Faves, Finds & Flops

fullsizeoutput_2b39.jpeg
This post, along with how I imagine most others will end up being, will be a little bit of everything. Hopefully it won’t be too all over the place, but that’s essentially how my brain (and my life) seem to work. Enjoy! Also, I had every intention of finishing this last night and posting it yesterday, but that clearly did not happen.  Anyways, here we go…

Dono&Dono Baby Playtime Pillow – Braylon isn’t a huge fan of being flat on his back. He had been doing pretty well being on his back when he was playing on his Little Sport Star All Star Gym, but figured I would give this pillow a try. Not sure if I can give all the credit to the pillow, but he definitely seems to be lasting longer and enjoying himself more. Love that the pillow is machine wash friendly. I’ll never understand when things like athletic wear or something involving children do not scream convenience.

Here’s the little guy in action:

fullsizeoutput_2b94.jpeg
Photo taken 3.28.18

Swedish Fish Mini Tropical – I really really like Swedish Fish. Always have. Always will. Randall had sent me a screenshot of the tropical version and I knew I HAD to get my hands on them. Luckily, before I knew it the grocery store that I frequent got them in, so I didn’t have to do too much hunting. I just looked them online and a number of websites are sold out out of them. The flavors are Pina Colada, Tropical Island, Beachy Punch, and Passion Fruit. Helloooo, summer!
Donut Ice Cream Sandwich at KNEAD Doughnuts – It’s no question that I love donuts.  It’s also no question that I love ice cream.  When the two have the opportunity to meet, something magical can happen, especially if both the doughnuts and ice cream are exceptional.  Sometimes, when there’s “mashups” one of the products will be mediocre and man, what a let down.  However, the doughnut from KNEAD and ice cream from Warwick Ice Cream was a match made in my sweet tooth heaven.

IMG_4465

Perfection. 

Speaking of ice cream, I haven’t been there yet, but every Friday until August 31st, Wright’s Dairy Farm & Bakery has a Pop Up Scoop Shop from 3pm-7pm.  This is from the Facebook Event page:

“Cone or Cup? Whipped Cream or Hot fudge? Join us for 14 weeks of delicious (from scratch), farmstead ice cream! Each week we’ll have chocolate and vanilla, 2 rotating flavors, a featured sundae, and a whole lot of toppings! Follow us on Instagram, for the reveal of the Special flavors and Sundae each week!”

The Cookie Rookie’s S’mores Cookies – My Mom was in town earlier this week for a few days and she made the S’Mores Cookies from The Cookie Rookie and they were SO good. They seemed pretty easy to make, but hey, my only job was eating them. The main “hack” here is that the recipe suggests using pre-made refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough. The hardest part looked like crumbling the graham crackers and if you really wanted to, I’m pretty sure stores sell it that way.

Peapod Grocery Delivery – My Mom recently ordered us some deliveries from Peapod.  I always thought why would I need someone to bring groceries to my house when I can just go down the road and get them myself?  Then, I had Braylon and I more than understood it. A lot of the time I dread going to the grocery store.  Mainly,  because no matter how hard I try, I just never go in with a solid plan.  More often times than not, I’m hungry when I go, which is a huge no no.  We had another delivery since the first one my Mom had placed for us….I love it!  They offer $20 off your first order of $75 (I can’t make out of the grocery store spending less than this anyways!) or more and the first 60 days delivery is free.  You just need to enter 60DAYSFREE in the promotional code box at checkout.

Hello Fresh – My friend, Mary, introduced me to Hello Fresh a few months back.  I had been seeing a handful of different meal kit delivery companies and had been wanting to try one so took her recommendation on this one.  Plus, Hello Fresh provides their customers with the option to gift three free meals to friends.  Who doesn’t love free?!  Speaking of, if you’re interested in receiving your first week free (3 meals for 2 people) let me know.  No gimmicks or anything like that.  You just need to remember to either skip the next week if you don’t want that particular one or just cancel altogether.  I had been ordering pretty consistently, but depending on what I have going on that week I do end up skipping sometimes.  Some of them require a bit more prep work than others.  The great part about that is you can preview the ingredients and recipes prior to placing your order.  They also provide you with additional insight on each kit that could most definitely ensure that the meals that you are ordering are the best fit for you!

