Hello, friends!! I’ve gotten a lot of questions about stuff in Brooks’ nursery from posts on my instagram stories, so I decided to make a blog post with all the links you need to shop.
Let’s start with the crib and dresser!
A loooot of research went into what crib to get. My mom and grandma were generous enough to go in on both together, but kept me a part of the selection process while we researched safety and reviews on basically every crib in existence.
My checklist for the crib included: modern, white, convertible, good reviews and safety ratings, Greenguard Gold Certified, around $200 and a known brand. This Carter’s by DaVinci Morgan 4-in-1 Convertible Crib checked off everything on the list! It’s only $179.00 and the back of the crib will turn into a stylish headboard by the time we convert it to that level. It’s sturdy and does not have a weird paint smell which many moms worry about!
The dresser is the Storkcraft Brookside 6 Drawer Double Dresser which I can’t find in-stock anywhere! We ordered it from Wayfair for about $200. A comparable Storkcraft dresser with similar safety features is linked here.
The beaded light fixture was super popular with you guys – it took tons of research to find one that wasn’t over $200. This Safavieh beaded pendant light is only $175 and actually gives off plenty of light. I love it – Matt did NOT love installing it though!
The rug linked here is also Safavieh (I love this brand) and comes in four color variations and tons of size variations. Ours is the beige/ivory and we ordered a 4′ x 6′.
The chair and pouf are also from Walmart! The HomePop Accent Chair comes in several colors and is a great price for the quality, ringing up at $130 when we ordered. (Price varies). Ours is the color cream. I was surprised by its quality.
The pouf is linked here and is only $40 in the color Ivory. It also comes in several colors (price varies). It makes the perfect foot rest with this chair!
Our curtains are from Target and are an unbeatable price. Buying curtains can be so expensive especially when you have to usually buy per panel. These Chenille Chevron Light Filtering Curtains come in a set of two and are a quality, heavier fabric that lets just enough light through but not too much. The set of two are only $35 and they come in grey and light blue – white is currently sold out.
The LAST addition to the nursery I really want to share is our name sign for above the crib! We ordered from CarpenterFarmhouse on Etsy and went with the 30″ sign, which came to about $70. You can customize the paint and font colors too!
And for a dose of reality: here is the current state of affairs in the nursery! Nesting has begun!
So many of us have landed in this unusual, unexpected and terrifying place. Some are in their first trimester, terrified of having a suppressed immune system during this. Some are nurses and bankers and grocery store workers still reporting to work. Many are going to OB appointments alone, cancelling gender reveal parties and baby showers, doing all their long-awaited shopping online. Some are delivering a baby in the midst of this, unable to have their mom, dad, sister and support systems present. None of this is in the “what to expect” books. None of this is normal.
You know what makes it worse? Shamers who are NOT pregnant during this, telling us what we can and can’t grieve, because we should just be “grateful.” I’m here to tell you that you can be grateful for your baby on the way and still grieve all the things we are missing out on. You can be grateful and still angry that we had these joys taken from us or altered. Nobody has the right to tell you how you should be handling this and how you should be feeling during this unanticipated obstacle of your pregnancy.
As a bit of comfort, however, I’m also here to remind you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There’s something comforting about being scared and unsure with other unsure and scared people. It’s like walking into class on the day of a massive test, and having everyone else tell you they didn’t study and are going to bomb the test too. It doesn’t change the fact that you are going to bomb that test, but it’s oddly comforting to know there’s a group of you feeling the same. We are here, we are scared and uneasy, and we are an untapped army of support for each other. Let’s have open, honest and real conversations and be there for each other.
My husband and I have been working from home for a few weeks now. We just closed on our first house a little less than two weeks ago. So, I was stressed before all this started. Being an attorney can be stressful. Working full-time in a professional career while physically uncomfortable, emotional, hangry and sleepy can be stressful. Buying a house for the first time is stressful. Packing and moving is stressful. Pregnancy on its own is stressful. Having an anxiety/panic disorder on top of all this (and being unmedicated due to pregnancy) is what you would think would be the cherry on top. BUT NO – NOW let’s throw in the plot twist of a damn unprecedented worldwide pandemic and you have the perfect recipe for a complete mental breakdown.
