Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Baby Must Haves: 8 Months

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For our 8 month must-have, I’ve been wracking my brain about what items Ellie has been loving because there’s only one golden item and it felt weird to post about just one thing (her other favorite toys and things we use for her have been mentioned on previous monthly must-haves), however, I don’t want any of my posts to feel forced or that I’m reaching for straws for content. We have opened more of her Christmas gifts and have bought a few new things for her that we have really enjoyed with her this past week, but that won’t be posted until next month, once they have gotten lots of use and prove to be products worth sharing. I like to try items for a while before posting reviews on the blog, especially on my baby posts because as a new mother, if someone tells me it’s a must-have, I take their word for it. I don’t like to buy something for her that we use for a few days and it’s awesome, but doesn’t last in the long run.
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We received this toy as a hand-me down from my aunt and uncle back in October and Ellie has been in love with it since. Before, we had to have her on our knee to play with it because she couldn’t reach it sitting down, but now that she can pull herself up she is OBSESSED with this toy. It’s the first thing she reaches for to play with every.single.time. Her face just lights up with sheer joy when she hears the songs and sees Elmo move his head side to side. My husband and I both get the songs stuck in our heads and sing them now too. She has loved playing with this activity center since October and her love for it has only grown. She laughs and “talks” to it and has the widest grin on her little chubby face. She works it from one side to the next and goes back again. Ellie has played with a few activity centers similar to this one at friend’s homes, but this one takes the cake. If you’re looking for a center to grow with your baby from the floor to standing (or kneeling) I would recommend this one 100%! It gave my cousin lots of entertainment for her and now Ellie is gaga for it and I’m sure your little one will be too.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but Ellie now has her two bottom teeth and her two top ones have been coming in and have just broken through the gums. She hasn’t been too fussy, but just extra needy. She wants to be held 24/7 on a few days, and even when I’m holding her, she’s still not happy. We’ve been using Hylands Teething Tablets and some other teethers. Thankfully, she’s not too bad (knock on wood) and I’ve heard that these top teeth are the worst!

She is also crawling all over our place! She’s gotten really quick to and is getting into everything. When we call her name out to tell her “No” she just looks at us and smiles. She has a lot of interest in standing and likes to sit on her knees and she puts one foot up, but hasn’t developed the strength/coordination yet to use that foot to push her up to a standing position. She also like to stand up on her legs while pushing herself up from the floor, making a little tent figure with her body for now. It’s so amazing to see all the milestones she reaches and how much changes on a daily basis. On one hand, I’m sad it goes so fast, and on the other I’m so excited and proud of her and the new things that are happening.

Right now, we only have a few more months until her first birthday, which I can’t believe is coming so fast, and we’re trying to decide on what we want to do about breastfeeding. My goal to breastfeed was a year, and now that the year is almost done we are trying to decide when to wean. Should we wean early so we’re finished nursing at 1? Should we wait to 1 to start weaning? Or should we wait until Ellie is ready before the weaning process? We’ve been discussing the different options and we’re kind of at a standstill as to what will be best for all of us, but I’m curious as to what worked for your family? What did you do with your little ones and how did you decide?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Recent Beauty Items

I’ve recently got a bunch of beauty items and wanted to review them on the blog. Some are new to me and others are just re-purchases. I love to see what products other people continually re-purchase and I don’t think I post about it enough and honestly don’t remember the last time I posted about a re-purchase of a beauty product so I figured I could include it today. If people are buying beauty products over and over again, they gotta be must-haves for them right? I like to see what works for people on a regular basis, their everyday products, etc. I’ve bought a ton of make-up over the years that I initially loved, but never used it up completely or bought it again. Was it a bad product? Not necessarily, but not good enough to keep on hand. Today’s products include items I’ve used for years and have posted about them before, but like years ago.

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MAC Eyeshadow Satin Taupe
This was the first MAC shadow I ever purchased and I used it all through college, but when I ran out I didn’t buy it again because I had so many other colors that were similar I haven’t used this shade in years. My SIL uses it regularly and when I was with her one day I used her make-up and fell in love with the color all over again. I’m so glad I tried it again because it’s a really beautiful shade.

