1 My sewing machine. I’m not sure if you know this about me, but I do a lot of sewing. I’ve been sewing since I was a little girl, and it’s been such a helpful skill to have (especially now that we’re having a baby—so much baby gear can be easily and cheaply made at home on the sewing machine). Interestingly enough, even though I’ve been sewing forever, and sew a lot, I actually don’t have an expensive, fancy sewing machine. In fact, my sewing machine is a plain ole Singer that I got for about $70 at Walmart seven years ago. And it’s fantastic. It does everything I need it to do. I’ve used it heavily for years now and have never had to have it serviced or repaired. My exact model isn’t available anymore, but Target sells the updated one (although, the reviews aren’t great, which surprises me).
2 Acure Day Cream. I’m pretty thrifty, and the idea of spending lots of money on beauty products makes me twitchy, but this moisturizer is totally worth the high price tag to me (well, high to me, I know some folks spend my entire grocery budget on beauty products). This winter has been hell on my skin. And my I-have-no-skincare-routine lifestyle wasn’t really cutting it anymore. I did some research and found this moisturizer and it’s been amazing! My skin is softer, smoother, and smells amazing. And I love that it only takes a tiny dab of this stuff to cover my whole face. It makes the price tag a little bit more bearable.
3 Love It or List It. Before we bought our house, I was HGTV/DIY Network obsessed, but after we moved in, I lost interest in it because all the ideas were too overwhelming! But now that we’re thinking about fitting an expanding family in our house, I’ve been watching lot of shows to get ideas—and Love It or List It is my favorite. I don’t care so much about the “list it” part, but the “love it” part gives me lots of ideas of how we can fix problem areas in our house (like the lack of coat and linen closets). So often the families on the show have legitimate logistical issues—not just “I hate the color of this wall!”—and seeing those issues solved is so inspiring to me. I’m sure it’s all terribly staged, but it still gives me ideas!
4 Dolphin Browser/Extension. I can’t be the only person who looks up recipes on my computer, and then wants to easily send them to my iPhone or iPad to refer to in the kitchen, right? The Dolphin Browser makes it so easy! You download it on your mobile device (for free) and then install the Dolphin Connect extension in Chrome (or Firefox or Safari). And then, with one click, you can send the website to your iPad or iPhone. Obviously, I know I could just Google it or pull it up from a Pinterest board on my iPad, but for some reason, the Dolphin extension is SO much easier for me. Worth noting, there are a million different ways to do this (iCloud/Safari, other plugins), but the Dolphin Browser is the first thing that’s been working totally seamlessly for me.
5 Gilligan & O’Malley Robe. I’m starting to build up a stash of hospital-friendly loungewear (because I really have no plans on wearing a hospital gown for 2+ days after Baby J’s birth), and this robe is my favorite purchase so far. It is thin—like I wouldn’t wear it without anything under it—but it’ll be perfect for a light layer over nightgowns or jammies in the hospital to be more modest for walks in the hall or warm up a bit if I’m chilled. It also happens to be one of the softest garments I’ve ever touched. Crazy soft. I’m preparing myself that everything I take to wear in the hospital might be ruined, but I’m really hoping that this robe makes it back okay (and if not, I hope Target still has ‘em in stock so I can get another).
What are you digging lately?
Thinking…about how time seems to somehow be both flying and crawling by all at the same time. I can’t believe Baby J will be here in around 100 days (!). But at the same time, I feel like I’ve been pregnant forever. I keep telling myself that we have plenty of time to get stuff done (like, uh, the nursery), but in reality, we don’t.
Feeling…sleepy. Sleep has not being going well lately. I’m closing in on my third trimester, and being too uncomfortable to get a good’s night sleep is just par for the course (and yes, I have the special pillow). I guess it’s nature’s way of getting me prepped for the lack of sleep that’s coming my way in June.
Watching…not much now that the Olympics are over. I’ve had total Olympic fever for the past few weeks, so now that I’m coming down from that, it’s time to find something else to tune in to. We do record the Tonight Show and watch that with dinner each night. Because Jimmy Fallon = hilarious.
