Friday, June 29, 2018

How I Self Care


The last month or so has been stressful for us. I spare you the details of that annoyingly vague declaration because this post is based on positivity. Since we've had a lot of high stress situations-ok one being the baby breaking my nose and having surgery to repair it-I have been thinking a lot about slowing down and self care.

Self care is one of those topics I see a lot on social media and it is one I think is very important. Slowing down goes hand in hand with this. As a family of five, some days feel overwhelming.  A lot of them do. We are in the thick of it as far as life goes. Our kids are 16 months, four and seven, and some days I am treading water just to get to bedtime.  I take every spare moment to be productive and most days this is a good thing, but some days it's more important to slow down and focus on me.

Did that sound selfish? I know, it did a little. And you know what? That's ok!  I don't know about you but I can usually tell when I need a break. I'll get short with the kids or annoyed at my husband for something very mundane. That's the moment I stop and indulge in a little self care. Here are some ideas for what you can do to take a moment or two for you. It doesn't have to involve a lot of money or a lot of time but maybe one a day, or more, can help you reset your mind.

1. Retail Therapy: I bet you're saying, "But Amanda, you just said this wouldn't involve a lot of money."  I know. But it doesn't have to! I splurge on this jumpsuit the other day using credit I had at ThredUp. If you have $30 to spend on yourself, you can indulge in my favorite nail polish, or my favorite hair product.  To give your skin a treat, Everyday Oil will make you feel like a million bucks. Whatever it is, spoil yourself! A little luxury doesn't have to cost a fortune and you deserve it!



2. Re-read your favorite book-or magazine, or blog or whatever. I've been feeling the tug in my brain to read my fave, The Great Gatsby again so I went to the library and grabbed a copy. My copy is lost in the attic because I'm temporarily hiding my books in a safe spot until the baby stops being so destructive! But whatever it is, whatever comes to mind right away, grab it. Take ten minutes a day and read. Get lost in something that isn't the chaos that can be our lives. Sit back and enjoy it. Or better, get your bestie to read the same thing so you can chat about it too.



3. Start a gratitude journal-this doesn't have to be an official thing, don't feel like this is another commitment in your already busy day. But there is something so nice about grabbing a journal you love and a pen that writes well and jotting down things you are grateful for. It's easy to vent about what makes us mad or frustrated but what if we focused on the good? Even if it's just for ten minutes, take a few notes on what you're happy about. For me, friendship tops my list. Without my friends and support group, I really don't know what I would do. Other gratitude list toppers are the love between my babies, our health and my husband-who is the most supportive person I have ever met.





4. Exercise-go for a walk, a run, go to a yoga class at your local YMCA. Do something active. This can be hard because who actually wants to work out? Not me. If you had told me I was going to enjoy running a year ago I would have shut you down so fast. But now I crave the time I have when I go the gym, put my headphones in and run. My head gets clearer, my mind more steady and I feel good about doing something positive for my body. Plus, my kids enjoy the daycare there and get to socialize with their friends while I run. It's a win-win.

5. Grab a drink with some friends-or have your friends over for a glass of wine. Whatever it is, take time to be with your people. When I'm having a hard day or feeling overwhelmed, my go-to is to get out of the house and find my friends. If you can't get out or the schedules aren't jiving, just shoot them a text or a call. Including friends in my day is a top priority. Friends are very important to my self care.

6. Find what makes you relax and do it-whether it's a bath or a game of scrabble with your spouse. Do it! If it's grabbing your favorite coffee, go get it. Whatever it is, if you need a moment of self care, stop what you're doing and get on your relax go-to! I love a good Everyday Oil bath, so that's often my de-stresser. Maybe it's an episode of your show of the moment. Or listening to a song you love. It doesn't have to take long. Just do it.

7. Sit outside-I often go out to my yard in my favorite spot and knit or read or just sit. Just taking ten minutes outside makes me feel better.

8. Find a hobby-for me this is knitting. It's my job too but when I'm looking for self care, I work on a knitting project that is for me. Even if I get only an inch of knitting done on it, I feel good about it and enjoy the process as much as I do the final product.


Now that you know some of things I do to take a moment or two, I would love to know how you self care. I don't always get to this daily but I try to. I am a firm believer in slowing down, taking the time to heal the mind or taking time for ourselves in order to create our best selves. The laundry can wait. The dishes wait. The chaos can wait. Your well being cannot.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Tips On Getting Babies to Sleep by Guest Blogger Angela of the Mommy Stories

Well, it's been awhile, my friends! This poor little space is getting pretty dusty and it's time to change that. Being a mom of three has started to catch up with me. Mira is 16 months now and she's a firecracker. She climbs everything, dumps anything she can find, makes more messes than any of my kids and has been on a sleep rebellion. So I thought since I'm a walking zombie, maybe you are too. In our family, I am the strict one with kids. I have rules and I am admittedly on my kids all the time to correct behavior. It's an exhausting job! But I am terrible at the sleep part. My sister, however, is the baby sleep master. Her kids slept so early and never looked back. Over the years she's helped me get mine on track and I'm so grateful for it that I figured you'd enjoy her wisdom as well. So here it is, words to live by from my sister Angela of The Mommy Stories:
________________________________________________________________________________

I'm getting caught up on some old post ideas I've had and this one has been on my brain for years to actually write and put to words. Getting a baby to sleep through the night is the hardest thing ever. It's something all moms talk about, all moms work toward and strive to figure out, because well, we NEED sleep. The lack of sleep thing with a newborn is the hardest part of parenting it feels like. I was a zombie during that part of our lives.

