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So. This is me starting over. WAAAAAAY over. You’ve probably notice that I haven’t been around much…like AT.ALL. I have good reason for that. On top of being pregnant, moving cross-country (AGAIN), and having to completely pack/unpack my entire house while 8 months pregnant, Smalls was diagnosed with a very rare disease: Severe Aplastic Anemia. You can read more about what that means for my family HERE.

Needless to say, I’m exhausted, AND I now have a 6 week old, which means that I can start exercising again. Oh, joy. This wouldn’t be such a huge deal…but I gained a LOT of weight. Y’all, I’m over 200 pounds. I wasn’t even that when I DELIVERED Smalls. So I have a long ways to go. 75 pounds, in fact. Do you want to take this journey with me?

I’ve Got My New Shoes On

running shoesOne of the fun things about pregnancy is that my feet GROW…I’ve grown a full shoe size between having both boys! Which means that I now have a closet FULL of shoes that don’t fit. So I did what any rational person would do. I sent the good ones off to ThredUp so I could get paid for them. A girl’s gotta fund her new running shoes, right??

I LOVE ThredUp. I was able to send in all of my maternity clothes (because who wants to grow another shoe size?!), and with all of Smalls’ medical bills, I can’t really afford to spend a ton on a new pair of shoes. Color me excited when I got over $300 for the clothes I was never going to wear again and shoes that no longer fit!! WOOHOO! So I was able to buy a pair of Pearl Izumi’s AND have some funds left over!

Working It Out

I’m also using The Dia Method: 10 Minutes Flat Post-pregnancy Fitness System to help easy my body back into exercise. I used the pregnancy workout and LOOOOVED it, but still managed to gain a bit too much. Now that I’m past my 6 week window (I had a repeat cesarian), I can start using some of the extra workouts that come with their system, as well as a few others in my arsenal.

Now, I’m working everything around twice-weekly visits to the Children’s Hospital for Smalls’ platelet and hemoglobin infusions…it’s a bit crazy around my house most of the time. I’ve been struggling to find a balance-it’s exhausting, between the long days (if he needs both hemoglobin and platelets our days are 8-10 hours long), and the lack of sleep from the newbie (help me think of a cute bloggy name for him!!), I struggle to get everything done. And a solidly healthy diet?

FORGET IT. I do strive to take my vitamins every day, but there are a LOT of fresh foods that Smalls cannot eat, so that limits what I feel comfortable having in the house with a 4-year-old who helps himself. So, my goal this month is to get that back on track as well…that’s not too much, right?

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Wow has this pregnancy been different. Like, WAY different. I never got sick with Smalls, unless you count that time I walked past the guy smoking and dry heaved…but I’m not sure that actually counts. This time around? I’ve been nauseaus for the past 25 weeks. Awesome, right?

That being said, I’ve tried just about everything to “cure” my nausea. And I mean EVERYTHING. I am so sick of being sick. I have found that there are a few tried and true solutions that have helped me deal with the nausea…at least enough to function.

Natural ways to relieve nausea

 Essential Oils

The first thing I reach for when I’m starting to feel a bout of nausea coming on, I reach for my oils. I always put peppermint in my diffuser along with a little bit of lemon to help curb that nauseas feeling. DiGize in a capsule and on my stomach also helps, although as baby has grown, I’ve had to rely on just a capsule more and more. I also apply Ginger EO to the bottoms of my feet and slip a pair of socks on.

Peppermint has long been known to help settle tummy issues, and DiGize contains a blend of oils that help support healthy digestive function-it works for just about any type of tummy trouble. Ginger is known to reduce nausea, as well.

Ningxia Red

Young Living makes a wonderful supplement called Ningxia Red. At first I thought it was an energy drink (don’t freak out)-so I was hesitant to try it while I’m pregnant. But I spoke to a number of oily friends who swore this was the ONLY thing that helped to cure their morning sickness. The first day I tried it I was kicking myself for waiting so long. Nausea GONE. And it does give me a bit of energy-without the caffeine and additives, but it’s not going to keep me awake.

I do notice that if I forget my Ningxia Red now I feel foggy and not quite right. I love the stuff.

Ginger Ale

As I said before, ginger helps nausea, and it makes sense that ginger ale would help as well. I found that this worked for me for about 15 weeks, but now it has the opposite effect. Oh, well. This was a nice solution while it lasted. Look for a ginger ale with real sugar, not an artificial sweetener.

