We're growing our own organic garden this year and hoping it'll cut back on our grocery bill next spring. The herbs and romaine I planted last year can't stop growing and are giving me so much, I've made herbs de provence with almost every dinner, and it's saved me money on my daily GG smoothies. So far we have mint, thyme, cilantro, rosemary, sage, and tarragon. I placed a couple of the herbs in their containers and kept forgetting to plant them but overtime, they grew roots on their own, and broke through the bottom of the container. In our dirt pods, we've planted cucumber, spinach, corn, beets, squash, cantaloupe, watermelon, and goji berries. We have a greenhouse (a small one we found on amazon and it works great), some dirt, seeds, and a little time and motivation, and we're hoping to reap the benefits next year.
I don’t want the title to be misleading- I gave up TV for lent, not for good, and I still spent hours on the internet. I’m not scolding anyone for watching TV, just listing how awesome it was from my own personal experience.
I've never participated in it but I didn’t know lent was something talked about until I read Jen's post. I thought it was like tithing- it’s personal. I wanted to share this because unlike tithing, something required, lent was a choice. I chose to challenge myself. The whole point of lent is to substitute whatever you're giving up to replace with acts of worship or something to get closer to God. I decided on TV because I love TV. I've never loved TV so much than I have at this moment of my life. I find comfort in it, I find humor in it, I find inspiration from it. If I want to tune out sad feelings, watching TV is a great alternative to feeling them. So I gave up the one thing I didn't want to give up. I decided to replace with worship music, and I made a playlist. The first hour was good, I felt inspired and ready to take on the next days. However, I barely made it through the first day. I had no idea how much terrible worship music was out there and it took me weeks to find something good. Once I got over my music tastes, I found out giving up TV was one of the better things I’ve ever done for myself-
I ate cleaner. I didn’t watch commercials for food, or cooking or baking shows. I really believe in the out of sight, out of mind meaning. I didn’t see sweets or fatty foods, I didin’t crave them.
I moved more. I get bored. I get antsy. If I was sitting at my computer too long without the tv on, I got up, left the house, walked to the grocery store out of boredom, ran on the treadmill to listen to more music.
Combine those both, and I lost weight. It was a mix of moving more, and eating better
I tweeted less. I didn’t realize how many tv-related tweets I had. Plus I didn’t want to read spoilers.
I slept more. I didn’t have HGTV on at midnight. As soon as I was in bed, I was asleep a minute later. I’ve never experienced 8 hours of sleep since high school and according to my fitbit, I hit 7-8 hours every night.
Less triggers. No baby commercials! To clarify, babies are NOT triggers for me (half my Instagram feed are babies, and I love and celebrate each one) but if I'm staring off into the TV, my mind goes into dark terrible places.
I discovered new and loved music. I love music but over the years I’ve stopped listening to it as much because of TV. I pulled out old vinyl, and listened to over a hundred albums on my queue in rdio.
Surprisingly I didn’t read much. I was in the middle of reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker, but I didn’t want to be influenced by her experience, I wanted to have my own so I put it down for lent. I read my Bible more, I felt more inspired without images, I blogged more, I had a cleaner home, we took up gardening to name a few. I dealt with issues that made a big step in going forward in my grief. When we finally did watch TV, we weren't that impressed. Our DVR was filled and by the time lent was over, we had less than 2 hours of recording space. Today we just got rid of premium cable, deleted a bunch of TV shows, and are contemplating canceling netflix. I know it's only less than $10 a month but that money seems to steal me away from what I loved experiencing most- life! Like I mentioned, I loved TV more than most people and everything works in moderation, but there was no such thing for me. I hope this helps someone out there contemplating giving up TV, or even less of it.
Disneyland Main Street has magic in every step taken, especially at night.
Every year I get Ashley's birthday gift from Sephora, she's the beauty queen after all. I never expect anything in return, but this year, she outdid me by not only buying me a gift I love, but an experience! She introduced me to Turntable Kitchen with a one month gift subscription. Before you roll your eyes at another subscription box, this one is different. Turntable Kitchen has been a blog bringing together music and recipes. They were so successful at it, they introduced their blog to your doorstep, The Pairings Box. It's three recipes with a main ingredient and comes with a limited edition 7" vinyl from an up and coming indie band. Mine was turmeric as the main ingredient and I got IYES 7" with a limited edition cover of Beyonce's Crazy in Love with less than 150 copies made of the type of vinyl I got.