I've taken years to post this, because, well, I hear so often from parents who are in the thick of not sleeping that they just cannot do anything to fix the problem, it is what it is, they're just dealing with not sleeping for a year or more. They think it's normal and they feel judged or bad mothers if you suggest anything else. I've never wanted to judge, only teach. I want you to take this information as helpful tips if it can be for you. No judgment at how your path has gone up until now.

After three children who slept through the night at 5 weeks, 8 weeks and 9 weeks consecutively I've learned a few things I'd like to share in hopes that it helps you teach your little one to sleep through the night early on.

NOTE: This post is written for new parents starting out with an infant or parents starting out with their second, third etc. and wanting to ensure they sleep better than the last. If you need advice on how to help an older baby/child sleep through the night after a pattern has already been established to not sleep please consult with your pediatrician and a sleep specialist such as the Baby Sleep Geek in Maine https://thebabysleepgeek.com/.


Sleep Philosophy
I think it helps to start with hearing a little about where I'm coming from in my belief and philosophy about sleep. Notice the title of this article, "Teaching a Baby to Sleep Through the Night." I don't subscribe to the philosophy that some babies just decide to sleep through the night. I think it's different for all babies, yes, but for the typically developing, healthy baby I believe you need to teach them to sleep through the night. I think there are conscious things you can do to help your little one sleep longer stretches early on.

To me, it's a parenting choice you need to make for your sanity and your own health, as much as for baby's learning experience and overall wellbeing. When I talk to parents of babies who don't sleep through the night at 9 months, 12 months, 2 years old, there are typically things they've done or not done to get there. That's not to place blame, in fact it's a good thing, once you know what's not working you can work toward fixing it to something that does work and gets all of you more sleep. It's the same as any other situation that doesn't work for you- exercising or being out of shape, buying fruits or not, having a clean car or not. If it's your priority, something you're working on, it may have a better outcome than not focusing on it.

I also believe that it's OK to want to sleep. It doesn't make you a bad mother if you work hard to help your little one sleep - without nursing nonstop and without putting them in your bed. If you want to do those things, that's great, I don't judge you. But I think it's completely OK and nurturing and wonderfully bonding to have your little one sleep through the night and take bottles instead of needing to nurse every hour in your bed. I think there's this shame or something for moms who talk about needing to get that sleep, and that's just ridiculous.

A well-rested mother is a better mother, end of story. I think we'd all agree to that. So just give yourself grace if you want sleep, it's normal. It is not a badge of honor to say you're nursing nonstop and staying up with your baby. You don't HAVE to do that to be a good mom. 

Of course, those who do ARE great moms, and those who sleep longer stretches are great, too, just like those who use formula are awesome and those who nurse are, too. Everyone's experience is different.


