Maeve’s Faves: a baby gift guide for 3-6 months

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Tis the season for gift giving! So, I thought I’d do a quick round-up of some of our favorite items from the last couple of months to inspire anyone looking for gift ideas for kids in the 3-6 month age range.

Introducing: Maeve’s Faves!
gifts for 3-6 month old babiesManhattan Toys Sqwish: Hands-down, Maeve’s favorite toy for chewing, shaking, banging, and even cuddling. I nearly laughed myself off the couch when I saw her lay her head on it like it was a cozy pillow. It’s my favorite toy for her, because it’s made of wood, not plastic, and offers so many open-ended play opportunities. In a sea of toys that are only fun for a short time frame, this one definitely has staying power.

Baby Bling Bows: It’s no secret that my daughter is large of noggin, and finding bows that don’t strangle her poor noodle with overly tight elastic was a tall order. Baby Bling’s bows are super stretchy and wide to accommodate heads of all sizes comfortably, and come in all shades of the rainbow. They’re just darling. I have a bit of a compulsion with these, so Maeve is rarely seen without one!

Rags to Raches Rompers: These adorable rompers have my heart. They’re ridiculously soft, cozy, cute and stylish. They slip on and off easily through the stretchy neck-hole, so there’s no annoying snaps to mess with. And they’re a good investment, because they can be worn snug or loose, so one pair can last you 6 months of growth or more! I went a little crazy on Black Friday and now they seem to make up most of Maeve’s winter wardrobe. And I’m not even sorry about it.

Kickee Pants Pajamas: We discovered Kickee Pants and their incredibly well-made, adorable jammies when my nephew Grayson was a baby, and they immediately became family favorites for all babies who’ve come since. They’re made of viscose bamboo and spandex, which makes them extra soft and stretchy and they come in a ton of adorable patterns and styles with features like butt ruffles that I can’t get enough of. Maeve’s PJ collection is easily 95% Kickee. Caution: they make babies even more huggable than usual. It’s a bit dangerous.

Angel Dear Lovies: Hi, my name is Dana, I’m almost 38 years old, and I still sleep with my childhood lovie. No shame. So I took finding Maeve her own lovies very seriously. Enter Angel Dear. So soft, so snuggable. But most important, breathable. Two of Maevie’s four lovies are by Angel Dear, and she takes them everywhere she goes. I fully credit an early attachment to lovies as part of Maeve’s magical self-soothing powers, and will forever be grateful for so many peaceful night’s sleep as a result.

Fisher Price Snail: We got this toy as a hand-me-down from my nephew, and it’s a big hit with Miss M. She loves looking at herself in the mirror, swinging her Sqwish and hitting the snail to activate its song and lights, making it a great toy for cause-and-effect learning. And when she starts crawling, it can roll along with her, so it’s not just great for one stage of her life, but can evolve with her.

Chewbeads: These necklaces, toys, and stroller attachments are such high quality teething toys. Made from silicone, they’re super chompable and soothing to a teething baby’s gums. Maeve gives tons of love to the one we keep hooked onto her carseat handle.

Cheeky Chompers Neckerchew: Clever as they are for marrying a bib and a teething toy, I love these most for being the most absorbent bibs we own. Our drooly monster goes through multiple bibs daily, except when she wears these, which somehow last all day without saturating through to her clothes. And they come in an adorable array of colors and prints. But yes, the teething tip is also a seriously awesome feature, and Maeve happily chomps hers whenever they’re around her neck.

Fisher-Price Infant Bouncer: Maeve loves to bounce and bat at dangling toys, and once she learned to roll from back to belly, there were few ways we could entertain her on her back. But contained in this recliner, she would happily lay back, bouncing herself and swiping at the toys, and enjoying the calming vibrations while I got some work done in the kitchen or jumped into the shower. I got it for free from a neighbor in my Buy Nothing community, and she’s just now outgrowing it, but it was great while it lasted!

