Tuesday, September 30, 2014

$350 Nordstrom Gift Card Giveaway

Hello lovelies! Today I am really excited to be co-hosting an amazing giveaway with the gorgeous Lauren of Dressing Dallas and a group of fabulous bloggers. And the prize? $350 dollars to Nordstrom! I'm actually pretty jealous. I really wish I could enter and win this giveaway. The possibilities of what I could spend a chunk of change like that on in Nordstrom is endless...

This giveaway runs for 6 more days, it is open to you international readers, and it's killer awesome. 
Oh and the best part? If you follow my blog and/or social media channels, then you already have entry into this thing. Just click away on the rafflecopter widget to your heart's content and follow some new faces in the process. 

Happy Tuesday! Good luck!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Wake Me Up, When September Ends... | What I Wish I had Known My First Pregnancy

September has not been my month. If you missed it, in my last post I made an announcement: I'm pregnant. Due April 15th of next year. I of course couldn't be more excited about this, and I feel extremely blessed to have a tiny life inside me. There is something profoundly beautiful about pregnancy and the gift of being able to create, carry, and nurture life within you--it's both amazing and completely mysterious. The miracle of it all is not lost on me.

That being said, pregnancy is also really trying for me, especially in the first trimester. It was with Klair, and so far this pregnancy has followed suit. My "morning" sickness is an all day affair. I constantly feel like I've spent the day at an amusement park with no lines... ride after ride after ride. And, at random and unpredictable times (making it impossible to plan much) I get sick enough to spend some time with my old porcelain friend. Luckily for me, taking Zofran usually helps me keep my food down. Usually. But it doesn't take away the constant sensation that everything is spinning. It's as if my body has tuned in to the fact that we're spinning incessantly and hurtling through space at 67,000 miles per hour. (Yeah, I looked that up.)

I tried to explain it to my husband, because accurately conveying my ailments somehow makes me feel better. I told him it's like getting the stomach flu, except it doesn't go away after 24 hours or so. Instead, when the morning sickness hit me around week 6 the reality that my flu-like symptoms would likely last at least 7 weeks or so (with Klair it ended around 13 weeks) hit me like a ton of bricks. 24 hour flu? No way. More like, 2 month flu with the added benefit of digestive issues, heartburn, exhaustion, and crazy hormones. And weight gain. And acne. Awesome.

So, in September I've had these things against me. Combine that with a traveling husband and a relentless cold I contracted that lasted for about 2 weeks... and it's safe to say that September and I aren't really getting along. (If you've noticed that my blog has been quieter than usual... this is why.) I have higher hopes for October. If this pregnancy is like the last, my symptoms will likely improve once I'm in the second trimester. Hence the Green Day reference. If I could sleep my way through the rest of September, I most certainly would.

...Unfortunately the demands of raising a toddler aren't conducive to sleeping all day. It was so much easier the first pregnancy. Every free moment was spent resting, something that's just not possible with a teething toddler who also came down with a cold.

September, we used to be friends. It's going to take some time for me to get over this one. I'll give you a chance to make it up to me next year...

Alright, enough complaining. I recently read a post that said how blogging is cheaper than therapy. How true. Now that I've sufficiently complained, I'm going to try and make something positive out of this collection of words and share my own ten cents on the first trimester. I've learned a thing or two in my pregnancies--things that I wish I would have known all along. So here you go, hopefully it will be helpful to someone.

1. Babycenter.com is awesome. Seriously. Both for pregnancy and questions related to actually raising babies. Their articles follow all of the latest research, and I've found that they're always in line with what my doctors tell me. That's not to say that you shouldn't also talk to your doctor, but it is a great at-home resource to educate yourself before discussing things further with your practitioner. They even have a free app for pregnancy and one for the first year of your baby's life! (I sound like an advertisement, but I promise this post isn't sponsored in any way. It's just my opinion.)

2. Don't hesitate to talk to your doctor about (a) particular ailment(s). Maybe you're like me, and week 6 comes along and suddenly you're throwing up constantly. You refer to Baby Center, What to Expect, or some other resource and see that this is textbook behavior for an average pregnancy. It's "normal," so you should just suffer through it like everyone else... right? Wrong. In my first pregnancy I was so hesitant to talk to my doctor or ask for medicine, that I let myself go about a week without keeping much of anything down. I chalked it up to normal "morning sickness" (which by the way is a misnomer, it's rarely just a morning thing) and feared any drugs or supplements because I didn't want to unnecessarily ingest anything but pure organic goodness from heaven. Only the best for my baby.

