What To Buy From The Nordstrom Sale!

Top // Jeans (not on sale)

Sweater (also love this)

Pull Over Sweater // Jeans (not part of the sale) // Sunglasses (smiliar, not part of the sale)

Dress (Fits TTS. Sold out, keep checking - they will restock!) // Heels (not on sale)
 

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is now open to the public through August 6th!! Woohoo!! Shop the sale here.

Above are pictures of just a few of the pieces from the sale that I purchased. I'll be sharing more here on the blog and on Instagram over the next week!

You can shop my picks from the sale here in my Nordstrom Sale Early Access blog post!

Sale items sell out FAST, you guys!! If something is sold out, keep checking - they will be restocking things!!

Here are a few more pieces that I LOVE from the sale:

 

Recipe Box: Healthy Baby Bars

Happy Monday!

James is turning one year old on Sunday (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT??) and we are having a little Birthday party for him. Well...it was going to be little, but somehow we have over twenty people coming now! It will be fun to celebrate our sweet boy with our friends and family!

I am going to be baking James a cake from scratch, and I'm going to be using this recipe. It's all healthy ingredients and has no sugar in it. I make this a lot for James, but usually I cut it into bars for him to have as breakfast or as a snack. For his birthday I will leave it as a cake and I'm going to make a home made icing for it.

Anyways, here is the recipe I use for these healthy baby bars!

Here's What You Need:

  • 5 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup of sugar-free applesauce
  • 3 tbsp of melted coconut oil
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Here's What You Do:

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mash the bananas in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, add all of the dry ingredients. Then, add in the mashed bananas, apple sauce, melted coconut oil, and vanilla to the dry ingredients. Mix well.

Coat a cake pan with cooking oil. Pour the batter into the pan, and place the pan into the oven. Bake for around 20 minutes. Check to see if the cake is done with a toothpick (should come out clean).

Let the cake cool.

Slice into bars, if you'd like, or leave as a cake!

Enjoy!

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale - Early Access Picks!

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale has begun and it is a GOOD ONE, friends!!

Early access goes through June 20th for Nordstrom card holders, and then the sale opens up for everyone on the 21st! Want to shop the sale early?? You can sign up for a Nordstrom card here! Otherwise, don't worry - Nordstrom is really good at restocking before they open it up for everyone after the early access ends! :)

There are SOOO many good things, you guys. Seriously...Best sale ever! I love the Anniversary Sale!!

I shopped the sale, and below are my top picks!

Click on each photo to shop the items, and click the arrows on the sides to scroll through all of my picks!

Happy shopping!!

5 Easy Beauty Hacks

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Hi everyone!

How is your week going? What's new? Have any fun plans that you're looking forward to in the coming weeks? Fill me in! I love hearing from you guys!!

I hope you had a great Fourth of July! Mine was super low-key. Ben, James, and I went to the cabin in Montana over the weekend, which was really fun. We came back Monday night, and Ben had to work on the 4th. James and I spent the day lounging around the house and recovering from the long car ride the day before. James was in bed by 6:30pm, and then Ben and I watched a movie and went to bed early. #parentlife :)

Anyways, I've been wanting to share some easy beauty hacks with you guys. These are things that you can incorporate into your day that will help you to look and FEEL glowing and healthy!

  1. Collagen I have recently started adding a scoop of this collagen into my morning cup of coffee, and also into my afternoon cup of tea. Collagen has SO many benefits, and I'll be doing a whole blog post about it soon, so check back for that, probably next week! Collagen helps to reduce wrinkles, it helps to heal your gut, it helps with joint pain, it's good for your hair, skin, and nails...it's so good. It's such an easy thing to incorporate into your daily routine, and I have seen a major difference since I started using it. I love this one - you can get it here.

  2. Apple Cider Vinegar I love taking an apple cider vinegar shot every morning to help wake up my digestive system. Apple cider vinegar helps with weight loss, it's a mood enhancer, it helps give you energy, it has natural antibiotic properties, it can assist in controlling high blood sugar levels...the list goes on and on! I like this brand (get it here) but any Apple Cider Vinegar WITH THE MOTHER (VERY IMPORTANT TO GET ONE THAT SAYS 'WITH THE MOTHER') will do. I mix about a tablespoon of ACV with about half a cup of pure, natural pineapple juice and a little honey. So good!!

  3. Probiotic Probiotics are good for a NUMBER of reasons. They help with digestive and urinary health, gut health, allergies, stress, immunity...just to name a few things! Taking a probiotic can be ESPECIALLY important for us postpartum mamas. I'll do a blog post about this as well, if you guys would like more information! Let me know. Anyways, definitely talk to your doctor before starting to take any supplements, including a probiotic. I take this one.

  4. Oils I've been battling postpartum hormonal acne for awhile now, and one of the things that has really helped has been using facial oils. I love this one so much! I was sent it complimentary for testing purposes, and I seriously LOVE IT. Get it here. I cleanse my face (morning and night) and then spray it with my Mother Dirt mist (see number 5 below!) and then massage my face with this oil before applying my moisturizer (I use this one). My skin is so much more moisturized and dewy and clear since I've started this regimen. Definitely recommend oils!!

