lifestyle, Personal, Recipes

I’m currently on another Vegan journey. I’ve been a vegetarian my entire life and have tried a few times to go vegan without long-term success. Ten times out of ten I fail because… You guessed it, CHEESE.

Did you know that a chemical in cheese, called casein, has been found to trigger the brain’s opioid receptors and trigger an addictive response? This makes total sense to me personally, but also makes sense when I hear others failed in going vegan due to cheese.

Vegan options have come a long way in a short time. Options for vegan cheese used to be limited to one or two brands at your local grocery store that did not melt and did not taste right. Now, you’ll likely see several brands and options at your favorite health food or modern grocery stores. Even Aldi has their own brand of vegan cheese and I actually really like it! I used it today on vegan pizza bagels and it actually got MELTY. A win, for sure.

If you’re thinking of going vegan, or trying to stay vegan, here are some tips I can give from personal experience:

  1. Find a vegan cheese you like

As I mentioned above – cheese is like kryptonite for so many people that try this path. Try different brands of vegan cheese and stock up on what you find you like, so you don’t find yourself in a cravings state of weakness. Also, get yourself some nutritional yeast to sprinkle on everything. Vegans use it like a parmesan cheese replacement, but you can put it on everything AND it’s good for you!

2. If you used to eat meat, start by making the same meals you used to make, but with vegan meat options

I feel like people generally have this idea that vegans eat lettuce and fresh veggies and that’s it. If you go from eating meat every day to eating raw veggies and salads, you’re not going to make it. There are SO many vegan meat options out there nowadays that there really is no reason to eat meat, and also no reason to just eat raw veggies (unless you’re into that). If your weekly recipes before going vegan included chicken salads for lunch and pasta w/ meatballs, and tacos, for dinners, then start your vegan journey by making those same meals but with vegan meat replacements. Making too big of a shift is where people get turned off or fail. Learn to make what you’re already comfortable with and you’ll thank me later.

3. Try a meal subscription

You may have read my previous post about Hungryroot. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know how to start a vegan diet, or if you’re having trouble coming up with meal ideas, give Hungryroot a try. You can set your specific diet preferences (vegan, vegan & gluten-free, vegetarian, etc.) and shop by recipe. I currently pay about $60 a week. For the quality of product, the delivery to your doorstep, and the reduced stress of not having to plan meals-it is beyond worth it. Plus, you can cancel or pause any time you like.

4. Keep a list of “safe” restaurants in your phone notes

Doing some research is key here. Look at your local restaurants and look at their menus. Try to analyze what foods you could order vegan or with minor modifications to make it vegan. Have a Taco Bell problem like me? You can order vegan! Think, tacos with black beans or refried beans, lettuce, tomato, hot sauce, guac… Love getting Potbelly’s for lunch? Look at their salads, think “I could get this without chicken, without cheese, and add chickpeas for protein…” Make a list of your “safe” restaurants in your phone that you know you can eat at so you’re never caught in a situation where your friend or SO wants to go out to eat but now you have to 1. research for 20 mins or 2. cave and get McDonalds “just today.” As you find vegan options at restaurants that you like, add them to your notes so it’s easy to order for next time without analyzing every ingredient on the menu again.

5. Remember why you started

There are several different reasons you may have chosen to or want to go vegan for. It could be a humane/moral thing, an environmental basis, or even a health reason. When you feel like you want to cheat or give up, you need to pause and put yourself back into that mental space that made you want to start. Did you watch a documentary about the agriculture industry that made you want to save the animals? Did you feel inspired by Earth Day posts and wanted to lower your carbon footprint? Try to journal it out and take a few minutes to put yourself back into that headspace.

lifestyle, Personal, Uncategorized

2021 Goal Check!

Today is February 1st, and a Monday! There is extra “fresh start” energy in the air!

Last night I sat down with a journal and touched base on my 2021 “resolutions”/goals to see where I’m at. I think it’s super easy to set these goals with the “New Year New Me” vibes at the beginning of January, but for many people, they taper off by the end of the first month. I felt like I did a lot of sporadic things this month that generally were on track with my goals, but felt like they were scattered and I couldn’t visualize the totality of my progress unless I sat down and wrote it out.

