Heyo! Happy Friday! Mara and I had a pretty good week, spending lots of time outside and a few playdates, but I’m ready for the weekend! I think Jesse and I are having a little date night tonight and our weekend will be full of family time and hopefully a little DIY!
Speaking of DIY, I’m WAY behind on the bathroom. As in, I haven’t done a single thing kind of behind. I probably won’t make my self imposed deadline, but I’m going to haul ass and try to get things done anyway. We hit another hiccup with the shower, but everything should be fixed for real this time. That means this weekend/next week I will be painting the walls, finishing the cabinets and shopping around for rugs and other accessories. I’m disappointed that we haven’t been more on top of this, but I really hope I can make up for it.
One of the reasons I’m behind is because 3 special people in my life graduated over the past 2 weeks! The first is Jesse! He’s been working on his MBA one class at a time (including summers) for the past several years and he’s finally done! I’m so proud of him for working so hard (he graduated with a 4.0!) even with all the crazy life changes that have happened, like having a baby! This dude really is the best!
Both of my little sisters also graduated from VCU this past weekend! I’m so proud of them and I can’t wait to see where life takes them! Also, how in the world are my sisters now adults?! I feel like a whole door of new possibilities for our relationships just opened and I’m excited for this next chapter. Also, aren’t they gorgeous?!
This past weekend we also celebrated Mother’s Day. While this wasn’t my first Mother’s Day, it was certainly more enjoyable than last year. Taking care of a 7 week old newborn is just exhausting and all I wanted was sleep. This year we enjoyed a family breakfast at Cracker Barrel (I LOVE their pancakes), we all took a long morning nap, then we visited our moms, got takeout for dinner, and watched a movie. Perfection. Jesse bought Mara some Mega Blocks as a little gift (after all she’s the reason I’m a mom). It has been such a joy to all sit on the floor and play with them as a family each night. I got a few gifts too, like flowers, a big ole Starbucks gift card (should last me several weeks) and not having to clean at all. The weather was beautiful and it was just a great day.
I hope you all have a great weekend! Fingers crossed ours is equal parts fun and productive!
One of the things that I have really loved about cooking is trying new recipes that quickly turn into family favorites. Jesse and I love going out for pho, but sometimes you just don’t feel like leaving. Luckily, I decided to try my hand at pho and it is surprisingly simple and fast. It seriously only takes 20 minutes of cooking and most of that time is just letting things boil. I’ve made several different kinds of pho, but so far shrimp is our favorite.
This dish is seriously so easy. Start by bringing chicken broth and water to boil, add cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise and boil for like 5 minutes. I also add cayenne and red pepper flakes because we like our pho spicy! After a few minutes add fish sauce and soy sauce. I like a little more soy sauce, so I do 4 tablespoons of soy sauce and 3 of fish sauce. I add chili paste for more spice. You could sub in siracha if you don’t have chili paste on hand. Let that boil for another 5 minutes and then add your rice noodles, bean sprouts and shrimp. You can find the noodles, bean sprouts, chili paste and fish sauce all in the Asian section of your grocery store. I buy mine at Kroger. Once your shrimp is nice and pink and curled in a little bit (around 5 minutes) you are ready to serve!
For our pho toppings we like shredded carrot (which I buy pre-shredded #lazy), cilantro, green onion and jalapeno. I will also add some greens and fresh lime sometimes. I just use the bagged Baby Spring Mix for the greens. Fast and simple is key here.
Jesse and I love this dish on a chilly evening or if either one of us is feeling congested. The spiciness can really open up those sinuses. Gross, but true. If we aren’t sick, I tone down the spiciness so that Mara can have some too. For her I just strain out the broth and pulse it the food processor a bit. She still only has 6 front teeth so she can’t chew noodles or large pieces easily yet. She loves pho though. Go figure!
Let me know if you try making this! Adding chicken, beef or pork is just as easy. The only difference is there’s more prep time to chop the meat and you have to cook those meats a tad longer.
Pho doesn't have to be a dish for eating out, it's simple and fast to make your own at home. Just the way you like it!
Happy Friday! I’m so glad it’s almost the weekend. It’s going to be a busy one, both of my sisters are graduating from college tomorrow and then of course Mother’s Day. Since both my mom and my mother in law live in town it’s usually a bit of a hectic day, but it’s really nice to be able to see both of them.
