One Room Challenge: The Before

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I'm participating in the One Room Challenge with Calling it Home and hundreds of other bloggers, and I've decided to take on our extra bedroom and pack it full of color and pattern! I posted some general plans for the room already, and today I'm sharing the "before" photos which are, well, a hot mess to say the least.


The bed is rarely made, especially since the munchkin spent most of September battling colds which means I spent most of September sleeping in her room with this mattress on the floor. (I'm fully aware that this is a little extreme, don't judge.) You can see the DIY headboard here, and I can't wait for it to be recovered with a bold floral!


The major mess in the room is our bins of winter clothes and newborn-3 month stuff that's already been outgrown (tear!). Usually the bins are stacked in the closet, but we've been having that infamous in-between Chicago weather where you never really know how to dress and that always means I end up pulling bins out of the closet in the morning when I'm chilly and digging around for a sweater. We moved the bins into our room this evening to start switching out seasonal clothes, so basically for the time being I've just created a huge mess in our room too ;). 

The hubs will be taking his recliner to work or try to sell it so the wingback I'm planning to paint can replace it, and the old Ikea Expedit shelf will likely go in the closet with some bins to organize things that we don't need all the time but don't want all the way in the basement.

Lots to do here, but I'm excited to get going this weekend when I have some more time! First up is finishing clearing the room out and picking a paint color, and I'm also planning to take a trip to the fabric store to see if I find something I like for the headboard so I can order online before too long if not.

One Room Challenge: Guest Bedroom

Much to the hubby's dismay, I decided about a week ago to jump in on the latest One Room Challenge, joining Calling It Home and bunches of other bloggers in transforming a room in a matter of weeks! Weekly posts are put up every Thursday to show progress, with the big reveals from everyone coming at the end. 

I decided to take on our extra bedroom because since we don't use it all the time, it's a great space to have a little fun and play with color and pattern. Since the first weekly post is meant to show plans, I stressed out and spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to put together a mood board of sorts for the room, and ended up not getting a post up last Thursday for the kickoff. In other words, I'm already behind on a big project and given our full time jobs and the adorable little munchkin that rules our lives these days, it's bound to get a little crazy in the next month or so trying to get it all done! Thankfully, as much as I want to participate in the challenge, I've learned to go with the flow a little better since becoming a mom, so if the room isn't 100% finished at the end I've promised myself I won't be too bummed. 

Photos of what the space currently looks like will come soon, but for now - here's some of the plans I have for the room!

MUST HAVE #1 - COLOR: As I mentioned, I'm looking to really go bold with the color in this room, because why not?! Here's some inspiration.

MUST HAVE #2 - PATTERN: We already have our queen bed from our first house in the room with our DIY upholstered headboard, but it's currently a boring beige color so I'm planning to spruce it up by recovering it in a large floral. I love this fabric as an option.

The other main piece of furniture in the room right now is Dan's old recliner, which he has begrudgingly agreed to *finally* let go so I can make the room pretty. The plan is to replace it with an upholstered wingback chair, which I currently have 2 of in the garage from staging our last house for selling. I grabbed the pair for $50 off of craigslist and haven't had success reselling them, so I'm planning to try painting one of them using one of the many tutorials that pop up in my Pinterest feed from time to time. 

The rest of the room will be rounded out by accessories I grabbed at Target and some easy art on the walls. I'm also brainstorming what we can do with the closet - right now there's not even a clothes bar in there, and depending on how the wingback fits in I may replace one of the nightstands with a small dresser for future guests.

So there it is - plans are on the blog so I have to at least try to make this whole makeover happen, right? Wish me luck!

Tips for Meal Planning Success

We’re big fans of eating out in our household. It’s quick, provides lots of options, and doesn’t require much thought or planning. But good gosh does it get expensive. And if I’m being totally honest, even with the abundance of places to grab a bite literally around the corner from our house, I’ve gotten bored. Yesterday, I stopped by Panera to pick up a late lunch for myself and after ordering a measly half sandwich and a teeny little cup of mac & cheese and then being given my $10+ total (seriously?!?), I was over it. We plopped ourselves down on a blanket outside in the perfect weather while I ate my overpriced food and did some serious meal planning for the week.