Tips for Teaching Your Baby to SLEEP: 
Note: These tips are for the typically developing, healthy baby. I realize that all babies are different and those who have an extenuating circumstance like sickness or colic or something along those lines may have a different challenge with sleep to address with their doctor. Growth spurts? Do your best to keep to routine, but remind yourself it's NORMAL for babies to eat more and need to be held more during those times. The key here is to TRY to follow some of these suggestions and to make better sleep a priority versus something that you expect to just happen. 
  • Set a routine in the hospital. Feed every two hours. I learned this one by chance. When my doctor left the room the first day after settling me in with the newborn after my c-section I asked how often I should feed the baby. He said every 2 hours. So I did that. On the dot. Of course, if baby was hungry sooner, that was fine, but I kept it routine from day one every 2 hours. Regulating the feeding pattern naturally regulates the sleeping pattern. So feed baby every 2 hours- nursing or bottles, whatever, it works the same. If baby is sleeping when 2 hours comes along, wake them with a diaper change and feed to keep routine. Yes, I know you aren't supposed to wake a sleeping baby.... but during the day all bets are off because YOU need your sleep at night. If you feed a baby every two hours during the day, you get more sleep at night because baby is fuller during the day and not as ravenous when he wakes up later. Feeding every two hours I kept up with the same ounces also. Nursing or bottles, this works the same. 
  • Start early… I start helping my babies sleep better in the first few days of life by feeding them on a routine… that leads to sleeping on routine. But at least by 6 weeks, you should be thinking about teaching them to sleep. It won't be perfect, it won't be succinct, but you HAVE to work toward a routine. It doesn't just happen. I believe we need to teach babies to sleep, just like we teach them to walk and to use a spoon at breakfast. Help them by setting the scene and routine early on. 
  • Keep to the schedule. Schedule with a newborn? haha Yeah right! I know, I get it. It's not always on cue with a newborn. Butttt the more you stick to feeding on a routine, then sleeping happens on a routine. So make your #1 priority be that you are feeding on a routine. This means you schedule play dates and doctors appointments and things around the feeding routine as MUCH as possible. Not always possible, of course, but do your best. It means you wait to go to Target until you know you can feed baby first and then go, and then shop and change diaper in the parking lot and then nurse in your car so you're on routine. Think of it like your job right now is to keep this baby fed, healthy and happy- which includes sleep, too. It's OK to let other things go by the wayside. 
  • Don't pick up right away. If baby wakes in the night, don't pick her up immediately. I know that is your instinct, but sometimes babies wake up. That's normal. They don't always need something. Shush them, rub their face, re-wrap the swaddle around their body from the bassinet, but don't pick up if they aren't really crying. 
  • Don't offer food right away. Sometimes they just need to be held upright to get a burp out. Sometimes it's a wet diaper. Other times their sock fell off and they are cold. Don't instantly go for more food. Yes, of course many times it's food in the beginning, particularly through a growth spurt, but don't always immediately think that. Try a pacifier. Try shushing to sleep on your shoulder. My kids were very routine with eating because I set it up that way from day one in the hospital- feeding every two hours, so when baby was crying at 45 minutes to an hour after I fed them, I knew it was not food they needed so I'd help them fall asleep. IF baby is hungry, of course feed them. But don't always rely on that being the case. 
  • Dream feed at 10-12 at night to fill up, and make it a bottle. This is a big one that helped us. Staying up later at night in those first few weeks and waking baby to feed him before you go to sleep at 11 or 12 at night helps you to get longer stretches during the time you'd be going to bed. Babies don't go to bed at 7 at night or even 9 at night, if you do that they will be up in a few hours. Of course, my babies would fall asleep by 8ish at night and then we'd just wake them with a diaper change and a bottle. Bottles fill them up longer than nursing, so this last feed at night I pump and Dad fed a bottle. Then we'd all go to bed at midnight to get in a few hours during our normal sleep pattern. This worked great. 
  • Start bottles and pacifiers in week one for soothing and filling baby up more. Pacifiers are a must in my opinion. Babies need to suck and soothe. They do NOT need to use you or a bottle for that purpose. We used a bottle by 5 days old with every child of ours. Two of the three nursed perfectly, one never nursed to begin with. Same with don't always go for offering food, sometimes baby is just fussy and needs soothing instead of more food, so give a pacifier. Waiting to use bottles until the week before you return to work after maternity leave is a BAD idea. Many, many moms and babies struggle with this, I see comments about it all the time in our Facebook group. Avoid that by using these tools early on before baby has a chance to get confused by them. If it's all baby knows from the beginning, they won't be confused or bothered by using any option- breast, bottle, pacifier. 
  • Bottles from 12-4 am only. No nursing during this time. Bottles fill babies longer, three kids and that's our experience. Talking to other moms who use bottles, this was the case for them also. This also avoids the case where you nurse at 1 a.m. and baby is sleepy in the dark setting and doesn't nurse on the second side so isn't full and so needs to nurse a half hour later. Nope... bottles only so they fill up and get back to sleep. 
  • Teach them where they will sleep. Lay baby down for at least one nap a day in the place where you want baby to sleep at night… bassinet, crib, etc. NOT just swings or rock and plays, etc. IF you want baby to sleep in the bassinet in your room at night, you need to teach them it's a good place to sleep during waking hours where they can see in the light. If you are moving from bassinet to the crib in the next room, then during the day put baby in the crib to lay around awake while you fold laundry or put them down for a nap in there - even after they've fallen asleep in the swing move them to the crib for example. It's about comfort and teaching them this new place to sleep. I held my newborns while sleeping multiple times a day just because they grow so fast and it was so sweet. My routine idea doesn't suggest you don't hold your babies. It's just that you need to try at least a few times a day to help them sleep where they will sleep when older, in a setting they will sleep in when you return to work, for example. 
  • Keep the sleep routine short and simple. I've heard of people having these elaborate sleep routines, like bath, lotion, nurse, rock, song, music, massage, etc. It sounds lovely, but it's too long and not something anyone can duplicate. Make your sleep routine simple, something that anyone can step in and recreate - in case you want a night out and Dad's in charge or you are heading to a wedding and grandparents step in, or perhaps you go back to work and daycare provider needs to repeat this routine. Make it easy, only 1-3 steps, and less than 10 minutes long, 5 is ideal. I know this sounds harsh... but you won't only have this one child typically, and when second child comes along it'll be hard to keep this up. So stick to pajamas and diaper change, rocking while singing a song, and into bed or something along those lines. 
  • Don't start anything you can't finish or continue as part of the sleep routine. This involves things like the rock and play - babies grow out of these quickly and then are used to rocking to fall asleep so struggle in cribs I've heard. I had a friend who was going to give me one of these for baby #3 and I refused it, afraid we'd create a habit we couldn't break. I never swaddled my kids for sleep, because I'd heard WAY too many stories of babies outgrowing swaddles around 5 months old and freaking out crying and not sleeping when they weren't swaddled since they were so used to it. I avoided this altogether, mostly because baby #1 taught me he didn't like his arms in the swaddle, and then purposely with kids 2 and 3. We'd swaddle their body tightly but keep their arms out so they were used to that part. Be conscious about your sleep aids and routine- if you can't continue it past only a few months, don't start it. It's one less thing to deal with. 
  • Night time is NOT play time… don't talk, don't turn on lights, move swiftly and quietly when doing a diaper change and getting a bottle out or when nursing. Day time is for lights and playing. I'd put the hallway light on, not the baby's room light on. I'd rock in the dark to nurse or bottle feed. I'd pick baby up crying and shush them and whisper that it was ok, that I was here, but no cooing and talking after that. Keep it a quiet setting so they can easily fall back asleep. 
  • Have help, let dad in on the process too. You don't have to do it all in the night. NO way! This is another reason I use bottles in the night. It's OK to want some sleep yourself. You don't have to be the ONLY one helping your baby. Teach your partner whatever you are doing with your routine so that you aren't the only one who has to always do it. Start by showing them during the day for naps. 
  • Noisemaker - these are must haves. They make noises like in the womb that are comforting for baby. They block out your own noises of snoring and moving side to side in your bed, or a cough that could wake baby. These are great. 
  • Think basic needs: are they cold? is there light in their face? is it too dark? too noisy, not noisy enough? diaper change? need to burp? take care of these things for a happier baby to sleep. Do these things when baby wakes and before putting baby to bed. Diaper changes in the middle of the night - YES. I know some people don't do this, but you can do a diaper in less than a minute if you need to to keep baby sleepy. It'll help them sleep longer if you give them a fresh diaper, then feed. It'll also wake baby to be alert to feed appropriately so they get filled up longer before you put them to bed again. 
  • Don't let all naps be in car seat or driving around with motion. Yes, these are great places for sleep, my babies slept wonderfully in the swing and in the car. BUT it should not be your go-to. If baby falls asleep while nursing, then swaddle and put into the crib once a day so he wakes up there. If baby falls asleep in the swing, great! But go over and shut off the motion of the swing after a few minutes. If you know baby typically sleeps at this time or that, don't go out in the car, stay put so she can learn to sleep in her bassinet. 
  • Don't take the easy way out. It's so much easier to never think about sleep and to just go through the motions letting baby sleep all day long in the crib for hours and to just nurse every time you hear a fuss from the baby. It's so much easier to whip out your breast than it is to pump a bottle in the night. I get that... but long term that's not easier, it's not helpful for you. It's harder to think it out, be proactive planning ahead and teaching your baby when you're so freaking tired already. I get that... but it's hard for about two months maybe versus the long term hard of not sleeping through the night for over a year.... think of it that way. 
  • Put to sleep groggy, but not asleep. This comes with time, usually after the six weeks mark. It's really good to help put baby into bed before she's asleep so she gets used to falling asleep. Babies wake a zillion times a night, it's normal for them. So to help them fall asleep on their own in the night, you need to help them fall asleep during the day too. So feed them, burp and rock, and quickly put into bed, with music and noisemaker if you wish. Let them stay there. In the beginning they may not fall asleep, but they get used to this and it's good for them to learn. 
  • Go longer stretches without feeding when they get a little bigger. After about the 6-8 week mark, give or take, you can start to eliminate those 2-4 am feedings by doing a diaper change, shushing them to sleep, rocking, or decreasing the amount of food they get. This only works for a healthy baby who's back above birth weight and when you know they aren't needing to be fed just tired from waking up too soon. Never prevent a hungry baby from eating, of course! Just be more conscious as they grow bigger- do they really need to eat or is this just fussy crying from waking up a little too early? 

