Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jamicure! Jamberry manicure & pedicure nail wraps = awesome beauty find!

A few weeks ago (ok, actually more like a few months ago), my friend Liz sent me some Jamberry nail wraps to try and blog about. I had been seeing more and more post all over social media about these wraps and was really curious about them since I have a horrible track record with nail polish. I LOVE having my nails painted, but I'm lucky if polish lasts more than a day before it starts chipping. I'm extremely hard on my nails. I wash my hands ten million times a day while working at the hospital and changing dirty diapers at home, not to forget all the cooking, cleaning and gardening (without gloves) that I do on a regular basis.

To start, here's a little information on the wraps and application process from the Jamberry website:

About the product:

  • How many wraps are on each sheet of nails? One regular sheet includes 18 Jamberry nail wraps. One sheet of Jamberry Juniors wraps include 42 nail wraps.
  • How many applications does one sheet provide? One regular sheet of nail wraps can be used for two to three applications, depending on the size and length of your nails. One sheet of Jamberry Juniors can be used for up to six applications. 
  • How long will my nail wraps last? Jamberry nail wraps last up to 2 weeks on fingers and 4 weeks on toes.
  • There are so many CUTE varieties! There is definitely something for everyone.
  • Really affordable. Much cheaper than getting a manicure/pedicure regularly, plus you don't have to worry about bacteria/disease from the salon. $15 a sheet which is enough for 2-3 applications or more depending on your use.

Application:


Simple & Easy:

  1. Push back cuticles and clean nails with an alcohol wipe.
  2. Match nail (finger or toe) to the nail wrap that best fits.
  3. Peel off nail wrap and warm the adhesive side with a mini heater or blow dryer (that's what I used) for 3-5 seconds or until soft/flexible.
  4. When warm, press wrap onto the nail. Apply firm pressure around edges to adhere wrap to nail.
  5. Trim the top with scissors and file off remaining wrap using a downward motion (really important to file in that motion!) to remove excess.
  6. Apply heat and pressure to the wrap again until it is bonded to the nail.
My tips for application would be to make sure to have cuticle scissors to cut the wraps. I used regular scissors because I couldn't find my cuticle scissors and it would be much easier with smaller scissors to use. Also, using tweezers to hold the edge of the wrap while warming makes application easier. And finally, have a newer file to use to be more efficient and get a smoother file. I was surprised how easy it was to do once I got the initial hang of it. 

My opinion: 
I honestly really liked this product. I had my reservations since I've had really bad luck with most nail products and their longevity, but these actually stayed on and didn't show wear like normal nail polish does. The application process was simple and didn't take too long (which is great since my free time is very little anymore with a baby in the house). I applied the nail wraps on my hands and they last nearly two weeks before I removed them. At the time of removal I was starting to get a little bit of the wrap coming loose near the tips of my nails. Regardless, I would have been removing them anyway since my nails had grown so much that there was a large gap at the bottom (thanks prenatal vitamins for nails that grow at super speed!). The ones on my toes are still hanging strong at nearly 3 weeks which is pretty amazing since it's sandal season and I walk barefoot most the time and log 15+ miles of running weekly. These babies are durable! 

It's nice to have a little splash of color and festivity on my nails without a lot of work, especially being a stay at home mom most the time. This is a great product to add to your beauty routine that's worth the money and time. I'm definitely planning on ordering some more, the hardest part will be picking out of the many designs!

Day of application!
Isn't the design adorable! So many styles for every occasion.
A few days after application and still no signs of wear.

1 & 1/2 week after application : minor wear, but more than anything just nail growth.
Nearly 3 weeks later!
Only signs of wear is one divot from me dropping a toy on my toe (ouch!)
and nail growth.

If you're interested in ordering or learning more, check out or contact Elizabeth Block at: 
http://lizblock.jamberrynails.net
NailsWithLiz@gmail.com

Special note: They have a subscription service called Style Box that seems pretty awesome! You get a  minimum $30 of Jamberry nail products, nail file, orange stick and monthly style guide each month for $25 (including shipping). Might be worth checking out!

Have you used Jamberry before? Is this something you'd try?
Thoughts?





Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tri To Finish Cinco De Mayo Race Review....and Triathlon talk!

A little overdue, but life's been busy with a new infant and changing of jobs! There sure is a new normal of getting things done once you have a baby in the house...still adapting to that change. :) 

Anyways...

