Life with Jameson, Personal Writing

Our breastfeeding journey

i-192If you haven’t guessed from the title, surprise! I want to spend a little time talking about the experience I had breastfeeding my first baby. 🙂 This will probably be a longer post so skip it if you like. It’s really mostly for myself, to reflect on so many things that have been tumbling around in my brain and to write them all out so I don’t forget.

Jameson is almost 23 months now and I can finally say that he’s officially weaned. This might seem – to some people – like a really long time to nurse a baby, but I hope as I dive a little bit deeper into our story that it’ll encourage and inspire you to find what works best for you and your baby, and to do that thing confidently no matter what sort of pressure is telling you to change.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetLet me just start by saying that I went into breastfeeding without many expectations. I had done my research prior to giving birth and I knew (for many reasons) that breastfeeding was what I wanted above all else. But I wasn’t dead-set on any aspect of it. I figured we’d try it out, see what was working, and change things up as we went along. Sort of just learn on the job. I wasn’t opposed to pumping or supplementing with formula (although I was hoping to avoid that) or even giving it up if it wasn’t working for whatever reason. But I really, really wanted it to work and I think that was the most important thing.

When Jameson was first born, breastfeeding was by far the most difficult part about motherhood for me. The sleepless nights, the postpartum recovery, the total shift in all of your priorities…I could handle all that just fine (haha, okay not completely fine). But breastfeeding was hard. It’s a huge new skill that you and your baby both have to learn, and I unfortunately didn’t get a whole lot of direction while in the hospital. The nurses showed me a few different positions and made sure I was staying on schedule but beyond that I had to figure it out on my own.IMG_3886The first night home was incredibly stressful for me. I remember sitting in the rocking chair in Jameson’s nursery, both of us crying, because he wouldn’t latch on and when he did…it hurt so terribly. I called a few different breastfeeding help lines that week (Le Leche League was the most helpful) and had my mom come over to try and show me what I was doing wrong. But honestly it was a lot of trial and error, and mostly error.

When Jameson was about a week old I broke down and admitted I needed more help than just looking up YouTube videos and trying to explain things over the phone. I was cracked, sore, and engorged on top of everything. I cried every time it was time to nurse, and with Jameson being so young that was every 2-3 hours. There was no time in between feedings for me to heal so I just kept getting worse and worse. I so badly wanted to feel that sweet connection with him and to bond over something just the two of us would share, but instead I was dreading each painful session.

That week I found a breastfeeding support group through the hospital I had given birth at and saw that it was led by a certified lactation consultant. Alex was still off from work so he came with us (bless him) and we stayed after the meeting to talk with the consultant. She immediately saw what I was doing wrong and helped me switch up the position until I felt absolutely no pain. I was shocked! Even though I was so sore and definitely not healed yet, it didn’t hurt to feed my son. I wanted to make that consultant my best friend. She singlehandedly saved our breastfeeding journey.

IMG_4682Instead of dreading every feeding, I started getting so excited when Jameson would get hungry. I was so eager to practice the new position and bond with him in a way I hadn’t been able to before. The more we practiced the better we both got and soon I was all the way healed and Jameson was nursing like a pro. Oh such sweet relief! Before long I was even comfortable nursing in public.

I think what I loved most about our new-found skill was the fact that I was the only one who could provide this for Jameson. I never pumped our entire journey because I loved having it just for ourselves. Sometimes it was draining (literally, ha!) but it was also the best decision I made for us. Besides being so so good for him nutritionally, I could use breastfeeding as an excuse to get some alone time with my him, or use it to comfort him, or use it to help him get to sleep. I used it for all these things and more, and I loved every minute of it. I can’t remember a single moment where I felt annoyed when he wanted to nurse. I really, truly loved it.

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Months went by and we got into a routine. I started him on solids just for fun around 7 months but breastfeeding was his primary source of nutrition until he was at least one. I nursed him to sleep for pretty much every nap and every bedtime, something I was warned again and again not to do because he would he would “become dependent on it.” I didn’t listen and did it anyway. He preferred it that way, I preferred it that way, and it was just working well for us. And looking back now, I don’t regret it one single bit. Those quiet moments in Jameson’s dark nursery, me nursing him in the rocking chair as he drifted off to sleep every night, I will treasure those moments forever. They’re some of my very favorites.