Getting Your Zzzzzzs
Of course in the beginning you're doing all you can and juggling too many things, including your hormones. If you use the swing more or you nurse more or hold baby to sleep more - it's OK! My second fell asleep to her bottle every single night for months and months, probably like 9 months old we were doing that as our routine, it just happened she'd fall asleep. It's OK! Just do your best to set up a routine that works and to be more conscious about teaching your baby to learn this skill of sleeping through the night.

It may sound harsh or strict or too routine for a newborn... but it's the same thing as going to take your child for immunization shots or teaching them to potty train or reminding them not to use bad words. YOU have to teach them, and then you have to be consistent in that routine so they learn it. It's NOT something that just happens.

You have to make a conscious effort those first two months especially to help your baby sleep, to get him on a routine so that he's able to sleep better and so you get the rest you need. 

Think of anything else in your life - at work, with your family, with your other children - if you do something haphazardly, randomly, not planned and then all of a sudden six months later (typically when most parents are losing their mind from lack of sleep and desperately want their kid to stop waking up in the night) you decide it's time to change it up and force them to sleep and even make them cry it out... how's that going to go for you? How's that going to go for your baby?

I've not had to cry it out a single day with any of my children. I understand why some have to do this, but it's not ideal for me. If you can avoid it by teaching your child, by YOU being consistent and planned and more thoughtful from the start, that's ideal for you and baby versus crying - both of you crying typically through that process. It just takes effort, patience and thought. I do not suggest these things lightly. I know they take time and a lot of effort during a time where you are sooooo exhausted and can barely pour your coffee. I get that. So enlist help, talk to a friend, get your partner on board to assist you. If you do this, you have a couple of tough weeks or months of lack of sleep and putting in more effort - versus a year or two of NO sleep.... pick your battle here.

Yes, it's more effort at first, it'll feel exhausting thinking this much.... but it's worth it in the end. I swear.  I'm one of those people who needs sleep to be a good mom. I rest daily on the weekends even for 20 minutes to lay down and close my eyes. I'm not patient otherwise. It's OK to recognize this in yourself. Helping your baby sleep helps you, too, momma, and that's a good thing.

Happy resting! :)






Saturday, February 17, 2018

Target Home (Budget Friendly) Must Haves




Have you noticed Target has been hitting it out of the park in the home section? It is probably strategic on their part. Lure me in with your adorable Cat & Jack for the baby, the one-stop-shopping convenience of the grocery and beauty section. But then you really hook me when Hearth & Hand shows up.  And Project 62. It's all just so good. Though I have to admit, sometimes I want ALL.OF.THE.THINGS. so badly I sometimes avoid going in at all.

