Thursday, March 30, 2017

My Experience with Essential Oils


Nicole of the blog Two and Two is 4 recently sent over some Young Living Essential Oils for me to try. I have been hearing great things about YL for years but never got around to giving them a try so this was perfect. When she asked what I may be interested in trying, I told her that our struggles were relaxation and overall wellness. A couple days later, samples of Stress Away, Lavender, and Thieves Vitality arrived at my doorstep with the sweetest handwritten note. 


One thing that I love about Young Living is their Seed to Seal promise, which is a meticulous process that ensures that the most natural and pure essential oils are delivered to customers. Ever since having Madeline, I am so much more aware of the products that I use so this made me feel really good about having them in my home.

The package arrived on one of my husband's most stressful work days this year. He was in his office, with a phone in each hand going back and forth while somehow also typing an email as I cut the envelope open. When he finally emerged for dinner, I had him immediately rub some Stress Away on his temples. He reluctantly admitted he did feel more relaxed after only about 15 minutes.

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Nicole also sent along lavender, which is one of my absolute favorite scents. To test out this one, I added a couple drops to a bath. This was super relaxing and really helped me unwind for bed. It was also recommended to spray a little on your pillow before bed for restful sleep so I will definitely be giving that a try in the future and I can also see myself diffusing it while winding down for the night.

I also added one drop to this sweet little doll Madeline got for her birthday. When it arrived it smelled like lavender but that has faded since she is obsessed with this little baby and plays with her nonstop. She's been snuggling her extra close now that the sweet, relaxing smell has been restored.


My last sample was Thieves Vitality, which I knew nothing about at all. This oil is supposed to aid in overall wellness. I gave this one a try after finding out some friends we had just seen for play group all came down with a bug and weren't feeling well. I followed Nicole's recommendation exactly of having it with honey and tea to take it internally. I did feel really good overall after drinking my tea that afternoon and we did not catch the bug! I don't know if that was because of luck or the essential oils, but I will certainly take it!

Tell me what your experience is with essential oils. Are there certain oils or blends you have tried? 

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Want to test some out for yourself? Nicole is a #mamaboss like me and was so easy to work with. Here's a note from her about how to order. 


To order your kit, you create your own account with Young Living. Here's how:

1) Go to www.youngliving.com 
CLICK "become a member"

2) Enter my member number in BOTH sponsor and enroller section: 3884612

3) Choose Wholesale, not Retail. Please make sure you choose wholesale, because only wholesale members are eligible to buy the kit. If you sign up Retail you cannot purchase a kit. As a wholesale member, you also earn a 24% discount if you ever want to order oils again. Occasionally, people are hesitant to create a wholesale account because they think it means they are signing up to sell something, but please rest assured that is NOT the case. As a wholesale member you are never, ever required to buy or sell a single thing. If you don't like your oils, you never have to place another order after you receive your starter kit. I have a slight feeling you will fall in love and that won't be the case though! (Think of it like a Costco membership. The majority of the people I have introduced to oils only use them, but don’t sell them.) You are in no way ever expected or required to share anything about oils the way I do. 

4) You will also get to choose between 4 different diffusers during check out. It comes standard with the Dew Drop or Home Diffuser, which most people love! Let me know if you need help choosing one!

After entering all your info, make sure you write down your login information. Log out and log back in for practice! You'll need to remember your info for future purchases! If you ever forget it, let me know and I'll help you get that information!

5) Upon ordering a kit, I’ll send you an oily tool kit in the mail so you will have some tools to help you use your kit once it arrives. 

6) I am also part of the YL Essential Families group and Mid-Atlantic Essentials group. Both pages are very active with a wealth of oily info. I will submit the request to have you added to the group. We also have a great website. I also have a smaller group for my oily friends that I'll add you to. 

