I've been making small changes around the house. The two most notable changes are detailed below: my dresser and our bedroom blinds. Before pictures included!Read More
We are down to just a couple weeks left for baby girl #2 arrival. I've found myself enjoying the routine we, as a family of three, have for just a little while longer.
I told Paul the other night, my goal right now is to set myself up for a successful post-partum recovery. Right now I'm trying to "dot every i and cross every t" so that when baby comes and something unexpected happens (or most likely I just won't have time to do anything), at least the background noise of everyday life is taken care of. I've become laser focused on decluttering our house. I spend every morning on Amazon Prime trying to think of things I will need or stocking up on items like paper towels, batteries for the fire-alarms, diapers. You name it, I've probably considered it. Of course even the best laid plans go array - I have learned this time and time again - especially with Roswelle's unexpected c-section in Maine and my journey through IVF. BUT it makes me feel calm to make lists and cross things off these last few weeks, so that's what I do every day.
I've witnessed enough friends have their second child to know things are about to change A LOT. And many of them have warned me so much about it, that I'm even a little nervous. But for now I'm remaining blissfully hopeful that the transition will go smoothly. Isn't that what everyone must tell themselves when adding yet another baby to their family? ;)
Finally, a few other things I'm enjoying while we wait...
Spending a lot of my time pouring into Roswelle, enjoying our special days, just the two of us. I tell her all day long how much I love her, planting the seeds of stability and confidence before the imminent change ahead of her arrives. Going to bed early with Paul, and still having the energy to have conversations with him. And finally, I will miss the quiet moments by myself - reading at night and having my coffee alone in the morning.
Paul and I have been married 5 years today!! Our wedding day was the stuff out of fairytales, as everyone's should be. He's my best friend, the person I want around the most and also drives me nuts, but that's what a best friend/husband is right? Our biggest challenge this past year has been learning to allow each other to grow individually, while maintaining a united relationship. We have both changed since we got married, and will continue to, but keep working on a strong foundation and always, always working on how we communicate. We are headed into another big life change, baby #2!, and I wouldn't want anyone else by my side for it.
We were married down South, on St. Simons Island, with our reception at Crane Cottage of the Jekyll Island Club & Hotel. The Spanish Moss, warm sunset, family style dinner, and party that went until the early hours of the next morning are details we don't take for granted.
Tonight we are headed to a new-ish restaurant, Frenchie, to celebrate. I booked this spot solely on the interiors which came across my Instagram feed! However, we have been told by friends that the food is just as good as the decor.
I took engagement pictures for my friends, Kathleen and Tyler, back in November while I was at home in GA. They live right in the heart of Atlanta, only a short walk from Piedmont park. It was a beautiful sunny evening, which allowed for some very soft, sun-filled pictures. It seems fitting to finally blog these - the week of their wedding. CONGRATS Tyler and Kathleen!
With just a few weeks left to go, I'm in full prep mode, which includes packing the Hospital bag! 3 years ago, I was not prepared for Roswelle's arrival in Maine at 37 weeks, my brother-in-law had to go to our house and pick-up what little I had packed and bring it up to us. So this time around, baby's and my items are ready at 35weeks! I even have a list on the fridge for Paul with those last minute items included - chargers, tooth brush, etc.
I'd love to hear from you as well - what did you pack that you couldn't live without, and maybe what did you forget to pack?
The first few days with Roswelle all I did was nurse or have her on my chest, so I focused on button down options for myself, allowing for style, comfort, and easy access. I'm not much a robe person, I decided instead to pack 2 versions of button-down pajamas, 1 short set and 1 long shirt. I'm also packing a very comfortable "going home" outfit. I've detailed the main items in the bag below, omitting the obvious items - tooth brush, important forms, and the not so photogenic undergarments.
- Button down pajamas - both a short set from top shop (on sale!) and a soft sleepshirt (in case shorts/pants are annoying). In those first few days I hope to have her on my chest a lot and also will be nursing frequently - so the buttons will aide in easy access and easy coverage when visitors arrive.
- 1 going home outfit - I plan to wear my favorite, stretchiest, maternity leggings and a long chambray button up shirt with flats. Simple and comfortable.