For now the goal is simply to not eat out. Moving forward as we get better about planning, I’ll work towards cutting even more costs and eating cleaner and healthier. I’m hoping we can keep this up and I can hold myself accountable by posting our plans here on the blog. To start, I’m sharing a few tips I’ve learned from attempting meal planning in the past!


1. MIX IT UP: This is key for me, though not for the hubs. He can (and will) eat a ham and cheese sandwich every single day for lunch and be perfectly happy, but I will absolutely and positively fail by Tuesday if I don’t mix it up a little bit to keep things interesting. For lunch specifically - I have to be excited about what I have, or it’s way too easy to join someone else to grab tacos or the aforementioned expensive turkey sandwich.

2. PREP AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE: Last night, this meant cooking a few chicken breasts in a grill pan, making a big pot of quinoa, chopping up produce, and making my lunch for today so I could just grab it in the morning and go.

3. RIP OFF FAVORITES: There’s a little café across the street from my office that makes fantastic salads, but at $10-12 a pop it adds up quick. So, I bought all the ingredients at the store to make essentially the same salad myself. Making it on my own provides the bit of variety and excitement I mentioned before, and while it’s not as cheap as a ham and cheese sandwich every day, it’s still a definite cost savings over eating out.

4. PLAN EVERYTHING: Between breastfeeding and the medication I’m still on for my vision, I am a hungry hungry girl these days (and it shows in my waistline… oh well). Add to that the fact that Adeline goes to bed so early, so we’ve been eating dinner pretty early as well… and then by 8 or 8:30 I’m hungry again and end up eating junk. Knowing that we will likely want that extra something in the evening, we bought a few peaches this week to share instead of wolfing down 2 bowls of late night cereal like I usually do. I also grabbed fruit for afternoon snacks when that 3pm lull hits and I’m still at my desk for a few hours before dinner.

5. TREAT YO SELF: Adeline’s daycare is closed this Friday, so Dan is staying home with her and they’re going to meet me for lunch out that afternoon. Treating going out one day as a “reward” for not eating out the rest of the week gives me something to look forward to and makes me more likely to succeed.

Boobs for the Win

/ /  Six months of the most unnatural natural thing in the world  / /


On September 6th, our little bitty munchkin turned 6 months old. We didn't take photos to celebrate because the poor thing was fighting a miserable cold and running a fever so she basically slept all of Labor Day weekend away, but I did a little mini personal celebration in my head because you know what else Adeline's half birthday meant? 


I made it 6 months breastfeeding. And let me tell you - it was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. I've hinted at it before on the blog that I didn't really want anything to do with breastfeeding when I was pregnant, so making the decision to give it a fair shot and then actually managing to keep it up was kind of huge for me. So huge, in fact, that I decided I needed a blog post all about it tooting my own horn. It's long, and it probably mentions boobs more than you were planning on reading about today. You're welcome.

Here's the thing. I never really had boobs to begin with - we're talking barely-there A-cups on a good day. And thanks to teenagers being total assholes, this meant that I got made fun of a LOT growing up. The most notable of the ridiculing would be when I was called "board chest" by a guy for the entire summer leading into high school (he later asked me to homecoming and I laughed in his face, so there's that at least), but he was far from the only one that took note of my body skipping over certain parts of puberty. So fast forward a decade and a half later to when I got pregnant, and I can assure you that I wanted nothing to do with spending literal HOURS a day with my boobs as the center of attention. I actually asked my doctor at one appointment if boobs as small as mine could really manage to sustain life and was honestly shocked when she said yes (and also grateful that she didn't laugh at me for asking). It didn't help that everywhere you turn these days there's an article or a blog post or a friend or a total stranger reminding you that "breast is best!!!" and formula is frowned upon by basically the entire world. Let me be clear - this is bullshit, and the only person that should have any say whatsoever in how you feed your baby is YOU, but I digress. I still read all the articles even though they made me feel like garbage for even considering formula. I smiled and nodded when people gave me their unsolicited opinions about it all. At one point when I was feeling somewhat optimistic about the whole thing, I signed Dan and I up for a 3 hour long breastfeeding class and then threw a major temper tantrum the morning of it because I changed my mind and did NOT want to go. We still went, I was a huge brat the rest of the day because of it, and later on I told Dan that while I understood the benefits to both me and the baby, it was ultimately my decision on whether or not I was going to even give it a try.