  5. Mother Dirt AO Mist This is a spray that you mist all over your face (and body, if you'd like) that has live bacteria in it (the good kind). The thought is that with all of the cleansers and scrubs that we use in our daily lives, we eliminate the good bacteria from our skin. This spray puts it back. It is said to reduce the need for moisturizers and deodorants, and is made with family-friendly, simple ingredients. I definitely have noticed a difference in my skin since using this. Highly recommend it! Get the Mist here.

What are your ride-or-die beauty hacks? Please share - always looking for new ideas and things to try! :)

Fourth of July Outfit Ideas!

A little #TBT for ya...holy cow! haha This was me last Fourth of July...very pregnant and HUGE! When I look back on pictures of me towards the end of my pregnancy, I am always SHOCKED with how ginormous I was haha. I didn't really realize it at the time, but man!! :p I'm so excited to have James here with us this 4th! I got him this ADORABLE little patriotic shirt to wear! (Get the shirt here)

Anyways...let's get down to it!

Fourth of July is coming up quickly! I love holidays and dressing up for the festivities. The Fourth of July is no exception! I love all of the cute patriotic clothes that start showing up around this time of year.

This year, I'll be wearing this CUTE and understated USA tee. You can get it here! I'll be pairing it with my favorite cutoffs and some red lips!

Here are a few other pieces that I think are so cute and perfect for the 4th!

Click each photo to shop!

What are your plans for the Fourth of July??

Wild Eats: Green Muffin Recipe

These green muffins may look a little scary, but trust me - they taste AMAZING!! They are healthy, easy to make, and a great way to sneak in some greens. ;)

Here's What You Need:

  • 3/4 cup of almond flour
  • 3/4 cup of protein powder (I like Perfect Fit Protein)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • sprinkle of chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup of kale
  • 1 tbs of melted coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk

Here's What You Do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Combine all wet ingredients plus the kale in a blender, and blend until well blended. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Spray a muffin tin with cooking oil spray, and then pour the batter in. Bake for 20 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Enjoy!

A Father's Day First

This year, Father's Day is extra special because it is Ben's first! Well, he was a father last year, but I was still pregnant, so this will be his first since James was born! I can't wait to celebrate what an incredible father Ben is. It has been so amazing and beautiful to watch him become a dad and to see his love for our son. James is the luckiest little boy in the entire world to have Ben as a dad.

In honor of Ben's first Father's Day, here are a few of my FAVORITE pictures from the past year. These are of Ben becoming and being a father, and they seriously bring me to tears to look at. I feel so very blessed to have such a wonderful, loving man as my husband and as the father of my children!

Happy Father's Day, everyone! ESPECIALLY to my amazing dad!! I love you, daddy!

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Floral Dress

Today, I went to a bridal shower, and I wore this floral dress that I absolutely LOVE! And the best part is, it was under $50 ... I mean, hard to beat that, right??

Unfortunately, this dress sold out after I posted it on my Instagram story..DARN! But here are a few other ones that I LOVE:

 

I paired the dress with my favorite espadrilles (get them here) and my all time favorite accessory: baby James! :)

It's so much fun getting to dress up! I don't get all that many opportunities to doll myself up these days, so when I do get a chance I take full advantage! This dress was perfect because it is so feminine and so on point as far as trends go, while still being really comfortable! It was comfortable and stayed put while chasing around and carrying a 10 month (almost 11 month) old baby boy - it passed the ultimate test! haha

What are you all up to this weekend? I am so excited to celebrate Ben's first Father's Day tomorrow!! Well, first Father's Day since James has been born at least - sorry Gunner!!

Have a great weekend, friends!

Workout Wear Lust List

The Bikini Series is coming to an end, and Summer is quickly approaching! I am more motivated than ever to get in shape and tone things up!

One of my favorite ways to motivate myself to get in a workout is by wearing cute workout wear! If I know that I have a cool new outfit to wear for my morning sweat sesh, I am 1000x more likely to hop out of bed and get it done. I love clothes, and workout clothes are no exception!

Now is the perfect time to reward ourselves with some new fitness apparel to give us that extra push to be our healthiest selves, and to look good while we do it!

Here are some workout clothing items that I am MAJORLY lusting after at the moment:

Click on a picture below for all the details and to shop it!

Treat yo'self! ;)

 

 

Beach Day, Baby + 10 Things

How was everyone's Memorial Day weekend??

The weather here was SO beautiful! It really felt like Summer and it got me so excited for all of the fun outdoor adventures that we'll be having with James! We went to a beach near our house and it was so fun seeing how excited James was. He was having such a blast running around on the stones and stepping in the water and watching Gunner dive for rocks. :) It also got me really excited for Summer clothes. This dress is so comfortable and lightweight - perfect for a hot Summer day. It's also under $30. You can get it here.

I've seen other bloggers do "10 things" types of posts and I always really enjoy reading them. So I'm going to start doing them every now and then as well! They'll just be 10 random things on my mind.

