Friday, September 23, 2016

Top 10 Maternity Favorites

I feel very thankful that I have had a very easy pregnancy. Since I've felt pretty normal the majority of the time I don't really have a maternity "survival list," but I certainly do have a list of my favorite things. With only 5 weeks left to go, here is a list of my favorite maternity clothes, food swaps, and pregnancy accessories!


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ONE | Snoogle

If you're pregnant, just go ahead and buy a Snoogle now. For real, I waited way too long to buy this pregnancy pillow and should have bought it much earlier. I am a back sleeper and sleeping on my side is very uncomfortable, but the Snoogle helps provide a little bit of back support and helps keep me from rolling over on my back in the middle of the night.

The only problem? This thing is huge and is basically another person in the bed. Praise 
God for a king size bed, ha!



TWO | Seraphine Knot Dresses

Pregnancy does not get any more flattering than the Seraphine knot dresses. They can be dressed up for work or dressed down for around town.

They are a bit pricey ($95), but the fit is unbeatable and they also make great nursing dresses (so you can keep wearing them after baby!). And hey, if they are good enough for Kate Middleton, they are good enough for me! ;) So if you're pregnant, treat yourself to one or two of these dresses (which come in short sleeve, 3/4 length, and long sleeve).



THREE | Italian Soda

Since drinking alcohol (and caffeine, for the most part) is a no-go during pregnancy, I've started drinking Italian soda as a special evening treat. 

To make it a bit more fancy (who doesn't love fancy?!) I will pour the soda in a wine or champagne glass. These are great to enjoy while watching a movie or sitting outside with John - a very worthy beverage alternative, if you ask me!



FOUR | Designer Maternity Jeans

You get what you pay for when it comes to maternity jeans (I don't think this is necessarily true for tops), so invest in a few nice pairs right away. You won't regret it... I feel so much better about sporting a big 'ole pregnant belly when I am wearing properly fitting clothes!

I'm all about a good deal, but I think the reality with maternity clothes is that they are not all made equal. I don't want to knock on Target, but their maternity jeans just did not work for me... or, at least, after trying on some AG and 7 For All Mankind maternity jeans I quickly learned how unflattering all other maternity jeans were.



FIVE | Mederma Stretch Marks Therapy

I absolutely love this Mederma Stretch Marks Therapy cream and use it several times daily. Currently I don't have any stretch marks (and if I did, that would totally be fine and this little babe would be worth every one), and I don't know if this cream has anything to do with it, but hey, I plan to keep using it regardless because it makes my belly feel uh-mazing!

The cream is the perfect consistency (absorbs very will into my skin - not greasy at all) and can be used starting in the second trimester.


SIX | Cello Parmesan Whisps

I love sweets, but I also loveee salty snacks too. I can totally sit down with a bag of potato chips and do some serious damage. To avoid doing too much damage, I have swapped potato chips for these Cello Parmesan Whips - a very, very worthy swap! I originally found these while at Costco with my mom, but have since bought more online.

Let me tell you... there is only one ingredient: Parmesan cheese. There are 9 grams of protein per serving (and only 100 calories) - which isn't too bad for a salty snack, if you ask me!



SEVEN | Birkenstocks

Before becoming pregnant, I never understood the whole "tired feet" thing. I could walk for miles and miles wearing Tory Burch or Jack Rogers sandals (which have zero support) and not have any issues. However, mid-way through the second trimester my feet started to get sore half way through the day if I was walking around too long without something supportive.

These Birkenstocks have been a saving grace! Since they are sandals they are easy to slip on and off, but they still provide awesome support to keep my feet comfortable throughout the day.


EIGHT | Liz Lange Day Dresses

These Liz Lange for Target maternity dresses are inexpensive, always on sale, and ridiculously comfortable - you can't beat them for running around all day! Not only are they extremely comfortable, but they are the only pieces of maternity clothes that would fit my bump when I was in between normal and maternity clothes. 

These dresses come in sleeveless, 3/4 length, and long sleeve. I have several of these and have spent the majority of my pregnancy in them!



NINE | Elli Quark

I found out about Elli Quark from Tone it Up, and they are absolutely delicious. They are perfect for curbing any cravings for something sweet and taste way better than Greek yogurt (and I much prefer the texture!). 

Let's be real, the red velvet doesn't replace a slice of cake, but if you're motivated to eat healthy (which I am 25% of the time, ha!), then it is a great alternative (not to mention the 14 grams of protein and only 80 calories!)!



TEN | Balance Ball

There is not much that makes my back feel more comfortable than sitting on a balance ball. Whether I'm working at my computer, watching television, blogging... whatever, I feel so much better sitting on a balance ball. And, as an added bonus, it will be great to bring to the hospital as a birthing ball!



