The Softest Lemon Pajamas

April 19, 2018

I've always loved button-down pajama sets and I especially love them when I'm nursing.  I like that I can just unbutton the top for nighttime and morning feedings, plus the whole ensemble is way cuter than a ratty pair of shorts and an old tee (a natural default sleeping outfit for a lot of us women).  I recently bought this lemon PJ set and I'm obsessed!  (My friend Kait of CommuniKait shared them recently and I immediately ran to the store to get them.)  They're super soft, true to size (I'm wearing a size Small) and only $19.99!  I've had the gray pair for nearly a year now and love them, but you really can't beat blue and white with some lemons thrown in.

If lemon's aren't your cup of tea, this pink gingham set is really adorable and I'm obsessed with this striped set.  I've also linked to a couple more options below, as well as a striped nightshirt that is calling my name. 

Oh and these are the bistro chairs that are behind me (they fold up which is a great space saver).  We love them and use them all the time.  I also recently got this matching side table that isn't in the picture but it looks great next to our outdoor love seat.  The blue and white garden stool was an antique find but this one is really similar!

Anyone else a big pajama set fan?

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Tips on Refinishing Furniture

April 17, 2018

Y'all know that refinishing furniture is a real passion of mine, so today on Progressive's Life Lanes blog I shared some great tips to help you get started on your own refinishing project.  The first time you tackle this kind of DIY can be a bit overwhelming, so it's always nice to see how other people do it.  Furniture rehabs requires some elbow grease but few things in life are more rewarding than breathing new life into an old piece of furniture.  Head on over to Life Lanes for the full post!

I was paid for the article I wrote for Progressive but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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April Fitness Goals

April 16, 2018

Sorry for the blog silence you guys!  We dealt with a stomach bug so it was a rough 10 days for us over here.  We all got taken down by it and it was awful!  If you saw one of my recent Instagram posts you may have seen what my April fitness goals are.  I'm near my pre-baby weight but my body consistency (belly and butt, specifically) have not snapped back like they did after I had Jack.  The month of March was also full of some pretty poor food choices and I was just feeling really sluggish and bloated by the end of the month.  I've also struggled to fall back in love with running, which makes me sad because running has always been such an integral key to my physical and mental well-being.  

In April I vowed to tackle all of these things, so the first thing I did was sign up to do the free 21 day 8 minute workout challenge that Ashley Keller of Glow Body Personal Training put together.  She was a year behind me at West Point and she's a mom of two young boys and she's also a world-champion triathlete.  She's all about helping women bounce back after baby, but she's also a true athlete which is appealing to me because my fitness goals are more about performance, strength and how I feel, rather than strictly looking good.  I started the 21 day challenge on the 1st, but then got sidelined on day 5 because of the stomach virus.  I missed days 5-10, but I jumped back in the saddle and I'll make up those days I missed at the end of the 21 days.  The challenge consists of 2, 3 or 4 8 minute workouts a day that really target specific body parts that many women struggle with.  The workouts may only be 8 minutes long but they are challenging and so good!  If you're looking for a great way to jumpstart your fitness or if you simply want to try something new consider signing up for her plan!  It's free and available for you to do at any time.  (Once you sign up an email with a link to the PDF will be sent to you.  The workouts are clickable, so just click on the title of each workout and a youtube video will pop up).  I can't say enough good things about it and I'm excited to see what I look and feel like at the end of the program.  I'll share my before and after pics at the end of the challenge.  She also has a 12 week postpartum plan that I haven't done but I have friends that have done it and they all say it's amazing.  (None of this is sponsored at all, I'm just excited about it, can ya tell??)

My other goal this month is to run 20 miles each week.  20 sounds like a daunting number (and it is if you wait to do it all on the weekend like I did last week)...but if you break it up and run daily it's only 2.85 miles a day, or if you decide to run 5 days a week you're doing 4 miles a day.  If you're not quite there yet then make a smaller goal, like covering a mile a day with a run/walk combo.  Or 10 miles in a week.  Any goal, no matter how small, can really help get you focused and moving in the right direction.  I only got 15 miles in the first week because we all got sick, but I was able to get back on the horse for week 2 and ran my 20.  