And then Adeline came 5 weeks early and landed herself in the NICU. 

One of my favorite moms that Dan works with told me a story when Adeline was a couple months old about how she once described motherhood to a friend by comparing it to when you see a lioness being fiercely protective over her cubs. She explains it much better than I'm doing here, but the point is that the second I saw my baby being wheeled away from me to go get hooked up to a bunch of monitors I got REAL protective and immediately didn't care about anything else except doing whatever I could possibly do for her... and at that point, it meant accepting the fact that I was going to be spending a LOT of time with my boobs in the future, because I knew that breastmilk was the very best thing for her. I couldn't hold her nearly as much as I wanted to, I couldn't stop her from needing to spend a whole day under the lights for jaundice, I couldn't avoid the tests she had to get, I couldn't take away the feeding tube that ran through her nose into her stomach, I couldn't take her home. But I could pump, every 2.5 hours around the clock, to get as much milk as possible to go into the feeding tube and do exactly what I never thought it could do - sustain life.

One of the benefits to the extra time in the hospital was that I had lactation consultants available to me several times a day, so by the time we got home Adeline and I had sort of established latching and I was starting to get a handle on what worked for us. We also never had to deal with nipple confusion since she had to take bottles in the hospital, which I hear is a blessing in disguise. We were cleared for straight nursing by the pediatrician a couple days after getting home (instead of having to measure milk precisely into bottles to know exactly how much she was getting), and that was that. I was a breastfeeding mama, and I couldn't believe it but for the most part, I didn't totally hate it. Funny how life surprises you sometimes, huh?

We have definitely had our ups and downs - like how around 7 weeks I was all "check me out we totally have this breastfeeding thing down, I'm a rockstar mom" and then Adeline suddenly decided she had no clue what she was doing anymore and would freak out and throw her head around unable to latch until we were both in tears. There was Easter at my gramma's house when she was just a few weeks old - I went upstairs to a bedroom to nurse and thanks to my previously mentioned teeny boobs, between my shirt and my bra and her fancy dress there was just too much in the way and the poor thing couldn't actually reach so I had to basically strip the 2 of us down while she screamed bloody murder with my entire extended family downstairs. She also peed all over the futon while I was changing her diaper after that which I can assure you did a serious number on my mom ego. Then there was going back to work and getting into the routine of pumping at the office. My VERY FIRST day back and the VERY FIRST time I pumped at work I was having one of those few and far between moments where I felt like "I can totally do it all! Look at me with my career and my baby!"... and then when I went to pull my nursing bra back up I realized the pump had been leaking the entire time and my bra was soaked. I texted Dan in a panic and he had to interrupt Adeline's nap to pack her up in the car and bring me a new bra in a grocery bag so I could change. I mean, come on

At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if all of our neighbors have seen me half naked since I basically spent my entire maternity leave without a shirt on because it's just easier and who's actually looking to make things any harder when you have a newborn, am I right? I've also nursed Adeline in a few parking lots, in a mall, in a random alley in the city (in the car, don't worry), and in a booth at a Houlihan's, so there's probably a lot of other random people that have seen my boobs as well... and you know what? I don't really care. It has (somehow) worked for us despite all of my pessimism about it, and for that, I am really really proud. Between the special bras that get in the way, and the nursing covers that don't work, and the nipple cream, and the pads to make sure you don't leak while out in public, and the pump that makes you feel like a cow being milked, and everything else that comes along with it, I think it's sort of obnoxious for anyone to insist that breastfeeding is totally "natural," but it IS pretty incredible, so there's that.

So here we are at 6 months - I've officially made it the standard amount of time that the American Academy of Pediatrics majorly suggests, and in that funny way that things work out I'm not in a terribly huge rush to quit. I made a deal with myself that at 6 months I wouldn't beat myself up anymore if I don't have time to pump twice at work or if I want to go to bed before pumping at the end of the night, and I'm slowly starting to adjust to letting go a bit and have gone out a few evenings leaving Dan to do bedtime with a bottle. Adeline has had some formula here and there since I went back to work and doesn't mind it, so we've gotten into a pretty good routine of just going with what works day to day. But I adore the time I get to spend with her nursing in the morning and at bedtime - even more now that I am back at work and only get to see her for a short time each day during the week - and it is so incredibly clear to me that it's a huge comfort for her, which has been really encouraging for me as a new mom.

