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.


 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.


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.


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

As this little guy started to grow….


So did the laundry….


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


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


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


Then he had a change of heart. LOL


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…


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…


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


The first Thanksgiving feast was pretty exciting too.


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


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


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


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

Stay tuned!

Recipe + Spiced Apple Cider With A Frisky Twist


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.




DIY + Teach Your Baby To Read


The kids have gone back to school. The lunches are packed, first day photos have been posted and moms everywhere let out a sigh of relief as they no longer need to plan activities to occupy their children’s days.

I have a few years before I will need to start back to school planning, but I thought this would be a wonderful time to start a learning routine of our own. Now at 7 months old I know that my little guy is learning and growing every day. In fact, studies show that 60% of all the energy that an infant will expend is concentrated in brain development. This means that if a baby’s body grew at the same rate as their brain, then by one month of age they would weigh 170 pounds. Yikes!

With this information, I thought it was a good time to start using flash cards to help my baby’s brain development. These flash cards are similar to the flash cards that I remember using when I was learning to read. However, starting when your baby is between 6-9 months old greatly improves the chances of having an early reader. This makes sense since children’s brains have formed 1000 trillion connections between neurons by the age of 3.

So pull out your ruler, glue stick, and scissors (assuming you could find any along the barren school supply aisles) because it’s time to get a little crafty.


You will need:


  • Cardstock – I used 140 lb. weight
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Self-adhesive laminate sheets (optional) I found them at target for under $7 a pack and needed two packs.
  • Printable ABC’s – click here and here.

Now the easiest way to create these cards would be to print the images directly onto the cardstock. I found that my printer would not take the thicker cardstock that I used. I simply printed the ABC’s on printer paper and cut them out. Then I glued them onto the cards.


1. Cut out your cards.

Measure your cardstock (or eyeball if you like to live dangerously) and draw lines where you will cut out your cards. Cut the cards out.


2. Paste

Glue the ABC’s to the card stock. Letters on the front of the card and pictures on the back.



3. Round the corners

Optional: round the corners and laminate the cards, then cut the cards out of the laminate sheets. I used a bottle cap to trace half circles to round the corners. I didn’t do this at first but after realizing that my 7-month old wants to eat everything I went back to the craft table.


4. Admire your work

This is a pretty simple DIY as long as you don’t get frustrated with the laminating sheets. Follow the directs for your sheets carefully and work with half of the sheet at a time, pulling the backing apart slowly.



When it’s time to learn, Bronson and I sit on the floor with the cards, a few books and toys. We aim for a 30-minute lesson depending on his attention span that day. As I flip through the cards I start with the letter side first and pronounce the letter and word slowly a few times. Then, I flip the card over to show him the picture side and pronounce the word again.

We have been practicing baby sign language so as I show the picture side, I also do the sign for that word. I keep my phone close by in case I need to look up a sign that I haven’t memorized yet. After we are done with each card I hand the card to him so that he can explore it. Once we have finished with all of the cards I scatter the deck so that he can play with them. I also say and sign any card he picks up.





Do you have any fun games for teaching your little one? Have you ever tried baby sign language? Comment below and tell me about your experience or ideas.

Postpartum Wardrobe Essentials


It’s understandable that we get excited about our bump style and often forget that we may need a few postpartum clothing options. Especially while transitioning from pregnancy to back into our old skinny jeans– assuming that we ever get there…Fingers crossed. Don’t get me wrong, I had a few maternity pieces that I wore after my baby was born. In fact, I’m wearing maternity leggings now, but shhhhh we don’t need to make that common knowledge.

When it came to what I would wear post pregnancy, I didn’t give my wardrobe much thought. Aside from deciding that I was perfectly comfortable with the idea of wearing my maternity clothes long after the baby was born. It seemed like a great idea until that first trip outside of my comfortable home. The sad fact is that I was used to dressing up my baby bump and all of a sudden I had a belly that I desperately wanted to conceal. I quickly learned that some of the clothes that looked great while I was pregnant, gave me that same look post pregnancy… and by this, I mean that I still looked very pregnant. That meant that my favorite body-hugging maternity maxi dress didn’t help. My best advice is to put aside a little cash for a few postpartum wardrobe essentials. Also, try to get as much as you can second hand because the idea is that you won’t wear these clothes forever. Again, fingers crossed.


Nursing tanks


Let’s just be honest, not everything in your postpartum wardrobe needs to be made for nursing. The truth is that if my shirt is stretchy enough to pull down and get my boob out it works for me. Nursing tanks, however, are a gift from the postpartum gods. Trust me when I say that you will want more than a few of these in dark colors. Black = no visible spit up or milk stains. My favorite one is soft and the elastic band is covered with fabric for maximum comfort.


