OOLA FOR WOMEN // BOOK REVIEW

4

Monday

Have you ever heard someone claim a book “found them” or that it, “jumped off the shelf” and changed the course of their life forever? It’s not that I didn’t believe it was possible (I can get down with a bit of synchronicity). It was more because it had never happened to me – until now.

This book didn’t exactly jump off the shelf, but I do believe it found me. It all began when I started seeing these posts about these OOLAGuys, Dave Braun and Troy Amdahl, popping up all around me. I didn’t even know what it was, but on the surface, I thought it was something I should explore. So I signed up for an OOLA challenge and got my first taste.

Moment of truth. I didn’t complete not one challenge they sent. NOPE. Not one. Not because I didn’t want to. Not because I thought I wouldn’t get anything from it. Simply because I had all the intention, but no follow through. I’m an ideas girl, but in the execution arena, I get a big fat F. So when I saw they were looking for bloggers to read and review their latest book I jumped at the opportunity. I NEVER thought I’d get selected, but I did and it was exactly the push I needed.

We weren’t yet wheels up and I was already nose deep in my copy Oola for Women. Three hours later I landed in Denver, over halfway through the book and I already knew I had found something special.
Every time I opened the book I found myself more and more drawn into it.

So what is this book all about?

It’s about finding freedom, purpose and fulfilling your dreams. It’s about creating a balanced life, an extraordinary life – the life you are meant to live. As women, we can often fall victim to the grind. The time blocks on our calendar quickly fill with everyone else’s agenda leaving little to no time to write our story. Sure we are proud to be mothers, business women, wives, partners, friends, colleagues, but we aren’t defined by these titles. We are layered and complex and we dream big. Yet somehow many of us, myself included, lose sight of those dreams. We start to put others dreams before ours saving our dreams for tomorrow. But why wait?

This book will serve as your cheerleader, your guidebook, your motivation. It will challenge you to dig deep, to peel back layers, to face your fears, to uncover areas of growth and areas you should give yourself some grace. You’ll feel connected and empowered by the shared stories of the women you find within its pages. You’ll laugh, you might cry, but you’ll know its time to make a change.

What did I learn?

I could use some major growth and definitely find some balance in all 7 F’s of OOLA (Fitness, Finance, Family, Field, Faith, Friends, and Fun).

Where am I?

    • Fitness – I love yoga and I often lie to myself and tell myself I don’t have enough time to do it. Sure I do. I just need to spend 20 fewer minutes in the social media rabbit hole a day and BOOM! YOGA time.
    • Finance – Two words: Retail Therapy. Yep. Gotta put a stop to that.
    • Family – I need to make more time to be present, not just in body, but in mind while I’m with my family.
    • Field – (insert monkey covering eyes emoji here)
    • Faith – I’m in the interesting dance with my faith right now. I think I’m trying to lead still…
    • Friends – I’ve been struggling in this category. It’s a good thing my girlfriends love me and understand me because I’ve been a pretty lousy friend recently.
    • Fun – I look forward to a balanced life where my fitness, family, field, faith and friends are all a part of my fun plan!

And that’s just a sprinkling. I’ve got some real soul searching to do in each category too, but I just wanted to give you a sampling. And now I’m armed with my notecard of must-do’s and I’m finally taking actionable steps to manifesting the life of MY dreams.

Ladies if any of this resonates with you then you need to read this book. Join me on my quest to live the Oola lifestyle!!! Let’s do this!

Order your copy of Oola for Women on AMAZON (CLICK HERE) or Barnes and Noble (CLICK HERE) RIGHT NOW!! Then come back and tell me what are your dreams for life and what is your first step towards making it happen?

Small Space Living // Pittsburgh

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Tuesday

I’ve been on a journey to simplify my life for the past year. It’s been a SLOW, sometimes painful, but rewarding experience. I have a long road ahead of me still, but I get closer every time I release myself of more possessions that just aren’t serving me. I want to go as far as to call it my journey to minimalism, but for some reason, I can’t quite call it that. For me, it’s a journey to simpleism. I want to live with a curated collection of pieces I love, of pieces that are not only useful but built to last. I’ve been debating giving you all a glimpse into what that journey looks like, but haven’t yet pulled the trigger.