Oh, and - I can't possibly end this without a MASSIVE thank you to the hubs, who has been the biggest encouragement through all of my ups and downs with breastfeeding, and who has also probably filled no less than 1,000 cups of ice water for me since I literally become parched the second I start nursing or pumping and NEVER remember to get water beforehand. I won't hate you if you say "I told you so."

Fly By Summer

/ /  Realizing just how busy "normal" can be  / /

Well friends, it's been a hot minute hasn't it? I guess in the grand scheme of things a month between blog posts isn't that bad for me, but I'd definitely like to write more often. The thing is, being a new mom is pretty insane, and while I'm loving it just as much as ever, I've quickly learned just how fast the days can fly by. Thankfully, we sort of loosely have a schedule these days, which helps me stay sane almost all the time. This is largely due to Adeline slowly but surely coming out of a HELL of a 4-month sleep regression, which made for a really tough few weeks. Given how well she slept from the get go and the fact that I was on leave when she was a newborn, I can honestly say that July was the hardest month I've had so far as a mom and I do NOT handle sleep deprivation with grace. 

My weekdays have been pretty full of commotion thanks to being busier at work than I think I ever have been in my entire career, and trying to fit in 2 pumping sessions between half a dozen meetings a day means that most days by the time I take a second to breathe it's 3pm already and I have a stack of things piled up on my desk to sign off on before I leave at 5:30. I'm not complaining - I love my job and how it's constantly changing and providing me with new creative opportunities - but I can't say I would mind it if I didn't get an average of 150 emails a day all the time ;).

Outside of work, I try to keep things as stress-free as possible, mostly because we only get a little windows of time with our munchkin during the week and I want to soak in as many minutes with her as I can. I SO look forward to the weekends with her, and we've enjoyed the summer weather with a couple farmer's market trips, lots of BBQs at my parents' house and a few outings for things like the Fourth of July and my birthday. 

Buuuuuut, I don't really know how to just let myself relax, we have lots of excitement coming up over the next few weeks. We're hosting a happy hour for my department this week, friends from out of town for part of the weekend, my extended family for a BBQ in early September following the Lungevity Breathe Deep walk to raise money for lung cancer research, and my father in law's 60th birthday bash the weekend after that. Wish me luck! And given some fun projects we've done around the house lately, I really do hope to blog more in the coming months. Here's to the beautiful weather sticking around for it all! 

image credit

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale! Early Access Spoils

/ /  All the goodies I snagged with Early Access!  / /

It's time for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and truth be told I don't usually really care because designer clothing on sale is still waaaay out of my budget. This year though, I decided to take advantage of my Nordstrom debit card and splurge a teeny bit, and treated myself to a few quality pieces at fantastic price points. Unfortunately, given my fluctuating size lately I have NO idea if the clothing items I ordered will even fit, but I'm excited about the potential for a couple new pieces and am also thrilled with the beauty products I picked up! The big spend here is definitely the fancy pants Donna Karan Cashmere Mist deodorant set - this stuff isn't cheap but I'm a sweaty girl and it gets rave reviews so we'll see if it's worth the price tag. And of course, if all else fails, there's still a set of super cute socks for the munchkin that I absolutely cannot wait to put on her with a little dress in the fall. Shop my finds below!

My Bookshelf: 26 Kisses

I've got a lot of super talented friends - artists, photographers, designers and the like. But the pre-teen book nerd in me has to admit I never really thought I would know an author. Books were always such an escape for me when I was younger, and the people that wrote them were like celebrities to me. You know how when you were a kid if you ran into your teacher out in public it was the weirdest thing because you never really realized that teachers were also just regular old people with regular old lives like the rest of us, grocery shopping, walking their dogs and doing things with their families on the weekends? Maybe that was just me, but that's sort of how I always felt about authors too - they were people in my head who never really escaped their author photo and who clearly were only put on this earth to write stories for me to lose myself in.

