Family, Fashion

Dressing the Bump // 21 Weeks

January 1, 2017

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Ribbed Peplum Long Sleeved Maternity Top {Pink Blush Maternity}
Jeans {AG Stella Skinny Maternity Jeans}
Booties {Nordstrom Rack last year}

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Peplum Sweater Top {Pink Blush Maternity}
Jeans {AG Stella Skinny Maternity Jeans}
Booties {Nordstrom Rack last year}

Happy New Year, friends! I’m so looking forward to what 2017 has in store, but I’ll admit that 2016 was a year that set the bar pretty high. One of the things I’m most looking forward to in the year to come is welcoming baby #2. Okay, I’m part excited and part terrified, but mainly excited and anxious to meet this baby.

I’ve been on the hunt for cute maternity clothes since I found out I was pregnant. Actually being pregnant isn’t always a glamorous experience, but I’m a big believer that the right clothes can go a long way to helping you feel pretty and comfortable while your body is expanding and changing.

Pink Blush has been on my radar since I was pregnant the last time around. They have such adorable maternity clothes at really affordable prices, which I appreciate since pregnancy is a relatively short period of time. These two tops have quickly become my favorites during this pregnancy. They have enough room to be maternity without screaming “maternity!”

Bonus for Espresso and Cream readers! Pink Blush is giving away a $75 Pink Blush gift card to one lucky reader. Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pregnancy

Working Out While Pregnant // Second Trimester Edition

December 30, 2016

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*I am not a medical professional and this post should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before beginning any fitness program, especially during pregnancy. 

Hello! It’s me again. I feel like I’ve gone into a sort of blog hiatus of sorts, with my website crashing right before Thanksgiving, taking it out of commission for two weeks, and then the holidays and getting sick right after Christmas. Well, needless to say that I’m looking forward to a fresh start in January. Anyone else?

The other day I was looking back at my pregnancy updates from when I was pregnant with Ainsley, and I’m embarrassed that I haven’t done any pregnancy updates with this baby. Things are still going well, and we have our big ultrasound next week Tuesday. We are not planning on finding out the gender this time around – we’ll see if we stick to our plan when we are actually at the appointment.

I’ve gotten quite a few questions this pregnancy about workouts and what I’ve been doing to stay active. Since it’s been a while since I last updated about pregnancy fitness, I thought I would clue you in to what’s been going on over here.

FIRST TRIMESTER

As most of you know, I took a very conservative approach to working out with Ainsley’s pregnancy. I mainly walked a lot on the treadmill and did very light weights. While my weight gain was right in the middle of the recommended average, I didn’t feel great during her pregnancy. I had a lot of groin pain through most of the pregnancy and generally didn’t feel like myself because I wasn’t sweating and working out like usual.

This time around I battled a lot of the same fears during the first trimester. I was probably in the best shape of my life before getting pregnant this time and working out quite vigorously most days, so I certainly scaled back my workouts to accommodate both the nausea and the delicate nature of the first trimester. That said, I didn’t let exercise take a back-burner. I stuck to a lot of my favorite Beachbody workouts online, doing modifiers as necessary, as well as long walks, occasional jogs and plenty of pilates.

SECOND TRIMESTER 

Once the second trimester hit, I felt more peace about working out. Something about knowing that I had made it through the first 12 weeks really gave me the confidence to boost the intensity of my workouts a bit while also being mindful of the fact that I’m pregnant.

I’ve continued to work out most days of the week, reminding myself that it’s only going to get harder as I get larger if I don’t work out now. It also helps me to think about pregnancy as a time to prepare my body for child birth to the best of my ability. Child birth is taxing physically, as is recovery, so thinking about training my body for what is to come has helped put exercise into proper perspective and encouraged me to keep up the hard work.

My favorite workouts right now are mainly Beachbody workouts. I use the Beachbody On Demand online through my sister-in-law, Amber, and have some purchased programs as well.

My Favorites
21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme // I do these videos the most frequently. I really love that they are a nice mix of challenging while also providing modifiers as necessary. I’m modifying now to avoid lying on my back and modifying some of the abdominal exercises, but otherwise I find them to be pretty pregnancy-friendly.

