Monday, December 21, 2015

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Doggie Treats

I have to begin by saying, I am a girl with many ideas (some stolen). But none the less, I have them. I am not however, excellent at executing those ideas in a timely manner. In fact, my husband is the "idea executer professional" in our family. You'd think me being a Project Manager and all, I'd be an excellent idea executer at home... drum rolllll..... and you're wrong :)

For Halloween I realized I wanted to be one of those new moms who took TONS of photos of their baby during ALL THE HOLIDAYS. So, I had the brilliant idea for Brad to buy us a small cute little pumpkin so I can sit miss Joanna next to it and take some cute little photos. He bought me the pumpkin. It was the perfect size! And it just sat there... for 3 weeks. It sat there for so long that Thanksgiving was beginning to roll around and it was now fall decor instead of Halloween decor. It sat there for so long that grandma kindly decided to cook it before it went bad and my cute little pumpkin WOULD become a total waste! Needless to say, Joanna did not get any Halloween photos with that pumpkin #ideafail

So one evening the week before Thanksgiving, grandma washed the pumpkin, cut it in half, put it on a cookie sheet faced down and put it in the oven to bake (I'm not sure exactly how long but the house smelled really good). The outside was slightly brown before she took it out of the oven. Once she deemed it done baking, she set it on the counter and let it cool over night. The following day, she spooned out all of the good insides of Mr. Pumpkin and there was no turning back.  Well I think there was no turning back once she cut it in half... but who's keeping record? (If you are reading this... I love you grandma)

So, we made two homemade pumpkins (one of which we ate entirely before Thanksgiving day ... just to make sure that the one we saved for Thanksgiving Day was cooked perfectly) and we also made homemade doggie treats. I found the recipe here and literally just followed it exactly. I did such a good job following it that I took tons of pictures of my puppies and grandma and I's efforts in their doggie treats just to share with you guys :)

3-Ingredient Homemade Peanut Butter
Pumpkin Dog Treats

1/2 cup Natural Peanut Butter

1 cup 100% Pure Pumpkin Puree, canned

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, stir together peanut butter and pumpkin. Stir in the flour 1/4 cup at a time just until dough is no longer sticky.
3. Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper to 1/4″ thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the dough, then place on the prepared pan.
4. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container or freeze for up to 3 months.

Toby was keeping an eye on us
Hemi couldn't wait to eat them

Both puppies absolutely loved them (and still do)!
Do you make homemade dog treats? If so, what kind? 

We also thin slice chicken breasts and put them in the dehydrator to cook. Doggie treats are a little time consuming, but very economical and I'm sure that the puppies appreciate the effort we put into it!

Dog-Mom and Chef Stephanita 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

We are in Texas!

I feel like we've fallen off the grid - I've got so much catching up to do! Joanna was about 4 weeks old when we sold our home and moved into grandma's house temporarily. 5 more weeks and we found ourselves in Texas. It's been a whirlwind of a journey (a successful one at that)... but it's still been pretty hectic. I'm happy to report that we are all moved into our new Texas home (another temporary rental until we figure out exactly where we want to plant some roots) and just focusing on spending time together as a family before we all head back to work and daycare next month. 

Planning our move to Texas started back in June when I was offered my dream job at 7 months pregnant. My heart jumped for joy while the little voice in my head said, "How in the world are we going to pull this off?" Brad has been extremely supportive since day one. Once we decided we were moving, every time I questioned how we were going to get through X, Y or Z ... He'd reassure me that we'd find a way to make it work. 

I've been thinking a lot about blogging since we've been here. But after a day of unpacking, settling in or just enjoying our new town... I am pooped! We lay the baby down to sleep, and all I can think about is what I have to do before my head hits the pillow too - wash bottles, clean the kitchen, finish laundry... #thestruggleisreal

I've got lots of things I want to write about! The homemade peanut butter and pumpkin dog treats grandma and I made the puppies before we left, my pumping journey to build a freezer supply of breast milk before I head back to work, overcoming mastitis at 2.5 months post partum, my efforts in starting running again... but most of all, I really want to write about my decision to get rid of my personal scale - because with how busy life can get, who needs to define their happiness with a number on a scale?

