A Fresh Start

I just love the feeling of a fresh start that January brings — I also feel this way around the beginning of September as well even though I haven’t been “back to school” since 2008. I always feel like it’s just a great time to re-evaluate your priorities, routines, and schedule. Each year, I order a new planner and enjoy setting it up with all of our activities and commitments for the year. I originally wrote the first 2/3 of this post back in early January and planned to have it published around that time but with baby arriving, blogging has been squeezed into little pockets of free time while Fletcher is napping. :) So, here we go with our yearly intentions on February 8th!

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This year, the planner that I always choose had some extra “prep” pages added to the beginning and it was exactly what I needed to work through before starting 2019. I sat down last month and really poured my heart into evaluating 2018 — processing what worked and what didn’t work.

I wanted to share some of these prep pages on my blog — even if you don’t have one of these planners, it’s something that could easily be done in a journal as you prepare for the next twelve months.

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The lists that I made in the photo above were in response to the following questions:

What worked last year?
What didn’t work last year?
Ideas for new routines
Ideas for new healthy habits

Really sitting down to think about these four areas of my life was extremely helpful. Not only did it force me to look back and evaluate 2018, it helped me to notice patterns and systems that helped or hindered my day to day life. I also chatted with a good friend of mine about a lot of my reflections since she was feeling the same way about the past year of her own life. This was so helpful because not only was there someone that could say “me too” to a lot of how I felt, but we were able to springboard ideas off of each other in hopes of making 2019 a great year.

After completing the prep pages, the main thing that stood out to me was that there was a lot of feeling "overwhelmed.” I’m one of those people that can go, go, go, until I can’t — and then the brakes come to a screeching halt and the cycle starts all over again.

Pouring over these pages helped me realize what my triggers are — clutter, lack of boundaries, overcommitting myself, and not having enough down time or social time. Another thing that made me feel drained was not having enough life-giving activities (passions, hobbies, creative outlets, things that light me up, etc.)

Some of the things that were life-giving for me included regular dates with Andy, dinners / coffee with my auntie, spending time with friends, and prepping for my work day the night before (lunch packed, bags by door, clothes laid out, etc.). Working out, eating healthy, and doing something creative on the regular also falls into this category!

So, I think that needs to happen in 2019 is that I need to do more of the life-giving activities and really focus on not letting things get out of control (too many “yes-es”, going to bed with dishes in the sink, etc.). I feel like this sounds ridiculous, but my day just starts SO much smoother when I go downstairs to make my coffee and step into a spotless kitchen instead of one that has a full dishwasher and sticky counters.

Along with this prep work, I also wanted to share my focus for this new year:

Prioritize My Health + Happiness
I feel like I’m always saying I’m going to do this but for some reason, self-care (along with my mental / physical health) always gets put on the back burner whenever life is crazy (which, newsflash — it kind of always is). I’d really like to invest in these two areas of my life even if it means making sacrifices in other areas in order to make it happen. My gym membership reactivates in a few weeks after being frozen during pregnancy and I’m really looking forward to not only getting back into a gym routine but also utilizing things like the steam room in the women’s locker room. I used to spend 10 minutes in there after almost every workout a few years ago and it was seriously like a little tropical vacation leaving me feeling calm and refreshed.

Be More Intentional
2018 was filled with so many things and I often felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants. House hunting, moving, pregnancy, starting a new job, etc. was a lot in such a short time span and I often found myself eating meals on the go, multi-tasking, and overall just not having enough rest or friend time. I want to focus on slowing down, scheduling more time with those around me, not eating in my car in-between commitments, etc. I feel like having a baby has really made me rethink some of my priorities because now there is someone looking up to me and the actions that I take each day — I want him to know me as a mom that is calm and present, not frazzled and overwhelmed. Time flies by so much faster as you get older and I’d really like to prioritize being intentional with my days and in my relationships.

Speaking of which, I also want to be more intentional with reaching out to people. So often, I think about texting a friend to see if they want to grab coffee or an impromptu HH but then rethink it and tell myself they’re probably busy and it’s snowing again so do I really even want to go out that night? Time to stop overthinking and just send the texts to spend more time with those that I love!