It’s been over six months since I posted my last postpartum fitness update, and I’ve been pretty active recently, so I wanted to share that again with you all. I’m super proud of myself for accomplishing my goal of running a 10k last month. I need to sign up for another one so I can keep my momentum going because running made the largest difference for me in getting my body back to a place that I feel happy with. I do try to run 2-3 times a week when the weather is nice. Most of the time I run with Mara in our jogging stroller and those are short runs. I don’t nessasarily feel tired or too winded, it’s that the stroller is so heavy that my arms hurt really bad! I know that it’s a good workout, but I love the runs where it’s just me and a podcast running several miles. It doesn’t look like I’ve made a ton of progress from 6 months ago to now, but I know that I have. I feel better, I can run and exercise more, and I fit in my clothes SO MUCH BETTER. I’m wearing jeans and shorts that I could barely fit in before I got pregnant. I seriously feel pretty amazing on most days. There are days that I eat a little too much junk food and give into cravings but it’s not as often as it used to be. Ok, so here you can really tell that the more recent weightloss has been my butt and hips. Which is why pants are fitting better. I also have done a ton of exercises for correcting diastasis recti. I did some workouts from Jillian Michael’s app for awhile and would sub in bridge ups, braces, and pelvic tilts for her ab moves. Also, running. For months after every run my core would be on fire. I would get cramps and even my lady bits would be sore (sorry if that’s TMI). Everything was just tightening back up. I had my 1 year postpartum/annual lady doctor check-up last week and things have healed nicely. I even got the ok to start doing actual ab work again since my ab seperation has healed significantly. I did also find out that my pooch area is also not going to completely go away no matter how many ab workouts I do. It’s mostly just loose skin from the pregnancy. While that was a little disappointing to hear, there is nothing I can do about it. I’m not done having kids, so I’m not going to pay for any medical procedures at this point. All I can do is stay healthy, active and happy with myself. I’ve also learned to embrace some different fashion choices like higher waisted pants and skirts and looser tops. I may also buy a pair of spanks to help smooth out some areas so I can wear a few of my old dresses occasionally.
The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that it’s not about a number on the scale (though that can be nice sometimes) or about not looking like you ever had a baby. It’s about being your best self, about looking in the mirror and being happy with what you see despite the extra skin or stretch marks. Don’t give up on your fitness goals. Just work hard and then work what you’ve got!
It’s hard to believe, but it’s been over a year since I gave birth to little miss Mara. It’s been a year of joy, stress and learning. When you tell people you’re pregnant everyone is full of advice about what you will need for your baby. Some of it is unwelcome, or annoying, but some suggestions can be helpful. I remember asking people what things they recommended I register for and late night texts with fellow moms for solutions to feeding and sleeping problems. People are full of suggestions, so here are 10 things that literally changed our lives during the first year of having a baby.
The biggest game changer was the Fisher-Price Newborn Auto Rock ‘N Play. The first two weeks after we brought Mara home she did not sleep at night at all, then she had her surgery. While in the hospital they had Mara sleep on an incline due to her vomiting and influx, so we decided to buy the Rock ‘N Play to help her sleep inclined. We had heard great things from other parents and got the ok from her peditrician. The first night she slept for 3 hour stretches and it stayed that way. Game changed. She slept in the Rock ‘N Play next to our bed until she moved to her crib at 4 months.
Another big one were Dr. Brown’s bottles. We read that they helped with colic and reflux and we definitely noticed that Mara had less reflux issues when we used these bottles.
Mara only slept when swaddled for the first few months of life, but she was super strong and would break out of swaddle blankets so we invested in a few velcroed swaddles. The Ziggy Baby swaddles from Amazon were our favorites. It was late Spring/Summer when Mara was swaddled and these are very lightweight so we didn’t worry about her getting too warm while sleeping.
I know that not everyone believes that you need a large armchair glider when you have a baby, but I do. You need one. They are amazing. Due to Mara’s reflux and surgery she needed to be held upright while eating and for 20 minutes after eating, so feeding her took about an hour each time. The glider was so comfy and made propping my legs up so comfy. We got a great deal on ours because it was being discontinued, so it was on clearance and was the floor model. The one I linked here looks like ours but we did NOT pay that much. I would never pay that much for one.