Hungryroot – Years back, before they expanded, I had tried a few things from Hungryroot.  Since then, they’ve grown and have a lot more options.

All of this came in the box…

fullsizeoutput_2bf9

It normally would have cost $99, but it was half off.  All of this made:

  • Three Bean Sweet Potato Chili: 2 servings
    • While I would prefer to just make my own chili, the flavor on this was pretty good.
  • Kale Salad Guac Burger: 2 servings
    • While there was enough for two servings, I could have eaten all of the salad with my burger rather than splitting the salad between the two burgers.  Loved the flavors and haven’t had a veggie burger quite like this before — it was great though!
  • Creamy Corn Cauliflower Risotto: 2 servings
    • This was pretty good.  I had some one night (with something else) and then the rest of it the next day for lunch.
  • Crispy Coconut Breakfast Hash: 2 servings
    • My Mom was in town during this one so we split it.  We both liked the flavor.  She cooked the sweet potatoes a little longer than suggested and utilized more than 4 tablespoons of the curry.  They give you much more than 4 tablespoons and 4 tablespoons would be like nothing.  Still can’t figure this out.
  • Kale Pesto Beet Noodles: 2 servings
    • This was meant to be a side dish.  I did split this one up.  I used ALL of the pesto sauce…homegirl is not on board with this only 4 tablespoons madness.  Sometimes I struggle with eating beats so having a strong flavor like pesto to mask it a bit was perfect for me.
  • Spicy Tofu Quinoa Bowl: 2 servings
    • There was enough tofu for two servings, but not enough quinoa, so either I was missing something or the portion of quinoa was supposed to be really really small.  I did really like this though.  The tofu had a great flavor and consistency.   You didn’t need to cook anything — just mix the tofu into the quinoa bowl and voila!
  • Pad Thai Fried Rice: 2 servings
    • I ate this all in one serving. If I was going to split it up, I feel like I would have needed to add additional vegetables or meat to it.
  • Sweet Potato Mac’n Cheese: 2 servings
    • While I enjoyed this dish, calling it mac n cheese is an incredible stretch if you ask me.  I like to think of myself as a mac n cheese connoisseur and that does not mean that I discriminate against a vegan version or a version that does not utilize pasta. The cashew cheese had minimal flavor even when I added more than than the recommended 4 tablespoons.  I love sweet potatoes, but you really can’t put cubed sweet potatoes in a dish that you are calling mac n cheese to give me my fix.  Don’t get me wrong, I did eat it, but just think it should be called something else — cheesy sweet potatoes?
  • Peanut Butter Cookies
    • I ate these in the car one day.  They were pretty good.  I’ve had something similar to them before for sure.
  • Almond Chickpea Cookie Dough
    • I haven’t tried this cooked yet, but straight out of the container I was pretty surprised with how tasty this was.  Will definitely need to throw some in the oven to give it the true test.

All in all, I liked what came in the box.  There are two different options as far as the quantities that you receive and you do have the option to select exactly what you want.  All of the goodies come with a little book that has all of the recipes for the month – even the ones that you didn’t get in your order.  Everything was extremely easy to make, which I REALLY enjoyed.  These days I seem to have less and less time so anything that’s quick AND tasty is a win in my book!   I’m on the fence as to whether or not I will order again.  $49 was a steal that I couldn’t pass up! Based off of the portions, I would think if a couple is sharing all of the things they would definitely be adding some additional ingredients or other menu items to their meals 😉

I want to hear from YOU! Products I need to try?  Places I should go?  Any and everything you name it! 

 

Faves, Finds & Flops: Mama Edition 1.0

fullsizeoutput_2b39.jpegIf you’re anything like me you’re overwhelmed by creating and / or purchasing from a Baby Registry. I was super excited to start mine once we found out we were expecting. I quickly realized how time consuming it was…and that was before I even stepped inside the store. One of the reasons I chose Babies ‘R Us was due to the great perks they offered. Unfortunately, the closer I got to my due date, the closer the store got to closing. Using my completion discount became a little tricky and they decided not to honor hundreds of dollars in rewards that I had accumulated. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed.