Decades later, here I am working in publishing and meeting authors on a regular basis at work events and around the office. Don't get me wrong - I still sort of fangirl a teeny bit sometimes, but I've learned to keep my cool for the most part. And then!!!! Suddenly a good friend of mine (also a colleague) told me she was publishing a book and I got all awkward about authors again. Little old me HANGS OUT with someone who has a real live book that people can buy in stores? In my mind, Anna Michels, you're pretty much famous.

So my pal Anna wrote a book, and I thought it was only right that I blog about it since I devoured it during the last few naps of my maternity leave and absolutely loved it. Anna's debut 26 Kisses chronicles a summer full of kisses - one for every letter of the alphabet - for Veda, who's trying to get over an unexpected breakup. I don't want to spoil too much, but I have to share that Veda has a cat named Fat Snacks and her mom does Prancercise, so obviously the entire story is amazing. It is an absolutely perfect summer read, whether you're lounging on the beach, staying cool inside with a drink, or packing reading material to take on a weekend road trip. 

I can't recommend 26 Kisses enough, and in honor of Anna's book, I thought I'd pull together a little roundup of kiss related goodies - enjoy!


Stylish Baby Alert

/ /  When you care more about how baby looks than you do about yourself  / /


Our little munchkin will be 3 whole months old tomorrow, and since she's still a peanut she's just barely maxing out at 10 pounds these days, which means she's still in newborn clothes for the most part. There's a few 0-3 month pieces that have started to fit her, and basic newborn onesies are starting to get a little snug in the length, but in general she's still drowning in anything actually meant for her age. I'm quickly learning how brands run differently for baby clothes, just as they do for adults. Gap and Old Navy outfits tend to run large, which is a REAL bummer for me considering they have so many adorable clothes that I'd love to put on Adeline in this gorgeous weather we've been having. Overall, I've kept her wardrobe pretty basic considering we don't do a whole lot and she is still so tiny so collars and ruffles and things tend to overwhelm her little figure. But there's SO many cute items popping up on my Pinterest feed lately that I just had to do a little roundup! Above - Adeline's spring wardrobe... in my head that is. Enjoy!

The House in My Head: Chalkboard Wall

I'm (sadly) scheduled to go back to work in one measly week, and I am a hot mess of emotions about it. On the one hand, I LOVE my job and am so looking forward to having some structure to my days again. On the other hand, Adeline is obviously the best thing in the whole wide world and if I could continue to spend every day cuddling with her, singing songs, telling stories and watching her little faces, I 100% would. I imagine this is how most every new mom feels when it's about time to head back to work, so if anyone has advice for me on how to help the transition along, I'm all ears!

In other news, now that I'm not pregnant anymore I'm itching to get back to tweaking the house and continuing to inject our personality into it... starting with fun little projects that can be tackled during nap time. Since I am about to head back to work, Dan has a varying schedule, we somehow (sort of) still have a social life, and Adeline will be going to daycare, I'm realizing the need for some kind of "command center" where I can attempt to keep track of the day to day and maybe even go as far as doing some meal planning. Enter the ever-popular and sort-of-cliche-but-I-don't-care chalkboard wall!

There's a whole mess of new chalkboard wall inspiration on Pinterest these days thanks to the growing trend in hand lettering and modern calligraphy. Behold!

With Adeline here to stay, I love thinking about how the house can and will change as she grows, and I love that in the coming years she'll have a wall to color on and tape art projects to. We're going with a small wall that's right outside of the kitchen, and since that area is in the middle of the house and has no natural light, I didn't want to make it too much darker and decided on a deep teal blue rather than black for the chalkboard. 

Glidden's Approaching Storm

Glidden's Approaching Storm

Before and after pictures to come once we paint - hoping for this weekend!