M LeggingsLeggings

Of course, leggings will be as much of a staple post pregnancy as I am sure they were during pregnancy. Again my top choices are always soft like the jersey knit maternity leggings that I am wearing now. Also try to grab something a little sporty looking, just in case you actually do make it to the gym at 6 weeks PP.

A tunic shirt


Next up I highly recommend a front button or v neck tunic shirt or dress. If you are nursing then you will want easy access to your assets. The longer cut can help hide new mama hips and postpartum panty lines. Again a dark color will hide any spit, spills, or spots. Also, try to buy fabrics that don’t show stains when wet.

Button-up shirts

button up

As I pointed out above, those buttons will make nursing easier. I liked having a denim shirt and a plaid shirt. With those two options, you can actually get three different looks each. Fully button up the shirt, leave it unbuttoned and open to throw over a nursing tank, or tie around your waist for a 90’s throwback look.

A thin T-shirt

t shirt

You might already have a few flattering thin T-shirts. I was discouraged from wearing any of my favorite T-shirts because I didn’t want to expose my belly by pulling the shirt up to nurse. Then I realized that wouldn’t be necessary. All I had to do was layer the T-shirt over a nursing tank. When it was time to nurse, the T-shirt went up and the tank went down. It also gave me a little more coverage if I wanted privacy. By layering, it meant that I could get away with my T-shirt being a little shorter than I would normally have been comfortable with. This handy trick works with almost any shirt.

A cardigan 


Similar to wearing a button-up, a cardigan is easy to throw over any shirt. Depending on when your baby is due will determine if you will want something thin and gauzy or something more like a sweater. Either way, you will be thankful that you have something to grab and throw over your tank and yoga pants when the Amazon delivery person is knocking at your door.

A wrap dress or shirt

Wrap dress


Wrap shirt


This may not be necessary for everyone but you might be heading back to the office. Or maybe Grandma is watching your new baby while you get a much-needed night out….and maybe you just need to find a reason to change out of the leggings that you have been wearing for the past four days. Whatever the case if you’re wanting to dress up a little, a wrap dress or shirt is a must.

Non-slip shoes



Shoes are not always on the list of things to buy after your baby arrives. After all, you might have needed to go up a size during pregnancy. If you already have safe easy to slip on shoes from before or during pregnancy then, by all means, skip this suggestion. I gave birth in the middle of a blizzard. After most of the snow melted I didn’t need boots anymore but I didn’t want to risk slipping on the wet floor while babywearing. If you are going to buy some new kicks then you should at least make them cute and comfortable. Find the three pictured here, here, and here.



Baby’s First Foods


I spent a good portion of my pregnancy researching foods that I hoped my baby would one day love to eat. I had so many strategies for not only feeding him nutritiously but also how I would avoid having a picky eater.

When I read about baby led weaning I thought that all of my dreams had come true. I swore that the idea of handing over a portion of my plate to feed my baby would change my life. Sadly, I had the wrong idea. When Bronson turned 6 months old and we thought that he was ready for solids, I sat him down and handed him an avocado slice. It didn’t exactly go as planned. For starters, the avocado was too slippery for him to grasp. Then after a few attempts at picking it up and moving it into his mouth, he decided he would rather finger paint with it. Although adorable in my book, it didn’t mean that he was eating. Don’t get me wrong, I know that playing is part of learning in his world but I just had a different vision of how this was going to work…. Like almost everything in motherhood.


My second attempt at letting him feed himself wasn’t as bad. I gave him a banana and I had learned to leave a portion of the peel intact so that he could easily grasp it. It worked out much better seeing as how he was able to take a few bites before throwing it to the dogs. The downfall I quickly found out about BLW was that, in my excitement, I bought way too many fruits and veggies. This resulted in all of the produce ripening at one time. What was a mama supposed to do? We had too much for the whole family to eat before it spoiled. In came purres. I decided I would do a combination of BLW and purees because, why not? It’s not like the baby food/BLW police are going to come knocking on my door.

I quickly found out that, in my excitement, I bought way too many fruits and veggies. This resulted in all of the produce ripening at one time. What was a mama supposed to do? We had too much for the whole family to eat before it spoiled. In came purres. I decided I would do a combination of BLW and purees because, why not? It’s not like the baby food/BLW police are going to come knocking on my door.




Dog food.jpg

As of now we are still playing with food and learning what works best for us. I’m not terribly concerned about his eating habits at the moment since he is still getting most of his calories and nutrition from breast milk. As we continue to play and learn what is working and what is not I will be happy to write more in the future. For now here is a list of my favorite resources on both BLW and purees.













Perfect Parenting + Penny for Your Thoughts



It breaks my heart that we live in a world of parents shaming parents.

Maybe it’s because of social media, but I see mom/parent shaming too often. It is easy to act big and bad behind the keyboard. Saying things that would never be said in person.