MAC Eyeshadow All That Glitters
The first time I used this shadow was for my Bridal Shower back in 2011 when I had my make-up done and have been using it ever since. It’s a great neutral, a soft shimmer pink/beige that’s great to layer and I wear it almost daily.

MAC Eyshadow Naked Lunch
This is another great find I found when using my SIL’s make-up. She uses it daily and has for years, and I just had to have it for myself after using it. It’s very similar to All That Glitters, a soft shimmery pink color. It’s a little lighter shade though.

MAC Mineral Blush Warm Soul
This was a re-purchase for me (see my review here), this is my every day blush and I put it on my Secret Santa list with like three stars because I was out of it for so long and nearly scraping my blush brush to get some in the mornings. Don’t you hate when you run low on a favorite item and you’re scraping the sides of the jar to get more use out of it while you’re waiting to get a new one? You can see my initial review of this blush here, and it’s a total holy grail blush for me. I use it consistently and sometimes even use it as eyeshadow! It’s a beautiful color and so versatile, it really works for any skin tone and hair color.

Urban Decay Naked Palette 3
When I heard that Urban Decay was coming out with another palette, I freaked out. The first two palettes get a lot of use and I couldn’t wait to see what the third would hold (see my review of 1 here and 2 here). The third palette is lots of rose-hued shades and I wasn’t sure if I wanted it right away because I don’t wear a lot of those shades, but I put it on my Christmas list for my Secret Santa. That’s what those lists are there for right? For items you want, but maybe won’t buy yourself? Well, Santa came through and completed my UD Palette collection and I have been wearing the colors almost every day. They are really soft and pretty, I don’t think that the palette is as versatile as the first two versions so I wouldn’t consider this one a must-have or a holy grail product, but I would definitely check it out. I’m very happy with mine, but I don’t think I’ll get as much mileage out of this one as I do the first two.

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Revlon Fuschia Shock
We all know my love of Revlon lip products right now, they are just the best and at such a great price point. I’ve been wanting a bright pink for a while and Ulta had all Revlon products buy 1 get one 50% off so when I went in I snatched up this pretty shade with a red one. I’ve only worn it a few times so far, but really love the bright color. It’s fun, has a warm tone, and lasts throughout the day.

Revlon Really Red
Red is such a fun color to wear and there’s so many shades and tones of red, it’s easy to fall in love with several of them. For the holidays, I wanted a bright, true red shade and after some inspiration from Julie at Gal Meets Glam, I went with Really Red. It was the perfect shade for Christmas and I’ve worn it several times since then.

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Revlon Black Cherry
I’ve posted previously about wanting a dark shade to wear this winter and I was on a hunt all over for this Black Cherry shade, it was sold out at every Target, Ulta, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid I went to, I nearly gave up hope! Then I got the sweetest email ever from Sam who found the lipstick for me and wanted to mail it. I was absolutely floored by her generosity, people are so good and kind and her email and gesture meant to much to me. I was humbled and felt all warm and fuzzy that someone who reads this blog would reach out to me. I love getting emails from readers about fashion, beauty, parenthood, etc and I love that this has given me a platform to create so many friendships. Thank you again Sam!

So I wore this color to work, and I was kind of hesitant because it’s such a dark shade, I didn’t know if I could wear it during the day, but I figured you only live once, so why not? Wowza, I have never received so many compliments on a lipstick in my life. Now, I have no qualms about wearing it anytime I feel like it. It’s such a gorgeous, deep red, it’s like a nice merlot color. I absolutely love this lipstick and am so happy to add it to my collection. Don’t be afraid to try new shades! I’m so glad I have ventured out of my nude lip rut. Up until 2 years ago, I never wore anything but nude/soft pinks and recently I’ve been wearing brighter colors on a regular basis.

NYX Lip Liner Auburn
When I wore Black Cherry for the first time, I didn't have a liner to wear with it so I improvised and used a brown eyeliner and blended like crazy to keep from looking like a chola. I bought this color to go with the shade and it's a great match.