Excited…about the photography business Craig and I recently launched! Craig and I have been off-and-on shooting family portraits and weddings for the past few years, and we always thought it’d be fun to try to turn into a more full-time business, so we set a goal in 2014 to really put a lot of effort into getting it off the ground and running. We launched the website, did some marketing and are taking some meetings. We’re really excited!
Missing…feeling like my healthy, energetic self. It’s no secret that pregnancy hasn’t been the smoothest for me, but now, I mostly just miss feeling like myself. I miss having energy. And feeling healthy. And strong. And capable.
Reading…One Year to an Organized Life with Baby by Regina Leeds. In theory, this book rocks. It’s got lots of awesome ideas for how to get your house and life organized to make bringing a baby into your world as easy possible. In reality, it’s just stressing me out. If you haven’t read it, the book assigns you a task for each week of pregnancy. Some are easier and less work than others, but the goal is by the time baby comes, your house and life function like a well-oiled machine. There are a ton of great ideas—and I really like the bite-at-a-time style of doing one project each week—but I still just can’t seem to figure out how to fit the tasks in with everything else going on. As much as I’d love to get all the cleaning supplies under my sink organized, I just don’t see it happening. Mostly, the book just reminds me of all the organizational tasks I probably should be doing that I’m not.
Wondering…when winter will stop.
Working…on the photography business, a few designs for cookbooks, and starting the brainstorming phase of my second cookbook. Plus juggling a few freelance writing and design projects.
Stressed…much less than I was a few weeks ago. For some reason, January and February were really annoying for us. No end-of-the-world problems, but just a million little things (and a few bigger ones) that went wrong. You ever have those periods of time where it just seems like nothing comes easy? It was that way for us for the first part of 2014, but it seems like the universe is correcting now and the stress is starting to wash away.
Proud…of the fact that I didn’t leap out of my chair and punch the woman sitting across from me in a waiting room yesterday. She takes one look at me, and says, “When are you due?” and I tell her June, and she then says, “WHOA. YOU ARE HUGE. Man, you’re going to have a giant baby. And you’re definitely going to have it early. You’re HUGE. Your whole family must be big-boned. You’re going to have a big-boned baby.” She then proceeded to watch me eat my lunch and ask me questions about everything I was eating to make sure it was healthy for baby. And then, once I finished my lunch, she looked over at my Mama and said, “Ha! She certainly did pound that back fast, didn’t she?” If I was a more self-conscious person, that interaction may have left me feeling rough (but mostly, I just was in awe of the gall of the woman).
Wanting…a spa day! I’m not much of a girlie girl, but I’ve been recently craving a day of pampering. I want to go to a fancy spa/salon, put on a cozy robe, drink cucumber water and take some time to relax. There are a few (very well-reviewed) spas around here that do pregnancy massages, and I’d love to get one of those. I could also go for a spa pedicure and a good ole haircut.
Wishing…for a healthy third trimester. I’ve had a lot of issues pop up in the first two trimesters, but thankfully, nothing that is bad for baby. I’d really like the third one to be problem-free, too. I mean, I expect I’ll be sore and uncomfortable, but just as long as I manage to avoid any of the big issues, I’ll be happy.
Eating…a whole lot of Greek pasta salad . I came up with a spicy Greek yogurt dressing for it using Sriracha, lemon juice and Greek spices and it is SO yummy. I didn’t really expect it to be anything amazing, so I didn’t snap any photos of it. But I’m going to have to grab some photos next time I make it (because I will make it again).
Drinking…a ton of water. I feel so dehydrated all the time. Can’t. Get. Enough.
Loving…my new planner (more on that later), washi tape, feeling Baby J dance around, sunshine, root beer, daydreaming about a beach vacation.
What are you currently feeling, loving, thinking, eating, etc.?
1 Saline spray. Let’s start off with a gross one, shall we? I always have a lot of sinus issues in the winter, but it’s been particularly rough this year. Since I can’t really take much medication to help, my midwife suggested I try a saline spray. Now, I’ve used Neti pots for years, and they are great, but the saline spray is a whole different awesome thing. The Neti pot experience takes a while and works using gravity, but the saline spray bottles are awesome for on-the-go relief. They are pressurized, so they shoot the saline up in your nose, which sounds really uncomfortable, but once you get use to it, is actually really amazing. If my nose feels yucky and dry, just a few spritzes and I feel so much better. I <3 saline sprays.
