How We Painted Our Front Door Black & The Best Black Paint Colors

I can always count on my Instagram audience for the best recommendations for pretty much anything. When I crowdsourced for the best black paint colors for our front door, you all delivered!

Here are the most popular recommendations for best black paint colors from all of YOU (bold = most recommended):

Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black (this is the one we went with!)

Sherwin Williams Iron Ore

Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron

Sherwin Williams Caviar

Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze

Sherwin Williams Greenblack

Sherwin Williams Black Magic

Behr Cracked Peppercorn

Behr Broadway

Farrow & Ball Railings

Farrow & Ball Off Black

Farrow & Ball Blue Black

Benjamin Moore Black

Benjamin Moore Onyx

Benjamin Moore Universal Black

Benjamin Moore Beret

Benjamin Moore Blackboard

Benjamin Moore Black Top

Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal

Benjamin Moore Soot

Benjamin Moore Black Beauty

A few of you recommended using Alkyd paint. I had to look up what that was, so for those of you who also don’t know, here’s the deal: Alkyd paint is very resistant to damage. Therefore, many people use them in high traffic areas of their homes such as hallways. The resin binder is also resistant to moisture; therefore, it is a good paint for use in the kitchen or bathroom. People with children often like alkyd paints in areas where the children will be playing. Latex paint isn’t quite as durable as many types of alkyd paint. Furthermore, alkyd paint retains its sheen for much longer than other types of paint. If you want to paint an area without as much preparation or without stripping the old paint, alkyd paint is your best option.

A few other recommendations for specific types of paint for a door in a high traffic space:

Benjamin Moore Aura paint in satin finish

Amy Howard One Step Paint

Sherwin Williams Emerald Line (this is what we went with!)

Our Method

For paint, we went with Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black. We used their Emerald Interior Acrylic Latex Paint in a satin finish. We chose this particular type of paint because it is washable and durable and is a paint and primer in one with advanced stain blocking technology. All we needed was a quart of paint and that allowed us to do two coats plus we have some leftover.

We started by doing some light sanding of the door. We were just aiming to “rough up” the wood a bit to help the paint adhere better (thanks to the advice from my far more capable and amazing neighbor!). We then used a tack cloth to wipe off sanding residue, then got started painting!

We used a mini roller with a 1/2″ nap. In hindsight I think the 1/4″ nap might have been better, but this worked fine. We used an angle brush to do the edges and decided not to tape anything off except the lock and handle. We have been using this method (angle brush instead of taping) for the last few painting projects we’ve done thanks to the advice from Chris Loves Julie and it saves so much time and because we honestly suck at taping it actually looks better, too!

Apparently it’s really important which sections of a door you paint first, so we trusted all the posts we saw on the internet and followed this order of painting. One thing to note is when painting the edges of your door you really need to be able to have the door open for many hours so the paint can dry, otherwise it will just stick and get messy. Because it’s the middle of winter we decided we will just do the edges in the spring when the weather warms up. You can totally tell and it looks like garbage when you look up close, but nobody comes over to our house/to our door aside from my mom and sister so we really aren’t too worried about it!

We chose not to tape around each window and instead we used a scraper at the very end once paint was dried to scrape off any paint that got on the window and it worked like a charm and was much easier and less time consuming than taping it all out!

Painting the first coat took just about 2.5 hours and the second coat was about 1.5. We are SO happy with the results! All-in this transformation costed us less than $40 and 4 hours of time — totally worth it.

Any questions — use the comment box below! Not experts, but happy to share our experience!

Kid-Approved GF/Refined Sugar Free Apple Cinnamon Oat Muffins

We’re always on the hunt for healthy, delicious and easy snacks in our ouse and muffins are always a crowd pleaser. This recipe was adapted slightly from Love & Lemons.

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups oat flour (best if it’s homemade — just put rolled outs into a food processor and voila!)

1/2 almond flour (we use the Kirkland brand from Costco and like it. You can also just use one kind of flour — oat or almond — and these still turn out delicious!)

1/4 cup arrowroot starch

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 large eggs

2/3 cup almond milk (or dairy milk or any other kind of nut milk)

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup finely diced apple (I put mine in the food processor as it gets the pieces really small and my kids like it best this way)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the over to 350 degrees and lightly grease or spray a 12-cup muffin tin

In a large bowl, combine the flours, arrowroot, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, maple syrup, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and vanilla

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overtax. Stir in the diced apple. Divid the batter into the muffin tin and garnish with oats if desired.

Bake for 18 minutes, or until the tops slightly spring back to the touch. Cool for 10 minutes then remove from the pan and place on a wire rack to finish cooling.

My Top 10 Books of 2020

At the beginning of 2020 I made a goal to read 50 books. Honestly, I’m not sure what possessed me to make this goal. It was a pretty audacious goal given how many books I typically read in a year. I love to read, always have, but especially in the early years of our kids’ lives reading really took a backseat. In 2019 I probably read a dozen books AT MOST. That would be a book a month and I’m not sure I was even doing that. Let’s say 6-12 books a year prior to this. So yeah, 50 would be a major increase.

