How I Bounced Back After Baby

Helloooo Spring! I know I am a couple days late, but boy am I excited. Spring is by far my favorite time of the year. This winter has been especially tough because 1. This was my first New England winter in YEARS and 2. I just had a baby and was stuck inside the majority of the time (hello baby blues). But now that spring is here and there is a promise of warmer weather in the near future I am oh so excited.

I wanted to do a brief post on my postpartum journey so far. Today marks exactly 5 months since little Nolan entered the world. This has been the most wonderful, challenging, loving, overwhelming months and I could not imagine my life without this little guy.

Anyway, I wanted to post some encouragement and tips that I feel like helped me bounce back quickly!

Here are my progress photos. The last is current at 5m pp

1. Stay active throughout your pregnancy and eat as healthy as you can. This will result in a healthy and steady weight gain. Everybody is different and you will gain  what you need to for baby, but making the effort to stay active and make good food choices will benefit you both. I will do a post later on my go to workouts that I did throughout my pregnancy.

2. Invest in a postpartum girdle. I bought a Bellefit (which I will review at some point) to wear after delivery. I couldn’t fit into it right away so I wore a compression tank top the day after delivery until I could. I think it helped “shrink me down,” but mostly I enjoyed wearing it because it made everything feel tight and back in its place. I hated how squishy I was after!

3. Walk, walk, walk! When you feel okay and are okay’d by the dr. I felt like utter s*it for 2 weeks after delivery so I didn’t start walking until then. I started with just 10 mins or so, but it was soo nice to get up and move! Walking is one of my favorite workouts and the fresh air helped the baby blues.

4. Drink a lot of water (espectially if you are breatfeeding) and eat lots of fruits and veggies! I know no brainer, but water is so so important.

5. Breastfeeding. Holy cow did the weight melt off from breastfeeding! I wasn’t active the first 2 weeks but I was into my jeans about a week after delivery (when I was wearing my girdle of course).

I know these tips you’ve probably read/heard a thousand times, but it’s because they WORK!

Remember it’s also imprtant to keep your mind healthy along with your body. Every woman is different and will bounce back or not at different speeds-AND THAT’S OKAY. You just made a tiny human after all 🙂 I hope you find these tips at least motivational to start or keep up the good work!

 

 

 

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Loooooong Break :)

Oh goodness what a break this has been! When I started this blog it wasn’t too high up in my priorities, but now I regret not documenting the past few years! So much has happened it’s crazy :). We were living in Jefferson, Texas, and then we moved to the San Antonio area….and then to Zap, North Dakota….and then to Asheville, North Carolina…and then to Charleston, South Carolina…and now we are settled here in Massachusetts!  Haha. Clearly moving wasn’t enough to keep us busy as we just welcomed a beautiful baby boy 4 months ago! We moved constantly for my husband’s work and although we loved and are SO grateful to have been able to see the different parts of this beautiful country, being near family was important to both of us for our new little addition.

So please without further adieu let me introduce you to mister Nolan Alexander…

IMG_2272

Now let me start off by saying this child is MASSIVE. I’m talking 12m clothes only 4 months old massive haha. We don’t know where on earth he gets this from! Neither my husband or I are big people. The only “giant” in my family is my Papa who stands at an impressive 6’4″ ish or so. I’m just glad I bought the majority of his clothes second hand at thrift stores as he didn’t get a chance to wear the majority of it!

I apologize for the hasty/brief/mod podge of pictures, but I just wanted to introduce my little guy. I will have to post my birth story and some maternity goodness a little later. As you can see I’m not really following the correct sequence around here ;).

That is all for now! I’d love to hear from other big baby mamas on whether or not your baby ever leveled out!

Ashley

 

 

5 Things Yoga Has Taught Me

For the past year or so, I have really fallen in love with yoga. I’m committed to living a healthy lifestyle as best I can and am known to get stuck into a workout routine. I was heartbroken when running began causing pain to one of my knees. I didn’t know what other workout I could do that would give me the same satisfaction. Then I decided to give yoga another try. I took a class years before in high school and decided it was ultimately not for me. I didn’t feel like it was fast paced enough and it actually bored me. This all changed when I discovered Ali Kamenova’s YouTube channel featuring her interval yoga. It was challenging, fast paced, and a lot more my style. Now I practice multiple times a week, either at a studio or at home. As I have embarked on my yoga journey, it has been more of a mental challenge than anything. Here are 5 of the things I have learned that have altered my life:

1). You don’t have to compete with everyone on everything.

I have a horrible tendency to secretly compete with everyone on anything. It’s like Monica Geller style inside my mind. It’s partly due to my lack of self confidence and that fact that I have this dying desire to be the best at everything. However, as I’ve been practicing yoga, I’ve learned that it is not about competing to see who can do tree pose the longest. To me, it is about enjoying the moment of connecting with your body and mind in a way that you do not do throughout the day. I have been working hard to apply this concept throughout other aspects of my life.

2). “Everybody can do yoga, but not every body can do everything.”