7) I will send you a welcome email that contains some helpful links and info on when you should expect to receive your kit. I will also send you a 3 part welcome email series, covering topics such as diffuser recipes, using oils in place of toxic cleaning products, and the Essential Rewards program. I typically send you one email a week for the first month.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Real Talk: Fitness after Baby


I'm just going to dig right in and be totally honest and say there were many days after Madeline was born that I didn't recognize myself. I know many of you, who are mamas, know this feeling yourselves. I looked in the mirror eight weeks later to see pale skin, cellulite, fifteen extra pounds, and dark circles under my eyes. Who is this person??

I lost a big chunk of my pregnancy weight super fast but then the weight stopped falling off and my pants and shorts still didn't button and legging season was dangerously close to an end. 

This was a big struggle for me for so many reasons. For most of my life I have been fit. But this is not something that comes easy for me. It is something I have worked hard for every day for years and years. I gained almost ten pounds while I was in graduate school and I exercised and meal-planned my way to the best shape of my life for our wedding and honeymoon. I vowed I would never put my health on the back burner again. It was hard work and lots of time and sweat and I was pretty devastated that that body I'd worked so hard for had disappeared after pregnancy. 


What was even harder was that I didn't really know where to start. I have a strong background in nutrition and fitness so I know how to lose weight in a healthy way and build strong, lean muscle. I just didn't know how to find the time to do it with an infant in tow. Madeline was still sleeping no more than two hours at a time. There were more 3:00 pm lunches in the Chick-fil-A drive through than I care to admit during her 6-8 week old fussy period where she cried most of the day and was only content in the car or in my arms. Especially since my husband travels so I was doing the whole exhausted new mom thing all by myself 90% of the time. 

Being a mom is hard. Finding time for yourself when you are responsible for a tiny human's life is even harder. It seems everyone needs you. You baby needs you to do literally everything. Your husband needs your attention. He needs your help finding his lost car key amongst the mountain of teeny tiny laundry. Your dog wonders why all of the sudden he's not the center of attention.

I was feeling very isolated. Our support system was spread out and my husband was in the middle of a busy travel season for work. I had to find a way to do this with no help. Dropping Madeline off for an hour with my mom or mother-in-law so I could get a class in at my favorite barre studio wasn't an option. I also found myself getting so frustrated when I'd see other new moms posting on our local mom group about trying to lose weight and so many people's response was how easy it was when you are nursing. Just breastfeed and it will fall right off. For me, I actually gained weight during my first four months of nursing. Honestly, I think I was in better shape two weeks after giving birth than I was three months later. 

Due to a postpartum hemorrhage, I was not cleared to exercise until 10 weeks post-baby but with the combination of purchasing a new house, listing our old one, moving, and going back to work all at the same time that didn't happen. And I wasn't eating clean, either. I was eating whatever was quick and little effort.


I really hesitated to share this photo and went back and forth between including it or not, but wanted to show that you can make big progress in a short time if you set your mind to it. The picture on the right was taken after only six weeks of being back into my routine. It took longer than I ever anticipated it would to get started back into a routine but when I finally did, I made some great progress and am still going.  I've actually lost another six pounds from that photo on the right. I carve out just thirty short minutes for a great at-home workout every day. I feel challenged and I am pushing myself daily. I feel leaner and stronger. I really dialed-in my nutrition using a meal plan where I was satisfied and energized. Adjusting my diet back to healthy foods and healthy portions made me feel so much better and I don't feel like I have to deny myself of things that I enjoy.

Fitness is a journey not a destination and I still have a few more pounds and some toning left to do. My abs don't look quite like they did on my honeymoon in Hawaii just yet but my clothes fit again. I have more energy. I feel healthier. I look leaner. I don't have unhealthy cravings. I can say no to Chick-fil-A. I feel calmer and more confident. Some of the victories aren't just noticeable on the scale. Most importantly, I don't have to choose between taking care of Madeline and taking care of myself. I even have time to do laundry and make dinner for our family in addition to my workouts, taking care of our home, a few hours of work a week, and being with Madeline.

