Parenting: Year 1

It’s hard for me to comprehend how this year is already coming to a close. It feels like just yesterday I was bouncing on a ball, walking and squatting in hopes that she would just freaking fall out of me already. I blinked and my sweet little newborn baby is now a bright, beautiful growing girl that’s getting into everything and is about to turn one year old. Twelve months ago as I was only just preparing to embark on this journey, I felt so many different emotions, had so many questions and so much fear of the uknown. I wish I could have told myself to calm the hell down, everything is going to be just fine.

It’s difficult to imagine what life will be like once you’re handed that tiny human for the very first time. The thing is, you can’t really imagine it. There is no one way to feel and there are no words to describe it. Labor and delivery is wild. The most un-natural natural thing I’ve ever been through. But being handed that baby was the most breath taking moment of my life. Love came over my body like a tidal wave and everything I had just endured, all the pain and all the fear, just went away. At that moment, I became her mama and it was the most gratifying job I’ve ever been given.

That’s not to say there weren’t challenging moments. There was a lot of crying, both the baby and myself. There was a lot of feeling lost and trying to find our way. There was a lot of arguments, because being a new parent and a loving spouse are two roles hard to balance. There were a lot of blow-out diapers that always seemed to happen at the worst times. But there was also a lot of laughs. A lot of snuggles and joy and moments I wish didn’t pass so quickly.

Since June 24th of last year, a lot has changed. Emma is a rough and tough little girl that loves being outside and going in her pool. She loves to eat…all the time (strawberries, bananas, avocado, macaroni and cheese, and cheesy eggs are a few of her favorites.) She loves our dog, Doug, and giving him kisses and patting him on the back. Wherever Emma goes, Doug is never far behind. The girl won’t nap, but she’ll sleep through the night (hallelujah!) She’ll say things like mama and dada and “ut-oooohhh” and bananananana. She crawls faster than I can blink, but is terrified to take steps. She loves going really high in her swing and cruising down the slide. She makes me so proud to be her mama every single day.

Emma, I hope that you never lose that big bright smile and belly laugh. That you always know your worth and never settle. I hope that you love yourself and are forever unapologetically you. But I hope you love others too. I hope you have the ability to be empathetic, to treat others with the same kindness and respect that you deserve too. Follow your heart and dream big. Travel the world and find the beauty in it. You will make mistakes and that’s okay; Learn from them. Come to me always, no matter how hard it may be. I will always be on your team.

A few things I’ve learned this past year…

  1. Everyone and their mother is going to give you advice. Advice on the best way to feed your baby, burp your baby, wipe your baby, dress your baby, teach your baby, the list goes on. Take it with a grain a salt. Before having Emma and right after, I would get so frustrated and overwhelmed with everyone’s advice and opinions. I now understand that they (most, anyway) are truly just trying to help. They are trying to lessen the burden and to provide comfort. They want you to know that you are not alone. Accept their advise and move on with your day.

    However, if you are someone at the other end of this situation…I urge you to be kind. The next time you’re at the grocery store and you see a mom with a kid in PJ’s in the shopping cart and another one throwing a temper tantrum on the floor, I hope that you can find it inside of you to walk by her and let her know that she’s doing a pretty damn amazing job.
  2. There is no right or wrong way to be a parent (besides the obvious.) At the end of the day, only you know what is best for your family. Maybe you instantly fell in love with breastfeeding, but maybe the thought of it overwhelmed you from day one. Perhaps you decide to make all your baby’s food from scratch, but maybe you just don’t have the time. Maybe you’ve decided you’re only going to use all natural and organic baby products, but perhaps that’s just not feasible for your family. Some may refuse to have the TV on and some may rely on an episode of Sesame Street just so they can pee in peace. Maybe you decided Pampers work better than Huggies or maybe you use cloth diapers. Heck, maybe you even use a butt spatula to apply diaper cream, and that’s okay! There is no right or wrong way to be a mom or dad. Feed and change your baby however the hell you please, but just make sure you love and nurture the crap out of that little blessing.

    3. Stop with the comparison. “Well Karen’s baby is 10 months old and walking, but my baby only scoots…is there something wrong with my baby? Is there something wrong with what I’m doing?” or “Karen doesn’t even look like she had a baby, I wonder what diet she’s on…” Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we scroll through Instagram and Pinterest and compare ourselves to a perfectly staged snapshot of someones life? Why do we constantly forget that there is a life behind these snapshots and that life is not always as perfect as it may seem. We need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect in all our different roles. Every single baby, mother, father, step parent, etc. is different, as is their situation. Be kind to yourself and your child. Be patient.

    4. We’re all just winging it. If you think that there is a book that you can read or a class that you can take to mold you into a perfect parent you are sadly mistaken. There is no big secret. I remember priding myself in my years of experience as a babysitter and daycare provider. I remember telling myself, whenever I felt doubted, “I’ve taken care of 100’s of babies – I got this.” L-O-f*cking-L. Yes, everything was okay and I did get the hang of it eventually, but being a parent is not easy. It is not something you can train for. Nothing can prepare you for the love your heart is about to feel and the immense amount of fear and anxiety that goes along with that. Nothing can prepare you for the sleepless nights and the loneliness you may feel during that 2 am feeding. There’s nothing that compares to being out to breakfast with your husband and baby and looking over only to see poop pouring out of your baby’s diaper like a volcano all over the high chair, dripping onto the floor. Not one single thing prepares you for that. All of us parents are walking/running through the day, just praying we can get through it without a trip to the E.R.

    5. Everything is going to be okay. We all get overwhelmed. We all get tired. We all have questions that don’t have answers. We all fear the unknown. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve found myself crying on the couch because of a day that was so long and trying that I didn’t think it would ever end. I also can’t count how many times I’ve found myself crying happy tears, full of pure joy and gratefulness. There will be hard times, but there will be a million more amazing ones. Have faith in every day. I don’t mean faith in God, but faith in yourself. Faith in your ability to do the best you can.

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GALentine’s Day

Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and I enjoy getting spoiled on Valentines Day just as much as the next person (seriously I’m not going to say no to fresh flowers and chocolate.) I may even be that girl that says she doesn’t need flowers and secretly hates when he doesn’t get me flowers (like, do you even know me?!) We even cook a nice dinner together and might even light a candle or two while we enjoy it. What I’m getting at here is that I’m not anti-valentines day by any means. I’m just pro give me an excuse for a party and champagne and my ladies!

