Designing a Baby Room on a Budget

November 19, 2015

I recently wrote an article for USAA about designing a nursery on a budget.  The article is finally live over on their website, so click here to see a few photos of Jack's nursery and to get my 8 tips on creating a beautiful yet budget-friendly space for your own little bundle of joy!

Note: Photos courtesy of USAA and taken by Sarah Bradshaw.

post signature

I'd Like to Introduce...

November 16, 2015

Hi everyone!  I'd like to introduce you all to our sweet baby boy, Jackson Robert Vail!  He made his arrival at 7:25 AM on November 2, 2015 and he has completely stolen my heart.  At birth he weighed 8 pounds 15 ounces, was 20.5 inches long, and came with a whole headful of hair!  He is the sweetest baby and our hearts are overflowing with love and happiness.  

1 week old.

I'll be taking some time off of the blog so that I have more time to soak up baby snuggles, but I will continue to post on Instagram so I'd love for you to join me there!  Thanks for understanding!

post signature

Maternity Workout Attire Favorites

November 11, 2015
During my pregnancy I had quite a few questions on Instagram about what I wore for workout attire.  I tried to sweat at least 5 times a week throughout my pregnancy, so having comfortable workout clothes was extremely important to me.  It was also important to me to spend as little money as possible on maternity clothes, so I tried to stretch my normal wardrobe as much as I could.  Thankfully, I had lots and lots (and lots) of workout clothes already, so once I figured out what was long enough and what would stretch well (without stretching it out) I just stuck to those key pieces.  All of those pieces happen to be lululemon.  

I'll be honest...I fell in love with lululemon back in 2011 after my late husband was killed in Afghanistan.  He was killed in June, and I came back from Afghanistan as soon as it happened.  I spent about 2 months at home with my family, and then I finally went back to Hawaii, which was where I had been assigned before deploying.  I was completely lonely and heartbroken, so I signed up for my first marathon and ran all the time for therapy.  When that wasn't enough I'd go to the mall and buy workout clothes at lululemon.  Retail therapy is never really a great idea, but it did help me feel a little happier, and now I have a great collection of workout clothes that will probably last me for the next 20 years.  To this day I will not run in anything else.  It's all a comfort thing, and I'm glad I finally found the brand that won't give me a single wedgie over the course of a 26.2 miles.  It's pricy, but their clothes last forever and fit well.  All of that being are the key pieces that have kept me active and fairly cute throughout my pregnancy.  Some of the pieces have changed a bit since I bought them a few years ago, but most of their designs that I love have stayed the same.  When I'm not pregnant I'm normally as size 2 or 4 at J.Crew and other places, but at lululemon I wear a 6.  I've kept wearing my size 6 workout clothes and they have held up remarkably well and are still very comfortable.  Probably too comfortable because Tom jokes that all I wear now is workout clothes. 

13 weeks pregnant after running a half marathon.  Wearing a Cool Racerback Tank, Swiftly Tech Half Zip and Pacesetter Skirt (I could only wear the skirt during the first half of my pregnancy). 

23 weeks pregnant wearing a Cool Racerback Tank.  Skirt is really old and they don't sell anything similar right now.  

26 weeks pregnant wearing a Cool Racerback Tank.

28 weeks pregnant wearing a Cool Racerback Tank under the "Team Del" shirt, and Ebb and Flow Crops.

30 weeks pregnant wearing a Cool Racerback Tank. 

32 weeks pregnant wearing a Cool Racerback Tank.

34 weeks pregnant wearing a Cool Racerback Tank (underneath), top layer made of "rulu" and Ebb and Flow Crops.

36 weeks pregnant wearing a Cool Racerback Tank, Swiftly Tech 1/2 Zip tied around my waist and Ebb and Flow Crops.

37 weeks pregnant wearing a Cool Racerback Tank and Wunder Under Crops (with astro waistband which isn't made anymore unfortunately).
38 weeks pregnant wearing a Cool Racerback Tank and Ebb and Flow Crops.


I am not very blessed when it comes to cup size.  I don't mind though because it makes running more comfortable, but even as my breasts have gotten larger with pregnancy I still haven't bought bigger bras.  I am still wearing the Energy Bra and the Flow Y Bra.