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Once he turned one I started feeling the pressure to wean him. People look at you funny when you’re nursing a toddler and I was being asked a lot, “Are you still breastfeeding?” I began questioning myself, too. I had always wanted to make it to the year mark but it had come and gone and we were still trucking along. The more I thought about weaning the more panicked I got and that’s how I knew my answer. We weren’t ready to quit. I still loved nursing and Jameson loved it too so there really wasn’t a reason to stop.

I think when it’s your first baby you just try so hard to “do the right thing.” You research a ton, you listen to your friends’ opinions, you try your best to do everything in the socially acceptable timeframe. Sleep train at this age, start solids at that age, stop nursing at this age. But it’s not so cut and dry. I wish I could go back and tell myself it was going to work out in its own time. That Jameson would be fine if I nursed him to sleep every night or if we started solids later than everyone was telling me to or if we kept breastfeeding until he was almost two. I wish I could tell myself to enjoy his babyhood just a bit more and not worry so darn much.

IMG_8778Over the next year the more regular food Jameson ate, the less we nursed. It was sort of a natural progression. Towards the end he was only nursing twice a day, once before his nap and once before bed. Sometimes he’d want to nurse a third time randomly during the day and I pretty much always let him. I knew this part of our relationship was coming to a close and I wanted to enjoy it as much as possible. By this point I had decided not to let the opinions of others rob me of the joy I had in breastfeeding my baby.

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Then when Jameson was around 17 months old, I got pregnant. This didn’t change much at first and I was fine with the thought of breastfeeding through pregnancy and possibly tandem nursing after the baby was born. But then I started to see things that needed to be changed. I knew once I had a newborn around, I wouldn’t be able to spend 15 minutes nursing Jameson to sleep for every nap and every bedtime. We needed some new habits and we needed them formed before the baby arrived. So I got to work.

I didn’t cut him off completely from breastfeeding, but I did start training him to get to sleep on his own. Honestly this was what I was most afraid of because, like I said, I had been warned so many times that this would be a difficult habit to break. But by this point Jameson was ready. It was maybe three days of him crying to nurse while I rocked him like usual. I stayed strong and within a week I could put him down in his crib after a book and a song and he’d go to sleep on his own without complaint. What had I been so afraid of?! Truth be told, the transition was harder for me than it was for him. I cried a lot, wishing I could still nurse him to sleep like we always had. I missed him so much. But I knew it wouldn’t be practical when the new baby came, and the best thing I could do for my son was to give him the tools he needed to get to sleep on his own.

IMG_0100I let him nurse whenever he wanted during the day while I was sleep training him so that he could recharge and we could reconnect. And a couple of months later he naturally stopped asking to nurse. I could tell my milk supply was going away but he didn’t seem to mind much. I had been preparing myself for this big, emotional end to our breastfeeding journey but it was much simpler than that. We just sort of blended right into a new type of relationship. He would ask to nurse a few times a week, and then once a week, and then not at all.

I’m so happy it went the way it did because I couldn’t stand the thought of choosing to have “one last nursing session” and knowing it was our last time. Jameson weaned himself so I don’t remember our last time nursing. I think it was easier for me that way. I don’t need to remember our last time anyway; I have 22 wonderful months of memories before that.

Processed with Snapseed. Processed with VSCO with s2 presetNow, at almost 23 months, he’s my big boy. There are still some times where he’ll randomly ask for “mommy milk” but it’s usually when he’s tired or grumpy and he gets distracted before I can even say no. I’m interested to see how things go when the new baby is here in a few months, to see if he gets jealous of her nursing or wants to try it again for himself.

I’m really excited to start a whole new breastfeeding journey with my second baby. There are a lot of things I hope are similar, and some I hope are not. I hope I’ve learned enough to let things go and watch them unfold naturally. I hope I’ve learned to stop caring so much about what other people think of the choices I make for my kids. And I really hope I’ve learned to slow down and enjoy my babies while they’re still babies, because they won’t be this little for long.

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At home, Baby #2, Bumpdates

Bumpdate – 19 weeks

I’m almost halfway done with this pregnancy so I figured it’s about time I write one of these! I was so consistent when I was pregnant with Jameson and posted a bumpdate once a week for the entire pregnancy. But it’s much harder to be on top of things like this when you have a toddler in tow. 😉 So instead, my goal for this pregnancy is to post an update whenever I find the time and that’s going to have to be good enough.