  1. I'm having SO much fun picking out all of the details for our new house that's being built!! But it's also a little bit stressful, if I'm being completely honest! I'll share more in my new real estate series that I'll be kicking off soon!
  2. James has learned how to fake laugh and it is the CUTEST thing ever. It makes me laugh so hard, which just makes him do it more!
  3. Ben and I just finished watching 'The OA' - so creepy and weird and GOOD! Looking for new show recommendations, so send them my way!
  4. James has started napping much more regularly and for longer periods of time, which has been really nice because I've been able to get so much more done! But, I MISS him while he's sleeping!! haha
  5. I feel like I'm in a bit of a slump at this point in the Bikini Series...needing to snap out of it and find my motivation again! A new bikini, perhaps?? Stay tuned for my Swim Lust List, coming soon! ;)
  6. I want to go to Italy so badly! I've been seeing all of these beautiful pictures lately of Lake Como and am planning us a trip there because - SO BEAUTIFUL!!
  7. I'm planning out all of the things that I want to make sure to document/do for James' 1st birthday! We aren't having a party, but I for sure want to do a smash cake, and maybe a ball pit for him and do something super fun on his Birthday. What are MUSTS that you other mamas recommend absolutely doing/documenting for a little one's first??
  8. I shared in a recent blog post that the mini pill was making my skin break out and giving me horrible cystic acne, which I've never dealt with before! I switched birth control pills, and my skin is definitely getting better, slowly but surely. I've also found a few products and tricks that are helping, and I'll do a blog post about them soon.
  9. Ben and I have been talking about FINALLY trying to do an overnight getaway without James...but we both really dread leaving him over night!! It's going to be so hard, but I think once we're gone, Ben and I would have a blast. So we're working on planning that for sometime in the near future.
  10. I haven't done my toe nails in over a month now...what in the world. #momlifeI should probably go get a pedicure, STAT.

Have a wonderful day!

Mommy Monday: What My 10 Month Old Eats

First off, I want to say 'Thank You', from the bottom of my heart to all of the men and women who have given their lives in service to our great country. As most of you know, my husband served in the United States Marine Corps, and we personally know many brave men who lost SO much protecting the freedom and way of life that we tend to take for granted in the United States. This Memorial Day, let's remember what it's really about. I'm forever grateful.

Ok, so James is 10 months old now, and his diet has evolved as quickly as he has!!

When we first started him on solids, he was eating purees. All of his food was super blended and watered down with formula and basically soupy. I would make big batches of pureed carrots, bananas, green beans, spinach, avocados, yams... lots of different foods, and I would freeze them for the week ahead. James loved every food we gave him to try! He's always been such a great eater.

But the puree phase was short-lived... maybe three months? James quickly transitioned to eating table food. Now, he basically eats whatever we eat.

We give him whole bananas to munch on. He loves peas, and clementine oranges are his FAVORITE!

A lot of you have asked for me to share what I feed James, so here you go!

Breakfast

James has a bottle (around 8 oz) and then he'll usually eat some combination of the following items:

  • fruit: a banana, clementine oranges, berries, kiwis, steamed apples, etc...
  • scrambled eggs and toast
  • avocado
  • old fashioned oatmeal
  • egg and banana pancakes (mash up one banana and mix with one egg, and then pour the "batter" into a pan over medium heat and cook)
  • smoothie: spinach or kale, oranges, banana, mango, pineapple, berries, etc...
  • egg and veggie breakfast muffins

Lunch and Dinner

James will usually eat another bottle in between breakfast and lunch, and then a third in between lunch and dinner. Then for his meals, he typically has a combination of several of these:

  • shrimp
  • steamed veggies: spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, peas, onions, brussels sprouts, asparagus, etc...
  • ground beef
  • white fish (like cod or halibut)
  • toast with almond butter
  • fruit: berries, banana, clementines, steamed apples, etc...
  • chickpeas
  • black beans
  • tomatoes
  • whole grain pasta

I always give James a sippy cup of water with each meal, and he sips on it, but doesn't usually finish it.

I hope this is helpful!! Please let me know if I can clarify anything for you or answer any questions. Everyone has their own opinions and ways of feeding their children, and I respect that. This is what works for us! James has never had "baby food" or store bought pouches or cookies or anything. I make all of his food, and he loves it and we're happy with the way we've been feeding him! :) And of course, ALWAYS consult with your pediatrician.

Have a great day, friends!

Five Favorites

Happy Friday!!

I hope you have all had a wonderful week! It has been a really busy week for me, what with James turning 10 months old, and doing things for the new house, and working on some fun projects... Life is such a whirlwind right now, but I'm loving it! So many wonderful and exciting things happening. I'm feeling really really blessed!

Here are five things that I am really really loving at the moment:

1. These pretty wine glasses: Click here  // Also love these

2. This blush - so amazing: Click here

3. These cute shoes...AAALLLL the heart eyes: Click here

4. This GORGEOUS rug!! So beautiful: Click here

5. These adorable and fun pom pom slides: Click here

There you have it! Just a few things that I really like right now!

The weather here has been SO BEAUTIFUL this week...it's really feeling like summer!! 

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

My Picks From The Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale!

SHOP MY SWEATER HERE - IT'S 40% OFF AND COMES IN TWO COLORS! CLICK HERE FOR THE SWEATER

It's that time of year - the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale is here! Hooray! Up to 40% off!!

Sales can be overwhelming to shop because there are SO MANY GOOD THINGS to sort through. I went ahead and shopped the sale for you and picked out my FAVORITE pieces.

Click on the pictures to shop each piece!

What I Eat In A Day

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Half way through the week, and - for those of us doing the Bikini Series - half way through week 5!!

So, as promised, I am going to be sharing what I typically eat in an average day. I'll share some recipes that are my go-tos.