Due to Mara’s reflux a Bouncer Seat was crucial. I’d set her in it after she ate while I cleaned the kitchen or whatever. When she started holding her bottles herself she would sit in this chair to eat. We used it up until Mara weaned herself off bottles, which was about 5 weeks ago. Our Bouncer Seat was part of the Graco Cozy Duet System, but Mara did not like to swing, so we never really used that part.
Once Mara was able to sit up on her own for long periods of time I started putting in the seat on the shopping cart at the grocery store or Target. But those metal seats are uncomfortable and gross, so I was glad we had registered for a Floppy Seat! It’s cushy, has hooks for toys and a clear pocket for my phone so she can play with that in the event of a meltdown in the checkout line. I keep mine in the car so I always have it. I also use it in restaurants over the gross little highchairs. It gives me peace of mind about germs and Mara is way more comfortable.
Speaking of germs and going out to eat, disposable placemats are the bomb. I wipe off the table, put down one of these mats and then just let Mara eat off it. When she’s done I just peel the mat up and throw it away or put it on my plate balled up. No mess on the table! I also buy disposable bibs for eating out. I hate putting a dirty bib back in the diaper bag, plus sometimes I forget and leave them in there and then my bag smells. With a disposable bib I can just throw it out after we’re done eating and not worry about it.
My last two must-haves definitely have more to do with my kid in particular. The first are these velcro canvas shoes from Old Navy. I have them in each color and they just rock. They are the ONLY shoes that Mara doesn’t take off in the car, or anywhere else. I will say that without socks they can make for some pretty smelly baby feet, so I recommend socks.
Second, the Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer Cup. Mara does not do well with spouted sippy cups. Don’t ask me why, I have no clue, but she loves these cups. They are easy to clean and spill-proof. Water will come out if your kid chucks it on the floor (mine does) but I figure that’s expected of anything full of water being thrown.
Also, if you’re into walking a lot outside or running, invest in a good jogging stoller. It’s not an absolute must, but I’m so glad we bought ours. We got the Graco FastAction Fold Click Connect jogger because it went with Mara’s infant seat (and it was on sale). I went outside and walked SO much more after we bought this. It just made for a much smoother ride and really opened up a lot of walking opportunites for me because I wasn’t tied to going on paved walkways only.
There you have it. My top 10 baby must haves for the first year. I haven’t gotten into the affiliate linking thing, so the links are just there in case you wanted to check something out. Happy Friday!
If you’ve been around this blog for awhile you may remember that Jesse used to do 90% of the cooking. I was incredibly slow and just flat out hated everything about cooking. Plus, Jesse used to get home from work before me, so it just worked out for us that he be the chef. Now that I stay at home the responsibility of cooking has fallen back to me. I HATED it at first, but after I got into the groove of staying at home I started experimenting with recipes and techniques. I typically use a recipe once, maybe twice, and then I spin it off into my own thing. I know what flavors my family likes, what ingredients are necessary and what can be subbed for something more affordable. That was the case with my chicken teriyaki, a family favorite around here. I looked up most popular ingredients in teriyaki sauces and started making my own. I used my memory of my favorite hibachi restaurant teriyaki from college as a flavor guide and created a quick, easy and delicious meal.
I always start with the rice. We eat brown rice, which takes about 30 minutes to cook, so it needs to go on at the beginning. The whole dish should take about 30 minutes to prep and cook. Then, I cut half a white onion longways and julienne two zucchini. I also use carrot but I’m lazy and buy that pre-shredded. Once the chopping is done I mix my teriyaki sauce. It’s 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tbs. cornstarch, 2 tbs. white wine, 2 tbs. rice vinegar, 1 clove garlic, 1/4 tsp. sesame oil, and 1/8 tsp. ginger. I add the veggies to the sauce and coat them. For cooking you’ll want to use a large skillet, I use a cast iron one that is about 2 inches deep. Heat some oil in your skillet until it glistens a bit and then add your vegetables. Be sure not to dump the sauce! You’ll need it for the chicken.