NYX Lip Liner Hot Red
With all the red shades of lipstick I have, for some reason I didn't own a red liner! I think liner is a must when wearing red because it can get so messy. This is a great match to my Really Red and some other red shades I have as well. Win!

Essie Wicked
I’m pretty sure this is a holy grail for a dark shade for every girl. I had a mini- version of it (I think) from some multi-pack I bought and I couldn’t find it so I bought the full size and haven’t taken it off. I like the dark vampy color (especially paired with the Revlon Black Cherry lipstick), it’s a deep maroon that’s almost black and I just love the shade. If you’re looking for a new dark I would definitely recommend this color. Another favorite is OPI Lincoln Park After Dark.

Sally Hansen Rapid Red
Again, with the red, I know. I’ve been looking for a bright red polish and was stuck because there are so many shades to choose from. I’ve always been happy with Sally Hansen polishes, they’re true to color, dry quickly, are part of the 3 free (?) of chemicals, and are a great price point. I finally decided on ___ and have been happy with the bright shade. It’s a true red, but a little lighter, without losing its redness. Does that make sense? You know how reds can be pink/red, orange/red, blue/red, or coral/red? I wanted red/red and think I found the shade I was looking for. I was afraid of finding the perfect shade only to have it not be true to the bottle or need several layers to gain the desired shade. This color is the perfect berry red, great to wear year round and I’ve had it on and off my fingers since I bought it. Finding time to do my nails since having Ellie has been tough! How do you mamas do it? She is not a sleeper and any extra time I get to myself, doing my nails falls short on my priority list.

What beauty items have you recently bought? Anything I need to have? What are some of your products that you keep re-buying continually?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Our Baby Food Journey

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Introducing Ellie to food has been something we've been looking forward to and we chose to wait until she was 6 months before trying any solids or purees. As the 6 month mark approached, I began to feel nervous about what types of food to start with, how I wanted to introduce them, the order of foods to try, etc. Who knew feeding a baby would bring about so many questions? The only question I didn’t have was that I wanted to make my own food.

Most of the women in my family have made their own food, my mother did with both my sister and I, and my sister in law did with both of her children. Then Kristin, of Mama and Mou has also posted a lot about it and I’ve emailed her a few times with different questions I had- she was a great resource and thanks again for all your help!

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We started Ellie off with organic rice cereal and with her first taste, she wasn’t a big fan of it (as you can see in the above pic!). The face she made was hilarious, and she was a good sport. She tried a few more bites before showing no interest and turning her head away. With her second taste, we couldn’t feed her fast enough! The first few bites she would make a face, but still want more. I think she was just getting used to the new texture.

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My SIL and I got together after a grocery store run, and she helped me steam and puree all my veggies for Ellie. We used the book, Cooking for Baby for reference on how long to cook items and how to prepare them (steam, boil, or bake and whether the peels/skin were ok) and in 2.5-3 hours time, we made enough food for several weeks! I couldn’t believe how easy it was and couldn’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to do it. Now, I don’t judge any mother for what/how she chooses to feed her baby, maybe making food doesn’t appeal to everyone, so whatever floats your boat and works for your family.

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The entire process was really simple, we would use a double boiler for most of the veggies (the butternut squash and sweet potato we baked), putting water in the bottom pot and the veggies in the top pot. After a few minutes we would check to see if the vegetables were steamed all the way through and were easy to pierce with a fork. If they were ready, we would pop them into the baby bullet and puree them to smithereens. Most of the veggies pureed thin enough on their own, but the peas, carrots, and green beans I had to add a little bit of water to get them to the right consistency. Once the veggies cooled down, I poured them into ice cube trays to freeze. Then after they were frozen, I popped them out and placed them in freezer bags with the date they were made. Each night I would place the amount of ice cubes for her serving in a bowl with a lid to thaw for lunch/dinner the next day.

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We started Ellie off with vegetables and began with peas, then zucchini, butternut squash, yellow squash, carrots, sweet potato, and green beans. She has absolutely loved everything so far and thankfully, we haven’t had any bad experiences either with tummy aches or rashes. This weekend we moved onto fruits starting with pears and apples. Unfortunately, there’s not a large variety of fruit in season at this time so I’ve also picked up Gerber Organic Peaches in the meantime so Ellie can try a variety of foods. I’ve also started to mix some of the veggies together to create new flavors for her.