M1: A smoothie bowl, oatmeal, protein pancakes, or eggs and toast.

For protein pancakes, I just follow this recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 serving of protein powder (I like using vanilla or chocolate flavored protein!)
  • 1 mashed up banana
  • 1 egg
  • a splash of coconut milk
  • a dash of cinnamon

Directions:

Mash up the banana with the egg and the coconut milk until well mixed/blended. Stir in the protein powder and cinnamon. Mix well. Pour about a half a cup of the mixture onto a pan over medium-high heat and cook until you see bubbles forming on the surface. Flip the pancake and cook for a couple of minutes. You kind of have to just use your own judgement when it comes to knowing if the pancake is cooked enough. I top mine with maple syrup and blue berries. Enjoy!

Here is my favorite smoothie bowl recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 serving of chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • small handful of kale

Directions:

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend well. Pour into a bowl and add your favorite toppings. I love to top with coconut flakes, chia seeds, blueberries, sliced bananas, and cacao chips. Enjoy!

You can also find my Patriotic Smoothie Bowl recipe here. It's pretty similar to this recipe!

Here is my favorite way to have oatmeal:

Make one serving of old fashioned oats. Stir in honey, pinapple chunks, coconut milk, blueberries, chia seeds, and flax seed.

M2: Usually a banana, egg muffins, a protein shake, or a TIU approved muffin from the Nutrition Plan! My favorites are the Lemon Poppyseed muffins!

I also love making this smoothie:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup of frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • small handful of frozen kale
  • 1 clementine
  • 1 tbs coconut flakes

Directions:

Add all ingredients into a blender and blend well. Pour into a glass, sprinkle chia seeds and coconut flakes on top, and garnish with a slice of pineapple! Enjoy!

M3: Turkey Chili, Tray Meal, Quinoa Salad, Salmon, or leftovers from dinner the night before!

For Turkey Chili, here's what I do (it's super simple):

Brown ground turkey in a pan. Then combine the turkey, a carton of organic low sodium vegetable broth (or make your own broth!), chopped up bell peppers, chopped up yellow onions, black beans, chopped garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, ground black pepper, paprika, organo, and garlic powder in a big pot. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for a bit. Enjoy!

M4: Square from squareorganics.com (Use the code 'ANNAMCOHENBLOG' at check out for 20% off - nothing in it for me, just sharing the goodness! :)), Aussie Bites from Costco, Tuna with red onion, or greek yogurt.

My favorite way to make greek yogurt is to take one cup of greek yogurt, and stir in honey, chia seeds, coconut flakes, and cacao chips.

M5: Zoodles with Red Sauce, Salmon with Brussels Sprouts, Steak with Broccolini, Bratwurst with Onions and Bell Peppers, Beef and Broccoli, Steak and Cauliflower, Tacos, Hawaiian Pork Tenderloin... Those are the main meals on rotation at the moment! I *almost* always do a protein and a veggie.

Ben and I make our own marinara sauce:

Just mix chopped up tomatos, olive oil, red wine, chopped garlic, basil, and oregano in a large pan and bring to a boil. Then reduce it to a simmer for a long time...hours preferably, but just as long as you can. Ben has his over pasta, and I like making zoodles. Here is a nice spiralizer if you're looking for one: click here for the spiralizer

I usually have a handful of dark chocolate chips every night, because I HAVE TO, hahaha. I have found that it doesn't work to completely deny myself, so I definitely allow myself little treats here and there. I love making these tasty and healthy chocolate treats too! Click here for the recipe.

I hope this was helpful!! Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can clarify anything!

Mommy Monday: 10 Month Old Baby!

James is 10 months old tomorrow...how did this happen??

This is for sure my favorite age so far! James is so much fun!! He has the BEST personality and has quite the sense of humor. He laughs and giggles and gives me a sly smile when we're in on a joke together. He makes funny noises and cracks himself up. He feeds off of my laughter, which in turn makes me laugh more until we're both a big pile of giggles.

He's CONSTANTLY exploring and on the move. For a few months, he was army crawling and scooting around on his stomach, pulling himself around by his arms. He was FAST doing this!! But now he officially crawls, and oh my goodness, the kid can cover some serious ground!

James has been pulling himself up to stand for a couple of months now, and has recently started letting go of whatever he is holding onto. He falls pretty much right away, but always pulls himself right back up. He'll be standing on his own and walking before we know it. His pediatrician guessed within the next month or so.

Speaking of his pediatrician, he went in for his 9 month check last month. All is well and on track! But it was hilarious: they couldn't get a measurement for his length because as soon as we set him on the table and tried to get him to lie down still, he would start screaming and thrashing around. The minute I picked him up and he would grin and giggle and give us a sly look. hahaha It was hilarious. Then we tried to get his weight, and again as SOON as I set him down on the scale he was screaming and thrashing and rolling around. We had to weigh him by having me hold him and then having ME get on the scale. Then I set James down and they weighed me along and THEN subtracted the two weights. Not super accurate, but according to that he was almost 20 lbs.

Anyways, when the doctor came in she said, "so I see here that the nurse put that the patient was combative and we couldn't get a length for him." HAHA Ben and I are pretty proud that our nine month old was labeled "combative" in his medical chart. So freaking funny! And James was just grinning and laughing at us...he knew exactly what he was doing. We're going to have our hands full!!!