I spent 6 hours at my new office today meeting with my new manager about my new role when I return from maternity leave in January. I had a great day and the time spent at the office really helped me mentally prepare myself for what's to come. I am really excited to take on this new position! But as soon as I got home to my baby, the rush of how much I missed her just slapped me in the face. I literally spent the rest of the evening nursing, talking, bathing and cuddling with her. It made me realize that I need to become the most efficient possible version of myself when I'm at work. It also made me accept that I'll probably be sleeping a little less than I currently do. Oh sleep, how I'm going to miss you. 

For now, I'll leave you with this moment in time... Her and I thoroughly enjoying our warmth before bedtime <3


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

My First Outing with a Newborn

Last week, I made my first attempt to leave the house with Jo (baby Joanna) (besides the time we went to her second pediatrician appointment and she pooped all over the blanket - the doc literally helped me clean up her poop). Needless to say, it took almost 2 weeks for me to build up the courage and leave the house with her again, alone.

When you're a new mom, leaving the house for the first time alone sounds like a big deal. Like seriously, leaving the house pre-baby was a pretty big deal - I had to shower, get dressed, do something with my hair and put on my makeup. Then, I had to figure out why I was leaving the house, make a list so I don't drive around aimlessly and make sure I had my purse loaded with whatever essentials I need. It took me years to develop this routine of efficiency! And literally overnight, we have to develop a new routine with baby and this was my attempt...

With baby: skip the AM shower (I've switched to PM showers when daddy is home), pull the hair back in a pony tail (ain't no one got time for all that hair stylin' anymore) and put on a little bit of powder and black eyeliner to cover up the I'm so tired look. Then, we start the fun stuff... and this is basically how my morning went once I got through 1, 2, 3 steps of me "getting ready" while she sat in her chair.

Change Jo's diaper, change her onsie that was just spit-up on while I was getting dressed and feed her. My thought process:

A - I don't want her to cry in her car seat because she has a dirty diaper
B - I don't want her to smell like dry breast milk in 2 hours
C - I don't want her to cry in her car seat because she is hungry, so let's "top her off" or fill 'er up!

And the above steps worked perfectly! Now the fun stuff - how do I get the diaper bag, car seat, purse, essentials listed above and my water cup into the car? ...without leaving the baby unsupervised? Thought to self: If she is strapped to her car seat, she is safe? Maybe the dogs can keep a 60-second eye on her while I load the diaper bag, purse and essentials in the car. Seriously, I don't know what the correct answer is here but I ran through the scenario in my head 5 times and there is no way that I can load all of that stuff in the car with a baby in my hands. I can barely get milk out of the fridge and poured into a cup while holding her bopping head!

So, we made it out of the house. Only 20 minutes after my original "goal time" so it wasn't that bad. But then, 10 down the street... the tire pressure indicator light came on in the car! After an attempt of checking the tires and adding air at the gas station - I gave up and drove to the Mazda dealership (all while Jo was sleeping in the back seat). I couldn't figure out how to get the indicator light to turn off and there was no way I was driving 1hr solo with a newborn and that indicator light on... so we drove to the Mazda dealership.

It's was definitely God's plan that I didn't know how to turn off the indicator light (which ended up being a little button left of the steering wheel). I pulled into the service department and my rear tire had a NAIL IN IT! Well, it looks like we were spending the afternoon at the dealership.. or at least a few hours. And this worked out in my favor as well because I had my first breast-feeding-in-public experience (and Jo had her first diaper change in public experience, this time she didn't poop on her blanket... whoosah!). I found a corner of the dealership tucked behind a vending machine where I could cover-up with a blanket and whip out the bam bams. As my first experience doing this in public, it was a nice calm environment. But I quickly realized that I need to work on my upper body strength. Once I get cleared from the doctor to exercise again (13 days and counting!), I'm going to start using those 5lb weights!

