Unique Gifts For The Person That Has It All

With the holidays around the corner, it can be hard to find something just right for all of the important people in our lives. It seems like everybody has everything they need... but what if you could find those people the perfect gift... something just for them... and something they never even knew existed? That's where UncommonGoods comes in.

Gifts For Everyone
No matter who you're shopping for, UncommonGoods has got you covered. 

About UncommonGoods
Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, UncommonGoods is a privately-owned retailer that endeavors to feature unique designs and handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. They run all our operations out of the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, including their warehouse where the lowest-paid seasonal worker starts at 50% above the minimum wage. They make it their mission to support and provide a platform for artists and designers; in fact, half of what they sell is made by hand. Most of the products UncommonGoods carries are created right here in the USA, and about one-third of our entire collection incorporates recycled and/or upcycled materials. At the core of this company is a great respect for the integrity of the creative individual and the belief that it is their responsibility to use their business to impact the world in a positive way.

  • A Proud B Corp
    B Corporations use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. UncommonGoods is  proud to be a founding B Corp since the B seal means that they meet a rigorous standard on a wide range of issues, including wage levels, environmental impact, and giving back to the community.

My Perfect Gift
I recently picked out my perfect gift... a handcrafted walnut cutting board & trivet.

This multifunctional board packs form and function in a beautifuly handmade package. The richly grained, solid walnut board is smoothly finished on one side for an ideal cutting board surface, and sports incised, geometric patterns on the flipside to serve as a textured trivet. When not serving either function, it can hang on a kitchen or dining room wall as an artful accent to any décor. This beautiful piece was handmade by Dan Sjogren in Denver, Colorado.

Get New Product Updates
Be sure to sign up for the UncommonGoods weekly ‘This Just In’ email that highlights the newest additions to their collection.

Who is the most difficult person to shop for on your Christmas list? Leave a comment below, and feel free to find something perfect for them at the links above. :)

Facebook Shennanigans, Going Dairy-Free & More

Today has been a good day. The baby has been sleeping A LOT, and I don't have too much housework to do, so I'm able to squeeze in a quick post. All days aren't like this, for sure. Most days I'm lucky to get food on the table for three meals. While taking care of a baby isn't hard, it is time-consuming. Very time-consuming. I've had to let some things go. Like answering the phone. And reading every post on social media. I know, I know. But I'm on social media. Yes. But I'm just one person. I have a very modest 114 friends on Facebook, but what if each of those friends posted every day? I'd go crazy keeping up. So... I've had to had to modify my news feed so I see a lot less. And, I'm okay with that. I realize that most stuff people post on Facebook is fun, but it's never something major. This quote has helped me in modifying my new feed lately.

Oh, back to being busy... this is what I'm able to accomplish on a ridiculously-productive day before noon. Is this every day? Absolutely not. This was a phenomenal day... which is why I took the time to type it out, add cute little green check boxes, and share it. :)

Oh, and this little gem was shared last week, when Baby B turned 1 month old!

"Has it really been a month already?! I feel so fortunate to have this little girl in my life. And, I feel like I'm finally starting to figure out this newborn thing. Just hold her, and she's happy. Nights aren't nearly as sleepless as I remembered with the other two. And... she hardly ever cries... just as long as I cater to her every need and make her the center of my universe... which I do. #1monthold #proudmama #babywearing #attachmentparenting"

Parenting this new little bundle of joy is still amazing, but she's decided to make it a bit more difficult as of this week. She appears to have some gastrointestinal issues. So... partially at my suggestion, her pediatrician has told me to go dairy-free until further notice. I'll certainly be missing A LOT of my favorite foods, but I'm going to give it a try. *sniffle* Goodbye pizza, ice cream, chocolate, and cheese. On the other hand... I still have about 15 lbs of baby weight to loose, so this has gotta help out with that... right? I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

So, that has been my October so far. What has yours been like? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :)

Where I Want To Vacation Next Year #ListersGottaList

A lot of people I follow on Instagram have been doing the #ListersGottaList challenge lately. In a nutshell, TheResetGirl from Listers Gotta List creates prompts, and list-lovers everywhere bust out their pens, markers, stickers, stamps, and washi tape to create beautiful journal pages about the prompt. Here are some examples:

Source: Instagram user @alexandra_plans 

Source: Instagram user @alexandra_plans

And, while I do appreciate the beauty and creativity put into these, making beautiful works of journaling art isn't a priority to me right now. But... what is a priority is reflecting on my life and putting a pen to some paper. So, I'm doing my own, less artistic version of the challenge on Instagram and here on my blog. 

Where I Want To Vacation Next Year

1. Cat Island, The Bahamas
2. Chicago,Illinois
 - Legoland
 - Medieval Times
 - Shedd Aquarium
 - The Field Museum
3. North Carolina
4. Honolulu, Hawaii
 - Surfing on Waikiki... all day... every day!