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Be Mindful of Screen Time
This is one area of my life that has really been on my heart lately after coming across this article. The day after I read it, someone had posted something similar on Facebook about how smartphones are becoming our priority before our children and you guys, it just broke my heart. I want to make sure that I’m being mindful of using my phone when I’m around my people, so I deleted Instagram and Pinterest off of my phone to avoid mindless scrolling out of habit whenever I have a free minute or feel bored. I'll keep the apps on my iPad but really only use my iPad when I’m on the treadmill or having some down time during Fletcher’s naps — this will help keep my time spent on social media more in check.

What are some of your intentions for 2019?
Do you monitor your screen time?

A Day in The Life (Last One Before Becoming a Mom)

Today I’m capturing a day in the life and it will be my last one before becoming a mom since my due date is this upcoming Wednesday! This is by far my most-requested type of blog post so I’m hoping to start doing these more regularly — maybe every other month or so especially since my life is going to be so different in these next few months as we bring home baby and then when I go back to work later in the spring.

Below is a play-by-play of my day yesterday — I’ve been enjoying a little down time, baby prep, and running some last minute errands until our little guy arrives. It wasn’t the most exciting of days, but I felt like I accomplished a lot so that’s a success in my book.

The last time I did one of these posts was last fall — click here to check it out!

Wake Up
I’ve been sleeping a little better lately mainly due to sleeping at an incline. Around 37 weeks, I started having trouble breathing whenever I laid down — my doctor said it’s most likely because baby is getting bigger and squishing my diaphragm / lungs. Ever since sleeping with a few pillows propped up behind me, I’ve been snoozing through my usual 2:30am middle of the night insomnia + snack time which has been SO nice! I’m still waking up a lot earlier than I’d like (4:30am), but it’s nice to at least not be WIDE AWAKE for a span of 2-3 hours each night.

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Breakfast
I always wake up starving, so I usually make breakfast before taking a shower. I’ve been really into green smoothies lately and this one is on heavy rotation over here. In the blender I add organic unsweetened vanilla almond milk, organic spinach, organic dates (they’re supposed to help with labor so I’ve been popping three per day), peanut butter, half of a frozen banana, plain 2% Greek yogurt, and some ice.

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I always pair my smoothie with a hot cup of coffee with this creamer since the frozen drink makes me so cold! I sipped both of these while reading my new devotional and then hopped in the shower.

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Shower + Get Ready
My outfit choices these days are a little limited due to this full-term baby bump, so it’s pretty easy to choose an outfit when you literally have three options that still feel comfortable. Thank goodness for these comfy tees and my favorite maternity jeans! That being said, I’m really looking forward to shopping my closet again in the next few months. I snapped this pic in the “kid bathroom” upstairs and every time I go in there, it makes me so happy to see his little hooded bath towels hanging on the towel rack behind me! My sister gave us those and an adorable little bathrobe as part of his Christmas gift and I’m so excited to use them — babies after bath time is the absolute best!

Lately I feel like it takes me FOREVER to get ready and I’m not sure if it’s pregnancy-related or if I’m just dinking around too much but either way, it always feels like a major accomplishment once I leave the bathroom and head downstairs. Speaking of stairs, I’ve reached the point where I can only put my socks and shoes on if I’m sitting on our staircase — it feels so strange to have reached this point because I feel like up until 37 weeks, I didn’t really feel like I had many limitations and then they all came at once!

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Morning
I worked on my blog all morning and answered a few emails from work — I’m trying to pre-write a bunch of posts so that I can still have content going up even when it’s baby time. This whole “not knowing when baby is coming” is both exciting and a little unsettling because it makes it hard to plan out your week! ;) While I was working away, my OB’s nurse called to see if I could pop in later that day for a quick check-in instead of going in on Friday morning. I added it to my calendar and then wrapped up my post before making a quick lunch so that I could head out to run errands before swinging by the clinic for my appointment.

I forgot to take a picture, but I promise you didn’t miss anything special — I had an egg scrambled with egg whites and colby jack cheese with an orange on the side. Not the fanciest, but it was a good mix of protein, fat, and carbs which is how I prefer to structure my meals.

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Run Errands
On this particular day I needed to swing by our local co-op to pick up a few things — I grabbed a canister of this for making lactation energy bites once baby arrives, some flax seeds, and this that I love to use on my salads and in stir fry sauces.