Anyways, this was my view for the duration of that dealership feeding and changing experience...

And you can imagine what we did after we left there? Went home and took a nap!


Sunday, October 4, 2015

One Day I'll Miss These Long Nights

We are 12 days into parenthood and there is one thing that I'm beginning to realize about life that somehow in my 27.5 years of existence I never really realized before... It happens FAST - like really fast. How is it possible that we've had our little girl for almost 2 weeks already? I keep remembering those last several weeks of pregnancy which felt like they would never end and she would never arrive. I felt like the time passed so incredibly slow, especially when the night came and I'd wake up 5-6 times to go to the bathroom and lay back down just to stare at the clock until I dozed off again. 

My running coach shared a blog post with our running group recently...

The Long and Short of It

There is basically one sentence that sums it up:
"As it turns out, running is a lot like parenting: The days are long, but the years are short."

I remember those months marathon training where I cursed the alarm clock for going off at 3:30am so I could get in that long run before 8am. Or the evenings at the parkway doing speed work where I just had to push through one interval at a time because thinking about doing 5 total wore me out. But in the end, meeting my running goals during those races felt like heaven at the finish line. And in the blink of an eye, my training months came to an end and I was staring at the start line of another race I'd prepared for. Here we are, 4 years of running later - 2 marathons, 9 half marathons, I lost count of how many 15ks, 10ks and 5ks - and it all just flew by. 

Well, parenting is a lot like that right now - specifically nursing at all hours of the night. When I'm falling asleep in the rocking chair hoping that Joanna finishes up so I can put her back to bed, I remind myself that I just need to make it to 5am (you called it, the initial first-time-mommy-adrenaline is starting to ware off). Because after 5am comes dawn and the long evening will be over. For me, it's the dim lit evenings in that rocking chair that feel the longest. 

Yes, it's a beautiful thing and since she arrived I get choked up and start tearing at any moment about how thankful I am to have our growing family. But it's also hard work, probably the hardest job I've ever had. And although I find myself saying, "Momma, you just have to make it to 5am" ...I want the days to stop flying by. Soon we'll be moving and shortly after I'll have to go back to work full time. And...

But I also love my daughter with every fiber of my being, every ounce of my soul. And I know that I'm going to miss those dim lit nights in the rocking chair when I'm away traveling for work. I know I'm going to miss her unfinished diaper explosions which leave poop and/or pee on her changing pad cover because my new-parent-experience didn't know to have the new diaper ready before taking the old diaper off (okay this really happened multiple times so far, haha). And I'm going to miss just watching her sleep. And the scariest part is that in the next 10 weeks she is going to grow even more and there will be other memories we will make, that haven't happened yet... that I know I'm going to miss. 

So to sum it all up again, the days are long but the years are short. I realize now that time flys by and when the night comes again where I feel like I may not make it to 5am... I just have to cherish the snuggles and her little hands that curl around my finger, because these days will be over before I know it. 

One tired momma

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Welcome to Mommyhood

One week ago, I became a mommy to a precious little girl that my husband and I named Joanna. Earlier this year when we learned we were expecting and remodeling our home at the same time, I was pretty obsessed with the HGTV show, Fixer Upper - and that's how she got her name. 

Before I met my husband, I was on the fence about how much I actually wanted children of my own. I became an auntie at age 16 and then again at age 20 and I was pretty convinced that children may be too much for my own liking, even though my niece and nephew are two amazing individuals. That little opinion of mine (along with other reasons why I am now thoroughly enjoying my journey toward domestication) changed shortly after I met Brad. Although I still wasn't ready for kids, something inside told me that I wanted to one day marry and have a family with that man. Well, two dogs, one cat and a baby later... we've got ourselves a little family. We don't think Joanna quite completes our whole family, she sure does add more love to the mix than we ever thought was possible.