I think GALentines is brilliant (how the hell didn’t I think of that!?) There’s not enough days out there to celebrate the beauty of a great gal-pal. Listen, I’m even pro MALEntines Day. Please, go, celebrate your cute little bromance and I’ll stay home with Ben & Jerry and full charge of the TV remote. It’s so healthy for a relationship to spend time apart and with your friends. It’s what keeps us as separate human beings and not just some weird merge of two people (i.e. Brangelina, and look what happened to them…)

Last night I had some of my closest girlfriends over to celebrate and celebrate we did. To be able to catch up with them while drinking fun champagne cocktails, surrounded by pink decorations and snacking on dessert inspired “charcuterie” was magical. It truly felt like we were being celebrated and that can sometimes be exactly what we all need. It was a night off from our ordinary lives, spent laughing and cheers-ing over stories and I can’t wait to do it with them all again.

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It’s not too late to start planning your GALentine’s Day party for Friday night! I have a few tips that will help you flawlessly throw the perfect ladies night and it will be so easy that your hardest task will be figuring out how to get your man out of the house. Put your lipstick on, pour that glass of champagne, and grab your bitches!

  1. Cute, Flirty Decor: I always love any excuse to break out my letter board. You can put a movie quote, a song lyric, something pun-y…I decided to go with “Happy GALentines Day, Babes,” but even a simple “XOXO” would do the trick. Use your food and drink as decor, too! It’s easy to put your snacks on a cute cheeseboard or colored dishes and to display liquor bottles on a cake plate and buy flavored seltzers that coordinate to the theme. I put our dessert “charcuterie” on a wooden cheeseboard and the chocolate & vanilla frosting in little pink bowls from Anthropologie. I displayed my wine & Champagne bottles in a boho fringe basket (Target) and purchased strawberry seltzers (pink & red can, duh…) I also purchased cute pink fruit baskets off Amazon for $3 to put some odds & ends in and found heart and GALentine’s cocktail napkins at Target. I finished it off with candles and a strand of fairy lights because they’re just so dang sparkly.
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  3. Fun Food: The first rule of fun food is that is should be low maintenance. Sweating your ass off in the kitchen and being left with a mountain of dishes doesn’t sound very fun! And don’t forget that take-out is 110% acceptable for evenings like this. I decided on pizza for my group of jersey girls, but another cute idea would be a tray of Chick-Fil-A for all your chicks…I mean YOU GET IT, RIGHT? I also did super easy cheeseboard of just triple creme brie, prosciutto and apricot jam. The star of the show was a dessert themed “charcuterie” that consisted of pineapple & strawberries, churro flavored rice crispies, pretzel crisps, teddy grahams, waffle cookies, and some fancy marshmallows (brand is smash mallow.) We dipped all the goodies in some melted chocolate and some funfetti icing (adult Dunkaroos, anyone!?) You could easily set up an ice cream bar or put out some store-bought baked goods, too.
  4. Festive Cocktails: There’s no cocktail girlier than some bubbly champagne. Put some strawberries or maraschino cherries out to accompany it and let people DIY (some colorful sprinkles would be super cute too and I am really wishing I thought of that sooner DAMNIT). Wine is always a good idea, but there’s not really a wrong answer for your bar top either. Just remember not everyone likes to indulge in the libations, so it’s always a good idea to provide some sparkling waters or mocktails as well.
  5. Good Music: Women love to sing and dance. It’s a thing. A fun throwback playlist is perfect for this occasion.
  6. Chick-Flick: If your girl gang is done with the dance party or you’re more of a meek and mild group, you can never go wrong with a good Rom-Com. Netflix & chill with “How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days” or “Pretty Woman,” just to name a few.
  7. Happy Valentine’s, GALentine’s, MALEntines, whatever day it may be, I hope you celebrate love not only on this day, but everyday of the year. Cheers, babes!

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Fondue Party

A gathering of your favorite people, revolving around vessels of {typically} cheese or chocolate, accompanied by perfectly paired foods and libations.  The reason to why fondue parties went out of style will forever be a mystery to me. 2019 is the year we are taking back fondue. Foodies, rejoice!

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There are few foods that I love more than cheese. Cheese makes everything better. A close second? Chocolate. But that doesn’t mean cheese and chocolate are the only types of fondue-to-do. For your starter you can easily sub out the cheese with a marinara or Alfredo sauce and go Italian themed. Have breaded chicken/veal cutlets, some spicy or sweet Italian sausage, ravioli, garlic knots, mozzarella sticks,  shrimp & scallops for dipping. Make it southern and have some homemade sausage gravy in your fondue pot with fried chicken fingers, biscuits, hush puppies, potatoes and corn fritters as your dippers. Not one single person has ever said fondue was healthy. For dessert, swap out the chocolate for melted peanut butter and joyfully dunk just about anything in your reach. Caramel or a bubbling strawberry compote are great options too, but I’ll list a ton of great combinations and fondue options below.

You do not need a fondue set to execute the perfect fondue party. You can simply heat up or melt your ingredients on the stove and pour them into a bowl for serving. Keeping it heated is not overly important, as I promise that someone will be licking that bowl clean before it’s even cooled down. I would, however, ensure you have some sort of poker stick/kebobs for dipping purposes. You can find wooden ones at just about any grocery store. Don’t forget to put out some refreshments on your bar cart or counter, some good IPA’s or wine being some of my favorites! However, some bubbly cocktails or fruity mocktails would be just as enjoyable.

Just like there are no rules to cooking, there are no rules to fondue. Have fun with it, try new things! The best part about fondue is how casual it is. It’s not your typical sit-down dinner party. It’s a social gathering, an “experience” if you will. Put on a good playlist, serve it at an area where people can gather around informally while they eat and communicate, laugh, sing, dance. I love serving on a kitchen island or even on a coffee table, just throw a few pillows down for some floor seating and even put on a movie for a more intimate feel. I hope you enjoy all the recipes and pairings I’ve curated below and that your next fondue party is both tasty and lighthearted.

Recipes

Beer Cheese

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • salt/pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup favorite beer
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup mild cheddar, shredded
  • 1/2 cup swiss, shredded
  1. In your fondue pot or in a saucepan, melt your butter.
  2. Sprinkle in your cornstarch and seasonings, whisk until combined.
  3. Pour in your beer and bring to a simmer. Continuously stirring, begin to add your cheese a little at a time. As it melts, continue to add more until desired consistency.