- nursing bra/tank
- Hair Brush/style spray/curling iron. I know myself and I feel best when I feel somewhat put together. Laugh all you want (I'll be sure to insta-story whether or not I used my curling iron - promise - I'll admit it if it's a waste), but I think it will do wonders for my energy, post-partum recovery, and attitude. I plan to take a shower, freshen up my hair, and even put on some bronzer on day 2.
- Speaking of bronzer - Make-up bag and toiletries. You can read a detail of my make-up here, I still wear the same thing everyday. I'll be wearing a minimal amount of makeup, but some mascara and color on my cheeks is almost as good as a cup of coffee for my energy.
- Not pictured: Camera/Laptop/iPhone/Chargers
click on any of the images below for direct links >>
I know this list for a newborn may be over the top, but I'm a planner, a photographer, and a little crazy excited, so I love the idea of having a few special items for her. I 100% intend to take pictures, assuming all is well and calm in the room. However, for the most part, I expect she will be naked on mine or Paul's chest.
I'm planning to bring all of my own baby blankets, onesies, socks, hats etc for her that I have pre-washed in a chemical-free, plant-based detergent. Additionally, I'll be bringing water wipes and honest newborn diapers. I don't plan to give her a bath for a while so no need for any baby toiletries.
All the items are detailed, with links, below!
- Her going home Layette. When Roswelle was born we had a beautiful "going home" dress for her but realized it made getting her into the carseat a little tricky. This time around I will have the baby in a footed onsie with a sweet sweater, bonnet and blanket. It will mostly likely be June, but that does NOT mean it will be warm here in Boston.
- Blankets - my own eyelet white&pink baby blankets made my grandmother, Mammie, and some simple white swaddling blankets.
- 2 extra outfits, if we decide to dress.
- Her monogrammed eyelet bonnet and bow blanket. My mom ordered these for her and I couldn't be more excited to photographer her in them.
- Knitted sweater and hat from her grandmother, Gigi.
- Plain white onesies and socks.
click on any of the images below for direct links >>
I never thought to have Roswelle's 6 month pictures taken, but I wish I had! It really is a milestone age and is worth documenting. This sweet little guy did his own thing on a Sunday afternoon, being curious, skeptical, and downright adorable. Michael, it's clear in the pictures - your parents think the world of you!
Also - here is Michael as a newborn >> http://www.bostonbelleblog.com/www.bostonbelleblog.com//2017/01/newborn-portrait-baby-michael-alexander.html
Before I had a child, I was an devoted reader, mostly because I had the time! Over the past 3 years, my reading rate slowly dropped off to 2-3 books a summer and maybe 1 during the winter. However, as I've recently shared, we've implemented some lifestyle changes including cutting cable and changing our nightly routines. These changes re-kindled my love, and allowed time, for reading and I'm only happier for it.
My reading philosophy:
Paul and I typically get Roswelle to bed by 8pm and our entire house shuts down for the night by 8:30pm! Paul and I both go up to our bedroom to get ready for the night and have at least an hour (if we fall asleep around 10pm) to read - although we both often only last 20 minutes before falling asleep with our books on our faces. The point is, its been amazing! We love winding down this way, and I'm certain we sleep better because of it (and we are now morning people:)
Also, make plans around reading! My girlfriends recently started a book club where we are planning to meet once a month, with the host of the month selecting the book we read. This gives me encouragement to prioritize finishing the book and allows me to make time for myself, my friends, and my mind!
How I Read
I ONLY read hardcover books, finding the pages and substantial weight of the book comforting and relaxing. If I know that I am going to an appointment solo (doctor appt/oil change/nail salon) I will toss my book in my bag opting to read it rather than scrolling on my phone while I wait.
If you become an avid reader, it can be expensive to buy the books. With more and more friends using their kindles, I have less books to borrow. I renewed my membership at our local library (after paying $51 in late fees/lost books (whoops!)) and always look forward to the emails that my requested book is ready for pick-up! Roswelle and I make a trip out of picking up my books, and she has so much fun in the children's space. We usually checkout a couple books for her as well.