Core De Force // Also on Beachbody, I was hesitant to try this series of videos because I thought it would be too challenging for pregnancy, but they’ve been a fun addition to my workouts and I hardly feel like I’m working out at all!

22 Minute Hard Corps // I’ve loved these short and sweet workouts for quite a while and find that they are almost all still very friendly for pregnancy with few modifications needed. Plus, they are only 22 minutes!

Other Workouts
Crossfit // I’ve just started to go again on the weekends with Joe and am happy to be back. I find that I need to do a LOT of modifications to make the workouts pregnancy friendly, but Joe is patient and everyone is really supportive so that helps. Plus, it’s always a great workout.

Walking // Since the weather has been cold I haven’t done nearly as much walking as before, but when it’s nice I find it’s great exercise and always feels good on my body.

Pilates, Yoga, Stretching // Usually I just find a good video online. It feels good to stay flexible and put plenty of focus on mobility while pregnant.

What’s Off The Table?
Running // As much as I would love for running to work for me while pregnant, it just doesn’t. I have tried a couple times and it just doesn’t sit well with my pregnant body. Thanks to regular chiropractic care, the groin pain I experienced with Ainsley is almost non-existent this time around, but running seems to trigger it for days afterward. I’m totally okay with leaving running off the table for now and resuming once I am cleared to exercise after baby arrives.

So there you have it! I think more than anything, staying active has really helped me to continue to feel like “me” when so many things about me are changing. It’s always challenging to see your body change in such major ways during pregnancy but knowing that I’m doing my part to stay fit and active puts my mind in the right place to handle all the changes coming my way.

Madison

Family

Potsafe :: safer cooking with kids

December 15, 2016

This post is sponsored by Potsafe in association with The Women Bloggers. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support E&C! #safecooking 

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When I became a parent, one of the things I looked forward to most was being able to cook with my daughter from a young age. I remember my mom giving me so much freedom in the kitchen, cooking and mixing and helping her along the way, and it really helped foster a love of cooking from a young age. Hey, it even became my career! As Ainsley has grown into a toddler (cue all the bittersweet tears…) I’ve enjoyed letting her help more in the kitchen with me. She loves to stand next to the mixer and watch it turn, and help add ingredients to the mixing bowl along the way. It’s a total mess, but I love watching her have so much fun!

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One of the areas that we’ve struggled with, however, has been the stove top. Ainsley is always coming close to my legs and the hot pans when I cook, and despite telling her many times to steer clear because it’s “hot!” she is a little stubborn. While she has never actually grabbed a hot pan, I’m constantly watching her like a hawk to be sure she is a safe distance away.

Enter Potsafe, a kitchen safety accessory that secures your pots to your cooktop to prevent burns. It’s great for kiddos, but also has a wide variety of uses including for your elderly family members that may have issues steadily gripping a pot or pan. We put the Potsafe to the test at my sister-in-law’s house this week and it performed well! I loved how easy it was to set up and install, and the grip on the pot was very secure. We actually have a gas stove at home so this particular style of Potsafe won’t work at our house, but I’m hopeful that they have plans for a gas stove version sometime in the future!

There’s still time to order for your holiday gift giving. Check it out over on Amazon!

Family

seeking, seeing and affirming the best

December 14, 2016

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Let me brag on my husband for a quick second, will you? On Monday I returned from five days away with my mom in NYC. My mom took me as her plus one on a fun work-related trip, so our schedule was predetermined, and I was a little nervous about leaving for five whole days. I’ve gone on weekends away, even four days, but five days away from Ainsley (and five days of solo parenting duty for Joe) was a first.

Now my husband, friends, isn’t one to complain. In fact I would be hard-pressed to think of a time when he did gripe or complain about much of anything. He’s my better half in so many ways. Patient, even-keeled, steadfast, adaptable. Being the parent with the flexible job, I spend quite a bit more time with Ainsley during the weekdays, so I made every effort to prepare for three different drop-offs, pick-ups and meals while I was away. Oh, and did I mention that while I was away Ainsley decided that 5:30 is her new favorite time to wake up for the day.