How far along: Almost 19 weeks (I’m a little early with this post). Gender is still a mystery! We have our anatomy scan on the 15th which will tell us for sure if it’s a sweet little girl or another beautiful boy.
How big is baby: About the size of a mango, or 6 inches long. Weight is right around half a pound.
Movement: Totally different this time around. Jameson moved a LOT and very often. I actually felt him moving several weeks earlier than I felt movement with this baby, which is not usually the norm. It makes total sense, though, now that I see his personality. 😉 This baby is much more chill and doesn’t get annoyed by me poking him/her or moving him/her around the way Jameson used to. And this baby hasn’t gotten the hiccups yet, which is another difference. Jameson had hiccups at least once a day by this point and continued to get them every day after he was born (for awhile at least). Even the times of day for movement are different between the two of them. Jameson was go-go-go all day and then totally still as I was going to sleep. This baby is more sporadic throughout the day and picks up the pace at night, which worries me for after birth hahah. Based on what we know about me and Alex’s personalities as kids (from stories and old home videos), I was a lot like Jameson is energy-wise and Alex was a lot more mellow. So it would be fun if our kids happen to match each of us in that way. 🙂 One last difference, though, is that Alex has felt this baby move already, which took a lot longer with Jameson. He actually felt this baby for the first time on our 3 year anniversary – a sweet little gift for him!
Weirdest symptoms: Symptoms are all pretty tame, just like with Jameson. Besides the minor stretching and pulling feelings, and starting to feel a little heavier in my stomach, everything is mostly normal.
Best moments this week: Monday was a holiday so we had Alex home – always so nice. 🙂 Wednesday one of my closest friends and her two little ones came by for a playdate, which was so fun. And tomorrow is my other close friend’s bridal shower! Lots of great stuff this week. 
Cravings: Nada. I never seem to have cravings while pregnant. Although I have been tending more towards fresh foods this time around. With Jameson I wanted french fries and greasy hamburgers and chocolate and all that bad-for-you-but-delicious stuff. This time, not so much.
Looking forward to: FINALLY finding out the gender in less than two weeks!




P.S.The outfit I’m wearing above is all from H&M. No one told me with my last pregnancy that H&M carries maternity clothes and I’m so bummed I missed out the first time around! I went last weekend and found so many great things. Super cute and comfy and reasonably priced. I’m a huge fan already!

One mistake I made with my first pregnancy was not investing in a few maternity things I really loved. I ended up stretching out a lot of my regular shirts and just sort of “getting by” on cheap and kind of ugly maternity clothes the rest of the time. I remember being confused about why I never liked the way my baby bump looked and never feeling like myself. I think a lot of it had to do with not knowing how to dress for pregnancy. So this time around I’m doing things differently. I invested in a few really great staple items I actually love (and kind of hope I can wear beyond pregnancy) and I already feel so much better and more like me.

Baby #2, Pregnancy

Pregnancy reveal!

I recently shared about the family photoshoot we had done last month when my grandma came for a visit (which you can see here) but I conveniently left out a few choice pictures. 😉 Alex and I announced our pregnancy to my family right smack in the middle of it!

One thing I regretted a bit about how we announced my pregnancy with Jameson was that we didn’t capture any of the reactions of our family members. So this time I wanted to change that. And the timing couldn’t have been better! We found out we were expecting when I was about four weeks along and three weeks later was our family photo session with our photographer friend, Erin of Graced by Light Photography. So Alex and I decided to wait until then to announce our news (much easier said than done!).

A day or two before the shoot I messaged Erin and asked if she could help me out with the reveal. She was SO excited and so eager to make it perfect for us! We decided to do it midway through the session so that everyone would be comfortable and having fun. As we walked from one location to another I whispered to Erin that I was going to do it as soon as she was ready. She set us up at the new location, took a few test shots, gave me the secret signal we had set up (really just a thumbs up haha), and then right before the next shot I stepped forward and shouted, “Hold on!!! Before we take this next picture there’s something I want to say… We’re having another baby!!!” And Erin immediately started snapping away. Just look at these reactions! Totally worth keeping the secret. 🙂

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I’m so thrilled with how the pictures came out! They’re even better than I imagined. Many, many thanks to Erin for capturing these priceless moments for us to keep forever! ❤

Baby #2, Pregnancy

Our second baby story

IMG_2465IMG_2461WOOOOOOHOOOOOO!!!! I can finally announce it loud and proud! We’re expecting Babeski #2! Is this for real?! I still feel like I’m in a state of shock, but the best kind of shock there can be. We’re having another baby. We’re having another baby! I am so dang excited!!!!