I HIGHLY encourage you to take some time today and list out the things you did in January that aligned with your 2021 goals. Don’t leave anything out! For me, my list included things like:

  • Took care of my body by attending overdue doctor appointments
  • Bought an exercise bike and hit 150 miles in January
  • Cleaned up my eating habits
  • Made time for skincare
  • Made time for spirituality
  • Read more books
  • Hit one large life goal! (dream car)
  • Worked on budgeting/saving

Next – I challenge you to list the things you did in January that did NOT align with your 2021 goals, so you can see what to eliminate for February. For me, this included things like:

  • Ate fast food when I shouldn’t have
  • Ordered too many sugary drinks from Starbucks (this hurt my money and health goals)
  • Skipped workouts when I didn’t need to
  • Compromised valuable sleep time scrolling on my phone

Lastly, take a moment to journal out what you want your February to look like. Are you going to be more consistent with your workouts? Are you going to reach a specific goal at your job? Are you going to focus more time on family?

Don’t let your New Year energy fizzle out. It’s a new month, a new work week, a new day, and a new opportunity to show up as the person you want to be!

February, be kind to us all!

Feel free to share some reflections on your new year goals below!

lifestyle, Recipes

Vegetarian Gluten-Free Tacos Three Ways

This blog post is dedicated to my VIP subscribers, Lindsey and Alex, who are dipping their toes into the vegetarian world in 2021. If you haven’t seen some of my older posts, I am lifelong vegetarian since, quite literally, I was in the womb. I asked them what recipe they want to see done on the blog first – Lindsey picked tacos. So, here are my simple vegetarian, protein-filled, gluten-free tacos done three different ways!

TORTILLAS!

First, get the tortillas going. I use soft corn tortillas as they are typically gluten-free. Just check the ingredients and make sure their is no gluten flour added to the corn mix! I heat a nickel-size olive oil in a small pan, and cook one tortilla at a time while I work on the rest of the ingredients. Cook until it slightly browns, flip, remove from heat. Add another bit of olive oil for each tortilla. I cook them this way because it crisps them up and helps prevent them ripping and spilling your taco everywhere.

PROTEIN!

My all-time favorite is using Gardein beefless crumbles for the meat. They are vegan and gluten-free, and cook super fast. I put some olive oil in the pan, dump the frozen crumbles in, and add 1 full packet of gluten-free taco seasoning. You can add a tiny bit of water or more olive oil as the crumbles heat to keep them juicy.

Second-best: regular ole canned black beans. Pro-tip, when you’re out to eat at a mexican restaurant, they have black beans. Ask if you can do tacos with black beans, or whatever your usual order is, subbing in black beans. I microwave my black beans for 60 sec. or you can cook in a pan until heated.

Last but not least: pre-packaged and seasoned Tex-Mex jackfruit. I throw a little olive oil in the pan and then empty the jackfruit package into the pan. If it’s pre-seasoned and marinated, you likely don’t need to add much. Cook until heated through.

TOPPINGS!

Add whatever you normally like on your tacos! I did butterhead lettuce, fresh salsa, fine-shredded Mexican cheese, avocado slices, cilantro and lime squeezed on top!

My biggest tip to anyone looking to try going vegetarian or vegan, is don’t try to jump from eating meat regularly to this idea of a vegetarian who eats only veggies, fruit and drinks green juice every day. You won’t last. Start simple by making the usual meals you eat and subbing the meat with one of the countless amounts of veggie meats you can find today.

Questions for a lifelong vegetarian? Comment below or DM me on instagram!

lifestyle, Mom Stuff, Personal, Recipes

The Meal Service You Need in 2021

Photo from Hungryroot.com

I have gotten so many questions on my Hungryroot subscription so here is my full review now that I’ve been using it for a few months!

I have been searching for a while for a meal service that had a good selection of healthy gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian recipes. A lot of the popular meal service companies have vegetarian plans, or gluten-free plans, but rarely a good selection of recipes that are both. Hungryroot was the first one I’ve found that has a large amount of gluten-free and vegetarian recipes. On that note, you can customize the recipes you can choose from based on your own dietary needs. They provide the 10 minute recipes and the raw ingredients – so the meals are not prepped/pre-packaged. Hungryroot is essentially a half-meal plan, half-grocery service.

The plans start at $59 a week. I started at about $100 a week, then went down to $80 a week, and now I’m at $59 a week for now. I will probably go back and forth between about $60-$80 a week from now on. You can skip or reschedule deliveries whenever you want. The pricing depends on the amount of “servings” and meals you choose. However, once you select your plan (say you choose 2 servings each, 2 lunches and 3 dinners), your plan converts to Hungryroot “credits.” This is key! Here’s why:

You can edit your delivery based on recipes or groceries. The way I get more meals for my money now is I sort the recipes (I shop by recipe) from lowest credits to highest credits. So, instead of getting 3 meals that are 12 credits each, I can get 7 credit meals and get more meals for the same plan. You can also fully shop groceries only with those credits. I aim for 4-5 recipes, 2 servings each, and I normally have 1-2 credits left to add grocery items, like dressing, a pack of ramen or a snack. Here’s a snippet of how I browse through recipes by credits. The 28 credits is for my current $60/week plan.