Fast forward to less than 3 months into 2020 and a pandemic hits. Hello stress, anxiety, etc etc. Reading was really hard during the height of the pandemic, my mind had a really hard time focusing on books, and even if I could focus I couldn’t handle any subject matter even remotely serious/sad/etc. But I didn’t give up! And miraculously, I finished 2020 with 51 books read!

I get asked a lot how I could possibly find the time to read 50 books in a year. And before last year I probably had myself convinced I didn’t have the time for that, either. But as it turns out, you find time to do the things you enjoy. I always read in the morning while I drink my coffee (I try to wake up an hour before the kids to have some time to myself before they’re up for the day) and I always read before bed. When I’m near the end of a book sometimes I’ll even use the kids’ quiet time to read instead of clean or prep dinner. I also love to read with my 6-year-old daughter. We sit together each reading our books and it fills my heart with so much joy to share my love of reading with her! There are always chores to do, so if I waited until there was nothing to do around the house I would never read! I give myself the gift of reading time to rejuvenate and recharge me. I recently read something in Oprah’s book “What I Know For Sure” that really resonated with me and how I feel about books and reading:

Books for me used to be a way to escape. I now consider reading a good book a sacred indulgence. A chance to be any place I choose. It is my absolute favorite way to spend time. What I know for sure is that reading opens you up. It exposes you and gives you access to anything your mind can hold. What I love most about reading? It gives you the ability to reach higher ground and keep climbing.

Oprah Winfrey, “What I know for sure”

MY TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2020

(in no particular order)

Maybe You Should Talk To Someone This is a book I slowly devoured and was in no rush to finish. Reading it felt like a warm hug. It is the personal memoir of a therapist and her own journey in therapy as she grapples with heartbreak, but also weaves in the stories of six other patients dealing with many of life’s most common and painful issues. I had recently returned to therapy after more than a decade when I started reading this book which might be why I found it particularly fascinating. It’s also a beautiful and relatable reflection on what it is to be human.

The Happy Ever After Playlist Admittedly it was hard for me to read many serious books in 2020. In the midst of the pandemic I needed books that would transport me to happy places and this book delivered! One of my favorite books of 2019 was The Idea of You, a book about a middle-aged woman who takes up a steamy love affair with a young and famous musician. The Happy Ever After Playlist has similar vibes, but it’s much more PG than The Idea of You! If you need a happy, easy “beach” read this one would be a great pick!

Untamed So I started listening to Glennon Doyle’s latest book on Audible and a few chapters in I knew I needed this book IN MY HANDS so I could underline and highlight to my hearts content. This is a book I will keep in my home and read over and over again (which is rare for me!). Untamed explores what it means to be a woman in today’s society, and what it looks like to abandon the expectations of those around us and start tuning in to and trusting the voice — the knowing — deep inside us. It is chock full of so much wisdom and so many life lessons. If you are needing an empowering and inspiring book, this is a must read.

The Vanishing Half In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement that was waking our country up last year I made a promise to myself to go out of my way to read more books by black authors. I strive to read at least one a month, at the very minimum. Brit Bennet has such a unique and beautiful writing style that I absolutely loved devouring. The Vanishing Half tells the story of identical twin sisters who ran away from their small, southern Black community and eventually ended up living polar opposite lives — one lives in the town she grew up in (and had once attempted to escape) with her black daughter while the other secretly passes for white. Not even her own husband knows the truth about her heritage and where she comes from. This story has you thinking deeply about issues of race among much else. I should also mention The Vanishing Half was voted Book of The Month’s book of the year!

Summer of ’69 If I had to pick my absolute favorite genre I would have to say it’s historical fiction. But I’m also a sucker for a good romance. So when I saw that one of my favorite romance authors Elin Hilderbrand wrote a historical fiction novel set on Nantucket in 1969 I knew I’d be a big fan. I was captivated by the characters in this story, each unique and magnetic in their own way. It was easy to read, but also touched on some serious topics but in a palatable way for me even when feeling low myself. This is absolutely one of my favorite Hilderbrand books and that’s saying a lot as I’ve read many.

28 Summers While we’re on the topic of Elin Hilderbrand, she was by far my most read author of 2020, clocking in at a total of 9 books (!!!). This is a book I wasn’t sure I’d like because of the premise, but I kept hearing about how AMAZING it was, so I thought I would give it a try. Truth be told, the first few chapters I wasn’t hooked right away. I found it almost depressing. The book is based on the film Same Time Next Year and tells the story of Mallory Blessing and Jake McCloud who meet one Labor Day Weekend in Nantucket and, after having an instantaneous connection, reunite on Nantucket each LDW thereafter, no matter what is happening in their lives — that’s right, no matter what. Meaning other relationships, careers and more. I’m not a fan of infidelity so at first that was hard for me to get past, but once I did I was completely enraptured by Mallory and Jake’s love story and quite literally couldn’t put this book down and finished it in less than 24 hours. In the end, I loved it, but I will warn you — have your tissues ready for this one!

