Bottlefeeding Shame…

Over the past few weeks I have come across numerous articles about women who choose or were unable to breastfeed and have felt shamed for bottle feeding their children. This issue has given me tons of guilt since having both of my daughters. Both of my girls were bottle fed and here’s why:

With my first daughter I had every intention of breastfeeding, I had a pump, lotions and potions, books, and everything in between. My labor was quick however (without going into too much detail) I had issues with my placenta being delivered and I had A LOT of tearing. After the doctors “fixed” me, I was cathed and pretty much bed ridden my entire hospital stay. I was traumatized by labor to say the least. My bond with Sydney was immediate however, her latch was not. We worked on it while in the hospital and when we arrived home it became more of a struggle. Sydney was not interested at all and I was in so much pain that after four days of trying to get her to latch and many many tears later I gave in and started her on formula.

I had the same intentions with my second daughter. Elliot came fast and furious and my delivery and recovery were flawless, however, Elli was in the NICU for two days because of fluid in her lungs. I again tried my darnest to get her to breastfeed, with no such luck. With her it was much more difficult for me to except because I did not feel that initial bond. I felt like if she would just latch on it would make it all better. I’m happy to report that about three months in we finally got to know one another and she is the most amazing little babe!

In the past two years I have been asked many times if I breastfed and I anxiously answer “no” waiting for a disapproving reply. Most of the time I’m questioned and I never know what to say. At times I have felt so embarrassed that I completely avoid answering.

#ISupportYou

#ISupportYou

Fellow momma’s, being a momma is not just about your children, it’s about supporting each other. Life and parenthood is very difficult. You don’t know what someone else is going through or what they have been though. So next time you inquire about if someone breastfed their baby, please rather than questioning her, let her know you support her no matter what.

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Glass Lamp Reveal

When we moved into our new house in August my mom gave us two glass lamps.  I decided to nix the old shades in hopes of finding something a little more modern.  So for months, literally months the lamps sat in our living room with no shades, completely naked by themselves.  They looked horrendous.  My mom told me my Aunt had redone hers with white spray paint, so after a bit of research into  spray painting glass I was ready to tackle the project.

Enter hubby doing yard work while I play with paints!  I also decide to spray some candle stands I had laying around for our big Halloween party (more on that next week!)

I decided to go with Rust-oleum Universal Satin Paint and Primer in white.  This gave a really nice matte look.  When spraying onto glass you definitely want to ensure you prime.  This two in one was the best option for me to kill two birds with one stone!  I love how easily this sprayed and how on 1/2 can of spray paint I sprayed both of my lamps.

I wanted to keep the gold detailing around the top and bottom of the lamp but I didn’t feel like tapping off the entire top.  I decide to grab a plastic bag and wrap it around the top wiring.  I secured it with painters tape, it turned out to be a really quick fix and it kept everything gold.

TADA!  Transformation complete and it literally took me 30 minutes total including cleanup!

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Take a look at our “newish” lamps that are positioned on our “newish” console table!  Check out those lamp shades courtesy of Lowes (they are back to regular price but I got these for a major steal for $4.50 a piece) Thinking of painting the shades since my living room is grays and stones.

What are your thoughts?

 

Mood Board: Gender Neutral Nursery

As if pregnancy wasn’t exciting enough, planning the nursery is like the icing on the cake.  And speaking of cake….it’s all I think about these days! 🙂

When we moved into our house 6 months ago we had a clear idea of which room we hoped would be the future nursery.  I struggled for weeks to pick out just the right paint color for each room— seriously…there may have been tears involved.  I knew I wanted this house to feel light and bright, so deciding on neutral grays and tans was the path I took.  The nursery is currently painted the perfect greige color which allows the furniture and room accessories to take center stage.  I created a mood board featuring a white crib and changing table, and gender specific accessories that will make Baby M happy in just a few short months.

The only major progress we’ve made in the nursery is picking out a crib…well two cribs.  We couldn’t decided which one we liked better, so we ordered two and hope to make the final decision later this week.  Both cribs are waiting patiently to be unpacked and assembled.  I’m also waiting patiently (read: hurry up Ken!).  I’ll keep ya posted once we make a final decision.