Any pregnancy favorites that I'm missing out on?! If so, please share!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Apple Crisp with Caramel Sauce

John loves to be out and about on the weekends, but with college football in full swing, it means that he is hanging around the house more and that I finally have more time for weekend baking!

I was planning on baking some sort of pumpkin dessert (because hello, September!), but when I saw this apple crisp recipe, I just knew I had to change plans! I was certainly not disappointed... and the home made caramel sauce just brings this whole dessert over the top - delish!


What you need for the apple filling:
- 4 Granny Smith apples
- 3 tbs of melted butter
- 2 tbs of flour
- 1 tbs of fresh lemon juice
- 3 tbs of milk
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- dash of salt

How to make:
1. Peel and thinly slice the apples.
2. Stir together the melted butter and flour.
3. Add the lemon juice, milk and vanilla to the butter mixture.
4. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
5. Toss the apples in the filling sauce.
6. Pour the apple mixture into a greased 8x8 baking dish.




What you need for the crisp topping:
- 1/3 cup of cold butter
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp of baking powder
- 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
- a dash of salt

How to make:
1. Cut the cold butter into small pieces.
2. Using a fork combine all ingredients until crumbs are formed.
3. Evenly sprinkle the topping on the apple mixture.
4. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.



Although I originally baked this apple crisp intending for it to be a dessert, I certainly think that it could also pass for a special-treat breakfast (sans ice cream). After all, there are apples in it - and we all know that apples = healthy! ;)


What you need for the caramel sauce:
- 3/4 cup of butter
- 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
- 2 tbs of water
- 1/4 tsp of salt
- 1 tbs of vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup of evaporated milk

How to make:
1. Combine the butter, brown sugar, water and salt in a sauce pan, and stir over medium heat until the butter melts.
2. Once the butter melts, bring the sauce to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and evaporated milk (add a tad more evaporated milk if you like your caramel sauce thinner).


Serve the apple crisp warm with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle the caramel sauce on top... oh my goodness - so delicious! Keep the caramel sauce in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. After being refrigerated, simply reheat the sauce in the microwave and stir before serving. 

Let me tell you, this sauce will not go to waste. You can serve the extra with slices of apples, drizzled on ice cream, stirred in your coffee... or what the heck, just eat it with a spoon!! It's that tasty. :)


Monday, September 19, 2016

Pre-baby Bucket List

I am 34 weeks pregnant today, and as the time for baby's arrival gets closer and closer, it seems like my to do list is getting longer and longer. I'm not quite sure how it is happening, but for every item I check off my list, 3 more things seem to get added!

Here's a list of my top 10 pre-baby bucket list items.


1. Meal preparations
Cooking is already something that I don't really enjoy, so I know that once the babe arrives, this will move even lower on my list of things that I feel like doing. 

So to avoid eating out every day, I want to have a nice stash of freezer meals. I've made freezer meals many times before, and would so much rather have a single full day of cooking that will last me a month than try to figure out what to make and cook for dinner every night.

2. Practice using my DSLR
I've been getting more and more comfortable with using my "big girl" camera in manual mode, but I have lots of practicing to do. I plan to leave my camera out on the counter for the rest of my pregnancy and use it 10 minutes each day to get more familiar with using it... gotta get those cute photos once the baby arrives!! :)

3. Nurse thank you treats
There are all sorts of nurse thank you gifts on Pinterest, and I really love the idea of them! John, on the other hand, thinks they aren't necessary (since after all, we are paying them via our hospital bills) but I still love the idea! 

Any thoughts on what I could do besides a little treat? Since baby Pray will be born close to Halloween, I'd like to avoid candy, if possible.


4. Finish the nursery
This is kind of an obvious one, but I am very much looking forward to the nursery being complete! My dad has graciously offered to come to Texas for the weekend to help us finish it up, and we couldn't be more excited and thankful to have his help. And, even more, we are so looking forward to seeing him! 

5. Finish reading all of my half-started baby books
I swear, I have 4 or 5 baby books half-started... and I would like to finish at least one or two of them!

6. Make Christmas cookies
Christmas is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday, and baking holiday treats is something that I look forward to every single year. I still hope to bake a fresh dozen or two of cookies once the baby arrives, but I want to be prepared with some frozen options just in case. 

And let's be real... it's never to early for Christmas preparations. :)


7. Highlights
There are few things that make me feel better than a fresh set of highlights... and boy oh boy I am due! So a fresh set of highlights is pretty high on my pre-baby list.

8. Assemble and register product warranties on all baby gear
Baby Pray has all sorts of new awesome gear, and now John and I just have to figure out how to use it all! Although the babe won't be using a lot of the things he has until he is a bit older, I still want to set everything up and make sure that we register the products and enroll for the warranties.