2 Mexican Coke. The little bit of caffeine (each bottle contains about half the amount of caffeine of a cup of coffee) is the only thing I’ve found that helps the crazy hormonal headaches I’ve been getting. I also love the little glass bottles, there is something so nice and tactile about it. Years ago, I used to be a crazy soft drink addict, so it’s interesting to come back to the world of soft drinks and have them like a treat instead of a part of my daily diet. Sometimes I think we get so wrapped up in vilifying certain no-no food items that we forget that it’s not going to kill us to enjoy the occasional junk food if it makes you happy (at least, I think there is nothing wrong with it, I’m sure plenty of folks disagree).
3 The return of weekly manicures. After writing this post, I decided that the least I could do to give myself a pick-me-up was to return back to doing weekly manicures. I know some folks stress about nail polish and pregnancy, but I don’t worry about a once-a-week manicure in a well-ventilated room (and neither do my midwives). Even when I don’t manage to get out of my jammies, just having my nails done makes me feel so nice. Plus, since I’m taking care of my nails again, they’re rewarding me by not breaking and chipping. Yay! This week, they’re in my high school colors—purple and gold!
4 Our rice cooker. We got a bit of Christmas money this year and decided to spend a bit of it on a rice cooker. I’ve never had one before, but I’m already totally in love with it. I always thought that rice cookers seemed like unitaskers, but it does so much more than just cook rice. It cooks all kinds of grains (rice, couscous, farro, quinoa, barley, oats) absolutely perfectly and it steams foods too, so you can do an entire meal in the rice cooker. Ours is also big enough and has a setting to be a small slowcooker, which is nice, because our massive slow cooker is a bit…uh…massive for our small family. My favorite feature is the delay timer though. Set it all up whenever I get a break during the day, and then DING! like magic, perfectly cooked grains are ready for dinner time. Love.
5 My new wallet. If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that I’m crazy brand-loyal to KEEN (love everything they do), and I’ve got a new KEEN product I love—the Hazel Wallet. Craig got this for me for Christmas, and man, I absolutely adore it. It’s about the size of my old wallet, but it expands and has a wrist strap (and a clip-on shoulder strap), so it can turn into a small purse. It’s the perfect size to hold my keys, phone and some chapstick if I just want to grab it and go. Or, can just be a normal wallet in my purse. I love, love, love it.
What are you digging lately?
Thinking…that it’s so crazy that Christmas is only nine days away. That whole later Thanksgiving thing really put me off my Christmas game. We didn’t get out holiday cards this year. I haven’t had a chance to make any wreaths for our doors. Craig hasn’t gotten up the Christmas lights. I feel shortchanged on my Christmas season!
Feeling…down. This year, I’ve been hit with a nasty case of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’ve had it in past years, but for some reason, this year is especially bad (I think it may have to do with our higher-than-normal amounts of snow and rainfall and lower-than-normal amounts of sunshine). I finally dug my light therapy box out of storage and am using it again. I already feel more energy from it. It’s entirely possible that it could be a placebo effect, but who cares if it makes me feel more like myself, you know?
Watching…lots of Christmas movies, lots of sports and catching up on Tia & Tamera, because they are the cutest. I would like their wardrobes, please.
Reading…nothing right now, but I did just finish How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer. It was cute, and took me all of three hours to read.
Excited…about a new year! I know I’m skipping right past Christmas (and yes, I’m mega excited for it, too), but I’m really jazzed for 2014 to roll around. I have lots of big, fun things planed for 2014!
Missing…my girly side. I don’t miss working a 9-to-5 job at all, but I do miss the daily routine of putting on a pretty dress and doing my hair and putting on nice makeup. Which is sorta ironic considering everyone thinks the big perk of working at home is that you can work in your jammies (it is nice…sometimes, but not everyday). I used to also do a weekly manicure on Sunday evenings, and that has totally gone out the window since quitting my job. In general, I think I need more routine in my life. Working in an office gives you structure, and structure is something that my days no longer have. Structure is good for me. See this comic for more information.
Wondering…why my cat insists on drinking out of my water glass when there are multiple water bowls around the house for animals. Just to annoy me? Probably.
