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I Am Not My Anxiety

Let's talk about mental health.

I've always been a somewhat anxious person; worrying about every little thing and usually playing out all the worse case scenarios in my head. But once I got pregnant with Emma, things got worse. I became obsessed about what I was eating while I was pregnant. Double checking everything was pasteurized, didn't contain any spices that were said to bring on early labour, and keeping Adam's lunch meat in a special drawer in our fridge that I refused to touch. I didn't think it was too weird considering how many years and how much money it took to get pregnant. I didn't want to take any chances to mess things up.

My everything.

This Summer

Infertility is a bitch. I've been through a lot in my lifetime and experienced a lot of emotions, but infertility has kicked my ass.

It took us 5 years to get pregnant with Emma. Our first round of IVF was successful. However, the multiple IUIs, fertility drugs, and other methods were a huge source of stress and drained us emotionally and financially. But we were finally pregnant! Emma is a blessing and has made us so happy.


What I'm Loving Now

Winter has been exceptionally long this year. We almost broke records on how much snow fell and we lived with a snow fortress surrounding our house for the last couple of months. Thank goodness it has been melting away the last couple of weeks.

We did disappear to the Florida Keys in February for a week which was a nice change from winter. All of us thrived down there in the sun and heat. Emma and Adam's eczema cleared up, I slept better after getting fresh air daily, and our moods were just better.

I'm itching for nice weather to show up. We've had a few teases of sunshine and above zero degrees temperatures, but it still doesn't feel like spring.

Ever since getting back from Florida, I've been trying to find ways to bring 'warm weather' back into my life, even if it's just a trick of the brain; things like melting fruity scentsy scents, drinking iced tea, and shopping for warm-weather clothes.

Skinny Syrup

Unicorn Syrup & Mermaid Syrup

I've purchased a couple of flavours of Skinny Syrup in the past; s'mores and pumpkin spice. I usually add them to my coffee, both hot and iced, and it's a nice addition. When a friend told me about the new flavours, I knew I had to try them. I picked up the Unicorn syrup and Mermaid syrup and I'm loving them! I didn't know what to do with them initially because the flavours don't work with coffee. The Unicorn syrup is a blue-raspberry flavour and the Mermaid syrup reminds me of pina colada. I decided to add them to my unsweetened iced tea, and the syrup makes it taste incredible! I've been making iced green tea (assorted fruity green teas) and both of these syrups are great in them. I want to try them in smoothies, milkshakes, and cocktails next!

Queer Eye

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The third season of Queer Eye came out in March on Netflix. I finally had the chance to watch it last week. It's not surprising that almost every episode made me cry but also filled my heart up. If you haven't watched the show, I highly recommend it if you're looking for something to warm your heart. Every episode leaves me happy and ready to take on the day!

Chocolate Eggs


Ha! Seems random but I'm OBSESSED with them right now. My Dad even picked me up a giant bag of them from Costco and they're close to being gone! I eat a handful while drinking a hot coffee... yum!

I've recently bought some new beauty products and have some Easter recipes to try out. I'll be sure to share what I end up loving!

What are you obsessed with right now?
xo Jen

New Beginning

It's a new year which always feels like a new beginning to me; a fresh start. I've never been one to hold myself all that accountable for new year resolutions. I wrote down a few goals I'd like to work on this year, but honestly, the only things that matter to me this year are making memories and doing what makes me happy.

We have some fun plans this year, some set in stone and others that we need to finalize. Emma will be walking this year and she's already proved 2019 to be interesting since she's now crawling and trying to stand up. I can only imagine how many new adventures we'll encounter this year with her.

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I've also found new inspiration in my creative life - artists, creators, crafts, fabric. So many things have sparked new motivation in me. I haven't felt that in a while to be honest. It's nice. It's nice to feel these things again which make me want to spend time in my craft room or sit at my laptop and write .

My first step in my newfound creative world is starting a new Instagram account; one that will focus solely on my creativity and interests - sewing, crafting, reading, geeky things, and blogging. I've always held myself back a little bit on Instagram knowing that the people who follow me might not want to see a lot of Etsy posts, book reviews, toys, or new fabric pictures. Now, I feel free to spam the heck out of my 'creative' account.

The other thing I want to focus on is streamlining my social media presence. I'm taking a break from Twitter. I have found I just scroll on there; not really interacting or sharing my own thoughts. The next is Facebook. I've backed away from Facebook this past year a bit. I go on randomly only because most of my family is active on there and it's a way to stay sort of connected. But I don't want to get lost in that timeline either. So my goal is to connect my new Instagram account to my Facebook page. That way I can still share things without really having to log into Facebook.