I was also registered at Amazon. If I knew someone that was getting ready to register now, I would definitely recommend Amazon and then choosing one with a storefront as well (ex. Target or BuyBuyBaby!). You can easily sync all of your registries on The Bump making it easy to see all of your wish list items at the same time.

If you or someone you know needs any help, feel free to point them in my direction or maybe my Mom’s…I think she outdid me with the amount of time and effort she put into preparing for Braylon’s arrival!

Here are 12 products that I wanted to share with you. As I am sure you can imagine, there’s definitely some additional “mama products” that I am using a lot right now and more will continue to be added into our daily routines.

Be on the lookout for “non mama products” too! ❤

Storksak Sandy Diaper Bag – Braylon’s Daddy got this bag for us and I absolutely love it!  The pockets on the inside and outside are perfectly sized and placed.  The bag comes with a high quality changing mat and food and bottle bag. It’s a great size and easily attaches to my stroller via the stroller straps.

Jeep Everyday Backpack Diaper Bag – I couldn’t make my mind up on whether or not I wanted a bag or a backpack, so wound up with both.  The backpack doesn’t have as much space, but most definitely holds all of the essentials and is great option depending on what we have on the agenda for the day. I’m only 54 days in to this whole Mom thing, but imagine that both bags will get plenty of use!

Vitafusion Prenatal Gummy Vitamins – After I left the Doctor Office confirming my pregnancy (because 4 at home tests were not enough) I stopped by CVS and purchased some prenatal vitamins from The Honest Company. I am not sure if it was because I was still early on and extremely nauseous the majority of the time, but the vitamins did not seem to be sitting well with me. I ended up switching to the gummy vitamins from Vitafusion and LOVED them. Yes, I feel like a child taking them, but whatever. I’m just about seven weeks postpartum and still enjoying them.

Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter – My best friend, Ashley, gave this to me in October and I have been using it ever since.  The majority of the time, I used it on my whole body rather than just the belly.  Whether or not this butter was the reason I did not get any stretch marks during my pregnancy will always remain a mystery.  Either way, I enjoyed the fact that it was fragrance fee, the consistency and how it made my skin feel and look.

Gerber’s Knit Burp Cloths – The color / print of the ones that I have are a little different than what you see in the below (I think they may have been a Babies R Us exclusive), but highly recommend these. I loved the material and how they absorb the milk so easily. I have a handful of flannel ones from Gerber and Koala Baby, all of which work well, but the material of the ones below has been my personal fave!

The First Years Night Cravings Bottle Warmer & Cooler – I haven’t taken full advantage of this product’s features just yet. Behind the bottle warmer portion, two bottles can be kept cool, so you could easily have the bottles in the nursery with you and then pop them into the warmer for your convenience. I am mostly still breastfeeding, but have given Braylon bottles, so I’ve used the warmer to heat them up. Where we live right now, Braylon’s room is not far from the kitchen, so having this in the nursery is not entirely necessary, but this would be a great feature depending on the layout of the house. At some point I may find that I will take full advantage though!

Munchkin Steam Guard Microwave Sterilizer – Easy to use and store when not in use. You add 7 ounces of water to the container, throw it in the microwave with two minutes with the bottles, pacifiers, breast pump parts, etc. and then let it sit for another 10 minutes and voila!

Fisher-Price Auto Rock ‘n Play Sleeper – Braylon really really likes this. A little too much. I’ve basically made myself crazy with all of the things that I’ve read on the do’s and do not’s of sleeping and people have mixed feelings (uhhh, beliefs?) on this product, but this thing has been marvelous in our house so far.

NOTE: On May 15th, this magical device turned off (with the baby in it) and will not turn back on.  I’ve completed the form on Fisher Price’s website and hoping to hear back soon.  I’ve read a number of consumer reviews that said they replaced it, so fingers crossed. *tears, tears and more tears* 

Baby Trend Skyview Plus Travel System – I haven’t utilized the stroller in it’s full capacity, but so far so good for the most part. I wish the “peek-a-boo” window made it a little easier to see the baby and that it had velcro on the flap to keep it open (considering adding my own). Only complaint with the car seat, when securing him into the seat, you have to hold the two buckles perfectly aligned over one another to pop it into place…and it’s a little tricky, but with time I’ve gotten better at it.  The car seat is 11 pounds (assuming this is average?!), so now I’m lugging around 33 pounds – talk about a bonus workout!