We told our families when I was about 7 weeks pregnant, but we’ve known since I was around 4 weeks. It was HARD keeping the secret, especially from my sister aka my bff aka the person I tell everything to… but I knew we were getting family pictures taken the next month and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to surprise everyone at the same time AND capture all their reactions! It just seemed too perfect a coincidence to not take advantage of. So we waited. 😊 And it was SO worth it!!! I’ll be making a separate post about the photoshoot reveal very soon, so stay tuned!

Anyway, now that I’m in the second trimester (a little over 13 weeks to be exact) we felt comfortable announcing our beautiful little blessing! And today I’m sharing a bit about our second baby story with all of you. 😊

The journey to pregnancy has been completely different this time around. With Jameson it took us a little while to get pregnant (you can read more about that story here). There was a lot of frustration, a lot of tears, a lot of negative pregnancy tests. I was assuming the next time would be exactly the same, if not even harder. But oh man, did God bless us with this child.

For a while there I was really really really content with our family life as it was. Just Alex, Jameson, and me. (And Charlie.) I wasn’t ready for another baby and I couldn’t really picture a time in the future where I’d be in the same place I was before Jameson…that place of wanting a baby so badly that it just consumed me from the inside out. There were times, sure, when I’d catch a brief stint of baby fever but it would be gone several minutes later. I was just really thankful for the happy little life we had, just the three of us.

But at the same time, I knew I wanted our kids to be close in age. Two and a half years or maybe three at the most was our ideal age difference. But since it took us so long to have Jameson I was worried it would be a much bigger gap. I was expecting ovulation tests and checking my basal body temperature every morning and trying for months on end like we had to do with Jameson.

So you can imagine my surprise when, based on pretty much NO evidence at all (zero symptoms, barely even late, we weren’t even “officially trying” yet), I took a pregnancy test on February 20th and…it was positive. I wouldn’t have even taken the test at all if it wasn’t for the fact that I happened to have some cheap tests in the cabinet just waiting to expire. I pretty much just took it to prove to myself that I wasn’t pregnant. I actually remember leaving the test in the bathroom for the three minutes and walking away saying to myself aloud, “You’re not pregnant. There’s no way you’re pregnant.” I walked back in a few minutes later and the two pink lines were right there. No denying it, I AM pregnant. 😊

So after I practiced some deep breathing and my head stopped spinning and Jameson stopped freaking out because I was being super weird and sitting on the bathroom floor saying, “Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Okay this is happening. Oh my gosh.” I got Jameson into the wagon and we went on a walk so I could clear my head a bit. I was SO excited and so in love already but also just plain confused because, like I said, we hadn’t spent months trying and we hadn’t been planning everything out like we had with Jameson. I wasn’t expecting this for at least another six months or so, probably even longer.

But even as all the questions and half-formulated plans flooded my brain (are the kids going to share a room? Should I go to the same midwifes as last time? What am I going to do about my best friend’s wedding in August, for which I am a bridesmaid and for which I will now apparently be almost 7 months pregnant?!)…I was also oddly at total peace, which I can only say is the grace of God. He knows my heart and my needs better than I know them myself. He knew I’d never get to the place of being ready to officially start “trying” for a baby again. Is anyone ever entirely ready to give up their special time with their firstborn? I didn’t know if I’d ever be. He also knew how scared I was to start that difficult process all over again, all the disappointment and the planning and the stress. So he just said, “This is your perfect time. You’re doing this now.” And here we are again. I’m reminded once more, but in a totally different way than with Jameson, that I’m really not the one in control. And for that, I am SO thankful.

Half an hour after I took the test, Alex got home from work and I told him the news in a totally non-cute way. Basically I was just like, “Hey, so I have to tell you something. I’m pregnant.” And he immediately grabbed me in a hug and then we just looked at each other, slightly confused but so so excited. He asked how I was doing because he knew I’d probably be freaking out and then he grabbed Jameson and added him to our family hug, our first one with all four of us.

One thing I’ve learned from all of this is that we really don’t know when we’re ready for things. We might think we know, but that’s usually not the case. With Jameson, I thought I was ready for such a long time and I wasn’t. God had better plans. With this baby I really thought I wasn’t ready at all. Again, God had better plans. 😊 We are given what we need when we need it, whether we agree with the timing or not. We can be wise and thoughtful with our actions, sure, but ultimately the Lord is the one who directs our steps. To me that is an incredible blessing and a huge weight off my shoulders. I don’t have to know or plan everything.

Praise God for his goodness! We are so thankful for this second precious life He’s given us. What great love the Father has lavished on us!