Fitness after baby didn't look the way I thought it would. I thought I would have the energy to get right to the gym and bounce back quickly. I had to change my mindset to change my body. Its amazing what the female body can do. And its amazing how much progress you can make when you first give yourself a little grace and then tackle your goals with a lot of determination.

Baby or not, if you're feeling lost in your own health journey, email me. I'd love to help.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Coffee + Conversation


We had a nice little Spring weekend this weekend. After being cold again on and off last week, it really felt like spring at home in Charlotte. We had a laid back Friday evening then headed to the Botanical Gardens on Saturday.
Madeline got to wear some of her new spring clothes and had so much fun looking at all the different trees, plants, and flowers.


They had a special spring event taking place with so many fun children's activities. Madeline was too young for most of them  but she loved meeting Peter Rabbit. She smiled right at him when she saw him, such a completely different reaction from the skepticism she felt towards Santa back in December.

We came home and prepared to host friends for dinner. The weather was great so we ate outside on the porch and let the littles play on the slide, ride in the Cozy Coupe, and go for a walk in the wagon. 


If you are looking for an easy way to entertain your toddler, may I suggest pom poms from the Dollar Tree and empty take-out containers. Madeline has so much fun transferring the pom poms from container to container. I also kept the lid for one and cut a hole in the middle. She also enjoys poking the pom poms through the hole. No need for expensive toys and this is definitely one compact enough you can toss it in your bag and take with you when you're going to need to entertain the babe at a restaurant.


The great weather continued on to Sunday so we enjoyed a family walk on the greenway and playing in the backyard. I just cannot get enough of Madeline's spring clothes. I only picked up a few little short sleeve tops to wear with leggings she already had but I think she just looks precious.


We enjoyed these chicken burrito bowls for dinner. This is one of the recipes I am sharing in my Crockpot + Clean Eating totally-free group this week and is one we eat on the regular in our house. It is so super easy and healthy, too. Its even 21 Day Fix approved. If you missed out on this group but want in on the next free one, make sure you're following here to stay up to date. 




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

5 Ways to Live Healthier...Starting Today


I would argue that most of the population wants to be healthy. Yet, many, many of us don't make healthy choices on the day-to-day. I think healthy living can sometimes seem unattainable, like it might require too much work for us to be successful. But, that is simply not true. There are little changes we can make in our day-to-day habits that will add up to significant results in the long run.

1. Drink more water. We all know hydration is important yet it can be hard to get the water we need daily. I have definitely been guilty of having days where I would drink only coffee and wine. Drinking enough water helps curb cravings, boost metabolism, aids in skin and hair health, and so much more. Did you know you should be drinking half of your body weight in ounces every day at a minimum?

2. Go to be earlier. Again, this is something that has been difficult for me! Especially before becoming a mom. Now, I can't seem to get to bed fast enough at the end of the day. I personally got really "good" at functioning on six or so hours of sleep. But this is a dangerous practice in the long term. Determine a bedtime that is at least seven, preferably eight, hours before you need to get up to start your day. Then, plan to start winding down 30-45 minutes before that time. Check your email and social media for the last time, then log off. Finish your nighttime skincare and beauty rituals then try to read or listen to relaxing music for a few minutes to help your mind slow down and prepare for restful sleep.

3. Get moving! Remember the theory that a body in motion stays in motion and a body at rest stays at rest? For your health now and in the future, exercise really needs to be a part of your daily life. 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 a weeks will improve your overall health in so many ways. This can be as simple as using the stairs instead of the elevator and then taking a nice walk every evening. One thing I love about my current workouts is that they take just 30 minutes (2% of my day) and I really feel like I have strengthened my body and heart when I am finished. 