Anyway, that’s a long rant to say that somehow I landed, and I have no idea how I got down this rabbit hole, on a concept of living called “all inclusive coliving” by Ollie Design. They define it as, “providing efficiently designed studios and shared suites wrapped in a bundle of hotel-like services and communal living that promises to make life better — more affordable, more convenient, and more fun — than Craigslist and the pressurized walls of yesteryear.” Chris and I have always talked about owning an apartment in the city and I tell you what if we could materialize that dream I’d be getting a place here because guess what?!They are opening in Pittsburgh!!! I know!! How cool is that? Check this out you guys – CLICK HERE.

This is the video I stumbled upon that made me dig deeper into the company. Maybe I’m really late to the news here, but regardless I thought it was pretty cool and wanted to share.

 

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO // AUDIBLE BOOKS

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Tuesday

I LOVE audible. If you enjoy listening to books I highly suggest it.
I loved every single one of these books. I’ve listened to “You are a Badass” two times already… These descriptions are straight from the Publishers Summary.

1. Manage Your Day to Day || I could probably benefit from a second go at this one!
Are you overextended, over-distracted, and overwhelmed? Do you work at a breakneck pace all day, only to find that you haven’t accomplished the most important things on your agenda by the time you leave the office?
The world has changed and the way we work has to change, too. Manage Your Day-to-Day will give you a toolkit for tackling the challenges of a 24/7, always-on workplace. We’ll show you how to build a rock-solid daily routine, field a constant barrage of messages, find focus amid chaos, and carve out the time you need to do the work that matters..

2. Go Put Your Strengths to Work || If you haven’t taken the strengths finders quiz I highly suggest it!
Marcus Buckingham jump-started the Strengths movement now sweeping the work world with his first two blockbusters. Now, he answers the ultimate question: How can you actually apply your strengths for maximum success at work? Research data show that most people do not come close to making full use of their assets on the job. Go Put Your Strengths to Work will reveal the hidden dimensions of your strengths through a six-step, six-week experience

3. You Are a Badass || I’ll probably go for round three on this book here soon. Just too much goodness here. 
Bestselling author, speaker, and world-traveling success coach Jen Sincero cuts through the din of the self-help genre with her own verbal meat cleaver in You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. In this refreshingly blunt how-to guide, Sincero serves up twenty-seven bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, life-changing insights, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word..

4. Essentialism || I loved everything about this book. I felt like it was one of those books that found me. 
Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin? Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized? Are you often busy but not productive? Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas? If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist. The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter..

I’ve built up quite a wishlist at this point! Have you read a good book lately? Do tell!!!

A GUIDE TO // THE BABY REGISTRY

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Sunday

I’m back and with the longest post ever!!!! The baby registry, otherwise known as, “OH MY GOSH I need all of that stuff?!?” registry. This is the one you think you are going to be so excited about until you sit down one night and suddenly panic sets in. I need that? Where am I going to put it? I need that too? And then you give up and wish you could just order a pizza and down a pint of ice cream, but you remember you have gestational diabetes and so you just have a string cheese and a few almonds and binge watch your favorite YouTubers instead.

I can remember sitting down in front of my computer to start our baby registry and trying to navigate my way through an overwhelming amount of information – sites claiming I couldn’t have a baby without this item or that item, blog posts of moms raving about items they couldn’t live without, stores curations of must haves, it was information overload and I was overwhelmed. I wanted to be practical in my choices and I didn’t want to fill my home with loads of baby products I’d never use. I spent hours upon hours researching and looking at posts (some of which really helped me to streamline my thoughts like THIS post from the Fresh Exchange and THIS post from Kellie Murray), adding and deleting items from my registry, sharing the early stages of the registry with my mom, my sister, my coworker moms, my friend moms, I asked for help from every woman willing to lend an ear. And still, looking back, I didn’t get it quite right, but I feel pretty good about where I ended up. And so I felt like I needed to share my final outcome with anyone else out there doing the same search! I hope this provides you some support, assistance, aid, guidance, or at least a little comfort knowing you aren’t alone. The struggle is real!

Please know that what worked for me might not work for you and it’s ok to place 3am orders on Amazon for buzzy seats and scour Craigslist for hours in search of the MamaRoo you wanted and let other moms talk you out of because they said you didn’t need it and there are other less expensive options. (I found a MamaRoo at 3:17am on Craigslist after a fit of panic one night and falling down the rabbit hole of online forums and discussions from other moms struggling with babies and belly issues I knew I had to give it a go. It has turned out to be one of my most beloved baby items. I wish I would have pulled the trigger sooner!) So use this as a starting point, but don’t take it as baby registry gospel. Feel free to add and delete as you see fit. In the end just remind yourself that all you really need to bring that sweet bundle of joy home from the hospital is a car seat, a place to sleep, diapers, a way to feed them (bottle or breast is totally up to you!) and although probably not a REAL necessity I couldn’t live without swaddlers. (The hospital will likely give you a few blankets, but those wonderful nurses are swaddling pros. I couldn’t work those hospital blankets into the burritos like they did, but I do cherish those sweet blankets still and use them to cover up our lady bird in her car seat! I personally needed the stretch and give of a muslin blanket. My favorites are provided in the post!)