The Danish Way of Parenting My sisters like to joke and call me “expert mom” — I can assure you I’m far from it, but much like literally anything else in my life, I like to research the hell out of any subject I am partaking in. It could be a home project, choosing a car, or in this case, parenting. I am fascinated by all the different parenting styles and philosophies out there and really enjoy reading articles here and there about different approaches to whatever I’m experiencing with my kids in the phases we’re experiencing. Then of course I take what serves me and leave the rest. The Danish Way of Parenting is one of maybe three actual books I’ve ever read on the subject of parenting and I found it absolutely life-changing. The book explores the things it believes makes Denmark the happiest country in the world and how Danish parents raise happy, confident, successful kids. The principles felt commonsense and really jived with the gentle parenting style we believe in in the Denfeld house. I took away so many helpful ideas and philosophies and have found it a very positive approach to bring into our home.

Signs by Laura Lynne Jackson I’ve raved about Laura Lynne Jackson’s first book The Light Between Us. It truly changed my life. Before reading The Light Between Us I was deathly afraid of death. I was crippled by thoughts of what I might do if someone close to me died. Thus far in my life I have been very lucky as to have never lost anyone I am very close to, and the more years I’ve lived without this experience the more paralyzed I’d be by the fear of what would happen and how I would deal with it if and when I did have to experience the loss of a loved one. Laura Lynne Jackson changed everything for me. Now, I should probably mention Laura Lynne is a psychic medium (she has been certified and studied at length, proven her abilities to speak to those on “the other side” as she calls it without a shadow of a doubt) and I realize that might be little too out there for some of you. But if you could just open your mind and heart to the possibility, I think Laura’s books can truly help heal the world and help us think about life in a much bigger way. I might have even liked Signs more than her first book, but it’s hard to say. Just read them both!

Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller You probably wouldn’t recognize Chanel Miller’s name right away, but you would remember “Emily Doe” in the Brock Turner trial. This unforgettable memoir is Chanel Miller’s reclaiming of her identity as more than just “Brock Turner’s victim”. It is a startling and unforgettable memoir that poignantly illuminates “a culture biased to protect perpetrators and indicts a criminal justice system design to fail the most vulnerable”. It will make you cry, it will make you hot with rage. It will make you feel helpless and then hopeful. This book will forever change the way you think about sexual assault and should be required reading for every person — man, woman, young, old — in this country. I highly recommend this as an audiobook narrated by the author herself. It is incredibly moving to hear her story in her voice.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue This was one of my last reads of 2020 and it was a good one! I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d love this one as it has some elements of fantasy, which I’m not typically a fan of, but after reading it I am certain there is something for everyone in this book: a little fantasy, romance, history and more. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is the story of a young woman who makes a deal with the dark side — she lives forever, but in exchange, she is to be forgotten by everyone she meets. It really makes you think about the important role relationships play in our lives, perhaps THE most important? You follow Addie’s life through centuries and continents until 300 years after making her deal she comes across a man in a hidden bookstore who remembers her name. I don’t want to say too much, but this is a story that will make you think and sticks with you for a long time.

DIY Painted Rainbow Mural

Our playroom has been an ever-evolving space in our home. It’s funny that we are paying so much attention to it now as our kids are a little older, but they definitely still have a lot of toys and I know the room can continue to evolve as their needs change, but I wish we would have done so much of this sooner! After we installed the IKEA Billy built-ins in the room it truly transformed the space. It was a serious game-changer. It looks beautiful and it hides all-the-things so well and made it easier to keep everything nicely organized in bins. I used Caitlin from The Mama Notes’ post as our guide!

Anyhow, once the built-ins were installed I was itching to continue to spruce up the space. We had one HUGE empty wall that was just calling for something. I had seen some large-scale removable rainbow decals that looked like they would be perfect, but when I went to purchase the total came out to $700+ dollars. Yep, you read that right! Nearly $1,000!!!! That was way over our budget for that wall, so I kept looking. I couldn’t find anything I liked for under $400.

We are truly the least handy/crafty people around so it really didn’t cross my mind to paint the rainbow on the wall myself until I put out a request to find someone to do it for us on Instagram and I had an overwhelming number of messages from people saying I should just do it myself! Even then, I hesitated. I got quotes from three awesome artists and most were out of my price-range, so I just sat on the whole idea for a while. Then over the winter break I decided to just go for it and trying painting it myself. I figured the worst that happens is I have to paint over it. Now, looking back I’m so glad I did it. It’s certainly not perfect and a professional would have no doubt done a much better job. But for something that is likely temporary-ish (I’m sure the kids will grow out of a rainbow design in years to come and we’ll do something else with the wall/space), I think it is just great!