Nursery mood board

Sources:

  • Changing table: I wanted a sentimental touch in the nursery and plan to use one of my grandma’s old dressers as a changing table.  A little bit of elbow grease, white paint, and new hardware should make her dresser the perfect addition.
  • Curtains: In keeping with the light and airy feel, I choose sheer curtains with the added pink/blue pom-pom trim detail.  I used Ikea curtains in our last house and was happy with the overall feel and price tag.
  • Glider: I found this cleaned-lined glider at Target, but can’t decide if I’m willing to spend that kind of money on a chair.  I’ve been checking Craigslist for a chair with similar lines and the idea of getting it reupholstered.  My favorite store, Costco, also carries seasonal furniture after Christmas so I’m keeping my eyes peeled for a lower price tagged item.
  • Accessories:  The neutral wall color, white furniture, and hardwood floors in the nursery will need some bright pops of color to make the room feel youthful.  The crib sheetspouf, wall print, pillows, and mobile make the room feel complete and baby-ready.

What was your favorite room in the house to decorate?  I’m ready to get this project started and also can’t wait to find out if we’re having a boy or girl!

Personal Challenge: Lesson’s to learn

Writing a blog for the first time is both fun and challenging. You have to learn a lot – editing, tagging, tone, grammar, appropriate topics, and time lines. I made a post two weeks ago with a promise to share my wellness program status weekly.

I apologize and amend. I will touch base on my progress biweekly.

I made a challenge simple enough; create a weekly plan and abide by it. Oh, a thing easier said than done.

I did it to a ‘T’ : Until Friday. On Friday I had an unexpected procedure that left my body feeling uncomfortable (very minor, very positive!).   I skipped the work out and the dog walk. I also had a volunteer event ( Kristina’s so awesome super fun Bone Bash planning and preparing) which ran long and bumped my work-out priorities off of my Friday schedule.

I was so upset, I felt like I failed.  All week I did things I would never do because this post was looming over me. Michael and I had busy night that required we quickly pick up dinner – I chose a wrap over a sandwich on delicious Italian bread. I drank water at home and actually turned down beers when mike had one with dinner.

We were picky about meals and I skipped cheese, sauces, creams and sugars.

Every time I wanted to do something bad I remembered that quote:

“Here is to ordering a salad when you really want a burger and fries!”

Friday came and life as always threw an unexpected wrench in my plans I felt like I didn’t even want to face myself or this blog again.

Today, I looked back and thought to myself… there was success in the first week of my challenge.  The dog walked four days that week (more than usual).  I did do yoga and a weight routine with mike- so much so that the following week he increased my weights and now I am actually attempting to squat with the bar (rather than just holding varying weights in my hands). No snacks, no candy, no unnecessary cocktails.   At my appointment the doctor reported on my exceptional heath! YAY!

Instead of calling it a failed week… I decided it was more of a ‘Reach for the moon you may fall on a star’ kind of situation.

This week I want to set the same plan, but incorporate a plan of action should things go awry. I want to do weights twice, yoga once, and walk the dog 4 times. With out the day attached, when things come up I can react appropriately by rescheduling.   I also want to squat the bar ( I think its 45 lbs) with out falling over- JUST ONCE!  Oh- and as my full water bottle sits here staring me in the face, I want to DRINK MORE WATER.60-80 oz a day.

One thing I also did was prepare! It’s the week of Halloween and I am so excited to hand out candy and head to parties- but you know what that means… CANDY EVERYWHERE!!! Tempting, tempting, tempting! Especially considering my insane love for dark chocolate.

So I read hard on pinterest and mocked a few healthier snacks .

Here is one: Quick and Easy!

Four Almonds, topped with two dried cherries, drizzled semi-sweet dark chocolate, topped with shaved coconut and let sit for two hours on wax paper.

BAM. Took me less than ten minutes to prep and it is DELICIOUS.