That being said, I’ve been focusing SUPER hard on what is helping me through this and what is not. I’m no expert here – just an anxious pregnant lady learning by trial and error – but I think some of these tips will work for you too.
Okay – hear me out. I don’t care if this is the best psychological way to technically deal with this. All I know is this is helping me. Keeping moving and busy. Keeping my mind focused on anything other than the negatives. Netflix, podcasts, reading (all e-books and audiobooks are obtainable from your couch – no excuses), cleaning, housework, pinteresting, creating/editing your online baby registry, adult coloring books, board games, cooking new recipes, online shopping (for baby, for nursery, for yourself…), blogging, creating, starting that side hustle you’ve always talked about – KEEP YOUR MIND BUSY. Downtime just sitting and thinking can lead to a downward spiral of negative thoughts and soon, you feel the walls closing in. It’s okay to set time aside to think about what’s going on and to watch the news/scroll twitter and facebook for updates, but you don’t need to fill your day with it. In fact, you shouldn’t.
This stems from where the previous section left off. In the beginning of this, I was spending ALL DAY – I’m not kidding – all day, every day scrolling and refreshing twitter and facebook with the news on in the background just soaking up every bit of chaos there was to soak up. After this became noticeably unproductive and unhealthy, and I was catching my anxiety spiking while reading, I realized I needed to limit my intake. It was hard at first because I felt like if I wasn’t refreshing my twitter feed constantly, I would miss out on the latest social distancing recommendations and the latest political press briefing (a weird FOMO). To my surprise, limiting my exposure did not lead to the world ending. Some days I will watch the president’s and governor’s press briefings, other days I will catch the recaps of the briefings on twitter or from my husband and mom. If I notice a certain person on my facebook feed is posting things about Covid-19 that aren’t helping my anxiety, I mute them. If I notice I’m reading tweets and my anxiety starts spiking, I close out. If I am having a conversation with someone about Covid-19 and it’s not beneficial to my mind, I cut it short. Protect your mind and well-being unapologetically. Limit your news intake to what is necessary to stay informed.
Gratitude Journaling and Meditation
I used to write in a gratitude journal a couple years ago but haven’t since. I originally started when I read Rachel Hollis’ books – Girl Wash Your Face and Girl Stop Apologizing. Unfortunately, I struggle with being a morning person so that morning practice slowly faded out of my life. I was inspired by other women on instagram (it can actually be a good thing sometimes) to pick up gratitude journaling again during this crazy time.
You don’t need a fancy gratitude journal to do this. I made Matt do it this morning with me and gave him a notebook and told him what to journal based on my gratitude journal’s guides. Do this first thing in the morning, with a cup of coffee and some meditation, massage, ocean waves or nature sounds in the background (Spotify has unlimited options).
Three things you are grateful for today. Get detailed!
Someone you are grateful for today:
Today I am: (perfect for feelings or manifestations!) “Today I am strong, invincible, powerful…” “Today I am stressed, but optimistic…”
Three goals or intentions for today:
If you want to order your own guided gratitude journal, check these out:
I added these screenshots because they are IMPORTANT. If you are working from home and you feel stressed that you aren’t being productive enough or you’re finding it hard to focus – give yourself grace. We were abruptly uprooted from our daily routines and are learning to adapt to a new way of life in a scary time and are expected to not miss a beat with our jobs. Be patient with yourself, do your best, and remember the above!
Also important – stop comparing yourself to the bloggers on instagram who seem to be living their most glamorous lives during this. Their job and source of income is literally based on posting and promoting a glamorous daily lifestyle. We could all achieve that too, if we were being paid mass loads of money to post on instagram. We aren’t. Don’t feel inadequate for getting through your day without doing pilates and making a picture-perfect whipped coffee drink for instagram.
Take a Walk!
The best thing I’ve incorporated into our daily routine is a walk around the neighborhood first thing when we get up (observing social distancing of course!) We live in a neighborhood now full of kids and families, and there’s something comforting about seeing everyone else at home, kids out riding their bikes and drawing with chalk, dads playing basketball with their kids. Take it all in. It restores a sense of normalcy.