The recipes are divided into categories of stir-fries, pastas, flatbreads, market plates, grain bowls, warm bowls, sandwiches, tacos, burgers, wraps, salads and bakes. The ingredients include fresh produce, some popular health brands, and Hungryroot’s own branded items. Some of my favorite popular brands they carry regularly are Beyond Meat, Banza pasta, Lotus Foods Ramen and Nutpods. A few of my favorite Hungryroot brand items include their Four Cheese Gluten-Free Tortelloni, Superfood Tomato Sauce, Cashew Cheddar Sauce, Spicy Refried Red Beans and their Hearty Tofu Veggie Burger. With my pre-set dietary preferences, I do not view the meat and gluten options when I select my recipes, but you can browse their current options on their website without setting up an account.

My typical weekly delivery will include a salad, tacos, grain bowl and a pasta, with maybe a couple snacks or extra packs of ramen.

You have a certain day each week you have to edit your delivery by. If you forget, they will choose the recipes for you based on your dietary preferences. This comes in handy for me so much because I often forget to choose my recipes by the deadline!

What I love:

  • The convenience of not having to shop, especially with a baby and during Covid.
  • It is so worth the money to me to not have to plan out each meal, easily select a few recipes each week, and have them show up at my doorstep.
  • I can’t accidentally overspend at the store. If you set me loose in Hyvee to get stuff to make a homemade pizza, or do pasta night, I can easily drop $60 for that one meal. This prevents me throwing random unnecessary stuff in my cart that will go to waste (and I’m really trying to limit our food waste!).
  • The pricing is constantly adjustable and you can skip a week when you don’t need it.
  • All my meals are balanced and have a healthy portion of protein, whether broccoli, protein pasta, beans, tofu etc., which is so important as a vegetarian.
  • The products, especially Hungryroot’s own brand, are so tasty, healthy and have good ingredients. A lot of the products they carry are also organic.
  • Their packaging is insanely eco-friendly down to the ice pack which doubles as plant food??
  • The recipes only take about 10 minutes which is ideal for this working mama with long work days and a long commute. Matt also doesn’t mind prepping dinner for me some days because it’s so easy to do!
  • Hungryroot is sustainability focused!

What I don’t love:

  • The delivery service they use is kind of sketchy. We have had some strange characters deliver and they always fly up the street in creepy unmarked vans LOL
  • I’ve had a few deliveries with missing items that showed they were checked off on the inventory sheet in the box but weren’t in there
  • I would like if the website adjusted more to what I usually order. For instance, I typically order tacos, pasta, salad and grain bowls. I never get any of the thai food with peanut sauce or stir-fries. Just not my style. When I miss the edit deadline though, I always end up with stir-fries and peanut thai food that I literally never pick (still within my restrictions of gluten-free/vegetarian). So, it would be nice if it sort of tracked my preferences better.
  • There were a couple weeks where their recipe selection was unusually limited. I don’t know if it was Covid-related or not but I haven’t noticed that issue again in a couple months.

Overall, my verdict is – I will be sticking with Hungryroot for the foreseeable future! I am addicted to the convenience of not only the cost-friendly delivery to your doorstep, but also the convenience of having pre-planned, simple and balanced 10 minute recipes within my dietary restrictions. For a busy mom, I have yet to find something that fits my needs so well.

If you want to give Hungryroot a try, you can use my referral code S7CAXUEN for $40 off your first delivery!

Let me know in the comments if you have any specific questions I can answer!

lifestyle, Uncategorized

Shopping Small & Local – A Holiday Guide for my Genoa/Sycamore/DeKalb Friends

Prairie State Winery (Genoa/Sycamore)

Prairie State is a yearly stop for me – and it’s easy to snag from their Genoa location, or in the “local wines” section of Hyvee (Sycamore). The thing about Prairie State wine is they are ALL good. Even people who don’t typically like Reds (like me) will love their holiday hit – Holiday Red. They also have other holiday wines including Merry Berry (my favorite), Winter White and Winter Warmth. Whether you’re looking for a table wine to bring for your Christmas host, or for a small gift for a friend, boss or family member, a craftily-wrapped bottle from Prairie State will make the perfect gesture. They run about $15 and under per bottle.