Okay, so how’d I do it. First, I scoured the internet for an image of a rainbow with the number of stripes I wanted in the style I wanted. Then I used our projector to project the image of the rainbow onto the wall. I used pencil to trace the lines of the rainbow onto the wall.

Next, I went to Home Depot to get the paint. I knew we were going to put up these wall decals on the opposite wall so I wanted to stay in this color family, so that’s how I chose. Choosing the paint colors made me really nervous because I know that a lot of times what is on a paint chip is not necessarily exactly how it looks on a wall, but I just kind of winged it. We used all Behr paints because that is what was readily available at Home Depot. We bought sample sizes of each color we picked which is only $3.50 each and there was even plenty leftover from the project. I spent more money on the one paint brush I used as I did on paint! I knew I wanted the paint brush to be high quality. Here are the supplies I ended up with:

  1. Wooster Pro 4″ Flat Paint Brush

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2. Behr Premium Ultra Paint in Satin Enamel Finish

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3. Plastic Paint Trays

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4. Scotch Blue Painters Tape

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Here are the Behr colors we used:

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Once I had all the supplies (we had an old plastic dropcloth laying around that I reused) I got to painting! I knew I wanted it to look perfectly imperfect, I wanted to see brush strokes and wanted it to look very freehand. I just went for it not really knowing what I was doing! And here’s how it turned out:

Playroom Rainbow (1 of 1)Playroom Rainbow (1 of 1)-2

 

Five Must-Have Products for Traveling Internationally with Kids

Mifold Grab-and-Go Car Booster Seat

Traveling with babies and kids is not the easiest in large part because of all the stuff they require. One of the most annoying — yet absolutely essential — things to transport for kids are their car seats. I have heard too many horror stories about the condition of car seats at rental car places so we have never gone that route. I just generally don’t trust using any car seat but our own.

When the kids were in infant seats we traveled with the Cosco Scenera Next — SUPER lightweight and safe and incredibly affordable at under $50. Still a pain to lug around, but not nearly as bad as their regular car seats at home that are much larger and heavier. This car seat bag is a great option for getting through the airport more smoothly, or we have clipped ours onto our bags using these, too (but found that this isn’t sturdy enough to also have the kids in it like pictured so keep that in mind)

For Europe, we knew we wouldn’t be in cars much at all so we definitely didn’t want to bring their huge car seats. We opted to use the Mifold Grab-and-Go Car Booster Seat. It folds up small enough to fit in your handbag or backpack and is just as safe as a typical booster. How does it work? A regular booster seat lifts the child up to meet the seat belt, the Mifold seat pulls the belt down into perfect position for your child. Both have the same function of getting the seat belt in the correct place for optimal safety for your child, just done in different ways.

The age requirement for this is technically four-years-old, and James is only 3, but we felt comfortable using it for him because he met the height and weight requirements. Use your own discretion and do what you feel comfortable with! Now we’re so glad to have these seats for easy transport for school carpools, sleepovers with grandma, etc!

The Clutch Stroller by Delta Children

We’ve gotten through five years of parenthood with the use of only one stroller — our UppaBaby Cruz which we highly, highly recommend. It is lightweight enough that we have always opted to bring it along with us when we traveled and we used it with the kick board so we could accommodate two kids (there is no option for two seats with the Cruz, only the Vista). That said, it is lightweight, but a lot larger than we wanted for our trip to Europe and would have been an extra bag to check in or lug through an airport. I knew there was no way the kids could handle all the walking we’d be doing so I started searching for travel strollers that were super lightweight and small enough to fit into an airplane’s overhead compartment. I ended up stumbling upon the Clutch Stroller by Delta Children and it had such amazing reviews and was very similar to some other strollers that costed more than three times the price. It weighs only 11.7 pounds and has a weight limit of 50 pounds so works for older kids! Elodie was borderline too big for it, but it worked out just fine. It did amazingly well on cobblestone streets, had a nice size basket below and was easy to maneuver. Biggest complain was that it doesn’t have a full recline for napping on the go, but the kids still managed to sleep in it!

Truthfully I would have loved to have two strollers or a double stroller because there was definitely whining and complaining from the kid who wasn’t in the stroller, but that just wasn’t feasible with all the other bags we had so we just went with one and it was fine. Amber recommends the Double Zoe Stroller if you want to look into that!

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AmazonBasics 4-Piece Packing Travel Organizer Cubes Set – Medium

Before this trip to Europe we were packing cube virgins. Now after using them for just this one trip we are totally hooked and can’t imagine traveling without them. For one: they definitely give you the ability to pack more in the same amount of space. When you use the rolling method to fold everything into the packing cube you are able to fit so many more items into your suitcase. But my favorite part of the cubes is how it made unpacking SO EASY and it made everything organized and easy to find. This is especially key when you are traveling multiple places and will be unpacking and repacking a lot.