I wish I had a great piece of advice or wisdom to make it stop or to make it go away. If I’ve learned anything from my baby, it is that motherhood is nothing, if not a humbling experience. I can’t promise that I will be a perfect parent. I can try but the truth is that I will fail.


Because despite all of the books we read, the advice that we seek, and the google searches, at the end of the day we are all just winging it.


No one said it would be easy, but it is definitely worth it.


Belated Baby Belly


It would be safe to say that the time for blogging about my pregnancy has passed, especially since my baby is now 6 months old. Speaking from my experience with this first pregnancy, it can be overwhelming. Between finding out that I was expecting and moving during my second trimester, I let blogging go for a while so that I could enjoy my pregnancy.

I was able to keep journals throughout that special time in my life since I knew that I didn’t want to forget how wonderful pregnancy can be.

I pulled together a list of the top memories that I have of being pregnant with my first child.

My heightened sense of smell…

My sense of smell was out of control to say the least. I’m sure you have heard about this early pregnancy symptom, for me it started at about 6 weeks and has continued to this day. I may never lose my ability to smell what the neighbors had for dinner last week, but at least it doesn’t make me sick to my stomach anymore. I never would have survived without Preggie Pop Drops. Made to ease nausea associated with pregnancy, they were seriously my savior. While I didn’t have much in the way of morning sickness, I would feel nauseated with certain smells. I still use them to tame motion sickness.

I was always hungry!

It was no surprise to me that I wanted to eat all of the time. What did come as a surprise was that after a few months, I didn’t have room to eat everything that I put on my plate. I wouldn’t say that I let that discovery stop me from trying to eat like a champion though. I learned early on to pace myself and take a longer lunch break.


I craved pickles and hot sauce.

Not exactly together, although I did eat them both sometimes too.  I wanted a pickle on the side of every meal and everything smothered in hot sauce. Imagine my disappointment, er rage, when Panerabread would forget my pickle. That’s alright, I always had hot sauce to save the day. That is until it gave me heartburn towards the end. I used this recipe to make a home made version of Claussen pickels. It’s the best! Photo credit: Tasty Kitchen


I began to “show” around 16-18 weeks.

I swear I was showing at 8 weeks. No one else would confirm that suspicion, probably because I looked like I had eaten a few too many burritos for lunch but my jeans told another story.  Finally around 16-18 weeks, I would turn the corner at work and hear, “Wow! You are showing!”


I was tired all. of. the. time.

This is to be expected but I wanted to sleep after any activity. I took naps every chance that I could. I also remember it taking me two months to unpack after moving because the routien went like this: work on one box, nap, next box, eat, take a nap, unpack a box, eat, sleep. It wasn’t the most productive time for me. While we are talking about sleep, I also remember hating the snooggle thing everyone loves. I also tried the boppy maternity pillow and hated that even more. What I did love was my cheapo $7  body pillow and the $5 black pillow case that went over it. I named that pillow Drogon. Photo from:


I felt my baby move around 4 months.

I hear a lot of people describe it as butterflies and while I can understand the comparison, to me it felt like something moving inside my body. Haha, I wish I had a better description for you, but it pretty much felt like you would imagine something moving around your stomach to feel like. I can say that I felt the most movement at 7:00 am when I would wake up and when I would lay on my left side. Now that I know my baby liked to have his head on my left side, I can’t say that I blame him for not being comfortable with that situation.


It’s a girl… No, it’s a boy!

The BEST memory of my pregnancy was finding out the sex of my baby. I was convinced that I was having a girl… CONVINCED! When the tech told me it was a girl, I said, “Yeah we know.” and then the biggest surprise of my life. “Oh, I’m so sorry I made a mistake. It’s a boy!” she said a few minutes later. I did’t have to look at Charles to know he had a giant grin on his face. I could feel how proud and excited he was. I did see the look on the techs face when she continued to apologize for the mix up. I could tell that she really felt bad. But I wasn’t upset, I actually thought that it was funny. I was also thankful that she notice the mistake within a few minutes. Could you imagine if we didn’t find out until he was born?



Now I will leave you with some of my favorite maternity pictures…












Baby Orion + Home Birth

I was so honored to be asked to photograph this natural home birth. It was absolutely inspirational.


On a quiet morning, at 5:08 a.m. I had the great honor to be a part of something life changing. Life changing for the family who welcomed a new life into their lives
and life changing for myself,who witnessed a man become a dad and a new baby brother greeted anxiously by older siblings.

Witnessing a life come into this world is difficult for me to put into words.
But here is a good try;
magnificent, wonderful, marvelous, spectacular, remarkable, phenomenal, breathtaking, extraordinary, unbelievable, amazing, stunning, astounding, astonishing, awe-inspiring, impressive, supreme, awesome, superhuman; fantastic, terrific, mind-boggling, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, out of this world, far out; literately wondrous.

It was all of those things and so much more.