Working…on a lot. Admittedly, me feeling down has made my work productivity plummet to the floor, so I’ve let a lot of things pile up that I have to (HAVE TO) get finished before Christmas. That’s when I can really tell I’m in a funk, when I start missing deadlines (which is something I never do when I’m feeling myself). Right now, I’m working on a number of freelance design projects (blog redesigns, logos, etc.) for blogger friends. I’m working on a few covers for other people’s cookbooks. I’m working on the interior design of a cookbook (it’s 256 pages, eek!). I’m still designing holiday cards for folks. I’m doing freelance articles for a few clients. Working on promotion of my cookbook. And trying to get back into the rhythm of blogging again. One thing I did finish—my second cookbook proposal! And it was accepted. Woohoo! We just have to cross the Ts and dot the Is, and I’ll get you more info about it. And thankfully, I don’t have to start on that until February.
Stressed…about the above. And frustrated with myself for letting it pile up. I had all this work scheduled on a calendar for months and months to make sure I wasn’t overloaded, but my procrastination just totally wrecked that schedule.
Proud…of the Christmas gift tins that are going out to friends this week. It always makes me so happy to give folks homebaked goods as a thank you for all they do in a year.
Wanting…to join a gym again! I had an Anytime Fitness membership (and I loved it and would highly recommend it for gym rats) but it made me realize that I’m more of a “rec center” kinda girl than a gym kinda girl. I like places with lots of free classes, an indoor track, basketball and volleyball courts, sports leagues, etc. instead of just focus on individual fitness. Which I think is also why I don’t thrive working out in my home gym, either. The absolute longest I stuck with consistent fitness was when I was a member at a rec center. I liked being able to head there and lift some weights, but I also like being able to go and play a round of HORSE with my husband or quickly jump into an ab class. I’m thinking about joining our local YMCA (which has a small gym area, but definitely leans more toward rec center). My only hesitation is that it’s about a 20 minute drive from our house, which isn’t a ton in this area (we drive 30+ to get to the grocery store), but it’s not chump change either, especially when you’re looking for an excuse not to go workout.
Wishing…the yucky winter rain would go away. Snow? Awesome. Cold rain that just makes everything look brown and disgusting? Not awesome.
Eating…lots of yogurt bowls and probably way more Christmas cookies than I should be.
Drinking…cranberry juice (it’s my favorite), eggnog and lots and lots of water.
Loving…my house at Christmas, my incredibly considerate husband, my comfy, comfy bed.
What are you currently feeling, loving, thinking, eating, etc.?
1 Flannel sheets. I had some Kohl’s cash burning a hole in my pocket, and decided I was going to spend it on overhauling our bed. I got a new mattress pad, a new comforter, and a new throw, but the absolute best purchase was a new set of flannel sheets. I always had flannel sheets in the winter growing up, but when I got my own place, never got around to getting a set until now. I forgot how comfy they were! We keep our house pretty cold, and one of my least favorite things on the planet is climbing into a bed with cold sheets in the winter. Our new super soft, super cozy flannel sheets are warm from the second I climb into bed. The coziness of bedtime went up about 300%.
2 Columbia Reel Beauty Long Sleeve Tunics. I’m slowly (but surely) overhauling my closet and replacing all the cheap-o discount store clothes with higher quality clothes that’ll last me for a while. The most recent addition is two of these Columbia tunics (which are on clearance right now). They are so comfortable, cute and they are a nice middle-weight. Perfect for under a big puffy coat for winter or fine on their own on a warmer day. And I LOVE that they are long. Like, I’m-taller-than-the-average-woman-and-they-still-cover-my-bum kinda long. Very nice over a pair of leggings. I’m a big fan of clothes that feel like jammies, but look like “real” clothes.
3 RAW Demi-Permanent Hair Color. In my years of obnoxious hair color, I’ve tried a lot of bright color hair color brands, and RAW is not only the cheapest (go figure), but it’s also the one that lasts the longest in my hair. Last time I had my hair done professionally, I picked teal, and my stylist said she’s “never found a teal that lasts longer than two weeks”. I scoffed, and told her to go ahead and do it anyway. Lo-and-behold, the professional (expensive!) dye she used washed out in about two weeks. So I redyed it myself with the Twisted Teal from RAW, and two months later, it’s still going strong. Best. Dye. Ever.