James eats pretty much everything that we eat. He eats "table food" and has never eaten baby food. I've always prepared everything he's eaten. I made our own purees out of fresh fruits and vegetables and meats, and now I cook him healthy, whole foods for his meals.

Would you guys like more information on the types of foods and meals that I make James? I could do a sample menu post or something like that, just let me know!

James loves music, playing peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake, walking around non stop holding onto his walker or our hands or the furniture, playing with Gunner (he throws the ball for him, it's SO cute to watch them play together!!), being outside, playing with blocks and buckets, and he LOVE LOVE LOVES BATHTIME!! He sticks his face under the water and giggles and splashes and just has the best time! :)

As far as how things are going for me 10 months postpartum, here's an update:

I feel like my old self. My tummy is tightening up more and more as I continue to focus on exercise and healthy eating. I still have stretch marks and my belly button is all droopy, haha, but I've learned to love those parts of me because of how I got them!

The one main update is about birth control! I have been on the mini pill since my postpartum exam at 7 weeks pp. Over the past few months, I've gotten HORRIBLE ACNE, which I have never had an issue with before in my life!! It's been so frustrating, and I tried everything - different cleansers, new makeup, NOT wearing makeup, changing my diet, supplements ...everything! Then after doing some research, it hit me: THE MINI PILL. My HORMONES were the issue, and the mini pill is the culprit. So, I went off of the mini pill a couple of days ago and switched to a new birth control pill. We'll see if things start clearing up!!

I'll keep you guys updated. I was also having SUCH irregular periods...like, having one for three weeks off and on, then skipping a month, then only having one for a day, etc...seriously messing with my body. I've read horror stories about the mini pill...any of you have any experiences with it??

OH! And I had my first Mother's Day!! Well, first one with James out in the world, that is! :) It was so special, and we got to spend it with my parents too! It was fun to celebrate my mom AND me being a mom this year!

Alright, that's it for our 10 month update! Let me know if you have any questions!! I'm planning things for James' first Birthday already. I don't think we'll have a party...maybe just a SMALL get together with close family. I definitely want to bake him a healthy smash cake (let me know if you'd like me to post the recipe!!) and I have a few other things planned for him!

Have a great week, friends!

Life Lately: Lots of updates!

Hello friends!

Sorry I've been MIA for the past few weeks! So much is going on, and I have been so busy! But things are calming down a bit and I'm back and ready to hit the blogosphere full-force!

I have a lot of super exciting content planned for the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned...here are some topics you can expect to see covered:

  • What I Eat In A Day
  • Workout-Wear Lust List
  • Five Favorites
  • Father's Day Gift Guide
  • Mommy Monday: 10 Month Update
  • Summer Reading List
  • Swim Lust List
  • Green Muffin Recipe

And a lot more! Get excited!! And as always, let me know if there are any topics that you'd like me to cover!

Ok, so ... life! What's been going on in my life. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I've been asking for prayers, positive thoughts, and good vibes the past couple of weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, I found a lump in one of my boobies. Needless to say, I instantly was worried and got in to see my doctor right away. He referred me to get a mammogram/ultrasound/biopsy, so I had to wait for that.

But today, I found out that all is well - it turned out to be nothing! Woohoo, praise the Lord! Thank you all for your prayers and sweet messages!! You all are seriously the best and I am so grateful that I can always count on you for encouragement and support when I need it most!

I found another lump a few years ago, which also turned out to be nothing. But let me tell you, now that I am a mom...things are just so completely different. I was SO MUCH more afraid this time, not of being sick or dying or anything, but of not being there for James. The thought of it made/makes me sick. Motherhood brings with it a slew of anxieties and new fears, all based around your child. The thought of something happening to me that would cause sweet little James to not have his mommy there for him...to not have someone care for him in the exact and special way that only I can... it just was devastating to even begin to consider. And at this age...he wouldn't even remember me. Ugh. BUT I'M OK!! haha Thank you, God!!

So, needless to say, that was a bit consuming and I haven't had the head space or drive to do much writing. But, now that that worry is behind me, I'm ready to dive back in! I feel rejuvenated and motivated and excited to write again!!

In other news...we bought a house! It's being built as we speak, and Ben and I are SO SO SO excited!! This is a huge step for us, and we are really looking forward to this next chapter in our lives! I'll be sure to keep you all updated!

Would you guys like to see posts about the home building/buying process?? Let me know!!

I have so many fun projects and collaborations that I'm working on that I can't share with you YET, but I am really excited about what is to come and as always, thank you for following along on the journey!!

Core Rehab, Part 2

"Is the Core Rehab Program worth the money?"

I get asked this A LOT.

I have shared a lot on the blog and on Instagram about how I had diastasis recti postpartum, as well as my ELATION over finding the Core Rehab Program. You can read about my experience during the first few phases of the program in my Core Rehab, Part 1 post - click here to read it.

To refresh, diastasis recti (abdominal separation) is a SUUUUUUUUPPPPERR common thing that so many women have after pregnancy. The scary thing is that there is a shocking lack of information and awareness about it, and often times it goes un-diagnosed and therefore, untreated. Here is a video you can watch that shows you how to check yourself for diastasis recti postpartum. Additionally, many women who ARE informed that they have it are told that surgery is the only way to repair it, which is NOT TRUE!! The Core Rehab Program helped me to heal my abdominal separation, and it can help you too.