Papaya Enzymes

Recently, I had a girlfriend tell me about papaya enzyme, and as long as I catch my nausea BEFORE it’s full blown, this helps tremendously.

What do you do to help your nausea?

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Whew! It’s been awhile, huh? I’ve been struggling with nausea (even at nearly 25 weeks pregnant!), and trying to balance a busy career, with a whole host of changes within our family (all good). That being said, I promised more pregnancy workout reviews, and I’ve got one for you today! I’ve been trying to change up my workouts so that I:

  1. Don’t get bored
  2. Am challenged
  3. Don’t get bored

This past week I’ve been doing Suzanne Bowen’s Long and Lean Prenatal Workout, and while I appreciate the workout, I MUCH prefer her Slim & Toned Prenatal Barre Workout…maybe it’s because it’s newer, or maybe it’s because it’s more barre-focused. But they’re both solid. SO let’s talk about Long and Lean, shall we?

The workout is broken into three segments: abs, standing, and floor. You can do all three for a full workout, or pick and choose (I’m a bit out of shape…GASP! So I’ve been picking and choosing). I also like that there’s a postnatal bonus workout, although I haven’t tried it. Honestly, I’ve been focusing on the floor and standing workouts.

Now, this DVD is a great option if you’re trying to tone or maintain your muscle mass-that being said, I found it tiresome and repetitive, especially without the use of a barre or support. As someone who is squarely in my 2nd trimester, this was a deal-breaker, and I had to grab my barre a few times. I guess I just prefer a workout that moves and changes-this definitely does not.

That being said, Long and Lean is a great option if you’re short on time, tired, or just don’t have the energy for a more challenging workout. I can definitely say that this DVD will be challenging as I get even bigger, as it requires a LOT of core strength and balance to make sure that you don’t fall over. HA!

My biggest issue, though? The abs section. This section is done almost entirely laying on your back-which, if you’re like me, is HORRIBLY uncomfortable. ICK. I did it once, and then went back to The Dia Method for my abs. It’s effective and NOT laying on my back, which, quite frankly, hurts like the dickens.

My overall? It’s not a workout I’ll reach for regularly, but it’s not going to the donation bin, either…at least not until this little bean arrives.

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Yesterday, I got tired of having alligator skin. For those of you not up in the North, this is what happens when you deal with sub-zero temperatures for weeks at a time. It literally sucks the life moisture out of you. I haven’t been a huge fan of store-bought beauty products for some time. Yes, There are things that I use (hmmmm…that sounds like a good blog post, come to think of it!), but the list is short, and mostly involves makeup that I refuse to give up. So sue me.

Smalls has been begging me for his own “lip stick” for months now. Did you hear that, y’all? MONTHS. I finally got everything together to make some, and it turned out great! We put it all together, and applied all day yesterday and last night.

Then this morning, this happened:

Smalls (peering over the bed and waiting for me to open my eyes): “Good morning mommy. Did you sleep well?”

B: “Good morning, sweetie. Yes, I did! Did you?”

Smalls: “I got new lips! Seeeeeeeeeee (pushing lips out as far from face as humanly possible)??” (we put some homemade lip balm with EOs on last night because his little lips have been so chapped from the cold. To say he was beyond excited for his own “lip stick” is a HUGE understatement!)

B: “Awesome! Can I have a kiss from your new lips?”

Smalls: “NO! If you touch them, they’ll fall off! DO NOT KISS MY NEW LIPS! THEY ARE JUST FOR LOOKING, MOOOOM!”

Make your own easy lavender lip balm to heal dry, cracked lips!

Lavender Lip Balm

1 tablespoon beeswax
2 tablespoons shea butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil
20 drops Lavender essential oil

Lip balm tubes, pots, or small altoid tins (I happened to have quite a few of these on hand because it helps with my morning sickness)… be sure to wash and dry them THOROUGHLY before you start.

In a double boiler, melt your beeswax, shea butter, and coconut oil, stirring slowly (I made a very small amount because I wanted to be sure that this WORKED, first. You could easily double, triple, or quadruple the amounts). Once everything is well combined, remove from the head and drop in your essential oils, stirring to combine (remember, I use Young Living essential oils, and cannot guarantee that you’ll have the same amazing results with anything else). When you’re measuring drops, hold the bottle on its side and let the oils drip slowly. Don’t shake the bottle, tempting as it may be. Essential oils are very potent, and you don’t want to over-pour.