When we got to our destination all we had to do was pull the packing cubes out of our bags and place them into drawers. You have easy visibility and access to everything so long as you packed wisely. Each of us had 3-4 cubes (I overpacked!). For the kids I had one for PJs and swim stuff, one for tops and one for bottoms. Followed roughly the same approach for me but added one for dresses. I liked having all the cubes one size, but they come in packs of multiple sizes if you prefer that. Seriously can’t recommend packing cubes enough!

JetKids by Stoke BedBox Ride-On Carry-On Suitcase

I mentioned the BedBox on my last post but wanted to touch on a few more things I love about these suitcases. They fit under the seat in front of you and if you don’t need the bed portion you can buy it simply as a Ride-On suitcase (and add the bed part later if necessary). We got SO many comments in all the airports about how amazing they looked and how well our kids did with them. They maneuver well around turns and on bumps (within reason haha) and our kids never got sick of them. If they weren’t riding them they were pulling them happily themselves. One thing to note is there isn’t a ton of space for extra stuff if you have the bedding in there. We had room for a few snacks and small activities but not much else!

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World Travel Adapter Kit with Dual USB + 2 US Outlets and Surge Protection

This is kind of random, but we were so impressed with this adapter we used. It had USBs built right in so we could charge both of our phones throughout the night without having to have two separate adapters and we could ALSO plug in other appliances at the same time. I was also able to easily plug in my curling iron and loved that this has surge protection so you don’t damage any of your electronics (which I have sadly done before). And it’s under $25!

These are the few products that stood out in making our trip more seamless with kiddos. If you have any you swear by, comment below!

 

 

15 Crowd-Pleasing Thanksgiving Salad Recipes

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Somehow, in all the years of Thanksgiving feasts, I’ve never been tasked with bringing a salad for the holiday! So naturally, when this was our assignment for our upcoming Friendsgiving next weekend, I turned to my trusty Instagram followers to find a winning recipe to bring with us. And they did not disappoint! I was overwhelmed with responses and also many requests to share the love, so here they are! 15 mouth-watering options for Thanksgiving salads.

Shredded Brussel Sprout Salad with Hazelnut Crunch by Martha Stewartshredded-brussels-sprout-salad-with-hazelnut-crunch-103107138_horiz

Thanksgiving Lentil Salad by The Kitchn174e4fcac666f93884127056deb4f8da6b4dff56

Butternut Squash Salad with Pomegranates and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds by Pamela Salzmanbutternut squash salad

Shredded Brussel Sprout Salad by What’s Gaby CookingWGC-Shredded-Brussels-Salad-copy-3

The Fall Salad You Won’t Be Able To Quit by Simple Real HealthProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

Winter Burrata Salad by Camille Stylescamillestyleswinterburratasalads

Roquefort Pear Salad by The Girl Who Ate Everythingroquefortpearsalad.jpg

Fresh Citrus and Cranberry Salad by Better Homes and Gardensfreshcitrusandcranberrysalad

Lemon-Garlic Kale Salad by The New York Times07COOKING-GARLICKALESALAD2-articleLarge

Roasted Squash Salad with Crispy Shallot and Balsamic Reduction by Minimalist BakerAMAZING-Roasted-Squash-Salad-with-Nut-Cheese-and-Balsamic-Reduction-30-minutes-10-ingredients-BIG-flavor-squash-glutenfree-dinner-vegan-salad-minimalistbaker-recipe-6.jpg

Autumn Chopped Salad by Espresso and Creamautumnchoppedsalad-1-1.jpg

Fall Harvest Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette by With Whit & SaltFall-Harvest-Salad.jpg

Roasted Cauliflower, Feta and Orzo Salad by Chrissy Teigen {photo by Savor Chic}1466611117102.jpg

Feel-Good Fall Salad by Gimme Some OvenAutumn-Harvest-Salad-Recipe-with-Sweet-Potatoes-Avocado-Cranberries-and-Pecans-1-1

Kale and Brussels Slaw by Sprouted Kitchen1448295911394

 

Three Products That Have Improved My Sleep + Energy

IMG_0467For whatever reason I have always been skeptical of “things” to make me look younger, feel better, blah blah. I didn’t really ever do vitamins (unless I was pregnant), I never used any special skincare products and I just never really fussed with any special “stuff”! But, here I am at 32-years-old, a mother of a 2 and 4-year-old, and let me tell you… I was in need of STUFF. GIVE ME ALL THE STUFF to help me look more rested, feel more energetic and sleep better (when I actually found the time to sleep!).

The last year I really committed to doing things to benefit my body, and products are just one area of improvement. Other things I’ve done will have to be another post for another day (hint: I’m now a morning person and have become addicted to Barre). These are things you can BUY now, preferably on Amazon (hello Prime two-day shipping) and start seeing improvements with energy, sleep and just overall health ASAP!

A Daily Probiotic. My sister had been singing the praises of her probiotics long before I actually decided to dive in. It was an article I read, for which I can’t find the link anymore, that finally convinced me. I’m not a doctor so I can’t really recite all the benefits eloquently, but to me, a daily probiotic has basically been a magic lifesaver. No more bloating, less stress, better moods… The list goes on for the benefits I felt. I take this one and love that it’s just a once daily (and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated). It was recommended by my naturopath, so I think it’s a good one!

