March Favorites

Well, one-quarter of 2014 is already gone. Springtime is finally upon us–though I’m not sure why I’m saying finally…it’s always warm here in Hawaii and now is the time of year for increasing humidity (yuck). But for everyone else who has had horrible winters, I’m sure it’s nice to have a breath of spring air! Looking back on my month, here are just a few things I have been loving.

PS-I’ll try to keep these monthly favorite posts confined to things NOT baby related since I’m doing separate monthly posts on that. Sound good? Good.

Homemade Clif/granola bars– Oh my goodness. These things are so good. The only problem is that I want them always…which may be counterproductive to my attempts to eat healthier. But regardless, they are delicious and are so super simple to make. I was going to do a whole blog post about making them, but I found the recipe I use online, and her pictures are way nicer than mine would have been anyway. Check it out here.

Sarah Rose– I have lived in Hawaii for about 2.5 years now and I haven’t been to the same hair-stylist twice. I seriously could not find anyone who could cut my hair and I would like it the next day. Last year I found Sarah Rose through a LivingSocial deal, and I am so glad I did. When I went back to NC for Christmas I decided to get all of my hair chopped off on a whim (well…to my shoulders…but it was a lot of hair coming off…) and I ended up hating it. I waited a few months to try and make it work, but it was a no-go. Enter Sarah! This girl is amazing. I came in to see her again and vaguely described what I wanted and she delivered to a T. I absolutely love love love my hair (and now I don’t regret having cut off all my length). I finally found my go-to stylist! Any of you who live on O’ahu have got to check her out!

Date Night– This month was the first time since having Evan that Brinton and I were able to go out on a date just the two of us. It was so nice! We enjoyed an absolutely delicious Korean meal at a nice restaurant and then went out to Coldstone to kind of recreate our first date in high school and get ice cream. We ordered the same thing as our very first date too! I got cake-batter with chocolate sprinkles and Brinton got coconut with graham cracker pieces. It was such a sweet evening (er…no pun intended…) and we really appreciated our friends Rachelle and TJ for babysitting for us!

Date Night Collage

Hooray for blurry cell phone pictures!

These shoes– Ever since I found these on sale at Old Navy I have been wearing them with everything. I even blogged about them with this outfit. I love the color, the pattern, and the way they are so ridiculously comfortable…they are my new go-to. Luckily they are still available if you want to grab a pair for yourself!

Shoes close up

Parks and Recreation– I know I am super late on this…but this show is hilarious. Probably why we have been binge watching it on Netflix for the past few weeks. I love finding a great show!

I think that’s about it. Well, not true. I have way more favorites than that…but they are mostly food. Haha. Plus I am super hungry while I’m writing this so maybe I just need to eat. Anyway…goodbye March! You were great!

Favorite Baby Items (6 months)

When I was creating my registry, I found it so helpful to read about what other moms loved and used all the time. Lucie’s List was my go to website when I needed a quick opinion about something. I’ve decided that now that I have a few months of mommy-hood under my belt I wanted to add my two cents about which products we love. Since I stopped blogging through the end of my pregnancy and Evan’s first few months, I will try to go back and do a recap post of newborn favorites and the items we got the most use out of for the first few months too. And if any of you have suggestions for favorite items that you love and think we should try, let me know in the comments!

Just a heads up: We pretty much rely on Amazon for a majority of our purchases, because sometimes finding things in Hawaii is really difficult, or when we find it the price is marked up so high that it is just as convenient to order it online. For that reason, all of the pictures will be linked to a website!

Here they are! Month 6 favorites:

Munchkin Spoons
These spoons are inexpensive but durable, and the tip is soft enough that I don’t have to worry about Evan hurting himself as he gets used to eating solid food. The bright colors attract his attention, and I feel comfortable letting him play with the spoon (supervised, of course) after he is done eating. We use the Munchkin bowls as well, but I kind of feels like bowls are bowls, you know? I’m sure I’ll start to feel differently when we let him start feeding himself, but we aren’t quite there yet. You can get these on Amazon if you don’t want to leave the comfort of your home, but they are sold pretty much everywhere including Walmart and Target.

Picture via Amazon

Picture via Amazon

Vtech Sliding Song Bead Maze
Oh my goodness. Evan could play with this for hours. My husband and I both have all of the songs memorized, and I find myself humming them throughout the day. It isn’t the most annoying children’s toy I have heard…but be warned that it may drive you crazy. That being said, Evan absolutely loves it. All of the different parts are interactive, and it lights up as well. We actually received this second hand from some friends who were moving to the mainland, but you can get it on Amazon, or I’m sure at your local toy store too.