What I failed to realize in my thinking was that not keeping any food or drink down was not only bad for me, but it certainly wasn't conducive to... you know... growing a baby. We both needed the nutrients that I was starved for. Finally I caved in, and called my doctor. I expected her to grill me, to evaluate whether or not I really needed anti nausea medicine. Instead, I started to explain that I wasn't keeping anything down and she immediately called me in a prescription for Zofran. After that I wasn't nearly so hesitant to ask for help and advice. This go around, at the first sign of sickness I had her call me in Zofran, and Phenigrin, and I'm also on Prevacid for some serious heartburn. You may feel annoying calling with your questions and concerns... but it's their job, and they are happy to help. Your health, and the health of your baby comes first. You aren't doing anyone any favors by suffering through unnecessary pain and sickness.

3. Find someone you can confide in. Now I know that some may be hesitant to tell anyone that they're pregnant. You might want to wait until you are outside of the danger zone of miscarriage in the first trimester. Or, you might just be a very private person. But it's important to find someone that you can talk to about your pregnancy, especially if you're suffering through different ailments. I am really lucky in the husband department. He listens to and comforts me constantly. He is my go-to guy. Yet, there are some things that he, as a guy, just doesn't understand. He can't. So I turn to females in my life who have actually experienced pregnancy--My older sister, and one friend in particular who has been pregnant with me both times. Sometimes, it's just nice to talk to someone who is not only sympathetic, but can actually be empathetic due to experience. If you don't have a fellow mom-friend, there are message boards and online support communities. Find someone, it really does help.

4. Fiber, fiber and more fiber. I didn't even know what constipation was until my first pregnancy. I was educated really quickly. Do yourself a favor, and increase your fiber intake, even if it means turning to supplements... especially if you take an anti-nausea medicine like Zofran. Additionally, you'll need to drink water like it's going out of style. It can be difficult to drink when you're constantly nauseous and making frequent trips to the bathroom, but it is so imperative for feeling well. In my first pregnancy plain water suddenly seemed disgusting to me, so I would dress it up with lemon or lime and that helped me get it down.

5. Invest in some flowy shirts, yoga pants, and (cute) maternity jeans. The initial weight gain of pregnancy is hard. Even though you know you're creating life and that gaining weight is healthy, it's still unnerving to watch the scale go up and to find that your wardrobe is shrinking due to an ever expanding waistline. Furthermore, the weight you gain at first does not equate to a nice, round, obvious baby bump for... awhile. At first it just feels/looks like you're bloated and putting on weight. That's when the flowy shirts come in handy. Once your belly is obviously pregnant, you can embrace the form fitted tees again... but until then a shirt that doesn't cling to your stomach is a welcome relief. And yoga pants? They are a dream. I prefer to buy the skinny yoga pants to wearing leggings--they look like leggings, but they have that nice thick waistband that's essentially a maternity pant. Wonderful.

When it comes to maternity jeans, I remember trying to put them off for as long as possible the first time around. I tried to make my normal jeans last as long as possible--to the point of discomfort and utter silliness. It was like a contest with other girls that I knew who were pregnant. "Are you wearing maternity jeans yet? I'm still in my regular pants" or "I was able to wear my normal jeans with an elastic throughout my entire pregnancy." I felt pressure. Then, one day I caved and I (gasp) got some maternity jeans. Rather than defeat, I was elated. They were so comfortable! And there were plenty of styles, including skinny jeans that fit me like a glove. I was sad I had missed out for so long. Even though I can still fit into my regular pants, I'm already wearing my old maternity jeans because they're just so much more comfortable on my growing stomach. Why torture myself? Certainly not so I can compete with other women.

6. Which brings me to my next point. Don't fall into the trap of competing with other women. I don't mind that every woman who has ever been pregnant wants to offer their ten cents of advice. I mean, that would be pretty hypocritical of me considering this post, right? You don't have to take their advice, but sometimes you do get some good info that you appreciate. What bothers me is when the conversation turns into some sort of competition. "At what point did you start wearing maternity clothes?" or "How much weight have you gained" or "You're how many weeks? I never got that big when I was pregnant." An old lady actually said that to me last time. Your body is unique. Make good, healthy choices and forget what anyone else thinks or what their experience was. I'm short and I have a small torso. There is nowhere for my babies to go but out, and I married a tall guy. Klair was 22 inches long at birth... I'm going to look a lot bigger than some other pregnant girls. I wasn't okay with this for awhile, but now I am. You might have the opposite problem. People might accuse you of not taking care of yourself and your baby if you look "too small." Forget them. Everyone has an opinion, and some women just want to lift themselves up while tearing others down in the process. Frankly, they aren't worth your time.