In almost every weekly workout recap post photo (above) I was wearing a Cool Racerback Tank.  They are long and stretchy and have been amazing while pregnant.  I never even wore a belly brace because I felt that these provided enough support...yet they aren't too tight or constricting.  They are still holding their original shape and I don't think my big pregnant belly has stretched them out at all.  

As far as top layers go, any of their tops that are long and made of "rulu" will work well.  I have about 4 that have been amazing as the weather has gotten cooler.  I also wore my Swiftly Tech 1/2 Zip often.


Ebb and Flow Crops were a life saver, although they don't make them anymore.  Their current version of these pants is called the In The Flow Crop II.  The Zone In Crop is built in a similar fashion with compressive fabric and a high waist that won't dig in.  That's the key to comfort as your belly gets bigger and bigger!  I have found that these are great for running in even though they are technically for yoga.

Wunder Under Crops or Pants that are either the hi-rise or roll down versions are extremely comfortable and they keep your belly supported.  I have 2 pairs that have been great for lower impact workouts like yoga, weight lifting and the elliptical.  They used to make Wunder Unders with a great overlapping 2 piece waistband that they called the "Astro Wunder Unders," but unfortunately they don't make it anymore.  If you can get your hands on a pair of used ones (check eBay) though then you should definitely go for it.  I have 2 pairs and have pretty much lived in them while working out and lounging around.

Lounge Shorts

These shorts from H&M are not maternity but I bought them while pregnant and they are very comfortable because of the big fold over waistband.  I ran in them a few times but they are more for yoga or lounging around...I wear them mostly for lounging.  They are only $9.99 too!

I'm sure there are many different brands that have great maternity workout attire.  The items listed above are simply the pieces that have gotten me through these 9+ long months.  I hope it helps and as always, please let me know if you have any questions!

post signature

The Minimalist's Guide to Maternity Clothes

November 4, 2015
I was a bit of a minimalist when it came to maternity clothes.  I fully embraced them because they were way more comfortable than normal clothes, but I simply didn't want to spend a ton of money on clothes I'd only wear for a few months.  I was lucky because most of my pregnancy (2nd and 3rd trimesters) was during the summer and early fall, so I was able to wear simple shorts and tank tops almost every day.  As the weather got colder I transitioned to a few pairs of pants and leggings and threw a non-maternity cardigan over my maternity tank tops.  I ended up creating a bit of a "capsule" wardrobe, you might say (since apparently that term is all the rage right now), and only had a few other dresses that were brightly colored or patterned that were for special events.  I also continued to wear my looser and longer non-maternity clothing for as long as I could. 

Here are the maternity clothes that have gotten me through my pregnancy that are sure to help get you through yours.  Just add a few accessories and layer for warmth as needed, and you're good to go!

White Jean Shorts.  These shorts are from Gap and have an inset/side panel.  I much preferred the inset panels to the full belly panel, even in my third trimester.  I'm sure it's a personal preference and body shape kind of thing.  I carried really high so I felt that the full belly panels didn't go quite high enough and they made an awkward and uncomfortable line around the middle of my belly.

Blue Jean Shorts.  I had a cuffed pair of Old Navy jean shorts with the inset/side panels and I wore them almost every day in the summer.  They were extremely comfy.  They aren't selling the dark wash pair that I had anymore, but this gray pair is really cute.

White Jeans.  I got my white jeans from Gap and I LOVED them.  I wore them all the time and they were really perfect for spring, summer and early fall.  They had the inset panel too, which I loved.  Gap isn't selling white maternity jeans right now, but this pair in black should fit about the same way that my beloved white jeans did.

Blue Jeans.  This was one of my very first maternity clothes purchases because I was so excited to be pregnant.  I got them at Old Navy and wore them frequently but as I got larger and larger I found that the full panel cut into my belly.  If you carry low these should be great for you.  I had the skinny jean version because I love skinny jeans and didn't want pregnancy to prevent me from wearing them.

Olive Green Slim-Fit Pants.  I got these in the middle of summer at H&M and they were on sale for $15 because they must have been from the previous season.  The MAMA Slim-fit Pants are great and very cute.  They aren't selling an olive green version right now, but the blue and black pairs are adorable.