9. Create a baby memory box
I want to make a pre-baby memory box for the babe before he arrives. Letters from family, photos, trinkets - whatever, really! So much can change so quickly, and I think it would be very meaningful to capture how much everyone loves him already. We will give him the box to open when he gets older.

This idea came from Mix and Match Mama and is so special - read about it here!

10. Relax!
It's so easy to think about all of the things I would like to get done before baby... lay fresh sod in our back yard, clean my baseboards, replace all of our air filters throughout the house, etc., but ultimately, what John and I both need to do is just spend our final weeks relaxing, waiting, and enjoying our last days together as a family of two!



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Happenings!

It has been a busy, busy two weeks... here's a quick peek into all that we've been up to!

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Friday after work John and I met at the Palladium theater for a movie date night! We saw Hell or High Water, and John loved it... I was luke warm - not a total waste of time, but I certainly don't feel the need to ever see it again.

I may have not loved the movie, but I can't help but enjoy some popcorn and theater treats. :)


As everyone is well aware, the pumpkin spice latte is back at Starbucks! 

Although I don't particularly love the taste of it (am I alone on this one? ...I much prefer the Christmas peppermint mocha!), I couldn't help but indulge in a (small) fall treat... but here in Texas, only pumpkin spice frappuccinos will do since it is still quite warm!


I recently pulled out our fall home decorations and had so much fun cleaning the house (it's true!) and decorating. 

I posted my fall inspiration here, and made sure that everything I put out would be low maintenance, last until Thanksgiving, and be easy to put away (to transition into Christmas)... gotta make things easy with a little babe on the way!


And speaking of fall and seasonal decorations, I couldn't help but feel a little extra excited seeing all of the pumpkins being sold at Trader Joe's. Makes my fall lovin' heart happy!


The weather in Texas is still quite warm, but it has certainly been cooling down - which makes it much more enjoyable to be outside. And this nicer weather meansss... more patio dinners! 

Now if baby Pray can just hurry up and get here so I can enjoy a margarita outside. :)


This weekend we had a n-i-n-e hour birthing class at the hospital where we will be delivering. It was a very long day, but well worth the time (and thank God for that... because nine hours long would be pretty awful if we were watching the clock tick by the whole time).

At the end of the class we had a hospital tour and it was so exciting to actually see where we will go to check in, where we will be delivering, what to bring, etc. Things are getting real, and will be here before we know it! Less than seven weeks to go!


After church on Sunday John took his kayak out for a little float trip on the Guadalupe river. Although it isn't trout season yet, it was a beautiful day to be out on the water and catch some little pan fish!


And while he was fishing, I was doing my first load of baby laundry! 

And oh my goodness... baby laundry smells so good. I'm still trying to figure out how to best organize everything (hang, fold, etc... any tips?!). Until I can figure out how to organize everything, I will just enjoy washing (and smelling!) all of his cute new clothes. :)


Friday, September 9, 2016

booties, booties, booties

Since I only have 7 more weeks of being pregnant, it isn't quite enough time to make investing in fall maternity clothes worth it... but shoes? Shoes will fit no matter what! 

And I'm not going to lie, boots may be my favorite part of fall anyway, so although the weather hasn't cooled down in Texas yet, you best believe you can still find me rocking my cropped jeans with a pair of booties. 

I've already purchased two new pairs this year (the August heat really had me craving fall...), and I am hoping to call it good, but goodness - I just can't help but love them all! Here's a lust list of boots that I've put together... now just to restrain myself!



 
  


Here's a quick peek at my fall maternity inspiration! Basics, layers... and yes, booties - and I will definitely be throwing in some scarves as soon as the weather cools down a bit! :)

1  |  2  |  3  |  4


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

banana chocolate chip ice cream

A few nights ago I was craving something sweet, but had absolutely n-o-t-h-i-n-g in the house... isn't that the worst?! I started perusing Pinterest thinking I would bakes some cookies, but instead I came across a very simple banana ice cream recipe that I just had to try.

John was quick to point out that this was not technically ice cream... but ever since I baked him a black bean chocolate cake and didn't tell him that there were black beans in it, he has been a bit skeptical of my baking. But in all fairness, you could have given someone that cake and they never would have known that there were black beans in it, and similarly, you could present this dessert to someone as ice cream and they would never know that it wasn't!


This recipe is incredibly easy and only has 3 ingredients: bananas, half & half, and chocolate chips.

Begin by slicing your bananas into coins and freezing in a Ziploc bag (I used 3 small bananas). Once the bananas are fully frozen, remove the slices from the baggie and puree them in a food processor.


Add a dash of half & half into the pureed bananas and mix together.


Lastly, remove the food processor blade, stir in some chocolate chips, and pop back in the freezer for about an hour.


Scoop, serve, and ta-da... you've got yourself some banana "ice cream"! This was the perfect treat to curb my craving for something sweet, and hey, bananas are healthy, right?!





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