7. And lastly, I'm going to quote Alcoholics Anonymous because I love these words and I think they're extremely applicable to pregnancy:

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." 

There are so many variables in pregnancy and childbirth that you can't control. Don't get caught up in those. Don't get caught up in the "what ifs." In my first pregnancy I was constantly fretting over the unknown. "What if I miscarry," "What if my baby is diagnosed with [insert every possible disease]," or "what if I end up with this complication?" This time around I'm trying to be a lot more... calm in my approach. The fears of what could happen can drown you if you let them, especially when those raging pregnancy hormones get involved. Instead, take things one day at a time and control what you can. Take your prenatal vitamin, go to your doctor appointments, and take care of yourself. Leave the rest up to God. You'll be happier for it.

If you've been pregnant before, what are some things you wish you would have known the first time around? 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Our Little Secret

There's something we've been wanting to say for awhile now, and it's time to come clean.
I'll let the video speak for itself.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Heaven | Easy No-Bake Bars

With fall and the holidays around the corner, all I want to do these days is bake. The colder weather simply begs for it. Unfortunately, my excitement for fall has not translated into cooler days yet, and it's still too hot around here to fire up the oven if I can help it. That's where these babies come in. They are delicious enough to satisfy my need for baking, but they don't require any heat. I found this recipe on Six Sisters, and chose it because of great reviews. It did not disappoint. Ridiculously easy and equally delicious, this is a new go to recipe when I need a quick peanut butter/chocolate fix. And I mean quick. Plus, you're likely to have everything you need in your pantry already! Careful though, they were a huge hit with my family and in-laws, so be aware that they will go quickly...

1 cup melted butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (You want tiny granules--I used my blender, a food processor would also work)
2 cups confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
1 cup peanut butter (for the bars) & 4 tablespoons peanut butter (for the chocolate topping)
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, confectioners’ sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter until well blended. Press evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 inch pan. (You can place them in a 9x9 square pan if you want them thicker--I used 9x13 for mine). In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips with 4 Tablespoons of peanut butter, stirring every 30 seconds until melted and smooth. Spread over the peanut butter layer. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares.
In addition to being delicious and easy, this is a great recipe to make with a young child. It's easy enough for them to help with and doesn't require eggs so no need to keep them from taste-testing. Klair loved helping me mix/taste the ingredients (she mostly just tasted things.)

Do you have any go to recipes for fall? 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Klairisms: The Sweetest 21 Months of Our Lives