This past May, Ryan and I ran the Cinco de Mayo 5k Race at Swartz Creek Golf Course in Flint, Michigan. that was organized by Tri To Finish. Tri To Finish puts on events throughout the whole lower peninsula of Michigan and range from 5k's, 10k's, triathlons and duathlons. We had a great time at the Cinco de Mayo race. It was an awesome course with a few nice elevation climbs throughout and paved conditions. I especially enjoyed it because part of the course is included in the CRIM so it helped give me an idea of what to expect in August when we run that race. The starting line was well organized with the MC getting everyone pumped up for the start and the course well marked (always good!). 

This was a perfect race to get me back into the running game after taking the last year off during pregnancy and Aiden's birth. Ryan and I did really well too, so that's always awesome! Ryan got 2nd place in his age group and I got 3rd (out of 14) with time of 28:58, which I was happy about. I wish I had pushed harder at the end, but was reluctant that I would burn out since I hadn't been running as often as I had hoped and didn't know what expect with the hills. I'm really hoping to work on my pace and carve some off my time and maybe place even better by end of summer. 
Pre-race selfie!
Finish line

Awesome medals!

Age group finisher medals
After race with Aiden (Grandma and Poppa watched him). Sweet sombreros, huh? Race swag at it's best.
Overall, super fun race that was well organized. We really loved the medals, shirts and fun hats too (some runners dressed up and wore them - AWESOME). Also, had a mini-breakfast after race for runners to help re-fuel with food from a local mexican restaurant..bonus!

I'm super excited to say that I'll be racing in my first sprint triathlon EVER with Tri To Finish in September at Holly Recreation Area (which is gorgeous if you have never been there). I have a mixture of feelings of excitement and nervousness, but I'm confident that'll it'll be a great starter triathlon. I've started training for it and I'll be sure to update on that hopefully later this week or next week. :) 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Week in the life...with my Sarah Wells "Maddy" Breast Pump Bag!

I recently started using this bag and I LOVE IT! It seriously has made life so much easier with trying to balance my return to work and continuation of breastfeeding while I'm away from Aiden. I've used this stylish bag not only for carrying my breast pump to and from work, but also girl's days, gym sessions, and while working from home. This stylish, discreet and functional bag is incredibly useful to be used as a diaper bag and there have been several occasions where I've switched to using it instead of my normal diaper bag. The Sarah Wells breast pump bag provides ample space for your pump and accessories, plus the side pockets are so convenient for putting pumped bottles of milk with a ice pack (instead of feeling awkward using the employee fridge to store them).  If used as a diaper bag there is plenty of space for diapers, blanket, cover, toys and change of clothes. There is even a zip pocket to put the smaller items that you want easily accessible (like your wallet, keys, pacifier, etc.).

Monday & Tuesday:

It was my first few days back to work after maternity leave and I was definitely having some reservations about leaving Aiden at home. It was nice to have the bag to be able to pack everything up in so I wasn't running around last minute trying to find a bag that could safely hold everything and then be able to store everything I pumped at work.
But first, let me take a selfie!
It was comforting to have a private, accommodating spot to pump at work. I'm so thankful to work at a company that is fully, supportive of breastfeeding and make it easy for their employees to pump while at work. The Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bag had plenty of room to hold my pump, all it's parts, 6 bottles, hands-free bra, baby onesie (for scent to help letdown), magazines, deodorant, makeup, and even a padded pocket to hold my iPad to prevent damage...and there was still plenty of room.
Pumping station at work for all the pumping mamas!

Wednesday:

The morning was spent doing some quick work to help out my husband with his home business before running some errands and going to the gym. I knew that I was going to have to pump before starting my workout so this was perfect for taking my pump discreetly around town (used as purse too) and into the gym. The bag is convenient because it fits my pump and it's accessories in the side pockets when on the go so I can use the large middle compartment for extra clothes. My favorite thing is that I don't have to remove my pump to use it either (which is great when in a locker room to avoid germs). I can just pull out the flanges, attach and pump while keeping the pump inside the bag.
Little desk work to start the day!
Great looking, right?
Isn't it fabulous? The perfect size for breast pump and other essentials.
Thursday:
 Another day of work. :(  It's starting to get easier to be back at work, but I dread the days I have to go in. Working second shift makes it tough because I miss bedtime and the evening bath too. I'm sure that it'll get easier over time though and I'm determined to continue breastfeeding. 