TIPS:

You should look around at markets and nut companies to find almonds at a reasonable price. I have seen them priced at 9$ for a very small bag in box retailers. At the market I find a 1.5lb bag for only 3 dollars. I bought large hunks of baking chocolate and just melted it down with a splash of milk (stir the entire time! You do not want the chocolate to burn!) I bought everything in bulk so that I can make this each week. Once a day should help my cravings stay at bay while avoiding candies that are high in calories, high in sugar, preservatives, dyes, etc.

FYI I also made this: which requires no instructions what-so-ever:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites: Slice banana and add almond butter or peanut butter between two slices. Place on wax paper and freeze for one hour. Remove from freezer and dip in bowl containing a mixture of one cup melted chocolate chips (semi-sweet, milk, white - your choice) and one teaspoon of oil (canola or vegetable). Re-place on waxpaper and freeze again. After one hour servce or package in freezer-safe container for storage.

Next time; let’s hope for the wine recommendation !

Autumn Beef Stew

I have a hard time following directions when it comes to recipes.  It’s not because I don’t pay attention.  It’s because I like to be creative. It usually works in my favor.  Once in a while, it doesn’t (like when I put whole coriander seeds in pork and sauerkraut).

Lance and I get a weekly crop share from Penn’s Corner, and often find ourselves trying to incorporate these veggies into our “go-to” meals.  This week, I wanted to try to make a beef stew, and incorporate some root vegetables for fall flavors.

I call it Autumn Beef Stew, and it’s the perfect combination of sweet (from the sweet potato and turnip), salty, and melt-in-your-mouth tender beef pulled together with a thick, savory sauce.

I like to have all my ingredients out near my cutting board, and I alway keep a big bowl nearby with a bag in it to toss my trash and scraps into.

I like to have all my ingredients out near my cutting board, and I alway keep a big bowl nearby with a bag in it to toss my trash and scraps into.

Ingredients:

3 tbsp olive oil

5 cloves garlic

1 onion

3 carrots

2 stalks celery

2 lbs of beef cut into cubes (chuck roast)

flour (to toss and brown beef)

salt & pepper

3 14 oz cans of beef broth

butter and flour (for roux – thickening of sauce)

3 medium potatoes (skinned)

2 sweet potatoes (skinned)

1 large turnip (skinned)

4 tbsp worcestershire

3 tbsp tomato paste

Directions:

1. Add the olive oil to a nice big cooking pot (dutch oven preferred but a pasta pot will do), and stir in the following chopped veggies:  onion, garlic, carrots, celery.  Let them simmer for 10 minutes on low.

This is when the house starts to smell amazing!

This is when the house starts to smell amazing!

2. Toss together 2 lbs of cubed beef with 1/4 cup of flour, salt and pepper so the mixture is coating the beef, and then add it to the pot on medium/high heat and let it brown for about 5 minutes, stirring often.

3. Add the beef broth, worcestershire sauce and tomato paste and stir together in the pot.

4. Add the following veggies chopped into bite-sized pieces:  potato, sweet potato, turnip (you can also use acorn squash, rutabaga, or any fall root veggie).

adding worc

5. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes, and then taste it to see if you should add more salt, pepper or other seasonings.  If your stew seems more “soupy” than you like it, add a roux.  It’s super easy to make a roux, and it will thicken your stew without adding unwanted flavors.

How to make a roux:  1 part butter, 1 part flour.  Put the butter in a pan on medium heat and let it start to melt.  Then, add the same amount of flour. Continuously stir until it turns into a paste.   Add some to the stew and mix it in.  After waiting a few minutes, if you want the stew to be thicker, add more.  I used about 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of butter.

6. Once the stew is your desired thickness, serve with your favorite crusty bread and a salad.

finished product

I hope to bring you more recipes in the future!  Comment below to let me know if you liked it, and how you made it your own!

On Point with Pinterest

I would like to start by thanking Pinterest for being the best bed time story.