Let’s start with where to register. I registered at Amazon and Target, both of which give you a completion code for a discount on items that don’t get purchased! BOOM! That in and of itself is a win. Amazon also has a wonderful Universal Registry option and so I was able to add items I couldn’t find on Amazon to the registry! This was important to me when looking for places to register. However, as awesome as these two sites are I wanted all of the information to be organized in one location for everyone. In comes the BUMP I linked my two registries here and it was the perfect solution. This also allowed us to only have to provide one link to the shower guests in the invitation and the guests commented on how easy it was to use!

Onto the registry items. All items should  be linked! 🙂

CRIB: If I were a normal person a crib would be the number one item in this category, but I’d be lying if I offered up my opinion here. I’ll show you the one I ogled, but we are still in the middle of a remodel so for us a crib went on the backburner. Honestly, if you plan to sleep with that sweet baby in your room the first few months (which worked/is working for us) a crib is something you won’t use right away anyway.
*Don’t forget to register for the mattress, two or three crib sheets (one for the bed and one for the wash) HERE  and HERE  and a mattress pad cover!

BASSINET/CRIB/PLAY PEN (HOME + TRAVEL): For sleeping I could not have lived without my Lotus Bassinet and this is like the transformer of sleep stuff when it comes to babies. I registered for the Basinet Kit + Crib Bundle  and here is why. It grows with your babe and couldn’t be easier to take on the road. So far I’ve only used the Bassinet (at home and on the road), but as she gets bigger it converts to a travel crib and will make the coolest play spot with the easy in and out feature! The bassinet has been a blessing. It is made of mesh which was important to me when I was searching because I knew if she ended up against it she would still be able to breathe (which I would check to make sure she was doing every 30 min. for the first month of her life). You can also easily convert it to rock or stay stationary. In the early weeks I used it as a rocker which made it super easy to try and rock her back to sleep when she would stir in the middle of the night. It’s also available on Amazon!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that if money were no object I would have snagged one of THESE.

MOSES BASKET: This was the first thing I knew I wanted and ended up purchasing for myself! At first I thought I could get away with just the basket, but ended up ordering the rocking stand shortly after. Given a do over I’d probably go for a stationary stand only because I found that she would wiggle and it would rock which would work in my favor sometimes rocking her back to sleep, but in the early days her startle reflex would get the best of her. I used this for naps and kept it in our living room so for me rocking wasn’t/isn’t a necessity! I was registered for a Moses basket on Amazon, but it sold out so I ended up purchasing my basket from Etsy seller babymosesbasket. I would suggest getting the bundle HERE  with the futon and fitted sheets. (after two orders of sheets and a mattress from Amazon that didn’t fit I ended up back on Etsy ordering sheets and a matress anyway!)

STAND: Because I purchased this off registry I ended up getting the stand from Bed Bath & Beyond. They had the best prices, offered free shipping and I had a 20% off coupon!

SWADDLES: I use these everyday! Larken was a swaddle baby and these worked wonderfully. They also function as burp rags, changing pads and nursing covers in a pinch or on the road. Have a few on hand. You won’t be sorry. My favorite brands are Aden + Anais and Little Unicorn.

SHEEPSKIN: I LOVE THIS. Yes I’m screaming about it! It keeps her cool in the warm weather and warm in the cool weather. And it’s great as a playmat!

CRIB: Jenny Lind White Crib $599 | BASSINET/TRAVEL CRIB: Lotus $299 | MOSES BASKET: (with sheets and futon) $130  | MOSES BASKET STAND:Jolly Jumper $49 | SWADDLES: Aden + Anais$ 50 ; Little Unicorn $40 | SHEEPSKIN: Bowron $50 

My piece of advice for this category. Get out and travel. The earlier you do it the less scary it will be. Take them to lunch, parks, dinners, friends houses, on weekend adventures! At four months old I don’t blink an eye now when I need to pack up Larken and hit the road – even solo.