See you in six months, little one. ❤

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Holidays & Special Events, Recipes

A sweet treat for your valentine 


Valentine’s Day is over and gone, but these little treats can be made all year long! (If you end an argument with a rhyme, it’s convincing all the time. I learned that from “How I Met Your Mother.”)

Anywho! I brought these mini heart-shaped pies to a ladies Valentine’s event for my church and the girls all flipped for them! They were gone almost right away. I had to make another batch later that week so I’d have more to share with my family. Wrap them up in a cute little bag, tie it with a string, and you’ve got the perfect Valentine’s gift!

With a sweet jam center, golden flaky crust, and the cutest little heart shape, these babies are sure to make all your friends and family smile. Or, you know, make you smile as you eat an entire batch on your own. (I definitely didn’t do that. Or did I…….)

The best part is… they’re so super easy to make!!! I am no baker extraordinaire but I pulled these off, no problem. I promise you can too! (And let me know if you do, I would love to hear how much you love them too! Look at that, more rhyming.)

Mini Heart Pies

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  1. One box of pie crusts (or homemade if you’re fancy. I’m not.)
  2. Your favorite jam. (I used the Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserve for one batch and the Bonne Maman Peach/Mango Preserve for the other batch.)
  3. Egg wash & a sprinkle of sugar
  4. Heart shaped cookie cutter

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Roll out your dough and cut out the hearts. (One pie crust yielded 10 total mini pies for me.)
  3. Place a small amount of jam in the center of half of the hearts.
  4. Gently brush a little bit of the egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little water) around the edges of the jam. This will help the two crusts seal together.
  5. Use the remaining hearts as the top crust. Place each one directly on top of the jam hearts and crimp the edges with a fork.
  6. Brush more of the egg wash on top of each mini pie. Add a sprinkle of sugar on top.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy! 😊❤🍓

** Credit for the idea goes to Kristen Mittler (@oldjoy on Instagram) who shared a similar treat on her profile.**

Aaaand this post wouldn’t be complete without a few personal photos from our Valentine’s Day!

Hope you all had a lovely love day! xo.

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Holidays & Special Events, Life with Jameson

The best Christmas.


I LOVE the holiday season. Some years are better than others, but this one really blew every other year that I can remember out of the water. For real, this has been my favorite Christmas.

A lot of different things played into it to make it extra wonderful… the fact that Jameson was old enough to open his own gifts and get excited about them. Spending the morning reading the Christmas story from our Bibles on my parents’ bed like always. Having a delicious dinner with my parents and Alex’s parents all together. Christmas being on a Sunday which let us celebrate with our church family at night. Getting blessed out the wazoo with such generosity from friends and family. Going to see Alex’s brother and our sister-in-law up in Prescott the Friday before Christmas. Spending Christmas Eve with my grandma and tons more family.


It was all so so good. But I think my very favorite part was when I gave my parents their gift. A few months ago I decided to get all my parents’ home videos digitized as their present for Christmas. They had been sitting in the garage for over twelve years (since we moved to Arizona) and even longer before that at our house in New York. The video camera that was used to record them broke a loooong time ago, so we hadn’t been able to see any of our memories for closer to fifteen years, probably over twenty years for some of the oldest videos.

So when my parents went out of town for a few days last month, I stole all the tapes and sent them off to Legacy Box to be converted into DVDs. They JUST made it back in time (two days before Christmas) and I was so so SO happy with the results. All of our childhood memories were right there in front of me, videos I had never seen before and videos I had forgotten all about. Hours of footage from all our best moments and tons of ordinary moments too (which actually turned out to be my favorites). Videos of me and my sister playing together in our backyard with our old family dogs. Videos of each of our newborn days. Videos of our birthdays and school plays and tap recitals and baton performances and snow days. Videos of inside jokes we quote all the time but haven’t been able to see in years. It was all there.

Needless to say, I cried like a baby watching it all through. And I was literally giddy with excitement to give it to my parents on Christmas morning.

It was the last present under the tree and I handed it to my dad while my youngest sister recorded on my phone. His reaction was the best thing ever and I’m so glad we caught it on video! He and my mom were absolutely shocked and thrilled. Oh it just made me so very happy!


They asked to watch the videos right away so we popped one in and all our memories came to life as if no time had passed at all. I’m still blown away by the care and thoughtfulness my parents used as they filmed our lives. Each clip was so obviously done with intention and with the knowledge that our childhood days would be fleeting. You can hear my dad saying multiple times in the videos, “We’ll watch this in twenty years and laugh!” Or “Maybe someday God will bless you with a baby and then you’ll know how I feel right now.” They knew time would slip by so quickly, and it did.

