How I took my sleep back and what you can do, too

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, Fun as a Toddler Mom, Green Products, New Mom Experience, PRODUCTS, TODDLER, Tried and True

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I will start this post with a few words that will hopefully get the right people to read the rest of it: THIS MATTRESS SAVED MY BACK

If that phrase brings up ANY kind of emotions in you, if you wake up sore or with a painful back, then you need to continue reading. If you don’t, read up anyways, just in case you’re ever in this situation.
I know it slightly sounds like an ad, and, while technically any review is an ad, every single word I am about to write is coming from me and my experience. Pinky promise.

Big Announcement!

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in 52 Weeks of Experiences, Adventures, BABY, Best for Baby, Birthdays, BUMP UPDATES, BUSY MOM TIPS, Cooking, Daily, Disney, EVERYTHING ELSE, Fashion and Outfits, Florida, FOR MOMS, Friday Finds, Fun as a Toddler Mom, FUN TIMES, GET FIT, Green Products, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, Letters to Lexi, LIFE, Life as a Toddler, Monthly Updates, My Pregnancy, New Mom Experience, Nursery, Other Recommendations, Parenting, PHOTO, Photo Stories, Photography for Mommies Tutorials, Pre-CONCEPTION, PREGNANCY, PREGNANCY FASHION, Pregnancy Q of the week, Pregnant With Style, PRODUCTS, Real Life Photos, TODDLER, TRAVEL, Tried and True, VIDEO

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BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

Some of you, who follow me on social media, might have noticed that for the last 6 months I have been working on a few projects. I am ready to officially announce the first one.

Together with a friend of mine, I started a new business, Melody Lane, a clothing store that is focused on making sure that women in all stages of their lives have access to comfortable, affordable and most importantly versatile clothing. (see below on details of a $500 giveaway!)

Pregnancy, motherhood, nursing, party, fitness, vacation, career, school – it’s amazing how many stages we go through as women that require a completely different wardrobe. So our goal is to offer clothing with versatility and affordability in mind. Items you could wear for several occasions and during several stages of your life. Clothing that is comfortable, yet still looks good, because I have to admit that since becoming a mother, comfort trumps looks, however I still want to look good.

Unique Christmas Wish List: Tried and True

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in PRODUCTS, Tried and True

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So my wish list for Christmas is very difficult to compile. I usually get what I need/want throughout the year, so Christmas becomes a time of really large purchases. Like a computer or a camera.

However, I wanted to put together a list of items that we own or already got for Christmas that I would really love to receive as a gift, had I not had them.

So it’s like

TRIED AND TRUE: Christmas Edition.

I’ll separate these lists into two categories: Elena and Lexi. Some of the items for Lexi we have already bought but she hasn’t received yet, so I don’t have the photos for except for stock images.

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Unique  Christmas Wish List

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I am notoriously hard to shop for, because I just don’t want anything.

Here are some of the items I would gladly receive without question every holiday in any quantity.

High end Skincare: Vine Vera

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I’ve been a fan for the last few years when I first tried Zinfandel and saw amazing improvement in my skin tone. Vine Vera has a line of creams made with reservatol, an ingredient derived from the skin of red grapes and is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants found in nature. Zinfandel line , my favorite, is designed to brighten and lighten your skin tone and it truly works. The new line I’ve been using, Vitamin C, is infused with Vitamin C, Vitamin A (Retinol) and Resveratrol.

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The cream is rich, but absorbs very easily and is incredibly moisturizing. My favorite serum feels like a primer, because it smoothes out pores and makes your skin look perfect for make up application. The Peeling Cream is like a gel and is very gentle and is used once a week. It’s a gel like cream that goes on smoothly on your skin and a few minutes later after you wash it off, reveal brand new skin you won’t believe.

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Since the creams are relatively expensive, this makes for a perfect Christmas preset that you can ask from your loved one, a splurge that actually creates real changes in your life and your appearance.

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Waterproof Camera: Olympus Tough

I have wanted a GOOD waterproof camera for a while now. I’ve gone through different brands and models, unhappy with any of them and their quality. Then a GoPro arrived, but after playing with it, I was still not convinced. So right as I was about to give in and buy a GoPro, I saw Olympus Tough Waterproof Shockproof Camera. After doing some research, I was sold.