Jensen Portable CD Player – I just purchased this today! I’ve been meaning to pick up one or order one online since my baby shower when I got three different CDs (see below). I love the size of it and excited that it has Bluetooth capabilities too. We’ve already tried it out and so far both Mommy and Baby love it.

Rockabye Baby Lullaby Renditions – I received the Jay Z and Rihanna versions at my baby shower and FINALLY heard them for the first time today. LOVE them and would definitely recommend. I also received this Hip Hop CD, which has songs from Outkast, Salt N Pepa, Eminem and more!


Spacedye Hug The Belly Maternity Long Legging – If you’re pregnant, know someone who is pregnant, planning to get pregnant, heck even if you’re not pregnant… I can’t recommend these pants from Beyond Yoga enough. They are on sale for $57.50 (normally $115) and if you use code oRNrpX at checkout, you’ll get an additional 15% off. If the code gives you any trouble just click here. NOTE: You can use the 15% off anything, not just *these* pants.

beyondyoga

What are your favorite products that you use as a Mom?! Any must try products in general? I’m open to anything — food, books, gadgets…you name it!

She’s Alive!

I’ve been quite inconsistent this year with regularly posting. That, among other things, will most definitely be different after the new year. No, I am not making elaborate new year’s resolutions, but there’s been a number of changes over the past few months that have me moving in the right direction.

A large part of my lack of posting over the past couple of months was directly impacted by a lot of changes that were taking place and trying to be a little more present so I could make the best decisions for not only myself, but those closest to me.

I think most people would agree that 2016 was quite the whirlwind of a year. However, I think that’s often the case as most years come to an end. Every year, we all have individual accomplishments, failures, losses and gains. Each year, “we” also go through accomplishments, failures, losses and gains. Who is we? We can refer to a lot of different individuals depending on the context you are putting it. We – as you and your significant other. We – as you and your family. We – as you and your coworkers. We – as you and the entire nation.

Sometimes it seems impossible to balance out all of the “we’s” and focus on ourselves. Sometimes I have a hard time saying no and overcommitting myself to too many things. Sometimes I wish I cared a little less about certain things so I wouldn’t get caught up on things that are out.of.my.control.

I took a yoga class tonight with one of my best friends, Ashley, who I have been friends with for over sixteen years. Yes, that’s more than half of my life. I could write a whole post on how much she means to me, but that’s a post for another day. Back to the yoga class… Attending this class was like listening to a comedian, chatting with a therapist and working out all rolled into 50 minutes. I fell out of my pose multiple times from laughing so hard. Then, found myself moments later in deep thought based off a simple, yet profound, statement he had made. I literally left feeling *brand new*

Where am I going with all of this?

sometimes-i-start-a-sentence

Like most things in life, a Michael Scott (or someone else from The Office) quote prove to be way too relevant.

I guess what I’m saying is… I AM BACK!

back-steph

I’m Coming Home Again

In 2005, my sister and I hopped in my Mazda 626 to follow my Mom to the Carolinas.  There are certain parts of the trip that I remember like they were yesterday. North and South Carolina were an amazing place to say goodbye to my teens, live all ten years of my twenties and start the first couple of weeks of my thirties.

Just over eleven years later and I found myself loading up (or listening to my Mom explain to me how she loaded up) my Mazda 3 to head back up North.  On my drive up, I was thinking back on the ups and downs, laughter and tears and how some things are so different, yet other things still remain the same.  There’s been a lot of heartbreak, but still so so many reasons to remain incredibly grateful. I have met some of the most amazing people and learned more about myself and life than I could ever have imagined.  It’s been a wild ride and it’s not over yet.

The Carolinas will always hold a very very special place in my heart and perhaps a place that I may find myself calling home again. Until then, I am thrilled to have been able to bring my favorite thing (uh, person) about the South with me. I guess it’s safe to say I was seduced by a Southerner rather than just the South…and now it’s time to see how he likes living in the place that I’ve always still felt was home. This isn’t a new chapter….it’s a whole new book.