Chlorophyll Drops. My morning routine used to start with a cup of coffee. Yes, I had always heard and read that starting your day with a glass of water (especially with lemon) was really good for you, but I just really wanted to get straight to my coffee. Well, I kept seeing Sarah Adler of Simply Real Health boast the benefits of starting her day with a glass of water with chlorophyll drops and I finally picked some up and started this new routine and… well, like magic I truly feel more energized when I start my day with the chlorophyll water vs. a cup of coffee straight away. Maybe this would be the case with even just a big glass of regular water, but for now I am sticking with this! (the drops are dark green and it looks kind of scary, but the ones I get taste like peppermint, which is a lovely way to wake up in the morning!)

Natural Calm Magnesium Supplement. I have never been the best sleeper, but since becoming a parent and dealing with lots of broken sleep, added stress, busier schedulers, etc etc it seems I’ve become an even worse sleeper. A few months ago I had HAD IT with the length of time it was taking me to fall asleep every night and the restless sleep I was having once I finally did fall asleep. I kept hearing the praises of this magnesium supplement and it is remarkable how much better I sleep on the nights I remember to take it (especially when I drink it like a tea with hot water, it’s just so soothing!). I also stopped scrolling my phone before bed and reading a real book instead, which makes an enormous difference in the time it takes me to fall asleep and shut my brain off.

In addition to these three things I also have been loving drinking a matcha latte with collagen peptides as a naptime treat if I’m feeling particular sluggish that day. My favorite way to make it is to warm up some milk on the stove, then add it to my blender, add a little simple syrup and vanilla, two teaspoons of matcha and a scoop of collagen peptides and blend until frothy and all combined. I do this hot or cold and I personally love the taste and it is a much healthier alternative to coffee and doesn’t hinder my ability to fall asleep that night like a cup of coffee would!

So there you have it! A few things you can add to your daily routine that might just help give you that extra pep in your step you need. I’d love to hear if you have any vitamins/supplements/products that have been life-changers for you!

How I Weaned James at 13 Months

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A couple weeks ago I shared a personal post on Instagram about the end of my breastfeeding journey with James at 13 months. There were SO many kind words, and so many mamas made me feel like I’m not alone in this bittersweet feeling of both excitement for the freedom I’m getting back, but pure heartbreak that I’ll never nurse James again. A lot of people asked how I went about weaning James, so I thought I’d share my experience. I know this is a very personal topic, and what worked for me might not work for another mama, but I hope you’ll find comfort or ideas in my journey.

From the very beginning James was a quick nurser, but ate frequently. He was like clockwork ready to get on the boob every two hours for at least the first 3-4 months. Once we started getting him on a more regular nap schedule, the feedings spaced out to about every three hours, but we didn’t get much beyond that until the very end. After I quit my job in January, it was harder for me to have a set feeding schedule. I was around all the time, so I basically just nursed James whenever it seemed like he wanted to. He also started all-out refusing bottles at 8-months-old after I accidentally went a few weeks without offering one (we went on vacation and I didn’t bring bottles or pump stuff, cause who wants to pump when they don’t have to? And then it was the holidays and our schedule was nuts so I just never needed to give him a bottle!).

When James was around 11 months, and as we neared his first birthday (and our trip to California was on the horizon), I knew I needed to start working on weaning. The first thing I did was to actually adhere to a schedule, so then I could start working on slowly and strategically dropping/combining feedings. At 11 months, James was napping twice a day, so my schedule was this:

+Nurse him at first wake-up (this was around 4AM at the time)
+Solid food breakfast when he was up for the day – around 7AM
+Nurse him before first nap (around 8:30/9)
+Solid food lunch around noon
+Nurse him before second nap (around 2PM)
+Solid food dinner around 5:30PM
+Nurse him before going down for bed (around 6:45PM)

Once I decided I wanted his feedings to be on a schedule as opposed to on-demand, it really wasn’t that difficult for him to pick up on the schedule. And as you can see, he was getting SOME kind of food pretty much around the clock, so he was fed and happy 😉 Of course if he was sick or teething, etc, then the schedule went out the window. But more-or-less, this is what our days looked like at 11 months.

A couple weeks after establishing our schedule I started working on dropping one of the daytime feedings. I went into weaning knowing I wanted the morning feed to be the last one I dropped. This was because I was most full in the mornings and also because of the convenience of dropping daytime nursing and bedtime nursing (so mama could go have her date nights and girls’ nights without first needing to feed the bottle-refusing baby).