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Afterwards, I swung by Goodwill to drop off a few items that have been sitting around the house for too many weeks — it always feels so good to drop off a box of donations! #clutterfreeisthewaytobe

I arrived at the clinic about 20 minutes early and used that time to make a quick call to our insurance to double check a few things such as hospital stay and whatnot. Normally I dread these types of tasks, but the customer service guy was super friendly and was telling me about his kids and grandkids so it was kind of entertaining. I also ate one of these before jumping out of my car and heading into my appointment.

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I headed into my appointment, had vitals taken, got a quick ultrasound to check on the little dude, got my belly measured and was on my way! I only have one more OB appointment left (unless he arrives before then) and if he doesn’t arrive by my next one, we will be discussing induction options. I’m really hoping he decides to come on his own, but we’ll see what happens. :)

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After the appointment, I made a quick stop at Target to see if a nursing tank I wanted to try was in stock. They didn’t have it, so I’m thinking I might just order a few from Amazon at this point because I'm not having luck finding anything that I like in stores. I picked up a few items that we needed and then headed home for the evening.

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Dinner
I was starving by the time I got home, so I quickly unloaded my bags and threw together a quick salad. I also ate an apple after this because my hunger has been out of control lately. I worked on this blog post while enjoying my dinner and then changed clothes and headed downstairs for a workout.

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Treadmill
I’ve been committed to keeping up with my workouts even as we get closer and closer to the due date! I feel like the time on the treadmill usually flies by really quickly because I use this time to listen to a podcast, read, or listen to music. I typically walk or run each day since I know I’ll have to take a little break once he is born so that my body can heal.

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Energy Bites
After the treadmill, I made a quick batch of these little energy bites for a treat. I don’t really measure anything but these consisted of old fashioned oats, organic dark chocolate chips, honey, almond milk, ground flaxseed, and peanut butter. As I’m typing this out, I’m realizing I forgot to add unsweetened shredded coconut — oh well, I’ll add that next time! I didn’t add the brewer’s yeast to this batch and will save that until baby arrives since it’s used to increase your breastmilk supply. No need for that quite yet. ;)

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Bath
Lately I’ve been taking an evening bath in our soaker tub because it feels SO good at this point in my pregnancy. I always add a few scoops of these along with some natural bubble bath that we pick up from Trader Joe’s. I also ate a grapefruit around this time because I seriously can not get enough of these ruby reds right now!

Bedtime
Before bed, I usually read for a little bit, do a session from my Calm app, and then am off to dreamland. I try to be in bed by 10pm most nights and typically fall asleep right away!

PS I’m linking up with Kristen today.

Are your days pretty routine or do they tend to look different each week?
Do you eat breakfast right away in the morning?

Following Intentionally

As we kick off this new year, I’ve been doing some thinking, planning, and prepping about how I can be more intentional in the months that are ahead of us. One thing that really came to mind was to really cull who I follow on Instagram — focusing on friends and inspirational accounts.

I’ve realized that following those whose feeds are made up of mostly sponsored or perfectly styled posts just aren’t what I need to soak up right now. In this season of life I’m craving that raw, real life connection and / or inspiration. Last Sunday morning, I sat down with a homemade blueberry waffle and a hot cup of coffee to really think about the accounts that I choose to follow. Since my list is under 100, it was completely manageable to sit down and write down each handle in this post (the rest of those that I follow are real-life friends and are not included in this list) — it really helped me think about whether I wanted to continue following that account or not. I figured I’d post it here as a reminder of why I follow who I follow — my hope is that you can find some new inspiration from this list!

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If you’d like to check out my feed, you may do so by clicking here. I also have a health + fitness account that will be getting a bit more love once baby is born and I’m back to my usual fitness shenanigans (right now I’m just walking and running these last few days before he is born).