4. Eat reasonable portions. It isn't necessary to cut all of your favorite foods in order to eat healthy. While it is true that some foods are undeniably better than others, you can make a huge difference in your health simply by making sure your portions are reasonable. If you need help with this, email me and I will make sure you are on my list for my next meal prep group. I even have one starting on Monday. 
5. Find a way to destress. Whether it be yoga, a long walk with your favorite podcast, a lavender bubble bath, a standing mani/pedi date with a great girlfriend, find a way to relax on the regular. 
Want more healthy living tips? Make sure you are following me on Facebook.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Coffee + Conversation


We had a fun weekend over here attending a wedding and spending some time with friends but boy did it fly by? This is for sure going to be a multiple coffee kind of day.

The weekend seemed to have taken the cold weather with it and I have no complaints about that. I'm excited to be able to get out for park dates and walks again this week. I am so ready for spring weather since it is the first day of spring after all. 

We have a lot of really cool trees and plants in our yard thanks to the previous owners but I am sad to report that after the snow and freezing temps last week, the blossoms in our peach trees are shriveled and brown on the trees. So sad! Anyone know anything about peach trees? Are they for sure done for the year now?


These two are finally becoming friends. I'm sure the snack cup is a big part of this friendship and that Madeline thinks it's hilarious to feed him Cheerios. This is a big accomplishment because poor Riley has definitely had a bittersweet relationship with Madeline. He's protective of her and wants to be near her but he's also been pretty terrified of her since she started crawling. And jealous.

Anyone really struggle with eating healthy because of a busy schedule? Or just drawing a blank on clean recipes to cook for you and your family that aren't super complicated? Then, I have a treat for you!

I am hosting a Clean Eating and Crock Pot Cooking group starting a week from today. It's totally free and I'll be sharing some favorite healthy recipes you can make in your slow cooker.


Head over to Facebook to get the details on how to register. Madeline has enjoyed being the test audience to a few of the recipes that were new to us. 


Happy Monday!




Friday, March 17, 2017

5 on Friday

One.
I am so happy it is Friday today! It has been super cold all week long and since Madeline has had a runny nose, we didn't do any play dates so we are all going a little stir-crazy. We have no big plants tonight, just finally watching this week's This is Us and relaxing at home. Corey's had work dinners most of the week so we haven't had much time together this week. 

Two.
I sunless tanned for the wedding we are going to on Saturday. This year I switched to Fake Bake from Tan Towels, which I used and loved for such a long time. I have such a super heightened sense of smell ever since I was pregnant with Madeline and I couldn't take the scent of my beloved Tan Towels anymore. I'm loving the Fake Bake and it has a very light coconut scent. The color is natural and it's not streaky at all. I also love St. Tropez but it is just so expensive. Do you have a sunless tanner you love that I should try? 

Three.

This guy turned SEVEN years old on Wednesday. I cannot even believe that and it makes me super emotional. He started his day with his usual cake from Canine Cafe and had lots of snuggles with his family. Just for a little flashback Friday, let's spend just a minute reminiscing over how cute he was when he was a tiny pup seven years ago.



Four.

This was dinner last night. Life is about balance, right?? Corey had a work dinner and Madeline had kind of a tough day yesterday with a super runny nose that was driving her crazy so by the time she went to bed (an hour early), I was just exhausted. I poured myself a glass of wine, enjoyed my favorite flavor of Lara bar and a banana, and watched Grey's Anatomy in bed. 

Five.

These crockpot carnitas were easy and delicious. I made them for Taco Tuesday in our house this week and then ate leftovers in Wednesday while Corey was working and enjoyed them just as much the second time around. Not to mention they are 21 Day Fix approved and a healthy dinner. I'll be sharing this recipe and seven more in my totally free clean eating crock pot group starting March 27th. Want more info? Just let me know in the comments and make sure you either leave your email address or the reply feature is turned on!


Linking up here.  Happy Friday! 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Wedding Guest Style

We have our first wedding of the year this weekend. It is a big year for weddings in our friend group. I think we have seven this year between now and October. Its been a couple years since we had a wedding season like this and I am so very excited to celebrate with our friends.