And if you want a splurgey gift idea, look no further…

Dyson Humidifier: I love this humidifier so much! When Dyson offered me one for review, I jumped at the chance, because we’ve had one of their vacuums and loved it, I know their quality is top notch. It is whisper-quiet, easy-to-use, and very sleek looking. Living in the desert, it’s hard to achieve the perfect indoor humidity year-round. The Dyson Humidifier is the perfect solution for my baby’s nursery, because we can set our desired humidity level and it will run automatically, keeping it at the perfect humidity for her space! Other, unprogrammable humidifiers either over-humidified or under-humidified her room, and now we don’t have to worry about that being a problem anymore. It also kills 99.9% of bacteria using Ultraviolet Cleanse technology to kill bacteria before the mist projected into the room, and boasts features like a sleep timer, intelligent climate control, and a handy remote so you can change settings from the comfort of your own bed (or the hallway outside your baby’s room, so you don’t disrupt their slumber)It’s absolutely wonderful and gives us great peace of mind.*

Hope this list gives you some fun ideas for how to keep a 3-6 month old in your life entertained, well-dressed, and comfortable! I’d love to hear your faves too!

 

*Disclosure: Dyson provided me a humidifier for free in exchange for an honest review of my experience with it. Thanks, Dyson!


Drink this: Califia Farms Toasted Coconut Almond Milk

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best coconut almond milk

Yes folks, a post about almond milk. Why? You ask? BECAUSE IT IS THE BEST DAMN ALMOND MILK IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. How much do I love it? Enough to write a whole post about it, out of the kindness of my own damn heart, to enrich your mouths and lives. That’s how much. Dammit.

Or at least, it’s by far the most exciting new grocery-store find Paul and I have had in the past year.

We’re not huge “milk” people. Don’t get me wrong… I love me some cheese, and all the butter, like any good midwestern girl should. But, keeping cow’s milk around isn’t my super jam. We really only use it in our morning coffee/tea, and our acupuncturist prefers that we avoid true dairy as much as possible. So one day last year I picked up Califia Farms Toasted Coconut Almond Milk after seeing it in the refrigerated section at Whole Paycheck Foods and thinking the bottle was cute. I looked at the nutritional information, and I thought it was all good – no added or artificial sweeteners or any creepy unpronounceable ingredients. Then I learned Carrageenan, one of the ingredients, is super shady, which put me off it for a while, and it as back to cow’s milk for us. Sad trombone.

But thanks to a recent flare-up of my arthritis, which is exacerbated by too much dairy, I revisited the non-cow’s milks on the market, and my dreams came true. Califia just announced they’ve removed “the C-word” from their products. REJOICE! In fact, it boasts better-than-milk nutrition with 50% more calcium, less fat, less sugar and less calories. So I took it home for a spin. And rekindled my steamy love affair with their creamy, coconutty concoction.

It makes everything better.

Their unsweetened, plain version is also delectable, if coconut isn’t your lover the way it is mine. We all have different predilections. I understand.

I mean, I think you’re a weirdo. But we’re cool.

I guess.

I also got a sample container of their Almond Coffee Creamer last weekend at Club MomMe’s Fall Family Fest, and it makes my mouth sing. Takes our quotidien PG Tips tea and elevates it to somehow taste like my most beloved fancy french tea.

But here’s what’s absolutely no bueno, much to our shock and dismay… do not, by all means, buy or drink their seasonal “Holiday Nog” flavor. That shit was foul. I was so disappointed. Also, I wish it came in paper cartons rather than plastic. But you can’t win ’em all. (Califia, do you hear me? I love your sustainability practices, and your bottles be cute, but plastic is persona non grata around my house!)

Go, get you some, friends. You won’t regret it. I promise.

Screenshot 2014-03-04 23.23.02You’re welcome.

(this post was not sponsored by Califia. it really is just that good.)


Surviving the Newborn: My Must-Haves (part one)

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Now that Miss Maeve is leaving her 4th trimester behind (cue equal parts sigh of relief and sobbing), it’s given me some time to reflect on the newborn baby registry gear and home items that have been most-beloved by our family. To begin with, I’m sharing some of the larger, big-ticket items that made a huge difference in our lives, and peppered in some of the smaller bits that were super useful in the early days. There are far too many for a single post, so stay tuned for further installments!

