Best of 2016

Can you believe that 2017 is here? A new year always makes me excited for a fresh start with new goals and exciting projects. Plus of course, looking back at the past year for smiles and memories.

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 2016 started off with a bang earlier than expected. Baby Bronson landed earth side on the 21st of January; three weeks ahead of his guess date.

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Our families came from far and wide to greet the new addition.

img_3354We knew we had a few things to learn, but Charles and I were up for the challenge.

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Even my dog Audrey tried to help take care of the new baby.

As this little guy started to grow….

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So did the laundry….

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When Bronson was 3 months old, his JJ and Pawpaw came to visit again.

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Bronson started traveling at an early age. This was his first road trip…

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and he met his older cousin who was really excited to meet him… at first….

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Then he had a change of heart. LOL

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When Bronson was 5 months old, we learned that we were moving across the country to Las Vegas.

So we packed our bags and hopped on Bronson’s first flight…

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He didn’t even mind the layover.

Once we made it to the land of sand and stone, we took advantage of all the fun outdoor things the area had to offer…

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and we went to visit an old mining town where Bronson was a hit.

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The first Thanksgiving feast was pretty exciting too.

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After Thanksgiving, we got ready for baby’s first Christmas…

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but since Bronson was a seasoned traveler, we flew back home to celebrate Christmas with family.

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And now it’s 2017 and Bronson just had his first birthday!

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I can’t wait for this year to be even bigger and better.

Stay tuned!

Birth Story + Bronson

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Giving birth to Bronson wasn’t exactly how I envisioned. In my mind, I saw a quiet birth at home laboring in a bath filled with relaxing oils and lit by candles. Charles and I took Bradley Birth Method classes and I couldn’t wait to bring our son into this world together. I imagined depending on Charles for encouragement and I wanted him to play as much of a part in Bronson’s birth as possible. I wanted us both to deliver the best thing that had ever happened to us.

If motherhood has taught me anything, it is that nothing will be as imagined. At 32 weeks, I was told that my baby was transverse-breech. I remember laying in the bath the night before my 32-week midwife appointment and practicing a relaxation technique when I felt him turn sideways. I could feel his head and his bum on the sides of my belly with my hands. I was given some exercises by my midwife from the website Spinning Babies. She also gave me a list of suggestions I could try that included chiropractic adjustments, acupressure, acupuncture, essential oils, and manual adjustment.

At our last birthing class, our instructor looked at me with heartbreak in her eyes and told me that I should begin to plan for a gentle C-section–just in case. I knew she was right. I revised my birth plan and prepared myself for a hospital birth that may include surgery. I cried so many times over the realization that I wouldn’t have the birth that I had dreamed. I prayed, I begged, I did headstands to try to turn this baby, but it felt like I might as well have been trying to move mountains. At 37 weeks I went into labor.

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I went to my chiropractor for another adjustment; my third that week. As soon as I walked into the office, I went to the restroom to find that I had lost my mucus plug. Only I didn’t know it at the time. Just in case, I sent Charles a text to come home as soon as possible, but I didn’t tell him why. I had just left the chiropractor’s office when I had the overwhelming urge to stop and buy another giant pack of toilet paper. It was the night before a huge blizzard was going to hit the DC Metro area and the grocery stores were packed. I began having strong contractions in the grocery store. It must have been noticeable because, thank goodness, a cashier took pity and opened up a new checkout line just for me.

As soon as I got home, I called my midwife who confirmed that I may be going into labor. She told me to call her back if I saw any bright red blood and if so, not to delay coming into the hospital. The roads were already getting bad and I had a breech baby. Shortly after hanging up the phone, Charles walked through the door. I explained that we might be having a baby earlier than expected and that we need to make sure that the dog is walked and our bags were packed. I wanted to take a shower, but I wanted to take a bath to relax as well. As Charles walked the dog, I quickly showered and washed my hair, then I ran a hot bath with lavender oils, lit a few candles and got ready to relax. I was determined to have a small piece of the birth I had envisioned. But, fate had a different plan and just before I stepped into the bath, I noticed bright red blood. The universe was relentless, I thought to myself. So I pulled the plug and watched my ritual birthing bath go down the drain. I dressed and Charles packed a few more things to take to the hospital. I said a long goodbye to the dog since it would be the last time that she would be my baby. As we walked out the door, I snatched the Goddess aromatherapy necklace I had made earlier that day and placed a few drops of lavender right on the belly of the pendant. It was my last hope of bringing my dream birth to the hospital with me.