So this next year I’m making it a point to record more everyday moments with Jameson. Not just ten second clips for  Snapchat or a quick video of something cute he’s doing for Facebook. I want videos of our life just as it was and just for our family, because if I learned anything this Christmas it’s that the time God gives us with our children is so precious. Not every moment is “extraordinary,” but those aren’t always our best moments or memories anyway.


I hope your holiday season has been oh so very merry!

Love, the Iwanski’s

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At home, DIY

DIY // The easiest raised garden bed ever


Ever since we bought our first house a few months ago I’ve been itching to start a little patio garden out back. It’s been a sort of dream of mine for awhile to grow fresh produce for my family…for health reasons, for teaching purposes (homeschool curriculum down the road?!), and just for the fun of it! I wanted to start while Jameson was young to make sure I got a handle on how things are done by the time he’s old enough to learn about it. And since Arizona has two growing seasons (spring and fall), October was the perfect time to get started.

We have this big old slab of concrete off the patio where the previous home owners had a hot tub, and it’s the perfect little corner for a raised vegetable garden. Good sun exposure, close to a water supply, and empty/ugly enough to need a little spruce up. (Eventually I’d like to add flowers and wall vines and other pretty things like that, but maybe in the spring.)


When I brought the idea of a raised garden bed to Alex, he had two criteria:

#1. It had to be easy to put together. And…

#2. It had to be relatively cheap.

(But not in that order. Ah, my sweet penny-pinching hubby. ❤ I love him so.)

Anyway, challenge accepted. We originally planned to build it completely out of wood, but why do things the easy way when you can find an even easier way? Laziness, my friends. This plan stemmed from laziness. When all was said and done, our raised garden bed was made entirely without the use of any sort of tool. 

And it only cost us about $67.

This is way cheaper than any DIY raised garden bed kit you can find at the store. (The closest I could find was $88 and it wasn’t even as wide or as deep as I wanted mine to be). Following this method allows you to get creative with the size and even the shape of your raised garden bed without costing you a fortune. Plus it looks super cute! Sort of a mix between farmhouse style and urban industrial, which I really like.


We got all our supplies at the good ol’ Home Depot. Probably the only time in the history of our marriage that we went in and came out with everything we needed and avoided an angry whisper argument in the middle of one of the aisles due to our confusion and/or our inability to make quick decisions. (We’re really not the home improvement types.)

The supply list for this do-it-yourself project is very short. Our garden bed is 3 feet wide by 6 feet long, with a depth of 1 foot. In total, all we needed were six pieces of redwood (2in x 6in x 6ft each, four of them being full length and two cut in half) and eight planter wall blocks (two for each corner, stacked on top of each other).

After we decided how large we wanted our garden bed to be, the rest was easy. We chose redwood for our lumber because of its resistance to rot and warping ($8.27 per board, but there are even cheaper versions if you’d like). We had a guy at Home Depot cut two of the six foot boards in half, we grabbed two more full-length six foot boards as well as the eight cement blocks ($2.87 each), and we took it all home.


We stacked two cement blocks for each corner of the garden bed (making it about a foot deep), used a little heavy duty glue to keep them solid, and slid two boards in the grooves on each side. Tada! All done!



The most challenging and most expensive part of this project really came after everything was built. We invested in some good, organic soil (in addition to some soil amenities) to make sure we’d have rich, healthy crops. This is where things can get pricey. But that’s for another post. 🙂

This project was really so easy and so much fun. And we already have cute little sprouts popping up all over the veggie garden! Jameson loves to look at all the plants and even give them kisses, and I’m so excited for our first harvest!


Good luck to anyone planning to give urban gardening a try! Trust me, if Alex and I (two of the least handy people on the planet) could get this project rolling…you most certainly can too. 🙂

DIY, Uncategorized

DIY // Brown Sugar Body Scrub

Ohhh my friends. Is your skin getting super dry this winter? Are you looking for a great homemade gift for the holidays? Do you need a snack while you shower? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your search ends here. I present to you the simplest, most moisturizing, most delectable homemade body scrub on the inter webs. 

Only three ingredients and ready in five minutes. This stuff is about to blow. your. mind. (And your taste buds, oh man it tastes just like a cookie.) You might already have all the ingredients just chillin’ in your pantry, waiting to be combined into pure magic.