Newborn registry must-haves
Nuna Pipa Car Seat: Stylish and safe, the Pipa is one of the lightest-weight and comfortable-to-carry carseats on the market. It has a revolutionary “dream drape” with SPF protection that keeps baby safe from the elements and harsh sunlight; which closes down over baby with magnets! Genius! It installs with tremendous ease, and has the added safety of a “load leg” which minimizes downward rotation in the event of an accident. Maeve loves her carseat, and I love that I can trust that she’s as safe as possible whenever she’s in it. It also has nice little clips on the sides to hold the straps away while you load/unload baby, which is a lifesaver when trying to transfer a sleeping baby without rousing the beast within.

Jujube BFF Diaper Bag: Because I’m a big advocate of babywearing, I wanted a diaper bag that wasn’t worn across my body and would accommodate a baby sleeping on my chest. Enter the Jujube BFF, which is a convertible backpack that can also be used as a shoulder/cross-body carry if desired. Best of both worlds! It’s also machine washable, which is unusual but absurdly practical. The fabric is super luxe, and there are pockets a’plenty to organize everything you need for a day out with baby. The straps are super comfortable, and even when it’s packed to the gills, I’m happy to wear it for hours on end without a sore back. Plus, the patterns they offer are some of the cutest on the market, in my opinion. If I could afford it, I’d have a few different styles to rotate!

Solly Wrap: Speaking of babywearing, how could I leave out my wrap? Having a baby in Los Angeles, in July, made many commercial baby carriers much too hot for daily use. I mean, who wants to carry around a human furnace, wrapped in sweatshirt material, in the summer? Unlike others, the Solly is made of a comfortable, breathable t-shirt material, and holds baby snugly and safely against my body. Being able to plop Maevie into the wrap when she’s super fussy calms her down instantly, and it’s a great place for her to nap when she’s feeling clingy but I want to be able to be productive and have my hands free. It’s also the perfect place for her when I’m walking the dogs, so I don’t have to deal with a stroller and two leashes!

Stokke Sleepi Mini Crib: We chose the Stokke Sleepi Crib system for Maeve for a few reasons: a) it’s solid wood and sturdy construction makes it likely to last many years, and hold up to the abuse she’s sure to launch on it over time; b) it converts from a bassinet to a full-sized crib, to a toddler bed, to a twin bed, and then to 2 chairs, even! It has many lifespans built into it, making it a great value; c) it’s freaking adorable; d) we scored it during their annual sale, when you can get the bassinet with full-sized crib extension kit for the price of the bassinet during non-sale times. It’s a beautiful piece of furniture, and the wheels make it very convenient to move around. Stokke has a high resale value, so if we decide to move onto another sleep option in the future, we’ll get a great return on the investment.

Bugaboo Cameleon3 Stroller: Paul is a car guy. He used to race, and values comfort and luxury above all else in a set of wheels. So when it came time to choose a stroller, I knew he’d want to be involved in the process. We thought we had a stroller picked out, abut when I went to a local Bugaboo event, I was floored by it’s quality. It rides like an absolute dream, thanks to it’s sophisticated shock system, and it can turn on a dime, making it easy to navigate in small spaces. It folds and unfolds with minimal effort, and comes with a beautiful bassinet that converts into a stroller seat once baby is old enough. I walk a LOT with Maeve, so having a comfortable, convenient stroller makes a big difference in my days. After using the Bugaboo for a few months, I can safely say I’ve become a bit of an evangelist for their brand. It’s absolutely the best on the market, in my opinion, and worth every penny. (Plus they also have quite a high resale value, which makes it a wise investment.) I’m such a big fan of the brand, they invited me to become a Bugaboo Brand Ambassador!