But that doesn't last long.

Recently I have treated the house (ok ok fine. I've treated myself.) to a few things that I just couldn't leave on the Target shelf. Here's a roundup of some of my favorites, and a few that are on my want list.


 This vase 


It's so simple, and yet it pops. There's a cool texture to it and would go great in any room. It's thin enough that it would look awesome on a shelf or kitchen table as well. Oh and the best part-it's $7.99!



 Nesting Houses

 
I love these nesting houses so much, I have them in both colors. Mostly they're just decorative but they've also stood up to my daughters playing with them. A lot. They provide a simple touch to any room, and I am not entirely sure why they pulled at my heart strings so much, but who am I deny true love?




Wreaths

 

Wreaths are not just for front doors and the holidays. We put them up around the house and they are perfect for sprucing up any space. Just a warning, they can get pricey. If you're not ready to splurge on one at full price, check the clearance section often. I scored both of these on sale.




Project 62 Lamps


Our house was built in the 1820s which means we have a lot of lamps. Many rooms are exclusively lit by them.  For a long time we would just use whatever hand me down ones we could find but then came Project 62.  We couldn't resist these babies.  I feel like I should make a joke about them lighting up my heart. No? Ok fine. The table holding the coffee set is also from that line.


   


This Coffee Set


Seriously, how cute is this? Whether you use it daily like or I do or have a hutch to display it on, you won't regret this one. The mug is nice and big and the pot holds a backup pour for you. It's dishwasher safe as an added bonus.



My Want List


Ok, so now that I've showed you a few things we have and love, here's a few I hope to have soon.  The pitchers are so good. I use them for the very basic purpose of pouring water, but also as vases. I definitely want this wall hanging, such a great decorative piece that doubles at a way to display cards, notes and artwork.  And another collection that has me screaming I NEED THAT is the home office line. There's so many good pieces, you'll want to get organized just to use it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Make Your Own Orange Garland





For the past two years, I had a list of things and projects I wanted to do with the kids around the holidays. You can probably relate when I tell you: we didn't get to all of them.  We really really wanted to make an orange garland. The simplicity of these is what drew me to them. When hung in a window they give off the most beautiful pop of color and I really can't get enough of them!

Christmas came and went and we still hadn't gotten made our garland.  One afternoon-on a day I could tell the kids needed an uplifting project or the witching hour would last all day-we decided there was no reason these had to be a holiday project! We can make orange garlands all year long! So we got to work and oh-my-goodness, we are hooked!

I posted our finished product on Instagram and got some questions on how we made it so I figured this how-to may be helpful if you're thinking of making one (or three).  It's really very easy.



All you need is:
-oranges! I found when they were cold they were easier to slice
-twine, string, bakers thread, anything to use for the base
-a darning needle (I used one from my knitting bag, any needle you can fit your string through so you can easily thread through the dried oranges)
-your oven
-a baking sheet
-tin foil or parchment paper
-paper towels

Start by preheating the oven to 250 degrees. I lined my cookie sheet with tin foil but this was a precaution.  If you start this project and realize you don't have any on hand, I bet it would work without it.  Slice up your oranges.  I used two oranges for one garland. It's better to make too many than not have enough because you'll likely end up with a few burned ones you will toss.  I believe I used four oranges total, and I made two garlands.

*Just in case you're not sure what a darning needle is, you can find them here. I have tons of them because of knitting, but you just need one. Walmart, AC Moore, any craft store, will have them too.




You'll want to grab a paper towel and pat them dry on both sides. The more dry you get them, the less time they'll take. Once you line them on the pan, just pop them in the oven and enjoy as your home fills with the most wonderful aroma!  Check on them every so often, but mine took about two hours to dry the way I wanted them. Honestly, I took them out a tiny bit early for fear of burning them but they have been strung up for weeks now and they're still perfect. I had about three slices I had to toss because they were darker than I wanted, but other than that, they came out perfect!

To make this project even more frugal, be sure to toss your orange remnants in a jar and fill it will vinegar. I do this to make my all purpose cleaner. More about that can be found on this post.




Once they're dried and cooled (I let them cool overnight but that's only because I got side tracked), I grabbed some baker's twine I had kicking around and weaved a darning needle through the top. There really isn't an art to this. Any way you choose to get the string through is fine! You could even poke a hole with a knife and string it in that way. For these garlands, I simply inserted the threaded needle into the front, pulled through the back and then poked it back through the front. It's ok if it's not exact. That's the beauty of this project! Imperfections are totally ok.




We enjoyed this project so much, we hung one garland over our kitchen sink and another in our bedroom. Where will you hang yours? 

I hope you enjoyed this little DIY project as much as we did! If you do make one and post on Instagram, I'd love to see it! Simply tag me @KnaptimeKnitter. I can't wait to see!



Friday, November 17, 2017

Crooked By Design in Simply Saratoga Magazine


I am so excited about this. Recently I had the honor of being interviewed by Simply Saratoga Magazine for their holiday issue. The awesome free publication featured local shops and local Etsy makers, and I'm absolutely thrilled to have been a part of it.