Know your genre and stick with it. Most of the time, if someone tells me they just don't enjoy reading, I assume they haven't found the right genre. I love chick-lit and fictional mysteries so that's what I read and I don't apologize for it. Paul and I couldn't have more different preferences when it comes to reading (as you will see below) and that's ok. This is about restoration and time for yourself - so you do you! Once you find the genre you love, you will be more likely to actually read, which is the whole point.
Below are some lists of what I've recently read (and my review of the books), what's next on my list to read, and what Paul is reading (just to give y'all a broader context of some books out there).
Happy reading, y'all!
What I've read recently:
- The Nest, by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney - fun, entertaining and makes you wonder which sibling you would be when a large sum of money is to be inherited.
- Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff- definitely a step above my reading level, but I enjoyed the challenge. I had to focus when reading it so it's not something I would suggest while you sit on the beach with the kids. It takes a "furious" twist at the end that I found refreshing from the typical happy ending novels I read.
- Rich and Pretty, by Rumaan Alam - to be honest, I really did not like this one. I found the writing style choppy and I kept waiting for something to actually happen. Mostly read it because I saw it on someone else's list, but didn't even finish the last few chapters! Only including it because it is, in fact, something I've recently read.
- Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley - If you like to wonder what really happened until the very end - you will enjoy this. A small plain crash occurs killing two rich and important families, leaving only a small boy, who is heir to his father's wealth, and an artist who was hitch-hiking a ride, to survive. There are many plausible theories as to how and why the plane went down with an unexpected, but satisfying ending.
- Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty - LOVED this and honestly love the HBO series based on the book just as much. All about chaos amongst parents in a wealthy area of California. You spend the entire book learning the little lies everyone is telling and ultimately trying to find out who dies in the end and how.
- Into the Water, by Paula Hawkins - The best thriller I have read in a long time and I think better than her first novel, Girl on the Train. I finished this book in one week which is impressive for me and had nightmares 1 or 2 nights from it. I plan to lend it out (I actually purchased this one), with fair warning on the creepiness.
Next on my list:
- Small Great Things, by Jodi Piccoult
- The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena
- The Girl Before, by JP Delaney
- All the Missing Girls, by Megan Miranda
- The Nix, by Nathan Hill
(for some balance to my chick-lit/mystery)
- Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, by Meg Meeker (a "must" for Dad's of daughters, according to Paul)
- The Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson
- Dynamic Aging, by Katy Bowman
- A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson
- Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer
It rained all day, and then the sun came out just in time for a photographyRead More
Blush is the new Millennial Pink. Seems fitting as I am currently loving everything Blush I shared a few ways it is currently in my everyday life and a Blush-themed gift guide just in time for Mother's day!Read More
Recently, I got together (outside of the salon) with my favorite hairstylist, and friend, Ashley Jarrel. After talking hair for almost an hour, we came up with 4 different categories to share –Communication, Hair Care, Blow Drying/Styling, and Trends. We also ended our time with my favorite thing in warmer weather (besides iced coffee) a messy, yet styled, braid!Read More
Trend alert I have been seeing wood garland pop up all over the place – mostly in styled interiors on Instagram, but most recently available at Target in their new bohemnian Spring line (I actually don’t like they version AT ALL - see below).
I decided I would make my own and I couldn’t be more proud of it! I was able to customize the size of the wooden balls, the length and the tassel ends exactly to my liking, which made it worth the little time it took to plan and put together.
I purchased the birch dowel caps online thinking the hole went all the way through, only to open them and discover the hole is one sided – they are intended to be caps on a pole/rod. All you need is a drill, the right sized drill bit, and a sturdy vice to hold the ball to take the hole all the way through, allowing it to be strung on the rope.
I also found leather tassels at Hobby Lobby (I couldn't find it online), removing the key chain to leave me with the perfect ends for the garland. I knotted it between the last two balls so that the tassel would be flush with the end - does that make sense? I tried to show it via pictures below.
I’m so excited to find endless ways to style with the garland and I personally think it gives any vignette an effortlessly, sophisticated look.
There are many maternity dresses out there, but I have found that I’m most comfortable in a fitted yet stretchy dress that has plenty of give...I have this dress in 4 different colors and have had so much fun creating different looks with it.Read More
A few weeks ago, sweet baby Hani made a cross-country trek all the way from Seattle to see family and friends! Instead of jumping around all over the NorthEast, his parents hosted loved ones in the center of Cambridge to give hugs, catch up, have lunch, and meet the new sweet baby boy. I think a sip 'n' see is just a brilliant way to welcome the baby to world and also get some great photos of everyone. The mood was cheery and joyful and I was happy to capture it.