Dutailer Prestige Motorized Reclining Glider: Among the many mom’s groups that I belong to on Facebook, one of the most oft-heard pieces of advice were “invest in the most comfortable glider/recliner you can.” So, I took that advice to heart and we splurged on this bad-boy. Rather than having to force the ottoman back in and hoist yourself up out of the chair (which can be tricky when holding a sleeping newborn), the motorized recline/incline function glides you into position smoothly and quietly, which makes a huge difference when you’ve just spent an hour getting your cranky baby to sleep and don’t want to disrupt her. It also sports modern, stylish profile compared to many of the overstuffed and bloated baby chair options out there, so it blends in beautifully with our living room furniture. Pro-tip: we ordered ours from Bed Bath & Beyond, and used the 20% off coupon, which brought the price down to what the non-motorized version of the chair would cost. Score!

Sonos Speaker System: White noise is a sleeping baby’s best friend, but one of the issues with many of the white noise machines on the market for kids is that they turn off after a specific (and often short) amount of time, which can: a) disrupt a baby’s sleep, or b) make it harder for them to put themselves back to sleep if they wake in the night. The Sonos System is run with your smartphone or computer, so you can control the speakers from anywhere in the house; and integrates with various music sources like spotify, pandora, amazon and itunes, so you can play any of your music at any time. Albums or playlists can be played on repeat, so your white noise is guaranteed to basically never end. We used a “Rain for Sleeping and Relaxation” album for ourselves before baby, and now also for Maeve, and it works wonders. We literally leave it on 24/7 in our bedrooms. It’s also great for regular life, no baby required.

Yoga Ball: Babies love to be bounced. Think about it: they lived for 10 months in your belly, and every time you moved or walked around, they were being gently bounced and sloshed around in their wee habitat. So, when your newborn is going through a growth spurt, or gassy night, and won’t stop crying… the ball is your best friend. I made the grave error of waiting 6 weeks until I got my own yoga ball for Maeve, but as soon as it arrived, everything changed. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Get yourself a ball, yo. (Bonus: bouncing on the ball is great for leading up to labor and managing pain during labor. More on that in another post.)

A&A Easy Swaddles: So many swaddles that are designed for convenience involve velcro, which I find to be highly disruptive to a drowsy baby in the middle of the night. And my leggy lady’s gams were often quite constricted by the sizing of these styles. But the Aden & Anais Easy Swaddles use a simple snapping system that’s much quieter and convenient, I think. And they have roomier leg sacks for kicky babies like mine to have freedom to move. Plus, they’re made of the signature A&A supersoft muslin, which breathes beautifully and is so gentle on their skin. These swaddles quickly became favorites in our house!

Mamaroo: Maeve is a baby who likes a lot of motion in her ocean, and the Mamaroo is a favorite swing among the mamas in my family. It’s got several settings for different sways, and can be controlled by your smartphone so you don’t have to get up every time you want to change the setting, speed, or sound option. It’s the perfect place for baby to hang out while you eat, and the mobile has been one of Maeve’s favorite conversation partners since she learned how to coo.

Rock N’ Play: While it feels a bit like overkill to have two swings in the house, lugging the Mamaroo between our living space and bedroom was getting quite tedious… and sometimes Maeve only wanted to sleep in motion. My mom generously gifted us a RnP with motorized rocking and a vibration feature, which folds away nicely when not in use, so it didn’t take over the bedroom. Maeve loves napping in her RnP, and the vibration feature is wonderful for helping her slip back to sleep after waking from one cycle, which is key for a baby learning to sleep longer over time. Now that she’s older and doesn’t require motion as often as she did during her younger, fussier days, she still naps in her RnP whenever she’s unswaddled, because it’s sunken and cozy and somehow helps contain her moro reflex better than a flat surface does. Rock N Plays are also notoriously useful for babies with bad reflux issues because they can sleep in there at an incline, if that’s something your little one struggles with.

Kind Bars: Nursing a young baby is hungry work. You’re up at all hours, and chained to whatever you’re sitting in for eons on end. That’s where a snack station comes in handy, and I found Kind Bars to be the best kind answer for these late-night or early morning snack attacks. They’re hearty and healthy and easily the most delicious snack bar on the market. The fiber and protein are super essential for new moms. I personally love the Sea Salt & Dark Chocolate, and the Apricots, Almond & Yogurt flavors. Plus, nuts are good for milk production – so it’s an extra excuse to chow down! If you plan ahead, you can even make your own!