 

Mexican Style Cheese Fondue

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • salt/pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup cerveza (Corona, Pacifico, Modelo)
  • 1 1/2 cups mild cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup monterey jack, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons pickled jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Rotel, drained
  1. In your fondue pot or in a saucepan, melt your butter.
  2. Sprinkle in your cornstarch and seasonings, whisk until combined.
  3. Pour in your beer and bring to a simmer. Continuously stirring, begin to add your cheese a little at a time. As it melts, continue to add more until desired consistency.
  4. Stir in your pickled jalapenos and Rotel before serving.

 

Sausage Gravy

  • 16 oz. Jimmy Dean pork breakfast sausage
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • ground black pepper
  • salt to taste
  1. In a large skillet, use your spatula to crumble the sausage and cook over medium heat. Add in your butter and sprinkle flour over entire mixture. Stir until combined.
  2. While whisking, slowly pour in your milk. Continue whisking until gravy begins to thicken. Season with ground black pepper and salt to taste.

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Chocolate Fondue
*I actually prefer to prepare my dessert fondues on the stove, using a double boiler, and than transferring to a fondue pot/serving vessel. Ingredients high in sugar tend to burn faster/easier and fondue pots tend to be difficult to control heat.

  • 12 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • dash of pure vanilla extract
    *optional: 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  1. Using a double boiler, pour in your heavy cream & vanilla, followed by your chocolate chips. Continuously stir until smooth & creamy. Immediately remove from heat and transfer to preferred serving vessel.

 

Peanut Butter Fondue
*I actually prefer to prepare my dessert fondues on the stove, using a double boiler, and than transferring to a fondue pot/serving vessel. Ingredients high in sugar tend to burn faster/easier and fondue pots tend to be difficult to control heat.

  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 3 tbsp. heavy cream
  1. Using a double boiler, pour in your heavy cream and peanut butter and stir constantly. As peanut butter begins to melt, stir in the confectioners sugar. Once mixture is completely smooth and melted, remove from heat and transfer to preferred serving vessel.

 

Salted Caramel Fondue
*I actually prefer to prepare my dessert fondues on the stove, using a double boiler, and than transferring to a fondue pot/serving vessel. Ingredients high in sugar tend to burn faster/easier and fondue pots tend to be difficult to control heat. 

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon – 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, begin to heat your sugars. Whisking every minute for about 7 minutes until they begin to melt.
  2. Immediately reduce heat to low and add butter. Using a wooden spoon, stir until butter is melted, combined, and beginning to bubble (just a few minutes).
  3. Slowly stir in your heavy cream and let it come to a boil, then immediately remove from heat. Add salt and transfer to preferred serving vessel.

 

Homemade Corn Tortilla Chips

  • 1 package small corn tortillas
  • frying oil, enough to cover 1″ depth in your frying pan
    • canola, vegetable, and coconut oil are my preference
  • chili powder
  • garlic powder
  • fine sea salt

*Please always be careful while using hot oil. You can test if your oil is ready (hot enough) by running your fingers under water and flicking a TINY amount of the water into the oil. If the oil begins to bubble where the water has touched, it is hot enough to begin frying.

  1. Heat your oil over medium for about 5 minutes or until hot enough to fry.
  2. Cut your tortillas in half vertically and horizontally, creating 4 triangles.
  3. Carefully drop 8-12 tortillas (depending on the size of your frying pan) into your oil at a time. Let fry for just a few minutes, until light golden brown.
  4. Remove from oil and transfer to a dish covered with a paper towel. Immediately dust with chili & garlic powder and sea salt.

 

Pairings

*dippers listed are just options, it is not required that you serve alllll of them LOL

Traditional

Fondue: Beer Cheese

Dippers:

  • ham
  • sausage/kielbasa
  • meatballs
  • steak
  • bacon
  • chicken fingers
  • cocktail hotdogs
  • shrimp/coconut shrimp
  • scallops
  • french baquette
  • pretzels/soft pretzels
  • broccoli/cauliflower
  • apple/pear slices
  • potatoes
  • bell pepper slices

Italian

Fondue: Marinara or Alfredo Sauce

Dippers:

  • meatballs
  • spicy or sweet italian sausage
  • chicken/veal cutlets
  • shrimp
  • scallops
  • garlic knots/garlic bread
  • fried eggplant
  • ravioli
  • mozzarella sticks
  • zucchini
  • potatoes

Southern

Fondue: Sausage Gravy

Dippers:

  • buttermilk fried chicken fingers
  • chicken fried steak
  • biscuits
  • hush puppies
  • corn fritters
  • potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • brussel sprouts
  • cauliflower
  • green beans

 

Cinco De Mayo 

Fondue: Mexican Style Cheese

Dippers:

  • chorizo
  • empanadas
  • taquitos
  • taco style meatballs
  • sliced flank steak
  • homemade tortilla chips
  • corn bread bites
  • sliced bell peppers
  • mexican street corn

 

Dessert

Fondue: Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Salted Caramel, Fruit Compote, Peppermint Bark for the Holidays

Dippers:

  • fruit: strawberries, pineapple, banana, blueberries, apples & pears
  • marshmallows (“SmashMallow” has great flavored ones!)
  • graham crackers (teddy grahams would be great for little ones!)
  • wafer & waffle cookies
  • sugar cookies (fun to use cookie cutters and coordinate with holidays)
  • pound cake, cubed
  • cheesecake bites
  • bacon
  • gingerbread cookies
  • homemade donuts
  • pretzels/soft pretzels

*I also love serving a small side of vanilla or funfetti frosting on the side with a spreading knife. Who doesn’t love the funfettis!?

I would love to see all of your fondue creations, so be sure to tag me @jaclyndrift on instagram!

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February Funk

Hey, Strangers! Although I suppose I’m the one whose been a stranger to my own blog. Does anyone else find themselves in a “February funk” year after year? I am so guilty of this. By this time every year, I find myself not wanting to do anything productive at all. Whether it’s caused by the cold weather here in New Jersey, frustration towards those couple of Holiday pounds that found a happy home on my ass, or the loneliness/quietness that I’m not used to after the craziness of November – January.  All these triggers are things that then, in turn, make me feel sorry for myself. Scrolling through social media and falling into a deep hole of comparison and self-pity. Why the hell do we do this to ourselves?

Well, on this random Wednesday morning I decided after a sleepless night (caused by anxiety of all the things listed above + the list goes on), that I am so done feeling that way. I am always a huge advocate for “creating your own happiness” and “there’s never a rainbow without any rain” and I somehow continue to press these things on everyone around me while blatantly forgetting about myself. And that’s just illogical.