I don’t know about you, but I love body scrubs. I love how they exfoliate, I love how they moisturize, I love how they smell. But I really can’t justify spending $25+ on one little tub. It’s over too quickly and then I have to shell out more money for another one. This handy sugar scrub recipe, however, takes care of that problem. It’s quick, easy, and made from all natural ingredients…so natural that you can literally have a quick taste while you’re using it. (Or two tastes. Or three.) Yum! That’s my kind of body scrub. 🙂  Homemade beauty products for the win.

Stick it in a cute mason jar ($8 for 12 at Target), add some ribbon and a cute tag (or make one out of cardstock paper and fancy tape like I did), and you’ve got yourself a great holiday gift for your friends and family. Yippee! (Speaking of which, if you’re reading this and we’re friends in real life…act surprised when you get your scrub for Christmas.)

Brown Sugar Body Scrub

Yield: fills one 8oz mason jar

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (soft but solid)
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Optional add-ins: cinnamon, a little honey, essential oils, vitamin E oil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Soften coconut oil in microwave for a few seconds, if necessary.
  2. Add all ingredients into a standing mixer, food processor, or mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk together on medium-high speed for a minute or two until the coconut oil begins to break down and mixture resembles creamy cookie dough.
  4. Place in mason jar and make it look pretty. 🙂

Note: If you mix it for too long, the coconut oil will start to melt and your scrub will be almost liquid. No worries, though, just put it in the fridge or freezer for a few, wait for it to solidify, and whip it up again.


Store your scrub at room temperature. I keep mine in the shower and so far our bathroom has stayed cool enough for the scrub to remain in its creamy/solid state. Over time, though, it may melt down and become runny because of the steam in the shower. Again, just pop it in the fridge for a bit until it returns to the consistency you prefer. 


Enjoy! xo

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Out & About

Oct 2016 // Mother Nature’s Farm

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Monday nights are family nights for us. Alex gets home for work, we pack up Jameson and the Charlie woof, and we head over to my parents’ house for dinner and dessert (right now my mom has these really yummy sugar cookies from Costco at her house, which have this weird power over me like for real I eat them until I feel sick). My sister, her husband, and my niece meet us there and we all eat together, let the babes play, and watch The Voice exactly at 7pm (sometimes a minute or two later if we’re all fighting about who has to find the remote to turn on the TV).

This past Monday night, though, we did something a little different. It’s FINALLY kind of sort of Fall-ish in Arizona (not really, but we’re pretending) and Monday was a really nice cloudy evening. So, we all (minus my dad) met at Mother Nature’s Farm in Gilbert. Last year we took the babies to Schnepf Farms, which is the cutest place, but it’s really more of an all-day thing and right now the days are just too hot for it to even be fun. Maybe in a few weeks.

For now, this little farm was perfect for the toddlers. We got to take them on their first hay ride, feed the animals, and pick out pumpkins. Such a fun time!

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Jameson’s favorite part was definitely the pumpkin patch; he was beside himself with joy! I’m preeeetty sure he thought it was just a giant field of orange balls, which is basically his dream come true.

I’m praying we get some cooler weather up in this oven of a state very soon. My Facebook and Instagram feeds are flooded with gorgeous autumn photos featuring cozy sweaters, colorful leaves, hot tea, and cloudy days. And I’m over here like, Jameson and I played in the sprinklers today. Ugh. It’ll happen soon, I just need to be patient.

If you live in a state where it’s actually Fall, please enjoy a pumpkin spice latte for me and fill your lungs up with that crisp autumn air. And know that I am jealous of you.

At home, DIY

DIY // Front door makeover

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Yay!!! I finally finished my first home improvement project for our new house and I’m so excited about how it turned out! Ever since I can remember it’s been a dream of mine to live in a house with a red front door. And even though our new house has almost everything on my dream home wish list, the front door was definitely in need of a face lift.

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Sad. It just looked so sad. First of all, it was painted this weird creamish color (terribly done, by the way, streaks just everywhere) which faded it completely into the side of the house. No character or charm to report there. And second of all, the previous home owners had a large dog who apparently liked to scratch at their front door and lay right up against it, so it had taken quite a beating (not to mention it was filthy and it smelled like dog, ew). I couldn’t just leave it like that.

So, I did a some quick Pinterest research, looked at a few front door painting tutorials and thought to myself, I can fix that. (“Holes” quote, anyone? Anyone?) And so I did! And you can too if your front door is as desperate for some personality as ours was.

