Food & Recipes

On Going Vegetarian Again

September 9, 2015



About a month ago, I decided to go back to my vegetarian roots and, once again, embrace the type of eating that helped me get to my body weight “happy place” years ago. Those of you who have been following this blog for any extended period of time probably remember the days when I was vegetarian. In fact, I’ve only been eating meat again for the last year and a half.

When I was trying to get pregnant, after having a couple miscarriages, my acupuncturist suggested eating plenty of organic, grass-fed red meat. At that time I was willing to try almost anything to get pregnant, so I jumped on board and started eating meat, something I hadn’t done for years. While I don’t attribute eating meat to my pregnancy success (since we changed many things the third time around) I don’t think it hurt the process, either. Once I got pregnant I craved all sorts of foods I don’t normally crave, including, you guessed it, meat along with every carb under the shining sun.

After having Ainsley I was eager to lose the extra weight I had gained while pregnant. Low-carb, paleo-style eating seems to be all the rage these days, so I thought I would jump on board and give it a try myself. In the back of my mind I knew my body had never responded well to a meat-centric way of eating, but I lost a little perspective and bought into the hype.

You see, when I first started eating vegetarian years ago something in my body just clicked. I can’t explain it, but it was like my metabolism finally got into gear and I lost the extra weight I was carrying around post-college without really trying. Sure, I was eating a lot of veggies, but I was also eating plenty of (good) carbs and the occasional treat. Although it was almost all healthy, I was eating a LOT of food.

Fast-forward to 5 months postpartum and I found myself with an extra 5 or 6 pounds that just didn’t seem to budge. I was working out, eating “clean” and doing everything in my power to get back to my “happy weight” but the scale just wouldn’t budge. And sure, the scale isn’t a total indicator of health, but add to that the fact that my clothes weren’t fitting like I wanted them to and you have a recipe for more than a few crummy days.

I decided to go back to what I knew worked for my body: Eating vegetarian. Heavy on the veggies and whole grains, high in fiber and plenty of healthy fats and dairy. And you know what? Those extra pounds practically melted away. I was as shocked as anyone!

The moral of this post is less about pushing everyone to go vegetarian and more about encouraging every individual to find the way of eating that works best for their body. For some people a low-carb approach works amazing! For others, cutting out gluten and dairy works really well with their system, and for another group, like me, eating vegetarian seems to be the way to go. Take time to experiment, listen to your body and discover what works for you.

And if you happen to see a few more vegetarian recipes around Espresso and Cream in the coming months, now you know why!

I would love to hear stories from you all? Have you found a way of eating that just “works” for you and your body? I’m curious to hear if anyone else has had a similar experience. 


Family, Pregnancy

Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit Giveaway

September 8, 2015

AinsleyMerlin copy


Hi, friends! I have an exciting giveaway for you all today. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit was one of my must-have baby products for the first handful of months. I wasn’t kidding when I said that it made all the difference in how Ainsley slept. That girl didn’t like having her arms swaddled, and the Baby Merlin was just comforting enough to help her sleep without causing frustration from not being able to move. Well, the Baby Merlin team contacted me and asked if I thought my readers would be interested in a chance to win a Merlin’s Sleep Suit of their very own. Of course I said yes!

Maybe you’re a new mom, a soon-to-be mom, or have a friend who could use this. Enter away below! There are a couple of different ways to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Food & Recipes

30 Minute Meal: French Bread Pizza

September 4, 2015


Fall is my absolute favorite season. I know I’m going to sound like a total chiche saying so, but there’s something about the crisp air and the leaves falling and the fact that football is back on TV brings back all sorts of good memories. My birthday is in October and my husband’s birthday is in September, and our dogs both have birthdays in the fall, too, so there’s plenty to celebrate.