Here are a few things I've learned in the last week:

1. In the first few days (or possibly even weeks/months), you can cry tears of happiness - over and over and over again! ...Right after she was born, the nurses worked on her for a good twenty minutes while trying to get the fluid out of her lungs. Brad stood next to me waiting patiently for them to give her to me. I literally had waterfalls of tears running down my face and kept saying to him, Can you believe that is our daughter? I am in complete disbelief of how much love she brings into my heart - all 6 pounds, 6 ounces and 20 inches of her. As cliche as it sounds, its unreal and it's difficult to understand until you have one of your own - at least it was difficult for me until last Wednesday.

2. Sleep deprivation isn't as bad as it sounds. Okay, that statement sounded crazy and maybe it's the new-mommy-adrenaline-high that I'm still riding, but somehow your body adapts to the needs of that little being that just entered the world. It's not to say you won't fall asleep nursing in the rocking chair or walk around with bags under your eyes... but your body truly adapts.

3. You fall in love with your partner all over again. Cliche statement #2 but this is real - I promise. You see them in a whole new light when they wake up at 1:30 am to change a dirty diaper, they clean the litter box (even though they hate cats) or they try to soothe and rock a fussy baby while telling her stories.

4. After day 3, babies poop and pee... A LOT! Wow, have we gone through quite a few diapers and she is only 7 days old.

5. Your baby will become the new focus of your life. I'm sure that once new parents learn what their new normal is with their new baby, they are able to [mostly] continue living the life they previously lived before their baby arrived and bring them along for the journey - but in the interim, it's literally all about the baby.

Thats all for now!

New Mommy Stephanie

Monday, September 21, 2015

DIY Nursery Bedding Part 2

In my last post, I left off on describing my efforts of learning how to sew (only, we didn't get into the actual sewing details). Apparently there is a lot of planning required before you even sit down at your sewing machine - and even more planning once you bring home all of your materials from the craft store. 

3. Turn on your sewing machine

Brad and I planned a weekend to spend at my MIL's house so we can start our sewing project. We packed up the car, loaded the doggies and drove 2 hours south. I somehow misplaced the power cable to my sewing machine (truthfully, I'm not sure how I did this because I never even turned the thing on) but luckily, my machine uses the same power cable as your standard printer. Needless to say, I borrowed MIL's printer cable to power my machine for the weekend.

Friday night, Mom Ganey took it easy on me. She gave me a crash course on my machine... how to turn it on, the fact that it has 40+ fancy stitches it can sew, how to thread the machine and the needle, etc. Then, she put me to work on sewing "tabs". There were plenty of tabs that needed to be sewn, they basically looked like this:

Eventually, these tabs would adhere to different parts of the nursery bedding to attach parts together - attach bumpers to each other, make "hoops" for the organizer to hang off the crib, etc. 

Before I arrived, Mom made these items and it really got my juices pumping to get some hard-core sewing in that weekend. I could see what the final product was supposed to look like and I was super excited :)

baby organizer

So, we spent all weekend sewing (and cooking/eating delicious foods). We made 6 bumpers to go around the entire crib, 2 fitted sheets (one grey and one pink), one medium-sized quilt, the bed skirt and a ton of little flowers that got attached to different parts of the decor. 

baby quilt

Mom made a canopy that is supposed to hang over the crib on the wall - but we've opted to not put it up until we've finished moving into our new place (thats a whole other story) - yes, we are moving!

4. Put the nursery together

After spending the weekend sewing our nursery decor, we came home and our final project was to finish putting the nursery together. We had to decide if it was really worth it to decorate the entire room considering that we'd be packing it up and moving it in just a few months. Baby Joanna isn't really going to be able to enjoy it until we get to our new destination. So, we opted against hanging things on the wall and unpacking certain items that we really wouldn't be using yet.

Overall, we really loved how it all turned out!

Where most of my sleeping will occur over the next several months

We opted for the dresser with changing table "top" for more storage
The dresser Mami restored this summer

Besides all of the planning that went into getting the nursery ready, there is also a lot of planning that goes into sewing. Thats probably the biggest thing I learned while sewing with Mom. AND, you need a clean space to lay out all of your materials! Once we move, I won't be working from home full-time so I'm hoping to be able to dedicate some of the "office" space to sewing space.