Using a funnel, fill your chosen containers (I filled about 3 tins), and close the lid. Allow your new lip balm to harden, either on the counter for a few hours, or in the fridge for about 45 minutes (Smalls has the patience of a small child, so you can guess which method we used!). Apply liberally to lips!

*Someone asked me why I used lavender, as it’s not yummy like peppermint (I beg to differ, as you OBVIOUSLY have not tried lavender lemonade!). Lavender is very healing, and knowing that we were dealing with dry, cracked skin (yes, it was BAD!), it seemed like a much better idea than peppermint or lemon. You can use whatever “flavor” of essential oils floats your boat, though.  

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So. I’m pregnant. Surprise! Which means that I’ve had to modify just about everything over the last 3 months. With Smalls, I wasn’t nauseous, I felt awesome, but I didn’t exercise as much as I should. This time around, I vowed that I would workout regularly…that was, until the “morning” sickness hit me like a mac truck. Y’all, I feel HORRIBLE. But I’m still determined to workout, even if it’s not as often as I had originally planned. I have a number of prenatal barre workouts that I’ve been using, and I’m going to be reviewing them over the next couple of months in hopes that it might help you find your perfect pregnancy workout, too.

The first workout I tried was Physique Prenatal. You can watch a preview HERE. Like all of the Physique workouts, the prenatal workout has smooth transitions, is challenging, but gentle.

p57 prenatal workout review

Unlike so many prenatal workouts, the women in this video are ACTUALLY pregnant. So I felt like I could at least try to keep up. They are far more flexible than me right now, though, so I just modified my movements. This workout is led by Alicia, who is super sweet and soothing as you transition from one movement to the next.

I love the whole body focus, starting with arms. You really can work your arms while you’re pregnant (the baby isn’t growing there, after all!), and this workout gave me jell-o arms, which is ALWAYS a good thing. I will say that I needed a day between workouts to recover because of this. Beyond the arms, the legs section is very familiar, but modified gently for pregnancy.

Physique has always been one of my favorites due to it’s quick movements, upbeat music, and fast pace. Compared to other pregnancy workouts, this fits right into the mix. While slower moving than Physique 57 Classic, for example, it’s still much faster moving than other prenatal workouts that I’ve tried.

I was a little surprised by the ab work-which is on the floor with a wedge-shaped mat. While I don’t have one of those at home, I was able to substitute quite a few pillows. This was probably my least favorite part of the workout, and quite honestly, I only did it once just to see how it felt. With my cramping (yay for an expanding uterus!), and nausea, laying down was NOT what I wanted to do. I prefer to use The Dia Method (review coming soon!), which focuses on gentle exercises to strengthen your belly and prevent diastasis recti, which is the separation of your stomach muscles…not a good thing.

Overall, I really liked Physique 57 Prenatal. It’s low impact, effective, and fun, just like I expected. My one caveat? I really wish it was on DVD, rather than streaming. I’m not terribly savvy (um, yeah…I know I’m a blogger…let me have it.) when it comes to figuring out how to connect my television to a website. It was frustrating, to say the least. I wasn’t thrilled with having to crane my neck to see my laptop. That aside, it’s a great workout.

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This may come as a shock to you, but I absolutely HATE lasagna. Seriously. I’d rather eat rocks. Or pinecones. I don’t know why…I love the ingredients in other things, but it’s never been on my list of favorite dishes. This is a problem because Ish LOVES lasagna (probably more than me!).

So I’ve been looking (and testing) all kinds of lasagna recipes. I’ve tried veggie noodles, traditional, you name it. But there’s something about that darned casserole that just makes me want some mac and cheese instead. Then I caught wind of lasagna soup. I searched through recipes and didn’t find one that I liked. I really wanted something that tasted like lasagna, but WASN’T actually lasagna, if that makes any sense!

So, after much experimentation, I’ve found it!! This recipe always gets Ish stoked when he walks through the door. And it takes less than 30 minutes, start to finish. Did I mention that it’s SUPER DUPER delicious?!

fast and easy homemade lasagna soup

Lasagna Soup

1 pound Italian sausage
1/2 a white onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
32-ounce container vegetable broth
16 ounces gluten-free pasta
1/2 cup lowfat, part skim ricotta
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 cup mozzarella, shredded

Heat a dutch oven or large stock pot over medium-high heat. While your pot is heating, chop your onion and peel your garlic. Add the olive oil to your pot, then the onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is translucent (about 2-3 minutes), then add in your sausage (if you have cased sausage, remove the casings and break it up as it cooks. Cook through (about 5 minutes, then add your seasonings, diced tomatoes, sauce, and broth. Turn the head up to high and bring to a boil.