This post is solely going to be devoted to me ranting and raving about the “powers of Pinterest.”  I am all for social media and staying connected (i.e. this blog), but I have to say that Pinterest is an answer to my prayers.  If you don’t already have an account; run don’t walk.  Your creative juices will be thanking me later!

My overindulgence really began when I got engaged.  I found so many ideas and some many DIY projects that I knew could fit perfectly into my theme. Now after buying our first home in August, I am obsessed with anything and everything home decor/furniture/remodeling.

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Our little red house on the corner!

With over 8,000 pins and counting (I’m fairly certain I’ve been pinning in my sleep)., I’ve decided that my pins are getting too mixed up.  It’s getting hard for me to stay organized and on track with actual ideas.  I’ve separated all of my boards into individual rooms, which has really helped keep all of my ideas readily available.  Stay tuned for future Thursday posts when I walk you through some of my latest DIY’s!

Memory Lane

Caution: If you’re feeling emotional, are about to get your period, or don’t want to hear a sappy story- STOP reading now!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 since I moved into the halls of Wallace on the IUP campus.  The start of an exciting journey was about to begin, but I would never know how much my life would be changed by the new person I was about to meet.

A decade ago, I was lucky to meet this guy….my husband, Ken.  This is one of the first pictures we took together since Facebook wasn’t a thing all the way back in 2004!  Our relationship started out as a friendship, but as things changed in our lives and other relationships ended, it turned out to be so much more.

summer2006

Summer love, 2006

  We spent the first five years of our marriage learning about each other, learning about ourselves, and enjoying each new adventure that took place in our lives.  As each day and year passed by, our love for one another grew stronger and stronger.  I can’t begin to put those feelings into words, but it’s been an amazing journey, and I’m forever grateful that I’ve found my perfect match.

Blog-collage

A few months ago, Ken and I discovered that we were about to begin a new journey in our lives….being parents.  It’s been something that we’ve talked/prayed about and feel truly blessed to be expecting our first baby this April.

Birth announcement

Birth Announcement

Future Grandparents!

Future Grandparents!

I’m excited to document some of the details of this journey on the blog.  Stay tuned…next week I plan to share a mood board for the future nursery and talk about the exhausting crib search that ended in success!

Tit for Tat: 365 days later.

Last week I had a couple of days off of work –what a blessing! Time to tackle all of the ‘I don’t wanna’s…’

Doctor’s appointment: Check.

Order new Social Security Card (lost many moves ago): Check.

New PA Drivers License: Check.

 

What surprised me was that it was hard to change my license. It had an emotional effect on me. Handing out my Illinois license was my justification to say –“HEY STRANGERS, GUESS WHAT! I USED TO LIVE IN THE COOLEST CITY EVER!”

The same day my past Chicago roommate sent me messages of misses and kisses.

It then dawned on me I officially changed my residency exactly one year from my move away from the big city.

Memories began to flood to my mind. The sights, the sounds, the food, the friends, the intensity, the excitement. Oh but the cost, the distance, the job, the temptations.   What a push and pull of things I loved and things I struggled with.

 And so what more fitting this week than an ODE to Chicago-

 I moved to Chicago April of 2012 and stayed for a glorious 18 months (exactly).   I moved for hopes and prayers of promotions and growth with a company I loved and had been with for some time. I transferred from one college located in Baltimore, MD to Kendall College the number one culinary school in Chicago – a city known for food!

My View from the zoo. Less than a 1/2 mile from my first apartment!

Wow was I lucky. I started my stay in an over priced studio apartment in Lincoln Park, a neighborhood with money over looking the large and free Lincoln Park Zoo. I walked to work- where I ate all of my meals Monday through Friday prepared by young and passionate students who lived to share their concoctions with others. I was lucky in the fact that I instantly made friends.

I made friends with my coworkers –

One who had also made the same work transfer as I: He is loud and happy. He is a brilliant business man.   He is confident and friendly. He loves being the ring leader, and he’s good at it. He is the master of joining separate groups of friends with out the blatant awkward separation of who knows him and how. He loves to work and to be the best at it. He loves to let loose and be the best at that as well. He loves live music (but refuses to admit any trend setting bands are worth his time). He is funny as can be. He will never ever give up.