CARSEAT: There are so many amazing car seats out on the market so this category was a hard one for me. I actually had a few more expensive car seats picked out, but in the end went with the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 for a couple reasons. You have two options when it comes to car seats – infant seats and convertible seat. For me I wanted something I could easily lug around (I mean as easily as you can lug an 8 pound human on your forearm) and something that could be attached to a stroller. Also, I knew that I’d have to upgrade when she got bigger so spending money now on something I might replace in six months didn’t seem like the right move for me (this also played into my decision on a stroller. More on that later.) So I went with a dependable, affordable car seat and am very happy with it! Bonus is the extra bases for this bad boy are less than $40 bucks! Happy dance and car seat bases for everyone!

STROLLER: I registered for two strollers. 1. The Graco Snugrider Elite Stroller and Car Seat Carrier for the infant car seat that I literally checked the price on over ten times because I was sure they forgot a 1 in front of the price and 2. The UPPAbaby G-LUXE stroller that would grow with her for the rest of her stroller sitting years! I’m so glad I did. The Graco isn’t by any means an off road stroller, though I’ve taken it for many trail walks. If you’re a runner this isn’t the stroller for you, but for shopping trips, outings and walks on rather stable ground it fits the bill. The G-LUXE was the most suggested stroller from friends. They pretty much warned trying to save a penny in this category (think crazy shopping cart in the grocery store). For $360 I have two strollers and I’ll never need another.

STROLLER ORGANIZER: HERE and only needed for G-Luxe. Coffee. Nuf said.

DIAPER BAG: I think this category warrants its own post. I’ll have to do a “what’s in my diaper bag” post, but for now we will just leave it as here is the diaper bag we agreed on! I love that Larken can use this as her own later in life if she likes it. If not Chris and I will fight over which one of us gets the honors!

CARSEAT: Graco SnugRide $127 | CARSEAT BASE: Graco $39 | CARSEAT STROLLER: Graco Snugrider Elite Stroller $85 | STROLLER: Jake G-LUXE from UPPAbaby $280 | STROLLER ORGANIZER: Ethan & Emma $ 30 | DIAPER BAG: Deluth Pack $160

BABY WEARING ||

Who doesn’t love two hands? I mean you’ll get good at one handed everything and suddenly you become ambidextrous, but when you can free up that second hand… look out!!

RING SLING: Look no further than the Wild Bird ring sling. This is my go to everyday sling. I don’t leave the house without it. This will be my go to gift for new moms and second time moms (just got one for my sister).  I’m sure I’ll still be using this sling a year from now. This sling was a god send. This wasn’t the first baby wearing apparatus that I purchased either, but I found I needed something a little quicker to put her into and this fit the bill. This sling made for easy trips to the farmers market, lunch dates and walks up and down the driveway lulling my lady bird to sleep. THE BEST. This sling has also been the best when I’ve had to nurse in public and don’t have time to pull out my cover. Check out the VIDEOS http://www.wildbird.co/tutorials-2/ on their website if you aren’t familiar with how to use a sling.

WRAP: The Solly Baby Wrap is the softest wrap I have ever felt. I love it. I’m not that quick at getting it wrapped around me, but when I do it’s a great way to carry my babe. We both love it. Baby wearing is the best. Studies show that carried babies cry less and if your baby is fussy like mine was in the beginning you’ll be happy you can keep them close and happy. Tutorials can be found HERE. (http://sollybaby.com/information/#tutorials)

BACK PACK STYLE: Truth be told I got this because I thought my husband would do more baby carrying, but I’ve been the one to use it. I took a hiking/yoga trip last month and this was perfection. Plus how cool is it that it can be used in four different positions. This gave me the extra support I felt like I needed on this trip and Larken loved it. She slept the entire two hour hike!! This comes without the infant insert too if you don’t plan to need it in the early months.

RING SLING: Wild Bird Ring Sling $65 | WRAP: Solly Baby Wrap $65 | CARRIER: ErgoBaby 360 $180

Every parent told me I needed a swing. I received a travel version from a coworker as a hand me down and I’ve used it maybe 5 times total. Now remember every baby is going to be different. Your baby might LOVE a swing, but maybe not.  So I say if you can borrow or buy your seating second hand do that. Here is what worked/works for me.

BOUNCER: I love that this seat is convertible and folds flat! I turn it around when my niece comes over so that she can have her own little lounge seat. This will grow with Larken and for that I say it’s worth every penny. It has a few different lounge levels too which I love. However, if your little one needs a lot of movement you’ll have to look elsewhere in the early days until their little legs start bouncing the seat or you don’t mind providing the bounce.

