An Uncomplicated Life Blog: March 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

Mommy Monday: Ten Juicy Questions

If you read any other blogs, especially of other women bloggers who are preggo, then you've likely seen (or a variation of) this post before. It's a fun way to over-share details of your pregnancy. I took the liberty to edit it down to ten questions, and kept the answers as honest and real as possible.

Now, I'm EXTREMELY excited about becoming a mommy. I CANNOT WAIT to hold this little dude in my arms! And there are moments of pregnancy that are indeed pretty awe-inspiring, like feeling the first movements, seeing the baby on the ultrasound for the first time, and simply knowing that your body is just doing this, without you having to think about it - it's just GROWING a human. Whoasies.

BUT LET ME BE PERFECTLY CLEAR, dear readers: I absolutely, positively, cannot stand being pregnant! It is an evil that must be endured for a fantastic end result. It's been a relief to bond with other mama's who feel the same why I do and understand that you don't have to love the means to love the end. And pregnancy is a mean means, know what I mean?

So, in the spirit of full disclosure, read on to be amused by my serious discomfort and disdain for pregnancy.

Ten Juicy and Personal Pregnancy Questions: 30 Weeks Preggo

Symptoms: Massive heartburn! Just terrible heartburn: wake-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-breathing-fire-and-drooling-acid-on-pillowcase-level heartburn. Indigestion that keeps my appetite at bay (I have no cravings as I wasn't an emotional eater to begin with, and now it's simply a miracle to eat a full meal), massively enlarges breasts (up five cup sizes… I mean, really?! They officially no longer make bra's in my 32 inch band with the cup size I need. Ladies with smaller chests, know that you won the genetic lottery), leaky nipples (FUN!), round ligament pain while vigorously exercising, constant achy hips as they widen for birth (see photo below...), waddling, backaches, more backaches and much more heartburn. And now in my third trimester, a return of nausea! You know, because we just missed each other so much.

Exercise: Hell yes! Five to seven times/week. This is the ONLY thing keeping me sane at this point in my life. I’m doing a mix of yoga (regular vinyasa flow with modifications, not actual prenatal classes), ballet barre classes, power walking in the beautiful Dallas spring weather, and circuit training/weight lifting classes. I did Insanity training through 25 weeks, but those days are now on hold until baby boy gets served his eviction notice from my body in early June. Due to the shape I was in before getting pregnant, I’ve been able to keep up with just about everything, and I’m SO unbelievably thankful for that!

New this week: We attended our first birth class this past weekend! Our midwives ask all mothers and husbands to participate in The Bradly Method to learn the ins and outs to natural births. This is an EIGHT WEEK class. I feel like I could be a certified midwife after this…

What I'm missing: Hardcore interval training – I'm talking music TURNT UP and balls-to-the-f*$&ing-walling it exercise. My reduced lung capacity and massive, "straight out" baby bump don’t remotely allow for this. I miss the endorphins you feel after such a workout; running sprints and 8-10 mile runs; sushi; beer and wine; walking up a flight of stairs without becoming entirely breathless; non-maternity jeans (why do women like maternity jeans?! They slip down your bum and don’t you miss buttoning your pants like a normal adult?! Also, the belly on these things is so friggin itchy, and it’s only getting worse as Texas heats up. I’m a big NO on maternity jeans, but I know I’m in the minority on that one).

Wedding Rings On/Off:  On – I’ve been so lucky to have zero swelling anywhere. Heyoooo, a pregnancy symptom I don’t actually suffer from, there’s a change! Wootwoot!

Belly button in/out: Out – but only ¾ out! The bottom hasn’t fully popped yet. It’s been this way since about 21 weeks. Lean muscular tummy + growing baby = instabellybuttonpoppage

Dr. visit: We went to our midwives at 27 weeks (last monthly appointment – we’ll begin the every two week visits this month!) and he was measuring at almost 29 weeks, so he’s sizing two weeks ahead of schedule. He had been sizing a week behind my official due date, but I started to take an iron supplement for pregnancy-induced anemia (that's a REAL treat, let me tell you), and he’s done quite well for himself with all the necessary iron. My blood pressure was great and my heartbeat was 52 while his was 148, I DON’T have gestational diabetes, and I was given a high-five for my healthy eating as demonstrated by my food log. Bam! Take THAT to yo face, preggo symptoms!

