Family, Pregnancy

Mind and Body After Baby (The second time around) // 6 Months

November 29, 2017

I can’t believe we are here, six months postpartum with Collins! I remember thinking about when I would write a six month postpartum wellness/fitness update and thinking it seemed SO far out, but time has passed so quickly.

My hope in writing these updates is that I can be an encouragement to those who are perhaps not quite so far along in their postpartum recovery. I remember looking at my body in the hospital and being both in awe of what it was capable of and in dismay because I felt so very unlike myself. Recently, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to give your body grace in the transition and appreciate small victories along the way.

Mind Update //
Months three through six have been pretty uneventful! After making the switch to formula I really felt an overall emotional leveling out and an improvement in my mental health as we finally got into a good groove with sleep, naps, and general schedule. Although I try not to live and die by the schedule, I find having predictability in our routine helps our whole family function better. For me a schedule actually creates MORE freedom in my days.

I’ve also felt myself making huge strides in terms of my overall body confidence and satisfaction – something that I’ve struggled with on and off for years. For the first time in a very very long time I feel so good in my own skin. Strong, healthy, capable. And while I know there are things about my body that aren’t perfect, becoming a mom the second time around has really pushed me past focusing on the imperfections and embracing the here and now in regards to my body.

Fitness & Body Update//
In terms of actual fitness, around the 5 month mark I started to really feel like I was back in pre-baby shape in terms of my fitness and endurance. As you probably remember, I started working out about two weeks postpartum with Collins and it’s been a LOT of hard work and sweat equity over the past five+ months. Last week I ran my first 5K post baby – and my fastest ever time. And although I felt like I wanted to puke after, it was fun to see how far my body has come in the last five months.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions on Instagram about what workouts I’ve been doing. I run once or twice per week when the weather is nice, go on lots of long walks with the girls and doing workouts at home with my Beachbody on Demand subscription. I’ve done a lot of different workouts through BOD – 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, Shaun Week, Shift Shop, 22 Min Hard Corps, etc. – but my favorite continues to be T25. The workouts are hard, fast-paced and can be done in 25 minutes. That said, I do try to mix things up so my body doesn’t get too comfortable with any one workout. And I think I’ll be doing the new 80 Day Obsession when it launches in January!

Eating and Food//
Since I’m no longer breastfeeding, and haven’t been for quite some time, I am able to eat with a little less thought about calories and overall intake. I had been curious about intermittent fasting for quite some time but it wasn’t good timing while pregnant and nursing, obviously. I’ve been dabbling in intermittent fasting for over a month now and have LOVED it. If you’re curious on learning more about the science behind IF, I would recommend this podcast to start. This article is also a good intro to the concept.

Basically, I try to fast for somewhere between 14 and 16 hours per day, with a minimum of 12 hours. I’ve tried not to be too legalistic about any of it, because life happens, but it’s really encouraged me to NOT mindlessly snack or eat after dinner. Additionally, as an early riser, I was finding that I would eat a snack after dinner, around 8:30 pm and then get up and have breakfast early, around 5 or 6 am, which meant my body’s digestive system wasn’t really resting much each day. The more I read about IF, the more convinced I was it was worth trying. And so far so good! I’ve noticed that my body has leaned out a bit, I have more energy and it feels good to give my system time to rest without eating around the clock.

You can read my other postpartum recaps below:

Mind and Body After Baby // 3 Months
Mind and Body After Baby // 3-6 Weeks 

Family, Food & Recipes

Sweet and Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Dates

November 28, 2017

This post is sponsored by Tyson as part of the #TysonMadeWithLove campaign. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Espresso and Cream possible! 

We’re just starting to get into the swing of holiday parties and events over at the Hofmeyer house. The introvert in me has mixed feelings about lots of holiday engagements, something that is entirely lost on my extroverted husband. Anyway….

With two busy kiddos, general schedule craziness and holiday commitments on top of it all I’m always happy to have a handful of easy, go-to recipes I can whip together without a lot of extra stress or effort. Extra bonus points if the ingredients for those recipes can be kept in the fridge throughout the holiday season so I don’t have to run to the grocery store when I need to bring a side dish or appetizer.

These Sweet and Spicy Bacon Wrapped Dates are downright addictive. The perfect blend of sweetness from the dates and brown sugar, savory from the Natural Hickory Smoked Wright Brand Bacon and goat cheese and spicy from the hit of cayenne and black pepper. If you live in the Midwest where people’s spice tolerance is pretty low or you’re serving them to kids, I would suggest dropping the cayenne all together.

As you already know, we’re pretty loyal Walmart grocery shoppers in this house. I’ve just been waiting for that email letting me know Walmart Grocery Pick-Up is available at my store. Until then, we are still doing our grocery shopping the “old fashioned” way. With a baby in a carrier and a toddler asking for all the candy as we speed through the aisles hoping to avoid anyone melting down. (Click here to find out if Walmart Grocery Pick Up is available in your area.)