Until next time!


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

DIY Nursery Bedding Part 1

My striving efforts in becoming a domesticated runner/wife/mom started around the time I became a live-in-girlfriend. I knew how to do laundry (my mother always ensured that my 3-showers-a-day had clean underwear to accompany) and I could cook just about anything in the microwave.. but thats as far as my survival skills went. I did not have any interest in learning how make a 3 course meal or sew cute outfits for the children I couldn't imagine having yet. You can say that I was the girl who was anti-homemaker and expected my future partner be thoroughly involved in running our home (I may have been a little bit of an extremest before I met my husband).

But somewhere along the line, all of that changed. When I became a live-in-girlfriend, Brad did primarily most of the cooking (besides my occasional mac and cheese and blueberry muffins from the box). I took an interest in learning how to make particular foods and it was fun to follow new recipes together. But when I decided I wanted to try something new, he taught me how to avoid fear in the kitchen by reading the whole recipe and cutting up all of your ingredients before turning on the stove; and when I did burn something or it didn't turn out as well as I expected it to.. he had no problem picking up my PapaJohns pizza 20 minutes later.

I will admit that his approach at making me feel comfortable with learning new things around the home is the only reason why I took it a step further... I started this blog and asked Santa for a sewing machine for Christmas. And although Santa knew that the machine would probably sit in it's original box for 6 months before I found the courage to actually open it... be bought me one anyways :)

Santa (my hubby, Brad) never gave me a guilt trip about that sewing machine sitting in my office closet collecting dust or nudged me to start the office-chair-cover I promised to start in February (which it's now September and I still haven't started it... ha). And I realize that this post is probably beginning to sound like a brag about the man who never expected me to learn how to be a domesticated wife and mom... but I just needed to express how it all really started.

Back to the sewing machine! My MIL came up with the thoughtful idea to gift us a nursery set (blanket, bumpers, sheets, canopy, the whole nine-yards). By the way, my MIL is very domesticated (as I've probably mentioned before). She can cook, sew, paint, work a full-time-job and still have dinner on the table by 6pm (or at least that's the legendary story she has left behind). So, when she said she was going to sew our entire nursery decor from scratch... I was excited and relieved. I quickly asked her if I could help and if she could show me how to use my sewing machine. She quickly said "Yes!".

So this is basically how that adventure went....

1. Picking a Pattern

MIL: Have you looked around at nursery themes and decided what you want the nursery to look like?
Me: Yes! We want to paint the room grey and incorporate little "pops" of pink throughout.
MIL: What about the bedding? Have you found anything that you like?
Me: Yes! I saw a few at (insert baby store name here) that I liked and also (insert more store names here).
MIL: Okay great, make a plan to go to Joann Fabrics and pick out a pattern
Me: Okay, I can do that this weekend

(1-2 weeks go by)

Me: Hey mom, I've been meaning to go to the store to find that pattern you told me to pick out. But, can you explain to me what a pattern is?
MIL: Fabric stores make "patterns" which are basically plans to help you sew what you want to sew from scratch. It gives you a photo of what your project will look like in the end with the dimensions of your materials and instructions on how to create your project.
Me: Oooh! Kinda like a project plan but for sewing?
MIL: Yes, just ask someone at Joann to help you find the baby patterns when you go - they should be able to help you

(I'm sure she sounded a lot nicer than this but I was too busy laughing at myself during the conversation to really hear the words)

So, I spent the afternoon at Joann's and I found a pattern that I liked. I LOVED the little flowers and MIL assured me that we can make the colors of fabric whatever I wanted them to be. It wasn't so hard after I admitted that I had no clue what I was doing and needed a little bit of guidance.. isn't that always how life works out? Why do we pretend to know things? Why do we let our ego sometimes get in the way? I'm constantly learning about this thing called life... but here is my pattern:

2. Picking out fabric

This wasn't so difficult! Although, I must make you aware that when I am given too many options to choose from, my default answer becomes "yeah, that looks good". I'm usually a pretty decisive person when I only need to choose from 2-3 options MAX. Anything more than 3 just makes me very confused.