Oh and here are some of my favorite workout items right now:

- favorite tank: I've had this tank in white and light pink for about 4 months now and just ordered the navy blue color.  I'm not wearing it in the photos above but I wear them at least twice a week.  Cool Racerbacks were my go-to tank for years (and I still wear them frequently) but I like how this one isn't as form fitting and the material is awesome.  For size reference, I'm 5'5" and 130 pounds and wear a size 6.

-favorite sneakers:  I have two pairs of this sneaker and wear them daily for running and the gym.  This pink pair is my gym pair because I want them to stay clean because I think they're so pretty, and the gray pair is my outdoor running/exercise pair.  They're so comfy and lightweight and the best part is that they're only $59.98 right now.  I wear a size 8 in most shoes but always size up to an 8.5 in my New Balance sneakers.

-favorite cropsThese crops are high-rise and feel like you're not wearing anything.  I have 2 pairs and they're awesome.  I bought my normal size (a 6 at lululemon) in my first pair but sized down to a 4 for my second pair because they run a little large.  I run, lift weights and do yoga in them.  They're amazing!  

-favorite sports bra (nursing friendly but not actually a nursing bra):  I mentioned this bra in this post about nursing bras a few weeks back, and I've been wearing it non-stop since I bought it.  Very supportive and comfy!

-favorite sports bra for when you need to carry your phone (not nursing friendly):  I added this bra to my sports bra collection a couple months ago and it's great because it has pockets.  I also still have two old bras that are really similar from when it first came out about 6 years ago.  This kind of bra (with pockets) is the only bra I run in when I know I won't need to nurse.  I carry my phone in one of the two pockets and it works really well.   

Do you have any current fitness goals?  I love talking about running and workout out and would love to help cheer you on if you need a little encouragement our have any questions!
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Adventures in Babywearing: Caroline Edition

April 2, 2018

Just about 2 years ago I wrote a post about babywearing and shared my favorite wraps/carriers for wearing Jack (the Baby K'Tan Breeze was my favorite with him, hands down).  I wore it all the time and absolutely loved it, and more importantly, he loved it.  I've recently gotten some questions about why I now use a different carrier than I did back then so I figured I'd write a post about it!  

Jack was such an easy baby compared to Caroline and she completely threw me for a loop when she hated being worn for the first 3+ months of her life.  Jack loved it from the very beginning and I could always count on it to calm him down when he was fussy.  Caroline was exactly the opposite and would cry while not being worn and then would cry even harder when I'd try to wear her.  It was really difficult, to say the least, especially since this time around I had an energetic toddler to keep up with and I really needed my hands free.

I figured the K'Tan would be a big hit again, so I even bought a second one before she was born.  I was wrong.  She hated the thing and would fight it, even as a newborn.  I tried the Solly (which Jack also liked but it just takes way too long to put on so I didn't use it often) and she hated that too.  Next I tried the Wildbird ring sling, which I didn't have with Jack so was anxious to try it out with Caroline.  Turns out, she wasn't a fan of that either, but she tolerated it more than the other soft wraps.

I tried the Ergobaby 360 with her facing me and she was not happy about that either.  I finally figured out that the big problem was that Caroline liked to face forward...something she wasn't ready for physically yet.  I finally broke down and tried it a bit before the "recommended age." She loved it and it made her happier and quieter than she had ever been before.  After that discovery the Ergo (facing forward) became my go-to because it was the only way she was happy while being worn.  I had the Ergo with Jack but didn't use it all that often because he didn't like to face forward and we got into such a great groove with the K'Tan.  It was a lifesaver with Caroline though!  It's not my go-to all the time now but we use it on our adventures when I know I'll likely have to bend over to help Jack on rocks or pick him up or when I want a little more structure.  It's great for hiking and exploring the rocky beach near our house.