  • Bigger camera means slightly better photo and video quality.
  • Wide angle lens without fish eye distortion ( 21mm)
  • 60p movie mode, time lapse and high speed movies
  • Wifi (so you can transfer photos to your phone wirelessly) and GPS ( though I am yet to take the time to figure out the wifi feature)
  • Waterproof to 50ft, Shockproof to 7ft, freeze proof to 14F and crushproof to 220lbs
  • Has a flipout screen and a front shutter button for selfies. This has come in so useful when using a selfiestick because you can see what you’re shooting

I bought it for $290, but it’s on sale right now for $199 ( which sucks, but oh well), so it’s significantly cheaper than a go pro with better features and picture quality than some of GoPros models.

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Bikinis: Khongboon Swimwear

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Don’t laugh. Yes I know, it seems like such a ill-fitting gift for Christmas. Unless you’re giving that gift to me. We do live in Florida and I travel a lot and I enjoy doing things that usually require wearing a swimsuit. A self-proclaimed bikini lover.

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I can never have enough bikinis. So now after discovering Khongboon swimwear on Instagram, I am officially taken. I don’t think you can do better than these swimsuits. Not only do they have unique patterns but the fit is out of this world. I’ve never had a bikini fit me so well or look so good on me.

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Now they have several styles and for my body type ( no boobs, no butt, lean body), the best fitting style is this:

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It goes by different names depending on the pattern style, so you just have to look at pictures to find it.

I just ordered a few more styles (it comes from Thailand so it takes a while), and additional bottoms to bikinis that I already have and I’m super stocked to get them. Eeeeek :) I could receive a Khongboon bikini a day for a whole year a be happy.

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Security: August e-lock

This is an unusual item, but I kept using it and thinking about how awesome it is, so I decided to include it as a recommendation. This could be a present for a guy or a girl. In fact, I’d like to get another one for our other doors.

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August Smart Lock is an electronic lock that is hooked up to an app on your phone using bluetooth. While you can turn it manually, like any door handle, the best feature of August is that you don’t need a key. You can use your phone to open it electronically, give access to other people in your life, track who accesses your home and when, remotely open it (has to be with bluetooth range, like I would open the door for our housekeeper without getting out of bed).

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I can’t tell you how many times I would be returning from our community gym to find the door locked and I don’t have the key. All I ever had to do is open it via my phone. Amazing Gift!

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Fashion: Bandolier (use discount code:  fan16)

Another product that I am a dedicated fan of.

It’s a phone case that doubles as a crossbody purse and a wallet with a pocket for cards and ID in the back, and to be honest, after discovering it, I have started HATING having to carry an actual purse with me.

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Before Bandolier case, I used Pong and Lifeproof depending on the situation. When I first got it, I figured I’d use it to go out where all I need is a license and a card and use other cases at other times. What ended up happening is that I completely switched to this case and refused to take it off.  I discovered the joy of not lugging a massive bag with me everywhere, because let’s admit it, having to keep track of a 3 year old is difficult enough, I don’t need to carry additional 10 pounds of stuff with me.

What happens now is that you’ll see me with this cool looking strap across my body everywhere I go. I no longer wonder where to put my phone, or where I left it, or whether I remembered to bring my wallet. Everything is here inside.

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I have gotten SO many comments on it, I lost count. Aside from being incredibly functional, it just looks really fun on any outfit, especially a black dress. There are multiple styles of the strap and the case to fit everyone’s tastes, but this studded one has always been my favorite.

Since I am pretty rough on my possessions that I use frequently, I go through a Bandolier case every 6 months or so. And when I am in between cases, it’s torture. It quickly reminds me to order another one.

If anyone would purchase me a Bandolier for Christmas, I would be ecstatic because I know I’ll need another one in just a short time.

BUY IT | USE CODE FAN16 FOR A 15% DISCOUNT

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Shoes: Brian James

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If you follow me on Periscope, I mentioned a few times that I am obsessed with Brian James shoes and will not wear anything else. It’s sort of hard to move back to the world of uncomfortable shoes once you’ve tried Brian James.