Today I have decided that I’m going to stop feeling sorry for myself and to again, find that fire that pushes me to succeed. Your only limit is your mind. I’m going to freaking stop scrolling Instagram and comparing my life to platforms that are staged to be perfect. Comparison is the thief of joy. I’m going to remind myself of all my blessings and thank god for them over and over again. And guess what? I want you all to do the same damn thing. We are all going through something at some point. Next time you’re going through that “something,” remember that you are not alone and that you are the only person who can pull yourself out of it. Start doing the things that bring you joy and I promise joy will find it’s way back to you.

Self Love Routine:
*a few things that help build myself back up

  1. “Me” Time: Rent a movie, your favorite one. Or run yourself a bath. Put on a face mask. Pour yourself that large glass of wine and light some candles. Prepare yourself a chocolate chip skillet cookie and only take out one damn fork. I find that if i’m even able to find just one hour (one stinking hour!!!) a week where I can just focus on myself or shut off my brain, it is a glorious thing that does glorious things for my soul.
  2. Surround Yourself: I know, this seems contradictory to what I just said. As important as alone time is, you don’t want to find yourself in such a deep hole that you are literally closing off from the people you love/love you most. The other day, my husband and I both had off work at the same time, on the same day AND didn’t have a list of 100 things to accomplish (this literally never happens.) We packed up Emma and went out to lunch, went for a walk, did a little shopping. We came home and tidied up the house together and cooked dinner together. I even got him to watch The Bachelor with me (ugh, what a guy.) It was the perfect day and it was exactly what I needed.
  3. Dinner Parties: We all know I love these. Make it easy and fun. Try something new or give it a theme: fondue (post coming soon), make your own pizza, game night, GALentine’s Day party (post coming soon), potluck, the list goes on.
  4. Set a goal and crush it: It can be something so small, but make it a goal that is for yourself and will benefit you. Once you crush it, you’ll feel like you can conquer the world. Then set another one.
  5. De-clutter: Living in an unorganized mess can be crippling. Get rid of the things that provide nothing but clutter. Clean the pantry that makes you want to throw a temper tantrum every time you have to figure out how to fit just one more thing in there. Donate the clothes you haven’t even looked at in over a year. Reward yourself by going out and purchasing something new. Enjoy the fresh start.
  6. Exercise: This has proven to be so hard for me as a working mom. It’s so easy for people to say “make the time,” when they don’t understand there is already barely enough time for you to sleep. So, I decided to take baby steps. I began by doing quick 30 minute circuits at home. Usually while Emma was still sleeping in the morning or in the evening when she was self-entertaining for a few minutes. Even these quick workouts that you fit into your schedule a few times a week, help tremendously. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”
  7. Remind Yourself: Of all the good. There is so much good in the world and there are so many things to be thankful for. Write them down if you have to, but recognize them somehow. “Joy is a decision, a really brave one, about how you are going to respond to life.”

I look forward to continue finding & sharing my joy with all of you.

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Favorite Baby Products: 6 Month Old

Anyone who has recently had a baby can tell you that there’s an ocean of products out there. There’s quite literally something for everything (did you know there’s even a butt spatula to apply your babies butt paste? What the actual hell.) It can be really hard to navigate the hundreds of different guides found on pinterest, most likely curated by people who are sponsored to tell you that you “can’t live without this product.”  Well I am here to tell you that I am not sponsored by squat (however I DO have affiliate links that I create for products I want to share with you) and these are truly products that, 6 months into the mommy game, I use every single day. There’s always going to be less expensive or more expensive options for each product, however these are the exact things I’ve tried and loved (and I’ll add a few I don’t love too!)

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  1. Infantino Squeeze Station: The baby food pouches are seriously the easiest way to take your baby’s food on the go. Emma can’t squeeze the food into her mouth yet, but to squeeze it onto a spoon is way easier than bringing Tupperware containers, etc.
  2. Beaba Babycook: I know I’ve mentioned this baby a million times. That’s because it is hands down my favorite and most used baby product. Listen, with this cooker it takes me hardly any prep or time to make a bunch of servings of food. I am able to consistently have a stock pile of food in our freezer, without compromising precious time. When you make your own baby food, you have piece of mind knowing exactly what you’re feeding little one and you save a boat load of money. What’s better than that? Not to mention it makes some pretty perfect (and effortless) steamed veggies for my husband and I, too 🙂
  3. Tubby Todd All Over Ointment: This brand is amazing. This ointment is a game changer. I’m about to go on a rant. Just about everyone in my family suffers from dry and sensitive skin, especially this time of year, so I wasn’t shocked when I began noticing dryness on Emma. This ointment can be used for just about anything on your skin, including a replacement for butt paste. When I tell you this stuff works miracles, I mean it. Within 2 days of using it on Emma, her skin was clear of any baby acne and so incredibly soft. Even my husband noticed and we all know husbands aren’t great noticers (I know that’s not a word, grammar police.) I developed a dry patch under my wedding rings (it was freaking awful) from an increased amount of hand washing and water getting caught. I tried everything. I literally went to the doctor for it! This ointment cleared it up in 3 days….
  4. Tubby Todd Hair & Body Wash: See above statement. This brand is KEY if your family suffers from dry & sensitive skin.
  5. The Honest Company Multi-Surface Cleaner: I swear I have never noticed how dirty/dusty surfaces get before having a baby who has decided everything on the face of the earth is a chew toy (she’s basically a dog.) I find comfort in knowing that I can use this product to disinfect/clean anything in our house and she won’t be harmed after putting it in her mouth. Another plus, it doesn’t leave your surfaces greasy/slippery like some natural cleaning products.
  6. EZPZ Placemat: Why do babies love to throw everything? Emma plays this really fun game where when she’s sitting in her high chair, anything you put in front of her she knocks on the floor and waits for you to pick it back up, just so she can knock it back on the floor. She’s so darn cute! (pulling my hair out) This mat will stay stuck to her high chair tray so she can’t move it, making you feel like a devious queen.
  7. Baby Walker w/ Front Play Station: Now this isn’t the exact one that we have, but it’s the closest I could find. My daughter doesn’t use this to walk quite yet, but she loves the activity station on the front! I can sit her on the floor with this in front of her and it will entertain her for at least 20 minutes (20 minutes of uninterrupted play feels like hours in the parenting world.)
  8.  BOOKS: I cannot stress this enough. The art of reading is really dying out and being taken over by iPads. Reading to your baby at a young age will do amazing things for them developmentally. I love cuddling up on the couch with Emma and reading her a few books. Even though she has no idea what you’re saying, she still touches and feels all the pages and loves looking at all the colorful illustrations. The more your baby hears you say words, rather than “goo-goo-ga-ga,” the better!
  9. Beaba Glass Containers: Any glass storage containers will do, but these happen to be the ones I use/love. I prefer the glass for dishwasher & labeling purposes. I’ve noticed that even my “dishwasher safe” plastic containers are starting to get foggy and odd-shaped. Also, I label all of her food containers so I know what the heck is in there and they just seem to come off the glass better.
  10. Wood Grain Foam Floor Mats: Emma has recently started trying to crawl, however our entire house has hardwood floors throughout (making it too slippery for her to actually go anywhere.) Laying down floor mats can give your little one that extra grip they need to start getting around. I loved these mats for two main reasons: 1. they match our hard wood floors and 2. THE PRICE!
  11. Bella Tunno Silicone Bibs: This style bib is so, so convenient. The pouch attached at the bottom catches all of the food baby rejects and the silicone makes it really easy to wash off in the sink. I know there are cheaper options for these, but I’m a sucker for a catchy, cute phrase 🙂
  12. Chewbeads: I couldn’t find many teething accessories that Emma liked. For the longest time she just preferred her hand, foot, my hand, or her pacifier. She finally took to these chewbeads, which was great because I can attach it to her car seat so she can’t THROW IT overboard.
  13. Harper Kate & Co Hair Bows & Clips: By far the best quality & cutest designs for bows I have found so far! The price point is fabulous and so is the shop owner, Rachael!
  14. Happy Baby Organic Teethers: We just started giving these to Emma a few weeks ago and they are Gods gift to teething babies (and their parents!) She will hold on to one and nibble it with her gums and it totally relieves some of her pain, gives her a snack, teaches her hand-mouth coordination, and entertains her. They become extremely soft and essentially dissolve on their own as they get wet, however I definitely wouldn’t leave a little one unattended while chomping!
  15. Skip Hop Activity Center: This one is amazing. We had a cheaper one previous to it, however it didn’t really keep her entertained (didn’t light up, play music, etc.) I can honestly say she enjoys playing with each of the little trinkets attached to this one.  The bottom part is removable as they grow and the whole thing can even be turned into a table for when they’re a little bit older.