First of all, let me say that this post is not an ad...I just genuinely am so passionate about this program because it seriously helped me to feel SO MUCH BETTER. I also get SO MANY QUESTIONS about my experience with the program, so I KNOW that there are other mamas out there who are interested in learning more and in finding a solution to their postpartum aches, pains, and misalignments. So, now that that is out of the way, let me update you now that I have finished all six phases of the program.

After completing the Core Rehab Program, I have definition in my abs and core, my diastasis recti has all but completely closed up, and I FEEL like my old self...the way I am SUPPOSED to feel.

While recovering post-baby is NOT all about looks or physical appearance, that is important in its own regard. When you like the way that you look, it's good for your head.

And mental recovery is JUST as big a part of the postpartum journey as is physical recovery!

The Core Rehab Program is slow-moving, which at first you don't necessarily feel like you are doing much at ALL. But that is the beauty of it, because Erica Ziel (the creator of the program) breaks it down slowly, step by step and helps you to re-form those deep connections that are needed to rebuild your core and heal abdominal separation the CORRECT and SAFE way.

After finishing the six phases of the program, my core feels strong, toned, and my whole body feels more aligned and centered. My posture is back to how it SHOULD be - pregnancy does a number on your spine, back muscles, neck, etc... and this program walks you through re-training your body into proper alignment. It teaches you how to pick things up properly and safely, protecting your back and abs while doing so. It teaches you how to do squats and arm work safely, how to lie down safely, and eventually, how to do "crunches" and additional work that uses your core.

It can be SO overwhelming, discouraging, and stressful trying to figure out where to begin to help your body heal and recover postpartum. I felt so un-like myself after giving birth and I was worried about my abdominal separation. I didn't know how to go about trying to fix things and heal my core.

The Core Rehab Program gave me to tools, and walked me step by step through it all. It's like Erica is a good friend, holding my hand, and gently guiding me through the process of healing and feeling like myself again.

So, is the program worth the money? In my opinion YES YES YES.  100% yes. Us mamas deserve to feel good postpartum. You deserve to give healing your diastasis recti without surgery a try. If you don't have abdominal separation, then you STILL deserve to re-learn how to properly stand, sit, walk, move in a way that is comfortable, safe, and right.

If you have any questions at all about the program or about my postpartum journey and my experience with diastasis recti, don't hesitate to ask! I'm here!

You can sign up for the Core Rehab Program and learn more about it here. Enrollment for the program closes on May 22nd so don't miss out on being able to sign up if you're interested!!

Guest Post: Essential Oils & How To Use Them

Today, I am so excited to be featuring a guest blog post from my friend, Kristen Suppa! You may remember Kristen from a previous post about the Knocked Up Fitness Core Rehab Program (find that post here).

Kristen is going to be telling us AAAALLL about Essential Oils and their uses, and I am really looking forward to learning more because I'm so curious about oils!

Let's dive right in! Take it away, Kristen!

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Hi! First off, I am so excited to be collaborating with Anna again! We ‘met’ on Instagram through being longtime “tiu girls,” and we both welcomed our baby boys in 2016. :)

For me, that was my second pregnancy and second little man. My older son is going to be 3 late this coming summer, which is crazy, and time is FLYING especially with having a 1 year old along with him! Anna and I previously collaborated here on her blog after we both found and fell in LOVE with Erica Ziel’s postpartum fitness program, Core Rehab… you can read more about me and my pregnancies, birth stories, and my experience with prenatal and postpartum fitness routines here!

 

I just love how uplifting and positive Anna is on her social media and blog, and her and I share a passion for health and wellness for sure. When I first dove into life as an essential oiler ☺ I just knew that I wanted to share what I have been learning about Young Living Oils with Anna! I knew she would totally vibe with this lifestyle that I have discovered and that her readers would be into it too! So, thank you in advance for diving in with us!

 

I figured I would start with a little background about exactly what essential oils are and then delve into how I am using them to support myself in motherhood, in my home, and for my family.  I hope that you enjoy what I have to share, and don’t hestitate to find me on Instagram @well.balanced.home if you ever want to chat!

 

Ok…so exactly what are essential oils?

They are the most powerful part of plants- distilled from shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, rinds, herbs...you get the idea…all things natural and organic and here on Earth since the beginning of time ☺

They are mentioned 1100 times directly and indirectly in The Bible and have been used by some of the oldest cultures on Earth.  

The science on the uses is continually growing, and we know that essential oils can provide support for every system in the body- your skeletal system, muscular system, circulatory system, endocrine system (hello Mama hormone support!), respiratory system, and immune system (with a little guy going to preschool soon, I am so thankful for these oils to support his wellness this coming Fall and Winter!)  I love using them to support our emotions, diffusing them in my home, swapping them out depending on our needs at the moment…freshening and purifying the air while I clean (thereby ditching candles and plug-ins that emit some pretty nasty toxins), energizing me in the morning while I start our day, stress relief during a tough day with 2 active toddler boys, sleep encouragement for all of us ;) to name a few…