I saw this quote online and it really impacted me. I know a lot of people who are hesitant to try yoga because they think they “don’t have the body for it” or “don’t think they’ll be good at it.” I know because I was there once. However, once you get over that thought, you realize your body can do some pretty remarkable things you never knew it could. You need to keep in mind though, that you’re not going to be able to do every pose as great as the others, and that’s OKAY. Every body is different and everyone has their own strengths- so find yours!

3). It’s an unexplainable joy to watch yourself progress

It’s a remarkable feeling when you conquer a pose that you never dreamed of being able to do. The moment I was able to do Crow Pose was freaking awesome. I worked so diligently to build up my core and arm strength and one class I just nailed it. It was a sense of self confidence that I sorely missed and try to apply in other parts of my life.

4). It’s not about how many calories you burn

I’m not sure if I consider myself a true “Yogi,” because of the fact that I was concerned about calorie burn during my workout. I wanted to know that this would be a good alternative to running and my body would transform into the pictures I saw on Pinterest of people doing yoga. Now that I have been practicing for awhile, it sounds ridiculous. Yes, I do practice for a workout and health benefits, but it’s also important I recognize the mental and internal progresses I have seen in my life.

5). Appreciate yourself for what you can do, not just how you look

This is probably my biggest struggle in life and it ties in with number three. I need to constantly remind myself that my worth is not judged by my physical appearance, but my strengths and what I am capable of. It is sad that someone’s worth is contemplated by their appearance. Yoga has indeed challenged by body physically, but it has also challenged my perseverance, strength, and patience.

Yoga

xoxo Ashley

Traveling with Kitties

My sister recently got a kitten and asked me for some advice. My husband and I travel and move so often that we’ve become experts on traveling with our kitties. We tend to drive to most destinations so we can bring Phoebe and Luna with us. My sister was curious as to what we do to make traveling easier as she is bringing her kitten back home to visit for the holidays. I swear my family is normal and we’re not crazy cat ladies ;).

Anyway, here are some tips that I find are helpful when traveling with our kitties:

1). Keep them in a travel crate. We have a larger, hardshell crate that fits the both of them comfortably that would also protect them if needed. It seems to be safer and easier on both parties. I am so terrified of a suitcase squishing them while I’m driving and not realizing it, so a crate to me works better.

2). Position the crate so they can see you. This helps a ton! Luna tends to get incredibly car sick and tends to vomit multiple times due to nerves. We’ve discovered she is a lot more relaxed and doesn’t tend to get sick if we balance the crate on a suite case that is level with the middle armrest between the driver and passenger seat.

3). If your cat does gets carsick..don’t forget to pack cleaning spray, paper towels, and a plastic baggie! This has been a lifesaver. We put the used paper towels in a grocery baggie so we can find a proper place to discard.

4). Put something in their crate that has their scent on it. This could be a blanket they sit on, a small pet bed, toy, etc.

5). Position an air vent on them. Their crate can get warm and a constant breeze makes it more comfortable.

6). Talk to them! Both of our cats tend to meow profusely and claw at the crate. If one of us is constantly talking to them, it tends to relax them a bit.

7). Try to avoid them eating or drinking a few hours before you leave. I also believe this helps with the car sickness.

8). If this is time allotting, try to leave around mid-morning, or whenever your kitty tends to fall asleep. Sometimes we can’t wait around to leave until 9 or 10, but when we can it helps quite a bit. I know Phoebe and Luna pass out around then and sleep most of the day, which in turn equals an easy travel day.

Phoebe hard asleep holding onto poor Luna!

Phoebe hard asleep holding onto poor Luna!

I hope you find these tips helpful, especially if you are traveling with your kitty for the holidays! 🙂

We Say Goodbye to Jefferson…

These past few weeks have been crazy busy for Nathan and I. We have been consumed once again with the daunting tasks of packing and moving. We said our sad goodbyes to Jefferson, TX, which has been our home for the past seven months.

I cannot express how much I was dreading leaving Jefferson. I knew the moment we moved that in a few short months we would be leaving, but I could not help getting attached. This town was unbelievably adorable and had the perfect “small-Southern town” feel. I personally prefer the country and a small town any day over a city (unless the city is Boston, because in that case I am biased). I cannot imagine not falling in love with this historical, Texan town! We loved our time spent in Jefferson with their local restaurants, farmer’s markets, bed & breakfasts, and beautiful, historical buildings.

Me and Nate Jefferson

 

And now for a brief tour. I took way to many pictures as a way to remember not just the town, but the memories we made here.

We’ll start with my FAVORITE building in Jefferson- The General Store! This General Store carries unique candies (almost anything you could think of that is not super popular. I once went in looking for M&Ms, but they told me they only carry the items you would not find in your typical grocery store). They also, of course, carry ice cream and milk shakes!

 

 

Jefferson- General Store

 

Jefferson- General Store2Next, let’s tackle some of the restaurants. There wasn’t one that we tried that we did not like. Our favorite was the Knightlight Theater. Oh my that food was delicious! We kicked ourselves in the butt for not trying it sooner. Lamanche’s came in a close second for me, mostly because I LOVE Italian food!