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The usual 7-minute drive took us 20 minutes because the roads really were pretty bad already. I was checked in and sent back pretty quickly to triage. Once there the midwife Kelly came to see me. She said she could smell lavender down the hallway. “There must be a midwife patient here,” she said. A quick ultrasound confirmed that Bronson was still transverse and two OB’s were sent to try manual version. I had heard so many frightening stories about how painful manual version could be. In truth, it was no tickle fest, but it was tolerable. After an hour and a half of trying, the OB turned to me and said that she was sorry. Bronson wouldn’t turn. The anesthesiologist came to introduce himself and asked when and what I had eaten last. I said I had a huge meal an hour before. I lied, I had barely eaten that day, but it bought me some time. I prayed that labor would naturally turn my baby. I was allowed to labor until I was 5 cm dilated. At that point, the nurse could feel the baby’s hand or foot during a vaginal check and my time had run out.

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I had come to terms with the fact that I would in all likelihood, deliver via C-section, or so I thought. I seemed to be taking it pretty well the midwife told me. That was until I began the walk down the hallway to the OR. It was really going to happen, I thought. A small part of me always believed that this baby would turn.  While walking towards the cold and sterile room where my baby would be born, I started to cry. I was helped onto the OR table and the anesthesiologist began to explain the spinal block procedure. Then I completely lost all control of my emotions, the midwife held me as tears poured down my cheeks and I sobbed uncontrollably. She held my hand as I was prepped for surgery, and reviewed my C-section birth plan with the OB. Charles came to be by my side just before the surgery started. I had earbuds in while listing to relaxing meditation music, as suggested by the midwife. But after a few minutes, I took the earbuds out. I didn’t want to feel like I wasn’t there anymore. I wanted to be present while my baby was born; even if it felt like a bad dream. Seconds later, I heard my baby cry for the first time. I started crying again. Not because he was born via C-section but because he was born. I laughed and cried tears of joy. It was then that it hit me. I hadn’t seen him yet but knew I loved him just by hearing his cry. It didn’t matter how Bronson came into this world. I loved him just the same.

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House of Christmas

If you search nordic Christmas decor on Pinterest, you will unlock the key to the beauty of a Scandinavian holiday. This rustic, minimal and cozy style is the signature look throughout Scandinavia. As people who survive winter in the Arctic Circle, who better to incorporate these simple elements of the season.

Oh, this idea excited me so!

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DIY + Holiday Spa Bath Gifts

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It’s Christmas time!!!!

It’s official, Starbucks has put out their holiday cup, Target is a mad house on the weekends, and the radio stations are playing nonstop Christmas music. Yep, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Have you watched Love Actually, brought back the elf, or put up the tree yet? You have? Welcome to the elite team of holiday overachievers. I’m just picking on you. Maybe you have it all together or, maybe you are the one waking up in the middle of the night because, CRAP! you forgot to move the elf again!!! No matter what side you land on, most if not all of us, will be on the hunt for gifts. And while Amazon gets a good workout around this time of year at my house too, I wanted to give some sustainable gifts as well.

After Halloween, I roasted and pureed our ol’ Jack-O-lantern since I didn’t want to waste that beautiful pumpkin. That left me with an abundance of pumpkin puree. Not a bad thing since I froze a good portion to use for Thanksgiving, but I was still left wondering how I could use it all. That is when I remembered that pumpkin is full of wonderful enzymes that are great for the skin. And who doesn’t love pumpkin everything, right?

Below are two recipes that I whipped up.

I think they would make great sustainable gifts.

Spice Milk Bath

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Supplies:

1/2 cup oatmeal or oat flour

1 cup powdered milk

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (I make my own with this recipe)

What to do:

The first thing I needed to do was to make oat flour. This is as easy as can be. I added 1/2 cup of oatmeal to a food processor and pulsed until it was a fine powder.

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Next, add all ingredients into a jar and shake it all up. You can always leave the milk bath in the jar that you used to make it. I found milk bottles at the Target dollar spot for $3 for a pack of two and thought that was a nice touch. This recipe filled up one and a half of the bottles.