This bag is really convenient for saving time. It's large enough that I can easily put my breast pump and all of it's parts in it already assembled so that when I need to use it at work I can pull it out and starting pumping ASAP, instead of spending time putting everything together. I love that it doesn't scream, "HEY, I have a breast pump in here!!", since I have to walk through the whole hospital going into work and to the pumping rooms. Haha! I had quite a few co-workers compliment me on it and they couldn't believe that it was a breast pump bag because they were used to the frumpy, obvious pump bags that they've seen and used before. 



Friday - Spent the morning catching up on some work and then GIRL'S Day! Spent the day out with friends shopping, dining and catching up! It felt so good to have a day to just relax with the girls since it hasn't happened in forever! Used the bag as purse and pump bag through the day so I wouldn't have to use two separate bags. Less bags = less to lug around and less to lose (sleep deprived mom equals scatter brained). 


Saturday - Spent the day visiting with parents so we were on the go a lot. On days when I have Aiden with me throughout the day I nurse him, so on the weekends I use the bag as a diaper bag. It has plenty of room for all your diaper bag needs with the separate compartments. If we're bringing bottles I just put them in the side pocket with a ice pack to keep them cool for 4+ hours and the water resistant exterior and interior lining is a life-saver when you have leaky bottles - which we did. :( Nothing hurts more than wasted breast milk, but at least clean up was easy with a simple wipe with a towel. The large interior is perfect for extra change of clothes, diapers, wipes and some toys to keep Aiden smiling. The zip pocket is perfect for throwing in my wallet, a pacifier and sanitizer for quick and easy access. 


Packed and ready for a day with family. 
Obligatory baby Aiden pic! ;) 

If you're a working mom or currently pregnant and planning on being a working & pumping mom, I highly recommend this bag! It's high function, discreet and fashionable as well. An added bonus is the versatility because not only is it useful for a breast pump bag, but also as a diaper bag, purse, and overnight bag in the future so it will serve to be useful for a long period of time, not just while breastfeeding and pumping.

For more information check out Sarah Wells Bag website or buy directly on Amazon.

P.S. Don't forget....Mother's Day is right around the corner! ;)










Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lacing up those shoes: Cinco de Mayo 5/10k Run/Walk in Flint, Michigan

Hey guys! It's been awhile!

Life's been crazy around here with a new baby and being first time parents, but it's been AWESOME! Our lives have been flipped around and everything is new and each day is an adventure. We've been so blessed with an easy and laid back baby and for that I'm extremely grateful and I'll be sure to post a baby update very soon. 

Now that things have calmed down somewhat,  I've been getting back into a workout routine. I've always had a really hard time keeping myself accountable so one of my ways to stick to it is to sign up for races and other athletic events.  I've recently signed up for my first post-pregnancy 5k and it's the Cinco de Mayo 10k/5k run/walk on May 3rd at Swartz Creek Golf Course in Flint, Michigan. 


I LOVE themed events like these. It just adds a flare of fun to the events.  Not only is there the fun run to look forward to, but we get sombreros, Qdoba at the after party, Adirondack chairs at the finish line to celebrate in and tech shirts that I'm sure are going to be awesome (tech shirts are always a thumbs up in my book). I'm still trying to figure out my outfit and am thinking that my old work shirt from the Mexican restaurant I worked at might come in handy. ;)

To prep I've been running 3-4 days a week and adding in some circuit training on other days.  Hopefully all this will help me get back to pre-baby body. ;) I'm feeling pretty good so far with the distance but my pace sure has slowed down, a LOT. That's okay though, I'll get there and at least taking steps to get back to my prior level. Part of this race course is on the CRIM route with the hills, so I'm looking forward to checking it out since the CRIM is another potential run that I'd like to do this summer. It'll be a nice practice run for early season.

As for other races I'm looking forward too...I'm taking a HUGE leap and signing up for a TRIATHLON through TriToFinish! I'm scared, nervous and excited all at the same time. I can't wait to tell you more about it and how I am training for it, but for now I've a little teething baby boy to give some cuddles too. If you're thinking about doing one, let me know! :)

If you're interested in signing up for the Cinco de Mayo run let me know and sign up here. We have a small group running right now and would love to have more join us.  