If you’re looking for a mouthwatering appetizer to take to your holiday parties, look no further than the recipe below!

Sweet and Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Author: 
Serves: 16
 
Ingredients
  • 16 pitted dates
  • 2 oz. goat cheese
  • 8 slices Wright Brand Bacon - Natural Hickory Smoked, cut in half widthwise
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Cayenne pepper and cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cut a slit into the tops of each date. Stuff each date with some of the goat cheese. Wrap one of the pieces of bacon around each date and secure with a toothpick. Roll bacon wrapped dates in brown sugar. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper and cracked black pepper to taste.
  3. Bake 15 minutes, turn over to one side, bake 15 minutes more. Turn once more and bake 15 minutes more. Remove from oven cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

 

Family

Holiday Gift Guide #1 // Books + Paper Products

November 21, 2017

In the last year I’ve re-committed myself to reading books. I’ve always been an avid reader, but once Ainsley was born, reading got pushed to the back burner, something I felt sad and a little guilty about. So this year I’ve made a conscious effort to read, even if just a few pages of a book each day, and my life is undoubtedly richer because of it. Personal development, fiction, non-fiction, even books for kids. The list goes on and on.

I’ll be posting a series of holiday gift guides in the weeks to come for those of you who are doing your Christmas shopping in hopes that I can share with you items I genuinely love and products that have made my life richer, starting with books!

  1. A Simplified Life by Emily Ley (pictured above)
    I put this one first because my dear friend Emily’s second book launches TODAY. I’ll be honest and say that my pre-order hasn’t arrived yet, but it’s due to get here tomorrow and I already know I’m going to love it. Tactical tools for intentional living? Yes, please. Emily is a fellow business-owner, wife, mom and very busy woman and I have a feeling any mom in your life would be blessed by this book.
  2. Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner
    Another good one for busy moms who are trying to sort out and prioritize what matters (do you sense a theme here?) this book has been such a wonderful read! It’s a beautifully designed book and Erin’s words always thoughtful and compelling. I’ve been reading it slowly, chapter by chapter, savoring and thinking about each section before moving on to the next.
  3. Write the Word Journals
    A dear friend gifted me one of these journals that has been on my wish list for quite some time. Each journal is topical (joy, gratefulness, etc.) with scripture prompts on each page, encouraging you to write out each prompted verse and other thoughts you may have in the process. They are beautiful little journals and the perfect stocking stuffer.
  4. Kids Legacy Prayer Journals by Val Marie Paper
    I just bought two of these – one for each of our girls – and they are beautifully designed and made. I’ve been wanting to be more intentional about praying for our girls and these journals leave a beautiful legacy for keeping those prayers in one place. I’m so excited to see how God answers the prayers written in these journals over time and imagine they will be special keepsakes for the girls as they get older.
  5. 2018 Power Sheets – Intentional Goal Planner
    I don’t personally own these but I have friends that do and RAVE about them as a way to goal set intentionally and mindfully in the new year. What a great gift to give someone to start 2018 off on a focused, thoughtful note.
  6. Emily Ley’s Baby Book 
    We have two of these and I can’t tell you how much I love them. As someone who isn’t very crafty and doesn’t really enjoy that aspect of motherhood, these books made me feel craftier than I actually am. There are plenty of prompts to help guide what you write down and spaces for you to put photos with suggestions on what type of photos to include. I also love that it’s a binder so you can 3-hole punch important documents and paperwork from each child.
  7. Chatbooks
    We love these little photo books to archive our family memories. I wish that I was even better about organizing and archiving things like this, but having our favorite photos at least printed and in our house makes me feel like I am taking a step forward. Bonus? They are currently offering 20% off photo books and prints and have some really cute gift-able covers and designs!

 

*Affiliate links used as appropriate. 

Family, Food & Recipes

Holiday Snack Mix & Travel with Kids

November 15, 2017

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img_6588This post is sponsored by SC Johnson. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make the content on Espresso and Cream possible. #ZiplockHolidayUAI

Back before I had kids, my visions of weekend baking projects were pretty idyllic and, I now realize, unrealistic. I imagined my child happily cutting out cookie dough and decorating cookies, mess-free. Of course now that I have two kids of my own I know better than to tackle elaborate or time-intensive baking projects. Because Ainsley is bound to lose patience and I’m bound to be picking up a giant mess long after the project has lost it’s novelty. So these days, we keep our holiday baking projects on the simple side and everyone in the family is a lot happier because of it.