Picture via Amazon

Picture via Amazon

Lamaze Discovery Shapes, Activity Puzzle and Crib Gallery
My in-laws got this for Evan for Christmas last year and he loves playing with it. I don’t like to keep anything in his crib because I want him to know that when he is in his crib it is time for sleep, but sometimes if I need just 10 minutes to shower and get dressed, I’ll tie this to the side of the crib and let him play. Right now his crib is the only place in our apartment where he can’t get into any kind of mischief, so this is the perfect distraction for him! He is so intrigued by the black and white pattern on the one side and thoroughly enjoys chewing on the animals that hang down. Some rattle, one squeaks, and they all are the perfect size for his tiny hands. Most of the time he is sitting up, playing with it in his lap in our main room, and I’m sure as he gets older he will figure out that it can be a puzzle too. Available from the Tomy website or at Toys R Us.

Photo via Amazon

Picture via Amazon

Dr. Seuss Board Books
I love the Dr. Seuss books (board books or not) because they are so colorful and have such a fun rhythm to them when you read them. The board books are super convenient though, because now that Evan has quite a grip I don’t have to worry about him getting too excited and ripping the pages out. Plus, I don’t mind if he ends up chewing on the corners–because board books are supposed to be well loved, right? Again, we found most of ours second hand from friends or community book fairs, but you can buy them at Target, Amazon, etc.

Photo via Target

Picture via Target

Anything with a tag
Seriously…anything. A blanket. Every toy. Stuffed animals. His bibs. Towels. His clothes. A tiny stuffed cow from Chick-fil-a that my mom gave us when we went home for Christmas. If it has a tag, he will find it, and he will chew on it until it is so soaking wet that you can ring it out. Apparently though chewing on tags is popular enough that someone had the brilliant idea to create “Taggies,” which are toys and blankets with tags all over them. Why was I not the person to come up with this?! We haven’t purchased anything like that–though I’m sure Evan would think he hit the tag jackpot, but really…anything and everything has a tag, so I’m not going to spend money buying tags. As a gift, that’s awesome! But its not on my priority list of purchases to make.

So, there you have it. Pretty much what I have learned during month 6 is that while it is important to have toys and things that help baby’s development, Evan will pretty much play with everything. We use a laundry basket in the bath now that he can sit up well (you have probably seen that idea on one of those “parenting hacks” websites that circulates through social media), and his favorite toys in the bath are a rattle and a cup. That free Chick-fil-a cow he has is his go to favorite, and he loves examining our toes. Bottom line: if you have the money to spend on baby toys, that’s awesome! Go for it! But if money is tight, find a few safe objects for baby to play with, and you will be golden. And if all else fails, find something with a tag.

Seven Months

This baby boy is growing up so quickly and changing so much! Since turning 6 months old, he has started solids (he is consistently eating bananas, carrots, pears, and oatmeal), has cut his first tooth (and the second one is visible below his gums), he is learning how to play peek-a-boo (which is the cutest thing ever), and says “mamamamamamama” all the time now. Sometimes he will even say “mama” and “mom” (of course he has no idea what he is saying…but I like to pretend that my baby is a genius, haha). He is starting to figure out that he can roll over multiple times and wiggle to where he wants to go, and he is so incredibly curious about the world around him. He just wants to explore everything! His little giggles warm my heart in a way that no other sound on Earth could, and each day I feel more and more blessed that I have the privilege of being his mother. Oh, and he is finally getting some hair again!

ImageImageImageImageOh that little smile gets me every time!

Keep an eye out for my Favorite Baby Items (6 Months) post! It should be up by the end of the week, and when it goes live I’ll link it here.

Thanks for being here!

 

Striped Maxi Skirt

Last week as I was visiting other blogs through the link-ups I participate in, I stumbled across someone who said that maxi skirts are like the sweatpants of dressing up, and I have to agree in the best way possible! I love a maxi skirt because I can dress it up or down, and it is so super comfortable. When I found this one on sale at Ross for just a few dollars, I didn’t hesitate to buy it!

This is such a simple look, but nice enough that I feel put together. If I’m being completely honest, all of these pieces are super inexpensive, and I got most of my outfit second hand from a friend who was moving (and let me tell you…I  am all about free clothes! Who doesn’t love free?) 