2 Cotton Tank Dresses.  I got these at Target and wore them often in the summer and continued wearing them in the fall with a cardigan on top.  This is the fall version of the same dress (it has 3/4 sleeves) and it looks super comfy.

6 Cotton Tank Tops.   I purchased white/blue striped, white, and black tanks from H&M.  They are form fitting and a little stretchy with no ruching.  I loved these, especially during my second trimester which was during the summertime.  I purchased gray, gray/white striped, and white tanks from Gap.  I really like the Pure Body line from Gap.  They are cotton, are very comfortable and they are  flattering with the ruching on the side.  I wore these all summer and continued wearing them in the fall because they are a bit longer and are good for layering.

1 White T-Shirt.  It's from the Pure Body line at Gap and has ruching on the side which is nice.

Striped Blue and White Sweater.   This sweater from H&M is really comfortable and I like the nautical look to it.  I'm a sucker for stripes so this was one of my favorite maternity pieces.

Flowy Button Down Tunic.  I had a light blue sleeveless button down tunic from H&M, but I think this chambray one would be adorable for fall and winter.

Flowy Patterned Dress.  I purchased a flowy patterned dress from H&M and this was great for when I didn't want to wear anything that was too body hugging.  Mine was navy with white feathers on it, but it's the exact same cut as this cute geometric one

Nude Support Cami.  This was from Gap and I would wear it under shirts that were on the sheer side, or if I needed some length under a shorter top once my belly got really big.  It also was a good way to flatten my belly button a little when I didn't want it to be as protrusive...mine popped really early so I just decided to embrace it and didn't ever really try to hide it.  Such an odd part of pregnancy!

Stretchy White Cami.  As with the nude cami, I wore this under sheer or too-short shirts.  Mine was from Target and it fit me best in my 3rd trimester once I filled out a bit.

I did buy a few things at Motherhood Maternity but I found that the leggings and dresses were see-through, the maxi skirts and maxi dresses make me look weird, and even the small tank tops were too big.  I haven't really worn any of these items so skip Motherhood and head to Gap, H&M, Old Navy or Target instead.  Trust me.  

As always, please let me know if you have any questions!

post signature

Favorite Pregnancy Books

October 28, 2015

Every woman is different and every pregnancy is different.  I'm sure that every woman who has given birth has her own unique list of must-read pregnancy books, and today I'm sharing mine.  Below are my four favorite pregnancy/child rearing books that I've turned to time and time again during this 40 week journey:

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.  I couldn't put this book down.  If you plan on breastfeeding then you need to read this book...and if you're on the fence about it then you should read it too because learning about how beneficial breastfeeding is to both momma and baby is simply amazing.  It's published by La Leche League and it provides an amazing amount of information.  I have always planned on breastfeeding my children, but reading this book truly opened my eyes to how rewarding and beneficial breastfeeding is.  I know that I will turn to this book to answer any breastfeeding questions I have once my baby is born.

Bringing Up Bebe.  I know this book is really trendy right now, but it actually has some amazing points and is a really quick read.  My husband and I went to Paris when I was 18 weeks pregnant and we observed firsthand that French children truly are much better behaved than most American children, and the philosophies of French parenting seem to create less stressed parents as well as happier, more disciplined children.  All good things if you ask me!  I'm going to make my husband read this and my mom even wants to read it too.  I really can't say enough good things about it!

What to Expect When You're Expecting.  This book gets on my nerves a little bit because it uses cutesy language and kind of talks to you like you're a child, but it does provide some great week by week information when it comes to pregnancy.  I'm fascinated by the changes that occur each week  to both mother and baby, and this book does a good job of breaking things down week by week.

Fit & Healthy Pregnancy.  To be honest, this is the book that I picked up the least until my 3rd trimester.  I understand that listening to my body is the most important thing, so that's what I've done throughout the pregnancy.  When I'm on a run and need to take a walk break, I take a walk break.  What I really appreciate is that this book is geared towards women who are endurance athletes and/or have a high level of fitness.  Many of the pregnancy apps and What to Expect When You're Expecting assume that you're going to take it really easy while you're pregnant (which is totally fine), so this book made me feel better about maintaining a higher level of fitness while going through my pregnancy.  Make sure you get this book if you plan on staying really active while you're pregnant!