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It’s really no surprise because Brian James comes from the makers of Pediped, but I have never been so comfortable with footwear (which would probably explain why I prefer walking barefoot when I can).

Every single style I’ve tried just fits right and doesn’t rub anywhere. So needless to say, I will never say no to a pair of shoes from Brian James.

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Make up

I did a periscope on this saying how I found three make up products that work so well I am done looking. Usually, I try different make up products and colors till I find something I love.

So at this point my foundation, eyeliner and brow needs are covered with these three products. I discovered them when I was in Hawaii and needed something that would stay on all day  while I am out in the water. The foundation is water-resistant, so it’s perfect for those active days outdoors. The eye liner is waterproof despite being a gel eyeliner. And my favorite discovery, Stila Eyebrow Pencil, is a valuable find for those with light eyebrows who don’t want to look like they have eyebrows drawn on or have an angry eyebrow face. It goes on very lightly with the gel applicator and just enhances the eyebrows. First product that actually works for my face.

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LEXI

This year Lexi made her own Christmas list. She has remembered every single thing she asked for in the last months that we told her to wait for Christmas for and has rattled off the whole list to me   numerous times. Well, this was easy. Like last year, we are doing 12 days of Christmas

Her three obsessions right now are:

  • Legos
  • Inside Out
  • Plants Vs Zombies

Inside Out

TOMY  has a line of Inside Out characters. Lexi is obsessed with any sort of figurines and love Inside Out from the books we have been reading ( even though she refuses to actually watch the movie). Some of the items that she received:

Big Plush Talking Joy

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Anger, Sadness, Fear, Disgust characters

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Joy and the Headquarters playset

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Joy and the Console

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The playset which can be used alone or with the console is designed to actually project the memories from each of the character memory spheres onto the screen of Consciousness on the playset. You can roll the memories down the path of short term memory.

The console requires 4 AAA batteries, but once powered, the figures and the console glow when brought close to the console for a more realistic play experience. It was really magical when she was sitting next to the lit tree in a dim family room and saw Joy light up: “Mommy, mommy, Joy lit up!!!”

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Biscotti and Kate Mack dress

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This is more of a gift from me than one that Lexi requested, however when she saw the dress and tried it on, she couldn’t stop twirling. “I am a princess going to the princess garden”, she danced as we walked into the garden.

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Biscotti has been my go to store for her special outfits for years now. There is something about their dress styles that just works for me personally. Lots of tulle, sparkle and glitter- a perfect combination for any girls who would love to look like a princess.

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BUY IT: Luminous Lace Ballerina Dress

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Lego

Where do I start?

So a few months ago, Lexi accidentally stumbled onto some youtube videos of Friends Lego sets. That started a current full blown addiction to Legos. Since most sets she was interested in were for 8-12 age group, at first she would have us build with her and was only excited about playing with the finished product. We slowly got her more involved with the process by having her help find pieces.

Now she  takes active part in assembling some of the largest sets and enjoys it greatly. She can build smaller sets on her own with our supervision. So that’s ALL she has wanted to do lately. Needless to say, her top  requests were more lego sets. She has asked for bunny house , Heartlake High, Dolphin Cruiser and Skyra’s Mysterious Sky Castle . She has almost completed Heartlake City, there are only a few sets left and she is asking for them for every holiday she can :)

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Plants Vs Zombies

If anyone has ever played Plants vs Zombies knows how addictive this game can be. Lexi  watched us play it for a bit and then started playing herself. At first I was a bit apprehensive about her playing the game, but after I started seeing the defense she was building and the thought and strategy she was putting into it, I was amazed.

So now that she has been playing the game, she asked for a set of Plants vs Zombies character toys. Not sure how she will be playing with them exactly, but it will be fun. She reenacts the peashooters and the zombies at home an it’s hilarious.