My mood: So, sans-baby, I’m the least emotional woman you have or haven’t met. With this little bugger, I don’t think I’ve made it through one movie without crying. In fact, I even cried in the most recent Hunger Games movie. (When JLaw was screaming after Prim?! Y'all. Seriously!)

On the left, I'm 3 weeks pregnant and had just finished a half marathon (with a PR!). On the right, I'm 30 weeks pregnant, and had just finished dinner. The shorts are maxed out with my new birthin' hips and I couldn't even attempt the pre/early preggo sports bra. What a difference a "0" makes!

Weight gain: 17 lbs. I’m going to try to make it to the 25 pound mark for total weight gain, so we'll see if I can get there. (25 pounds is the minimum standard recommendation for women who started their pregnancies off at a healthy BMI in traditional American medicine.) I’ve found that I need to eat - at every meal - to the point of being UNCOMFORTABLY full to gain just one pound in a week. 

I’m trying, but I also believe that your body will do what it needs to do if you're smart enough to listen to it. As long as baby boy is healthy and my midwives aren’t concerned, then to hell with conventional weight gain amounts. My midwives don’t hand out a “target number” like OBGYN's do, but instead want their women to focus on her and baby’s health, and that’s exactly what I’m doing with my diet. You’ll find zero processed/fast foods (you could not PAY ME to eat McDonalds) and minimal sugar consumption in my diet (no cakes, cupcakes or cookie binge eating here), so I guess I’m not surprised that my weight gain has been lowwwww and slowwwww. Kinda like Southern BBQ, which went down pretty good last week. Mmmm, pulled pork...

Stretch marks: NONE! And seriously hoping it stays that way. I hear that if you haven’t developed them by around 25 weeks, you’re not likely to develop the “all over the belly red marks” that I was dumb enough to google and develop nightmares over. Also, my mom didn’t get them with her babies; hoping I got handed down those great genes. My weight gain is also minimal, so that’s working in my favor, as is my age (still in my 20’s - ohwhutup collagen, thanks for working for me!) I’m feeling good about this! C’mon skin, we got it, we got it, hang with me for 10 more weeks...

Friday, March 28, 2014

High Five for Friday!

You know what’s so great about these High Five for Friday posts? It gets you looking back at your week for all the good stuff that happened. Even if, when I sit down to write these Friday posts, I think, “Meh, it was a mediocre week…” after writing these posts I get to thinking, “Dang! This week was pretty great!”

If you’re in a place in your life where you need a little extra positivity, and aren’t we all, I really suggest taking a few moments out of your day at the end of the week to look back and find some things that you’re thankful for, that made you smile, or just generally made you a happier camper. It REALLY changes your perspective on the whole week and gets you in the habit of looking for the good things in your life.

And now that my sermon has concluded, here are my five bestest moments of the last week in March:

1) I posted this about the importance of yoga in general, and how I was using my practice to get me ready for my planned natural birth. I was absolutely, positively OVERWHELMED by the fantastic response from you all! I’ve been getting emails and messages of encouragement all week long; and outside of the “birth realm” I’ve had numerous conversations with folks looking to start their own yoga practice, and the best way for them to do that. The outcomes of this post will leave me smiling for WEEKS to come, and I have all of you to thank for that! (You can also see some of my poses circulating on my Pinterest if you happen to be a Pinner)

2    2) MY SISTER IS IN TOWN!!! She lives in NYC and I’m down here in Dallas, so the obvious choice was for her to come to the warm, sunny South while NYC still gets its spring act together. While we won’t be able to stay up late drinking wine for this particular visit, we have some fun activities planned for the weekend!

3    3) Speaking of fun activities… She’s doing our maternity shoot this weekend! (See, there was a reason for the time consuming mani/pedi yesterday - and also the BLUE toes for the baby BOY shoot!) I’m not one for a photo-montage of bare belly pics and the “looking longing and lovingly into the eyes of your partner while everyone cups your belly” shots (ya know, with like, mist in the background. I mean… whoa) She has her own photography business, which you should check out, and also did a bombdotcom job with our engagement photos, an example of which you can see here. I know she’ll do a great job and I can’t wait to share a few of the shots with you!