Caroline finally decided she liked the Wildbird ring sling when she was about 4 and a half months old.  Thank goodness!  I love that thing and how simple it is.  It's the fastest carrier to put on (once you get the hang of it) and it packs into a small ball so it's great for shoving into the diaper bag or throwing under the stroller.  I use it most of the time now.  It's especially helpful when we go from the car to the gym/preschool because it's so quick to put on.  It would be a waste of time to use a carrier that takes a while to put on because I take her out as soon as I drop them off in their their classrooms.  I've learned to do the standard carry and two additional ones, so it's pretty versatile too.  Plus it's so pretty and there are so many color options.  We own two of the single-layer solids (the cheapest version) and we love them, especially for our climate here in Hawaii.   

It's crazy how different every baby is, even when they're related.  Just another way they keep us parents on our toes, I guess.  I'm so glad we finally found what works for us, even if it did take lots of trial and error!  If you have any babywearing questions or stories about your experience I'd love to hear them!  

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Favorites at J.Crew and J.Crew Factory

March 28, 2018

shorts | t-shirt | sandals (I love these because they're leather but made to get wet!  Perfect for adventures with kids.) | ring sling | sunglasses (my all-time favorite...I've owned these since 2012)

shirt | similar shorts | picnic blanket

After having 2 babies in 2 years and moving to a place with an endless summer I desperately needed a bit of a wardrobe refresh.  Most of my summer clothes are pretty old at this point...I'm talking 7 or so years old from when I lived in Hawaii last time.  I try to shop at different places, and certainly have my fair share of clothes from Old Navy and Target (where I actually just bought this striped t-shirt that I'm obsessed with because it's so soft and perfect and only $5), but I always seem to come back to J.Crew Factory and J.Crew because I love the style and fit and know that the quality is good.  I've rounded up some of my favorite J.Crew and J.Crew Factory items that I've purchased lately (I'm wearing something on the list in all the photos above) or currently have my eye on.  They're sure to be a great addition to your spring and summer wardrobe!

1.  I've had these denim shorts for a few weeks and really like them.  They're nice and stretchy but don't stretch out and get baggy like lots of shorts do.  I'm wearing them in the second photo above!  I'm not into lots of distressing which seems to be the trend right now so these are perfect. 

2.  I wore this scallop hemmed skirt to church last Sunday (see first photo above) and love how it fits.  Plus it has pockets!

3.  I love the scalloped neckline of this top so much that I bought it in pink and in cream.  The sleeves are kind of in between 3/4 length and long sleeve which is odd but it's so cute that I don't mind.

4.  I just ordered these striped shorts and they should arrive today.  They're blue and white which is my favorite type of stripe and I can't wait to try them out!

5.  I should also be receiving this striped dress today.  I don't normally go for maxis but something about this called my name.  Should be a nice classic that will work for many seasons.

6.  I'm still nursing so all dresses must be nursing friendly if I want to wear them right now.  I have this dress in white and black and loved this linen striped version so much.  This should arrive today as well.

7.  I love olive colored pants but don't own any shorts in this color yet.  These olive shorts are the same cut as the striped pair above and look like they'll be comfy but not overly casual.  These should also be in the order I receive today.  

8.  Blue and white stripes...I know what I like and stick with it!  This striped skirt would be cute paired with a t-shirt, a blouse or a button down.  I ordered this too.

9.  Well in the time it took me to create this collage (Monday) and then write the post (Tuesday) they quit selling this pair of sunglasses!  Dang I should have bought them because I love the color and style.  They must have been super popular!  This pair is similar though.

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Favorite Nursing Bras and Tanks

March 21, 2018

Breastfeeding is such a rewarding experience but it certainly limits you in the bra and clothing department.  Right after having a baby I get super engorged and look like Dolly Parten for about 2 months...something I am not used to because I'm typically an A cup.  After a few months my milk evens out and I'm back to normal size, aside from the nights when I get a little engorged because Caroline decides to sleep well.  