 

Thing’s People Told Me I Needed, But I Definitely Didn’t

Now believe me, I completely understand that everyone, every household, and every baby is different. I personally try to be as minimalistic as possible and only buy/keep things we need/use daily. I’m mostly forced to be this way because I live in a literal shoebox and If I try to fit one more thingamajig in my closet the entire foundation of my house will combust. With that being said, I just don’t have room for the unnecessary items. If I’m posting about something that you used, loved and swore by; GIRL, DO YOU! Why do you think there’s such thing as a butt spatula? Because someone out there is spackling their babies butt with it right now, that’s why.

  1. Wipe Warmer: I’m not setting my child up for failure. The first time a cold compress hits that little hiney, I don’t want to be the one to witness the mega freak out. Sometimes things are warm, sometimes they’re utterly freezing. It keeps life interesting; Jump in fear and squeal like the rest of us.
  2. This “Superseat” that I insisted on buying: I understand that my baby is a little chunky (she’s perfect), however Emma grew out of this within 2 seconds and that’s when I purchased the Skip Hop Activity Center and basically threw $30 in the trashcan.
  3. Formula Keurig: Can we please just go back to the era when people mixed their own bottles? Like, 2016?
  4. Bottle Sterilizer: I’m sure there will be people reading this right now thinking, “ew, she doesn’t sterilize her bottles?!” But, I do. I just don’t need ANOTHER thing to do it for me. I boil them and it requires one pot and water.
  5. Bottle Warmer: I mean, in my opinion, this just goes in hand with the wipe warmer. We’ve been giving Emma room temperature bottles since day one and she has yet once to suffer from hypothermia. And also, isn’t that what microwaves are for?
  6. Messy Mat: This is a mat that you place under your baby’s high chair to “catch” all the food that they constantly throw all over the floor (see above rant.) However, this SERIOUSLY confuses me. Don’t you still have to clean it up?!?!?!?! Or is this like the floors in the movie Smart House where it just sucks up the mess? Am I truly missing something here? I mean, maybe if you have carpet in your kitchen, but at that point – who designed your house?
  7. Baby Bath Robe: Ok, I totally have one and I purchased it because it was the cutest freaking thing ever,’ but holy hell it was satan in the form of terrycloth. The one time I actually tried to put this robe on Emma, she sat there cold, wet, and crying (screaming) as I tried maneuvering her slippery arms into the sleeves. By the time I finally got the thing on (and obviously took a picture), she peed. Save the robe for Hugh Hefner (RIP).
  8. An unnecessary amount of baby toysIt is a wonderful thing to be able to give your child everything they’ll ever want/need. However, I think it’s very important to teach them the big difference between wanting and needing. Also, clutter. Also, my house is a shoebox.

If you’ve stuck through to the end of my rants, I commend you and insist on you having a glass of wine tonight. I want to remind everyone that these thoughts/opinions are purely based on my own, individual experiences, and they should be taken with a grain of salt. We’re all out here winging it, doing the best damn job we can. I hope that this guide can give you some insight on products you were maybe on the fence about already. And if you find that your heart craves a butt spatula, you buy that butt spatula and enjoy every minute of it.  In fact, I’ll even link it for you: Butt Spatula.

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DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

 


New Years Chit-Chat

Happy New Year, Everyone! Christmas decorations are stored away and I’ve eaten my last cookie (wishful thinking.) I hope each and every one of you had a magical holiday season spent with family and friends. I took a much needed hiatus from all aspects of work and soaked in each second of the past twelve days off. Working 40 hours a week, being a new mom & wife, keeping up with blogging, maintaining a social life and taking care of two crazy dogs; It has become so hard to take time for myself or my family. I definitely needed a break, but I am back now and so ready to tackle 2019.

‘Tis the season for resolutions! 2018 was such an amazing year for my family. From bringing my daughter into this world, traveling with family, balancing careers; I felt an exceptional amount of personal growth this year. With this growth I found things I wanted to work on, goals I want to set and dreams I strive to reach in 2019.

Of course, just like most, I hope to live a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle this year. Although I am an omnivore through and through, I definitely could use some additional plant-based dishes in my life. Which is perfect because another one of my goals for this year is to experiment more in the kitchen and really step outside my comfort zone. I hope to get extra creative with some fun vegan/vegetarian options and try tons of new things. Eating healthy can be so, so delicious (and easy!) I would love to create some basic recipes that are attainable AND healthy.  To achieve a more sustainable life, other than just eating more plant-based meals, I hope to take better initiative towards recycling and to cut out the non-recyclable plastics in our home (it’s so easy to ditch these items and replace them with reusable ones!) I’m going to plant more fruits, vegetables, and herbs this spring and summer and eat more locally.