Tootsies are ready for a baby BOY maternity shoot!
S    4) Speaking of maternity shots (see how all the weeks events were inter-related?), I actually went out, to a brick and mortar store, to get part of my maternity outfit. I am NOT a shopper. I don’t like excessive “things” lying around my house, so I buy what I need, when I need it, with only occasional extra purchases. Most of said purchasing is done online, free from checkout lines, fitting room fiascos and mall-walkers (who always stop RIGHT in front of me, where I’m trying to walk. Whudupwitdat?) Like I said, my sis and I were brainstorming our maternity shoot just this week, so I was left with no other choice but to actually GO to a store… And it wasn’t horrible! Turns out, mid-day, mid-week shopping can actually be pleasant: I found a parking spot right away, didn’t have to elbow anyone to maneuver past them, AND what I was looking for was on sale! Winning.

5    5) I discovered fresh-squeezed pineapple juice. Not the junk in the “juice” aisle that’s three percent juice and 97% high-fructose corn syrup with various dyes to make it look fruity. Please, just don’t even go down that aisle. No no, the stuff from the juice bar that must be refrigerated, goes bad in about four days, and has ONE ingredient: the fruit for which the juice is named. OMG, y’all!!! It. Is. So. Good. Cannot. Stop. Consuming.

THIS juice. Nuf said.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

One Of *Those* Days

So I have one of my favorite people coming into town tomorrow, and we have a pretty packed agenda that required a good chunk of prep-work prior to her arrival. "No prob!" I thought, as I organized my day so that I could get everything done, including pre-writing some blog posts.

I spent my morning getting a TON of work done, and was feeling pretty good about my accomplishments! Then right as I was climbing into my car to knock some personal to-do's off the list, I realized... I completely didn't know what day it was. And I had written all the wrong blog posts. "What the heck is WRONG with me?! Where did my brain go?!" I thought as I headed towards errand #1. And as I snapped out of my mental abuse session, I realized... Where am I going?! This isn't what I was supposed to be doing! What road am I even on?!

Ever have days like that? It's almost like your brain REFUSES to work properly. C'mon brain. Get with the program here. Keep operating in this capacity, and natural selection is bound to 'off us, and real quick like, too.

So, I guess I'll share with you all what I spent some of my time doing during the day, instead of creating a legitimate blog post:
Robins Egg blue pedi
Neutral pink gel mani
Yes, I spent a few hours at the nail salon, and now I'm blogging about it because my previous posts I spent some serious time on are for tomorrow and next week. While this isn't particularly blog-worthy in my book (oooooookay Paige, get serious: this blog post is a sad joke thus far!) THIS IS WORTH MENTIONING:

While I was sitting in my chair getting my toes did up, a man brought in his elderly mother for her to get her nails done, too. She was likely in her 80's, he in his late 60's. He was kind, sweet and attentive to her, making sure she got the color she wanted and was comfortable before leaving her to run errands while she enjoyed herself. He even gave her manicurist his number in case she needed anything, or forgot where she was while he was away.

My heart melted.

And in that moment, watching that interaction from a few feet away, I was so immensely glad, overjoyed, thankful, humbled, thrilled, and filled with love over the fact that I'm having a son, too. My husband treats me the way this man treats his mama; I cannot wait to watch my husband teach his son how to treat important women in his life, and I cannot wait to be an active participant in those lessons myself.

And now, you know, before I cry or something, let's break it down to the realest level: My penchant for having my nails done up right isn't fading as I get older, and at 29, I'm a sub-par and distracted driver, so...... You know. Mama gon' need a ride to the nail salon, son. Raise'emright!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What do you DO all day?!

Today is a big day, readers: it marks the one-month mark of me quitting my senior management job to take care of our home, prep for baby, and start this blog!

I've gotten a number of questions from friends and strangers alike, asking me some very similar questions. So, I thought I would mark this momentous occasion (ha!) by publicly posting the answers to the questions and comments I get on nearly a daily basis.