I love cooking and always having music going, it seemed like such a natural concept and it's been executed beautifully. I cooked a turmeric chicken with mint orange salad, and served it with their jalapeño agave lemonade (I added mint to mine). I played it on my portable turntable and it's small enough to fit in the kitchen. The recipe cards come on high quality card stock, so if you get it a little messy, they'll survive. TK also carries a wooden box for their vinyls and recipe cards. The whole gift was wonderful- the discovery of new music on vinyl (it always sounds better on vinyl), the recipes, which were healthy and can easily be substituted if needed, and the discovery of new food, and my growing love for cooking. Thank you Ashley! Obviously I sent the thank you card too soon! Check out Turntable Kitchen and their subscriptions.
We stayed in San Simeon and took a drive to Hearst Castle. It was my first time going and I was amazed. I was amazed at the architecture, the art work, the landscaping, everything about it was either really tacky or really sophisticated but I loved it all!
Read more about Hearst Castle here.
Let's take a look back at favorites for March 2014
Favorite Instagram feed is brandivannevel. Brandi's photos are simple. They don't need much editing, and there are no heavy filtered photos to distract you from the photo. In the middle of a adorable baby photos, cute selfies, sophisticated florals and stylish OOTD's, Brandi's peaceful photo pop ups and it's like you're on a mini-vacation with her.
Favorite purchase would be our vacation. Okay, so we get free hotel nights with points on our only credit card but they are worth saving up for. We splurged on healthier meal options at Whole Foods by our hotels instead of cheaper fast food. It was more romantic having a picnic on the beach than coming back to our hotel room bloated and moody. I also have a new appreciation for California, the beaches it has, and sunsets it offers.
Favorite moment was my birthday week. It was one big moment of awesome. I loved the surprises, whether it was the sunrise from a California beach (I'm a big cheese ball but so true), or flowers from Kaelah, texts from unexpected and long lost friends, to Instagram comments, I seriously took them all in and enjoyed them. Even those moments of sadness, I didn't take any tears for granted.
Favorite book was re-reading The Outsiders. It's one of my favorite books. After this huge life changing moment I experienced, everything is seen with a new set of eyes, including books. I discovered what I loved about it all over again and caught new words formed together I believe SE Hinton wrote for just for me.
Favorite music is a tie between Twin Forks and Allison Weiss. Twin Forks is Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba's new project. When I listen to it, it sounds like Chris Carrabba grew up with his fans. While we all swooned with him over ex's, now we're singing about stable marriages and families. The music is indie, with kick-drum folky tune to it. Allison Weiss is a younger, newer (2009-ish) artist but just because she's newer doesn't mean she can't keep up with her own written indie music. I love pop-punk and with Allison's female vocals to lead the catchy music, it works. Listen to Allison Weiss on rdio or spotify. Listen to Twin Forks on rdio or spotify.
Honorable mention- Favorite pinnner would be Vanessa Joie. Some people have a talent for knowing what’s going to be big and Vanessa has a great eye for this. Her taste is fun and her creative mind leaks through curated pins.
Here's to April 2014!
I remember reading this article (NSFW) on the truth behind Instagram photos and while it was funny, it reminded us our life can't be judged in snapshots. Brandy, one of my favorite Canadians and bloggers, recently posted on what's the reality behind each snapshot. While I make it very clear my life isn't perfect on my blog, ultimately, people don't know the whole story. I thought I'd have fun with the idea and tell what the reality is behind these shots for my birthday.
I'm in this weird dress size- not back to my old dress size but I'm swimming in my maternity clothes. It took me four dresses from Nordstrom and Amazon to find one. The day before, Janelle, a friend who doesn't have a Facebook, blog, Twitter, etc (bless you, Janelle) sent me this perfectly matching Betsey Johnson clutch not knowing the color I chose.
We went to Lemonade for a light lunch. I looked so touristy taking a million shots on my DSLR.
How meta is it to wear the sunglasses named after you? I'm out of my element here because I'm wearing pink and contacts. I also had no idea how awesome sunglasses were. They hide all the tears while still looking fab.
Birthday scarf! I was a little bummed the salesgirl at Nordstrom totally dragged this on the way to the counter like a wet towel.
After walking around Fashion Island, I went home to change. Pink is my favorite color but surprisingly that's the only pink pieces of clothing I own and I was so uncomfortable. I went back home to change and added my Audrey sunglasses before heading to Disney California Adventure.
We went to Carthay Circle. The sodas were ROSE PETAL sodas. I love roses but not in my drink.
Birthday Disneyland Frap! I'm lactose intolerant so I don't have to tell you what happens behind this photo.
I came home to a custom birthday cake. I loved it so much, I took a million shots of it and everyone was annoyed at how long I was taking. They don't understand the life of a blogger :P It was so beautiful, I'm devoting a full post to it later.