If you're local to the Saratoga, NY area, you can grab a free copy at most grocery stores, or if you are impatient like me, you can check out this online copy.



It does mention it in the article, but I figured I'd give the deets here too about where you find Crooked By Design locally this holiday season.  My amazingly talented friend Michelle, owner of Stella's Salon in Schuylerville, NY has hats available, along with scrunchies and cowls.  If you're in Saratoga, NY, you can stop by Cuddle Bugs Consignment and pick up some hats and bonnets. If you're a store front who'd be interested in carrying Crooked By Design, please give a shout! I'd love to work with you.





Saturday, August 26, 2017

Beauty Bag-Part 1

Anyone else out there love taking a peek inside other people's beauty bags? I do. I love seeing what other people are using and what they like and don't like about it. If you're like me and have sensitive skin, this can be tricky. I often buy things and then realize I'm either allergic to it or it just isn't what my skin needs. My younger sister gets a great deal from this because I've probably supplied her enough toiletries to last the next couple of years.

After trying a bunch of different things, I have finally found a few things I cannot live without and that feels like a small victory! Are you wondering why this post is in two parts? I'm not trying to be mysterious. But I figured I would do skin/body and a separate one for hair. I hope that's ok with you.

Ok ok, so here they are. The things I can't live without.



1. Eyebrow pencil. This is actually a new thing for me. It had literally never occurred to me to pencil in my eyebrows but when I discovered this concept, I haven't gone back. This one from Target was the first I tried and it was so good I never tried another. I use the Taupe one for my skin tone.

2. A pen eyeliner. I do cat eye a lot to hide how tired I am (more on this in a moment) and a good eye liner is key. I have tried pencils, liquid and a pen kind and find the pen one works the best. I am not too picky on the brand of this, but I use black usually.  Sometimes I get a Physicians Formula one in brown tones but lately my go-to has been this one by Neutrogena.

3. Everyday Oil. You guys, I had never know such an amazing product existed and it I love it so much it makes me regret all those products I have bough over the years and not liked. If only I had discovered this sooner!  Everyday Oil is made in small batches so it sells out a lot. You can read all about it on their site but it cleanses, moisturizes, helps your hair and balances your skin. It can help with UV damage and repels bugs. And the smell. It smells so good. I've been using it for a couple weeks now and have reduced the need for foundation to even out my skin. I use it at night before bed and in the morning after my shower. I can't say enough good about it. I use it on my face, and all over my body. I get the post partum "chicken skin" and this oil has helped clear that up. Put it on your face, lather it on your post partum belly, put it on your dry ends. Just cover yourself in it. You'll be happy you did.




4. Burt's Bees. For my lips, I rarely use color and usually stick to plain old original Burt's Bees. Because I'm always kissing Mira's cheeks, I like to use something that won't leave kissy marks all over her face. Wouldn't want to embarrass her!



5. Mascara. I am not often seen sans mascara since I have very boring lashes (my kids have the best ones, they come from their dad). Finding a mascara I like that doesn't bother my eyes has been challenging but at last I did it, thanks to a sample from Ulta. I tried Tart's Lights Camera Lashes when it came with an eyelash curler I picked up (admittedly I don't use it often) and it's one I will buy when I run out. It doesn't clump and it's easy to remove which is key for me because I can't stand a stubborn mascara. I want it there when I want it but gone when I'm ready. This one really did exactly what I was looking for.

6. Under Eye Color Corrector. Ok, this is a biggie for any moms out there. I am very sleep deprived and it always shows in my eyes. I really enjoyed Bare Minerals Well Rested but it is expensive, so I thought I'd try something else. The first time I used NYX Color Corrector I was hooked. It doesn't do anything to fix the problem (if it could get my kids to sleep more that'd be great) but it does mask the bluish tones of tired eyes. Oh, and it's super cheap too.




Do you have a product you recommend? Let me know! And stay tuned for part two of this that is all about hair. I'll even have a little photo tour of the salon I use and am obsessed with. It's such a gorgeous space and I can't wait to show you!

_______________________________________________________________________________

Until next time, be sure to follow on Instagram and say hello @KnaptimeKnitter!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Nursing Friendly Dresses-They Do Exist!











Any other nursing/pumping moms out there feel like it is very hard to find cute nursing dresses that aren't actually maternity? I wanted easy to use, comfortable dresses I could nurse and pump in and I didn't want to pay a fortune for them. So here are a few that I personally own and have fed a baby in!



This Jersey Swing Dress doesn't look like it would be easy to nurse in but it is stretchy enough that you can easily pull down the neckline. Keeps you discreet and comfortable. This is a shapeless dress which normally I wouldn't like as much but being five months post partum it is perfect for hiding the lingering belly! Style it with sandals in the summer or transfer into fall with a denim jacket and Converse. And the best part? It's under $15 right now! (and definitely have your significant other take an awkward picture of you standing akimbo trying to figure out why your son is shrieking in delight like I did here). 





This dress from Target. Ok, technically it's Juniors, so maybe go up a size (I did and I wish I had gone up one more). But it buttons up and makes it really easy to just unbutton a few and nurse.  The straps are wide enough that you can still wear a bra (for me that is essential because I require nursing pads daily). Throw on some booties and a cardigan and you can easily use this in more than just the summer but it's perfect on it's own too. If you hurry over, it's only $19!