Bloggers
@nicolevcole - love this girl’s heart for her family
@hungryrunnergirl - I’ve followed Janae’s blog for YEARS and love her honesty and zest for life
@sarahshaneyfelt - I started following Sarah a few years ago and feel like we are pretty similar!
@emilyanndunham - Love Emily’s blog!
@victoriastrader - Victoria is the most adorable mom to her two littles and I love her outlook on life + style
@shopvictoriastrader - I follow Victoria’s shop account now that we have a little boy on the way!
@hannahelizabethhardy - Love Hannah’s blog!
@amycotton - This pretty girl just had twins!
@kylashattuck - I love reading Kyla’s blog posts about living intentionally and living well.
@jamieleakey - Jamie’s feed is filled with her simple approach to parenting their two adorable boys
@simplybeffie - I’ve followed Beth for many years and love her handlettering style
@lauravbeck - I’ve also followed Laura for years and it’s been so fun to see glimpses of her cute little girl!
@pbfingers - Julie’s blog is one of the first I ever read!
@brittanywhitacre - I recently came across Brittany’s blog and it’s been so fun reading about her two boys
@emilyayerthomas - Emily’s blog is filled with inspiration for living intentionally
@kelseympeacock - I really enjoy Kelsey’s honest and open voice on her blog
@michaelanoelledesigns - This girl’s blog is filled with so many fun things — beauty products, style, and home design

Life + Style Inspiration
@emilyley - I order a planner from her every single year and love her mindset towards running a home
@onelittlemomma - My hair inspiration! Plus she’s a rockstar mom of FIVE adorable boys
@alysonhaley - I’ve followed Alyson for years and love her personal style
@shopalysonhaley - I’ve purchased a few items from her shop since I love her style and she’s petite
@jen.daniels.l - Another MN designer — this girl’s feed is full of real life moments with her kids
@lindsey_reed - Love this girl’s transparency and outlook on life
@ginazeidler - Another Minnesotan — Gina is a local photographer
@wisemanmemories - I’ve followed Ashley’s fitness account for awhile and love this personal acct of hers
@amikkoch - Another MN creative — love her cute style and pics of her puppy and little girl
@laurengleisberglately - I love this girl’s style and approach to life / parenting
@whitv - I just love her style and her little baby boy is the cutest thing ever!

Design Inspiration
@jessbruggink - I sit next to her husband at work and love her design aesthetic
@laura_lee_deyoung - This girl has the best illustration style
@whitneyhansenmckenzie - Whitney used to work at the company I worked at
@whitneymckenziestudio - Whitney’s design account
@petitcollage - LOVE this company and their illustrative style for kids’ products
@alyssanassner - Such a fun illustration style
@cariboucoffee - I follow Caribou since I’ve designed a lot of products for them over the past year

Health + Wellness
@amandalynne21 - This mom of twins not only rocks being a mom but she also has a great workout routine
@drmeghanbirt - Such a great resource for healthy / natural living
@ashleylwiseman - Ashley has such a balanced approach to health, nutrition, and fitness!
@allisonwollenhaupt - Love this girl’s approach to clean eating and fitness
@cobb2208 - I follow her for running inspiration — she is a beast!
@sarahdhaglund - Sarah’s my go-to gal for all things health / wellness related
@learning2loveburpees - This girl’s approach to fitness is so inspiring
@laurengleisberg - Love her outlook on nutrition and fitness

PS I’m linking up with Lindsay and Jessi today!

What are some of your favorite accounts to follow in IG?
Do you take inventory of your IG account on a regular basis?

Fall Bucket List

Below is a list of experiences that I’d love to make a priority during this fall season in Minnesota!

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Visit a couple of apple orchards — maybe even this one again

Purchase pumpkins

Make chili on a regular basis

Enjoy a pumpkin spice latte — this was checked off very early in the season! :)

Light a fire in our fireplace

Enjoy cozy evenings at home

Take lots of fall walks

Watch this movie which always reminds me of fall

Order some seasonal essential oils such as orange and cinnamon bark

Enjoy the football season — reading on the couch while Andy watches the game

Bake pumpkin bread for friends and family

Enjoy some hot apple cider

Try a new fall recipe

Wear all the fall clothes -- boots, sweaters, and jackets

P.S. I’m linking up with Sarah and Emily for their fall decor posts! Since we haven’t really decorated for fall, I’m sharing my fall bucket list instead! :)

What are some things you’d love to do this fall?
What’s your favorite season?

Healthy + Simple Meals

You guys know that I love living a healthy and active lifestyle -- it always makes me feel my best! I recently shared some of my favorite healthy + simple snacks and today I'll be sharing some healthy + simple meals! I'm also linking up with Sarah and Emily to chat about crock pot meals! 