Another thing I had to consider while weaning was the fact that James refused to drink breastmilk or water out of any sippy cup or bottle. At 11.5 months I finally felt comfortable giving James some cow’s milk, and sure enough he liked it so much, he sort of started to drink an ounce or two out of a sippy cup, so I was less concerned about him getting really dehydrated with me cutting a nursing session. Now instead of feeding him before each nap, I nursed him just before he ate lunch (so he wouldn’t get full on solids then not nurse). I was concerned he wouldn’t nap as well without nursing before, so I would often give him a snack (like yogurt or a piece of toast) before he’d go down for a nap. This also helped start disassociating nursing with naptime/bedtime.

Now, here’s where I had some unintentional help, which ended up being both a blessing and a curse. Right when I was thinking of dropping the one daytime feeding we had left (just shy of James’ first birthday), I got a really bad stomach virus and spent all night one night throwing up. That stomach virus really dried up my milk. This was a blessing because we were going to California a week later and I was hoping I would only have to pump morning and night while I was there, but a curse because I was honestly hoping to hold on to nursing morning/night for longer than I did, but my milk just dried up really quickly after the stomach virus.

Despite the big dip in my supply, I kept pumping twice a day, morning and night, on our trip (we left the day after James’ first birthday) so I could continue to nurse James when we got home. I was only pumping around five ounces each session at this point, so barely anything! While we were away, James was forced to figure out drinking from a sippy cup since that was his only way to intake a good amount of liquids. My mom was watching him during our trip and she is amazing and really helped him with this. It was such a relief. It was something I stressed over for MONTHS!!

Once we got home from my birthday trip, I pretty quickly and easily dropped the night nursing session (this got replaced with a 4oz sippy cup of milk before bed, which we’re still doing now and he just turned 13 months). I continued nursing him in the morning for the rest of the month, but I could tell I didn’t have a ton of milk and by this point James was probably doing it more for comfort than anything. I was still loving breastfeeding, though, so I kept on. I was so grateful that I never got overly engorged or had to go to any extreme measures to dry up my milk, but it was also bittersweet because it felt like it wasn’t on my terms. I guess no matter how it happens it is hard!

In the end, it was another trip to California, this time to Los Angeles to visit my sister, that ultimately marked the end of our nursing journey. I just couldn’t bear to drag my pump along knowing I hardly had any milk anyway, so I used this trip as an excuse to signal the end. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it three days without at least hand-expressing, but I literally didn’t even barely get full over the three days! Cleary the milk supply was very low. Even after not breastfeeding or pumping at all for three days, I still nursed James when I got home and he latched on like I never left.

Honestly, I kept thinking I would feel ready to be done at some point. And maybe if I waited a REALLY LONG TIME, I might’ve gotten there, but it didn’t seem like I would feel that way anytime soon. It mostly got emotionally exhausting for me knowing I hardly had any milk left and every morning I would wonder IS THIS THE LAST TIME I’LL EVER NURSE MY BABY? I decided I didn’t want to wait for the morning James refused me and instead I would end our journey on my terms. So the day he turned 13 months I nursed him for the last time (oh geeze, now I’m getting all teary…).

There were so many times during our 13 months I felt overwhelmed by the weight of being the sole food provider for James. There were so many times I’d daydream of leaving overnight and getting a full night of sleep, or even just going out for a self-care day and not have to worry about pumping or missing a feeding. Especially when James started refusing bottles, I felt like I was being stretched to my limit. It was so demanding. And yet, it was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. For all the moments I felt utterly exhausted from being a human milk machine, I had ten more moments of pure heart-bursting contentment having the opportunity to nurse James. When it’s good, it’s so good.  I feel so lucky I was able to make it as long as I did <3

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Carmel-By-The-Sea Trip Recap

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I turned 30 last year, in 2016, just three days after James was born. Needless to say, it wasn’t much of a big birthday celebration — I didn’t even have a glass of wine! I vowed that I would get a “re-do” for my 31st birthday.

After a lot of thinking, we decided a trip to Northern California — specifically Carmel & Napa would be the perfect adults-only vacation to celebrate my 31st birthday, but also to celebrate making it through the first year of parenting two kiddos. And boy did we need that vacation after the year we had! Let’s just say James doesn’t like to sleep as much as his mom and dad 😉

I had a lot of people on Instagram ask for by Carmel (and Napa!) recommendations, so I thought I’d get them all down in a post for anyone who’s interested! If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or reach out to me directly. I’ll be doing a post on Napa as well, so keep your eyes out for that! Alright here we go…

STAY:

We stayed at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands on points. Honestly, for the price we wouldn’t pay to stay there. The rooms are small and need to be renovated. We loved the property itself and the wood-burning fireplaces in the room, but we weren’t “wow-ed” by the terrace we had or the room itself.

Places to look into staying: Ventana, Post Ranch Inn, Cypress Inn, Mission Ranch

EAT:

La Bicyclette – we enjoyed a delicious dinner here, they also do breakfast and lunch! We loved the romantic and quaint vibe.

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Mission Ranch: A must for dinner! Absolutely gorgeous (and unique) setting and the food was fantastic. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations, so plan to get there early and possibly get a drink or two and walk around the property while waiting for your table. Have I mentioned there are sheep? I was in heaven!