BUY IT: Set 1 | Set 2

 

Lexi’s Favorite Snacks

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Best for Baby, BUSY MOM TIPS, Cooking, FOR MOMS, Fun as a Toddler Mom, Health and Fitness, Life as a Toddler, PRODUCTS, Tried and True

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I haven’t written about what we eat in a long time. Tastes and routines evolve and so do our eating habits, so I want to update what our favorite on-the-go snacks of the moment are.

We still prefer fresh organic whole foods like fruit and vegetables to anything else. However there are times where packing a lunchbox full of perishables isn’t a good idea. Living in Florida doesn’t really help it. So during those days, we resort to nuts  and packaged snacks. I personally love going through the snack isle at Whole Foods trying to discover different types of snacks that would be better than what we are already eating.  This list below applies to both me and Lexi. In fact, our eating habits aren’t that different with the exception that I eat less healthy than she is (I am adult. I can. That’s my excuse)

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So these are the things we enjoy together.

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Seaweed snacks

This one blew my mind. One day we were sitting at the beach with our friends and my girlfriend Carla showed me roasted seaweed sheets that her 3 year old was obsessed with. She swore that Lexi would go crazy over them. I smelled the snack and ew! I am not a person who is normally grossed out by food. But I couldn’t believe Lexi would want to eat that. Two minutes later, she had devoured the whole package and moved onto the second one.

We have been buying these snacks since then and it is absolutely the most favorite thing of hers to eat on the go. A year later and I am now starting to dig them from time to time myself. Open mind, I’ll tell ya, keep an open mind. We can’t order them fast enough from Amazon. Just FYI, do not buy wasabi and teriyaki flavor is the best.

BUY HERE: Seaweed Roasted Snacks

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goodnessknows snack squares

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I consider this a treat which is one of the reasons why it is so awesome. Packed with nutty goodness, fruit/berries and DARK chocolate with specifically retained phytonutrients, it acts like a treat, but is natural and wholesome.

While technically these are a snack I use the word “treat” with Lexi, so she eats these instead of bad treats. It has chocolate, so she is happy. And it is loaded with wholesome nuts, oats and berries, so I am happy. Win win. Natural and tasty treat. 

Wholesome toddler snacks

Each goodnessknows package contains 150 calories, no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. My favorite part is  that it’s divided  into 4 pieces so you’re not tempted to eat the whole bar and give it out as little squares

My favorite is Peach & Cherry with almond and dark chocolate flavor. Lexi loves the apple, almond&peanut, dark chocolate ones. goodness

BUY HERE: Amazon

FIND RETAILERS: goodnessknows

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Edamame peas

Lexi lovingly calls them “mommy peas” ( aw which breaks my heart as I am writing this on the plane to Vegas away from my girl)

When we make them at home, we always buy organic, since they are soy beans and soy is ALL pretty much GMO, unless it’s organic or Non-GMO certified. Unfortunately at the restaurants we can’t really chose organic and non-GMO, so we eat whatever they serve.

You can buy bags of frozen organic edamame peas that are quickly prepared in boiling water and make for a great snack at home or for a lunch box.

BUY HERE: Organic Edamame Peas

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Prunes and Dried  apricots

This is a total throwback to my childhood. My mom used to give them to us and only when I became an adult, did I appreciate their taste of prunes. I love them now and so does Lexi. If dehydrated properly, they are a nutritional powerhouse.

BUY HERE: Dried Apricots | Prunes

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GoRaw bar

I found this bar browsing in Whole Foods for snacks that we could take on a plane with us. My favorite is the banana bread. It has FOUR (4!!!!!) ingredients, all organic. It tastes great, and is very filling. The banana bread has flaxseeds, banana, dates and coconuts in them.

BUY HERE: GoRaw bar

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of goodnessknows. The opinions and text are all mine.

TRIED AND TRUE: BABY EDITION

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, Best for Baby, Fun as a Toddler Mom, New Mom Experience, PRODUCTS, TODDLER, Tried and True

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As a blogger, I receive numerous products to try out and write about. Not all of them make it on the website, some of them are obscure brands and are a big disappointment, others turn out to be the best thing ever invented and there are those that I absolutely fall in love with and continue buying myself long after the initial sample is gone. I thought I would compile a list of lesser known favorite products I have been using lately.