We have a few holiday road trips coming up in the next few weeks, including some air travel to visit family in Florida, so I’ve been planning and strategizing on how I’m going to keep not one but TWO kids happy in the car and in the air. My solution: busy bags filled with all sorts of goodies, activities and fun new and inexpensive toys. Because we all know that an entertained child is a happy child.

I headed to our local Walmart last week before music class to pick up a bunch of goodies for our trip, along with the supplies to make this Holiday Snack Mix recipe. Ainsley and I made the snack mix together, then portioned it into Ziploc® Brand Storage Snack bags for our travels. We also tied some of the bags with ribbon for gifting to friends and family.

I filled the Ziploc® Brand Storage Gallon bags with coloring books, crayons, stickers, inexpensive figurines (Ainsley’s favorite!), our homemade snack mix, a few new movies, and more. Hopefully these bags provide hours of entertainment and delight while we are doing our holiday travels!

Partnering with SC Johnson on this post was a total no-brainer for me, because as a mom of littles, I use Ziploc® Brand bags for pretty much everything. I always have at least a few Ziploc® Brand Storage Gallon bags in the car as makeshift trash cans on road trips to keep the car clean and organized and to keep figurines and toys grouped together and keep a bunch in my purse for air travel to contain trash and dirty diapers. Mom hacks all around!

Check out the full (easy!) recipe below. And if you’re a frequent Walmart shopper like me, there are also some great coupons available here.

Holiday Snack Mix
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 10 oz. white almond bark
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 6 cups square-shaped rice cereal
  • 2 cups pretzel sticks
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup red and white candy-coated chocolate pieces
  • Red and green sprinkles
Instructions
  1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, microwave the almond bark, peanut butter and butter on HIGH 30 seconds. Stir; continue to microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring between intervals, until almond bark, peanut butter and butter are melted. Continue to stir until mixture is well combined. Stir in the peppermint extract.
  2. Combine cereal and pretzel sticks in a large mixing bowl. Pour almond bark mixture over cereal and stir until well combined and cereal is evenly coated. Transfer mixture to a Ziploc® Brand Gallon Bag and add in powdered sugar. Seal back and gently shake to coat cereal with the powdered sugar.
  3. Transfer mixture to a flat surface covered with parchment, waxed paper or aluminum foil. Spread in an even layer and add in the candy-coated chocolate pieces. Sprinkle with the red and green sprinkles. Let cool completely.
  4. Divide the mixture into Ziploc® Brand Snack Bags. Tie with ribbon, as desired.

This post is not sponsored or affiliated with Walmart.

Family, Uncategorized

Cute & Crafty Christmas Gifts

November 13, 2017

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This post is sponsored by InComm s as part of the #SaveMoneyGiveBetter2017 campaign. All opinions are my own and I so appreciate you supporting the brands that make Espresso and Cream possible! 

Since it’s only November it may seem like I’m jumping the gun a little bit on Christmas, but for some reason this year I’ve felt especially festive. Maybe it’s the fact that my toddler is finally old enough to understand the concept of Christmas, or because it’s Collins’s first Christmas or a combination of both, but I’ve been humming Christmas carols since Halloween.

I fully believe the point of Christmas is not material things or gifts, but for me gift giving is such a joyful process. To me, the holidays are the perfect time to make sure that those in our lives are recognized and appreciated for what they do and how much they mean through gifts and words of affirmation. It’s probably because I’m such a words of affirmation and quality time person, but it’s always less about the gift and more about the fact that someone took the time to write a sweet note and purchase the gift that means the most.

Also, as someone who is a habitual procrastinator, I’m bound and determined to make this year the year I get my cards out on time, my gifts wrapped in a leisurely fashion and don’t forget a single person on my list – from music teachers to childcare providers to friends and family.

While grocery shopping at Walmart last week, Ainsley and I took a detour through the Christmas section. She got all excited about seeing “Olaf!” (aka a giant blow up snow man) and I got sucked into the giant gift card display. Since we live in a small town, our local shopping options are pretty limited and most of my Christmas shopping is done online, so I was excited to see how many different gift card options there were to choose from. Some may say gift cards are impersonal, but I LOVE receiving a gift card. It feels like forced shopping, in the best possible way.

Ainsley is just getting to the age where she has a few more teachers, so we picked up a 3-pack of $20 Vanilla Mastercard Gift Cards to dress up and gift to people on our list. While there were a lot of options to choose from, I opted for a gift card that could be used for practically anything, since, like I said, we don’t live near a lot of stores and most of the people I know do plenty of online shopping.

To make our gift-giving a little more special, we also snagged some of the cutest gold glitter gift bags, gift tags, mini snowflake ornaments and some candy to fill the bags with in addition to the gift card. Seriously, I’m not a crafty person by nature but I think these little handmade gifts turned out pretty cute. Hopefully Ainsley’s teachers feel the same!

Madison