I thought that this venture of starting my oily business would come with some overwhelm because there are hundreds of oils on Earth and all of this was new to me a few months ago…I thought I had to become an aromatherapist and an expert on it all (Type A over here!)  However, I have learned that you really only need 10-20 oils (plus I highly recommend a diffuser!) to get all of the support I mentioned above.  It really doesn’t have to be complicated, and the whole journey for me has been about learning and having fun! So…here are currently my favorite ways to use them…

 

Happy Mama

We all know that moods can swing during pregnancy and postpartum! Joy, Grapefruit, and Citrus Fresh Oils are such a great, uplifting combo in your diffuser or add 8-10 drops of each in a 10ml roller bottle (filled the rest of the way with a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil- I got my carrier oil and my roller bottles on Amazon…aka Mom’s BFF and easiest way to get anything you need!) It is a flowery, citrusy scent that I roll onto my wrists and over my heart when I need a little pick-me-up! The citrus notes make it a good one in the morning, whether I diffuse it in my kitchen during breakfast and while I am doing dishes or roll it on instead of perfume to start the day ☺

The oils are much more potent by themselves than they are in a roller, and I often apply Joy oil, alone, directly onto my heart and wrists, and I immediately feel it working for me.  I do the same with my Stress Away Oil…it came in my Young Living Starter Kit with a roller top…so I can roll it directly onto my neck and shoulders and onto my wrists or bring it with me on-the-go to utilize whenever I need it or when an anxious situation arises…these were my BFF when I hosted Easter dinner! All the Joy oil and all the stress away was applied haha!  

Smelling these oils just helps me stay present and relaxed in the moment!  

I am personally working on being mindful and intentional during this season of my life, and my oils have been a huge source of support for me in working on that.  I wish I had found them sooner and used them during my pregnancies and labors!

 

Tired Mama

My Dream roller is EVERYTHING to me right now…it is my all time favorite combination that I have tried… Lavender and Frankincense.

Frankincense aka Frank is referred to as the “coconut oil” of EOs because it has over 50 uses…this is a sacred oil that is referred to frequently in scripture and is very useful during yoga and meditation to help you connect spiritually.

I roll it onto my wrists and bottoms of my feet before bed…it helps me unwind and feel grounded and I fall asleep and stay asleep…if I do wake in the night, I apply it again and I fall right back to sleep.  

Lavender is probably the essential oil you’re most familiar with…it is super popular, reminds me of being in a spa, and has so so many uses! I use a few drops into my Epsom salt baths too, and I sleep like a rock!

 

Active Mama

Being a “tiu girl” or “tiu mama” really at this point, like Anna, I LOVE working out! It is so helpful for me…mind, body, and spirit.  I have been using their Cool Azul cream on my sore muscles, and it is AMAZING!

If my neck and shoulders are tense from picking up my guys all day and not getting a chance to sit down, I apply this to my neck and shoulders before doing housework or cooking and it makes all of the difference in how I feel!

Young Living also has a Vitality Collection of Oils now, which are therapeutic-grade (as are all of their oils) but these Vitality Oils are dietary oils, meaning you can ingest them, as well as diffuse them and apply them topically like the regular line of oils.

To encourage myself to drink more water (a constant struggle for me!) I have been adding the peppermint, lime (reminds me of a margarita!), or lemon vitality oils to my water (be sure to only use the oils in glass and not plastic…or if you’re a tiu girl, then you probably have a stash of mason jars you can make your water in!)

They can help with digestion and give you more energy during a workout!

You can also cook with the vitality line of oils- make your chicken or fish lemon, rosemary, or basil flavored with a drop of oil…I recently read that Kristin Cavallari is a huge fan of Young Living and their Vitality Oils, and The Laguna Beach fan in me got super excited haha! Another oil I use from my starter kit after working out is PanAway…the smell reminds me of root beer, and I love how it soothes my muscles after a workout!

 

Take Care, Mama

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I am a HUGE proponent for self-care for Moms!

The days are long, and I make sure to take time to care for myself each day or night, whether that’s doing a face mask where I add tea tree oil for my acne-prone skin (it is antibacterial and antifungal and I can just feel it working!)…or more recently, I have started dry brushing my skin in the morning if I can squeeze in a shower (a Mama luxury!)…I have been applying Cedarwood Oil to my dry brush and dry brushing before I get into the shower to wake up my lymph system and energize me for the day ahead!

There are so many DIY recipes (i.e. go down the Pinterest rabbithole ☺) for using your oils for skin and body care.  My best friend who is also on this oily journey with me made me a peppermint body scrub and body butter for Christmas that was AH-mazing plus all organic and toxin-free! You can make some awesome handmade gifts! 

Now onto the little ones!

Young Living has a whole line of Kid’s Oils to take the guesswork out of what is best to use on them!  SleepyIze (praise hands!), SniffleEase, TummyGize, and Owie are their Kids’ Line Oils.

However, I have had success with using my regular oils on my little guys safely diluted with coconut oil and with great results! Gentle Baby is a wonderful smelling oil that I diffuse before bedtime- it is calming and soothing for both babies and Mamas, or I dilute a drop of Gentle Baby (or Lavender) in a couple of pumps of my carrier oil and massage their feet and backs during our bedtime routine.

I have made a gum massage oil combo while my littlest was teething with 1-3 drops of Copaiba Vitality oil and a tablespoon of coconut oil.  I have also made a Lullaby Room Spray for their bedding using Gentle Baby, Cedarwood, and Lavender Essential Oils in a glass spray bottle with a bit of witch hazel and distilled water. Anything to set the stage for good sleep, right?!