Overall my birthday was great. As I was doing these "in context" photos, I had a hard time finding the negative in them. When I post photos, even if they are styled, there's not much behind them. I see the positivity and beauty in my own real life, I don't think the life I display on my blog or Instagram is that much different. My life isn't perfect, but it's simple and what others would call boring. And that, for me, makes it perfect.
This week's Friday Darling's won't be going up, partially because I'm limited on wifi while I'm away and I had such a crazy fun birthday week, I completely forgot to organize a post for today. For fun links, I recommend the following blogs
I'm relaxing, celebrating life, unplugging this weekend, posting the occasionally pic on Instagram and editing photos with this view below. I mean, work is hard sometimes but can you see why I can't concentrate much? The view from my hotel is so ugly :P
We went to Disneyland for a couple of hours yesterday. It was the first week we've been back and coincidentally, two years ago to the day we were in Disneyland Paris. It's been fun using the ABM photo presets. I also occasionally will use VSCO and both are great on their own, but I prefer ABM for my own photos.
You can check out the other treatments I've used here. Next week I'm going with one of my film cameras and I can't wait to see how those turn out. Enjoy you weekend!
Let's take a look back at favorites for February 2014
Favorite Instagram feed is brittnimehlhoff. I love her vivid colors, creative DIY projects, and she shares her business travels and doings. You can tell she loves her job and when she posts, it's a punch of quirk and style.
Favorite purchase is renewing my CSA. Organic food direct to your door? I forgot the luxury of it. If you sign up and use code 6164, you get $10 off your first order.
Favorite moment was meeting Moorea Seal. I've known her for years (yes, I had to double check, it's been years). It was like catching up with an old friend, there were lots of tears, most from laughing. Her silly side goes as deep as her sensitive side.
Favorite book was Worth the Pain by Andy Marso. I normally would never pick up an inspirational book, they sometimes come off more pretentious than hopeful but I loved Andy's book. He's funny, honest about his anger, and with journalism degree under his belt, he's a natural story teller. He fought meningitis when he was supposed to die. He lost his hands and legs in the process, but he gained a new perspective. I loved the book so much, I finished it in one sitting.
Favorite music is Owen's L' Ami De Peuple. Matt Kinsella does it again with his dreamy vocals and you can get lost in the speakers. I loved him in his Cap'n Jazz days but I've followed his career in Owen. The lyrics are earnest, the music is sweet, and he adds a little bit of country twang with electronic to his indie sound. He makes it work.
Here's to March 2014!
This recipe is so easy, I thought I'd just make a quick snack and not bother bringing out my camera. I was so wrong. It's so delicious, my iPhone photo doesn't do it justice.
1 can of black beans, drained, rinsed
1/2 cilantro leaves
1/4 cup of salsa
1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (or sub with chili powder)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 clove of garlic, minced
Put in a mini food processor and pulse until smooth. I served with organic blue corn tortillas, or serve on your next taco night. SO GOOD! This recipe was from e-meals, a paid service to bring me recipes each week for meal planning rather than hunting down the internet on what to eat. Thought I'd pass it along!
Let's take a look back at favorites for January 2014
Favorite Instagram feed is ahoymiss. Danielle's feed is fanciful! She doesn't post too often but when she does, it's so dreamy.
Favorite purchase is the Tarte's Discover the Amazon 3-piece Kit. I wanted to try the maracuja oil. i've been using it for a few weeks and I love it. I've reviewed the foundation before but I can't wait to tell you about the oil.
Favorite moment was when I hit my 10 lb loss. I have a body that reminds me daily I carried a baby I don't have, so yes, I am going to do what I can to lose that weight. I'm documenting everything on myfitnesspal app, I'm open to more community and inspiration, let's be each other's motivator's and accountability.
Here's to February 2014!
Kyla Roma, bloggess and motivational speaker (not technically but if you read her blog, you can attest). She has a great series, A Creative Life, and I'm so thankful I'm a part of the series who inspires me as a woman. I'm honored to be following some of my favorite bloggers, thank you, Kyla. Check it out!
It was also a blessing to read it again, when I wrote I wrote it, it was later in my pregnancy. While I'm grieving Max, I felt like I was grieving who I used to be. When I re-read this, it reminded me I'm back to my old self (even if my old self has a few extra chips in my heart).
I also wanted to say thank you to every reader who has stuck with me since October 2. You've seen me at my saddest, accepted my sad posts (I imagine it's hard to read as it was hard to write) but just like that Pinterest poster says, "If you can't have me at my worst, you can't have me at Beyonce". Much love!
I still get emails about my Eat to Live diet. I never blogged much about it because it was personal for me. It wasn't to fit into skinny jeans, it was to fit into maternity pants. Since the whole purpose of the diet was for Max, I feel discouraged right now to keep on it. It was encouraging when I was told he was one of the healthiest babies they've seen.