I apologize and also thank you in advance while I navigate this new inspiration and try to find the voice I want to share online.

xo Jen

New Mom Must-Haves

It's been just over 9 months since Emma entered this world. It's been crazy. So many ups and downs. But I wouldn't trade this experience in for anything. She's amazing. It's definitely a learning experience and I wouldn't have gotten through the last 9 months without the support I've had. My family and friends have been welcome resources to help me in this new chapter of my life.

Emma has been a great baby - she sleeps well, she eats well, she's overall content and happy. We haven't experienced many problems. But that doesn't mean every day has been easy. Some days I don't get the chance to shower between Emma, chores, and just trying to eat; other days, naps are on schedule, feedings run smooth, and I have the opportunity to not only shower, but write up a blog post or bake cookies.

Since it's the time of year when people are out buying gifts, I thought I'd share the top must-haves I've needed over the last 9 months. They would be perfect for the new mom or mom-to-be in your life:

1. Olehenriksen Truth On the Glow Cleansing Cloths - I bought a small pack of these for my hospital bag. I knew the brand had a good reputation but the real reason I bought them was because they contain jojoba oil, which is incredibly moisturizing and gentle on your skin. I fell in love with them! First of all, they were so refreshing to have in the hospital with me but now they've become my go-to cleansing cloth when I can't fit in a shower or to wake up my tired face in the morning. Also, they smell like orange creamsicles.

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2. Batiste Dry Shampoo - Once again, another item to help me get through a shower-less day! I knew the joke of moms living off dry shampoo but I didn't really understand how real it was. Some days naps line up perfectly for me to hop in the shower. But then other days her nap time is filled with cooking, cleaning, napping (I need them too!), sewing, baking, etc. And my hair... sometimes even when I have time to shower, I don't want to wash my hair because I don't have time to deal with styling it. Bed head works better for me. So that's where dry shampoo comes in. I've tried numerous brands but I either hate the smell or it doesn't blend well. Batiste doesn't make me gag from the smell and I can brush it through my hair easily. Success!

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3. Leggings - Since having Emma, I've worn jeans less than a handful of times. It's great! Leggings have been my go-to outfit staple. They're comfy, stretchy, can be dressed up, or worn with an oversized t-shirt. Plus, they worked with my changing body after giving birth. Stocking up on comfy leggings when you're a new mom is a must!



4. Water bottle - I cannot stress enough how much water you should drink right after having a baby, and then keep on drinking! It's so easy to switch to drinking more coffee than water. I do this at least once a week, then I feel gross - headache, upset tummy, jittery. A friend told me to have a water bottle on me at all times. Find a cute water bottle that you like, keep the bottle filled up and bring it with you everywhere! I try to do this. It's too easy to just consume caffeinated drinks.

5. Healthy, ready-to-eat food - Greek yogurt, lots of fruit, pre-cut veggies, trail mix, and high-fibre and/or protein granola bars have been a huge help. These items are helpful right from day 1 of having a new baby! Having these items on hand when Emma was having a bad day or a clingy day was helpful. There were days where I'd forget to eat or couldn't put Emma down, so being able to grab a granola bar and yogurt was life-saving. To this day, there's still times when I can't get away to make a proper meal for myself; when Emma's having a meltdown, diaper explosion or we're too busy between swimming lessons, laundry, bath time, and other bedtime routines. Having healthier snacks to grab and go are key!

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These are my new mom must-haves and I'm sure I'll come across more as we head towards Emma's first birthday. If you're looking to make up a gift bag for a friend expecting or when visiting someone after they've had a baby, a little Mom-wellness gift is a great idea!

xo Jen

My Favourite Baby Must-Haves

Having my first child has been eye-opening. I've learnt so much and made so many mistakes. It becomes a guessing game of what your child needs at times. You want to be 'perfect' but the reality is we're all just winging it and doing the best we can. Sometimes that means spending hours on Google, texting every 'mom' friend you have, or on hold with poison control because your baby licked eczema cream off your finger when you were putting it on her cheeks (or trying to).

With Christmas around the corner, I thought I'd share the top baby items that have saved us over and over again. They would be perfect gift ideas for new parents-to-be or stocking stuffers for infants.

1. Swaddle blankets - even if your child doesn't like to be swaddled these blankets are amazing. They're extra large and made from a breathable cotton. They were perfect for the spring and summer to bring with us on walks. If there was a cool breeze, too much sun, or Emma was upset, having a muslin cotton swaddle on hand helped in all those situations.

She's grown very attached to her swaddles. We've been using them in her car seat since spring and she's become snuggly with them. 

2. Oball - this is an expensive and little toy. It's absolutely perfect for little baby hands! It was the first toy Emma could hold and she was obsessed with it and actually she still is. It was the perfect toy to entertain her from a young age.

Look how little she was!! Anyways, look at that grip on the Oball!