So, where do you want to vacation next year? Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :)

Finding Picture Perfect Artwork For Our Home

Thanks to FramedArt.com for sponsoring this post.

It's hard to believe we've been in our new home for 2 1/2 months now. One of the things I have looked forward to the most since moving in is the decorating. Sure, we have old art from our previous home, but I wanted something new... something just for this home. I'm certainly picky when it comes to artwork for my home. Perhaps it was the 4 years of art school... or perhaps the 9 years of working for a framed artwork sales company after I graduated. Either way, artwork is something I put a lot of thought into.

We had a large space on the wall behind our dining room table that was just begging for a nice piece of framed art, so I decided to start here. I headed on over to FramedArt.com and browsed everything they had to offer. Since I was looking for a large, horizontal piece, I finally settled on this gem - Peaceful Moments by Harold Silverman. With a finished size of 36" x 16", this piece is an amazing deal currently on sale for just $71.60. The three peaceful moments captured in this work of art remind me of a perfect fall day. The first image shows a beautiful country landscape captured after the rain. The center photograph shows an old fence overlooking a field. The third image shows a beautiful row of trees in the foggy morning. I can practically smell the fresh, crisp air whenever I look at this piece.

Are you looking to add some new artwork to your walls? I highly recommend checking out FramedArt.com. Just click here to check out their amazing collection of framed photography.  

Thank you so much for stopping by. Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. 

Baby B's Arrival | My Postpartum Journey To Fitness | #TakeBackPostpartum

Baby B's Arrival
Last week, after 7 1/2 hours of labor, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy 9.5 pound baby girl. And thanks to my husband for keeping me on track with my desire to have an unmedicated birth, I was given the wonderful opportunity to do it all without any drugs. Even though I asked to have some. More than once. But not right away.

I arrived at the hospital almost certain that I was in labor, but not 100% positive. I'm pretty sure the nurses were ready to send me back home, but we're shocked to find that I was actually 8-9cm dilated. We called parents to come on by to look after our son and daughter while I worked on bringing baby #3 into the world.

Throughout the morning, various nurses, doctors, etc came in the room, each one baffled at how well I was managing the pain. I clearly remember the anesthesiologist hanging out in our room quite a bit, just observing, because she was completely baffled by how well I was handling contractions without so much as a flinch. For the record, I credit the Hypnobirthing app I downloaded to use during childbirth. It worked amazingly well. I had also read "Hypnobirthing" before giving birth to my daughter who is now 4 years old. I've found using these two together helped give me the strength I needed to make it through an unmedicated childbirth.

My doctor stopped by early in the morning, but despite trying a few different techniques, we were unable to bring the baby's head down, so she left, and let me "labor down" for a bit. "Laboring down" means you just allow your body to go through contractions on it's own, and simply allow your body and baby the time it needs to give birth. And, after a few hours of laboring down, my body decided it was time to start pushing. My doctor was called, and she gave the go-ahead to start pushing. And... that's when the actual pain began. I remember every muscle from my knees to my shoulders tightening up in painful contractions. I'll spare you the details, but after about an hour of pushing, our beautiful baby girl was born. Almost instantly, everybody began commenting on how big she was. It was no wonder she wasn't dropping down, she was darn near too big to! At 9 lbs 8 oz, and 20.5" long, she was in the 95-96% for weight, height, and... um... head circumference.

And, at that moment, I went from being a mother of two to a mother of three. My heart has never felt so full, and my family has never felt so complete.

Embracing My Post-Baby Body
"Mom, if you already had the baby, why is your stomach still big?" my 6-year-old son asked me the other day.

"Mom, are you having another baby already?" my 4-year-old daughter asked me anxiously.

My reply to both of their questions was pretty much the same, "Well, having a baby stretches out your body, and it takes time to get back to the size it used to be... if it gets back to that size at all."

I remember walking out of the hospital after my son was born 6 years ago. The look of my stomach nearly brought me to tears. I had no idea what having a baby would do to your body. My pregnant belly was beautiful. Now that my baby was born, the squishy, soft mound that replaced the spot where my beautiful baby had been growing was... well, not.

Fast forward to today... 6 years later, I know what to expect when leaving the hospital after having a baby. It takes time for that belly to go down. It takes hard work to regain the strength throughout your body. Looking and feeling squishy after your baby is born is normal. So is wanting to get back into shape. So, this is for all of the mothers looking to get back into shape. This is for everyone who has never given birth - a real look into what a post-baby body looks like. You can also follow long on social media to everyone else sharing their post-baby bodies by following #TakeBackPostpartum.

Beginning My Postpartum Journey To Fitness
Weeks 1 & 2
In the whirlwind of having a new baby at home, fitness is certainly not a priority. Sitting, resting, caring for my new baby. Those are priorities. So, for the first 2 weeks after having a baby, my goal is merely to get through each day and to do what I can.