The Enchanted Valley Farm (Genoa/Kingston)

This the cutest little hidden gem in Kingston and they’re doing a special four-days-only Holiday Gift Shop event! The gift shop will be open 11/28, 11/29, 12/5 and 12/6 and they are only allowing 2 people, or a private group, in at a time with masks for a safe, anxiety-free shopping experience for all. You can also shop by private appointment, or do curbside pickup or free local delivery! A perk of shopping here is they offer a boutique shopping experience with select goods from several crafters and other local small businesses as well.

Herb/o/logy (Genoa/Kingston)

One of the featured available local brands at Enchanted Valley is Herb/o/logy. My mom actually introduced me to their products in our Christmas stockings a year or two ago! Herb/o/logy is a plant-based, natural skin-care collection with lotions, lip butters, soaps and more. I personally recommend the lip butter balms!

Genoa Guest House (Genoa)

Genoa Guest House is another hidden gem that I’ve been dying to check out since I first discovered it earlier this year. The Genoa Guest House is a fully-remodeled, eco-friendly home built in 1888 that offers a unique and charming Bed & Breakfast deal. Get your parents a two-day stay and give them a mini-vacation after a year of travel bans. You can also purchase a gift certificate, or try their “Pick Up On The Porch” this holiday season!

Cassie’s Popcorn (Sycamore)

Don’t forget about our iconic little popcorn stand in downtown Sycamore! Don’t know what to do for a grab bag gift? Swing by for some gourmet popcorn, throw in a good movie or streaming gift card with some candy. Or, sub some of that Christmas candy for your kids with some yummy popcorn under the tree or in their stockings! It would also make the perfect little treat to put out at your Christmas gathering.

Mardi Gras Lanes (Sycamore/DeKalb)

Fun fact – I’ve been a bowler since I was in the third grade. I grew up at Mardi Gras Lanes and it’s still owned and operated by the same wonderful people. As you can imagine, Covid is making it difficult to operate an indoor sport facility. Luckily, you can get an e-gift card here for a perfect stocking-stuffer for your family bowler, or for a promised future date night or family night to look forward to!

Rustic Roots Sycamore (Sycamore)

Rustic Roots is the cutest home decor shop located in downtown Sycamore. You can shop in-person or online here.

Coroco Coffee Roaster Collective (Sycamore)

For the coffee lover in your life. Grab a bag (or more!) of their unique roasts and pair with a cute mug, and maybe a gift card! This would also make a great grab-bag or co-worker/boss gift. For your SO, purchase one of their coffee subscriptions for 3 months, 6 months or a year for delicious, carefully-crafted roasts delivered to their doorstep.

Sweet De-Lights (Genoa)

Need a dessert to pass at your (Covid-safe and ~small~) Holiday gathering? Reach out to Sweet De-lights in Genoa for a custom dessert. You could also order some sweet stocking stuffers (think cookies, cake pops, chocolate suckers…) AND – she makes the super-popular hot chocolate bombs! (Seriously – look at how awesome her Thanksgiving hot chocolate bombs were!)

Bleu Palette Art Studio (Sycamore)

Bleu Palette is woman-owned and operated by a long-time family friend! It’s one of Sycamore’s hidden gems, located on 23 a little north of State Street. Bleu Pallete usually hosts in-person group painting classes but is temporarily doing online-only events, artist consulting and commission work, and ART KITS! She sells art kits for only $22 which would make a perfect gift to keep your kids busy during our Covid Christmas. Kits are being re-stocked December 1st!

Blumen Gardens (Sycamore)

If you haven’t been to Blumen Gardens yet, wyd?! Their warehouse shop is loaded with unique finds that would make great gifts for anyone. They are having a Small Business Weekend Sale this weekend through Monday (11/30), featuring 20% off fresh greens, wreaths, porch accessories, poinsettias and more!

Sara Jennings Photography (Sycamore)

Know of someone who will need family photos or maternity photos soon? Purchase a gift certificate from Sara Jennings Photography! She is currently offering 20% off sessions AND gift certificates through 11:59 pm on 11/29 (but only for the first ten clients to purchase!)

Cracker Jax (DeKalb)

Cracker Jax is loaded with fun finds. A new and vintage boutique in downtown DeKalb, Cracker Jax has SO MUCH to look at, I just know you’ll find at least one gift while you peruse the beautiful rooms. My favorites are their crystals, incense, sage and aromatherapy collections!