How do you hold yourself accountable for exercising? 
Do you have any fun races planned for the summer? 
Any training tips (especially for speeding up pace)? 




Monday, February 17, 2014

Must Have Monday Product Review - Swaddle Angel Blanket by Munchkin

I've been thinking for awhile that I should blog about some of the items that I love and get to try. I often receive free products to try via Klout, Influenster and BzzAgent and participate by leaving feedback and reviews on their websites regarding the products.

The Must Have Monday posts will be reviews on the products that I love and use on a regular basis. Sometimes they'll consist of baby items, fitness gear, home, food and technology products. Basically, a little bit or everything. :) I'll be sure to post if these were products that were given to me or purchased on my own as well. I'll likely focus on posting a MHM post once or twice a month to begin with.

This weeks Must Have Product is the Swaddle Angel Blanket made by Munchkin. I LOVE these swaddle blankets.They are made of the softest material (100% rayon from bamboo so it's breathable and lightweight as well) and has a reinforced center panel on each blanket that helps to keep baby warmer without a ton of added bulk. One of my favorite things about them is the gorgeous designs that they come in. They're fashionable enough and don't scream "baby" like so many other products which is great because they are so versatile.

I am so glad that I happened to pick up a pack of these (comes with two) at Babies R Us because they are my hands down favorite blankets that we own. We use them each night to swaddle Aiden (I also use a flannel receiving blanket to keep him a bit warmer since it's been freezing here in Michigan for the time being). I think that these blankets will be great for using in the spring/summer when it gets warmer outside too. They are large enough that they could easily be thrown over a stroller or carseat to keep the sun out and have nifty loops on each corner to attach it so that you're not having to constantly adjust it. These loops are also really convenient for using the blankets as a nursing cover (I used this recently when at a family function) that won't overheat you or your little one.

I highly recommend these! I plan on picking up more of them soon because the two that I have is just not enough and I want to make sure to have plenty for the years to come (plus I really love the other patterns too).
Aiden all swaddled

Used as a nursing cover (just loop the blanket through the corner loops)



The gorgeous designs! (Image from the munchkin website)
I never used to swaddle our little one because he would throw a fit during the process. We started doing it after he kept waking himself up with his crazy, flying arms. We found that after the initial fit of crying, he would quickly calm down and sleep so much better through the night. Now he doesn't even mind the process of swaddling. If you're finding that your little one is fussy and waking often in the night (aside from feedings), I'd give swaddling a try. Below is a great diagram that walks you through the steps of swaddling. Remember to wrap them pretty tightly for best results (reminds them of life in the womb).

Photo courtesy of Bambino Land

Do you swaddle your baby? Do you have a favorite swaddling blanket?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Heart Healthy Black Bean Burger & Smashed Potatoes

Today is National Wear Red Day, a day in which the American Heart Association and many others, bring attention to heart disease and it's prevalence among women. Heart disease is the number one killer of women and actually kills more women then men annually. Heart disease is often referred to as a "silent killer" because there can be few, to no noticeable symptoms that someone may be afflicted by this disease.

Since the first National Red Day in 2003 there have been many move towards increasing awareness and education about heart disease for women. For more information about their decade of success check out the American Heart Associations website.

In honor of this day I'm going to feature a few recipes that we have often around our house: Black Bean Burgers and Smashed Potatoes. I like to consider this recipe a healthy alternative to the traditional burger and fries. The burgers pop with flavor and are a great meatless option and the potatoes get crispy and are salty enough to satisfy your salt craving without the fat and calories that are associated with your traditional fries.

Black Bean Burgers:
4 servings

Ingredients:

1 can of black beans (15 oz. rinsed and drained, or for lower sodium option you can make your own black beans)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup diced peppers (I use green, orange and red peppers)
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic seasoning
Salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mash black beans in a bowl with a fork until it is a thick and pasty texture. Mix in onions and peppers. In separate bowl beat the egg and seasonings together. Add liquids to bean and pepper mix, and stir well. Add in bread crumbs until the mixture sticks together well. Form mixture into patties (makes 4 patties).

Place patties on lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, flip, and continue to bake for another 10 minutes.

Side note: This recipe has a lot of potential for substitutions. I have used rolled oats instead of breadcrumbs and have added whatever veggies I had around the house (corn is a great one to add, along with jalapenos for a spicy kick). Adding some avocado on top or pepperjack cheese just takes this to another level too.