Q: So, you're still pregnant... What do you DO all day?! It's not like you have a baby to take care of yet. Aren't you bored?
 A: Nope, I'm not bored in the least! All of my days look a little bit different, but there is a general structure I've created so that I stay on track and accountable for each day, as opposed to hangin' out and watching worthless daytime TV. Here's the breakdown: 
- I get up between 6am-7am (this is sleeping in compared to when I got up for my 8-5 job, and it's AMAZING) and immediately start to work on my blog post for the day. I'm most productive early in the morning. What goes into a blog post? Writing, editing and formatting content; taking, editing, correcting and placing photos; drafting weekly plans so that there isn't too much of one topic per week; brainstorming content and researching ideas, answering emails and social media comments (this has really picked up in the last week with so much positive feedback - I'm SO excited about that!)
- Between 9-10am I either go to a class at the gym/yoga studio or head outside for a walk around White Rock Lake.
- Return home before noon, walk the doggies, and spend about an hour cleaning the house. Doing a little bit each day makes this task manageable! Expect a post about this breakdown in the near future, as it's a great method I've developed that works for stay-at-homers and worker-bees alike.
- After getting cleaned up for the day, I go on my "outing": grocery shopping, Target runs, oil changes, one of the many trips necessary to legally change my name to my married name (this is EXCESSIVE and out of control. Why is this so hard?! Last week I spent over three hours in the Social Security office, grrrr!), get baby items/decor/craft ideas for nursery, pick ups and drop offs at the dry cleaners... You get my drift. Usually once a week I meet up with a friend for lunch or a yoga class and coffee, which is a luxurious treat.
- Return home around 4pm, and get back to blog emails. Take photos for any post the next day while I still have good daylight, and sometimes begin to draft my next day's post.
- If my husband is in town for the week, start dinner shortly before he's expected home. If he's out of town, I usually play a rousing game of fetch in the backyard with the dogs, then feed them before scraping something together for myself. I never cook for one, it's always something obscure and lame. I just can't get into cooking for one. I eat a lot of sandwiches or leftovers.
- If the hubs is home, we usually have a cocktail/mocktail on our porch and catch up on the days events (SOUTHERN LIVIN' Y'ALL) while the sun is still out before heading inside to watch House of Cards; if I'm flying solo, I put on a college sorority t-shirt and sweats and catch up on my DVR'd trashy reality TV, like the Real Housewives franchise or Teen Mom 2. Yuuuuup, that happens. 

Did you happen to notice that stress, rushing and rush-hour-commuting is absent from this list?! I'm really enjoying this slower-paced lifestyle.

Q: You know you're not going to have all that time to blog after the baby comes. Enjoy it while you can, because everything is going to change!
A: Yup, I know! Well, I don't know exactly HOW my life will change, but I know that it will and I'm pretty excited about it, thank you for your concern! All in all I spend about four hours a day on blog stuff. I could easily condense that down to two hours or so, and plan to squeeze that work in between his naps. "Save Draft" is an amazing feature, don't you think?! It will allow me to nurse, change and/or soothe my son without losing all my work. Man, technology is great sometimes.

Q: Do you miss your old job? Isn't it hard to tell people you're just a homemaker now instead of a director at a huge organization?
A: It's true, there are parts I really miss about my former job. Organizational-wide strategy and problem-solving sessions and retreats were my favorite! But in that role, I enjoyed about 50% of my day, and after work, was stressed out about how I was going to get all the items in my personal life done.  Many, wayyyyyy too many, went undone. In my new role, I enjoy 100% of my day (yes, even when I'm scrubbing the toilet, even when I dine alone because my husband is traveling - our doggies happen to be superb company!) and my days are now centered around getting all the personal items done: for me, for the hubs, for the dogs, and for our soon-to-be son. THAT is far, far more important than creating any strategy attempting to save an organization from bankruptcy. Yup, that also happened...

Do I miss telling people I "used to be important"? No! And truthfully, I find that concept HILARIOUS. The fact of the matter is that in quitting my job, I stopped being 'important' to people I didn't care about and started being insanely valuable to those that I DO care about: my family. I'm far more important to them now that I spend more than two waking hours at home a day, am not frazzled and snappy with them over small details, and actually have time to focus on quality relationships.

In all truthfulness, big help promoting my comfort in being a homemaker has been living in the South. Here, value is placed on being a homemaker, by both men and women. I'm not sure there's any other place in the world where mothers and caretakers are valued more. From Southerners, I'm asked, "Do you work outside of the home, or do you take care of your family?" instead of, "Do you JUST stay at home?!" From check-out clerks at the grocery store to electricians entering my home to complete repairs, I'm respected and valued in Texas as a woman who has decided to prioritize her family. And I LOVE that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Once A Week Treat

Two weeks ago, I shared in this post a great daily skin care item to keep your beautiful face beautifully clear from blemishes. Some of the greatest parts about the Burt's Bees product is that it's affordable and easy to use every day or as needed. Three cheers for easy, effective and affordable things in life!