Studio One Salon & Spa (DeKalb)

This goes without saying, but this year has been incredibly stressful for everyone. A gift card to Studio One would make a perfect gift for your loved one to de-stress with a massage, facial, mani/pedis, you name it.

The Forge of Sycamore (Sycamore)

Perfect for a gift or for your small Christmas gathering. Pick up some cans (or growler!) of The Forge’s craft beer and give as a gift with a gift card, or order some of their amazing pizzas and apps for your ~covid-friendly~ holiday get-together.

OpenDoor Coffee (Genoa)

OpenDoor Coffee is the cutest family-owned coffee business in Genoa. Pair one or two bags of their coffee beans with their cute mug and a gift card and you have the perfect gift! A gift card would also make a great stocking-stuffer.

OutMatched Gaming (Sycamore)

Stop into OutMatched Gaming on Small Business Saturday to check out their sale! They offer board games, sports cards, figurines, Magic the Gathering cards, Pokemon cards, New Release Comics, graphic novels & more!

Sugar on Top Bake Shop (Genoa)

Sugar on Top is a Genoa favorite and offers so many treats, including cakes, pies, cupcakes, cookies and more. Think stocking-stuffers or a dessert gift for your host! They are currently utilizing curbside pick-up too!

lifestyle, Mom Stuff

Etsy Christmas Shopping for Baby

Looking back at 2020, it’s clear to see why there’s a bigger-than-usual push to shop small this Christmas. I’ve put together this Christmas List for Babies from Etsy shops only to help you shop small this holiday season. Just click the links to shop!

Personalized Wooden Name Puzzle with Pegs – Montessori Baby Toy by SouthBendWoodworks in Southbend, IN (Price varies based on number of letters)

Personalized Wooden Name Puzzle with Pegs Montessori Baby image 0

Nutmeg Baby Swing from Sweet Swinging, Iowa (Starting at $100)

Nutmeg baby swing Christmas gift baby shower gift image 0

Baby Boho Rainbow Wooden Teether from ModFox, Beebee, AR (On Sale for $14.40)

Baby Boho Rainbow Teether  Wooden Ring Teether  Neutral Baby image 0

Minky Neutral Rainbow Blanket from GoldCactusShop in TX (Starting at $26)

Minky Neutral Rainbow Baby Crib Blanket Neutral Rainbow Crib image 0

Baby Crinkle Toy from PiccoloPesca in Minneapolis, MN ($13)

Baby Crinkle Toy Busy Mom Toy Plush Teething Toy Plush image 0

Maplewood Play Gym with Macrame Toys from SimpleToyCompany in North Dorr, MI ($89 for all pieces – can buy individual pieces!)

Maple wood play gym with macrame toys play gym for baby wood image 0

Pixie Hat and Booties Set from LiliasDesign in Spokane, WA (Starting at $35)

SET Pixie hat and booties 0-6 months Wool Alpaca Gift Set image 0

Baby Toy Blocks from BabySewLovable, PA (Starting at $20)

Baby toy block baby shower gift baby rattle teething toy image 0
Baby toy block baby shower gift rainbow teething toy rattle image 0

Knit handmade toys from LynnMichelleDesign in Ohio (Starting at $17)

Christmas Tree  Handmade Soft Knit Toy  Pebble Fair Trade  image 1
Rudolph  Handmade Kids Soft Toy  Pebble Fair Trade Gift  image 3

Baby’s First Christmas Toys Set from Legacy Learning, IL (On sale for $27)

Baby's First Christmas Toys Christmas Tree Teething Toys image 1

Crocheted Baby Bear Lovey by Cindy’s Crocheted Keepsakes in AZ ($27 – multiple colors!)

Bear lovey Baby lovey Childs lovey image 0
lifestyle, Recipes

Gluten-free Apple Pie Bars

Apple-picking season is upon us. If you’re like me, you LOVE going to the apple orchard (shoutout to Jonamac in Malta, IL) and picking a bag full of apples! But then you get home, and you’re like – what am I going to do with all these apples?

Here’s your solution: gluten-free apple pie bars. I’m not a huge baker, but these are so easy and simple to make!