4 Bird feeders. We put out our bird feeders last week (right before the snow came), and the birdies are certainly showing their appreciation. We’ve got such a great show right outside our living room window! We upgraded this year to feeders that hold both seed and suet, so we’re getting to see all kinds of fun birds up-close-and-personal. Kitty is also throughly enjoying the show. She just sits on the windowsill and watches.
5 Our treadmill. I know lots of folks call it the “dreadmill” and I probably would, too, if I had to bust out 16 mile training runs on the darn thing, but having a treadmill has been an absolute life-saver for short snowed in winter workouts. I usually just walk for 20-30 minutes a few times a week at a moderate pace while watching some TV show (right now: Tia & Tamera). I’m not going to complete an Ironman anytime soon, but it’s enough activity to make me feel like I’m not turning into a couch potato over the winter. Maybe eventually I’ll get back into hardcore workouts, but right now, I’m digging my leisurely activity.
What are you digging lately?
Confession time: I totally love to look at people’s holiday wish lists. I love this time of year in the blog world, because everyone is publishing posts with gift guides and wish lists, and I think it’s such a fun look into what folks are coveting, what they love, and what they hope Santa will bring them in a few weeks. I think it’s a great way to get an intimate look at a side of someone that maybe you never expected. You can tell a lot about someone by what they hope is under the tree on December 25th!
The irony of my wish list love is that presents aren’t really a big thing in our family. My family switched to stockings-only years ago (we have 17 people and stockings are totally the best part about gift-receiving anyway), and Craig and I are usually pretty reserved with how much we spend on each other at the holidays. Christmas just isn’t really about gifts for us, but it’s still fun to think about all the stuff you could buy if funds were unlimited. Plus, it’s like reliving my childhood letters to Santa. Instead of flipping through the Sears Toy Catalog and marking every single thing, I get to virtually window shopping at my favorite online stores. Fun!
Disclaimer: Starred items (*) are affiliate links. Which means that I get a small percentage of the sale if you buy through my link. If that makes you feel icky, feel free to click the non-affiliate link at the end of each item. Thanks for your support!
(1) Cloth Napkins :: We’re cloth napkin users in our house, and almost all of our sets are looks pretty shabby from years of daily use of and abuse. Now, I’m a somewhat skilled seamstress, and it’d take me no time to whip us up a new set of day-to-day napkins, but I’ve yet to find the time (and, let’s be honest, sewing napkins isn’t the most exciting project in the world). In my ideal world, a big pack of these beautiful, screenprinted napkins would just show up on my lap one day.
(2) Le Creuset Dutch Oven* :: I actually have a small Le Creuset that I snagged (of all places) at a thrift store, and it’s awesome, but I’d love a big brother for it. And this Caribbean blue makes my heart happy. (non-affiliate link)
(3) Remote Control Flameless Candles :: On a whim, I bought a set of these at Costco a few months back for $30, and I love them. Unlike most flameless candles, the batteries in these last forever (we use them nightly and I’m still on the original batteries). Plus, the remote means that we can put them up in all kinds of high fun places and turn them on just for a few minutes if we want. I’d love another set to put elsewhere in the house. Unfortunately, Costco is sold out, and all the other places are selling for $100+! Sadface.
(4) Indiana Throw Pillow :: We saw one of these state pillows while on vacation one year in Michigan, and I knew I wanted to have the Indiana version at some point. I didn’t know at the time that they cost $160! For a throw pillow! So I’ve just been coveting it from a far for years and years.
(5) Bar Decanters :: We have a bar set up out in the middle of our living room. We love having it accessible, we hate having the mismatch of booze bottles on display for everyone to see. I’d love a set of beautiful decanters to make it less mis-matchy. Too bad these suckers from Williams Sonoma run between $450-$550 each. A little (okay, a lot) rich for my blood. I’m kinda hoping we’ll just stumble onto a matching set at the Goodwill for $10.