While out – watch for decorated windows and doors and chalk messages on the sidewalks! We have a lot of #hearthunt participants in our neighborhood where people are posting colorful hearts on their doors, some naming people they are thankful for in these times, like nurses, teachers, first responders, etc.
Create a Pregnant Mama Support Squad
If you don’t already have a few other pregnant mamas you can talk and vent to, find them! If there’s someone from high school who is also pregnant right now, but you haven’t talked in years, reach out! Ask them how they are doing and form your own little web of pregnant mama support. You may have a great support system already, but there’s something special about having women to talk to who are going through this at the same time as you. If you don’t know anyone pregnant – I’m here! Message me!
If you are a pregnant or new mama right now – comment below with what’s helping you cope through this!
It’s absolutely nuts to think we are officially halfway through this pregnancy! I can’t necessarily say it’s flown by, since the first trimester felt like an endless drag of illness and survival mode. But I’m definitely not ready for the next 20 weeks to fly by either!
We still have so much to do. We are moving at the end of March, so the nursery can’t be started. We won’t know the gender until our reveal on Saturday, so we haven’t really bought much for baby. I feel like I still have a million books to read and a ton of learning to do before baby arrives. Not sure 20 weeks will be enough time…. But also, not sure I’ll ever be fully “ready” for such a big, new thing.
We are 7 weeks into the second trimester and I can tell you, the promises of the second trimester being the best are true. I feel great. I am still exercising (just swimming and walking for joints and labor prep). I have gained back the weight I lost with pneumonia and morning sickness and am the heaviest I’ve ever been – in the best way! For having a joint disorder, I’m doing pretty well keeping my dislocations and joint slips to a minimum. And my favorite perk yet – I can finally call myself a morning person! I have always been one to sleep heavy and deep; anywhere, any time. On weekends my husband and I would sleep til about 1 PM. I think baby is trying to prepare me for when he/she arrives, because I’ve been waking up early (around 5 AM) and getting a jumpstart to my day, which I’ve never been able to do. Rachel Hollis, author of Girl Wash Your Faceand Girl Stop Apologizing, often talks about the benefits of getting up early and jumping into the day. I finally see what she’s talking about! There’s something spectacular about giving yourself time to fully wake up, sip coffee, scroll instagram, read a magazine – write a blog post 😉 – get a headstart on your work for the day, do a little more with your hair and makeup sometimes. It helps me feel like I’m maintaining a little more control over my life in this moment of a lot of big new things coming at us. In addition to all the positives, I am feeling a little more difficulty with bending over, walking long periods and getting fatigued more easily.
One of the highlights of the past week I can’t fail to mention, is I am finally feeling baby move! I found out I have an anterior placenta (where the placenta is between baby and the front of your stomach instead of back towards the spine) which makes it more difficult to feel baby early on. Typically, they say you will feel baby move between 18-25 weeks, later if it’s your first. I felt baby move during the 19th week – and it wasn’t like anyone described. People and literature tell you it will feel like tiny gas bubbles or flutters. My first movement I felt was a massive somersault or flip that about knocked me out of my work chair. Since then, though, it HAS been a lot of flutters, bumps and kicks! After waiting month to month to check on baby with a heart doppler, it’s so nice to have reassurance throughout the day that baby is good and moving in there.
We had our 20 week ultrasound yesterday – and let me tell you – my bump best friend was right. It was absolutely mind-blowing! For those who don’t know, for a normal pregnancy, you typically have an ultrasound around 8-10 weeks, and then await for another at 20 weeks which is the full anatomy scan. They look at all the little details of baby, including the lips, the fingers, the bones, the sex. Then they measure all the parts of baby. The 20 week is important if you skip genetic testing because they can see any deformities or complications with baby. They can see where your placenta is, check the placental insertion, see how baby is turned (which doesn’t really matter this early). Luckily, baby was looking great and our technician was able to see what the gender was, even with our baby moving around like CRAZY. I do have to go back to get more images of baby’s head, because baby’s head was so low and we couldn’t get he/she to move the head for different angles (even with jumping jacks!). It is mind-blowing to see this baby inside of you, moving, kicking, flapping its hands, and thinking – “I am growing this!” It was probably the first time I fully realized that I’m having a freaking baby! I also realized I shouldn’t have a Starbucks Pink Drink before an ultrasound because then baby won’t sit still.