I found my favorite everyday nursing bra back when I was breastfeeding Jack, and since then I have found an amazing nursing tank, 2 great nighttime bras, and a sports bra that isn't technically a nursing bra but it works as one and is very supportive.  I know that a lot of women struggle to find nursing bras and tanks that they are satisfied with, so I thought I'd share my favorites here today.  I don't like to spend a lot of money on mine so these are all $25.99 or less.
1. Favorite Everyday Bra.  I've loved this seamless bra for over 2 years because it's super comfy, has no underwire and has the perfect amount of padding.  I'll admit that I even wore it after I weaned Jack because I liked it so much.  I have two in tan and one in black.  It's a great price too (under $20)!  I wear a size Small in this bra

2. Favorite Nursing Tank.  I love this tank because you don't have to wear a bra with it because it has padded cups.  It's nice and slimming and doesn't have that uncomfortable elastic built-in-bra-thing that most tanks seem to have.  I wear this more often than my everyday bra because I love that my belly is covered when I have to feed Caroline on the go.  Oh and another great feature is that you can crisscross the straps in the back, so it works if you wear a normal shirt or a racerback tank.  I own two white ones and one gray one...they're that good!  I wear a size Small in this tank.

3. Favorite Nighttime Bra.  I like a simple, comfortable bra for nighttime and I alternate between two of them.  I like this one because it snaps open and closed like a regular nursing bra, and it's actually really pretty, as far as nursing bras go.  

4.  Other Favorite Nighttime Bra.  I also use this Gilligan & O'Malley one that it the more standard seamless pullover nighttime bra.  Unfortunately this bra doesn't seem to be available anymore, but this bra looks like it's almost exactly the same.  I've tried the cotton pullover bras and ripped one in the middle way too easily so I wasn't a huge fan.  These two that I use now are great though.  Oh and my favorite brand of nursing pads (I leak a lot) is the Target brand.  They're cheaper than the other kinds and they seem less bulky than the Lansinoh ones.  I've tried the reusable Bamboobies but I leak right through them and they make my boobs feel kind of swampy, if that makes any sense. 

5. Favorite Sports Bra.  I ordered this sports bra (it's on Amazon Prime!) a couple weeks ago and really love it.  (It's an affordable dupe for this sports bra I've heard lots of people rave about.)  It has velcro on the straps so you're able to pull the strap out and nurse easily.  It took me a couple wears to figure out the best way to get the strap back in without getting the velcro caught on the hole, so I fold the strap over on itself and then insert it.  Works like a charm!  And this bra is super supportive and goes by cup size so you can get the size you need.  As I mentioned above, I'm an A cup but they don't make that size in this bra so I have the 34B and it works perfectly for me.  I wear this every time I go to the gym and it's great for running too.  I also have two of this bra but it's more for low impact stuff like yoga or bumming around the house.  The little ring on the back squeaks a bit though, which is kind of annoying!

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Favorite DC Area Thrift Stores & Places for Vintage Finds

March 19, 2018
I lived in the DC area for 3 years from 2013 to 2016.  When I lived in Arlington, VA (Clarendon, to be exact for those of you familiar with the area) I had terrible luck thrifting.  I probably wasn't looking in the right places, I was working long hours at the Pentagon so didn't have much free time to hunt thrift stores driving was a nightmare so I walked or rode the metro everywhere.  Then when I left the Active Duty Army Tom and I moved to Columbia, MD (about 30 minutes north of DC) and my thrifting luck was nothing short of incredible.  My finds were so amazing that I still get emails about every 3 months from readers and Instagram followers asking about my favorite places to thrift in the DC area.  I've mentioned in random posts where I liked to go, but I never put together a dedicated post on the subject, so here we go!  

I'll caveat all of this by saying thrifting is always hit or miss.  I made the rounds to the local thrift stores once or twice a week when we lived in Maryland and I struck out the majority of the time.  Monday is my favorite day to thrift because most people get rid of stuff over the weekends and the new items haven't been picked over yet.  I left empty-handed more often than not, but occasionally I'd strike gold and that made all the unsuccessful trips totally worth it. 

Oh and another thing, DC has tons of antique/flea markets on the weekends...Eastern Market, Georgetown, etc. but I never had good luck because I found things to be overpriced and so many people go to these events!  I'm cheap when it comes to thrifting, so I prefer to have to do the hard work myself most of the time, rather than have it all laid out in front of me (Lucketts is the exception, and I'll get to that below).