Preparation H Wipes/Suppositories: If you read my (overly-candid) post, “What I Didn’t Expect About Expecting” over at Club MomMe’s blog, you know that I was already suffering from ‘roid rage before giving birth. But after 4 hours of pushing, you can only imagine what kind of horrors lay beneath me. (Though, please, don’t imagine that. Once seen, it cannot be unseen. Trust me.) If this happens to you, don’t just ignore them and hope they’ll go away. Prep H will be your new best friend. And if that isn’t enough, ask your doctor for a prescription steroid suppository. That stuff, quite literally, saved my ass. And that’s all we’ll say about that.

I’ll be sharing more of our favorites from the newborn stage, along with the things that I’m falling in love with now that she’s less squishy alien and more of a fully-developed human… so stay tuned!

 

{Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog.}


Stitch Fix now offers maternity wear!

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By now I’m sure y’all have heard many a lady sing the praises of Stitch Fix and their stellar personal shopping service. I mean, what could be better than filling out a brief style profile, and then coming home to a box of hand-curated clothing pieces?

My Stitch Fix ritual once the shipment comes, is to try everything on and hold an impromptu fashion show for Paul, to help decide which items to keep and which to mail back. No freezing dressing rooms. No unflattering fluorescent light! Sure, there’s a $20 styling fee, but that amount will be applied toward any items you purchase. If you buy all five items from your fix, you get 25% off the entire purchase! Their selections are super reasonably priced, too. It almost always lines up with what I’d be willing to pay in a store (averages $55/item) – but it’s so much more luxe to shop in the comfort of my own home. 

I already had a love affair with Stitch Fix after getting some fun pieces for my honeymoon through their service, but when I heard they were launching a maternity style service, I jumped for joy. My first “bump fix” was a hit – especially this darling, comfortable, horse-printed dress, which I can dress up or down depending on the occasion. I’ll probably wear it for one of my baby showers!

Here’s me dressed up for a fabulous dinner at Maude, paired with some cute Kate Spade dress oxfords.

stitch fix maternity

My favorite part of each fix is how they include a handy “style sheet” to help you understand the many ways you can dress your new pieces up or down… which is a fantastic bonus for the fashionably-challenged like moi.

stitch fix maternity

If you’ve been stalling on giving Stitch Fix a shot, go on and pull that trigger! Especially if you’re pregnant. you’ve got nothing to lose, because if you’re not thrilled with your Fix, you can ship it right back. But when it works, it’s such a great, convenient way to find cute duds that will grow with you. Dump that preggo frump, and start rocking your adorable bump!


15 First trimester must-haves

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Now that I have some quality hindsight on my first trimester of pregnancy, (which for me, was riddled with motion sickness, fatigue, and migraines)… I want to share my ultimate survival items for the first 12 weeks.

These are the things that got me through the tough times, things I couldn’t live without. They saved my ass, they saved my sanity, they made the dark days brighter. I hope they bring you comfort, too!
first trimester must-haves

Sea-Band Wristbands: I had about 6 weeks of general nausea early on in my pregnancy, but worse was the motion sickness that started at 3 weeks! Whether I was the passenger in a car, or just scrolling through facebook – I was miserably queasy. But it was made much more bearable once I got a pair of Sea-Bands acupressure bracelets. They apply consistent pressure to localized points in your wrists that help abate nausea – whether from motion sickness, morning sickness, chemo side effects, and other causes. It’s great drug-free relief from queasiness, whether you suffer only in the morning hours or all day, every day.

Prenatal Vitamins: There are a bazilliony choices on the market for pre-natals, and everyone has their own favorite… but after substantial research, I found that I could just keep taking my regular daily vitamin, Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women Women’s Multivitamin and then supplement it with a solid DHA pill like this one from Nordic Naturals, which afforded me the best ratios of the vitamins I needed for pregnancy. With the bonus that they weren’t giant horse pills, which I loathe.