While that's all well and good (or, ahem, frickin' fantastic!), facial skin takes a beating by being exposed to all the products you put on it; the sun, wind and other elements; and has constant exposure to the air which means it has constant exposure to toxins (air pollution, soot, city slime and grime, etc). Because your facial skin has to be such a trooper, you should cut it some slack every once in a while! As I also mentioned before, I'm no beauty blogger; I do read them daily, however, and in one of my readings last fall, the author recommended that readers "treat" their skin to a facial mask once a week to help remove all the gunk and junk that builds up week in and week out.

Now, I'm a Birchbox subscriber. If you don't know what that is, check it out! BEST $10 you'll spend all month, no lie. Since I have gotten so many great, high-end products in my monthly boxes, I hopped on over to their website after reading about the importance of a weekly mask, and started a search for one.

And I came across this AMAZING, MIND BLOWINGLY AWESOME product:

You may know I'm all about being as natural as possible, and using products and eating foods where I can pronounce all the ingredients. So when I read about this product, I thought, YES! This is a great one to try! And then I looked at the price, and I was like, NO! I've never heard of this brand before and don't want to pay that much money for that little of product that I may not like or that may not work! So I moved on in my research and ended up not purchasing anything. And frankly, I completely forgot about it not even a day later.

I think I've made mention several times that my husband travels extensively for a living. He's gone roughly half the month. So early in our relationship, I learned to make life easy for him by sending him direct links to "gift ideas" for birthdays, Christmas', and so on and so forth. This little product made it into that list, and the hubs purchased it for me for this past Christmas. I was pumped when I opened it, and since we spent the holiday with just the two of us and our puppy dogs, I exclaimed, "Ohhhh, wait! You gotta see this! I'm going to scare the crap out of the dogs with this mask!"

The comment came from my Halloween costume, which if you follow me on Instagram you're familiar with. The costume did NOT go over well with our dogs, who had no idea who this masked woman was in their home, and what she did with their mama. It was heeeee-larious. Yes, this is an embarrassing glimpse into my life while my husband is traveling, what do YOU do for entertainment?!

I go upstairs and put the mask on, and was disappointed: it was flesh colored, and simply dried to a shiny, translucent, egg white sheen on my face. No dogs were scared in trying this mask out. My husband had no idea what I was doing or why I was disappointed, and thankfully just shrugged his shoulders (as he often does with all my antics) and continued cleaning up the wrapping paper from all the opened gifts. Now, I was also about 16 weeks pregnant over Christmas, and dealing with some unpleasant hormonal acne. I woke up the next day, THE NEXT DAY, to a cleared complexion. WHUT. And all red marks that I had were greatly faded. My skin wasn't dried out; it didn't "make things worse before it got better" like so many other products claim; it simply made things better!

What the product looks like; I'm nearly out! No!!!!!!!
I was in awe. I mean, AWE. I've struggled with cray cray skin since I was a pre-teen, so I've run the gamut of products. I have never seen something work such wonders. My rough skin got smoothed over, my acne scars have faded, and if a "flare up" is coming on, it's quickly wiped out. And, you can pronounce everything in this tiny jar! I started with a twice a week application; after my skin calmed down, I now use it once a week to keep things smooth and clear. I recently learned that this brand carries other skin care items, like eye serums. Not only will I be purchasing this again, I cannot wait to try other items in their line! It is SO worth it.

*The opinion listed above is my own, and I've in no way received any compensation, either monetary or gifted product, for my published opinions.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Advanced Prenatal Yoga Poses

As it would turn out, I'm wayyyyyyyy "granola" when it comes to healthcare. Meaning, I don't dig conventional medicine. I don't like the concept of popping pills to fix symptoms of problems far larger and more systemic to one's lifestyle choices. When it comes to this little babe I'm toting around everywhere with me, I'm no different.

I've elected to give birth to my son at a birth center. The cesarean section rate in Texas is near 70%, and that FRIGHTENS me. There won't be an M.D. or epidural in sight; rather, I'll work with my midwife and family to utilize alternative pain management methods such as water therapy, massage, and laughing gas, if I so chose. I know, I know, that's a lofty goal! I can't tell you how many women have heard me say that and given me a huge eye roll with a "good luck with that!" (LADIES! What is up with the 'tude about someone else's birthing choices?!) But I've been spending my time doing some "prep work" to get me in tippity-top shape for this massive venture I'll take on in early June: Yoga!