Ingredients for the gluten-free crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I used half rice flour and half almond flour)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (cubed, cold)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • A couple pinches of salt

Ingredients for the filling

  • 3-4 medium Apples (use different colors!)
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • Squeeze half a lemon to finish it off

Putting it all together:

  • Oven at 350 degrees. Prep baking dish with unbleached parchment paper.
  • Combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, butter and vanilla into food processor. (If you don’t have a food processor, I used my ninja bullet and manually pulsed it. It worked perfectly!)
  • Press dough into bottom of baking dish. Save some for some crumbles or cut-out shapes/designs on top.
  • Bake the crust for 15 minutes.
  • Slice apples and combine filing ingredients in a bowl. When the crust has cooked for 15 minutes, pour filling onto crust.
  • Crumble dough or add crust designs to top of apples.
  • Bake for another 35-40 minutes.
lifestyle, Pregnancy

7 Healing Crystals for Pregnancy

Despite being used for their healing properties for thousands of years, crystals are definitely having a moment right now. Have you been curious about this new crystals trend? Have you wondered how to use them in your own life? In this post I’m going to do a simplified overview of how to use healing crystals, and then I’ll highlight seven different crystals you can benefit from during pregnancy.

The idea behind healing crystals is that each crystal or stone has its own energy. That energy interacts with our own energy, which in turn can have different healing effects.

To properly prepare to use a crystal, you need to first cleanse a new crystal to remove any energies attached to it from the store. You only want the inherent energies of the stone to remain when you use it. I normally do this by soaking them in water for at least a day (natural stream water or rain water is best, but tap water is okay if it’s all you have). Be careful with this method as water can corrode/rust certain stones. You can also sage the crystals, but be sure to be extra thorough!

Once your crystal is cleansed, you can “charge” the crystal. Some people skip this step but I prefer not to. Charging the crystal is exactly what it sounds like – you’re energizing the crystal to power up its natural healing properties. You can charge your clean crystals by placing the next to a selenite stone, or placing them on a selenite charger. You can also leave them out overnight to charge in the moonlight.

Once your crystal is cleansed and charged, it’s time to set your intentions, or “program” the stone. People do this in different ways. I simply do a form of meditation. I play some meditation music on Spotify, relax as much as I can, then I pick up the stone and meditate with it in my hand. While holding the stone tight in my fist, I silently speak into existence what I want the stone to help me with. Once you feel as though you’ve sufficiently set your intentions with that stone, it’s ready to use!

To “use” the stone, you can simply carry it with you (close to the body). You can take it out and hold the crystal when you need it. You can also meditate with it in your hand or place it on the chakra that stone is connected to. If you ever want to “reset” the stone and use it for a different purpose, sage the stone, charge the stone and set your new intentions.

Now that you know the basics of using healing crystals, here are my seven crystals to use during pregnancy:

1. Rose Quartz

Rose quartz is often referred to as the love stone. It radiates a gentle energy that promotes bonding between mom and baby during and after pregnancy.

2. Clear quartz

Clear quartz is a neutral crystal that can be used for virtually any purpose. If you’re interested in healing crystals but don’t want to buy a ton – start with a clear quartz and program it for whatever intention you have to aid in your pregnancy.

3. Angelite

This stone is perfect for you if you believe you have guardian angels and want to encourage your connection with them during your pregnancy.

4. Amethyst

Amethyst is a favorite of mine as it has so many different uses, is widely available and budget-friendly, and is a beautiful purple hue! During pregnancy, it can help with insomnia, relaxation, protection, pregnancy headaches and can promote positive pregnancy dreams.

5. Unakite

Unakite aids with anxiety and stress during pregnancy. Promotes peace, patience and bonding. It is also believed to help with skin elasticity (think stretchmarks!) Keep this stone around for your labor as well.

6. Black Tourmaline

Black tourmaline is a powerful protection stone. If you want to ward off any type of negative energy during pregnancy, whether it be from other people or spiritually, this is the stone for you.

7. Carnelian

Referred to as the “stone of fertility,” carnelian is directly related to the sacral chakra and reproductive organs. Use it to manifest health and strength of your reproductive system before, during and after your pregnancy.

I prefer shopping for crystals in-person, so you can choose specific stones you feel drawn to or feel a connection to. If that’s not an option, shopping online works too! My favorite local shop has a vast online store you can shop here: https://www.crystal-life.com/

*Always discuss health concerns with your physician

Pregnancy

Baby Registry Checklist

Starting your baby registry can feel overwhelming. Most moms making a registry are making one for their first child and have no idea where to begin (like me). So, we go down the Google rabbit hole, reading article after blog post after article trying to figure out what we NEED need, what we kind of need, what we can buy later/what is unnecessary.

I spent a lot of time researching what to add to my own registry but didn’t want to write this post until I was a little into the newborn phase so I could REALLY tell you what you need and what you don’t.