The uses really are endless, and Young Living has loads of supplements and vitamins infused with essential oils as well. I have recently added a Super B supplement to support my hypothyroid and skin issues and to support positive moods and cognitive function (aka it helps my “mom brain” ☺) I have added the Thieves Household Cleaner, fruit and veggie spray, and dish soap to my home as well.  

Knowing that I can clean without introducing toxins and endocrine disruptors into my household…after downloading the ThinkDirty app, this gives me tremendous peace of mind! I am cost-conscious, so I am not biting off more than I can chew.

Little by little as my personal care items like my toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, laundry and dish detergent run out, I will most certainly be ditching them and switching to Young Living’s products.  I am all about simplifying life these days, and I promise, none of this has to be complicated.  

These products are fun to learn about, smell amazing, and are safe for everyone in your home.  The Young Living Starter Kit comes with the diffuser and 11 of the most popular oils plus lots of samples and is the easiest way to get started…bundled together, it ends up being 50% off the regular prices and 24% off of all future purchases (whether or not you choose to pursue the business side or just use them for yourself).

But I am also happy to offer an extra incentive to Anna’s readers who purchase a starter kit (using my member #10680771)…this would be such a great Mother’s Day gift to give or receive!  

There is also an option to start with a couple of oils at regular retail pricing too if there are certain oils or products that you want to try for you or your little ones! I would love to connect with you on Instagram or via email at kristensuppa@gmail.com to help if you have any specific questions about the areas of your life that you are looking to support!

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Thank you SO much, Kristen! I learned so much from this, and I hope that all of you reading it took away some real value and knowledge as well!

Be sure to comment below with any questions or comments! Do you use essential oils in your home? What are your favorite ways to use them?

 

 

How To Be Happy: Lessons From My Son

His little face is still all chapped from his cold, but I lovelovelove these photos of my sweet, blue-eyed boy. James is such a joy - always smiling his big, bright-eyed, tooth-y (he has FIVE teeth now!) grin that lights up the room, as well as the hearts of everyone who sees him. He is a happy baby...people tell us that everywhere we go. He loves life and loves people and just always has so much fun, no matter what we are doing.

It's contagious!

Watching my happy, cheerful, bright baby boy, I can't help but admire his optimism and joy. I want to capture some of it and infuse it into my own life.

Everything is new and interesting and exciting and wondrous to baby James. As we grow and have more and more experiences, some of that newness and wonder unavoidably and inevitably fades away. We discover that, along with the amazing and fun and beautiful, life also holds many unpleasant things. We learn what it means to feel pain, betrayal, disappointment, and fear. We become disillusioned, losing that innocence, blind trust, and curiosity.

But watching James, I see that he is the perfect example of how to be happy. Here are some things that I've learned from my son:

  • Try new things, new foods, new places, new activities. Step outside of your comfort zone - new things challenge us, thrill us, scare us, and teach us. We grow mentally and physically by doing new things. The mundane can be depressing, discouraging, boring...no growth takes place there.
    But to try something new...that is what puts the excitement in life. That is the adventure of it.

  • Trust. Dare to trust. Dare to give people the benefit of the doubt. With age comes wisdom and intuition and good judgement. Use those. But also, try to let your guard down and trust. Take a leap of faith.
    Time can harden our hearts...try to let yours soften and see what happens.

  • Ask for help. When James wants a toy that he can not reach on his own, or when he wants to go somewhere that he can't get to, he turns to me and makes it clear that he would like help. He has no pride that gets in the way of receiving help when he needs it. Our pride often stands between us and our goals, and at times, even our needs. We become so intent on independence and self-sufficiency, which are important things, without a doubt. But it is also important to recognize the times when we would be better off and more successful by asking for help. There is no shame in acknowledging that we can not or should not do something on our own.

  • Appreciate the little things. My son takes such pleasure from the very littlest of things. Tickles on his tummy, a funny sounding voice, a silly word, birds chirping, a squirrel standing on a path, splashing water, a spoon banging a pot, his dog licking his face... watching him giggle and experience SO MUCH GENUINE JOY from the simplest of things makes my heart swell and yearn to be so easily HAPPY. We should remember that happiness, joy, and grace can be found in the little things...the things and events and items and experiences that maybe we have come to take for granted.
    Try to be consciously and intentionally grateful for the little things.

  • Show more affection. Cuddles, slobbery, open-mouthed kisses, gentle caresses of the face and arms and chest, a warm bright smile, holding hands...these signs of affection are second-nature to James. He shows his love so openly and so honestly. That kind of love is so rare. Life lends itself to heart-ache and each of us has - or will probably - experience betrayal, hurt-feelings, or heartbreak at some point. Experiences train us to be guarded with our emotions and with our feelings. We hold back, even at times when maybe what we should really do is rush into someone's arms and give them a big smile and kiss. Sometimes it is right to be unashamedly in love, enamored, and infatuated. Sometimes we need to cuddle, to touch, and to openly, genuinely adore...in all of the vulnerability that that entails.

My son is honest, kind, grateful, curious, loving, vulnerable, trusting, and brave. He has so much joy and happiness in his heart, and he has already, in his short little 8 months of life, been the greatest teacher I have ever known.