200

 

#WhyIBarre

Yes, I barre because of it’s power to change the lives of clients and teachers all over the country. Yes, it’s my passion and my therapy. Most importantly, I do it because I love dessert…well, maybe that’s not the most important reason, but it’s definitely up there 😉


It’s challenging to capture in less than 15 seconds all of the reasons why I eat, sleep and breathe barre. Between teaching classes, working in the office and leading trainings the list seems to get a little longer each day.

  • The physical and mental benefits. – Ok, this one is a little selfish. Trust me, if I didn’t make time to take class you would not want to be around me. I’m sure you’ve encountered me during a time where I wasn’t making time for this. And you thought I was bad when I was hangry. I could go on for days letting you know how much I believe in the Pure Barre technique, but would much rather you just come take a class with me or from me so you can experience it for yourself.

  • The teachers. – I’ve had the privilege of meeting hundreds of Pure Barre teachers over the past 4+ years. I love to hear their stories and how Pure Barre has impacted their lives. I’ve called three different cities home since I’ve started teaching and the group of teachers that I found myself with each time became such an important part of my life. It’s so fun to keep up with the extended network of teachers that I’ve taken from when on the road or met at countless trainings. Not to mention, a lot of time and effort goes into becoming a really great teacher. Most of the 2,000+ plus Pure Barre teachers have other jobs, significant others, children and many other things going on. I’ve always admired all of the individuals who make the commitment to teaching and being a part of such a positive community.

“What we learn with pleasure we never forget.” – Alfred Mercier

“Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theatre.” – Gail Goldwin

“Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit.” – Mary Lou Retton

  • The owners. – From the outside looking in, opening a Pure Barre studio can look so glamorous and sometimes easy. It’s. A. Whole. Lot. of. Hard. Work. The owners all over the country continue to inspire me each day with their commitment to helping make a difference in the lives of so many clients and teachers.

“It takes a lot of effort to make something look effortless”
― Ben Mitchell

  • My coworkers. – My full time role is the Training Specialist at Pure Barre.  There are two other amazing girls that work full time on the Training Team with me.  I am beyond blessed to call these two girls (oh hey, Katy and Katelyn) not only my coworkers, but my friends. Like any job, it has it’s moments and some days are better than the others. At the end of the day, through the ups and downs, if you can say it’s all worth it…then you know you’re in the right place. Shout out to all of the Teacher Trainers and Corporate employees that put up with all my shenanigans on a very regular basis.  A special shout out to those who have to deal with me chugging a Red Bull and then heading in to teach class — your seat will thank me even if you do not.

  • The clients. – You’ve probably heard (or read) this from me before, especially if you’ve read any of my other posts that turn into a I ❤ Pure Barre overload, but I can’t reiterate this enough. At least once a week, I find myself with tears or chills while teaching because I’m just that inspired by the people in the room. I know this sounds dramatic, but hey, I am dramatic, so that’s ok.  The whole chills thing has seemed to die down with the recent introduction of Platform…and I can’t tell if I am sweating or crying… but teaching this has put me on a whole new level of being inspired.

  • My Mom. – Practice what I preach. I somehow convinced her to give Pure Barre a try and before I knew it she had taken more than a 100 classes.  My Mom is basically my accountant, therapist, personal assistant, best friend, travel agent and….geez, I’m pathetic. I’d really be a hot mess if I didn’t work out from time to time to get my head at least a little level.

  • My Dad. – I always felt bad that my Dad didn’t have a son. My traumatic one “season” of playing basketball, let me know that playing sports was not my thing. The one year of field hockey was a pretty big joke too. I channeled my competitive edge into dance, track and anything athletic that did not require too much hand / eye coordination. Pure Barre has made me strong in a whole new way.  Since I know he will not read this…this is basically me subtly saying, I’m ready for a race or a pushup contest…just not a game of H.O.R.S.E.

  • My boyfriend. – 4+ years of me teaching and he still hasn’t taken a class.  I’m totally ok with that though.  The other day he asked about the trampolines that we’re using now.  I had to let him know that unfortunately they weren’t trampolines, but I think he’s on to something with that.  I get hangry when I’m hungry. I get bratty when I’m barre deprived.  I don’t think he really likes either. When I’m hangry and bratty, I can’t imagine that I’m the greatest person to be around. Basically, I barre because my boo. (If I’m trying to appeal to the young 20 demographic – I barre because bae.)