Jefferson- Lamanches

 

Jefferson- The Corkyard

The Corkyard has a fun outdoor bar area and it seemed they were always hosting live music!

Jefferson- Mem.

Memories & More is a piano bar with the perfect atmosphere. There is an actual piano player and the food was amazing!

 

Auntie Skinner's was "the" bar to go to if you were looking for a wild night!

Auntie Skinner’s was “the” bar to go to if you were looking for a wild night!

I adored taking pictures of this town- there is a surprisingly amount to see considering the size! It always blew our minds that this tiny town had something going on every weekend.

Jefferson- TrainHere are some shots of the courtyard behind the Jefferson Hotel. Apparently it’s haunted and we recommend going on one of Jefferson’s famous Ghost Tours for some stories!

Jefferson- Hotel2

Jefferson- HotelAnd if The General Store doesn’t quite have what you’re looking for to satisfy your sweet tooth, then I suggest a visit to the local fudge store!

Jefferson- Antiques

 

Jefferson- Gum Ball

Jefferson- Alley

 

Jefferson- street2

Jefferson- Street

Jefferson- Skyline

Me and Nate3

Writing this post is making me miss Jefferson all over again! Thank you Jefferson for all the unforgettable times! If you ever find yourself in deep east Texas, you must stop at this hidden gem and former B&B capital of the USA!

 

 

 

A Healthier Chocolate Glazed Donut

Hey all! I have been completely MIA lately, but this post will make it up. I promise.

Right now I have discovered a “healthier” chocolate glazed donut recipe! I just made them as a surprise for my husband who loves chocolate glazed donuts. To start out, I do not believe in diets or completely cutting out sweets- one just needs to indulge in moderation. Therefore, I take it as a personal (and almost fun challenge) to recreate our favorite unhealthy treats and make them guilt free!

My first project: chocolate glazed donuts. These donuts use minimal sugar and some of the ingredients can be substituted for even healthier options, for those of you who are super ambitious.

Donut and Milk!

I enjoyed mine with milk! Perfection!

Donut Pan

Donut Glaze #2

I don’t have a wire rack, so I just placed my newly glazed donuts on a plate

Donut Glaze Close Up

I found these donuts to be super delicious (although I personally think they taste better/more chocolately when you sprinkle them with chocolate chips). They are “airy” and moist, and they’ll pair perfectly with some milk or coffee!

Now to business.

What you’ll need for the donut batter:

1 Cup Flour (For even healthier, use wheat)

1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (I used Hershey’s)

1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar

1 Egg

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 Cup Sour Cream (For even healthier, use Greek Yogurt)

1/4 Cup Milk

2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil (melted)

Nestle Milk Chocolate Morsels for sprinkling! (Optional)

For the Glaze:

3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

2 Tbsp. Milk

To Prepare the Batter:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease your donut pan. I personally used PAM Coconut Oil.

2. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Stir well and set aside.

3. In a separate, smaller mixing bowl, combine the melted coconut butter, egg, milk, vanilla extract, and sour cream. Mix well and combine to flour mixture. Stir just to mix. The batter will be VERY thick/sticky/ hard to control.

4. Put the mixture in a Ziplock Bag and cut a slit to pipe the batter into the prepared pan. Fill about 2/3.

5. Sprinkle as many chocolate chips as you want over the donuts before you bake.

6. Place into the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

To Prepare the Glaze:

1. Mix all ingredients. Feel free to add more sugar or milk, depending on what consistency you prefer.

2. Wait until the donuts are completely cooled and dip them into the glaze.

Viola! Enjoy!

Make-Up Bag: Mist Sray

Hey all! I hope you all have been having a wonderful day. I decided my first “Rave” would be about something I think every woman needs in her make-up bag: setting spray! I stumbled upon probably the best one I have used yet, and (dun dun dun) it’s only THREE dollars. Yes, you read that correct- three whole freakin’ dollars!

Elf Mist and Spray

Elf Mist and Set

For those of you who are unfamiliar with setting spray, let me fill you in. This will revolutionize your make-up, I promise you. What setting spray ultimately does is make your make-up stay on all day long. It basically “seals” your whole make-up look, including the eyes. I discovered setting spray when I was researching “how to have your make-up last your whole wedding” and viola! I’m bummed I didn’t learn about it sooner.

I personally spray my face 4 times, in the form of an X formation, and then like a cross. That way it is sure to cover all of your face (don’t forget to close your eyes!). I have extremely oily skin (I always carry Clean and Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets) and my make-up tends to wear off after an hour or so. I have tried so many setting sprays, including Urban Decay’s All Nighter, and I seriously think Elf’s Mist and Set works significantly better- it is also about a third of the cost. If I pair a primer, 24hr foundation, and this spray my makeup stays put the majority of my work day. However, I still need to do some minor touch-ups due to my oily skin 😦 . This is great for those unbearably humid, hot days where your make-up just seems to melt off.

Where I live, I can find this Elf Mist and Set in Walmart or Target, I’m not sure where else they sell their products. I hope you all decide to give it a try and let me know how it goes 🙂