MOVES LIKE MOM: As I mentioned in the beginning the mamaRoo was a blessing for us. After some research on fellow acid reflux babies I went on a mad crazy mom hunt for a used version and found one on Craigslist at one of our 3am feedings. I wouldn’t look back. Larken loves it – still. I took pictures of her the day I came home with it happily rocking in the “moves like you” seat. It was the first time I was able to put her down without her crying which of course brought me to tears! I LOVE IT!! The only unfortunate thing is that the Bluetooth never worked, but I don’t even care and I was convinced for the first few weeks that the old owner would throw on some tunes and I’d hear them belting out of the speakers.

BUZZY SEAT: I didn’t think I needed this, but we use it A LOT. I don’t really use the vibration anymore, but I did early on. It was what kept her happy while I showered and what new mom doesn’t love a good shower. After my mom lovingly Amazon primed me one of these and I started talking about it I was offered like 20 more so if you don’t want to register for one I’m sure this is an item you can get on loan or as a hand me down! They aren’t modern or pretty looking, but they get the job done! We went for the least expensive version the Bright Starts Playful Pinwheels Bouncer!

BOUNCER: BABYBJÖRN $160 | MAMAROO:4Moms $216 | BUZZY: Bright Starts $23 

CLEAN || I might love bathtime more than she does!

  • Tub: My sink is a little big for this, but if you have a smaller sink this is the way to go. It lays flat for easy storage
  • Hooded Bath Towel
  • Wash Clothes
  • Bath Wash: I’m currently working my way through all of the stuff purchased for us at the shower. I got A TON of baby wash and lotion and honestly I just use coconut oil for lotion. I feel like it’s a better alternative to the scented ones plus we have already had a run in with eczema. I’m dying to try young livings kid scents line. I’ll have to wait to get through my stockpile first though.
  • Diapers: I’m still in a search for our favorite and working through boxes that were gifted to us! I’ve only purchased one box of diapers so far!
  • Wipes: These are my favorite.
  • Diaper Cream: I registered for Aquaphor and it’s great, but if I’m being honest I just ended up using coconut oil here too! It works for everything even cradle cap!
  • Changing pad + Cover + Liners: Yes, liners. My sister suggested these and I was glad she did. They are easy to throw in the wash and have saved the changing pad cover on more than one occasion.
  • Laundry Detergent: call me crazy, but I didn’t realize babies needed their own detergent! When I realized this it  really made me think about what I was using on my clothes plus as mentioned before we’ve already had a run in with eczema so I need to be extra careful. For the first few months I used Targets Baby Detergent, but I am currently making the switch to Young Living’s Thieves Laundry Detergent so I can use one bottle for the entire family. I’ll let you know what I think!
  • Nail File and Clippers 
  • Brush + Comb Set: Larken has so much hair this was a necessity from day 1
  • Thermometer: The verdict is out on the thermometer I bought as I haven’t had to use it yet, but I’m sure it’s just great. Just make sure you have one. I hear great things about the ones you touch to their foreheads as well.

My big piece of advice in this category is don’t beat yourself up if you have to buy 17 different bottles to find the one that finally does it! I registered for the beautiful Life Factory bottles because they were glass and could convert to sippy cups later in life and Larken won’t take one. I’m convinced she actually squeezes her lips tighter when you bring them around. So her preference trumped function and design in this category! Here are the things I suggest:

  • Breastfeeding pillow: I borrowed this from my sister who made an adorable cover for hers. I no longer use it, but it worked wonders in the first month!
  • Burp Clothes: I read somewhere early on that cloth diapers made the best rags and boy I wish I could remember where and give that person credit. I have two packs of 10!! And trust me you’ll need them.
  • Bottles: I wish she loved the life factory bottles as much as I do, but alas we use Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature.
  • Pacifier: I wasn’t really into using a pacifier, but Larken had other plans for that in the beginning. I no longer use one, but we used one in the beginning when that’s what gave her comfort when she wasn’t hungry.
  • Bibs: In my opinion nothing is cuter than the bandana bib. I just can’t stand it.
  • Breast Pump: The hospital worked with my insurance company to make sure I left the hospital with one and it does the job! Do yourself a favor and purchase extra bottles!
  • Manual Pump: This has come in handy quite a few times
  • Breastpump accessories: As a working mom I should really do an entire post on breast pumps, pumping, etc.
  • Dish set

In all honesty you don’t need any toys in the beginning as your baby will be super entertained by the ever changing world around them! But if you want to try and control what comes into your home you’ll want to put a few toys on the registry as a guide. Like some other Mama’s I look up to, I’m trying to stay away from anything plastic, electronic with flashing lights and noises for as long as I can. I already have a very alert baby so I feel like it’s my motherly duty to make sure she doesn’t get overstimulated. Additionally, I read from a lot of other moms and agree that, you can still encourage play, imagination, and learning without all those bells and whistles…maybe even more so! (Enter the… in my day… speech here.) The one thing I did use from day one has been books. I LOVE books. Take any and all book suggestions from moms. Those moments you read to them will be treasured memories for you both for many years to come.