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PS, if any of you wear glasses and don’t have a pair of prescription sunglasses (and no, transition lenses do not count), get them! They are absolutely amazing and have made my eyes so much more comfortable when I am out and about. Plus, they can be super cute! Protect your eyes! (Sorry, y’all. The optician in me is getting off her soapbox now…)

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy, Get Your Pretty On, and Because Shanna Said So!

Spaghetti Squash with Sweet Italian Sausage and Spinach

I love spaghetti squash. I had eaten it before, but it wasn’t until I had gestational diabetes and I was looking for low-carb alternatives in my dinner recipes that I was reminded of how delicious it is! The first few times I made it, I pretty much stuck with simple vegetarian meals–steaming the squash and then topping it with sauteed bell peppers, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, and garlic. More recently I cooked up the more traditional “spaghetti squash bolognese,” and while it was yummy, I still wanted to experiment with other options. 

Well, this is it. This is the one. 

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This recipe is so ridiculously simple, and so delicious. 

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Are you drooling yet?

I call it “Spaghetti Squash with Sweet Italian Sausage and Spinach,” because those are pretty much the only ingredients. The only other thing you’ll need is extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), salt, and pepper. Simple!

Here’s the how-to…with pictures of course!

Step 1
Get your spaghetti squash roasting. This takes the longest amount of time, so you’ll want to make sure you get this started right away. There are many different ways to prepare the squash, but I prefer baking/roasting it. I have also steamed it and microwaved it in the past, but I think it tastes yummier (i.e. not as mushy) when it is baked. In our tiny apartment we have a mini-stove/oven and it is kind of a pain, so recently we purchased a nice convection toaster oven, and that’s what I used to bake the squash for this recipe.

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut the squash in half length-wise and scoop out all of the seeds. Drizzle with EVOO, salt, and pepper. You can add other seasonings–garlic or garlic powder would be yummy–and spices if you like. Place face down on a baking sheet lined with foil, and bake for about 45 minutes. Depending on your oven it may need slightly shorter or longer to cook. Because my oven was baking on the convection setting, it only needed about 35 minutes until it was finished.

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ImageStep 2
While the squash is baking, remove the sausage from its casing (if using links). Again, you can change up the type of sausage you use if you prefer a spicier flavor, but I used sweet Italian sausage. The squash will make a lot–we had enough for 6 adult servings–so if you want to make it all with sausage, cook up extra links. If you want to save some of the squash for another recipe, cook up less sausage. You can count on about one link per person. We wanted leftovers so we cooked up all five that came in the pack. With the casing removed, “chop” with a wooden spoon and cook until nicely browned with no pink left. 

ImageStep 3
Once the meat is browned, add fresh spinach and cover. Cook just until the spinach wilts. Spinach shrinks down to almost nothing once it is cooked, so add way more than you think you need to! I added more than half of the bag to start with, and once that was wilted down, I added almost half of what was left. 

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Once the spaghetti squash is finished baking, allow it to rest for a few minutes until it is cool enough to handle. Using a fork, scrape out the insides into the spaghetti like strands the squash is named for. 

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Scoop the squash onto a plate and top with the sausage and spinach, and you’re done!

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Sensationail

I love manicures. But two things I don’t like (or didn’t like) was paying to have my nails done, and how quickly they would chip! For that very reason I hardly ever got my nails done at a salon–it just wasn’t worth the price tag to me when I could do my own nails at home. That way, when it did chip, at least I had only spent a few dollars on a bottle of polish rather than half my paycheck on someone else doing it. 

Two summers ago before I went to Europe for three weeks, I decided to treat myself and get my nails done. I had heard a lot about shellac manicures, so I splurged, spent a little bit extra, and decided to go for it. It claimed that it wouldn’t chip or peel for two weeks, and I figured if I could have nicely manicured nails for the majority of my trip, it was worth the cost! I had tried acrylic nails around the time of my junior prom and they totally ruined my nails (probably because no one told me how I would need to have them removed) and I didn’t want to venture back down that road. I tried the shellac polish, loved it, and it lasted through my whole trip. I mean, it was super grown out and had begun to chip in the last week or so, but I was sold. 