In truth, Paul is with me on our babymoon. But it's actually a work conference so he has meetings, dinners, and tee-times to attend (don't feel too bad for him, he still managed to enjoy the pool, gym, and golf). But for the most part, I have been by myself. I ate by myself at the hotel restaurants, got ready by myself, sat at the pool solo, and even gave myself my own hour long yoga class - no teacher, no phone app - just me and the mat. I did very little talking and a lot more thinking. It's been incredibly restorative.
I think moms in general could use a solo vacation, almost more than a getaway with their partner. I had a girlfriend who, before her second baby was born, took a solo trip to the cape. She rented a tiny, cute airbnb space and had 3 full days of solitude. I found it incredibly inspiring and admired her for it. I've also read of couples who intentionally book 1 solo vacation a year, without their partner. The idea is intimidating at first but I think there is really something to it. You many think to yourself, "but what will I do??" You were a single person once, maybe forever ago, but she/he is still in there. Trust me you will find things to do...just for yourself, or maybe you don't do anything at all for a full 24 hours - can you imagine?
Paul and I have found that balancing alone time when we are "together" really keeps our relationship healthy. While on this trip, we had some time together at the pool and later in the afternoon he went to the gym for a few hours while I went back to the room, turned on Rachael Ray (I've started watching her show recently, and kinda love it??), had some time to pick up our room which instantly calms me, and took pictures for this post. I actually told him not to come back to the room until after 5pm - I wanted some quiet time.
The predictability during this trip has been comforting. I told Paul on Wednesday night that I couldn't wait for Thursday, because I was going to have the exact same day as I just had. Walk for a coffee, Today show while browsing blogs and drafting my own posts, breakfast at 8 by myself, yoga from 9-10 and then setting up poolside for the remainder of the day. And ending the night with ice-cream delivered to the room while watching Real Housewives. yes, yes, yes.
The conference is at the Four Seasons in Scottsdale Arizona this year, which is quite luxurious and is just such a special treat. I have loved the dry heat during the day and crisp, cool mornings. I'm still trying to decide which cactus is my absolute favorite out of the thousands covering the grounds. I knew I would be spending 100% of my time on resort grounds so I packed very simply - prioritizing comfort and simplicity.
Below are details of items I used most on the trip - again very simple and thoughtfully chosen. I hope this inspires you to intentionally plan some time by yourself. Even if it's just a weekend in your own home while your husband takes the kids to his parents - you will be better for it I promise!
For most of us, warm weather is here! Once the days start getting longer and the sun gets a little brighter, I tend to pull out my crockpot less and lean towards cooking for a lighter palate. Enter a light dish of scallops and lightly sautéed vegetables...Read More
The room with the most updates in the 5 years I have lived in our townhouse is BY FAR the kitchen. I can't stop changing it! The cabinets and backsplash were the first thing I changed after we were married in 2012 and I think I liked my impulsive, colorful choice, for maybe a year. We updated our stove in 2014, and then I repainted the cabinets to an off-white last year, 2016. And now, the most recent change was to rip down the tiny, multi-color, tile backsplash and replace it with the most simple, whitest of white shiplap.
Below is a pretty good documentation of the progress!! Unfortunately I didn't take a straight on shot of the most recent version - and now I'm in GA and have to just use what I have from shooting last Sunday.
Paul and his dad completed the reno project while Roswelle and I were in GA for a weekend in February. I literally left the house with the old tile backsplash and came home to new wood shiplap - and I didn't have to see one speck of dust from the project (helped that Paul hired a cleaning lady after they completed).
The overall cost was only $130 which included 3-4 2x6 wood planks, nails, and a thin backing between the insulation and the wood. When they tore down the tile backsplash, the drywall came with it. I painted the wood with white Benjamin Moore semi-gloss paint - which can be wiped clean easily.