Instacart: For me, the first trimester fatigue was crippling. I’ve had mono before, and wasn’t even this tired! Combined with the 6 weeks of nausea and motion sickness, and then the migraines that replaced my nausea… there were days on end that I literally could not fathom leaving the couch, much less the house. Instacart’s on-demand grocery delivery service saved my ass more times than I can count. For just a few dollars per order, their friendly “shoppers” will pick up everything you need from your local market of choice (everything from premium grocers like Whole Foods, to Costco, and everything in between) and deliver it to your home within 2 hours flat. Your first order includes free delivery, and if you sign up through my link, we both get $10 credit to use! I can definitely see Instacart coming in very handy once the baby comes, too, in the early days where I’m too tired or overwhelmed to get us both to the grocery. It’s a brilliant service and I’ve had nothing but great experiences using it!

Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow: Even before your belly pops, your body is going through some serious adjustments as your baby begins to grow, and finding comfortable positions for sleeping gets increasingly challenging, early. Plus, you’ll want training for side-sleeping because shortly after your first trimester ends, sleeping on your back is not recommended. The Snoogle will seem absurd when you unpackage it, but once you discover it’s myriad position options and snugggle into it for the night, you’ll be sold. My only beef with the Snoogle is that I found the default cover it comes with to be a bit scratchy and a huge hassle to remove for washing, so I give bonus points to the Snoogle Chic Jersey Replacement Pillow Case which is easily removable for washing and as soft as your favorite t-shirt.

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Stretch Mark Cream: The only protection us women have against stretchmarks is prevention. Genetics play a large part, and given my family history, I know the odds are stacked against me. So I moisturized early and often with various stretch mark creams – and Palmer’s is a fave. It’s natural, it smells great, and it’s super affordable. And, it seems to work. Knock on wood, 23 weeks and no stretch marks yet!

Corded Digital Cooking Thermometer: If you’re a bath person, the tub can be a sweet retreat throughout your pregnancy. But for safety’s sake, you must keep the temperature at or below your body temperature – you don’t want to boil that baby! A corded digital thermometer like mine, by Polder, is a great way to monitor the temperature and have the peace of mind necessary to allow that bath to be truly relaxing.

Epsom Salt: Speaking of baths, throwing in a couple cups of Epsom Salts is a wonderful, inexpensive treat. It helps soothe aches and pains as your body grows and joints shift. It soothes nausea. It softens skin. It helps soothe and heal hemorrhoids (oh honey, that shit is real). I truly can’t imagine where I’d be without my salts!

Rice Paper Blotting Tissues: At about 8 weeks, my skin turned into a straight-up oil slick y’all. It was so greasy, all the time. I always had combination-to-dry skin, and this was unknown territory for me. But blotting papers saved the day. They gently remove oil without adding product build-up, and have a plain side or powdered side in case you need extra mattifying power. Thankfully, the grease blast only lasted about 6 weeks before clearing up, but I still use the blotting papers for maintenance, as needed.

Ingrid & Isabel Bellaband: Ah, the ubiquitous Bellaband. A mainstay on everyone’s pregnancy survival lists. In early pregnancy, they work as elastic safety-nets, holding up your unbuttoned pants so you can wear them longer before having to shell out the dough for new maternity wear. Later in pregnancy, they’ll provide support and coverage to your belly as it grows, acting as a sort of belly-bra and providing modesty as your shirts begin riding further up your tummy. Truth be told, the way I bloated in early days made even my unbuttoned pants too tight, so I didn’t get much use from my Bellabands then. But as I near the 3rd trimester, I can see how they’ll become more useful very soon.

Long & Lean Tank Tops: Oh Target, how I love thee. I’ve lived in these tanks through my whole pregnancy. They’re exceedingly comfortable, and stretch comfortably around my expanding belly. Their the perfect under-layer as your temperature varies greatly from moment-to-moment, thanks to your hormones running wild. My first trimester uniform consisted of these tanks, with yoga pants and a flowy cardigan cover. Now, through my second trimester, they’ve served as the perfect pajama top. The dark colors are quite slimming, and I’ve washed them a billion times to find they last forever. And they’re CHEAP! Just fantastic.