She’s so funny, because you can’t feed her fast enough. If you wait to give her another bite, she fusses and gets mad. I love it! We also give her Gerber Puffs and Baby Mum-Mums (which she loves) and have started to give her water with her dinner as well. Before officially starting on fruits, we have given Ellie a banana in a mesh eater and a sliced apple to gnaw on, both of which she did not care for whatsoever. They were both new textures and are much sweeter than the veggies we’ve been giving her so I’m not surprised at her reaction. We will just keep trying new things to get her used to a variety of flavors and textures. Our experience so far has been really good and fortunately, Ellie has been a great eater. She's loved everything we've actually fed to her and has been a great eater. I hope she stays this way and I look forward to the time when I can just give her smaller portions of what Matt and I eat.

Right now she still drinks the same amount of milk as before, that has not weaned yet. She sometimes has rice cereal in the mornings, and sometimes not. Just depends on how our mornings go and how long of a nursing she gets when she wakes up. She eats lunch at daycare and 3-4 bottles, then Matt and I feed her dinner while the other one is cooking. After she eats her dinner, she gets some puffs, mums, and a bottle of water while we eat. We've tried giving her sippy cups at dinner, but she hasn't got the hang of how they work yet so for the meantime we're just giving her a bottle with water for now.

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Here are some of my favorite food items so far:
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Be sure to check out Mama and Mou today, I have a guest post up about my baby blue experience! I'm so honored to be featured. If you have a little one, be sure to link up every Tuesday!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Baby Must Haves: 7 Months

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Month 7 has been absolutely awesome, especially with the holidays (which I hope to recap this week). Ellie now says "dada" and best of all she's crawling! Christmas eve morning she just started doing it and I couldn't have been more proud. I am so grateful that I had the day off and was there to witness this milestone. In the weeks before, she really didn't show any interest in crawling and could get across the room scooting on her butt. Then a few days before Christmas she would get on her hands and knees a lot and we knew it would be any day that it would just click for her and she'd be on the move. Time to baby proof! Oh, and yes, I totally realize I should have done this already. What are some baby proofing items you recommend? We need to put up a gate around our TV, but what would be the best one?
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Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Stack & Roll Cups: These bowls are so much fun! They stack onto each, can snap to each other as they stack, snap into balls, and Ellie loves to knock them over. They're pretty versatile and an absolute must-have. Our daycare provider gave them to Ellie as a Christmas present, and she knew what a gem she was giving!

Fisher-Price Rock-A-Stack: Ellie loves this classic toy, but hasn't quite figured out how to stack the rings just yet. She just loves to take the rings off and her favorite part of the toy is the yellow stick. She loves dragging that as she crawls and biting the top. I'm sure she'll be stacking those rings in no time though.

Bright Starts Having A Ball Count 'n Roll Buggie: This little bug is so cute! It sings songs, moves all around on the hard floor, and spins the balls and shoots them out. Ellie is mesmerized by it. She loves the balls and the tunes.

Vtech Move and Crawl Ball: Just after Thanksgiving, my sister gave Ellie this ball as an early Christmas gift and she really enjoys playing with it. It sings a lot of songs, lights up, and rolls away from her, encouraging her to crawl. It has a few tunes it plays, and "teases" them to come get it.

The First Years Infant to Toddler Deluxe Reclining Feeding Seat: I should have included this with the 6 month must-haves, but I forgot to. This feeding chair has been great for our apartment, I like that it's versatile with different reclining positions and heights and that it converts to a booster seat. It's also made eating dinner as a family so much better. When we ate dinner, Matt and I would often have to take turns eating because she would get so fussy sitting on the ground by herself, she wanted to know what was going on above her. Now, we can sit her there when she's not eating to join us at the table.