Once your soup boils, add your noodles and the ricotta. Reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until your noodles are cooked through. Grate in parmesan, stir, and allow the flavors to meld for 5-10 minutes. Spoon into serving dishes and top with mozzarella. Serves 6-8.

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Happy Monday!

Sundays are usually my day to sleep in (Ish and I switch off-he gets Saturday, and I get Sunday. It works.), but not yesterday. Yesterday, I was jolted awake by the wailing of my 3 year old. Smalls was DEMANDING that I make pancakes. NOW. Not later. Not for brunch. NOW. Apparently Ish’s pancake skills are sub-par. Sorry, honey.

So I got up, after sleeping an extra hour (it was a blissful hour, though), and shuffled downstairs to get some pancakes made. I have to confess, I was a little worried, as we’re trying very hard to avoid gluten, and usually pancakes fall squarely in the GLUTEN category. Luckily, I have some awesome gluten-free flour that did most of the work for me.

And you know what? They turned out really well! Fluffy, tasty, and perfect paired with pumpkin butter.

quick and easy homemade gluten-free pancakes

Easy Gluten-Free Pancakes

1 cup gluten-free flour
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (pure, please)
dash salt
1 egg
1 cup plain almond milk (if you use vanilla, just omit the vanilla extract)
2 tablespoons ghee

Gently mix together your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl  (If you are like me and HATE lumps, make sure that you sift everything into the bowl). In a smaller bowl, whisk together your wet ingredients. Slowly mix the wet into the dry until just combined.

Preheat your pan over medium heat, and spray with olive oil or ghee (I love my Misto!). Use a pancake scoop to make uniform circles of batter in your heated pan.

When you see bubbles appear, turn your pancakes and cook for another 30 seconds. Serve with your favorite pancake toppings. Some ideas:

  • powdered sugar
  • berries
  • pumpkin butter
  • peanut butter (homeade)
  • chopped nuts

What do you put on your pancakes?

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When I found out that our plans for Thanksgiving had changed, I had a brief moment of panic. I HATE cooking the Thanksgiving meal…but I love to eat it! It’s just so much work! So I decided that this year, I was going to be smart about it. I settled on a semi-homeade Thanksgiving, outsourcing pie duties to Whole Foods (Ish loves pecan pie, but I don’t so I found some cute little tarts that will serve well), and utilizing Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods for some inspiration. Our menu is traditional, but with a twist: I started cooking on MONDAY. That’s right, y’all. Monday. Which was yesterday. I also managed to clean my house from top to bottom, so everything is sparkly.

So. Yesterday, I made my favorite cranberry sauce. While I’m sure that it’s not entirely original, it’s delicious and what we’ve been eating for over 10 years. Canned cranberry sauce creeps me out!

make your own cranberry sauce with some zing!

Cranberry-Tangerine Sauce

1 bag organic cranberries (Trader Joe’s is my preferred brand), rinsed and drained
1 cup water
1 cup organic cane sugar (don’t sub here, or it won’t taste right)
zest of 1 large tangerine
2 drops of Tangerine Essential Oil
1 cinnamon stick
dash nutmeg (optional)

Put all of your ingredients into a medium saucepan with a lid over medium-high heat. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, which is just enough time for the cranberries to pop and your sauce to begins to thicken. Discard the cinnamon stick and pour into a glass dish to cool slightly before refrigerating.

This cranberry sauce is the BOMB, y’all, and so much better than the canned crap that you buy at the grocery store. The nutmeg and cinnamon bump the flavor, and refrigerating it gives it a bit thicker texture. I like my cranberry sauce cold as a compliment to the warm goodies, such as stuffing, green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes. And we can’t forget the turkey breast!!

Stay tuned for my recipes and cook along with me!

 

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Last week, I ran out of Lemon essential oil. I didn’t think much of it, and went about my business…for about 48 hours. Then I started to sneeze. So I applied my Lavender and Peppermint essential oils (because they’re part of the allergy trio, y’all)…but I didn’t get the relief I was looking for.

As the week wore on, my sinuses started to get worse. I went from sneezing to coughing to…drainage. That’s right. I had snot dripping down the back of my throat. It SUCKED. Like, seriously sucked, y’all. I felt like I was walking around in a long-forogotten fog. See, up until this point, I haven’t had the misfortune to run out of my allergy trio oils. I always seem to have enough Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint on hand.