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California Market at Pacific’s Edge: Great spot for lunch or dinner for INCREDIBLE views and the food was really good, too. This was on-site at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. Great spot!

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The Bench: Restaurant overlooking the 18th hole at Pebble Beach golf course. Absolutely amazing view, delicious food and perfect place to stop at the end of the 17-Mile-Drive.

Carmel Bakery: Good option for a quick pastry (they honestly didn’t blow me away, but pretty good)

Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Company: This was our go-to for coffee in the mornings! We’re coffee snobs and we thought this stuff was good! They also have pastries and food.FullSizeRender-8

Dametra: We didn’t actually make it to this restaurant, but it was recommended to us by MANY, MANY people (need reservations)

Other spots to look into (were recommended to us), but we didn’t actually try:

The Tuck Box (cute spot for breakfast)

Casanova

Hog’s Breath (sit around the fire pit for drinks)

Post Ranch Inn

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WOULD NOT RECOMMEND: Many people recommended Katy’s Place to us for breakfast. We found the food very mediocre and over-priced for what it was. I know that sounds harsh!! I think we’re just so spoiled with amazing brunch food in Portland, this place just didn’t hit the spot. Maybe we ordered wrong?!

TO DO:

17-Mile-Drive

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Drive Highway 1 along the coast, stop at many viewpoints along the way (don’t miss Bixby Creek Bridge) if you can go to Big Sur (we couldn’t, the road was closed due to a landslide), heard great things about Nepenthe for a drink with a killer view.

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Just walk up and down the streets of Carmel-By-The-Sea and look at the cutest homes and downtown area, go down to the beach

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We weren’t super impressed by Monterey, we stopped in and walked around for an hour or so, but it wasn’t very charming and it was super touristy (at least what we saw of it). If we went again, I’d love the locals perspective on where to go because I’ve heard such great things, we just didn’t get a great vibe!

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Point Lobos (we didn’t have time to make it here, but heard it’s great if it isn’t too crowded)

You could do a hike — there are plenty in the area, we didn’t have time!

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We were only in Carmel for three nights and it was so charming and there were still a couple things left we could’ve done and stayed one more night, especially if you wanted to see the area at a more leisure pace like we did! Hope this has helped you if you’re interested in a trip to Carmel!

Five Things I’ve Learned: My First Month as a SAHM

**This post was written on February 6, 2017**


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one of my first outings as a stay-at-home mama, to the oregon zoo

Today marks my first full month as a stay-at-home mama! Truth be told, it actually feels a lot longer than a month, but not necessarily in a bad way! I feel like I’ve just been learning a lot and getting into a new groove. I was so grateful for all the advice I got on my Instagram post a while back, so many amazing tips, many I put to good use! So one month in as a SAHM, here’s what I’ve learned, what’s working and where I could use some improvement!

O N E // I didn’t learn this first fact this month, but this month just really reiterated it: I am not a morning person. I’m not the type that wakes up chipper in the AM, ready to start the day (like my husband!). I need slow… quiet.. coffee.. all.the.coffee. I find that when I have the opportunity to have some quiet alone time in the mornings, our day gets off on a much better foot — this definitely means daddy taking over in the morning until he needs to go to work. More on that later!

T W O // Getting out of the house every day — whether for a big or little outing — is key! Not only does getting out of the house give me good reason to be clothed and have makeup on (which for whatever reason actually makes me feel more energized during the day), but it tires the kids out, gets them social interaction, and makes our days go by quicker. It’s really a win all around, so we try really hard to make this happen!

T H R E E // If we are going somewhere (so, ideally, every day), we need to start the getting ready process from the moment the troops are awake. I literally spend the entire first part of the morning getting the kids fed, dressed and the diaper bag packed in preparation for an outing. Nothing sucks more than running around like a crazy person minutes before needing to leave and then being late. Also, did you know that toddlers are especially defiant when you want them to do something quickly?

F O U R // My toddler watches way more TV now that she is home with me. This is something I definitely want to work on, but as I am trying to get my bearings being home with both kids, the TV inevitably gets turned on more often than I would like. I try really hard to set Elodie up with activities to do while I am feeding James, getting James down for nap, or trying to prepare breakfast, lunch or dinner, but sometimes she is just not in the mood and the only thing that will give me the time I need is to put a movie on. C’est la vie. Suggestions welcome! [excited to give an update here as I’m nearly five months in now and this has definitely improved! yay!]

F I V E // I don’t miss work. At all. Not even on the hardest days.  It’s true I’m only a month in. And I’m sure the newness and excitement will surely wear off, but for now, I have never looked back on this decision to stay home. I am more in love with my kids than ever, am so grateful to have this extra time with them, and am fully embracing this season of life. I know I’ll be back to work someday, so for now I am soaking up these incredibly special days with them.

I have so much more to say about transitioning from a full-time working parent to a stay-at-home parent. Stay tuned!