I hope to expand this platform from more than just recipes. I want to bring you into my life and give you a little glimpse here and there of affordable fashion, DIY projects, parenting, health & fitness, etc. To be completely honest, I do not make notable recipes every single day. I would be burnt out if I did. I can share with you all what we do for meals when we’re just too busy/tired to cook. I want this blog to be fun and relatable, and that’s not going to happen if I let you think I’m Susie Homemaker. I think that by letting you into my life and sharing other aspects of it with you, it can become a community; Where you can just grab a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and hang out with me.

Blogging has been something I dreamt about doing for years. In fact, I’m pretty sure my last four New Year’s Resolutions have been to launch one. I’ll never forget spending my tax refund on a fancy camera four years ago and saying, “Okay! This is it. I’m going to do it.” And then, something deep inside myself telling me not to. Fun Fact: I still have never used that dang camera (accepting all and any help on how the heck to use it!!) It has been so eye opening coming to the realization that I was the only one holding me back from my dreams. To think, “Where could I be now if I had just let go of my fears?” When I started this blog back in September, I promised myself I would never again be my own worst enemy. From that point forward I would put my demons to rest. I would cheer myself on, just like my friends and family had been doing for me since day one. I am so excited for this year of sharing my recipes and bits & pieces of my life on this platform. I encourage all of you to find that thing that sets your soul on fire. Find it and do whatever it takes to make it happen. You can do anything (and everything) you set your mind to. You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.

I would love to hear what all of your New Year’s Resolutions are! What are your goals? What do you hope to improve on in this new year? The pages are blank, so let’s fill them in together! Also, I would love to know some things you would like to see on here and my other social platforms!

I hope your 2019 is AMAZING and that you don’t forget about all these hopes and dreams come February. Imagine what it would feel like this time next year, to look back and say, “WOW, I did it!” Wishing you all health and happiness.

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Holiday Dinner Party

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This past Sunday was spent scurrying around a kitchen with one of my sweet friends, Allie (take a look.) With cocktails in hand, together we executed a pretty-damn-flawless dinner party for our significant others and a few friends. I handled the cooking and Allie managed the bar, charcuterie and somehow accomplished to set a tablescape that I swear I’ve seen in a magazine. The girl has an eye for design and let me tell you, I’m a little (a LOT) envious. You’re going to wonder where she’s been for every event you ever hosted (I’m considering renewing my vows so she can plan my second wedding), but not to worry! She has a blog where you can access all of  her wonderful thoughts that are brought to life. Better yet, let her come paint your dream party for you.

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I’ve hosted my share of dinner parties over the past few years and there’s a few things I’ve managed to pick up along the way. My first tip: Don’t overthink it! Nobody at your party/gathering will be able to relax if you’re not relaxed. My second tip? Take help when it is offered! I am MOST guilty of this. Not only do I sometimes feel awful accepting help when I’m the one who invited people over, but it’s also a controversial topic whether or not I have a serious case of OCD. However, I’ve learned that typically people are offering to help because they want to. Give them an easy task to do! It’s not asking much, but it’s one less thing you have to worry about. My last prequal tip before I get into my real tips is to save the damn dirty dishes for the morning. Yes, five of your friends will offer to do them. Your husband will probably offer, too. The mountain of dishes will irritate the crap out of you. The cure? Pour yourself a glass of wine. Kick off your heels and go enjoy the company you just hosted. Relax, laugh, make memories; The dishes will still be there in the morning, but your friends and family will be leaving soon.

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When it comes to the bar, I like to offer at least one pre-mixed cocktail. Something that’s all ready to pour and people don’t have to think about it (we think all day – it’s time to relax!) Whether it’s sangria, punch, or a big batch of Mimosas, it’s sure to be a hit. There’s no shame in making a party BYOB, either. In the age of IPAs and a plethora of different wines, people actually like to drink the things they prefer. Just make it known, so people aren’t left high and dry.

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Appetizers, antipasta, hors d’oeuvres, the first course. I love charcuterie. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s really true. There’s something on it for everyone (put some nuts on it for the vegans!) and it’s not too much. If you’re planning to follow your first course with a main course, you don’t want to spoil everyones appetite. However, if you’re having a party that starts later in the evening, possibly after people would have eaten dinner or too late to serve dinner, I would go a little heavier on the appetizers or snacks. Especially if there’s alcohol involved.

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The Dinner Plate: Protein, starch, and a veggie. Every party is not Thanksgiving and it can be quite the buzzkill if everyone’s ready to head to bed after dinner. For Christmas my mom always makes Prime Rib and my mouth is seriously watering just thinking about it. With that being said, when planning with Allie what to make for our dinner party, I decided to stick with what works (do not try to fix something that’s not broken.) To go with the Prime Rib (recipe to follow), I decided to stray away from the “been there, done that” mashed potatoes (who AM I!?) Instead I made Creamy Garlic Parmesan Polenta. WOW. I would never mean to cheat on potatoes, but sometimes a girl gets weak. With the Prime Rib and Polenta being so rich, for my vegetable I decided to go with a salad. Don’t worry, it wasn’t just an ordinary salad! This Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad is sure to be your new favorite.

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Lastly, it’s time for dessert. I’m truly not much of a baker. My pies consist of store-bought crust. I don’t play well with yeast or anything that has to rise. I love everything that starts with Phils and ends with Bury. Cheesecake is just about the only thing I can handle, which is fine with me because it’s so versatile. If you can find your perfect cheesecake recipe, it’s pretty easy to make it fit any occasion. For example, for this holiday party I made a “Kris Kringle Cheesecake” (recipe to follow) that consisted of a peppermint bark Oreo crust, my traditional cheesecake recipe, a white chocolate ganache, and crushed candy canes on top. It was heavenly and fit the theme seamlessly.

Throwing a dinner party doesn’t have to be hard, but it should always be fun. If you’re not much of a cook or funds are tight, opt to have a potluck. This way, everyone brings a favorite dish and a whole lot of pressure is taken off of you. You can make it fun by requesting everyone bring recipe cards for their dish too, so it becomes somewhat of a recipe exchange. People are always looking for new recipes and it’s a great conversation starter!