I chose neutral clothing  because I felt it was easier to mix and match and honestly I’m just not that much of a pink person or purple for that matter. People always call Larken a him though, but I think you risk that regardless. I wanted soft, comfy options and things that would launder well. I bought a lot of pieces myself from Zara and H&M and registered for what I considered to be the basics, knowing that people love to buy baby clothes!! That’s pretty much all my sister got at her baby shower. On top of the basics, I bought a few cute outfits for bringing Larken home from the hospital. Something about getting us all dressed up and ready to go home was really special to me so if that rings true to you get yourself something special too! What aren’t pictured here are my favorite socks. Old Navy makes these baby crew socks that I could not figure out how to download the picture but you can find them HERE! They don’t fall off and ALL baby socks fall off.

Holy cow this post is so long…

That’s it! In a giant nut shell. What did I miss? I’m sure, even though this post took 22 pages of notes to compose, I had to have missed something! I’d also love to know what your favorite, must-have, go to baby items are/were! Please share.

Want to see a what was in my hospital bag post? What’s in my diaper bag? How I recovered and am still recovering from child birth? Let me know! I want to give the people what they want, you know! 🙂

Thanks for following along. With all the information available on the internet it feels good to know a few of you check in and choose to spend your time here. (BLUSHING!) Thank you for being my biggest supporters.

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO // PODCASTS

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Monday


1. Love+Radio ||
My coworker suggested this podcast to me due to the heart string tugging aspect of the stories. I’ve just picked this one up and I’m loving it.

2. Achieve Your Goals ||
If you have not read My Miracle Morning I highly suggest it. Adapting the miracle morning is top of my list of 2017 goals. Right up there with loving myself more and not being such a klutz. The description of the podcast reads, “empowering and equipping you with practical advice and strategies to achieve your goals and dreams.” Who doesn’t want that?

3. The Accidental Creative ||
The coolest advice on building new practices and growing, thriving and being awesome from some incredibly creative folks.

4. The Longest Shortest Time ||
My friend Jara suggested this one to me awhile back and I love it. A great podcast for anyone looking to be a parent, currently pregnant, or in the depths of parenting already.

5. Being Boss ||
Girl Bosses and entreprentours bringing it. These ladies make me feel like I can do it.

6. My Favorite Murder ||
This was suggested by my friend Motts. It’s amazing. My mom and I started listening to this on a car trip to the mountains of VA for a yoga/hiking weekend and we binged it. If you love a good tale of murder and aren’t scared to admit it this podcast is for you. It’s hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. Each episode highlights their favorite tales of murder.

7. Well Aware with Lindsay Mueller ||
This is really in tune with my current life goals. Minimalism, meditation, yoga, essentialism… It’s an evolution and a tough one for me, but I’m getting there and these talks have been inspirational and right in line with this.

8. The Dinner Party Download ||
I love food. It’s what our house revolves around. If you love a good dinner party you’ll love this podcast. Nuff said.

9. Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! ||
This was/is my favorite saturday morning car listen and I love that I can listen to them now any time I want! Current events meets game show meets making me laugh and trying not to accidentally pee all while driving!

Do you have a favorite podcast I should check out? Let me know.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD!

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Thursday

larken-birth-story
Larken’s Birth Story

You have finally arrived and we couldn’t be more in love. You are a gift from the universe – born of moon dust and bright star bits. I can’t stop staring at you. It’s all been so surreal. Your arrival marked a turning point in our lives. You are the missing piece of our life puzzle we didn’t even know we were missing and now we can’t imagine a world without you in it. We feel so fortunate to be your momma and daddy. Welcome to the world, Larken. Life is so much brighter with you in it.

Nine months I dreamt of the day we would meet. To feel each other on the outside deepening our connection as we had become so close during the time I held you within me – safe, secure and tucked tight inside my belly. I was curious of every move you made. Curious of which body part poked it’s way out of my belly. Wondering if you would hiccup as much on the outside as you did on the inside (which you do). Wondering whose features you would have, what your personality would be like, what it would feel like to hold you in my arms. I never could have imagined the amount of love that would boil up deep within me when they placed you on my chest. My world and my heart exploded.