So, MIL and I made a trip to Joann to spend the afternoon discussing future plans (more on this later), baby plans and fabric plans. I'm a planner, okay? Literally that is what I do for a living - I'm a Project Manager, which is just a glorified planner who makes sure that everyone is doing their part to adhere to the plan :) so, naturally.. I like to talk about, make and execute plans (although at home, Brad is the one much better at execution than I am).

...and there I go off on another tangent!

So we picked out the fabric. MIL tried to keep the options to a minimum as she knows I get distracted easily. I wanted pink, white and grey. I thought the colors went well together and she helped me make this final decision...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the grey fabric so we decided to use this as the "center". Now all we needed to do was decide where exactly the pink and white was going to fall using the pattern above (okay when we did this part, I did get distracted with all of the options). It was a little difficult to envision how exactly the grey, pink and white was going to come together for each of the pieces we were going to make. The bed sheet was easy - that was only one fabric at a time. But the quilt, bumpers and organizer (the little thing on the right middle of the pattern photo that holds baby items) was another story. By the end, I probably sounded like "yeah, that looks good".

In my attempts to not make this post excruciatingly long, I am going to stop here. The next big step is the actual attempts at sewing (which was like a weekend-sweat-shop at MIL's house) and our end product (which I'm very excited to share!).

Catch you guys next time!


Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Morning Quiche

Several weeks ago when Brad and I spent the weekend at Mom's house sewing all of our nursery decor (a recap on this sewing loveliness is next... promise!), we had quiche for breakfast. I didn't realize just how much I love quiche until I've experienced it multiple times throughout my pregnancy. 

I love how flaky and buttery the crust is
I love how fluffy the light the eggs are
I love how its so easy to make
I love that you have plenty of left overs

Okay, so you get the point. I pretty much love quiche right now. Well Mom made us quiche for breakfast with asparagus and lobster bits. Can you say... YUM? (oh and we had a side of bacon, because I love bacon just as much even more than my new found love of quiche). She basically whipped up a few ingredients, popped it in the oven and vua-la! ...Amazing quiche was cooked and ready to eat.

Well, making a whole quiche pie seemed like it was too much for Brad and I to eat alone (I know, I know - too much food for this pregnant lady?). So, I decided I wanted to make my quiche in ramekins. Usually when we bake/cook pies, we like to bake smaller portions so that we don't feel forced to eat the entire pie in one day.

So, this morning I woke up and I decided I was going to make quiche! By the way, my ramekins were a little on the larger size - let's just say that they weren't "mini". Plus, I cooked a side of bacon :)

I bought pie crust from Publix and lined the ramekins with the crust.

Egg filling - per ramekin
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk (1 tbsp per egg)
sautéed mushrooms
sautéed asparagus
cheese - sharp cheddar
seasoning - I used Tony's, which we basically put on everything in our house

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine eggs and milk and whip until blended. Add additional ingredients, mushrooms, asparagus and cheese.
  3. Pour into ramekins
  4. Place directly in the oven and bake 25-35 minutes, this will vary depending on the size of your ramekin. Check the center of the quiche if it is still wet looking cook a few minutes longer until set.
  5. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Serve the ramekin on a plate with fresh fruit bacon!

...we plan to eat the other two tomorrow morning! Sorry, the bacon didn't make it to the photo :)

PS - the easy thing about this recipe is that you can pretty much mix any ingredients that you want. Making the ramekin size quiches allows you to customize your ingredients and let others be involved in the cooking/mixing process. 