Even though we had our 20 week ultrasound, Matt and I won’t know the gender until this Saturday when we have a small reveal get-together with some immediate friends and family. Matt and I chose to find out with everyone, but now we are regretting it seeing this little envelope with our baby’s gender sitting on the TV stand. It’s so hard not to open it! My best friend had her gender reveal last weekend and it made me so excited for ours! And I’m always feeling so excited, grateful and blessed that this baby, whatever gender, will have an amazing soul to grow up with.
I’m so excited to share baby M’s gender with you all come this weekend! Stay tuned!
If you read my previous post, you know that I had my bout of morning sickness in the first trimester for about 8 weeks – the same 8 weeks I was super ill. It was a terrible cycle – I was so nauseous I couldn’t hold down fluids (not even water) so I wasn’t helping myself get better. The violent coughing from the pneumonia made it impossible to not puke. So, as you can imagine, I tried just about every trick in the book to help combat the morning sickness. Here’s what worked for me:
Ginger ale has always been my go-to when hungover. People say it doesn’t actually help, but the ginger taste, ice cold and carbonation has always helped settle my stomach in all situations. I kept a stash at home, in my car and at work and drank it almost exclusively for weeks. The sugar intake was probably bad, but it was either that or be dehydrated which wasn’t an option for baby.
Herbal teas are tricky during pregnancy because, well, herbs are tricky. Mixed herbal teas tend to have several different herbs so you’ll find yourself googling a million herbs and their safety relative to pregnancy while standing in the tea aisle. Go for pure ginger and lemon, or ginger honey tea. Or, get a pregnancy-specific ginger tea like this organic, caffeine-free orange ginger tea from Pink Stork. As always, consult with your doctor.
I’ve had major motion sickness issues my whole life, so these bands were not new to me, but I didn’t think to use them for morning sickness until they came in my first Bump Box!
Basically, they are wristbands with a metal ball that presses gently on the inside of your wrist for targeted acupressure that helps relieve nausea.
Tons of Water
This may be obvious to some, but staying overly-hydrated helps a ton. I ended up keeping a big bottle of water next to my bed and would drink as much as I could in the morning before I sat up or tried to move.
Crackers and Water on Night Stand
This wraps in with the above, but keep crackers on your night stand with your water as well. Munch on them in the morning before you start moving.
Don’t Drink While Eating
This was a tip my family doctor gave me. If you’re having trouble holding food down, eat your meal without any water or beverage, wait a while, and then drink. It helps prevent vomiting.
Just like when we were kids with the stomach flu – the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) diet is key! I ate a lot of cheerios, plain crackers, and plain vegetable broth or ramen noodles, applesauce and toast during this phase. Anything is better than nothing. Avoid foods with strong aromas!
I’ve been debating if I should make one post on this topic or break this down into multiple posts, because there’s truly so much to talk about. Consider this post an over-arching summary of what I figured out along the way, but expect more posts to come getting into the nitty gritty details of it all! Let’s talk about the bigger things I discovered during my whirlwind first trimester of my first pregnancy:
Your Immune System Dies
I feel like this is one of those things that is assumed to be common knowledge that I was completely unaware of. (I’ve had a lot of moments like this so far). When you become pregnant, your immune system typically weakens which not only makes you more susceptible to illness, but prevents you from getting better like you normally would.
I experienced this first-hand when I got the flu in November. My PCP told me to just wait it out and I would be fine. I never got better. The flu turned into pneumonia when I was across the country after my doctor told me I was fine because I didn’t have a fever. I called them to tell them I was extremely ill and needed a prescription for some kind of antibiotic right away (this was two weeks later!). They fought me saying “you had a virus, we can’t give you antibiotics” – completely ignoring my new symptoms. By the time I got home to Illinois, the pneumonia had turned into the beginning of sepsis (where the infection spreads into the bloodstream which can cause organ failure and kill you quickly). I was then admitted to the hospital for three days, worked on recovery for about a week, and THEN – the pneumonia came back!