Cardigans: The perfect overlayer for the tanks described above, and a comfortable, effective way to mask a growing belly before you’re ready to make your pregnancy public.

Yoga Pants: Invest in a high quality pair of yoga pants and they might be the only pants you wear your whole first trimester. My Lululemons were just that. T’was a sad day when I finally outgrew them, but I know they’ll come in wonderfully handy in postpartum days as well.

KLOUD City 17 pcs Assorted Colors Bra Extender Strap: The first hint that I was knocked up came in the form of major bewbage. My funbags grew quite considerably in the early days of my pregnancy, and while my bra cups could handle the overflow, my bra strap started cutting into my back quite quickly. This 17-pack of multi-colored bra extenders work with all my bras, and add a few inches of relief as easy as pie, for a fraction of the price of a new bra.

Acupuncture: Getting needled in the first trimester can help alleviate a lot of those pesky new symptoms that are popping up every day. They helped me deal with my nausea and headaches, and generally helped calm me down and relax – which is definitely a good thing for baby! Acupuncture can even help regulate your hormones to keep your emotional roller coaster to more of a smooth ride. Make sure your professional has experience with acupuncture for pregnancy, because like exercise, the approach must be modified to best protect you while you’re being treated. If you’re in the LA-area, I can’t recommend Laurie Binder highly enough.

Variety in the kitchen: Early pregnancy can truly test your relationship with food. From aversions to cravings, it’s hard to know from one minute to the next, what will sound good or what will make your stomach turn. Our best defense was to have a super-stocked fridge and pantry, with a little of everything I might possibly want. That way, when a strange craving for fresh carrots and celery hit me mid-day, I was prepared. And the same for a late-night jello craving. It’s worth the splurge to make sure you’re prepared, and avoid hunger meltdowns when you inevitably “don’t know what you want, but you know what you don’t want… and you have nothing you don’t want in the house!” (Cuz that’s a real thing, friends. And it ain’t pretty.)

WHEW. That was far from exhaustive, but a pretty good round-up of the items and services which brought me the most comfort and relief during that first 12 weeks. Your body is going through a LOT during this time, sister. So beyond these things, my best advice is to take it easy on yourself. If you need to nap, do it. If you need to eat, do it. If you can only stomach saltines and chocolate milk, lean into that. You can make up the rest later. Do what you need to in order to get through and keep yourself calm and comfortable. Your baby and your body will thank you!



Kintsugi: aka my philosophy on life.

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For years, I’ve found myself identifying that the concept of turning obstacles into opportunity (or “ad astra per aspera,” dontchaknow) has become the distillation of my life’s purpose. Not just for myself, but also through leading by example, encouraging others to do the same.

Per-Aspera-Ad-Astra-Amarelle07

That simple philosophy has been such a major influence on my life, that it led me to create The Broke-Ass Bride, and this blog right here. It has gotten me through the many, many struggles I’ve encountered, and inspired me to fight ever harder to maintain an inspired life, positive outlook, and build a better future. Fighting through struggles, reaching for the stars. Not just surviving, but thriving.

if you can meet with triumph and disaster...

So, you’re probably wondering what Kintsugi has to do with all this. It’s a funny word, right? It means “golden joinery.” Today, thanks to the power of Facebook, and one of my heroes, Elizabeth Gilbert, I learned about the Japanese art of Kintsugi (or Kintsukuroi), in which broken pieces of porcelain are repaired with gold and lacquer to fill their cracks… thereby rather than masking their imperfections, they are made more beautiful by those imperfections.

Kintsugi as a personal philosophy

Isn’t that a beautiful way to approach the idea of repair? Whether in reference to porcelain or oneself? I certainly love the idea of practicing this at home when our dishes break. Artist Lotte Dekker developed a DIY Kintsugi kit that I definitely plan to order.