3. Bamboo wipes - these have been great to clean Emma's face. I still use basic Huggies or Pampers wipes for diaper changes. However, since birth Emma has had sensitive skin. She's had some dry spots on her cheeks and her nose gets a little dry after wiping her face after feedings. I quickly switched to natural bamboo wipes for face wipe ups (usually when we're on the go or in a rush) to help with Emma's skin. I noticed right away that her skin didn't look so pink or irritated when using the bamboo wipes.

I've used both this brand and Aleva bamboo wipes.

4. Toy with hook(s) - there are about a million baby toys out there with a hook attached to the top of them. If you find the right one and add on extra hooks (they sell link loops separately) they are ideal to keep on the infant car seat handle. We found a frog that had hanging legs with rattles, tags, and teething rings on it and it's saved us so many times! Baby freaking out in the store? Distract her with the rattle. Baby getting annoyed during a walk? Give her the teether.

You can see the chain of loops we have to hook her frog to the car seat handle. It keeps him from getting lost!

5. Pacifier clip - if you will be using a pacifier, definitely get a strap for it! The first couple of months of Emma's life was her throwing the pacifier onto the floor. She had a hard time keeping it in her mouth and it always landed on the floor. We finally picked up pacifier straps when we took her to the doctor's and she dropped the pacifier on the floor. We were officially grossed out and made a point of searching out a strap for it. It's been helpful when we're out and about. Worse case scenario, the pacifier ends up in her armpit but at least it's clean and not lost in some store. Also, there are times when the pacifier isn't what she wants and she ends up content just playing with the colourful strap hooked onto her shirt.

Made by The Peanut Shell

Every baby is different and they won't all want the same things. The items on this list definitely made life easier for us though and, after 8 months, we've bought multiples of the above items too.

What items made life easier for you when you first had your baby?

xo Jen

Apple Cider Donuts

Last fall and winter I was pregnant which meant I avoided a lot of treats that could be bad for a pregnant lady (deli meats, unpasteurized treats, highly caffeinated drinks). I avoided apple cider for the most part because typically fresh apple cider is unpasteurized. Now, not all apple cider is unpasteurized; a lot sold in grocery stores actually have the word 'pasteurized' on their jugs. But I just avoided buying it out of the convenience of not having to look for that word on the packaging when grocery shopping.


Though, a bit of information for all you hot apple cider drinkers at coffee shops - most coffee shops just heat up plain old apple juice and add a caramel syrup and serve it as apple cider. I worked at Starbucks for a short period of time and this is how they make their hot apple cider. This gave me the confidence to drink it at coffee shops while pregnant.  Anytime we went to a coffee shop last winter I would get either a hot apple cider or hot chocolate. I always inquired if they used apple cider or apple juice. Every place told me apple juice and I'd watch them pull out their 99 cents carton of Allen's Apple Juice to pour... so silly.


Now this fall and winter I plan on indulging in all the things I avoided last year. I want my apple cider, pumpkin spice lattes, and egg nog. And I don't have to read any packaging to check for caffeine content or if it's been pasteurized.

So when I came across a recipe for apple cider donuts that I found on Instagram I knew I had to make them! The recipe can be found here.


The recipe calls for apple cider concentrate. I was confused until I continued reading the recipe. It's just regular apple cider boiled down into a dark, thicker concentrate. So it's super easy to make. I avoid all complicated recipes.

The other ingredient this recipe calls for that confused me was apple pie spice. Apparently it's easy to find in the U.S. but I've never seen it in Canada and after checking 2 grocery stores, I couldn't find it.

You can make a batch of it with these other spices (thanks Betty Crocker!):
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon allspice

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups apple cider (1/2 cup apple cider concentrate)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Topping:
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon apple pie spice
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


To make apple cider concentrate:
1. Pour 1 1/2 cups apple cider in a small pot. Simmer it over low heat on your stove. Stir occasionally. This will reduce the apple cider. Mine took about 30 minutes for it to reduce to half a cup. Let it cool completely. I made this in the morning and baked the donuts in the evening.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease donut pan.
2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, apple pie spice, and salt together in a large bowl.
3. Whisk the melted butter, egg, brown sugar, granulated sugar, milk, and vanilla extract together in a medium bowl.
4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and add the reduce apple cider. Whisk everything together until smooth and combined.
5. Pour batter into donut pan. I used a ziploc bag to do this neatly. Put batter into ziploc bag, snip corner and pipe the batter into the donut spots. It's so much easier doing it this way.
6. Bake for 10-11 minutes. To test if done, poke your finger into the top of the donut. If the donut springs back, they're done. If the fingerprint stays, put them back in!
7. Cool donuts completely on wire rack.
8. Mix sugar, cinnamon and apple pie spice together in a medium bowl for coating. Melt butter.
9. Dunk donuts in melted butter (both sides) and then dunk in the apple spice coating. Place on wax paper to dry.



Needless to say these donuts didn't last long in the house. I'll probably need to make another batch during the cold months coming up. They were a yummy breakfast along with a hot coffee.

xo Jen