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Jun 30, 2017

Summer Vacation


Hey there!
Yes, I still write words outside of my fun little home and lifestyle posts.

She Has Good Genes will be taking a blog break for the duration of summer.

I am low on inspiration to keep up with posting on a consistent basis right now.
I am pretty sure this happens a lot in blog-land, and it most certainly happens to me on a yearly basis.

Obviously last summer we were waist-deep in IVF, helping our cat recover, and keep up with daily life. It was chaotic and overwhelming and difficult to breathe at times. And I always wished we were further along with time.

But this year is much different.

Life is good for me right now.
It's funny, after you have been through a period of grieving, I think you start to focus on all the small, wonderful little details that each day has to offer...instead of rushing to the next big event.

Like how content I am to watch the rain, and smell the warm, wet asphalt, while rocking on the porch-swing.

Or how excited Burn gets when he knows we're going for another golf cart ride to the river.

And how quickly my sunflowers are growing. They are all sprouting up rapidly and most of them are still thriving.

Or how closely I can walk towards the mama deer in our back yard as she lunches on flowers.

Or how grateful I am to be able to get up as the sun rises and go for a morning run before work.

How well of a team Mark and I are. Giving each other grace as we navigate this year has been so incredibly fulfilling....from grief recovery, to the letting the dishes pile up, to our next boating adventure, to our sour moments, to holding hands through an antique store, to fixing a leaky pipe, to folding the other person's laundry, to trying to out-do each other off the diving board, to dance parties in the driveway. Every moment has been treasured.

Saying yes to road-trips to visit with relatives, and welcoming new babies to the family. There really is nothing like smelling the top of a baby's head as she sleeps in the crook of your arm.

Staying up late and watching the bats circle overhead.

Cannonball contests in the pool.

Fireworks on Lake Michigan after a jet-setting jaunt on the boat.

Taking the extra (dozen) vacation days.

Being less involved with TV shows and social media and slowing. down.

And the list can likely go on and on.

There will be plenty of fun, pretty, hilarious, and inspiring stuff in the meantime on Instagram.
I am happy to have you follow along as we relish in these fleeting summer months!

Life is 80 Summers, my dear!
Live it up!! XOXO

Jun 28, 2017

My Supplement Routine For Better Egg Quality


In my quest to max out whatever eggs I have left in the ole' baby-making reserve, I started reading It Starts With the Egg.

I was blessed with old, poorer quality eggs, which added another hurdle to our pre-existing genetic issues. We went into 2016 without any knowledge of this, so to say it was an uphill battle trying to correct what I could, was an understatement.

I took what I learned from 2016 to leverage any future cycles as best I could.

I did extensive research along with my doctor's recommendations and used these supplements on a daily basis.

Obviously nothing is guaranteed, but I feel as though I am better prepared and more knowledgeable, in general, to year's past. So I thought I would share my extensive research and supplement list with you.

(disclaimer: if undergoing infertility treatments, please clear all of this with your Dr. FIRST. The amount that works for me may not be suitable for your body.)

The best part of my obsession with research is I have done all the hard work for you.

My goal is help inform those struggling to conceive as much as possible so I linked all the supplements I use.

All are available through Amazon and if you have Prime, you'll get them in two days!
I basically live my life through Amazon Prime. 
Who doesn't love skipping the store (and those dreaded lines) and instead, have a happy box of goodies show up to their front door?

Super B Complex // Vit D // DHEA // Prenatal // CoQ 10 // Myo Inositol // Red Raspberry Leaf Tea // Vit C

Super B Complex
For antioxidant support and energy, I take one pill per day. I swear this vitamin helps perk me up each morning and keeps me healthy! I buy two containers per year and take one each day even when I'm not cycling.

Vitamin D
My nurse said I was a tad Vitamin D deficient (damn Midwestern winters!) so I was put on 4,000mg per day. I found these at Trader Joe's originally, but always forgot to buy more when I was shopping. Enter Amazon for convenience! I take one tiny pill in the morning and one when I get home.

DHEA
My doctor recommended 75mg per day to improve egg quality and I swear by it. It upped my antral follicle count from 8 to 24 over a four month span in 2016! I take two pills in the morning (25mg each) and one in the evening. Give it 3-4 months for best results.

Prenatal
Duh. I find this one most cost effective. I would always laugh when the nurse reminded me I should be taking one...um yea! I have been taking a prenatal for six freakin' years, thank you very much ;)

Ubiquinol CoQ10
Highly absorptive. The pills aren't the smallest but I like this brand because of it's high ratings. I take 600 mg per day and my husband takes 400mg per day. That's two pills in the am and one in the pm for me. This container goes quick so sometimes I buy 3-4 at a time!