The anticipation of your arrival was intense. I waited with baited breath. You were due on August 24th and every day leading up to that day we said was going to be the day. Except you decided you weren’t ready to see the outside world just yet and so I was scheduled for an induction on August 29, 2016 at 5:00am. The night before your arrival, your dad and I went to dinner chowing down on crab legs which we have done on many momentous occasions in our relationship. We talked about our excitement, our fear, our love, our anticipation, and joy. We celebrated and got ready to welcome you into our lives. I went to bed wondering how I could possibly sleep that night and somehow I did until 1:50 am. when I started to have contractions. I suddenly felt so calm, you were ready. Now you and I were moving towards the same end goal and we were in it together. The fears of birthing you melted away as I felt an aching in my soul to hold you with each contraction.

We arrived at the hospital at 5:00am, getting settled into our room as the sunrise filled the sky with varying shades of baby girl colors as though it were preparing for your arrival as well. Throughout labor your heartbeat remained steady and strong and was a comforting sound as I breathed through the contractions. Time both stood still and flew. I had no real sense of it. Your dad, Memaw and Auntie Kari were all in the room with us as we prepared slow and steady for what was to come. They provided so much love, support, and encouragement. They made us feel like we could move mountains – and boy did we.

You arrived at 4:21pm. I remember hearing your first breath and your cry as they laid your sweet body on my chest and we connected our bodies warming each other. We celebrated your arrival as a healthy, beautiful baby girl weighing in at 7 lbs 5 oz and 20.5 inches long. You had a full head of hair that everyone commented on. It’s still the first thing people say when they see you for the first time. I remember the look on your dad’s face. Tears of joy filling his eyes as I saw the love swell from his toes! And your memaw and auntie staring at your sweet face and falling in love.

You are our world, sweet girl. Welcome to the family.

NEUTRAL NUSERY // DESIGN BOARD

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Thursday

Option 1_Neutral
Give yourself permission to take a break. It can be so refreshing. So much has happened since October 2015. I took a long break from this blog. I took a long break from a lot of things. That’s a story for another day, but one I do plan to tell. In the meantime let’s do a quick catch up. October – break from blog. Then followed by a snowy few months of hibernation. Christmas and then New Years. And I found out I was expecting. Enter nursery planning.

We are well underway with upstairs renovations, but nowhere near ready to put a little one up there. So in the meantime I’ll just keep dreaming up the nursery and preparing our dining room/bedroom/nursery for our sweet girls arrival!

MASTER BATHROOM // DESIGN BOARD

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Thursday

Master Bathroom

I am no design/mood board master, but putting these together helps me wrap my brain around how things that I might want for the remodel will play together. This particular board is the master bath and I’m pretty happy with the way it is shaping up! I keep going back and forth between silver and brass fixtures, but for now this is where we are with it.

I like trying to mix up textures and patterns and a little vintage, modern and traditional where I can. The latest conversations in the house are on what we do with the vanity – open shelves or drawers. What we know for sure is that even though everyone is doing it I think we are pretty set on subway tile and penny tile. Though we may go with the square subway and take it to the floor… hum. So many options.
Any suggestions?

INSPIRATION // MASTER BATH

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Saturday

Master Bath Inspiration
Choosing materials in our master bath renovation feels like deciding on a tattoo. It’s so permanent and expensive if you want to start over or if twenty years later they have decided to pejoratively refer to you your lower back tattoo a tramp stamp. (I just typed a twenty minute rant here and then deleted it. You can thank me later.)

I’m eating, dreaming, sleeping, walking and wishing all things upstairs renovation. Some nights my dreams are so realistic I wake up thinking it may have actually happened. At this point I’m almost afraid that I’ll wake up having taken a sledge hammer to the wall. Which I’ll of course blame on sleep walking or zombie sleep or some sort of sleep takeover that I have no control over. (I’ve been known to take on random renovation projects mid week out of nowhere when the hubs is away… now.. to just get him out of the house.)

As with each home renovation project, one spends probably 30 times longer than the actual renovation will take to execute researching and pinning and finding inspiration all over the internet. Rabbit hole after rabbit hole. But this time I noticed a serious trend in my pinning. I might have a serious interior design love affair with Amber Interiors. I want to put everything she does in my purse. Ahhh maaayyyyy zahhhh hiiinnng. I literally sit in front of my computer oohing and ahhing. So if any of you are looking for a Christmas present for me let me just help you out. She does e-decor. BOOM! I’d love to have the entire house done, but I’d settle on a room or a corner of a room.