Adult Diapers FOR THE WIN

/ /  The postpartum fun nobody talks about  / /

**Consider yourself warned - this post is probably the biggest dose of TMI you will ever get from me. The subject line doesn't lie... I WILL be talking about adult diapers. Stop reading now if you don't want the down and dirty (get it? ha. ha.)**

Now that I've gotten that little disclaimer out of the way, let's get real for a minute here shall we? Being pregnant, growing a baby (and an organ! What up, placenta!), and eventually giving birth really is a crazy wild kind of miracle, as we all know. And while the whole thing is incredibly beautiful in a way that I can't really describe when I'm sleep deprived, it's also full of so many random and odd side effects that NOBODY tells you about. I imagine this is for several reasons, including but not limited to the fact that a lot of said side effects are embarrassing and awkward to talk about, it's way more fun to just gush about how awesome and amazing babies are, and to an extent, if someone had told me everything I may have strongly considered sterilization before I would have willingly tried to get pregnant. Ok ok, that last one is a little extreme, but really... I wish I would have had a bit more warning.

Thankfully, I had one wonderful girlfriend who gave birth just a couple months before me that DID warn me about some of the not so pretty postpartum stuff, and her little tip was so darned helpful that I thought it would just be wrong to hide it from the 12 people that read this blog. So here it is people - the best advice that was given to me, now being passed on to the world:

Buy adult diapers. No, really.

Pack them in your hospital bag and stash them in every bathroom at home. If you're leaving the house stuff a couple extras in your bag. Have enough on hand to change them several times a day for a couple weeks. And most importantly, laugh about the fact that you are wearing adult diapers because hey, you just squeezed a baby out of your hoohah and you deserve a good laugh even if it's at your own expense. 

Here's the deal - the fabulous mesh underwear and pads the size of a twin mattress that they give you in the hospital are fine and all for the first day or so when you're still a little delirious and you look and feel like you've been hit by a semi truck minus that whole new "I'm a mom!!!" glow. But as soon as you decide you want to at least remotely resemble a functioning human again and you don't want to feel, well, like you have a twin size mattress between your legs, I can assure you that adult diapers will be your new best friend.

Now I knew that with giving birth came lots of bleeding afterwards - I can't imagine that's much of a surprise to anyone given the fact that you're essentially pushing something the size of a bowling ball out of a hole that is not the size of a bowling ball. But what I didn't know and was totally unprepared for was a major lack of bladder control after the munchkin was born. Even after my lovely friend warned me about this I STILL thought to myself "pish posh, that won't happen to me." And guess what? IT DID. And it WILL (probably) also happen to you. And if you aren't wearing a literal diaper it could be really really embarrassing if you're, say, in the middle of Old Navy trying to find clothes to fit your new "beautiful" postpartum body and all of a sudden you have to pee and you're nowhere near a bathroom. You will stop dead in your tracks and pray to God that you didn't just pull a 1st grade move and seriously pee your pants, and you might even drop your phone in the toilet when you finally do make it to the bathroom because you're in such a rush to make sure your measly pad held up. And THEN you will wish you were still wearing your adult diapers because man, those bad boys protected you from everything.

But that totally didn't happen to me.

So I wore adult diapers for a couple weeks and let me tell you, they were AWESOME. Since Adeline was in NICU and we were going back and forth to see her I carried extras with me every day and changed them every time I wanted or needed a little freshening up. At night I doused a clean one with lavender witch hazel + aloe vera and let me tell you, when you're healing from giving birth that is just heaven... in a diaper... for minute there. Unfortunately for the hubs, I loved those darned diapers so much that I may or may not have worn them PROUDLY after a couple of days and adopted the habit of walking around the house post-shower wearing very little more (what? None of my clothes fit). I recently told my mom and sister about one evening that first week when Adeline was still not home and I had to pump (which I can assure you is about as glamorous as adult diapers). I plopped myself down on our bed wearing nothing but my shower cap and a diaper and started pumping... and then Dan walked in. Talk about sexy!!! But really ladies, if a man can see you like that and still call you beautiful the next day, you know you got yourself a good one. (If he calls you beautiful right then and there he's a liar, but that's not the point here.)

Don't forget I did warn you that this post would be major TMI.

Bottom line - adult diapers are a godsend postpartum if you ask me and I think that everyone should know that. If you're getting close to d-day, get yourself to Target to buy a pack and embrace it, because I promise it's way better to forget about everything going on down there and embrace your new little bundle of joy instead. And hey, even Chrissy Teigan is doing it, so it can't be that bad.