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At the end of the night, what matters is exactly why you had the party in the first place: To pause our crazy, hectic lives for a few hours to spend time with the people who make life so enjoyable. I hope this holiday season you’re all able to have a party or attend one, meet a new friend, try a new dish, and remember everything that makes each of us so blessed. Happy Holidays to you and all those who make your life so special.

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Allie’s Blog: Love Forever

Photography: Daphne Sipes

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Baby’s First Holiday Gift Guide

Good Morning, Everyone and Happy Sunday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and are prepared to tackle another work week – you got this!

Whether you’ve recently had a baby of your own or someone special in your life has, you’ve more than likely been anticipating your first holiday season with the new addition. You’re also probably wondering what in the world to get someone that essentially, is too small to ask for anything.

My daughter, Emma is now 5 1/2 months old and this is a question that I’ve not only asked myself, but have had an influx of family and friends ask too. At this age, they’re not exactly asking for the toy they see on TV, let alone able to walk or talk. On top of it, if you’re anything like me, you’re trying to avoid a clutter of toys that you have no idea where to store them. At the end of the day, it’s your baby’s first Christmas (or Hanukkah!) and you want it to be special and you want Santa to come for them, too (even if you’re the one opening the gifts!)

This is, most likely, the last Christmas you can get away without your kid asking for Santa to deliver all the toys, so I see it as a good opportunity to stock up on those things they’ll actually start needing as they grow and develop. This can also take some of the financial weight off of you in the upcoming months (having a baby is not cheap!) Begin by asking yourself this:

  • What will my baby need in the upcoming months that I don’t currently have?

After asking myself this (a few times) this is what I came up with…

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  1. Wooden Educational Maze: We recently bought our daughter an activity center (this one) and it has a very mini replica of this wooden maze on it. It quickly became her favorite activity and I love watching her explore how to move those pieces from one end to another.
  2. Magnetic Letters & Numbers: It’s never too early to start introducing those letters and numbers! I particularly like the idea of these magnets because I can put them on the lower side of our refrigerator and it becomes an activity she can do while I’m busy in the kitchen, but can still keep a close eye on her.
  3. Customizable Peg Puzzle: Peg puzzles are great for baby’s because the pieces are easy to pick up with their still developing motor skills. I love that this one is customizable for their name (never too early to introduce that, either!)
  4. Skip Hop Play Mat: Perfect for that mobile or soon-to-be mobile baby in your life. They will fall over, and they’ll fall over often at first, so this is perfect so they don’t hurt their little noggin!
  5. Clothes to Grow into: Let’s be honest. These things grow like WEEDS. Since I personally don’t have anything for the upcoming seasons, I asked relatives for a few clothing items for this summer. Out of season clothing items are also a great idea for friends and family because you can typically find them super cheap this time of year and you never want to ask anyone to break the bank on your behalf! I’ll be purchasing this dress, but websites like Old Navy & Gymboree have GREAT deals right now for summer clothes (this boys shirt and this dress .)
  6. Transitional Sippy Cup Set: I love these sippy cups! The removable handles make it easy for baby to grab and it comes with two different lids as your baby transitions.
  7. Dr. Brown’s Next Level Nipples: The stages of nipples will change every few months for babies, so these will make a cute little stocking stuffer!
  8. Beaba 2nd Stage Cutlery: Another cute stocking stuffer for that growing little one.
  9. EZPZ Happy Mat: These are GREAT – I already use one with Emma because her first instinct anytime we put anything on her highchair tray is to either knock it off or pick it up and dump it (fun game, right?) Well these will stick perfectly to their tray and save you another mess to clean up.
  10. Tabletop Paper Roll Dispenser: I’ve always loved arts & crafts and it’s one thing I’ve personally been so excited about experiencing with Emma. I love this paper dispenser because you can pull the sheet of paper across the whole table, which doubles as their canvas and a table cloth.
  11. Hess Truck: Hess Trucks are a Christmas classic. I can still hear the damn jingle on the commercial and remember the anticipated release of “this years” truck.
  12. Walker Shoes: Converse or Hunter Boots: If they haven’t happened yet, within the next few months baby will be getting ready to take their first few steps. I love both these converse and Hunter rain boots because they can be worn any season and are staples that won’t go out of style (save them for baby # 2 or friends will love them as hand-me-downs!)
  13. Children’s Apron & Mitt Set: OKAY, I died when I saw these and immediately had to purchase. I am so excited to one day share my passion of cooking with my daughter. I’ve imagined her helping me bake Christmas cookies, Daddy’s birthday cakes, and making lunch for what seems like forever. Now, imagine your little one doing all those things with you in a personalized mini apron and oven mitts!? I’m actually CRYING. You can use the apron during art/water play too to protect those little outfits. Another plus? They can be personalized for FREE!
  14. Socks: I mean, is it really Christmas if someone doesn’t get socks? This brand has the cutest prints for both girls and boys; I personally love the aztec print!

I hope you all enjoy this first holiday season with your new bundle of joy; Whether it be your own baby, grand baby, niece or nephew, or your best friends little joy. This season is truly magical and it will only be getting better as they begin to understand the story behind each holiday. Beyond all the gifts, I hope you shower all the little miracles in your life with love, support, and all the giggles that belly can handle! Sending the happiest holiday wishes to you and yours.

*AFTER THOUGHT: I forgot to mention something I love to do with Emma. For each special event or holiday, I’ve been getting her coordinating books to read to her and write a little message in for her “first” holiday. For my baby shower I had all of my guests write a passage for her in the Dr. Seuss book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” and I still go back and read them all (& bawl my eyes out at the sweetness!) These are the other books I’ve purchased thus far:

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Men’s Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again! Time to surround yourself with loved ones, gather around the tree, and stress like a mother about what the heck to get everyone. I’ve strangely always been better at buying for the men in my life rather than the women (maybe deep down I just know we’re never happy? KIDDING.)

I’ve curated a list of some of my favorites (and at a few different price points) to buy for that special guy in your life; Whether it be your dad, husband, brother, brother in law, etc. I’m sure if you gift one or some of these items you’ll be their favorite Mrs. Claus.

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1. Alani Nu Whey Protein & Pre-workout I myself have recently become obsessed with this vitamin/supplement line. I’ve followed Katy Hearn (a fitness guru & business owner) on instagram for a few years. She and her husband recently launched this line using minimal ingredients, leaving out all the bad stuff. They have a ton of delicious flavors, too!

2. BluePeak Shaker CupsA cute stocking stuffer to tag along with the Alani Nu supplements listed above.

3. Dress Socks: Another good stocking stuffer! How often do you and your significant other have an event to go to and *peak his mismatched nike socks*?!