(6) New Couch :: Okay, last time I checked, a new couch wouldn’t fit under the Christmas tree, but we’re suspending reality for a bit here. Back when we went through our first tornado, one of the few items we lost was our couch (water damage, mostly). We had renter’s insurance, but we figured we could find a decent couch for less than our deductible. And we did. It’s fine, but it’s also not the best quality ever. In hindsight, we should have just paid the deductible and probably got a nicer couch that would last us a while, but hey, you live, you learn. I’d love to replace our current cheapie with something classic that’ll last us through the next chunk of our life.
(7) Longtail Henleys :: Advertising works, kids. Have you seen the commercial for Duluth Trading Company’s longtail tees? As a tall woman who can pretty much never find shirts that are long enough I was sold. I’d love a few of these solid-color henleys for winter. So cozy.
(8) Wrap Bracelets :: I don’t know if wrap bracelets are still trendy (are they?), but I love them. I’ve always loved big chunky bracelets, and wrap bracelets let you take that to the max. I don’t really have a lot of places to wear fun jewelry, but if I did, I’d totally rock these wrap bracelets.
(9) Mani/Pedi Gift Certificate :: I love, love, love getting my nails and toes done, but it’s something that I almost never pay for for myself (as in, I bought myself one pedicure in my entire life). I’d love to get a gift card for my very own day at the spa.
(10) Indiana Necklace :: This necklace has been on my wish list (and Pinterest) for at least the last four years. I love it.
(11) Smart Wool Boot Socks :: Smart Wool stuff is so friggin’ pricey, but for good reason—it’s wool that keeps your toes warm without being itchy or letting them overheat. It’s really time for me to overhaul my sock drawer, and I think these awesome boot socks would be a good start.
(12) Keen Brooklyn II Bag :: I have this bag. I love this bag. I use this bag every single day. But I have this bag in a bright orange, and while the bright orange is amazing for Spring and Summer, I wish I had this exact replica of my bag in gray for my slightly-more-muted cool weather wardrobe.
(13) Wallet :: I’ve been on the hunt for a new wallet for years (I’m still using a bright pink Coach wallet from college, which has seen better days). My current wallet is a biggie, but I really don’t need that much space because I never carry cash, my checkbook or very many cards. So right now, I’m kinda crushing on this cute little wallet/wristlet from Natural Life.
(14) iPad Mini :: I have absolutely no need for a tablet. At my old job, I had one, and it was really nice and convenient for taking notes and traveling and the such (oh, you know, watching movies on the treadmill), but a need? No way. But man, I’d be pretty stoked if one just showed up on my doorstep randomly.
(15) 100mm f/2.8L Macro Lens* :: This is going to sound ridiculous, but I actually want another one of these lenses. We own one, and it’s amazing. It’s perfect for food (it’s what my entire cookbook was shot with), but my husband is a photographer and also uses it all the time for his job and side portrait gigs. Which means there is a lot of, “Do you have the lens?” “Where is the lens?” “Can I have the lens today?” going on. A second lens would be amazing. (non-affiliate link)
(17) CamelBak Stainless Groove :: I’m a bit of water snob, so my CamelBak Groove is my savior whenever I’m traveling or filling up somewhere new. The filter makes almost any water crisp, clean and taste-free. After years of use, the plastic is starting to look a bit sad, and I don’t love the idea of my water being in plastic anyway. So I’d love to snag the stainless steel version of my favorite filtering water bottle. (Disclaimer: I got my original plastic CamelBak Groove years ago for free for review on this blog).
(18) Chunky Knitting Needles + Yarn :: I’m not much of a knitter, but about once a year, I get the urge to knit something, and I love using big chunky needles and yarn because projects go so fast! I have so many 1/2 finished knitting projects that I started on small needles. Chunky knitting is the key to my success!
(19) Staedtler Fineliner 20 Pack* :: I have a 10-pack of these pens that I got as conference swag a few years ago, and they are the best pens/markers on the planet. Unfortunately, I’ve used all of mine almost down to nothing. I’d love a new, bigger, more colorful set! (non-affiliate link)
(20) Books :: I love getting books for Christmas because it seems like, once the hub-bub of Christmas morning is over, curling up by the fire in cozy jammies with a good new book is pretty much the best way to spend the rest of the holiday. Right now, Eleanor & Park and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown are on my wish list.