I have had the flu many times before in my life. I have never struggled recovering like I did here, and I have NEVER been so sick in my life. The entire sickness period lasted almost my entire first trimester. Invest in a stockpile of germex. Take it everywhere. Get your flu shot. Stay away from sniffly friends, family and co-workers. Don’t let them tell you “I’m fine, it’s just allergies.” Up your vitamin C. Don’t feel weird for wearing a medical mask on public transportation. Be selfish and protect yourself, and baby!
Early-detection pregnancy tests
When you’re actively trying to conceive, you want to know ASAP if it worked this cycle or not. I bought a few rounds of the early-detection pregnancy tests that claim to tell you 6 days before your missed period. None of them worked. I even tested the day before my missed period and they were negative. So – I went to a Halloween party and had a couple glasses of wine. Then my period never showed up! Turns out I was pregnant, but I had to wait for a couple days after my missed period for the positive results. If your early detection test is negative – wait and try again!
The first few appointments I had with my OB – I felt like a total idiot. My first appointment, they did a full gyno exam and I was not aware that would be happening. That bothered me. I hate going to the gyno and need to mentally prepare for it, so when I walked in and they told me to strip it down – I was pissed! So, expect that! Also, nobody told me I need to show up to each OB appointment with a full bladder, because they test urine every time. (This might not be true for all doctors, but mine does). Also, when I had my early ultrasound at 8-9 weeks, I brought my husband. We were so anxious to see baby was okay since I had been so ill. I pictured the ultrasound as a usual tummy ultrasound. NOPE. Matt got to sit in the room while I had a vaginal ultrasound, which neither one of us expected! I feel like all of this is so routine for OB doctors that they forget to inform you what to expect at your appointments, so don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re like me and need to know what you’re walking into at all times.
Morning Sickness: When will it end?
When you first find out you’re pregnant, one of the first things many of us do is start ordering books, researching blogs, following podcasts, etc. All the reading and information out there says that your morning sickness will end by the second trimester. I was surprised to hear from so many women in my life that that wasn’t true. Many women have morning sickness well into the second trimester, or even throughout their entire pregnancy! Luckily, I was the rule and not the exception. I had morning sickness conveniently (or maybe inconveniently?) at the same time I was extremely ill, so I got it all over with at once! By about week 10 my morning sickness was calming down. By the second trimester, it was gone. Just know, every pregnancy is unique and you may experience ongoing morning sickness. So, I recommend finding out what works for you – whether it be ginger tea, nausea candies, sea-sickness wristbands, munching on crackers in bed before you get up in the morning, etc.
A lot of medicine is actually safe for pregnancy
Like many women, as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I tried to jump off all my meds right away. I always thought that you should avoid taking any medicine while pregnant because, well, it’s just better that way. I went off my anxiety meds and stopped taking my daily Zyrtec and occasional Benadryl. I was totally on-board with this whole “natural pregnancy” train. Well, I quickly got over that when I landed in the hospital and got loaded up with antibiotics, Tylenol, Benadryl (because I was allergic to the antibiotics), etc. Throughout my time in the hospital and my ongoing care, I’ve learned that it’s actually okay to take certain medicines when you’re pregnant and baby will be just fine. Typically, all OB doctors have their “safe list” and will give you one at your first OB appointment. Getting over my fear of taking medicine while pregnant has helped a lot during this pregnancy. I still try to limit any medicine intake, even though the medicine I’m using is safe. But let my traumatic hospital stay help you – you’re not a bad mom-to-be if you pop some Tylenol or a Benadryl here and there.
Like the medicine situation above, I started tapering my caffeine intake when we decided to start TTC. Law school really put me into a bad relationship with caffeine – I was drinking probably 50-60 ounces a day on average. When I found out I was pregnant, I was down to about two drinks a day. I cut it out completely at this point and SUFFERED. I had a two-week withdrawal period where I was having daily migraines and could not keep my eyes open at my desk. I always just thought you can’t have caffeine when pregnant. Apparently, that is not true, and I really wish I had known that before I killed myself for two weeks! My OB actually told me, without me asking, that caffeine is okay as long as you’re not over-doing it. My further research has revealed that you should stay under 200 mg caffeine per day. So now, I get creative but still keep my intake low. For example, this morning I stopped at Casey’s and filled my coffee cup 2/3 decaf and topped it off with dark roast (lowest caffeine content). long story short – caffeine and coffee is actually okay (as long as your doctor says so for your specific pregnancy) – so don’t let anyone mom-shame you for needing a little boost!