One who started training the same day as I did: A gorgeous and brilliant, now triple degree holding women. She loves travel, international affairs and education, she loves history, and music, and food. She loves her dog and her husband. She loves to be quirky and fun with out ever sacrificing her ability to be a professional. We all love her ability to make good judgment. Her husband is fun, he is cool, he is charming and silly. They are wonderful.

One who became my roommate: My confidant. He saw me through everything happy and everything hard. He knew me genuinely and honestly. He has a heart bigger then anyone will ever fill. He believes in hard, very hard work. He helped me in every time of need. He was there to share all my times of joy. He too is a showman, and a talented one at that. He loves food and see’s it more clearly then the average person. He knows what people want, whether a meal or a friend. He is tidy. He never gives any ounce less than his best. He sees good in everyone.

see it?

my roommates ❤

Another coworker, and her husband. She is elegant and soft. She loves her friends and her family dearly. She loves her couch and her cat and things that are reliable. She loves quite and honest times. She is the most deeply genuine person you will ever meet. She does not judge, and she gives fair chances. When she opens up to you it is entirely and it is not something she gives away lightly. Her husband is her equal. A man with many talents. When he loves, he loves with depth, strength, and wisdom. They are so talented it is hard to not be annoyed, and they are so kind you can never ever feel an any thing but love for them.

I met a girl that is the funniest. Another department that required close relationships. She is quick. She is smart. She has a brilliant way with words. A way to make a statement that you believe with out drudging it in irrelevant emotion. She is professional. She is mature. She too loves music. She too can merge friendships.   She instantly identifies someone’s strengths, and recounts it in conversation. This way she shares meaningful compliments. She is quiet. And she is not. She has an un-offending sass. She is cool to the bone, the kind of cool most girls wish they could carry.

I took a second job and picked up a few more friends. Food service employee’s have a way of ‘getting each other’.

I met a girl who is ‘lovely’. A short stint in the states, a break from college, and vacation away from Ireland. She is giggly, gorgeous, and years ahead of fashion trends. She is forward, but correct. She is sweet. Sweet as can be. She is a magnet, everyone wants to be in her presences. She brings out the best in every friend she has.   She was well behaved but never the less spontaneous. She dances unbelievably well. The thought of her makes any friend smile.

She brought together a group, and we became fast friends. We were all so different but a like.

That is how I found my other roommate. She is a woman of the arts. She is amazing, her eye, and her ability. Anything that requires individualism, creativity, or soul- she conquered it. She can paint, photograph, sing, and play instruments. Her beauty is stunning. She is real and she is strong. She makes mistakes but they do not destroy her. If she gets down, she gets up faster than I have ever seen. She is incredibly adaptable. She loves to laugh. She loves to style. She loves to have a good time.

I met a girl who is so passionate. Her feelings are extreme and intense. Oh she is beautiful and hysterical. She sets standards and limits and she never allows for less. She is so quick. She hears every word you say and every word you didn’t say. She loves her cat, her nephew, her family, and her friends. She has a clean eye for style and decorating. She is a good women, someone you desire to be. Someone who is pleasant, does not give too much of herself away, can make any kind of person laugh, and she is bold.

I met so many more fabulous people. Students who changed my perspective on the world. Coworkers who opened up to me for no reason at all but that they are honest and genuine.

In a city so big it will swallow you whole, I have no idea how I found such golden relationships. I will never forget my time in Chicago, purely because of each of these friends.   I dream of a day to combine my life in Pittsburgh, so different and just as beautiful, with my friends in the windy city.

I had one promised made when I left the good ol’ chitown; that I will visit once yearly for the rest of my life.

Thank you Chicago.