Allergies 3 WaysSure, the Lavender helped a little, and the Peppermint quickly cleared my sinuses…but the pressure was still there. Lemon is a natural decongestant, among many other benefits:

  • Use 1–2 drops of lemon essential oil to remove gum, oil, grease spots, glue or adhesive, and crayon from most surfaces.
  • Combine 2–3 drops of lemon essential oil with water in a spray bottle to help cleanse and sanitize surfaces.
  • Place a drop of lemon essential oil on oily skin or blemishes to help balance oil glands and minimize oil production.
  • Soothe corns, calluses, or bunions by rubbing lemon essential oil on the affected area morning and evening.
  • Massage lemon essential oil into cellulite to help improve circulation and eliminate waste from cells.
  • Add lemon essential oil to your morning tea or breakfast shake for a refreshing pick-me-up.
  • Inhale lemon essential oil or place a few drops on a cotton ball to replenish your mind, body, and spirit.
  • Add 10–15 drops of lemon essential oil to a gallon of carpet cleaning solution to help pull out stains, brighten carpet and rugs, and leave a fresh smell in the room.
  • Add several drops of lemon essential oil to a chicken marinade for a delicious dinner.
  • Place a few drops of your favorite citrus essential oil on a cotton ball and put in the refrigerator to help eliminate odors.

I seriously love Lemon. So much so that I OVERNIGHTED my order so that I could get some relief. As soon as my order arrived, I applied  my Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint to my sinuses. It was INSTANT. And I started back taking my daily allergy capsules of Lemon and Lavender. And I’m back to my happy, non-sneezing, non-sniffling self. About time!!

I also apply the allergy trio to Smalls when he starts to get stuffy. Ish was blessed with no sinuses.

What do you do to naturally treat your allergies?

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So. This weekend, Smalls woke up super (and I mean SUPER) early on Sunday. He wandered into my bedroom and was rubbing his still sleepy eyes, and asked me if he could please have some eggnog. Ummmm…it’s 5:30 a.m. y’all. That’s WAY too early for me. So I gently put him back in bed, only to have him pop back out 30 minutes later. 6:00 a.m. YAWN. And he’s still asking for eggnog. I’m not a huge fan of sweets in the morning. I prefer my bacon and eggs, but he was so fixated on that eggnog that I knew I had to get creative.

So quietly, we crept downstairs and plotted. I suggested eggnog pancakes, which was quickly vetoed. How about eggnog muffins? Or an eggnog breakfast shake (thinking I can sneak in some greens here)? No and no. He wasn’t having it. Then I got a bright idea. Eggnog French toast? Smalls’ face completely lit up. Then he looked confused. What’s French toast? I realized that it’s been about 6 months since I’ve made it, and it wasn’t really something that he could help with at the time. Now I needed to figure out a way to let him HELP, but not make a huge mess…and Ish was still sleeping (I got to sleep in on Saturday), so we couldn’t make a lot of noise, and I didn’t want his breakfast to be cold. I’ve made baked French Toast before, why couldn’t I just do it with eggnog?

I told Smalls my plan, and he quickly agreed. We assembled our ingredients and got to work. Let me tell y’all something: this French toast was nothing short of awesome. Super filling, delicious and custardy (I’m making that a word. So there.).

Super-Easy Eggnog French Toast

Eggnog French Toast

3/4 loaf Trader Joe’s Organic White Bread, cubed
6 eggs, slightly beaten
2 1/2 cups eggnog (I used coconut milk eggnog, but if you drink dairy milk, you could use the regular stuff)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 drop Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil

Approximately 2 Tablespoons butter (for greasing your pan)

Have your 3 year old grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Make sure he gets in the corners! Once you’ve greased your dish, arrange your bread cubes so that they’re fairly level (you don’t want anything sticking up that could get overly browned). In a batter bowl, combine your eggs, eggnog, nutmeat and EO. Whisk together until well combined and slightly frothy. I used a hand whisk, but you could easily use a Kitchenaid or hand mixer.

Pour your eggnog mixture over your bread, cover with saran wrap and refrigerate. You want to allow the liquid plenty of time to soak into the bread, so I recommend that you leave it in for at least 3 hours (or more! You could definitely make this the night before). I left it in until Ish woke up, about 3 1/2 hours, and it was FABULOUS.

30 minutes prior to baking, remove the pan from the refrigerator and preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Once your oven has heated, put your french toast in to bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top has turned golden brown. Allow to sit for 5 minutes to cool, slice and serve with maple syrup.

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