The change in seasons also means I’m thinking about cooking with a little more comfort in mind. Okay, to be totally honest, I’m thinking about comfort food but the actual cooking has been in short supply. Our house renovation is in full-swing and we’re in a mad rush to get things done before our furniture arrives at the end of the month, meaning we’ve been eating a lot of late-night dinners that are easy and quick.  Continue Reading…


Mid-Year Reset

August 28, 2015



In my “When Life Needs White Paint” post, I talked about a mid-year reset to start fresh. Although I’m no longer in school, I love the idea of starting new habits and intentions at the beginning of the school year. There’s something SO much more inspiring about starting new goals and routines in September than in the middle of the winter in January. Anyone with me?

Today we closed on our new house. There is more work to be done than I want to think about in order to make it a home that works for us, but we’re diving in headfirst! Although a lot of our free time will be devoted to home projects, I’m trying to be more intentional about my time by setting a few goals for the fall and beyond. Last week I jotted a few notes down about what I want to do and where I want to devote my time. Most of my list is pretty self-explanatory and straightforward, and now that I look at the list again I think it could be described like this: Live more life! Connect more, spend more time in the moment, experience new things and move my body more frequently.  I want to spend more time in my life if that makes any sense at all.

Now I want to hear from you! What do you hope to do this “school year” and beyond? Goals, hopes, dreams? Maybe we can all do a little mid-year reset together!


Family, Pregnancy

Baby Sleep Contraptions: A Comprehensive Review

August 26, 2015

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Alternately titled: I spent way too much on swaddles and sleep products so you don’t have to. 

There were so many times during the first three or four months of Ainsley’s life when I would have paid almost anything for a good night of sleep. We bought a lot (and I mean, a lot!) of different sleep “contraptions” that promised a great night of sleep for our infant. Some were super successful and others were a total flop. While I have to preface this by saying that every baby is unique and what works for my baby might not work for yours, I wanted to put together a full list of the sleep products we tried and what did and did not work. Let’s dive into the full list, shall we?

1. HALO SleepSack Micro-Fleece Swaddle ($18.44)
The Good
This was our favorite sleep product for the first couple months of Ainsley’s life. Our hospital gave these out to each baby born there, and we kept coming back to this swaddle when other sleep products just didn’t work. It was easy to use and made the swaddle process very seamless. Plus, Ainsley slept really well when swaddled in the HALO.
The Bad
We bought a size up in this swaddle from Target when Ainsley grew too big to use the one from the hospital. I noticed that the cotton/fleece that they used in the Target version (same brand, just made for Target) was noticeably cheaper and more flimsy, making it hard to get a good, tight swaddle. I would recommend buying a higher quality one, like the Mico-Fleece version available on Amazon or those available at Pottery Barn.
Overall Score: 9/10

2. Woombie Original Baby Swaddle ($28)
The Good
It made me feel safe putting Ainsley in this. With other swaddles I was constantly worried about the material inching up over her mouth in the middle of the night, but there is no way it would/could happen with the Woombie. Also, it’s fool-proof and easy to zip your baby in and not worry about correct positioning.
The Bad
For us, the Woombie just didn’t work. Ainsley liked to have her arms free to move a little bit more, and this was super restrictive. We only used it for about a week before we jumped ship. Probably good for a baby who loves a really snug swaddle.
Overall Score: 5/10

3. Swaddle Up by Love to Dream ($29.02)
The Good
Like the Woombie, this swaddle made me feel super secure knowing there was no way Ainsley was going to get any fabric in her face, no matter how much she moved and wiggled in the night. It was easy to use (just zip it up!) and Ainsley couldn’t get her arms out. Also, since Ainsley had an affinity for sleeping with her hands by her face, she loved the design of the swaddle, which zips with baby’s hands up by the face. That way, she could soothe herself in the night by sucking on her hands in the Swaddle Up.
The Bad
Nothing! We really loved this product. It was a short time period that we used it (which is why I’m giving it the lower score) but I thought it worked great.
Overall Score: 7/10

4. Mom’s On Call Swaddle Blanket ($22.95) (not pictured)
The Good
The swaddle seemed to be made of quality material and was super soft. 
The Bad