For the three of us, 1 pack of boneless, skinless chicken breast is enough for dinner and lunch the next day. I like the chicken cubed for this dish to keep it small and easy to stack with veggies and rice on my fork. Once it’s cut add the chicken to the sauce and make sure it’s well coated, then add it all to your pan. Your veggies should be nice and soft, or wilted, at this point. Cook your chicken with the sauce and vegetables on medium to medium high heat until chicken is cooked through. Then serve it up with your rice. Sometimes I add 2 cups of frozen broccoli at the end, just for some extra veggies. I also will toss some yum yum sauce on top when I’m feeling less healthy. You can buy yum yum at the grocery store, or you can make it with a tbs. of mayo, a splash of lemon juice, a tiny bit of cayenne and a dash of paprika. It’s seriously that easy.
We eat this dish almost every week because it’s quick, easy and fairly healthy. The vegetables can be easily switched for things that your family likes and if you’re vegetarian you can just leave out the meat. Also, the dish can easily be gluten free if you use a gluten free soy sauce. Everybody wins!
Quick and easy chicken teriyaki. Perfect for a busy weeknight meal.
Happy Friday all! We’ve had a pretty good week around here filled with productivity, play dates and just getting out of the house. The weather is supposed to be gorgeous this weekend, so I’m hoping that we will have plenty of fun family time out and about! Tonight Jesse and I will probably have a little date night in with drinks and a movie. The movie debate is between LaLa Land and Underworld:Blood Wars. I’m leaning towards the latter…
This week Jesse and I got in a little date night, kind of. I brought him along to a blogger event at a local restaurant called The Boathouse. I can always convince him to come with me to an event if there is food involved. And boy was there food! We got to sample appetizers, salads, a giant seafood tray and desserts, plus a bunch of fun cocktails.
The weather was beautiful and we were right on the water. There was a fun band playing that definitely made things feel like we were at the beach, if we didn’t think about the fact we were only 20 minutes from home.
I got to reconnect with some blogging friends that I haven’t seen since Mara was born (I really should get out more) and meet some new people. Chatting and hanging out over food and drinks is definitely my favorite way to network!
I’m also working on planning a fun girls’ trip to Washington D.C. next month. They just opened a Ladurée and I’m dying to go. Ladurée is a macaron bakery in Paris that I became obsessed with while we were there. There is one in New York City, which used to be the only one in the US. Now there is one a mere 2 hours away! I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on some macarons!
On the home front, our master shower is finally finished! This means that I need to pick my paint color! I’m hoping to paint next week during naps and to finish up painting the cabinet doors and drawers this weekend. Then it will be on to the fun stuff! I’m giving myself a deadline of May 28th to have everything done. I’ve never really had “deadlines” when it comes to house stuff before so I’m hoping an end date keeps me motivated to get it done.
I am not a morning person. I hate mornings. I go to bed at night dreading having to get up in the morning. It’s not a very positive start in the morning and for the past few months has resulted in bad attitudes and tears (sometimes from Mara, mostly from me). I recently resolved to start my mornings more positively by making a few small changes to my routine.
The first is to have a good bedtime routine for myself. I pick up the house after the Toddler Tornado goes to bed and clean the kitchen. This ensures that I’m waking up to a mostly clean house every day. If I come downstairs to a mess in the morning I’m almost instantly in a bad mood. I also try to cut screen time out at least 20 minutes before bed by swapping my phone for a book. This is the time where I like to read parenting or self-improvement type books. It’s something slightly interesting, but doesn’t suck me in and make me want to stay up reading.
The second is to get up before Mara does. She usually wakes up around 7:30, so just getting up 15-30 minutes before her makes a big difference. That’s time where the house is quiet and still clean from my nightly cleanup. It’s a great way to start the day and I can have a little coffee before I get her out of bed. On the mornings I don’t do this I walk into her room in a zombie like state and communicate via grunts. Greeting her with a smile and a little energy in the morning definitely makes a difference in her attitude for the morning too.
I also like to read a little in the morning with my cup of coffee. It’s a relaxing quiet start. This is usually a different book than my bedtime one, just because I’m lazy and don’t want to carry the book back and forth. While this reading time is usually only 5-10 minutes, it’s a good way to sit and have me time before everything becomes all about Mara.