The first step in creating a registry is deciding where to create your registry. I was torn because I wanted to create a Target registry for most things but also wanted to add thing from baby boutiques, Etsy, Amazon, Walmart, etc. So, I ended up looking into Babylist. Babylist allows you to add items from virtually any store to your one Babylist registry. And, when your friends and family shop it, each registry item has a price widget that shows them price comparisons for the same item on other websites, ensuring they don’t overpay. Other neat features of Babylist are the gift tracker, the free Hello Baby Box, free insert cards for your baby shower invitations, cute baby progress updates and 15% off registry items from the Babylist store after your shower. The way Babylist works with adding items from multiple websites naturally encourages online shopping which is helpful to your guests during Covid.

Once you set up your registry, the hard part begins – what do you add?! Here is my list, broken down by level of necessity from my own experience. The “Newborn Necessities” are what I consider the must-haves for the newborn phase. The “Nice to Have” list are not necessities but are convenient, or are things you can hold off on getting until after those initial newborn days of feeding, sleeping and repeating. I’m including links for certain products I particularly like!

Newborn Necessities:

  1. Infant car seat
  2. Bassinet
  3. Changing pad and covers
  4. Baby monitor
  5. Bottles and bottle brush
  6. Breast pump (check with your insurance what they will pay for) and supplies if breastfeeding (milk storage bags, nursing pads, nipple cream)
  7. Bottle sterilizer or sterilizer bags
  8. Formula and nursery water (if not breastfeeding or preparing for potential supplementing)
  9. Burp cloths (cloth “diapers” like these are my favorite to use as burp cloths) and bibs
  10. Diapers
  11. Wipes
  12. Baby safety/grooming kit with thermometer, nasal bulb, hair brush, nail clippers
  13. Baby bath tub, shampoo/body wash, lotion
  14. Hooded bath towels and baby washcloths
  15. Swaddle blankets or velcro swaddles
  16. Medicine cabinet stock (vaseline (necessary for circumcision healing), gripe water, (a MUST have) gas drops, baby Tylenol/Motrin, Desitin, non-talc powder, saline drops, chest rub, Pedialyte, teething ointment).
  17. Onesies in multiple sizes (preemie, NB, 0-3, 3-6 mos., 6 mos., 6-9 mos.) (*I recommend at least having a few preemie onesies/nightgowns since preemies are usually unexpected! They’re so cheap and will be a lifesaver if your little one comes early. Trust me – the last thing you want to be doing while baby is in the NICU/special nursery is online shopping for preemie clothes so you can dress them in something from home. Keep the receipts and you can return if you don’t use them!).
  18. Pants/leggings in multiple sizes
  19. One piece pajamas/nightgowns in multiple sizes (preemie, NB, 0-3 mos., 3-6 mos., 6 mos., 6-9 mos.)
  20. Other seasonal apparel depending on when baby is due (summer outfits, sun hat, swimwear, winter coats, bunting bag, etc.)
  21. Diaper cream
  22. NB beanies/hats
  23. Socks
  24. Stroller or travel system with infant carseat
  25. Carseat/stroller cover (for sun protection)
  26. Crib, mattress, waterproof mattress cover, crib sheets
  27. Lounger like Dock-A-Tot, Snuggle Me pillow or Boppy Lounger (different from Boppy nursing pillow)
  28. Diaper bag
  29. Baby swing or bouncer
  30. NB pacifiers
  31. Mirrors for backseat
  32. Shades for car window

Nice to have:

  1. Clothing other than onesies/pants/sleepers (undershirts, shorts, tops, sweaters, dresses, rompers, mittens, undershirts).
  2. Owlet sock (I highly recommend this product – it allows you to fall asleep with some peace of mind. Especially with having my LO in the mid-level NICU for two weeks, I was used to being able to monitor his oxygen levels and HR).
  3. Boppy/nursing pillow
  4. Playard
  5. Diaper pail
  6. Booty brush
  7. Postpartum supplies
  8. Moby/Boba wrap or other carrier
  9. Bath thermometer
  10. Baby laundry detergent
  11. Baby dish soap
  12. Baby bug spray
  13. Baby sunblock
  14. Booties (shoes not necessary until baby is walking)
  15. 2 blankets thicker than swaddles
  16. Nasal aspirator
  17. Books (signed with personal messages from your guests if possible!)
  18. High chair (baby won’t need for a while)
  19. Home safety items (not needed until baby is on the move!) such as gates, outlet covers, cabinet/drawer latches, furniture anchors and bumpers, toilet lock, etc.)
  20. Shopping cart cover
  21. Baby clothing hangers
  22. Walker
  23. Bottle drying rack
  24. Bottle warmer
  25. Nursing bras if breastfeeding
  26. Chair for nursery
  27. Dresser for nursery
  28. Night light
  29. Cool mist humidifier
  30. Noise machine (I use lullabye, white noise, ocean and nature noise playlists on spotify)
  31. Wipe warmer
  32. Hamper
  33. Teethers
  34. Lovies/Toys
  35. Toy storage
  36. Stroller/carseat toy attachments
  37. Stroller/carseat rain cover
  38. Mosquito net for carseat/stroller
  39. Play gym
  40. Pacifier clips
  41. Bottle bag
  42. Car/trunk caddy
  43. Boogie wipes
  44. Face/body wipes
  45. Crib mobile