Pumpkin Pie Body Scrub

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Supplies:

2 tablespoons pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla

Sugar

Oil (I used coconut oil, almond, and vitamin E oil but you could use any natural oil)

What to do:

The exact measurements of sugar and oil are not necessary. I mixed the sugar scrub to consistency. Add the sugar first, then pumpkin, spices, vanilla and lastly, add the oil a little at a time. You want the mixture to hold its form when you grab a spoonful and put it into  your hand. Add more sugar if it is too oily and more oil if it is too dry.

I had to double the recipe to almost fill this giant jar that I found at the Target dollar spot.

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I am going to tell you to be prepared to make an extra batch of both of these for yourself. It is hard to resist a hot bath on a chilly winter night. And when you come out smelling like pumpkin pie, you will be hard to resist too.

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Me being a little ridiculous with the pumpkin from head to toe, literary. Pumpkin hair mask, pumpkin face mask, and later a pumpkin foot mask.

Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe? Are you ready for the holidays? Have you decked the halls? Tell me how your holiday season is going for you.

Also, let me know in the comments if you are interested in the other pumpkin recipes that I tried out.

DIY + Zero-Waste Thanksgiving Centerpiece

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I’m learning that the holidays are going to take a little extra creativity if I want to keep my commitment to a  zero-waste home.

That’s ok, I like a good challenge.

With Thanksgiving only days away, I wracked my brain for something sustainable to decorate the dinner table. With  a eucalyptus tree growing in the back yard and the leftover mini pumpkins from Halloween, I whipped up something simple and easy.

Because this time of year does not need anything else to add to the complication. As I’m sure that we can all agree.

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Recipe + Spiced Apple Cider With A Frisky Twist

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Autumn has absolutely taken over my heart. I love when the season turns cooler, crisp, and calmer. Newly chilly fall mornings are my favorite. I love how the sun seems to wait just a little longer to begin the day. The still and quiet of the early morning hangs in the balance just a little longer. In the evening, sleepy heads turn in a little earlier, seeking the warm glow of those that we love.

As we all try to get cozy, I’m reminded that spiced apple cider is one of my favorite fall recipes. I love to share it with my loved ones when the days grow shorter and the air gets cooler. What I love most about making homemade apple cider is that it is surprisingly easy. Especially this recipe since it is made in a slow cooker.

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Spiced Apple Cider

You will need:

  • 10 apples- I like to use a verity like Fuji, Pink Lady, Gala, and Granny Smith for a complex flavor
  • An orange
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cinnamon sticks or 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • Nutmeg- I used fresh nutmeg but if you use pre-ground it is equal to about 1 ½ teaspoons
  • 5 whole allspice
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 cup of honey- you can also use 1 cup of sugar or Sugavita.
  • Cheesecloth

First, you will want to gather your spices in a cheesecloth and tie the bundle up nice and tight. Or, if you would rather, you can skip the cheesecloth and toss the spices in the slow cooker as they are.

Next, quarter the apples. No need to seed or peel them. Then, zest the orange and cut in half. Add the apples, orange halves, and zest, honey or sugar, and vanilla extract into the slow cooker. Then, fill with enough water to cover everything. Toss in your spices. Set on high.

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After about two hours, take a large spoon or potato masher and mash the apples. They will be really soft by now. Discard the orange. Allow the mash to simmer for another hour or so.

Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Then strain through cheese cloth. You can do this a few times depending on how much pulp you want in your drink.

The cider can be added back into the slow cooker to keep and serve warm. Or, you can chill and serve it cold.

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If you’re feeling a little frisky…. Try mixing champagne with the chilled apple cider for an apple cider mimosa. I love to serve this on Holiday mornings when it’s just the girls in the kitchen.

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Cheater Spiced Apple Cider

Maybe you find Autumn tugging at your heart strings but you don’t have the time to make homemade apple cider. Here is a fast and easy cheater recipe for you.

 

You will need:

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Apple juice

Start making a simple syrup by combining the sugar, water, and cinnamon. Bring to a very slight boil and reduce heat. Let simmer until it has reduced by about half. Allow to cool and pour into an airtight container like a glass jar.

Mix 8-10 ounces of apple juice with 1 tablespoon of the spiced simple syrup. Again you can drink this warmed or chilled.

Enjoy!