This girl is 21 months old. Do you think I could convince her to stop growing? As much as it pains me to think that she's almost two, I'm also really excited to see her grow. She's such an amazing child, and I feel blessed to be able to watch her personality unfold. Below are some of my favorite "Klairisms" that fill our lives with more happiness than we knew was possible: 
  • She is obsessed with this little gold purse we bought her... and her shoes, and her bows, and her dresses. She tells everyone about them, including strangers. She is a girly girl in every sense of the word. 
  • She wants to ride her "bike" constantly. She inherited it from her older cousins, and she could play on it all day if we let her. 
  • On the other hand some of her favorite toys are cars, she adores her basketball hoop, and one of her new favorites is "mat man" a.k.a. the batman doll she fell in love with at the store when she saw it. Basically, little miss is breaking stereotypes and defining her own sense of self. I love this about her. 
  • She is really stubborn, in an impressive kind of way. She will refuse to eat something that she isn't interested in--even at the expense of going hungry. Or, tonight for instance, we decided to go on a family walk. We ended up walking over a mile away, and on the way back she refused to sit in her stroller. She kept insisting "I walk!" So, we let her walk, thinking she would get tired after awhile. We never imagined she would walk the entire way back, most of which is a steep incline. Impressive, stubborn child. 
  • She dislikes flies. Recently one made it's way into our house, and every time she would see it she would back away exclaiming "Nooo! No!"
  • She loves to help me cook. She often wakes up from her afternoon nap asking to "mix it mix it" because her assistance to my cooking consists of stirring things... and taste testing/snacking.
  • She loves me these days. She's going through a Mama's girl phase, and I'm okay with it. 
  • She's extremely affectionate. She'll often stop what she's doing just to come over and give us hugs and kisses. 
  • She gives the best hugs. She'll squeeze so tight her little arms shake.
  • We recently got a new bed and mattress, and she can't get enough of it. She cries every night that she wants to sleep in "Mama's bed" ...and sometimes we give in. It's kind of a problem. 
  • She randomly started saying "oh baby." I'm not sure where it came from, but it's hilarious and adorable to hear her say it. 
  • She's too smart for our own good, bordering on manipulative. Every night once she realizes it's time for bed she'll start crying, "nummy food!" which is her favorite phrase to let us know she's hungry. Knowing that we won't let her go without, we get her food and she'll eat very slowly and try to distract us/provoke us to play with her. If we force her to focus on the food and eat it, she's suddenly "all done." It's obviously a stalling tactic, but we go through it every night in the off chance she's actually hungry because neither of us can stomach the thought of forcing her to go to bed hungry. 
  • She loves to dance! As soon as she hears any music, she'll yell "dance!" and start moving around/spinning in circles no matter the setting or her audience. I signed her up for a pre-ballet class for 2-4 year olds, which she started today. Even though she isn't quite 2, they're allowing her to participate because she's so social and adept at listening. She did wonderfully today. After a few minutes she let me leave her. The studio has a wall with a window for the parents to watch through, and she would occasionally leave the group beaming ear to ear to come say hi to me. All I had to do was gesture for her to go back and she would happily trot back over to the other kids. She kept pace really well with the older girls, and when it was time to leave she cried "Dance! I stay!" She only let us leave once I assured her that we could come again. 
  • She enjoys counting and singing the alphabet so much that we'll often hear her reciting these by herself. My favorite is her version of "L M N O P" because she runs them together and it sounds more like a rapid fire "EL-EL-EL-OH-P!" 
  • She loves babies, and she's extremely gentle with them. She'll softly pat them on the head and give them kisses. She loves to rock her baby dolls, sing to them, change their diapers, and she'll even burp them. It's so sweet to see her natural inclination toward nurturing. 
  • She is sweet and sympathetic. I've been sick lately, which has resulted in us staying home more. I haven't been as active with her as I usually am. She's been really understanding. One day I was explaining to her that "mama's sick." She looked at me, stroked my hair, took my face into her hands, and gave me a kiss followed by one of her tight squeeze hugs. Sweetest. Moment. Ever!
I'm continually amazed by the amount of love and joy that Klair brings into our lives. 
We are blessed beyond belief. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fall Denim & My Mini

It's September folks! And I couldn't be happier about it. I cannot wait for the temperatures to dip--cuddling, hot cocoa, fires, vibrant colors in my yard, football games, pumpkin flavored... everything... yes please! With the advent of a new season, it's time to start preparing my wardrobe. One trend that I am loving is the distressed, white washed denim look. I love this particular pair of mid-rise ankle grazer jeans by David Bitton I found earlier this year. And when I say love, I mean... I wear them constantly. It's easy to dress them up or down, and I always feel fashionable regardless of what I pair them with. Furthermore, they're ridiculously comfortable and I love how flattering this waist is. Here's a link to another pair of very similar mid-rise Faith Buffalo Jeans that is currently on their site. I'm in love!

In fact, now that I've found a brand of denim that I love that won't break the bank (an exciting feat) I want a pair in every color.

This post wouldn't be complete without mentioning my little mini-me who decided to join the shoot. Lately she's been very fashion conscious, toting around the gold purse we bought her, showing off her shoes to everyone she meets, getting into my jewelry and makeup (to my dismay), and asking to wear a "wass" (AKA a dress) every day. She even poses for the camera. It's brief, but she'll do it. She couldn't be cuter, and I couldn't be happier that she wants to be like her mama.

Outfit Details
Gray Tee : Forever 21 | Floral Kimono : Forever 21 (similar) | Buffalo Jeans | Gray Booties : thrifted (similar) | Black Messenger Bag : Forever 21 

Klair's Outfit
Girl's Denim Dress : Carter's (similar)| Polka Dot Tights : Target | Jelly Shoes : Old Navy| Floral Bow Headband : local (similar)


Monday, September 8, 2014

With Grace in Your Heart and Flowers in your Hair | Religious Reflections 05

I was driving the other day with my iPhone on shuffle, when I had a moment that profoundly touched me. I don't know what it is about driving--especially longer distances--but it seems to be a time when I'm particularly prone to deep thought and receptive to inspiration. I suppose it's the monotony of the task before me. Of course I must be alert, but I can easily fall into a rhythm and I'm forced to sit still long enough to think about something other than the next thing that I need to do. Klair likes it too. Well, not driving of course, but she enjoys going on car rides. In fact, that girl loves getting out of the house in general. If a day goes by where we haven't left the house, she'll start telling me "I'm ready to gooo!" repeatedly. I suppose she's like her mama in that regard. We both love to go--even if the going is simply to the park or grocery store. We really enjoy venturing to new places. A change of scenery is always welcome. Hereditary wanderlust perhaps?