Moms – what were your must-haves or favorite products when you brought your LO home? Drop a comment for our new mamas!

lifestyle

Five Clean Skincare Staples for Moms

As a new mom, the last thing I think about in a day is myself. I forget to eat most days. I lose track of when I’ve showered (gross, I know). Dry shampoo is my best friend. I leave the house with no makeup and rocking loungewear. I’m sure all moms can relate.

These five clean skincare products make is easy and affordable for the busy mom to still take care of her skin – and if it’s all you manage to slather on in the AM (like me), you can feel confident running out the door with a naked face.

  1. Origins Ginzing Refreshing Eye Cream

Eye creams can get super expensive. The full size version (0.5 oz) is only $32.00 and will last you a lifetime. A little goes a long way. They also make this on-the-go mini tube for $25.00. I’ve been using this product for years and have tried many other eye creams. This one is my favorite because not only does it immediately brighten and add a glow to your dark bags under your eyes, but it contains actual caffeine from coffee to ~literally~ wake your eyes up. So, for all those days you feel like “I need to soak my eyes in steaming hot coffee” – this will do the trick without the irreparable burns. Vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, and verified Clean at Sephora. Also, the little glass jar can be re-used instead of tossed!

2. Honest Beauty Vitamin C Radiance Serum

Like eye creams, serums can get expensive as well. This full size tube (1 oz) of vitamin C serum is only $28.00 and lasts a while – even with daily use. I love this serum because it is “clean” (made without parabens, BHT, synthetic dyes, phthalates, mineral oil & synthetic fragrances) and it stays on all day. Most days I only use my Origins eye cream and this serum and that’s it – no makeup. But at the end of the day when I wash my face, I can fee the serum is still there. It also has this iridescent shimmer/glow to it that instantly brightens your whole face. On top of the Vitamin C – it contains artichoke extract (minimizes pores) and hyaluronic acid.

3. First Aid Beauty 5 in 1 Face Cream SPF 30

I’m a big fan of First Aid Beauty and have been for a while. Their Ultra Repair Cream is my go-to moisturizer in all seasons. This 5 in 1 Face Cream takes everything I love about their Ultra Repair moisturizers and adds in sun protection, preventing wrinkles by filtering UVA/UVB rays with Zinc Oxide. For $40 you get a solid weapon against all the icky stuff that ages your skin. Vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, recyclable packaging and verified Clean at Sephora.

4. Mad Hippie Hydrating Nutrient Mist

If you don’t know about Mad Hippie, they are a top natural skincare company that also focuses on conservation efforts. All Mad Hippie products are free of Parabens, synthetic fragrance, dyes, petrochemicals, PEGs, and SLS, and are cruelty free! I love this product because a full size spray bottle (4 oz) is only $20 and it’s fast to use while loading your skin with good stuff. I spritz some on in the morning and/or before bed, or throughout the day for a refresher (if I’m not wearing makeup). This spray is loaded with natural antioxidants and moisturizers such as milk thistle, resveratrol, green tea, white pine bark and pomegranate seed extract, to give your skin a fast and easy spritz of pure, healthy goodness.

5. Honest Beauty Makeup Remover Wipes

I’ve tried a bunch of makeup remover wipes and I, along with many women, always go back to the Neutrogena makeup remover wipes because nothing seems to work as well. I just recently tried these looking for a clean option for wipes and I was thoroughly impressed. They remove makeup and grime just as well as the Neutrogena wipes and come without all the nasty chemicals! They also smell ten times better and don’t run you extra money for the clean ingredients ($7 for a pack of 30). Free of parabens, silicones, synthetic fragrances and pthalates, and always cruelty-free.

Drop your favorite clean skincare products below!