I hope this list helps those of you who are pregnant right now or plan to get pregnant in the near future!  By no means is this a comprehensive list and I'm sure there are lots of other great pregnancy books out there.  As I said at the beginning of the post, these are just the books that I've read that I found useful.  If you've already had babies, what books did you find helpful while you were pregnant?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

post signature

Weekly Workout Recap

October 26, 2015
Another week down, and I'm officially 39 weeks pregnant today!  I can't believe that baby Vail is due in 7 days.  Where has the time gone?

Last week I actually had a pretty decent week workout-wise.  I made it a point to get moving almost every day, and I have learned to thoroughly enjoy going on walks.

Baby boy is still sitting pretty high, although I think he has dropped a tiny bit.  I'm still not even really having any sort of contraction, so I don't think he or my body have gotten the message that a birth should be happening soon.  Every once in a while he will press on a nerve that shoots down the inside of my left leg, which almost makes it collapse.  This normally only happens when I'm standing still while cooking or in the shower and it really hurts!

Below is a recap of my workouts while I was 38 weeks pregnant.

38 weeks pregnant.

Monday, 10/19.  3.61 miles in 20 minutes on recumbent bike.  Belly was in the way so it was really awkward.  After the bike I thought I'd try to run on the treadmill but that didn't go very well.  I ended up walking .3 miles in 5 minutes.  After the failed treadmill workout I hopped on the elliptical and did 1.1 miles in 15 minutes on a high resistance and incline.  I followed up the cardio exercise with 20 minutes of full body dumbbell exercises.  I felt really good and strong while lifting weights!

Wednesday, 10/21.  2.15 miles in 30 minutes on elliptical.  21 minutes of weight lifting using machines rather than dumbbells.  Felt good to switch it up a little.

Thursday, 10/22.  3.2 mile walk in 61 minutes.  Did 2 sets of 20 lunges up the hill.

Saturday, 10/24.  2.5 mile walk in 57 minutes.  Met Tom at the lake after his run and we walked around together.  The leaves were all changing and it was a beautiful day!

Sunday, 10/25.  3.3 mile walk in 73 minutes.  Tom and I walked the lake in the morning.  It was kind of cloudy but felt like a nice fall day and wasn't too chilly.

We will see how workouts go this next week.  At this point being active is the only thing that is keeping me sane during this waiting game!  

post signature

On My Mind...Lately

October 23, 2015
Happy Friday!  Can you believe it's almost the end of October?  Where has this month gone?  I haven't gotten into the Halloween mood at all because I'm so preoccupied with the baby in my belly.  I have eaten too much candy corn though, so that counts, right?  Here are the things that have caught my eye and been on my mind this past week.  I hope you all have a great weekend!

1.  Kate Spade Furniture!  

Did you see that Kate Spade just came out with a furniture line?  It's so feminine and fun...and also insanely expensive.  Never in a million years would I be able to afford anything, but how adorable is this desk?  I can imagine there will be plenty of furniture hacks based off of this desk very soon!

2.  Autumn Apple Sangria.

Now that I only have approximately 1 week left of pregnancy (gosh I hope I don't have to go all the way to 42 weeks...ugh), I'm getting really excited to have a nice, fall, alcoholic beverage.  This autumn apple sangria by Horses & Heels looks delicious and perfect for a fall day.

3.  Butternut Squash-Parsnip Soup.

'Tis the season of butternut squash!  This butternut squash-parsnip soup from Southern Living looks like it would be the perfect meal on a chilly fall or winter day.

4.  Jack Rogers "Marianne" Booties.

I'm not in the market for new boots right now, but these booties by Jack Rogers are darling with their pretty scalloped trim.

5.  Absolutely Beautiful Things.

I'm a sucker for a pretty design book, and I'd love to add Absolutely Beautiful Things by Anna Spiro to my collection.  It's so colorful and fun and I'm sure it would look amazing on a bookshelf or a coffee table!

Need some more Life with a Dash of Whimsy in your life?  I'd love for you to join me on InstagramPinterestFacebook and Twitter!

post signature