I’m putting together my own DIY tutorial now to add what I’ve learned to the mix. There are some things that worked great for me and some things I wish I had known beforehand, both of which I’ll share with you today. But first, here are the supplies you’ll need:

  1. 120 grit sandpaper
  2. Painter’s tape
  3. High density foam rollers (at least two) – make sure they’re relatively small so you have more precision with where you get the paint
  4. Small foam paint brushes (at least two)
  5. Primer (we got about one quart)
  6. The red paint! (about one quart)
  7. **Optional: spray paint for the hardware

We went to Home Depot for everything. I picked up some sample paint chips a few weeks prior, went back and forth a zillion times on which color I liked best, and finally settled on a gorgeous shade called Red Delicious (by Glidden). Make sure you ask for the exterior version of whatever paint you choose, as your door will be exposed to the elements.

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Your first step will be to remove all the hardware and tape up the holes from the inside so that no dust/dirt can get in your house. Then, if you’d like, remove your entire door and place it somewhere you won’t mind dripping paint on (I laid out a few garbage bags on our back patio and put the door on top). I’ve read that you can do this entire project with your door still in its frame, but we chose to take it out completely because #1, it’s summer in Arizona and we couldn’t have our door just hanging open while the paint dried all day… #2, I didn’t want to spend all day trying to keep Jameson away from it… and #3, I didn’t want to take any chances with paint dripping and ruining the project. But it’s entirely up to you! If you’re using the foam rollers you probably won’t have issues with dripping anyway.

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Door removed and ready for sanding
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Our ghetto solution to no front door

Once your door is ready, you can start to sand it down. I guess sanding isn’t necessary for everyone, but for us it was. I wanted to get off that top layer of ugly cream paint (plus nasty dirt and grime) and give my new primer and paint a clean surface to grab onto. No need to break your back over it, though! A light overall sanding (with special focus on any rough parts or imperfections) will do the trick. When you’re done, wipe the door down with a damp cloth to get rid of the dust.

Next, prime your door using a foam roller. I used this deep gray primer that was recommended to me by the nice men at Home Depot. (The can says “white” but it was actually the gray version.)

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Our door only needed one coat of primer but the original paint was pretty light to begin with and, again, I was using a deep gray shade of primer. You may need a second coat if you’re painting over a dark color door, or if you’re using a white primer. The guys at Home Depot told me that red is tricky in general to get thick and even coverage with so it’s better to be liberal with your priming than to get stuck doing like six coats of red later on.

Give your primer an hour or two to dry and then break out the red! There is a particular order you need to follow when painting a six panel door to get that smooth finish. There are a couple of slight variations, but I found a general example online to follow and I love how my door turned out. Here are the steps (shown as I painted on the primer, which isn’t necessary but I did it to give myself practice before starting on the red):

  1. Paint the insert parts using a paintbrush or a small foam brush. (I used a paintbrush but in hindsight I wish I had used a foam brush because the regular paintbrush leaves brush strokes. Not absolutely crazy about that, but oh well!)
  2. Paint the raised panels using a foam roller.
  3. Paint vertically between each set of panels, stopping when you reach the end of a set.
  4. Paint horizontally between each set of panels, stopping when you reach the end of a set.
  5. Paint vertically along the two edges of the door.

Give your door a good 3-4 hours to dry really well before you start on the second coat of red (advice given to me once again by my friends at the Home Depot). I only needed to do two coats of red total and I still had a little bit of red paint leftover from the quart I bought (I actually ended up using some of that to touch up around the peephole). After you’re done with the second coat give the door a few more hours to dry again before you reattach it to the frame and close it. Otherwise it will stick to the weather stripping and mess up your beautiful work!

Once the door was done and lookin’ real purty, I knew I couldn’t just leave the hardware all brassy and outdated. But I also didn’t want to buy all new stuff either because $$$. So I did a little more Pinterest research and found a great alternative… spray paint! Seriously, so cheap (I think the can was like $7) and so easy too (I just sprayed the hardware, let it dry, and screwed it back in). And the results look awesome and super professional! I used an oil-rubbed bronze shade and it’s exactly what I was hoping for.

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I left a little gold on the deadbolt because I was afraid of tampering with the lock’s functioning, but I may go back and touch it up carefully. And when we repaint the outside of the house (hopefully this winter), we’re planning to fix up the door casing as well. For now, though, the front door makeover is complete! What do you think??

DSC_8566I’m absolutely loving it. Makes my heart so happy! I also added a couple of pretty plants to make the patio more welcoming, and eventually I’d like to replace that light with something to match my newly bronzed hardware (because right now it is yeesh). But that’s for a later time! For now, I live in a house with a red front door and I am happy. 🙂

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