The last thing is to make Mara’s breakfast before she gets up. She is not a fan of eggs and really likes a hardy breakfast, so she has oatmeal just about everyday. (When she gets more teeth I will probably add pancakes to the mix). I make her oatmeal and leave it to cool while I make my coffee and have my reading time. Then all I have to do is flavor it when she gets up. Her favorites are applesauce and cinnamon or peanut butter and banana. Before I started doing this Mara would spend most of the morning clinging to my legs and crying while I made her oatmeal and my coffee.
Once Mara is in her highchair happily munching away I empty the dishwasher and make my breakfast. Emptying the dishwasher has been a HUGE de-stresser! I just place the dirty dishes in throughout the day so there is never a pile in the sink. Then after dinner I only have to add the dinner dishes real quick and wipe of the counters. Having a clean kitchen almost all day takes the stress of needing to do “one more thing” away. I can carve out some Me Time during naps without feeling guilty.
Do you have any other tips or tricks for making mornings run smoother? I’m always looking for ways to make my days more efficient and less stressful.
Hey all! TGIF! I’m so excited that this week is over. It wasn’t necessarily a bad week, but it was just off. I’m trying to resettle and get things back to “normal,” so I wasn’t as productive and didn’t stick to my usual routine. Here’s hoping for a great weekend and an even better week next week!
Last weekend was busy, but fun. We focused on some much needed family time. We took Mara to the park, hung out at home and went to the mall. I checked out a blogger event at Kendra Scott while we were there. I haven’t had alone time in awhile so Jesse took Mara while I went. It was so nice to be surrounded by pretty things and sip on a mimosa. There was even a stylist doing hair, so I took advantage of that. Afterwards, we all went to lunch as a family. It was such a great, relaxing day.
I also ran in the Monument Ave 10k on Saturday morning. I ran this same 10k back in 2015 and have wanted to do it again ever since. I didn’t train as much as I wanted (or should have) but I finished under my goal time (by a minute) and that’s all that matters. I’m thinking of signing up for another one at the end of the month to see if I can improve on that time. Plus, having races coming up keeps me motivated to run and do well.
I wish I had any news at all about the updates to the master bathroom, but I don’t. We have hit a bit of snag with the grout replacement. They have already been out once to fix some mistakes and now have to come out again. This means that we can’t paint or do anything really because we don’t want our work to get ruined by grout dust. I’m hopeful that this will be the last time they need to come out and I can move forward with my plans soon!
However, there is some news on the house project front. I’m finally going to reorganize our walk-in closet. It’s been in desperate need for awhile, but it’s functional so I never bothered. Now Jesse has a locker for his bow & arrows, swords and other dangerous objects, but it doesn’t quite fit. This means it’s time to rearrange and make things a bit prettier in the process! Wish me luck on the pretty part. I don’t really want to spend much money on a closet so I’m not sure how to pull that off. I can tell you one thing. I’m not painting the closet. Nope.
I’m hoping to get started on the closet this weekend, but Monday is Passover so it’s not super high on the priority list.
I had so much fun planning Mara’s first birthday a few weeks ago. I decided on a simple pink and gold theme, inspired by her nursery and baby showers. We also ended up throwing two parties. A brunch party in the morning for Mara’s little friends and their parents (aka our friends) and an afternoon party with our families. The day was pretty hectic so my pictures from brunch are from my phone, but I did snap a few good ones before the afternoon. The dining room was my focal point for the party since that’s where the food was. I set the table using a canvas drop cloth and a yard of pink polka dot fabric. I used some gold striped vases that I made a few years ago for pink almosteria and number 1 balloons. I love using almosteria because it’s so cheap at the grocery store and lasts forever. I also made a tissue paper garland for the birthday girl’s highchair. In the living room I hung a few tissue paper pom poms from the chandelier and decorated the mantel with white, pink and gold. The CELEBRATE banner was another Dollar Spot score, as was the pink candle and pink bottle. I stole the framed prints from the gallery wall in the master bedroom. I love the black and white WW2 postcard, it’s something we picked up in the Churchill museum in London a few years ago. I also made a little display using all of Mara’s monthly photos for the wall in the kitchen. They are actually still hanging up because Jesse and I love looking at them. It’s so crazy to see how much she’s grown and changed in just a year!