Yummmmmmmmmm


Smashed Potatoes:

Ingredients:

Russet potatoes
Oil
Seasonings of choice (I like to use creole seasoning, but you can use just salt and pepper too)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash and scrub potatoes well. Puncture potatoes with a fork, and microwave just as you would a baked potato until a softer texture. When potatoes are done "baking" in microwave, let cool and slice in half. Season the cut side up with seasoning.

Lightly oil a baking sheet. Place potatoes cut side down on baking sheet and lightly smash into the baking sheet. At this point I use my Misto and lightly spray potatoes again and add additional seasoning to the outside of the potatoes.

Bake 20 minutes. Flip potatoes and bake additional 20 minutes.

Creamy inside and crispy goodness on the outside.
Pair it with a salad and you're all set.
Finally, ladies (and men) take control of your life and the steps to lead a healthier lifestyle. A few of the most important things that you can do to prevent heart disease (and other chronic conditions) are:

1. Be physically active: Aim to get at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate aerobic activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. 
2. Eat a healthy diet: Choose a diet low in fats, cholesterol, sodium and sugars. A diet high in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and fiber rich proteins will help your quest to have a healthy diet.

What steps do you take to lead a heart healthy lifestyle?



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Welcome to Parenthood - Advice from a New Mom

Happy One Month Baby Boy!


I can't believe that it's already been a month since Aiden has been born. In that moment our life completely changed in so many ways, but I can say that it's worth it, but also has been one of the hardest months of my life. I don't think that any amount of reading, preparing and conversations can prepare you for the way that becoming a parent can affect you.

You spend 9 months imagining and preparing for this little person to enter your life and once they do, life is turned around completely. The moments following are some of the most challenging moments, both mentally and physically, however also the most rewarding and fulfilling. It's surreal the moment they hand your child to you. It's a moment of disbelief that YOU made this child and that he/she is yours to keep and raise and hopefully mold into a decent human. Talk about responsibility.

This past month has been a learning experience. I think most people go into parenthood with pre-conceived notions of what it will be like. Media shows parenthood to be this simple walk in the park of cute, sleeping babies (which they are...sometimes, and pretty much never at night), perfectly clean homes, easy & pain free breastfeeding (think again...it's hard), and so on.

Each person's experience differ, but the following are the few bits of advice I have:

Be prepared to be flexible - That first month is pretty much dictated by baby, and that's okay. Just go with it. There's no point fighting it because at that point you and baby are both learning this whole new thing. I know that I went into this with certain ideas of what I would and would not do. I've already reneged on more than a few things and I'm sure as time goes on there will be more.

Sleep when baby sleeps - Everyone says this...but honestly do it as much as you can. You never know how the upcoming night will go and you'll really regret not sleeping that extra hour when you've been up between 12-6am with a fussy baby. Those dishes will get done, laundry washed and house dusted...just maybe not today, or even this week.

Get over bodily fluids - You will be spit on, pooped on, peed on and leak everywhere before it's over. The sooner you get over being grossed out by it...the easier life will be.

Ask for help, and accept help -  If you need something ask. People aren't mind readers. And when others offer help...accept it. It's amazing how refreshing an hour to yourself can be, so take up people's offers to watch the baby for an hour or two, and accept all offers of free, prepared food.

You know your baby better than others do - Everyone loves to give advice. Listen, but don't feel obliged to do everything others say. They mean well, but sometimes people get diarrhea of the mouth and don't know when to just stay quiet (however, I do recommend listening to your pediatrician, but don't be afraid to ask questions and research your options).

Don't take anything personal said between the hours of midnight and 6AM - I had a close friend tell me this the other day and it's true. You and your significant other are both in this together, but sometimes after four nights of little sleep and three hours of a crying infant, tempers can flare. Being angry and resentful will only lead to more issues in the end. Make sure to keep communication open.

Lastly, give yourself a break - Being a parent is hard. Suddenly you're thrown into taking care of a human being that is completely dependent on you and sometimes you feel like you've lost a part of yourself at the same time. Everyone always said that it gets easier, and it does. It's only been a month for us, but I can tell you that each day gets a little bit easier than the previous day. And even if it isn't easier, those baby snuggles make each and every day worth it.




What words of advice do you have for new parents? 
Did you have a hard time adjusting to becoming a parent?