The Great Pineapple Debate
Google will be your best – and worst – friend during the first trimester, and really, your entire pregnancy. I found myself constantly googling if everything was safe (and still do now that I’m in the second trimester!). There’s just so much to know, and it can feel overwhelming. What cheese is safe? Is it safe to go bowling? Is it safe to eat this? What about this? What about this?
One of my first cravings was for pineapple. One day, after stuffing my face with a ton of pineapple, I suddenly got the google urge and of course, a bunch of scary stories popped up claiming that pineapple can cause miscarriage. I researched this endlessly, because obviously I thought I had just done something terrible. Turns out, there are a lot of old wives tales that say pineapple isn’t safe, but there is no medical evidence to support that fact. I also heard Laura from the Big Fat Positive Podcast discuss this – she said she found that you’d have to eat like 7 pineapples in one sitting for anything to happen. The concern comes from a certain enzyme found primarily in the core of the pineapple which you don’t eat anyway. The enzyme, bromelain, is thought to contribute to cervical ripening, BUT, there is no evidence that supports the notion that pineapple is dangerous during pregnancy. As always, confirm with your own doctor.
What did you learn in your first trimester? Let me know below!
Hey hi hello, Tiana the brunch lover here. You know what’s so frustrating? Going to gluten-free friendly brunch spots but they don’t EVER have gluten-free french toast, and it’s definitely not vegan.
I’ve been experimenting with flaxseed meal as an egg replacement for a while now, using it for everything from cupcakes to pizza crust. I was craving french toast the other day and decided to try using flax meal as an egg replacement for french toast. GUESS WHAT! It actually worked, and it was delicious.
The key with using flaxseed meal as an egg replacement is always using one part flax meal to three parts water. To make one “egg,” you would typically do one tablespoon flax meal and three tablespoons warm water. You then let it sit for about five minutes, mixing in between, until it forms an egg-white texture. For this recipe, using only one package Schar bread, I did 1/4 cup of flaxseed meal and 3/4 cup warm water. After it began forming an eggy texture, I mixed in about half a cup of cold almondmilk.
Whisking the mixture, I then added a teaspoon of vanilla flavoring to cover up the flax taste (vanilla almondmilk will help with this too!).
From there, you simply dunk the bread in the mixture, being careful to not let it sit because the gluten-free bread will crumble easily, and slap it on a hot, buttered frying pan.
You will use A LOT of butter, as the flaxmeal coating on the bread is very sticky. It might be better on a non-stick pan, but we use stainless steel over here.
Add butter to the pan as needed, and cook to desired browning level. Remember – you don’t have to worry about cooking the egg-soaked bread to the right temperature because it’s eggless!
We topped ours with blueberry preserves and powdered sugar! The blueberry spread compliments the buttery taste of the toast so well! If you’re a plain butter and syrup kinda person, try Walden Farms calorie-free pancake syrup.
Let me know how it works for you! ALSO – comment below with your favorite french toast topping!
If you knew my title was from Queen Ari’s song “Get Well Soon” then you already know what this post is about – self-care.
I am a huge fan of staying in and having an evening on the weekend to recharge and rejuvenate. As a young lawyer, I don’t treat myself the best during the week, and I’m sure all my boss women reading this can relate. I stay up way too late, wake up early, don’t drink enough water, skip workouts, fall asleep at least once a week without taking my makeup off, build up tension from five days at my computer screen, and so on…
Us boss women tend to put our career at the top or near the top of our priority lists with our families and loved ones. Fill the middle with going out with friends, side hustles, hobbies, sports/fitness, random commitments, etc. and skim down to the bottom… Yep, there we are! We put our own bodies, our own health and well-being, emotional stability, and joy, WAY at the very bottom of our list. It’s only natural to do this when you’re hustling like we do. I don’t know one boss woman in my life who doesn’t struggle with taking care of themselves as good as she should be. It normally shows up in the form of not sleeping enough, or over-working and not making time for themselves that they need.