Increasing flexibility yoga pose: Downward Facing Dog 

Most know that yoga involves stretching, balance and breathing through postures. But it also focuses on methods in stress reduction; being present; breath control and athletics. All of these things will help tremendously in my natural birth! They've also come in quite handy in just managing the difficulties of pregnancy. And before I became pregnant, they helped in simply better handling and managing life! I can't tell you how many times my previous bosses have asked me in the midst of a work-crisis, "How are you so calm right now?!" to which I responded with a smile, "Yoga."

Increasing flexibility yoga pose: Seated Cow with Eagle Arms

Now that I'm massive and in my third trimester, I can't run (hellooooooooo round ligament pain!), I struggle to walk more than four miles at once (again, the ligaments! ahhhhh ligaments!), barre classes work but my balance is sub-par with this big ol' belly and Pilates is becoming more and more challenging as I spend half the class creating modified moves for myself. Yoga has remained one of my constants; I can still do nearly everything I used to and have safely modified my inversions to be preggo-friendly.

Yoga will help you, pregnant or not, build strength in your core, thighs, arms and shoulders (to name just a few key areas). It will help calm your mind and sharpen your focus. It will help you concentrate on your breath, which helps you move forward in difficult situations whether they be work-related or in your personal life. It will bring world peace and cure world-violence. Juuuuuuuust kidding, but I'm pretty sure we'd all be a bit more kind and friendly to each other if we all had a regular yoga practice!

You can find my yoga mat here, top (non-maternity) here, and maternity yoga crops here. In addition to the poses above, here are some of my favorites to practice:

Strength building yoga pose: Chaturanga Dandasana
Increasing flexibility yoga pose: Mermaid's Pose
Strength building yoga pose: Crow
 Strength building inversion: 3/4 Tripod Headstand *I list this as 3/4 because I choose to keep a knee balanced on my arm to safely invert while pregnant. If you're pregnant and didn't do this pose beforehand, DO NOT attempt while pregnant! If you are new to yoga, don't attempt this pose until you have an instructor to safely guide you through it.
Increasing flexibility yoga pose: Hero
Strength building yoga pose: Running Man
Most of these yoga poses are advanced, but if you keep practicing throughout your pregnancy, you'll be able to enjoy the benefits of yoga through the end!

Friday, March 21, 2014

High Five for Friday!

It's that time of the week again: FRIDAYYYYYYY!! Not only is the weekend about to start, but it's also officially spring. Really, the only thing better than a Friday is a Friday that leaves winter behind in the dust. Especially THIS winter, amiright?

In addition to spring, lots of good things are happening around here. It was hard to narrow down my Top 5 Favorite Moments of the Week, but after a little editing, here they are:

1) I entered my third trimester on Monday! Last one. Third and final. He'll be here in about 12 more weeks. Expect a future Mommy Monday post on what I really think about pregnancy (hint: I'm not a fan. At all. Not even a little bit) so let's just say that I'm SO THANKFUL to have the finish line in sight! Now, about this basketball I done went and swallowed...
Top: Pea in the Pod; Jeans: Hudson Jeans; Watch: Micheal Kors; iPhone Case: I literally picked this thing up at ATT for less than $30
2) I completed my taxes... And it's the last year I'll file as a "single" person! It's also the last year I'll have to pay Minnesota state income taxes, since Texas has no state income taxes. I mean, I'm about to shout out loud from the rooftops I'm so pumped about that!

3) I started working with two of my girlfriends to plan and host my Dallas Coed Baby Shower in April. I had a traditional shower back in January because I had the rare opportunity to have close friends and family members all in the same state. This one is going to be a little less conventional... And will also be a way for us to have a housewarming party so our friends can see our new home (we were running out of dates to get all the partying in before baby arrives!) So far, it's shaping up to include some fun coed games (we already have corn hole/bags ready to go!), beer towers, a BBQ and other fun surprises. My theory is, as long as there's plenty of beer, man-food, and fun games to play, men won't have an issue showing up :)

4) I shared in this post a little bit about what's going on in our living room. There's only one project left and it will finally be complete! We plan on making some of the final purchases to finish it off this weekend so that we can get our common living spaces all wrapped up prior to our planned April shower. I don't even need to tell you; you know you'll see it here once complete!

5) Spring has sprung in Dallas: it was at least mid-70's and sunny ALL week long, which meant I got to spend lots of time outside, playing fetch with these little lovers:

Little Otis Beaufort on the top of the couch and big boy Baxter spreading his legs out
Have a wonderful weekend dear reader! Until next week... Au revoir!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Interior Design: Common Living Spaces

Like I mentioned in this post, my husband and I recently moved from a two bedroom townhouse into a four bedroom single family home. Read: I need to bring my interior design and decorating A-Game with all this additional space to deal with!