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

my first bluum box

Somehow, Facebook knows that I am expecting and continuously posts ads on my newsfeed about maternity and babies. I am convinced it's linked to the internet searching I do on my computer because the next time I login, I always have updated maternity and baby ads in my news feed specifically related to the items that I search. I feel like this is a good thing and also a bad thing. It's great to see new products advertised because the world of parenthood is new for my husband and I (and I am open to trying new things anything that will help us "survive" our first year)... but it's also scary that it knows what I search for on the internet and I become curious as to how this information is used publicly. If anyone knows how to turn this off, please let me know! Anyways....

I heard about bluum through my Facebook feed. bluum is a company that provides a monthly box of goodies from pregnancy to preschool and they offer a subscription service - 1 month, 3 month, 1 year, etc. I found a discount code and signed up to received my first box for $9.99. Right after I signed up, I read some not-so-good reviews about this company comparing it to another, Citrus Lane. I will probably give Citrus Lane a try too. But for now, this is what I thought about my first bluum box...

I signed up for the service back in July and it was very easy to do. I was glad to see that they advertised for during-pregnancy as well as items for after the baby is born. I entered our baby's due date, 9/25/2015 and was on my way. I received an introduction email letting me know that I can customize my box and it was very easy to do so when I logged into my account on their website.

Roughly 20 days after I placed my initial order and customized my box/account for the types of things I was interested in receiving, I received an email from bluum letting me know that my box has shipped. I received my box yesterday and I LOVE the color! :) I actually forgot that I would be receiving my box so when the doorbell rang, I was happily surprised (and yes... our doormat says "go away" ...haha). 

When I opened the box, I found some pretty tissue paper, some stuffing and a lovely little card. The card says that we are in the 3rd trimester (34 weeks!) and also has a quote:

"I know I am but summer to your heart, and not the full four seasons of the year."
- Edna St. Vincent Millay

I received 5 items in my box:

1. Brain rules for baby by Dr. John Medina

Honestly, I was mostly excited about this book - which focuses on early child development and effective parenting based on research presented by Dr. John Medina. It's received 5 solid stars on Amazon and its valued at $9.99. I will likely post a review of the book once I've had an opportunity to get through it.

2. Oh Sew Ready: Maternity 12-40 weeks

I thought these stickers were super cute. Although, I hadn't seen them for mom - only for babies each month as they grow. I feel like it's a little late in my pregnancy to start this (I'll be 35 weeks on Friday!), so I'll probably regift them to a pregnant friend :) this was valued at $10 on Amazon.

3. Playtex Baby VentAire Bottle

I was really interested in the bottle by Platex also. I plan to breastfeed and pump so I'm not sure which bottle baby Ganey will take best. Although I do have a #1 bottle already chosen (the Kiinde system due to their ease of pumping, storage and feeding straight from the bag), it's nice to have a back up option for her to try. This was valued at $6.50 on Amazon.

4. Playtex Baby VentAire Nipple Variety Pack

When I first received this, I thought how great is it that it's a variety pack! And then I realized that the flow is not variety (for those non-parents like me.. there is a different "flow" or size of the nipple opening for the different ages in months). This has a variety of shapes: breast-like, full-sized, natural latch, and angled. Well that just made it that much more confusing :)

5. Ellovi Vanilla Lip Butter

I couldn't find this on Amazon but this does glide on just like butter would :) Our birth-center teacher highly recommended bringing chapstick in our hospital bag because of all of the breathing that you do in-and-out of your mouth. Needless to say, I'll be packing this along!

Shortly after my box arrived, I received an email from bluum basically outlining what to expect in my box and their perceived value of each item. This was nice as a first-time mom to have more information on each item without having to look it up (although this shipment wasn't difficult to figure out the purpose of each)... I liked the overall idea.

I hope that the boxes continue to get better for the monthly cost of $29 (month-to-month subscription). Although there is a discount if you sign up for 3 months, 6 months and 12 months. I probably won't be renewing the subscription and I'll give another company a try. I liked the ease of the system (I am an Amazon fanatic so anything delivered to my doorstep for cheap is my perfect relationship) but I didn't love all of my items. But again, maybe I have to give them another try for a few more months.

Have you ever tried a home-delivery system for pregnancy/mom/baby items? What was your experience like?