For the brunch party we served assorted flavors of muffins (which I baked using a box mix), fruit salad and egg cups with red pepper, onion and sausage. I got the recipe online (can’t remember where), but in the future I’d definitely add more salt and pepper. I found cute little pink easels in the Dollar Spot at Target which I used to label the food. There’s nothing worse than thinking a muffin is chocolate chip and biting in to discover it’s blueberry. We also had a little mimosa bar for the brunch party. I know that there’s an ongoing debate in the mom world about serving alcohol at your kid’s birthday parties, but we figured what the hell. It’s our party too, kinda. I mean she doesn’t remember it already. In the afternoon we had crackers and spinach dip, a veggie tray, pink lemonade and pizza. The pizza was nod to how much pizza I ate when I was pregnant. I had it at least twice a week. At least.
We also did cupcakes and Mara’s smash cake in the afternoon. I baked the cake and cupcakes (from a box) and topped them with pink vanilla icing. I used ramekins for Mara’s cake and iced it more like a naked cake. Mostly to cut back on the amount of sugar.Mara loved being sung too. I’m talking huge, wrinkly nose smile and clapping the whole time. She also LOVED the cake. There was zero hesitation. She just dove right in. She probably ate 1/3 of it before Jesse and I decided she had enough and took it away. We were so exhausted by the end of everything, but were also very glad to have done it all on the same day. Like ripping off a band-aid. A gold, glittery band-aid. Speaking of gold and glittery, for her party I ordered Mara a shirt from The Humble Penguin. I messaged Ashley what I wanted and she made it happen. The shirt is actually available for anyone else that is interested too! You can use code mara10 for 10% off any clothes in the shop.
I seriously had so much fun planning this party. I’m excited for many more years of birthday party fun, especially when she can decide on her own theme.
Happy Fridaaaaayyyyyy!!! I’m so excited for this weekend! I have some fun plans with girlfriends tomorrow and then absolutely NOTHING to do on Sunday (other than run and go to the grocery store). I know that I will be busy getting things ready for Mara’s party, but that’s fun stuff. Mostly. I’m sure I will find a way to be overly busy and will be exhausted come Monday, but for now I choose to be excited.
I was originally not planning on posting anything today, but something hilarious happened to me last night. I went to a special blogger preview of the Southern Women’s Show here in Richmond with a few friends in the evening. We drank champagne, watched a few makeup demonstrations and mini fashion shows, and then networked. It wasn’t a very late event and we were in our cars to leave by 8 pm. I was excited to be home at a decent time so Jesse and I could catch up on The 100 and go to bed early #momlife.
Well, I got in my car and noticed a weird “wum wum” sound and my tire pressure light started going off. I had a flat tire. Completely flat. Luckily, two of my friends were leaving right behind me and stopped when I pulled over. I called Kia Roadside Assistance, since my car is under a year old I still have that service for free. They gave me a wait time of 30 minutes, which doesn’t seem that long unless you are sitting in your car with nothing to do. My friends ran out to grab some food, but I had to stay with my car until the repair guy showed up.
While I’m sitting in my car on the phone someone for the event space comes up to ask me if everything is ok. I explain the situation and he says “It’s a good thing I came over here. I almost locked the gates and you would have been locked in for the night.” I think my eyes popped out of my head! I didn’t even realize they closed this place up at night. I thanked the man and started rummaging through my event swag bag for something to eat. Keep in mind Lent, so I couldn’t get my friends to bring me back food. I found some popcorn and started munching. But then I got incredibly thirsty. Go figure. Then a lady that works for the event space comes up to my car with a bottle of water. Just out of no where. Of course I downed it and then had to use the bathroom. But by that point my friends were back and the repair man had shown up.
I sat in my friends’ car while the man worked on my tire. It took him about 45 minutes because he went ahead and plugged my tire. Which was nice because the Fix a Flat kit that came with my car has a speed and mileage limit. I would have had to take the long way home and would have taken twice as long. Once all was said and done and I was on my way home it was 9:30. I know that doesn’t seem that late, but it was to me. Especially when I had been looking forward to getting home early.
My friends and I are going back this weekend for the actual show. A group of us watch the show Pretty Little Liars and one of the actors will be there. Don’t judge. However, I’m thinking I may not drive myself there haha. I can’t afford to lose my whole day to random car issues again haha.
I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! Any fun plans? Or embarrassing tv obsessions you care to admit to?