THIS is why I’ve started blocking out chunks of time on my weekend to take care of my mind and body. On top of sleeping in and taking yoga on the weekends, I have added at least one night to be alone and do a full relaxation routine. Once you start this routine with me, I think you’ll understand JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out). See: my inspiration for this post – Kourt Kardashian/Poosh.
First thing’s first: pick a space to spend your night. Your bedroom, your living room, whatever. Choose it and declutter it before you start winding down. You cannot fully relax in a cluttered space.
If you don’t already have an essential oil diffuser, you need one asap. You can find a good selection at your local TJ Maxx, or even at grocery stores like Hyvee. Here are some other options as well, including the white Pure Enrichment diffuser (the one I own and love) (click the images to shop!):
Start your relaxation process by using a few drops of lavender oil (my favorite) or eucalyptus oil. Other top choice oils for relaxation, sleep, and stress relief are frankincense, chamomile, and bergamot. If you have a himalayan salt lamp, turn it on for an added relaxing glow to your space. (Click the pics to shop):
My favorite Spotify playlists for this kind of night are “Relaxing Massage,” “SPA Treatment,” or “Ocean Escapes.”
Once you have your diffuser and playlist going, and you’re in your cozy evening attire, start your full-out skincare routine. I’m not talking the simple makeup wipe and face wash routine you do when you’re rushing to get to bed – I mean your full. out. routine. Remove your makeup, wash your face with a quality wash, exfoliate, and wax or shave. Save your moisturizer, serums and night creams for later… You’ll be doing a mask! Click my favs below to shop:
Aromatherapy Skin-Safe Oil
This is a way to take your essential oils to the next level. Most essential oils are not created to be applied directly to the skin. What I do is take my wax melts warmer and (making sure it’s free of wax melt residue first) melt down some coconut oil. Then I add in a few drops of lavender essential oil and mix it, shutting off my warmer before the oil becomes hot. Once in bed, I massage this into my temples. (I stole this from my yoga teacher–10/10 recommend).
Heat and Massage Therapy
A must for me is my heating bean bag. I found one here that is similar and lavender scented for added relaxation. I love placing this around my neck and shoulders, down the length or my spine, and on my lower back. For maximum relaxation, wrap your neck and shoulders while doing your face mask and massaging your temples with your oil.
If you are one that suffers from major muscle tension, I recommend investing in an electric massager. I use this HoMedics Shiatsu massager and it works wonders when my back starts spasming (it also heats up!).
A relaxing night of self-care is not complete without a face mask. Try some Sephora Clean verified sheet masks I hand-picked for you below (click to shop):
Once you’re laying in bed, complete with face mask, playlist, temples oiled, all the good stuff, try some deep breathing. All I do is my yoga breathing: breathe in slow and long through my nose, as much air as I can fill my lungs with, and then exhale slow and long until you feel like all the “stale” air in your lungs has left – until you can’t exhale any more air. Think of it as clearing your lungs of stale air and toxins, filling them completely with new and fresh air. This will help clear your mind and reduce anxiety, allowing you to maximize your relaxation.
If you’ve been following along on my instagram, you probably know I recently had a brief visit to Atlanta to see my brother graduate basic training for the National Guard! Staying on an army base was a whole new world, but it was so much fun finally getting a glimpse into Mike’s life over the past several months. We were shown videos about what the new soldiers had gone through to graduate from basic, and we visited the massive infantry museum on base and learned about his potential future, as well as some of our country’s past.
It was an amazing experience and I’m so glad I got to witness him become an American Soldier. We are beyond proud of him, as I’m sure you know! After getting some much-needed quality time with Mike, he had to head back to his college, and we were left with an evening and one full day to explore Atlanta. It was my first time, so I had done some thorough research for the best spots (lots of thanks to PLIG aka Poor Little It Girl and her Atlanta Travel Guide).
One of the spots I knew I needed to check out was Ponce City Market.
Ponce City Market is like a mini mall, with high-end shops like Madewell, Anthropologie and Lululemon, combined with a next-level food hall. I love shopping more than anyone, but the food hall is the highlight of the Market.