4. Car Guys Waxing Kit: Both my husband and my dad recently bought new trucks and let me tell you, it’s about damn time they started cleaning something. Most men have a special relationship with their cars/trucks and most definitely love being able to see their own reflection in the side of them.

5. Peak Velocity Jogger Sweatpants: My husband is not a pajama guy, so these are perfect for him to lounge around the house in or wear to the gym & run errands. I prefer the jogger style on him because they make his butt look nice 😉 (Hi, Hunny!)

6. Wood Watch: I’m obsessed with these. I’ve bought a few expensive, name brand watches in the past as gifts, but I can’t get over how unique these are. You can add personalization to them and you truly cannot beat the price point in comparison to name brand watches. Just a heads up, sometimes Etsy stores have a longer turn around time, so keep that in mind!

7. Harry’s Shave ClubBoth my husband and myself have been using a shave club for years now. I use one more geared towards women, but he really likes this one in comparison to the other options out there. The quality of the razors are great and it’s extremely budget friendly. And since it’s a monthly subscription (you can modify your plan as you go, so you don’t need a delivery each month) it’s a gift that keeps on giving. He also loves their body washes! There’s another stocking stuffer…

8. Carhartt Winter Hat: For when it’s cold and he’s doing all those outside things that we agreed upon before marriage are his chores.

9. UGG Harkley Boot: I know, I know. Your husband will “never” wear UGG Boots. UGG’s have really stepped up their game recently and I’m in love with the style of these boots. My husband has a pair of boots that look almost identical to these, but he’s constantly complaining about how uncomfortable they are. Problem solved!

10. Personalized Whisky/Rocks GlassFor the whisky connoisseur in your life! They also have matching decanters. A lot of people are super into the craft beer trend too, so you could definitely find some personalized beer glasses.

11. Amazon Echo Plus, Echo, & Echo DotMen have always and will always love gadgets like this. You can get attachments for your outlets that are able to be controlled through Alexa, which makes those pesky Christmas lights that are plugged into 30 different sockets a lot easier. It’s also really nice that there’s three different options and all different price points. Alexa, play Christmas music! Still waiting for her to be able to pour me a cocktail…

Happy shopping, Everyone! What’s on your Christmas list this year?

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Holiday Family Photoshoot

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This past Saturday we found ourselves on a quaint little Christmas tree farm in Yardley, PA (Colavita Christmas Tree Farm.) I was so excited to have our first photos taken as a family, but also undeniably anxious. To put it lightly, we are not models (except Emma, Emma is a model.) My husband and myself? We’re awkward. Like, what am I supposed to do with my hands?!

It is so, so important to have a good photographer. That doesn’t just mean that their work and style should align with yours, but it should mean there is somewhat of a connection between you on a personal level. They should be able to make you feel comfortable and they should know how to direct you with what the hell to do with your hands. Most photographers will ask you if you would like to have an “interview.” Whether it’s in person or over the phone, I highly suggest doing so. Usually it will show pretty quickly whether or not there’s a connection.

When planning our photo session, I decided to go with one of the photographers we had at our wedding (Niki Phillips Photography.) Not only was Niki able to capture our wedding day in a raw, beautiful way; Niki was able to connect with us, our family and our friends. His approach made every one of my guests feel comfortable. His photography ethic is flawless and sharp; He truly didn’t miss a beat and I question whether or not he even took a single break all night.  Here’s just a few of my favorites:

Since then, Niki has had his adorable girlfriend, Aubrey, join him in is craft. Aubrey was able to easily orchestrate the entire session; On what to do, when to do it, etc. She was even sweet enough to lend us her blanket scarf as a prop when we needed something to sit on the ground with. Prior to the day of, I had sent Aubrey a few pictures of ideas I had in mind. She ensured that we at least tried to reenact each of the photos I had loved, plus some of her own creative ideas. Her and Niki worked together professionally and balanced off one another effectively. They were funny, down to earth, and remained calm (and patient) when Emma had a meltdown. Lastly, they returned the photos to us diligently. This was so important to us, since we want to use them for our Christmas cards and welp, it’s just about December (my fault.)  If you are in the NJ/PA area (or beyond – I would just contact them about travel), I highly suggest you reach out to Niki and Aubrey for your photography needs. You won’t be disappointed.

Tips for a perfect photo session:

  • As I said before, interview your photographer and make sure you mesh together well.
  • Before your session, scroll through Pinterest for some ideas. Take note of locations, styles, props, etc. Anything special that catches your eye!
  • If you’re wearing makeup, make sure your foundation doesn’t have SPF in it. SPF can cause flashback and make your face look white.
  • Take everything out of your pockets! Nobody wants to look back on photos and see your phone in your back pocket (I know this from experience.)
  • Make sure your photographer is aware of anything that could be helpful knowledge/useful information and send them the photos you found that you’d like to replicate.
  • When it comes to your wardrobe, I prefer to not get too trendy. I like a timeless look that I won’t look back on fifteen years from now and wonder what the heck I was thinking.
  • Don’t dress too matchy matchy. For example, if you want to all wear red, try to do different shades. You don’t want to clash and you definitely don’t want your family photo to become the next meme circulating the internet.
  • Relax and listen to your photographer. They know best! We’re not all models here and we’re not expected to be. Let them work their magic.
  • Have fun with it! Remember that these photos are for you. They’re not to impress Karen at the office or that boujee instamodel. If your family is goofy, let them be goofy. These photos should be a direct reflection of you and bring you back to that moment in time twenty years down the road.

Finally! Here are some of my favorites from our session…

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Even when Emma became hungry and we had to feed her, Niki and Aubrey were able to transform this moment into beautiful pictures. They might even be my favorites! Being a parent isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but it’s who we are. It’s real and raw. Being a mom is my favorite job and these pictures reflect what I actually do on a day to day basis.

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I have many favorite things about being a mom, but my most favorite is seeing you as a dad.

 

 

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And because I could never choose just one…

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Ugh, MY HEART! That smile and those cheeks get me every single time. I mean, LOOK:

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This kid is a natural.

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THANK YOU, Niki and Aubrey for capturing my family and our love.

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Niki Phillips Photography

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Emma’s Outfit Details

Plaid Bow | Corduroy Dress | Shirt | Stockings

My Outfit Details

Sweater | Jeans

*I promise you these jeans are the most comfortable, stretchy ones ever!

Marty’s Outfit Details

Vest | Shirt

Thank you all for tagging along! I hope you enjoy these as much as we did.

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