So without further ado here are a few of the bathrooms I’ve been drooling over. Want to see more of my bathroom inspiration? Head on over to my bathroom Pinterest board.

image sources  //  1. Amber Interiors , 2. My Domaine , 3.  Sarah Sherman Samuel  4. Amber Interiors

BE YOU. IT’S THE EASIEST PERSON TO BE!

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Friday

MORE DAYS
Sorry for the radio silence folks. I had a rough go in April and May and I needed June to just be me. To turn it all off and take some time to just disconnect. No need to worry though. Everything is A-ok and we are back at life with a bounce in our step.

The good news is I learned a lot during my little internet sabbatical. I spent a lot of my time turning in, tuning in and really doing some soul searching. I started this blog as a creative outlet and a way to help me – for lack of a better term – find myself. I wanted to discover who I was, where I was going, what I was supposed to be doing, and to find voice and space. I wanted to find a spot to nuzzle up and dig in. But as time went on I wasn’t getting any closer. I wasn’t figuring anything out or having any ahah moments. There were no revelations worthy of mentioning. I was spending a lot of my time wishing and wanting and comparing myself to others. I wasn’t focusing in on my journey, but instead spending way to much energy trying to find and follow the paths and courses of others. And that’s the thing. You can’t and shouldn’t travel through someone else’s journey.  No one else is you and that is awesome. We all all different, special and unique. And I am unique. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized that. I’ve always been told I’m “different” and in life sometimes it takes you awhile to realize that different is exactly who you want to be. Different is special and you should be focusing more on that rather than trying to be something you just aren’t molded for. I am different and you are different and our paths and courses in this life should look nothing like anyone else’s. And that my friends is a gift. A great gift. Be you. Especially since that’s the easiest person to be.

There is this thing called fear and man can it be a downer. I’m not talking about the scary movie fear, but the kind of fear that holds you back, holds you down and has you question and gives you doubt. But I feel like talking about this fear and how it has held me back would be worthy of a post of it’s own so let’s skip that for now.  Just know I’ve been working to release my fear. Mostly, my fear of failure. So what’s been happening. Well, I wish I could say through all of this great discovering I was magically transported and transformed and that I’m on a path to greater things, but that is not necessarily the case. Don’t get me wrong I’m headed in the right direction, but I’m learning that this is also a lesson in growing. My new path has been a little like having a rubber band wrapped around my waist. I take five steps forward, stretching myself and reach the max of the rubber band and then get whipped back to the start. But this is ok. I feel like one day I’ll either learn to ditch the rubber band or that sucker will reach its max tension and snap and I’ll run off into the sunset with my arms up in the air to the Rocky theme song. In the meantime I’ll keep working away, putting one foot in front of the other. Getting baby steps closer to my goals and reaching for my dreams with more gumption than ever.

Let’s take a minute to talk about one of those dreams and goals. Because I’ve heard when you write them down and speak them out loud they tend to manifest.

  • I want to own a shop. I have wanted to own a shop since I was 12 years old. And I’m pretty sure that dream goes back way further since Ive been told that I used to force anyone willing to play “store” with me. Playing store and really playing store are two different things though. And although I rock at the make-believe versions I have no idea how or where to start in this here real life version. But just like everything else I’m taking baby steps. But since I’ve filled you all in on this little dream of mine if you know any shop mentors, consultants, people with a brain full of shop knowledge who wouldn’t mind taking on a gal like me let me know!

So what does all of this mean for this blog? It’s not going anywhere. I’ll still be here. But I’m no longer going to try and make this blog something it isn’t. Just like me it’s going to be different. I’ll still bring you fun information, diy’s, inspiration and honest conversations and if there is something you’d like to see then let me know! Oh and let’s talk our house and recipes for a minute. The hubs was feeling a little left out! So we started a both of us blog so that he can play too! It’s up and running, but I haven’t put together any posts yet. If you want to follow along with our home renovations, cookings and ramblings of our little homestead we would love to have you. I’ll give you all a heads up when the first post goes live. I also have some other projects in the works and we will see what comes of the future. Stay tuned, friends.

If you made it through this entire post I give you a gold star!!! Thank you for letting me ramble and taking time out of your day to listen. And remember…

Be You!

 

 

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