While you're at Target, go ahead and pick up this one too.  If you're following on Instagram, you may have seen this post.  This dress was perfect for going out with the baby because of that gauzy stretchy top that I could just pull down. It looks really cute off the shoulders, but I pulled them up so I could wear a bra. Best part: pockets! I should have gone up a size to accommodate the milk let down (and by that I mean nature's boob job that happens about every two hours!) but you may want to try it on so you know the length will be ok if you do go up a size.  Oh and guess what? It's $30 and comes in two adorable patterns.

Every so often I like to splurge and order a Stitch Fix box. Sometimes they hit it out of the park and sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they don't. But this past box I asked for nursing friendly when possible and they nailed it with this dress. USA made, easy to wear, can be used in all seasons and under $50! Haven't tried Stitch Fix but want to? I say go for it! Sign up and create your style profile and you can even link your Pinterest to give your stylist ideas of what you like and your Instagram so they can get a feel of who you are and cater to your lifestyle even better. It can get expensive but the quality is great and it's a nice treat every so often!  





Tuesday, May 16, 2017

5 Ways to Make & Save Money This Month

Now that we are a family of five plus two dogs, I am always looking for more ways to save money and cut costs. We are working the Dave Ramsey baby steps (though I admit I've been lazy with it lately) and every little bit helps towards the ultimate goal of paying off those pesky student loans.



I do a lot of things throughout the month to cut down on expenses and save money, but here are just a few of the things I have done so far the past couple weeks (and my apologies that this is a long one):

1. Purge the house of clutter! Whether you're looking to donate items, toss them or sell, this feels so good once it's done. The process is daunting, but by tackling one room or space at a time you can really start to feel the progress. One effective things to do is to take everything out of a room and enjoy the empty. You're probably less likely to fill it right back up once you've seen the calm of an empty and clean space.  I suggest starting with a closet, yours or a kid's. Be sure to order a ThredUp Clean Out Kit  and fill it up with quality clothing items you're done with.  Since I began sending items into ThredUp, I've made $342.43! If it doesn't fit, isn't worn, or you just plain don't like it, get rid of it. You can consign with a local consignment shop, send into ThredUp, have a yard sale, post on Instagram or a Facebook group. Or there is always eBay.  Whatever avenue you take, you'll be amazed at how much you can make on items you aren't using. And it will feel so good to have a clutter free space.

2. Start a Coin Jar: this might sound odd, I know. But we recently started a family coin jar and everyone puts their loose change in. The kids have the option of adding their pennies and coins to it if they want but they don't have to. We told them that when the jar is full we will roll the coins (with an awesome coin roller) and when we eventually save enough money we will take a trip to Disney. This has worked as motivation in so many ways. It gets us to use cash instead of the debit card (that always makes me watch my purchases more) because we look forward to the change. The kids are less likely to ask for things at the store because I keep reminding them of the jar. Everyone is working towards a common goal and it makes us stop and think about our purchases and also motivates us to literally save our pennies.  Just the other day my kids stacked wood for their Papa and were paid in coins and you would have thought it was Christmas morning they were so filled with excitement.



3. Join iRazoo: I know what you're thinking. Another survey company, come on, Amanda! But iRazoo is different. The idea is basically the same, do some surveys, earn some points, get a reward. In their case, you can earn gift cards to Amazon, Target, Home Depot and so many more places. This obviously cuts down your household expenses but also passes the time if you're waiting at school pickup, pumping or nursing, at the doctor's office and there is a long wait, waiting for a flight, you name it! Do a quick five minute survey, rack up some points and boom! You're on your way to a gift card. They also have a great Refer a Friend program where you can score some major points and get even closer to your rewards goal. They are very user friendly, have a excellent help team and don't have a million pop-ups attacking you as you're trying to earn your points.  So next time you're aimlessly scrolling Facebook, do a survey instead and you'll really be making your time worthwhile.

Image result for irazoo




4. Join Stitch-Fix: Ok, this one I bet you're really thinking "you want me to shop to save money?" but hear me out! I get a Stitch-Fix box every quarter and I look forward to it so much, it actually helps me not to shop in between fixes. Knowing there is a fun, surprise, hand picked box of great quality items headed my way makes me empty my Target cart of wardrobe purchases I'll likely get sick of in ten minutes. New to Stitch-Fix? Not a problem! Here's the run down: you make a style profile, tell your stylist a bit about yourself and what you like and more importantly, what you grossly dislike. You can provide them with your Pinterest where you can have a style board and also your Instagram so they can get a sense of who you are and what you like. This helps a ton when they are picking things out for you. A stay at home mom like me doesn't need work pants and blazers, so they don't send that to me. I recently asked for my box to be nursing friendly and was so happy with what they sent. I also learned a couple weeks ago that their customer service is great. I get really excited when my box is set to arrive and I was disappointed when I received a box with a personalized letter to Teresa, not me!  It was all my size so I tried it on anyway and ended up buying a cardigan from it so it turned out ok. They sent me a new box and credited my account the style fee and they were wonderful about the mix up. But be careful here. Don't just buy the items because they're in your hand. Try them on, feel them. Keep what you absolutely love and what has a place in your wardrobe. And if you happen to love all five items, you get a 25% off discount. What are you waiting for? Go make your style profile now! 