MAM Baby Pacifiers: Praise the Lord, my baby will finally take a pacifier. She is such a comfort nurser I would beg her to take a paci and she just refused. She takes one now and it has made getting her to sleep and comforting her so much easier on me (and my nipples). She just started taking one a few weeks ago out of the blue and transitioned from 0 months to 6+ months without problems. I hope she outgrows it naturally and I was kind of worried about her taking to one so late, but it made life so much easier.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Product Review: Nelson j Beverly Hills Argan Oil 7 Moisture Healing Mask

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This product was recently sent to me for review and I've been using it for the last two months. It's a newly-launched deep conditioning hair care product by Nelson j Beverly Hills. The key ingredients include argan, citrus and peppermint oils. It contains NO sulfates, parabens, or artificial fragrances. The treatment boosts hydration for dry and damaged hair, which makes it great for cooler, dryer weather. It's available in three scents: coconut, pomegranate and rosemary mint (all natural scents). I couldn't choose a scent because they all sound delicious so they sent me their most popular- coconut.

At first, I wasn't too impressed with the product, it didn't de-tangle my hair at all and I expect conditioners to do that. After I brushed my hair and blow dried it, holy softness! It made my hair feel like that softness that comes after it's freshly cut. At the beginning of December, I cut and colored my hair, the ends were so dead and stringy, but even my stylist noticed how soft my hair was! Winning! The scent is really good and lingers for a few days as well. It retails for $20 and I honestly think it's worth every penny.

I use it every time I wash my hair (2 times a week), applying it from the middle of my hair down to the ends and let it sit while I wash my body and relax. The jar will easily last me months, there's barely a dent at all in it from using it already. Although it's a mask, it's really light weight and doesn't weigh down my hair a bit. My hair overall feels and looks really healthy and soft. For more information about the Nelson j Beverly Hills Argan Oil 7 haircare products or Nelson Chan, please visit or call 877-540-1647.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Baby Must Haves: 6 Months

Hello! I'm so far behind on posting my must-haves, I thought to combine them, but it would end up such a long post I'll just post 7 months next week.

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Ellie started saying "mama" and it absolutely melts my heart. She started saying it the week of Thanksgiving and said it all day long and into the night. Nothing makes those 3am wake up calls easier than listening to her call out my name for comfort. Now, she only says mama when she needs me, but for those first two weeks, she said it all the time and it was joyous!

We also started solid foods, which I made myself by steaming/baking her veggies and using the Baby Bullet to puree them. It's been really easy and Ellie loves everything she's tried so far which include; peas, zucchini (her favorite so far), yellow squash, butternut squash, and sweet potato. My sweet sister-in-law helped me and between her help and Kristin of Mama and Mou's post, I followed them both pretty closely. I may do my own post about the experience, but Kristin covered it pretty well so shoot over there if you're interested in making your own food as well.

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Munchkin Baby Bath Ball: We love this ball at bathtime. I bought it a few months ago, but Ellie just started taking an interest in it recently. She loves to feel the water come out the holes and chewing on the soft plastic. There's not many bath toys available for young babies and this has been the best so far. What are your favorite bath time toys?

Baby Bullet Food System: We have a food processor already, but it's such a hassle to clean and I was gifted this at my baby shower and love it. It's so quick to puree her food, it's easy to clean, and I store everything together in the box in a spare closet when it's not in use. I would definitely recommend having one if you don't already have a food processor to use.

Baby Einstein Baby Neptune Ocean Orchestra Musical Toy: This toy is so much fun, it lights up and plays a variety of tunes. It also slides easily across carpet and Ellie really enjoys playing with it and is memorized by the lights.

Bright Starts Pretty In Pink My First Cookbook: These soft books have that plastic page(s) that make noise and it keeps Ellie busy forever. It's such a simple toy and she's used it for a few months and still enjoys the noise it makes, the plastic "cookie" to chew, and the tags at the bottom. We take ours everywhere.

Taggies Tag 'n Go Cart Cover: Now that Ellie can sit up on her own, putting her in a shopping cart is a total game changer. She loves to look around and see what's around her. It has made running errands a million times easier. Before I would either wear her at the store or put her entire car seat inside the cart, which didn't leave much room for what we were buying. These covers are awesome to put over the cart (and even high chairs) to keep their toys together, let them put their mouths on the fabric, and keep germs at bay. Plus, you can just throw it in the wash as needed.