I also mentioned that we have very different styles. One of the challenges I'm facing is how to appropriately blend our two styles together so that our home feels like home to both of us, yet doesn't look like a "her stuff" "his stuff" situation.

Behold! The bookshelf in our living room:

What I love about this is besides the books (we each had a small library to contribute to our married home) the majority of these items we either got together or got as gifts for our wedding. I think incorporating these items is really important for our "common" spaces, like the living and dining rooms. It's suppose to feel like OURS; not like, "dangit, there's that stupid hockey jersey hanging in the middle of my living room" or "uhhhhhh, why does she feel the need to put sparkles everywhere?!"

And I WOULD put sparkles everywhere. Because sparkles are awesome.

Here is a view of our entertainment center. It's a blend of photo's we both had in our independent homes, plus some Tiffany votive candles we got for our wedding. The black frames keep the display masculine enough while the randomness of the mismatched frames keep it interesting. The candles help provide variety and add femininity.

(These votive candles are also a safety measure. They're crystal and SO HEAVY that if someone attempts to break into the front door or large floor to ceiling window in the front of the house, I'll grab one and chuck it at the intruder. There's no way the intruder wouldn't get knocked out!)

As important as creating comfortable common living spaces is still feeling like you have "your space" in a home. My husband has his office, full of masculine furniture and artwork only he picked out. I have a section of the master bedroom with my girly, white wicker vanity, French lounge chair and yes, even a sequined pillow!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Demystifying Group Fitness Classes

P90X, Insanity and CrossFit full of sweaty, ripped bodies and grunting faces that likely reek of AXE Body Spray. Yogi's who showcase their own gun show in expensive Lululemon gear. Ballet Barre studio's where, apparently, nobody has one spare pound to loose and nobody is over 30.


I mean, next-level YUCK.

Just to keep it real with you, dear reader, I fully recognize that I, pre-pregnancy, fell into more than one category above. I mean, looooooove me some AXE Body Spray! I kid, I joke. And yet, "these people" STILL annoy me! So I can only imagine the public perception, annoyance level, and general disgust with the likes of me. I totally get it because I feel it too! Anyway, I digress...

To avoid these scenes at all cost, you commit yourself to outdoor activities to get in or maintain some level of fitness. But I'm here to tell you: Walking or running outside alone isn't going to cut it.

It's fairly common knowledge, at least in the fitness world, that to remain in top-notch shape, you should mix up your exercise routing regularly. To keep your body, and therefore muscles, "guessing", you should incorporate quick workouts of intense, high heart rate movement; weightlifting in some form to promote muscle development and growth; longer, slower workouts for maximum fat-burning; and stretching and balance work for muscle rehabilitation.

Well. That sounds like a lot of work. Also, that sounds like a gym is necessary.

While a gym isn't necessary, per se, unless you have some weights and other materials at home and know how to use them in a number of diverse ways, yes - you'll want access to a space that has these things. You'll also want access to someone who can teach you how to use the equipment with proper form to avoid injury.

Well, that sounds expensive. So what's a person to do?!

I HIGHLY suggest taking advantage of the group fitness classes at gyms! You have access to the instructor to guide you through the movements to ensure you're doing them correctly, you'll listen to their music to give you some variety to your old mixes, you'll be motivated to work hard by the folks around you, and the BEST part?! No, not everyone in there knows what they're doing, so NO, you won't look like an idiot.

I've been teaching yoga for about a year now. As a fitness instructor of sorts, please allow me to tell you that new students are the best students!  You know who we can't stand? The dude in the front who tries to take over the class by incorporating advanced moves that I haven't instructed and that others try to do that could result in serious injury, or the woman by the mirror in just a sports bra who busts out a handstand in the middle of my flow, intimidating everyone else to the point where they just sit back wide-eyed and watch her. Trust me, we love new and inexperienced students!

We can usually spot the "newbies" out, and if it's a good instructor, s/he will come and introduce her/himself to you and ask you a bit about yourself. But if that doesn't happen, go up there and and tell them! They will help you get set up for class and keep an eye on you to ensure you're catching on and don't have questions mid-class.