Week 3
By week 3, I'm starting to feel a bit more like myself. I know from experience that exercise isn't good for my body so soon, so I'm working on re-establishing household routines that keep me active. You know, the cooking, vacuuming, laundry, cleaning, etc. stuff that keeps me moving and off the couch. I also know from my previous weight loss experience that weight loss is 90% about diet. So, week 3 I'll begin establishing healthy eating habits.

  • Drink 60 oz. of water a day.
  • Eat at least 1 piece of raw fruit a day.
  • Eat at least 1 serving of raw veggies a day.

Week 4

I'll re-evaluate the progress I'm making through my healthy diet modifications. And, if I'm feeling up to it, I'll slowly start re-introducing light exercise back into my routine... most likely some form of yoga. 

Thank you so much for stopping by. Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. 

Our Minimalist Nursery & A Baby Bump Update

After having two children, you get a pretty good handle on what babies and children really need... and what they don't. For a while, we had decided we were going to be a 2-children family, and had gotten rid of almost all of our baby stuff except a few special items. Well, fast forward to today... Baby B's due date is in a week, we're more than ready for her arrival, and have bought practically nothing. Not because the market isn't full of a million things we could get, but because I know most of the stuff we don't need.

In fact, my 4-year old insisted on buying her her first new "toy" while we were at the grocery store today... the Kick & Play Piano Gym you see on the floor. She even said she'd use her own money to pay for it because she knew how happy it would make her baby sister. Baby B's other toys are on the shelf... a classsic wooden abacus, a bead maze, Haba Patience Blocks, a wooden spinny critters toy, a Fisher Price rattle, and a handful of stuffed animals. We also have some blankets, and some cloth diapers.

You can also check out her floor bed, and read about why I'm choosing a floor bed over more traditional options in our culture. Right now, it's still on the box springs, but those will be coming out soon. While babies falling out isn't usually an issue with floor beds, we will have a secure sleeper to use to prevent her from rolling around at night until she's old enough to discover and adjust to her boundaries.  

I'm also planning on doing a lot of babywearing, both at home and while we're out and about, so I have an Infantino Unison Baby Carrier to be able to wear her whenever possible.

Baby Bump Update - Weeks 37 & 38
I'm still feeling ridiculously well, and loving every minute of being pregnant. Not too much to complain about, really!

I've been slacking off in my weekly belly shots!
It hard to believe I'm 37 weeks pregnant! With just 3 weeks to go, I feel great!
#37weekspregnant #baby3 #pregnant

Well, according to everyone, it appears that I've popped! Just 2 weeks & 1 day to go. But, to be honest, I think tomorrow is a perfect day to have a baby. #38weekspregnant #baby3 #pregnant

So... no labor on Labor Day like I was hoping. Last week, my fluid levels were low, so I've been drinking A LOT of water over the past week.... and it worked! My fluid levels have doubled and are back in the normal range again. Oh, and no induction scheduled as of now... keeping my fingers crossed for a happy, healthy, unmedicated birth. #38weekspregnant #baby3

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave a comment. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :)

10 Unique Mouth-Watering Smoothies You're Going To Love

I still have 2 weeks life to go in my pregnancy, but I'm already working on a plan to shed the extra weight I gained. My first step is to eat right... which can mean many things to different people. To me, it means eating more whole, unprocessed fruits, veggies, and meats and very few carbs and sugars. I remember from a little over a year ago finally losing my baby weight from baby #2, and a massive part of my success was getting my diet on track. Now that I finally know this "secret", I'm going to start implementing it ASAP to hopefully start shedding my baby weight. One of the easiest ways for me to stay on track with eating more real foods is to have a smoothie a day. Over the past few years, I've tried out quite a few different recipes. here are a few of my favorites that are great for postpartum weight loss or anyone looking to eat healthier.

We keep frozen bananas, strawberries, grapes, and other fruits in the freezer for smoothies. This eliminates the need for ice, and creates a better-tasting smoothie.

Watermelon-Strawberry-Banana Smoothie
1 cup watermelon
1 cup strawberries
1/2 banana
1/2 cup water

Orange-Lemon Strawberry Smoothie
1 orange
1 lemon
1 cup strawberries
1/2 cup water

Orange-Lemon Coconut Smoothie
1 orange
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup of ice

Peach-Lemon Smoothie
2 peaches
1 lemon
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup ice

Lemon Smoothie
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup of ice

Paradise Smoothie
1 cup strawberries
1 banana
1/2 cup grapes
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Pomegranate-Strawberry-Banana Smoothie
1/2 pomegranate
1 cup strawberries
1 banana
1/2 cup water

Banana-Mango-Berry Chocolate Smoothie
1 banana
1/2 mango
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 oz 100% cacao chocolate bar (I use Dagoba Organic)

Tropical Smoothie
1/2 cup pineapple
1/2 banana
1/2 cup mango
1/2 cup watermelon
1/2 cup water

Tropical Smoothie
1 cup strawberry
1/2 banana
1 cup blueberry
topped with chia seeds & coconut flakes

What's your favorite smoothie? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one.