above said experiences (and some I strategically chose not to share), we’ve settled somewhere in the middle. It will be a mellow evening with one of my best friends and her little family…. once the babes go down, some champagne will come out (okay, “some” and “champagne” are never two words I use together…), we will break bread…. maybe play a few games, and watch the ball drop on television (all while wearing some festive NY hats I purchased… and yes TJ, you will be wearing one too…..)….

And, when it comes to what I will be wearing, well that was an easy choice of combining my love of comfort with a few chic pieces to make it fun and festive. I figured it will be fun to dress up in the early part of the evening (because, by 9pm, I’ll likely have changed into pajamas….) so I’ll opt for a fab pair of lace up heels (not too high, not too low, just how I like it….), and add some fun faux fur to top off my tried and true black jeans and cozy cold shoulder tee…. a few sparkly accessories, and a glass of champagne in hand, and I’m ready for a fun celebration with friends!

If you’re looking for some fun heels for your NYE celebration, Payless has some excellent options, at an even better price point. The ones I am wearing today are an excellent option for this holiday, or any dressy occasion you have in the future. I also love this caged heel, as well as this close toed block heel option.
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{Outfit Details || Fur Vest (sized up, wearing 4) | Jeans | Tee (TTS, wearing XS, could wear a S too) | Shoes (c/o) | Sunglasses | Bag | Ring}

Thank you to Payless for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are my own. 

12.26.2016

Weekend Recap + After Christmas Sales

{My favorite spot to spend Christmas}

Several times throughout this weekend, I caught myself reflecting on where I was at this time last year. We were awaiting Harper’s arrival, wondering if she would be a Christmas gift. Now, here we are, a year later…. and what a difference a year makes. While Harper had no clue what was going on, having her around made it special…. from her Christmas pajamas, bewilderment at what to do with a stocking, and fascination with all the festivities, she added an amazing dynamic…..

We spent the evening listening to my grandma tell an amazing story about a travel she and my grandpa had to Bulgaria. To make a very long story short, my grandpa became unexpectedly ill on a cruise, they were dropped off at a hospital in Bulgaria, and my grandma was left to figure out how to get them home. It was a story that left me feeling inspired…. and blessed to have such a strong woman in my life…. it was a story of love, faith, and determination…..

So, in that light, I hope you all had an amazing weekend….filled with memory making and times with those you love!

{Caught little miss red handed.}

{Heading off to Christmas Eve service: sweater, dress}

{A little personal pot pie + a favorite bottle of champagne for Christmas Eve}

{Our first family Christmas photo}

{A little sister time + champagne (slippers, ribbed joggers, polka dot joggers, grey slippers)}
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If you enjoyed your Christmas dinner (and breakfast) as much as I did, then try this workout this morning! It’ll get you feeling energized!

As I made some final Christmas gift preparations, I discovered a few great sales going on! Nordstrom has marked down a bunch of amazing items (all that I personally own). I wear these vintage gym capris + matching zip up all the time, these comfortable sneakers, and my all time favorite mesh leggings are now on sale too! Both are so comfortable. This bell sleeve top, in black, was something I purchased for this holiday season (considering it for NYE), and I purchased this peplum blouse for my sister this Christmas. If you’re looking for a basic white long sleeve tee, this one is super comfortable and excellent for layering. A few outerwear options that I keep on heavy rotation include this faux leather jacket (on sale in black), fringe knit poncho, and this mixed media jacket (well, this is my mom’s, but I love borrowing it!). This is quite possibly the coziest sweater I own (I have it in two colors) and this thermal cold shoulder top is perfect for layering. These slippers have been keeping my feet nice and toasty too!

 

Free people is also have a sale on sale! My favorite cable knit cardigan (featured here) is on sale, as well as this peplum plaid top, neutral toned hooded pullover, my favorite camo tee relaxed, and this feminine pleated top (could be a contender for NYE!). For my birthday, I am thinking about this off the shoulder embroidered top.

Annnnd, lastly, Anthropologie has so many fabulous items on sale too. Some personal favorite include this open front cardigan (comes in tan and charcoal… perfect to throw on and go….), incredibly soft boucle v-neck sweater (love the winter white), faux fur collared utility jacket (love the feminine touch the faux fur adds), and this turtleneck sweater (which looks amazingly cozy).