                                           Image result for stitch fix

5. Ask Other Moms: As a general rule thumb, if there is a baby item I need, I usually ask my mom friends, mom group or consignment shop before buying new. Especially with this being my last baby, I don't want to spend a fortune on things.  I recently bought a new stroller at Target and didn't like that it wasn't a system with my car seat so I asked my mom group if anyone was selling one and immediately found one. I got a great deal on a barely used stroller and another mom got some cash in her pocket. Now I'll be selling the original one I had so the circle continues! My sister is so good at consignment sales, she's like a thrifting goddess. But here is where it gets tricky-do not, I repeat DO NOT just buy all the second hand things because they are good deals. Don't do it. If you don't need it, or already have it (you don't need seven baby plat mats) just put it back. A deal doesn't mean you have to have it. Someone else will need it and scoop it up. You aren't looking for clutter or bad quality. You're looking for the same item you'd buy at Target only at a discount and from another family who will benefit more from your purchase. And to go back to number one on this list, when you're done with it, especially baby gear, sell it. It's a win win.

______________________________________________________________________________

Want to know when I have a new post up? Simply subscribe/follow and you'll get an email when I post. I won't spam you, I promise! And be sure to follow on Instagram @KnaptimeKnitter too!

Friday, April 28, 2017

I'm Back, Baby! (Like, literally, I had another baby)...

Hello, my friends! I know it's been a long time since I've posted anything over here but I promise, I have a good reason.  In February we welcomed our third baby, a 9 lb 2 oz bundle of snug named Mira Jolene.  If you're following on Instagram (@KnaptimeKnitter if you're not and you want to-you totally want to) then you've likely seen my baby spamming...


A lot of people ask me about transitioning to three babies. So here's my breakdown: zero to one is the hardest ever. One to two, you learn you can juggle, and that's a necessary skill.  And then two to three, for us at least, has been the easiest transition. Mira is a very patient and wonderful baby, and she has taught us all to be more patient too. I think also, as we have more kids, we get more confident in what we are doing and that helps a lot. Seriously, you're doing amazing. Keep doing it.

Mira slid right into our family in such a way that we can't remember being without her. I know that is said for all babies, but I found this to be the easiest one. She's our last baby so I can't speak to any more than three.


Now, don't get me wrong here. It is hard. It is very very hard. We are a military family, and where I am thankful we don't lose my husband to deployments (not yet anyway), he is often traveling for work or at military schooling.  That leaves me grossly outnumbered a lot. My juggling skills come in very handy these days! To all you moms out there with one kid, or 10 kids, I'm thinking of you as I'm walking around with bags under my eyes, chugging coffee, wondering how I'm going to make it to bedtime. No matter how many babies you have, one thing remains the same: it's worth it, all this hard work and fatigue. Because they are just amazing.

________________________________________________________________________________

I get asked a lot of questions (which, honestly, makes me feel honored because I'm still learning my way around this mom thing), so if you have a question, please feel free to email me! Just fill out the Contact Me info and leave me a message. I love hearing from you and I'll do my best to answer them for you. oh, and don't forget to add yourself to the email and/or follow the blog so you'll know when I have a new post up. I promise you, I won't let months go by. But I also won't spam you. A happy medium, perhaps?




Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Target Beauty Box (Who Knew?)



Recently, I was visiting a friend of ours and sitting at her kitchen counter I saw a fancy looking black box with a Target label on it.  I had to open it! There it was, a box filled with all sorts of fun beauty products in both sample and full sized packaging. I asked her what the heck this cool thing was and she told me about Target Beauty Box.

So here's how it works. Target puts out a Beauty Box each month and it's just $10 and free shipping, available online only.  Pictured above is the September box (photo is from the Target website), and the first one I had the excitement of getting. I was really happy to see it included sample and full sized items and from what I've tried so far, the products have been great. My favorite so far (I haven't tried them all yet) is the Biore face wash. My pores are very happy.

Something I really liked about this beauty box in comparison to others that are available out there is you don't need to subscribe to anything.  Each month they will email you letting you know the new box is available and you can see what's in it and decide if you want to order or not. 

So to sum up, here's my experience:

The cons: it isn't available all month (this September one is unavailable now).  Jump on it if you want it when it comes out! Also, the lipstick was way too dark for me, but that's more personal preference so I only count this as a partial con.

The pros: A fun way to try new products at a great price, and no pressure to buy it every month because it isn't a subscription.

All the details on this month's box and where find them is here.  I will definitely be ordering again next month.

**this post is not at all sponsored by Target and all opinions are my own based on my experience**


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Free Coloring Pages




My daughter is a Daniel Tiger fanatic.  She recently got into coloring and asked for a "Tigey coloring" so I looked around and couldn't find any.  I eventually saw some on Amazon but they were expensive so I decided printable would be just the thing we needed.

If you head on over to PBS Kids you'll find a bunch of fun coloring pages that you can print for free.  Best part is you don't have to download anything, you just print right from the page.


 
 


While you're on PBS, be sure to check all the other cool things they offer.  My son enjoys the games they have, there's loads of coloring pages, videos, and a place with information for the parents, too. The PBS Parents Page is really helpful, filled with meal ideas, milestone information, birthday ideas and so much more. 

________________________________________________________________________________
To hang with us some more, be sure to subscribe to have blog posts emailed to you, and follow on Instagram @KnaptimeKnitter.


© Chronicles of a Knaptime Knitter. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.
01 09 10