Bone Bash Gala Carnival: A Monstrous Costume Party

I am the Development Director of the Arthritis Foundation, and I take pride in planning the Jingle Bell Run/Walk, the Walk to Cure Arthritis, and and working with various fundraising volunteers throughout the year.  My most favorite event to plan, though, is the Bone Bash Gala!  Unlike other galas, it’s a halloween-themed event!  This event is where me and my volunteers really get to use our creative juices, and I love working with them to make our visions become a reality.

bone bash logo

This year, the theme of the Bone Bash is Carnival!  It’s Friday, October 24, at J. Verno Studios in the Southside (3030 Jane St., Pittsburgh 15203).  I like to think it’s the hottest party in Pittsburgh for Halloween.  The gala features live music, food, beverages and spine tingling fun all while raising funds and awareness for arthritis.  There’s the traditional gala ticket including dinner, auction, raffles and carnival games at $225 per person, but my most favorite part of the event is the part when all my friends come in at the end!  From 9 p.m. – 11 p.m. things get wild, and everyone lets loose at the House of Mirrors Dance Party!

galahalloweenparty

The House of Mirrors Dance Party is $35 per person or $50 for two people.   There’s live music, dancing, and 3 drink tickets at J. Verno Studios!  Get down in your most best “Carn Evil” wear!  It would mean to much to me if my Pittsburgh friends attended this event.  It’s something I have really worked hard on and am very proud of.  If I’m tugging at your heart strings, purchase tickets now!  

There is one person who has made this year extremely special.  One of my dearest friends, Rachel, is known for sweeping in and helping where ever I need her.  She’s done this for three of my events in the past all while living entire states away.  I feel so fortunate that she lives in Pittsburgh, now, and is part of the Bone Bash Gala Committee.

Did you ever just work extremely well with someone?  Since high school, Rachel and I realized that we just clicked when it came to business.  This goes back to the days when we used to serve an entire restaurant on Sunday mornings; just the two of us.  So aside from the fact that I am paid to do this, I care very deeply about reaching my personal goals, and I am extremely motivated to fundraise for a cure: I get to see this event come to fruition with someone who truly gets me, my work ethic, my strengths and weaknesses.  It makes me love her even more because working together brings us closer.

#rig

#rig

Top 5 Pet Peeves of a Newish Parent

There are lot of things that annoy me.  I have a low tolerance when it comes to many things.  Just ask my friends and family.  My list of annoyances has grown since having the girls, and my patience is very thin when it comes to many things. Most of my pet peeves stem from people just being downright rude.  I work very hard to teach my daughters how to be polite and respectful to others, so I would appreciate if you said “excuse me” when walking between me and my breakfast choices in the cereal aisle.

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My Shopping Buddies

Here are my top 5 pet peeves as a newish parent…I’m sure people without children can relate as well.

1) PLEASE DO NOT PARK ON TOP OF ME WHEN THERE ARE A MILLION EMPTY SPOTS AROUND ME. Without fail, every week when I go to the grocery store someone does this. Literally, there could be 50 empty spots around me and you choose to park right next to me, usually over the lines of my spot. I apologize in advance if you find a sticker stuck to your car.  Actually, no, I don’t!
2) IF YOU ARE A SOLICITOR, DO NOT COME TO MY HOUSE DURING NAPTIME! WAIT A SECOND I MEAN EVER! If you do, please be prepared to face one angry motha! Oh and thanks for making my dog bark for 20 minutes because you didn’t realize that no one was coming to door.
3) DEAR NEIGHBORS. COULD YOU SLAM YOUR CAR DOORS A LITTLE HARDER NEXT TIME? AND PLEASE BE SURE TO DO IT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT! Just have an ounce of consideration.  That’s all I ask. Sleep is not something to mess with especially when there are two little people involved.
4) IF YOU DON’T HAVE CHILDREN, DON’T PARK IN THE “FOR CUSTOMERS WITH CHILDREN” SPOTS!  I will judge you as I walk by while you get out of your child-less car. I may even say “cute kids!” just to make you rethink your poor judgment.
5) PLEASE DON’T TAILGATE. This goes without saying; but so-help-me if you so much as tap my car while my children are in it, I will go ham!

This concludes my list of pet peeves. I swear, I really do love my fellow man.

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