All things considered, I fully expected to walk into a house Monday night that looked a little messy, maybe a little out of place. My baby was happy and things had gone well while I was away, so that was my primary concern. But the house, you guys, the house! It was spotless. Ainsley was in bed. Laundry had been done and, knowing my need for a bath the second I get home from a trip, the tub had been scrubbed and thoroughly cleaned.

Such a long story, right? But the next day I found myself walking around thinking, mediating on how amazing my husband is. How selfless, skilled and thoughtful he is. How well he parents and how easy he makes it look while I’m away. And I started to realize that more often than I would like to admit, I get stuck in a pattern of picking out the bad, rather than the good, about my spouse. I think we all do, right? Little minor annoyances and things that are done differently than I would have them done. But small thing after small thing becomes what I mediate on, leaving me dissatisfied and hard to please. Not really something I hope to be known for by my husband.

Spending my day thinking about all the things my husband does well we so refreshing. Not that I walk around every day thinking about the things he doesn’t do well, but I felt a shift in thought process. Seeking and seeing the good rather than walking through my day with a perspective of correction and criticism.

This attitude and frame of thinking has so many other applications, of course. Meditating on God and His goodness. Our children and their shining qualities rather than their shortcomings. Difficult relationships in our life. Our relationship with ourselves. I’m sure it will take a little bit of practice on my part, but I hope to become a more affirming and less critical person over time, affirming the good in those around me rather than picking out their shortcomings.

Food & Recipes

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting

December 6, 2016

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cookies_3First, I need to say a big thank you to everyone who hung with me these last few weeks. I know that service on Espresso and Cream has been very spotty and the site completely crashed in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. But I’m happy to report that the site is now up and running on a brand new server that should be large enough to accommodate Espresso and Cream readers for a long time to come. Whew! 

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is cookie baking. I know that there is an abundance of desserts this time of year, and baking goodies at home is hardly necessary, but I couldn’t make it through the month of December without doing at least a bit of baking.

This year Ainsley helped with her first Christmas cookie baking and it was SO fun! I mean, she mainly stuffed frosting into her mouth by the spoonful and only frosted a couple cookies before declaring that she was done, but seeing her participate in a tradition that will no doubt continue to happen for years on end was the sweetest.

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine about sugar cookies. Specifically how they can be so disappointing in flavor and texture. Some of the prettiest sugar cookies I’ve seen have been the most tasteless and some of the ugliest have been the yummiest. Isn’t there a happy middle ground? Yes, yes there is. These cookies, I like to think, strike a wonderful balance between downright tasty and pretty/cute/fun to decorate, too. Although Royal Icing always gets the best results in terms of looks, I find that it’s just plain gross to eat. And while the powdered sugar and milk combination might be temping because it’s so easy, I think we can all upgrade our game a little bit this year to something that requires just a tiny bit more effort.

The sugar cookies themselves don’t stand well on their own. They are from an old, old Southern Living Christmas cookie book that my mom and I both use every year. If I were making plain old sugar cookies I wouldn’t make these, but once they are topped with buttercream they have the perfect taste and consistency to pull the whole thing off. One tip: I always suggest erring on the side of under baking rather than over baking because I love a soft, chewy sugar cookie, so keep a close eye on these cookies while they bake as oven temps can vary!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Cut-Out Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting
 
The cookie recipe is "Old Fashioned Christmas Cookies" from the Southern Living Cookie Book. I couldn't find this old recipe anywhere online to link to, so I'm sharing it below!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Frosting
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Make the cookies: Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a nonstick baking mat (Silpat).
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugars to the butter and beat 2 minutes more or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until just combined.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined. Do not over mix. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
  4. Roll dough to ¼-inch thickness on floured surface. Cut into desired shapes and place cookies, 1 inch apart, on baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until just barely golden brown around the edges. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire cooling rack and cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and salt until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add in the vanilla and milk and beat until just combined. Beat in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until frosting is smooth and creamy. Frost cookies with frosting.