“At the heart of Ponce City Market, the Central Food Hall is becoming the most vibrant food hall and market in the Southeast. James Beard Award-winning chefs the likes of Anne Quatrano, Linton Hopkins, and Sean Brock join Atlanta’s most exciting young purveyors and restauranteurs to offer everything from Georgia and Carolinas-caught seafood, to classic burgers, cold-pressed juice, house-made pasta and freshly milled heirloom grain bread.
Similar to the legendary food hall at Chelsea Market in Manhattan—also owned by the developers of Ponce City Market—the Central Food Hall is a culinary gathering place within a revamped historic space, but with the distinct character and ﬂavors of Atlanta.” – poncecitymarket.com
The food hall features places like Batter Cookie Dough Counter, Farm to Ladle, Root Baking Co., Spiller Park Coffee and Pancake Social. Every spot has a fresh, conscious and modern feel.
As if PCM didn’t sound cool enough, it also features a rooftop carnival. I’m not even joking. It’s a carnival, complete with a long row of carnival games and a full mini-golf course, on a rooftop overlooking the ATL skyline.
The rooftop is kid-friendly unless it’s on the weekend after 5:00, because then it turns into a rooftop party! But no worries, alcohol is served all day 😉
One spot I KNEW I wasn’t leaving without going to was bartaco, because I had seen them all over social media as a must-hit spot. We don’t have bartaco up north, so we drove to the northeast side of ATL to test it out. And, my goodness, was it freakin DELISH.
I ordered their classic bartaco marg, and I’m not kidding you when I say, it was the best-tasting marg I’ve ever had (and I drink a lot of margs. I’m a marg connoisseur, if you will). Everything, including the marg, is SO. FRESH.
“bartaco is inspired by the beach culture of brazil, uruguay and southern california. we are upscale street food with a coastal vibe in a relaxed environment. we are freshly-squeezed juices, specialty cocktails and beer out of a bottle. bartaco evokes a visit to a stylish beach resort and creates an unforgettable experience.” – bartaco.com
I am all about good food, but adding a good atmosphere to that makes the food taste even better? It’s science.
Absolutely, 100% hit them up while you’re in ATL. You will not regret it!
On my last note about food, (if you can’t tell, I’m all about food when I travel) we randomly ended up at Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria because we saw they had gluten-free pizza. I will say this: my favorite pizza before being diagnosed with Celiac disease was Sbarro’s. I loved the thin, soft crust, the greasy cheese… Everything about it. This was the closest I’ve tasted to it since I went gluten-free. I nearly cried, it was so delicious. I am down for any pizza place that actually MAKES their crust instead of using a cardboard frozen gluten-free crust. If you’re looking for a family place downtown where you can also grab a beverage, hit up Max’s. Also, if it’s just adults, there is a kickass sports bar right next door. The easiest dinner and drinks set-up right in the heart of downtown ATL! Perfect for that first night in town when you’re settling in.
I didn’t expect to have as much fun as we did with a basically 24 turnaround, but we soaked it up and I can’t wait to go back. Have you been? Drop a comment with your favorite spot in ATL!
I am a huge fan of buffalo anything. One of my favorite things to make for football Sundays or any kind of event that warrants finger food snacking is buffalo cauliflower “wings.” Also – I eat chickpeas ALL THE TIME. You’ve probably seen my chickpea salad on my blog or instagram feed before. Consider this a major flavor upgrade from that!
What you need:
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Spring mix/greens of your choice
Sweet Baby Ray’s Buffalo Wing Sauce
Daiya Vegan Homestyle Ranch
Sea salt or pink himalayan salt
Step one: Spray frying pan with a good amount of coconut oil spray, or begin liquifying about 1 tbsp coconut oil in pan. Add drained can of chickpeas, 2 pinches of salt, and a dash of black pepper.
Step two: while the chickpeas are cooking and crisping, prep the cold salad base. Use spring mix, halved cherry tomatoes, slices of avocado and cucumber, and a few slices of red onion.
Step three: Once the chickpeas have gotten a little crispy, with partial blackening, add the buffalo wing sauce. You want enough to coat all the chickpeas. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens and the chickpeas have a good coating of buffalo sauce.
Final step: top the cold salad with the hot buffalo chickpeas, and top it off with vegan ranch.