I was not sold on the price tag, though. I started to look into at home systems, which ended up being mostly gel polish. I had heard a lot about the Sally Hansen line that was just coming out at the time and had it in hand, ready to purchase when I saw a system called Sensationail. I put the Sally Hansen one back on the shelf, went home, did quite a bit of research including watching as many YouTube videos as I could find (which wasn’t many at the time because it was so new), and went back to the store to purchase that one instead. I am so glad I did! I could not be more pleased with my investment. 

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Image from Sensationail, and is linked to the starter kit page!

A Sensationail starter kit retails for about $60, depending on where you buy it from. (As a side note, things are always more expensive in Hawaii…so prices may be a bit different on the mainland or internationally, although I imagine it would only be a few dollars difference, if anything.) They offer the starter kit in four different colors, including Pink Chiffon (light pink), Scarlet Red (bright red), Raspberry Wine (a deep wine color), and French Manicure. I personally purchased the Pink Chiffon color. The starter kits include the LED light, a color polish, a base/top coat, the gel cleanser, the gel primer, lint-free wipes, a double-sided nail buffer, a manicure stick, and an instruction booklet. So, while it is kind of an investment up front–the cost of one to two manicures–in the long run it is way cheaper than going to a salon. Individual color polishes retail for about $9-12 dollars (again, depending on what store you buy from and what state/country you live in) and their color selection is amazing! The colors are so nicely pigmented and I can usually achieve the look I want in two coats. In fact, the number of colors they have to choose from is one of the reasons I ultimately decided to go with this system over others. 

The process is simple: lightly buff the natural nail and wipe it clean with the lint-free wipes and gel cleanser, and prime the nail. Then apply the base coat and cure with the light for 30 seconds, apply one coat of the color and cure for 60 seconds, apply a second coat of color and cure for 60 seconds, and apply the topcoat and cure for 30 seconds. Wipe the nail with the lint-free wipes and gel cleanser to remove any tackiness, and that’s it! Completely dry, super shiny, ready to go gel nails that last for up to two weeks. On average, mine last for about 10 days before I start to see peeling or chipping, but I have had several manicures last quite a bit longer. Other than the polishes themselves being on the pricey side, I have pretty much no complaints about Sensationail. Overall, I am very impressed and this is the only way I do my nails anymore. Why bother with regular polish and wait for it to dry only to chip a day later?

Here are just a few of the manicures I have done since becoming obsessed (and I really am…just ask my husband). I get most of my inspiration from Pinterest, but I’m working on coming up with more of my own designs. In fact the four pictures on the right are all my designs, and the four on the left are inspiration from Pinterest or other Sensationail lovers that I follow on Instagram. I’m extremely amateur, but not too bad for having almost no artistic skills whatsoever. Haha.

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And this one, which is what I am currently wearing. It’s such a happy spring manicure!

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PS, this is not a sponsored post and I’m not getting paid to talk about how great Sensationail is. I just found a product I love and couldn’t help but share it! If you have mani/pedi ideas, share the inspiration down below!

Casual Wednesday

Now that I am back at work, I revel in my days off when I can be casual and comfortable. Don’t get me wrong–I love dressing up for work and having something motivate me to look nice and put together every day, but some days I just want to wear jeans and a t-shirt. Enter today’s outfit.

Purple shirt full 2

So comfortable. This purple shirt puts a twist on the classic jeans and white tee that I love so much and brightens up the whole look. Plus, it is super soft. I mean really cozy soft. Who doesn’t love that?

My main accessory today? A diaper bag (okay…one of my like 6 diaper bags…) and my little one, on my hip. He has been pretty clingy today because they are doing construction on our building and it has been so loud that he keeps getting scared! But I don’t mind the extra cuddles one bit.

Purple shirt with baby

Shoes and bag

Loafers

Jewelry

Shirt: Old Navy (exact)
Pants: Target (similar)
Shoes: Target (Sadly discontinued. Similar here.)
Diaper Bag: Vera Bradley “Squared Away” (discontinued, but available on Ebay still)
Ring: From a small shop in Lucca, Italy
Earrings: Belk (similar)
Necklace: A gift from my Mother-in-law. I’ll find out where she had it made and might even do a whole post on it because this necklace is just too amazing to not share the details!
Glasses: Anne Klein (also discontinued, and not available to order anymore. Similar shape here.)

Today ended up being one of those unpredictable days where nothing went exactly as planned! It wasn’t my intention to be posting this so late in the day, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow and what happens, happens. At least I had a comfy outfit to tackle today with!

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy and Get Your Pretty On!