Group classes, whether a vinyasa flow yoga class, circuit training class, or kickboxing, will keep your muscles guessing and keep you interested in coming back for more. You'll start to see the results you want much faster than slow laps around your neighborhood in your worn out running shoes, and despite what you may think about the other participants, no, they're not experts and they're not judging you. One-handed push-up bro is too self absorbed to even notice you're in the class, and the sports-bra woman put herself by the mirror because she's focused on one thing: herself. And likely her boobs, to make sure they do/do not come out in class.

*Sorry, I had no pics to include with today's post! I'm adamantly against any/all "gym selfies" and while I googled some hysterical pics of "gym bro's" I wasn't exactly using the term in a positive light and didn't want to attach a person's photo - whom I don't even know! - to my negative review. Onward with more photos tomorrow! Enjoy the short novel I wrote.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Healthy Creamy Shroomy Quinoa

Confession: I've never followed an exact recipe, not even once in my life. Which is why I'm an excellent cook and terrible, no good, very bad baker. (What do you mean I have to measure off exactly one teaspoon of baking soda?! can't I just throw it in there and call it a day?!)

I love to look at what is "suggested" in a given recipe and then make amendments to the ingredients, the amount of an ingredient, or simply get an idea from a popular recipe and change everything all together.

I came up with Healthy Creamy Shroomy Quinoa by taking stock of what was in my kitchen the day I wanted to make supper. It turned out fantastically! Who loves not having to go to the store for the ONE thing you don't have in your home that the recipe calls for? Everyone!

Healthy Creamy Shroomy Quinoa (c) An Uncomplicated Life Blog

- 2C quinoa
- 2 chicken breasts (or sub out a can of navy beans or chickpeas if vegetarian)
- 1 package mini portabella mushrooms, cut into thin slices
- 1 small head of fresh broccoli, sliced into small bites
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced but left in natural rings
- 4C chicken broth (veggie can be substituted)
- 1/2 to 3/4C plain Greek yogurt*
- 1/2 to 3/4C ricotta cheese*
- 1T thyme
- 1-2T white wine vinegar
- 2T butter*
- 2T olive oil*
Salt and pepper

*While you can use reduced/low fat versions of these products, I highly suggest cooking with whole foods. I use 2% Greek yogurt (4% if I can find it), whole milk ricotta, and regular butter (please don't touch or even think about margarine. Please.) Fat got a bad rep in the 1990's sometime for some reason - about 10 years prior to the beginning our obesity epidemic (weird...) Fat doesn't make you fat. Sugar makes you fat. You know what they replace the fat with when you buy reduced fat foods?? SUGAR. And not even real sugar, sugar substitutes. Also, chemicals to preserve the altered food. GROSS. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil baking dish, salt and pepper chicken breasts and bake for about 30 mins, or until chicken is just barely cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Chicken breasts dry out quickly, so cooking them until barely done will help to keep them juicy and more delicious.

In a large pot, bring chicken broth to a boil. Rinse the quinoa, then add it to the boiling broth. Once it returns to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cover pot with a lid. In a large skillet, melt butter and add the shallots. Once you can smell them cooking (and what a glorious smell it is!), add the olive oil, broccoli and mushrooms. Saute until just barely tender.

Saute the veggies in the butter/olive oil combo

When the veggie mixture looks nearly done, add the thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Set mixture aside. The chicken should be cool by now; take a fork and "pull" or "fork" the meat into bite size pieces, then set those aside. Once the quinoa doesn't have any standing broth left, turn off the heat. Add the Greek yogurt, ricotta cheese, white wine vinegar and mix together. Fold in the forked chicken.

Mixing the quinoa, cheese/yogurt and chicken together. You'll want to get these items blended before you add the veggies so as not to "smush" the veggies, and essentially make what looks like baby food. If subbing beans for chicken, drain the beans and add them to the veggie mixture as they'll smush into the creamy quinoa with excessive stirring, too!

Once the quinoa mixture is well blended, gently fold the veggie mixture into the yogurt/cheese/chicken quinoa.  Serve immediately, while still warm. I garnished my bowl with a few more shakes of white wine vinegar and sprinkle of parmesan cheese!

This recipe will easily serve four adults as the main course meal. I LOVE leftovers, so I make this much for just me and my hubby, then I eat what's leftover for the rest of the week while he travels and I dine supper solo. I happen to be a big fan of  the "cooking once, eating many times" philosophy so that I'm not eating junk/convenience foods throughout the busy week.

Happy eating!