This weekend I am wearing this black lace dress. It is a classic style with a cut out back and one of my favorites. One thing I love about it being such a classic style is that I don't care that I have worn it before or been photographed in it. Changing up my jewelry and shoes means that I can wear it more than once without it feeling like a big deal. I always get lots of compliments on it and its forgiving - I was even able to wear it newly postpartum last year and not feel frumpy. Of course, I'm more excited to wear it this weekend thanks to all of my recent workouts. 


With seven weddings this year, though, I am trying to add to my wedding wardrobe a little. I am such a huge fan of lace dresses, scallops, and pretty necklines or backs. Now that I'm older, I go for dresses that are both flattering and comfortable. Something I definitely didn't do earlier in life.


I also try to avoid wearing the same color as the bridal party or anything that would majorly clash with what they are wearing. Black, navy, and blush pink are my favorite colors to wear as a wedding guest. Actually, I love wearing these colors all the time. I also try to choose things that are classic over trendy so I can avoid anyone looking at pictures later and wondering what in the world I was thinking. I usually consider these types of dresses investment pieces and always try to choose something I will get wear out of later, too.  

How do you go about choosing a dress as a wedding guest?

Wedding guest attire on my radar:


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Thoughts for Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, friends. 


We are enjoying some cold weather in Charlotte this week. Anybody else have snow that lasted all of four hours over the weekend? I'm definitely ready for spring but am not hating this one last week of winter and dressing Madeline in all of her cutest little sweater outfits.


We are in between sessions of Madeline's music class and with the cold weather this week we have no play groups meeting. I am enjoying the down time this week to finish up some projects at home and for my Teachers pay Teachers store.

One thing we are really struggling with since Madeline's birthday is keeping all of her toys organized. My parents brought me the toy box from my childhood and I am busy giving it a little makeover for M. The toys are out of control. How do you moms stay organized??


I tutor on Monday nights but try to still make sure we have a healthy meal to eat when I get home. Yesterday, I slow cooked turkey meatballs with no-sugar added tomato sauce, a little minced garlic, Italian seasoning, and onion powder and then served them over zoodles. This was such an easy healthy meal. What are your go-to's when you feel like you have no time?


Madeline has handled the time change beautifully. We both slept in on Sunday and then a little past our normal time yesterday, too. Oops. Today, we are back on track but I still feel like I need allll the coffee. This totally sums up the last couple mornings for me:

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Home Tour: The Dining Room

Our dining room is one of my favorite rooms in our new home. I really love to hostess and entertain so I think that is why I love this room so much. We also didn't have a true formal dining room in our previous house because of its open floor plan.


For this room we used the table and chairs from our previous home but keep the leaf in all the time because the room is so much larger in this house. We decided to go with classic wooden chairs for the sides for durability and then added upholstered end chairs on the ends. On my to-do list still is to add linen cushions to the chairs for comfort. We were having this debate in a local home decor group, though. Are cushions in or out currently? 


The buffet is also from our old home and stores our china and crystal. It is a discontinued style from Pottery Barn and I literally called the store weekly inquiring about their floor model until they finally cleared it out and sold it to me. The art above is from my first real apartment. It was the first large piece of art I purchased. We have a lot of blues in our home so this ties this very-neutral room into the rest of the house. 


This piece of furniture is a Home Goods find and serves as our bar and houses all the adult beverages and cocktail glasses. It was in the sunroom of our old home and I wasn't sure about it in this room at first but it has grown on me. I still need to finish styling the top but I do love the pictures of Madeline and of our wedding day that hang above it. They are the same beveled mirror look as the mirror set you can see in the first picture. 