I think some changes that may be ahead...because why stop now...new hardware? And the shade of the cabinets, in person, is just a smidgggeee cream. I've thought about painting them one more time, just one more coat of white. But then am I just making a mess? Paul jokes that our cabinets are like a box of chocolates...you never know what color you are gonna get :)
Below are some pictures of different views of our kitchen. The wall gallery in the dining nook has two empty frames, waiting to be filled with pictures of baby girl #2 soon! The benches are from IKEA and i love them as we needed the extra storage. The table is something we made up, between ikea legs and a top we took off another table we had. I'd love a tulip table one day. Bar stools are from Home Goods and were so popular I'm sure you can still find something similar. And the butcher block island is a treasure we inherited from Paul's parents. Paul's mother fondly tells stories of Paul and his brother, Rob, playing/eating at the base of the island when they were little.
A few sources:
The only appliance that is ever on our countertops is the kitchen-aid mixer, mostly because I like the way it looks. We store our ninja blender (even though we use it everyday) and cooking utensils in the cabinets below. It helps that our coffee maker and coffee mugs have their own station in between our kitchen and living room. It makes me feel really good to have clean, clutter free counters when I walk into our kitchen every morning.
I styled the countertops with a teapot from Homegoods, a pitcher from Goodwill, and some marble cutting boards, one a gift and one from Target. The white tray for the lemons and sparkling water is from Ikea. I didn't buy anything to style the shoot, but instead went around my kitchen rearranging and repurposing. The styling process is so good for me, allowing me to be creative and is actually my favorite part of any blogpost. I encourage you to do the same in your home!
Links for style items:
We've actually had this bed since November! I'm so happy with the change (before/after pics included in this post!) and I finally got around to styling and photographing it last week. The bedroom is certainly not finished, as you will see, but the improvement so far was worth writing about.Read More
In January Paul and I cut cable TV. And it was really scary. As a stay at home mom, I considered TV my personal pal helping me make it through the day. Not so much for Roswelle to watch, but for background noise so I wouldn't lose my mind talking to myself and a toddler all day.
We weened ourselves off television slowly. We cut cable, but kept Netflix, Amazon prime, and bought this antenna for only $19 (which are so sleek now!). I'm able to watch the Today Show in the mornings and we can watch the Bachelor if we feel like it on Monday nights. We also added the Sling TV app on our Roku, which allows me to watch Bravo and Paul to watch the NFL network - a win win for both of us. We plan to unsubscribe to Sling in the summer when we are home less, and then pick it back up in the winter months.
The first month was tough - I found myself quite bored... However, slowly but surely I started realizing I didn't miss it as much...in fact TV started to not interest me! I started meal prepping and trying new recipes during Roswelle's nap instead of sitting on the couch. And recently I've been writing and creating more blog content, as well as moving the blog to a new website host! In the end, I'm feeling more fulfilled.
The biggest change has been our new bedtime and morning routines. Now that Paul and I aren't endlessly searching for something on TV to watch at night...we pick up the house, prepare for the morning, and go to bed! We have been reading more and falling asleep by 9pm on a regular basis which means we have been getting up early in the morning, getting ahead of the day, before Roswelle wakes up. Paul goes to the gym in the mornings and comes home earlier to hang out at night, allowing us to have sitdown dinners as a family between 6/6:30 most nights. I have been waking up a good hour before Roswelle which allows me to drink my cup of coffee quietly, read a few blogs, and catch up on my to-do list for the day - even knocking some things off before 7am like ordering a wedding gift I've been putting off.
If you are considering cutting back on TV, this is me encouraging you!! At least try it, if you are miserable, then by all means add it back, but you'll never know what is waiting on the other side of the black mirror... haaaa. good ol' TV pun to end this post.
I should start by saying, I LOVE ME SOME SUGARRRRRRR. What I'm not into is hidden sugar in the foods I'm eating. If I want to eat sugar, I eat it. But I don't want to be eating it without intentionally doing so. Luckily, I found some amazing products/replacements that are equally as good if not better without the sugar. In this post, I've listed out some of my favorite items I've been using lately.Read More
Roswelle is THREE!! Per her request, we had a "princess party." Her little friends came in their princess dresses. They made jewelry, ate cake, and played well past the party ended. It was a very sweet day with people that love Roswelle as much as she loves them!Read More