After reading the Mom’s On Call Book and buying their products, I have to say that I’m less than impressed with their entire system. Although I do think I mastered their swaddle method (with their over-priced piece of flannel) it didn’t feel super safe to me, especially with a baby that loved to move and squirm in the middle of the night. There were a couple times when I came into Ainsley’s room only to find her with a bunch of loose swaddle material around her in the crib, which made me super nervous. Additionally, I disliked the tone of the book and their over-promising. They claim that if you get the swaddle method right, your baby will sleep through the night. If your baby doesn’t sleep through the night? You’re probably swaddling wrong. Call me crazy, but anyone who has had a baby that’s less than textbook knows it’s not that simple.
Overall Score: 3/10

5. Merino Kids Organic Cotton Sleep Sack ($119.00)*
The Good
I truly can’t say enough good things about this sleep sack! This is the sleep sack we are currently using with Ainsley now that she can roll both ways and no longer needs to be swaddled at night. It keeps her warm, and I think it also helps her sleep well since she feels cozier and more secure. The cotton is super high quality and the snaps in the arm holes give your baby room to grow into the sleep sack over time.
The Bad
It’s a bit on the pricier side, but knowing Ainsley will be able to use it for many, many months to come really puts the price into perspective. A lot of the other sleep products we purchased had a very small weight or size range, meaning we didn’t get much use out of them. But this one can be used for kiddos up to 2 years old.
Overall Score: 10/10

6. Ergobaby Sleep Tight Swaddler ($44.93)
The Good
I don’t have anything good to say about this swaddle. I had high hopes for the Ergo branded swaddle, but alas I was disappointed.
The Bad
The package makes the way to use this product look so simple! But if you can get your baby to sit still the way they show in the pictures in order to get the correct positioning to use this swaddle, then you are a better mom than I am! I couldn’t figure this one out at all and found the whole process annoying. We didn’t even use it for a single night. Total fail!
Overall Score: 0/10

7. Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit ($39.95)
The Good
We love Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit! Ainsley used this for a couple months (months 3 and 4) while she transitioned out of the swaddle. Once she started rolling over, we transitioned her into the sleep sack for safety. This was a great transition item because your baby feels secure and movement is more restricted than in a sleep sack, but gives them a bit more freedom than a swaddle. Since Ainsley sucks her thumb, she loved being able to bring her hands to her mouth.
The Bad
We had a few mishaps when Ainsley would pee through her diaper as she started sleeping longer stretches. It takes quite a while to wash and thoroughly dry the suit.
Overall Score: 9/10

8. Aden and Anais Easy Swaddle ($19.95)
The Good
The material is soft and breathable, and I found this swaddle much easier to use than the swaddle blankets.
The Bad
I didn’t think the material and the structure of the swaddle was secure and tight enough to really get a good, firm swaddle needed to help baby sleep.
Overall Score: 5/10

Aden and Anais Swaddle Blankets 4 pack (49.95)
The Good
These blankets are great for everything! I use them for Ainsley to play on, to cover changing tables, to wipe up spit or messes and cover the stroller on walks.
The Bad:
Unfortunately, they aren’t great swaddles, in my opinion. I found re-swaddling my baby in the middle of the night hard enough with the “easy swaddles” and trying to do the traditional swaddle method in the middle of the night? Practically impossible for this sleep-deprived mom. Additionally, I thought the material was a little flimsy to get a good, tight swaddle.
Overall Score: 9/10 for general utility, 4/10 for sleep
Note: Not many people know this, but you can almost ALWAYS find these blankets in a 4-pack in the baby/kids section at Homegoods for about $20, which is so much cheaper than other retailers. Be on the lookout!

*The Merino Kids team sent me a free sleep sack to review. Opinions are my own. In fact, I purchased another one after they sent me the free one because I loved it so much and wanted a back-up!
**Affiliate links used as appropriate. 

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