...and with that my mind has wandered off track. Back to the story. So, I was driving a fair distance, the music entering my ears determined by a randomizing algorithm programmed into my phone, when a song called "After the Storm" by Mumford and Sons came on. Sam and I both really love this band. We have for awhile now. We've collected all of their music over the years and thoroughly enjoy it. I have heard this particular song plenty of times before and I've always liked it. I could even sing along to some of the lyrics from memory. I don't know if it was the longer-than-usual-drive, or the brilliance of the setting sun and the golden light it cast that made me especially reflective, but this time I actually listened.

And, what I heard, spoke to my soul and brought tears to my eyes. Yep, I even cried a little.
It was exactly what I needed to hear.

"And there will come a time, you'll see. With no more tears. 
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears. 
Get over your hill and see what you find there, 
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair."

Beautiful, profound truth.

I won't bombard you with all of the lyrics--look them up or listen to the song if you feel so inclined--but essentially the verses reveal struggle, pain, and fear while the chorus (shown above) resolves these. It encapsulates the essence of the atonement of Jesus Christ, and the hope His gospel brings. Christ resolves our burdens. His grace is sufficient to cover all our pain, to redeem and to justify. I love the imagery of these lyrics, and I believe them with all my heart. One day, with our Savior's unfailing assistance, we will reach the peak of our own personal mountain. And, when we do, what we find will bring us to our knees in awe and admiration. 

"There will come a time, you''ll see." 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Classic Midi Dress | Rachel Laukat Photography

White Statement Necklace: Target | Floral Patterned Midi Dress: Downeast (similar) | Blue Belt: Downeast (similar) | Gray Pumps:  thrifted (similar) 

I recently had a photoshoot with Rachel of Rachel Laukat Photography. She took the photos featured in a past post of mine entitled hip & humble, and she of course took the photos you see before you in this post. I raved on and on about how wonderful she is both as a person and a photographer in my previous post, so in order to avoid being too repetitive I'll just say this:  

If you need a photographer for any reason, you should definitely contact Rachel. You won't be disappointed! 

PLUS... if you mention my name in the next week while booking you can get 10% off a portrait session!

Rachel Laukat Photography 

I loved working with Rachel, and I'm sure you will too!

That being said, I decided to do the shoot wearing this dress because it is one of my all time favorite pieces in my closet. I bought it just after Klair was born, and it was such a great choice at the time because it was flattering on my post pregnant body. Almost two years have passed and I still love it/wear it frequently. I feel like dresses with this cut are both classic and flattering on any shape. I'm particularly fond of the sleeve, because... let's face it. Cap sleeves only look good on a select few with perfect arms. I personally despise them on myself, and I love when I can find a dress with a slightly longer sleeve. Furthermore, I'm in love with all midi dresses for the season, so I've included several of my favorite midis with slightly longer sleeves in the slideshow below.

Because the dress is already a statement piece itself, I decided to keep my accessories in the same color family. The necklace that I'm wearing came from Target, and it's still for sale. I wear it pretty frequently. My shoes were actually thrifted, but I found a practically identical pair by Nine West that I linked above. I love these pumps, and would highly recommend a similar pair as they are both extremely comfortable, and go well with just about anything.

Happy Friday lovelies! I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

'Tis the Season

I recently did a fall preview blog collaboration with Lauren of Dressing Dallas. I've had several inquiries about some of the items I wore for this shoot, so I decided to post these photos to my blog as well with links. 

For our fall preview theme I pulled out all of my favorites--my knee-high riding boots, fall-friendly colored skinnies, and chambray button up with a fun floral pattern. I threw in some simple gray boot socks and my very favorite infinity scarf--because here in Utah the temperatures dip at night and I love how much warmer these simple additions can make me. We've already been experiencing some cooler temperatures around here, and I simply cannot wait to breathe in the crisp autumn air and wear scarves daily. Fall really is my favorite time of year. I have my boots lined up and ready to be worn!

(Outfit Details)
Floral Chambray (similar) | Orange Skinnies (similar)  | Riding Boots (similar) | Boot Socks |
Infinity Scarf Watch (similar)