Soon-to-be "Mami"

Monday, August 10, 2015

DIY Nursery Dresser Restoration

Thirty something years ago, my husband's parents purchased a bedroom set for him (and possibly his siblings). That bedroom set lived a wonderful life until last year when I decided that I needed to convert our guest bedroom/storage room (which has only been used by 3 visitors in 4 years) into my home office. Working from home was becoming very difficult in our over-cluttered den.

So, I took the liberty (with the permission of my husband of course and his family members), to donate the furniture to Good Will. The only piece that remained was this dresser (lightly sanded and hardware removed):

Looking back, I feel pretty selfish in admitting that the dresser was only saved because it "lived" in our dog room and not our guest bedroom. We primarily used it to store all of our pet essentials and a few other random items. I'm afraid that if the dresser was also in our guest room, it's life with the Ganey family would have been over (because of the newest Ganey member - me! donating it) .... okay, guilt trip over.

When we started planning for our nursery room, I realized how little storage we had for all of the baby things that would be soon to come. Our linen closet is pretty full - and we only have ONE in the entire house. So, I decided that finding a way to include the dresser and its large, spacious drawers was a better idea than donating it. HAPPY LIFE = MORE STORAGE? ha.

First I had to decide what exactly I wanted the color of our nursery furniture to be in order to try and match the dresser to the new decor. So, we decided on an "espresso" finish for our new nursery furniture:

Then, I searched Pinterest for weeks until I found a restoration idea that:
a - was cute and mature enough for a baby to grow into as a child
b - had a old/worn look to it so it wouldn't feel like I was trying to match the new furniture exactly (I didn't want it to feel "matchy-matchy")
c - (most importantly) I thought I could handle with my lack of restoration experience

So, I ended up with this Pinterest goal:

Although the style of my dresser was much different, I felt like the dark top would match our new espresso nursery furniture and the chalky, white bottom would lighten up the room with all of our other dark furniture. Plus, this was gender neutral for our future children :)

Okay now for a little brag fest ... my mother is the DIY queen. She personally taught me that you can literally fix, restore, and clean anything to make it look ALMOST exactly the way you want to. Her and my father took on many home remodel projects over the last 25 years and I've always been proud of what they can accomplish - and what they have forced me to learn. I am incredibly lucky to have TWO families (Saravias and Ganeys) that have taught both my husband and I that we can do and fix just about anything ourselves with our own two hands (even if you have enough money to pay someone, you have enough confidence to do it yourself).... and we both think that is a very important thing to teach our children. /brag over

So first, she sanded everything down and it really brought out the natural grain from the wood. I didn't realize that all of the texture that was living underneath the 30 year-old clear coat that was previously on there.

Then, she stained the top of the dresser dark brown, she gave it multiple coats since that natural wood absorbed basically all of the stain that she applied the first time.

She applied two coats of the chalky white paint that I found from my Pinterest-inspired dresser.

And the last step was to apply the clear finish so that the paint and stain would be protected for another (hopefully) 30 years. And we ended up with this as our finish product... !

Although its not exactly as old and worn as the original Pinterest-inspired dresser - I really love how it turned out. You'll have to look at it closely in person to really tell the grain detail (which is my favorite part, the wood is not as smooth as the picture makes it seem). Although I may go back and distress the paint a little more with some sand paper, I don't think I'll be adding a "glaze" or anything else to make it look more like the other. The dark spots in the original actually make the dresser appear dirty to me, and I'm sure in time with children... that will occur naturally :)

Here is where I purchased the paint color - it was called "old white"

Oh, and we used the original hardware, Mami cleaned it and painted it "shiny" brown - paint purchased at Michael's.

Disclaimer: My mother (Mami) did almost all of the work associated with this dresser restoration project. Brad (my husband) did a little bit of sanding when the dresser was first taken apart and I did all of the supervising and planning :) my project team members are very hard-working individuals who did their best to please their pregnant daughter/wife <3

Stephanie, Project Manager