I still eat almost twice the amount of daily intake of veggies still and limit my dairy, bread, and meat intake and when I do, it's organic, but I will never go back to my old poor diet. I'm asked how do I start and how can I love veggies. It sounds cliche but just start. Don't wait for a new year, don't wait for new workout clothes or shoes, just go! As for the veggies, I can't make you love veggies, but I can make you sneak some in with this recipe from e-meals, it's a honey'd carrot and cheese spread.
You will need-
1/2 cup of shredded carrots (about 1 carrot)
1 1/2 cup of cottage cheese
2 tablespoons of honey
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Add the ingredients in the food processor and pulse until smooth.
I swear it tastes nothing like carrots, for those cringing at the carrots. Eat it with Dave's Killer Bread (my favorite) or pita bread, bananas, apples, even double your Vitamin A intake and dip with carrots. Enjoy!
You can save the rest in the fridge and it'll be good for a couple days.
* This recipes is from e-meals, a paid service to send you recipes to your inbox and into your kitchen. You choose the amount of people you're cooking for, the type of diet you want (low calorie, vegetarian, clean eating, slow cooker, to name a few) and choose the store you shop at. E-meals will give you the recipes according to what the suggestions. We've been trying it since November and I love it! It's saved us time and money. We rarely eat out now and I actually found a new love for cooking. If you're curious about it, use my referral code here. Much thanks!
Ok, I'll admit it. I feel a little left out when it comes to the online mom community. Not to make Max sound like an accessory or a pet, but I wanted to share him so badly. Maybe I'm looking into it too much, but sometimes I feel like a bad luck charm when I add my advice. I was still pregnant for 9 months, I still gave birth, nothing about that changed. I'm still a mom, just a childless mom. I was so so SO happy when Melissa from Bubby and Bean asked me to guest post for her and she welcomed my advice on recovering from labor. Read it all here or click on the photo below to take you there. Thanks Melissa!
I had fun baking this weekend with my new camera cookie cutters. I don't have the tools or skills for anything fancy, but I do know how to make sugar cookies and turn on the oven.
They came out a little funny, but like I said, I don't normally bake but considering I didn't burn down the kitchen, I would say it's a success!
2013 was crazy. Amazing and heartbreakingly crazy. I can list all the things I've learned but one thing I will never ever question is the biggest lesson I've faced- don't rely my happiness on things that can be taken away. I know it sounds counterproductive- won't relying on family, wealth, health bring me happiness? Yes, yes, of course. I get a lot of comments like "I can't even imagine", or "I don't know what I would do", and sometimes I want to nod my head in agreement and say "me, too", because I still can't imagine it, and I still don't know what to do. The one thing I truly prayed for (begged for), a healthy baby boy, was taken away. In the depth of all this pain, I had to climb my way out of it and find the happiness that I thought went with him.
I remember going home after the hospital. I remember grabbing my nice bag and leaving in our nice car and looking back at his nice car seat, but all I saw was how empty it was. I remember coming home to our nice home, our nice things and none of them were of value to me. I love my nice life, but this isn't the depth of what we are, what defines us, or what we take with us. Nice gets boring, and I'm just sad I had to lose something to find the perspective I needed.
Christmas is 4 days away and it doesn't matter how much pink I try to add to my home, or how many Christmas decorations or holiday I can drown myself in, the reality is, I'll have a very blue Christmas. The grief and sadness is something I've tried so hard to avoid. I bite my tongue if I feel tears coming up, I distract myself with social media so I won't be alone with my thoughts. I pray every night I can see him in my dreams. I really miss the little man.
People tell me grief is grief and they understand what I'm going through because their aunt/grandparents/parents died. I do believe grief is grief and there is a certain amount of pain shared. I think losing a child is a different type of grief. It's not a natural grief. It's natural to bury an aging grandparent, your ill parents, or even a sick pet. It's not natural for a parent to bury their own child. It does take a special type of grief to understand this. My own pain doesn't make it any more special than those grieving over any loved one, but unless you've experienced this, it's hard to explain. This is why blogging is so hard lately. I don't want to write so I can get pity (I love you guys, but that's not needed or wanted. I'd rather have your love than pity) I write to remember him. I write to let people know he changed our lives. I write so I can move on. He'll never be replaced but maybe these throes will be one day be a short memory but the joy he left will overcome the pain.
I know this won't be the best Christmas for us, but it won't be the worst Christmas for us. Same for you-if you're missing someone, our pain can't be outshined by the bright Christmas lights, or be ignored by the endless amounts of marshmallows in the hot cocoa, but I think we can make the best of it. Merry Christmas. xx