If you’re just dying to read more *eye roll* about my obsession, don’t worry there’s plenty more…

If you take Pure Barre….why do you Barre? If you don’t, why do you run – CrossFit – Zumba – or whatever other form of physical activity it may be… What makes you stay in your current job? Hopefully there’s a reason besides $$$! ❤ 

Last Year of My 20s

I was really looking forward to my birthday this year so we could all successfully make it to the FUTURE.
IMG_5289

I assumed I would be receiving a flying car as a birthday present.IMG_5292

When I walked into work on Wednesday, I was greeted by this lil guy on the top of my cubicle.  YES!

IMG_5309

Thanks, Katelyn!

A few hours later, my Mom surprised me and showed up at the office with these:

IMG_5305

Cupcrazed cupcakes are my absolute favorite. 

CupCrazed Cakery is located in Fort Mill, SC in Baxter Village.  My Mom and I went there for the first time last year, after reading about them on Yelp, They were on Cupcake Wars on The Food Network. Before I dove into the box of sugar, we headed to grab lunch.

IMG_5294

Should’ve reenacted this pic…and look at those GUNS!

Like most days, I ran out of time and decided to save the pinata bashing for the next day.  I made it home and then went to grab some food…

IMG_5314

What’s a birthday celebration without some really healthy food?

Once 7:29pm hit, I realized we had officially made it to the future.

IMG_5293

I’m so obsessed with the Bitmoji app. I think I use more bitmjois when I text than actual words.

On Thursday, it was time.

IMG_2703

Am I close?

I laugh every time I watch this. 

IMG_2709

Things started to get a little stressful…

IMG_2711

…and then really intense.

Huge thanks to everyone who took the time to wish me a Happy Birthday. There’s so many things that happen on a daily basis that remind me how lucky I am to have so many wonderful people in my life and clear my birthday is no exception.  The amount of love and well wishes is so appreciated!

After work on Friday, Randall and I headed to Atlanta. It was the first weekend in quite a while that we were both completely free.  We decided to go to Red Bull Soapbox Race and spend some time with friends that lived in Atlanta and those that would be heading there for the event.

On Friday, we went to Tongue & Groove.  The night (uh, morning) wouldn’t be complete without finding some late night snacks.  I have no shame or regrets that I had an entire Philly cheesesteak at 3:30am.

IMG_5332

So great to see one of my fave girls, Andrea ❤ 

On Saturday morning, we headed to Red Bull Soapbox.  I was pretty excited to see some old coworkers.  The weather was absolutely perfect. You never really know what you’re going to get in October in the South, but we were blessed with a beautiful day for sure.

IMG_5334

You can see the Starting Line way at the top of the hill if you look close!
IMG_5404

…or why waste a beautiful day not being outside?

IMG_5405

Just hangin’.

Saturday was quite the long day.  We were at Red Bull Soapbox from noon until 4pm. After that we headed to the after party at Masquerade for a few hours.  Eventually, made our way to Dark Horse Tavern to grab some food.  Then, back to the hotel to shower and get ready for the night.  We headed over to a house party for a few hours and then found ourselves at The Gold Room for the rest of the night.  The night wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t make it back to Woody’s for another Philly cheesesteak.  Thank goodness I do not live near this place.

IMG_5398

See you next time, Atlanta! 

Time to Have Some Fun

A few days ago, one of my best friends made a comment about how she was surprised that I had never started a food blog. Coincidentally, she’s the lovely lady behind Hungry Meets Healthy so may know a thing or two about sharing her adventures with the world. I jokingly commented back that maybe I would start one – as a part of my New Year’s Resolution (just a little late). Then, I got to thinking… I’ve always loved telling friends and family about new products, restaurants, fitness classes or whatever my latest obsession might be. In the past, I always felt too busy with work to recap all of the great things I was encountering and experiencing on a daily basis. After switching things up a bit career wise this past August, I’ve found a little bit extra “free time” and figured I would put it to use.

So, I’ll give this a shot, start small and see where it takes me.