Anyway, the clearer my life’s purpose becomes, the more things like this resonate. I absolutely love this metaphor my core philosophy.

What do you think about Kintsugi as an analogy for life and how to approach it’s challenges? Have you identified your life’s purpose/core philosophy?


Korean Wife Camp: Bori Cha – roasted barley tea

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korean wife camp: bori cha (roasted barley tea)

I’m straight up addicted to this tea. It’s traditionally served in Korean homes and restaurants, either hot or cold, in lieu of plain drinking water – and has a delicious, nutty, clean, refreshing taste that compliments whatever it accompanies. I am head over heels in love with it, drinking gallons each week like I’m some weird herbal vampire and this barley tea is my life blood. It’s dead easy to make, and even easier to drink.

And it’s good for you! Roasted barley tea has been found to inhibit bacterial colonization and adhesion, specific to the major cause of tooth decay and implicated in cardiovascular diseases. It’s also known to assist in digestion, improve blood health, and (according to eastern medicine) control damp heat in your system. Which is something I struggle with a lot. I’m super damp guys. No joke.

But even if for no other reason than general thirst, this shit is the yum.

You can find roasted barley in packages at most Asian supermarkets, as this tea is also widely consumed in Japan (as mugicha) and China (as dàmàichá). Or you can find it on Amazon. It looks roughly thusly, depending on the brand:
bori cha roasted barley tea
It takes about 1 Tablespoon in about 2.5 cups of water for a small batch.
But I say, fuck small batches. This stuff is meant to be consumed with gusto, not merely sipped!

So, I fill up my giant 16 quart Le Creuset stockpot to the handles, and scoop in about 15-20 Tablespoons (or basically just enough to cover the surface of the water).

bori cha roasted barley korean tea

It’s really not an exact science, which I love. Depending on how weak or strong you like your tea, adjust the amount of barley and brew time accordingly. We like a hearty brew around these parts, so I set it up to boil rapidly for about 15 minutes, but have been known to get distracted and let it boil as long as 30. It was delicious and no one died.

But most people get it to a boil and go 5-15 minutes. Depending on the strength, the color will fall somewhere between weak tea and strong tea.

Then, because I make such giant batches, and prefer to drink it iced, I usually just take it off the heat, pop the lid on, and let it sit overnight to cool before I bottle it. But you can drink it hot, immediately, if that’s your bag. A bonus to letting it sit until it cools is that the barley sinks to the bottom and I can just ladle it out into jars, or dunk jars in to fill them quickly without hassling with a strainer. I always advocate for less dishes to dirty.

Then I throw the leftover barley into my composter, or feed it to the dogs. I suppose you could toss it into a salad, if you felt like it.

Here’s my haul from the pot above:

korean roasted barley tea bori cha

So, the large mason jars are half-gallons, and the milk jugs are 4 cuppers. And the glass on the right was the little bit that didn’t fit anywhere except my very thirsty mouth. It will last me maybe a week. Probably less.

As you can see, I was practicing my Hangeul on the labels, and have quite a ways to go until my block lettering skills are better than a 3 year old.

….And I just finished off another batch while writing this. Try it yourself! It’s a real summertime, or anytime, treat!


Darling Inspiration

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I think I ought to start referring to more people as “darling.”
Especially myself.
(Alone, naturally. Not in some creepy third-person way in casual conversation.)

It’s like being inspired with a timeless, kid-gloved hand. Which we all need from time to time, no? It can’t always be “tough love” all the time.

darling lets be aedventurers

Darling. Such a lovely blend of sophistication and affection in one graceful, soothing word. A most underutilized pronoun.

I have this one hanging above my desk:

what if I fall

Have you seen The Grand Budapest Hotel? Ralph Fiennes bandies “darling” about with true artistry. See the movie. Not just for that reason, but for that reason among hundreds.

Meanwhile, I’ll be trying to track down one of these discontinued darlings from Kate Spade to carry with me as a reminder.

ive never been a millionaire...Until next time, darlings…