Ok and one final note...I linked to lots of old blog posts below because they're about finding and fixing up some of my favorite thrift store gems.  My formatting, picture taking and collage making skills weren't the best in some of them, but I hope you enjoy the stroll down memory lane!

1. Columbia, MD Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  



I discovered this store about a year into living in Columbia but I made up for lost time quickly.  It's a massive warehouse full of furniture and salvaged things like bathtubs, vanities, light fixtures and unneeded construction materials.  A lot of the stuff is pretty junky or dated but I found some true treasures there (all required a lot of work though).  In just a few months I found a tall faux bamboo dresser (see post on finding it here and DIY post here), a low faux bamboo dresser (see DIY here), a faux bamboo vanity (see my post on finding it here and the DIY post here), and this campaign dresser for $25.  I don't think I spent more than $100 on anything.

2. Salvation Army in Laurel, MD.



Where ever I am in the world I always seem to have better luck at Salvation Army stores than at Goodwill stores.  Not sure why that is but it seems to be the trend.  At this Salvation Army I found a campaign dresser and hutch for $100 (see DIY post here), this campaign nightstand for $39 (I never painted it but think I will eventually), this pair of faux bamboo nesting side tables (never painted these either but I should), a brass bar cart, and this faux bamboo bench.  At the Goodwill in Columbia (the one on Snowden River Parkway) the only thing I ever found was a tall skinny campaign dresser for $40.  I passed on it initially but went back just an hour later to buy it and someone else had already taken it home.  I blogged (melodramatically) about the loss here.  Still makes me sad thinking about it! 

3.  Laurel Thrift Center.  



This is where I found the set of 7 Chinese Chippendale dining chairs that have been in my dining room for a few years now.  I paid $39.95 total and then found out they were by Ballard and retail at about $250 a piece.  They required a lot of work but they look amazing in our home!  I blogged about finding them here and the DIY rehab post is here.  At the Laurel Thrift Center I also found our full set of blue willow china, which we use daily.  They also offer a 25% military discount every day which is amazing! 

4. Goodwill in Jessup, MD. 



I didn't have much luck here but I did find this faux bamboo glass and brass coffee table.  I painted the base white, although this was one of my early DIY projects and I didn't really know what I was doing so I didn't do a fantastic job.  I haven't really been able to use it because Jack would kill himself on it, but maybe one day we will get the chance.  Or maybe I'll sell it.  Who knows.  For now it's crammed into our garage with all the other things we can't fit into our current apartment.

5. Lucketts.  

vintage dress from Lucketts

I wrote a big ole post on Lucketts a few years ago that you can find here.  Lucketts is out in the country in Leesburg, VA and when it's warm out they have big weekends with lots of flea market vendors, a design house, a 3 story house with many fantastic booths, food trucks and even music sometimes too.  Their spring market is a massive event in May and they have a fun Christmas weekend too.  Honestly even if you don't buy anything it's totally worth the hour or so it takes to get there.  I always had so much fun!  I found the brass animal head seen in this post, this bar cart (see DIY here), this vintage dress I wore to a wedding (turns out I was like 2 weeks pregnant with Jack in these photos but didn't know it yet!), as well as countless other little things.  Some things are priced on the high side but many things are very reasonably priced.  

6. Look Again Resale Shop in Alexandria, VA.



I only went to this thrift store once but struck gold that day so I have to include it in the list.  I found this set of 7 vintage Greek key dining chairs for $120 (it included a table that I left behind) that I later found for sale on 1st Dibs for $6,750.  You can see my post about finding them here and then my DIY rehab of them here.

7.  Miss Pixie's.

I never actually bought anything from this fun shop in DC, but gosh I always had such a good time browsing.  It kind of has a cult following so it's really popular but they have some amazing vintage things and prices are pretty good.  They only buy their items at auctions and they end up with some really great and funky pieces.  The neighborhood Miss Pixie's is in is really fun too, so it's definitely worth a visit!  

Well I hope this was a helpful post for you DC area folks!  If you happen to find any treasures after visiting any of these stores please let me know!  I always get so excited about great thrift store finds even if I'm not the one who found something :)

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