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I prefer to eat a very fresh, simple diet -- most of my meals are composed of mixing a bunch of items I've already prepped (chopped veggies, cooked lean meats, etc.) rather than following complicated recipes. If there's something that I'd like to make -- take tomato soup for example since I just made that a few days ago, I usually just make it up as I go. I know that I like my tomato soups to have a little texture and have a lot a basil, so I roasted a huge pan of tomatoes, garlic, and onions, pureed it with veggie broth and tons of basil, and then seasoned it to taste (adding EVOO, oregano, and S&P) as it was simmering on the stove. 

For me, the key to making healthy + simple meals is meal prepping! I do this almost every Sunday afternoon to set myself up for success during the week. Veggies are washed and chopped, grapes are rinsed and put into a large container, sweet potatoes are sliced, and chicken / turkey / salmon (whichever is my protein of choice for the week) is cooked.

Below are some of the meals I've been enjoying lately -- they all were thrown together using items from my meal prepping and most don't take more than a few minutes to make.

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Deconstructed Greek Salad - leftover salmon from our Sunday dinner, romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, homemade hummus, homemade tzatziki.

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Roasted Veggie Bowl - refried organic black beans, homemade hummus, roasted veggies: zucchini, roma tomato, brussels sprouts, red onion. I paired this with a whole grain flax tortilla with hummus to give this meal a little more staying power.

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Avocado Toast - Toasted Ezekiel or Dave's Killer Bread, mashed avocado, a tomato slice, and a fried egg paired with fruit on the side.

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Thai Chicken Flatbread - Whole grain flat bread, topped with cheese, Thai-seasoned chicken, red cabbage, red peppers, carrots, green onions, cilantro, sesame seeds, and drizzled with a homemade Thai peanut sauce. We love these flatbreads (they're at Costco) -- they're great for making wraps, quesadillas, burritos, and flatbreads.

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Omelet -- Egg white omelet filled with cheddar cheese and fresh avocado slices with fruit on the side. I have weird things about eggs and if I think about them too much, they freak me out -- especially the yolks. Due to this, I prefer egg whites to eggs most of the time since they taste less egg-y if thank makes sense! :)

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Baked Salmon + Veggies - Baked salmon (I top it with butter or olive oil and S&P before baking) and roasted veggies -- usually something green, some onions, and grape tomatoes. This is a meal that we usually make on Saturday or Sunday evenings when we're at home.

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Stir Fry - Veggies and chicken or turkey mixed with General Tso's stir fry sauce and topped with chopped almonds or peanuts for some crunch. I usually pair this with some bread or rice so it holds me over longer. I love making these when I need to clean out the fridge -- any veggie is great to add to the mix! 

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Salad + Chips and Salsa - I like to always have veggies, some sort of fat (cheese or avocado or nuts), and a protein on my salads. Most of the time I make my own dressings -- either a honey mustard one or a vinaigrette made with EVOO, lemon juice, vinegar, S&P. This meal is perfect for hot summer evenings.

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Buffalo Chicken Flatbread - Buffalo chicken, cheese, onion, tomatoes, romaine, and a drizzle of ranch.

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Oatmeal + Fruit - Old fashioned oats with a drizzle of pure maple syrup, chopped peaches, and a sprinkling of almonds for some crunch.

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Homemade Pizza - Multigrain flatbread topped with pizza sauce, mozzarella, sausage, and tons of veggies. Clearly we use these flatbreads all the time! 

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Packed Lunches - As far as lunches go, I almost always bring a wrap, soup, salad, or leftovers to work each day. Snacks for work always include a yogurt cup, a fruit, a veggie or two, and some almonds. 

Two of my blogging buddies are chatting about crock pot meals today and here's the thing -- I never use our crock pot! Ever! Andy uses it all the time to make a huge batch of chicken breasts every week, but I never use it. I don't eat a lot of meat and I haven't really experimented with crock pot recipes for other meals. I'm really looking forward to seeing some of the other linked posts from today to get some ideas to try out this fall and for easy meals once baby is here! 

What are some of your go-to meals?
What do you usually pack in your lunch?