I found the fiddle leaf fig at Home Goods for a steal but I found it back when I had my teeny tiny car and had Madeline with me so getting it home was a challenge. I'd been looking for one for a while but was wary about ordering a faux tree online. It was clearly meant to be. I'd love a real one but I wanted it in this far corner away from the window. And to be quite honest, it is really nice that it never needs anything from me. 


The curtains are from the sunroom in our old house and I still need to have them hemmed to the correct length. The rug was one of my favorite purchases and I actually ordered it online from Joss and Main and just crossed my fingers that it worked. Since we closed on this house the week I went back to work after Madeline was born, I wasn't about to go to all the big rug and furniture stores to hunt down the perfect rug.


It was a great deal for its size but is pretty thin. This was frustrating but not a deal breaker. I didn't really know what type of pad to put underneath since our other rugs are all thicker so it didn't seem like such a big decision in picking the right one.


Enter RugPadUSA. They were so very helpful in helping me choose a plush pad for the thickness I needed but also in a light enough color that it wouldn't show through. The pad I received is perfect and not only does the rug look so much better but it feels so much more plush and comfy when walking on it. I know it will wear much better as well. Aside from the great service, I was really impressed with this company because the products are made in the USA and are far more eco-friendly that most rug pads. This is so important to me because I want to protect the investment of our newly-refinished floors but I also don't want Madeline crawling across a rug pad containing harsh chemicals. 

RugPadUSA offers several different styles so that you can choose the one that's best for your floor type and rug style. I ordered the Eco Plush. I was so very impressed with the quality and really appreciate the time they took helping me choose the right one. I know we will enjoy it for many years! 

Now, what fun are home decor posts without showing you where we started. Here's a little before picture of our dining room. Yes, it really is the same room. We restrained the floors, painted it Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter, and swapped out the light fixture for a more transitional choice.

A big thanks to RugPadUSA for facilitating this post and offering me a great rug pad to review and share with you all. 


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Last week's workouts (+ a recipe)


I missed two days of working out during Madeline's birthday week with various errands and such, especially since my sister and law and her fiancé were in town from San Francisco and we were trying to spend as much time with them as possible. I also really let my meal plan slide with the celebrations so last week was the week to get back on track. 

Monday - Upper Body Extreme
Tuesday - Barre Legs and 10 min hardcore 
Wednesday - Total Body Cardio Fix 
Thursday - Dirty 30 + 10 min abs
Friday - Cize 
Saturday - Beachbody on Demand barre 
Sunday - family walk

Find 21 Day Fix here, 21 Day Fix Extreme here, Cize here, or get them all and more as part of Beachbody on Demand here. 

I made it through my workouts every day but it wasn't always easy. On Friday, I had a doctor's appointment at the time I usually workout so I had to do it during Madeline's afternoon nap and then squeeze in another shower before dinner. Then on Saturday, she woke up before I finished my work out. In fact, I had just finished working my right glute but hadn't started my left yet. She was grumpy and needed some mom cuddles but I did go back and finish my last 10 minutes in the afternoon. Can't have a lopsided fanny for the summer!

This is one of my favorite quotes about priorities and it really holds true in everything in life but I try to keep it in mind in regards to fitness especially. We are all busy so saying you "don't have time" is really just saying "it isn't important to me." Our priorities are what we make them.



One of my favorite one-dish meals is this chicken with green beans and bacon skillet from Skinnytaste. It's really flavorful and I so appreciate the crunch the bacon adds. I'm also a big fan of anything that only dirties one dish. I served it with a small piece of garlic bread this time because we were seriously craving carbs. One tip I have for enjoying your carbs in an appropriate portion is to cut up a baguette and freeze it in small 3-4 inch sections. I usually do this if I have any left when making a crostini-style appetizer or with the bread they give you at Panera. Then, I just take one piece out of the freezer, pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds so it is soft enough to cut in half, prepare the garlic bread and then pop in the oven until crisp. This makes just one serving of bread each for me and Corey so we can enjoy a favorite without overdoing it.

Have a great day!