Myo-Inositol
I buy this in powder form and mix it in my raspberry leaf tea. My nurse recommended 4,000mg per day for egg quality. That's just over a tsp of powder per day. It's tasteless and mixes really well. The large container I buy easily lasts for multiple cycles. Give it 3-4 months for best results.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
I drink 8oz every morning with my handful of pills. It's what I mix my myo-inositol with. A little agave nectar and I find the taste very appealing. It's supposed to help with menstrual support because these cramps are no joke. The link gives you a package of 6 boxes, and trust me, you will go through them all within 4 months at 8oz per day.

Vitamin C
To health and happiness, right? This horse pill keeps me from getting sick. My husband pops them when he's feeling run down and they help immensely. Just one a day in the am and the container lasts almost an entire year!

One final note, I found out while doing taxes that if prescribed (or recommended) by your doctor, supplements can be written off as a medical expense (and you know these get pricey, fellow IVFers!).

Keep those receipts and be sure to get written approval or recommendations!

So best of luck! Happy supplementing and Happy Eggs!! :)
Thank you so much for reading and supporting this blog. XO

Jun 23, 2017

POOL PARTY!

Swan Float // Adult Sippy Cups // Unicorn Float // Squirt Guns // Beer Pong // Red Solo Cups // Tiki Torches //
Outdoor Lights // Sunscreen // Citronella Bucket // Flamingo Float // Kiddie Pool //  Glow Sticks // Pineapple Float

HELLO PARTY PEOPLE! Summer is in full swing and I cannot be more excited!

If there is one thing Mark and I do best...it's pool parties.
No, not those Pinterest-perfect pool parties where everything matches and the men are bored....I'm talking about the ones your friends actually want to go to!  
Here are some essentials you'll need for a rockin' good time!

Pool Floats. They are, hands down, the hit of any pool party. Adults love sipping a beer in them and kids love fighting with each other on them. My favorites this season are the swan, the unicorn, the flamingo and the pineapple, obviously.

Tip: I nearly died trying to blow these damn things up with my mouth. 
Save yourself the trouble and get a quick fill air-pump. Problem solved!

Plastic drinkware is a MUST around a pool. These margarita glasses are safe AND they save your beverage after you've had one too many. They are literally adult sippy cups. You're welcome.

Speaking of adult beverages...inflatable beer pong is likely one of the best inventions ever. Sure you could use it as a pool float, but where's the fun in that? Don't forget your red solo cups!

While you're getting sloshed in the shallow end, throw some squirt guns at the kids and tell them to spray each other, NOT the inside of your house. (not that I know from experience)

Hopefully someone is less sober than you and can remind you to apply sunscreen
Cancer is no joke, son.

I have a few uses for kiddie pools
1. The obvious...as an extra large dog bowl, duh. 
2. For beverages. I'll fill up a kiddie pool with ice and throw the beer and sunscreen in it. 
I guess kids could use them too.... :)

When the sun starts to set, the mosquito's are in full force. I like to throw a bunch of tiki torches around the pool (sexy), and put out a bunch of citronella buckets on the tables. 
You will need tiki torch fuel, and this one helps deter those pesky mosquitoes as well.

These commercial-grade outdoor lights stand the test of time. We have had them installed in our back yard for four years and not one bulb has burned out yet. Do it.

At night, string a glow stick to everyone's bathing suit so no one gets lost. 
It's not like you're seeing straight. 
I think they look pretty swell in the deep end of your pool, too.

What else would you add to the party?
Thanks for reading! XO

Jun 21, 2017

Embrace What Makes You Happy

"It's fine being weird, you should try it sometime."
I think I heard that line a thousand times while TV was advertising the new season of Detour. 

Anyways, today I have compiled a list of things that make me weirdly happy.
Complete with gifs...obviously.



The stuff that makes me happy isn't hitting up the latest it spot, or dropping a ton of money on something temporary, it's the moments (ok yes, and a few smaller purchases) in this list...and probably a million more tiny things that I can't think of right now.

Enjoy...

Zoning out while driving to/from work: I'm not talking about when you start going down the rabbit-hole of your thoughts, only to arrive at your destination and kind of spook yourself because you don't quite remember how you got there (not that I haven't done that at some point)...I'm more talking about enjoying the drive.

I can get really, really worked up about driving and traffic and all the other idiots on the road.
I can't stand people who allow too much of a gap with the car in front of them because they are texting and distracted. 
(WHY do most of them seem to be driving Toyota Corolla's? Is this a requirement when buying one?)
I can't stand slow drivers, or drivers that ride my ass when I'm already speeding.
And when I get worked up, I will likely flip out on Mark when I get home...just because I'm mad at some stupid fleeting incident.

So....I try to just zone out. I focus on the stuff around me, but not really. I take advantage of an open highway as the opportunity arises, but just sort of....cruise....when stuck in traffic.

Details...my friends...details. Zooming around one car isn't going to get me to the finish line any faster when everyone and their mom is leaving for work at the same time.

If it's summer time...the windows will be wide open....hair swirling around my head...classic rock blaring on the radio....just cruising.



Reading Research: There was a period of time, when I was commuting via train, that I could easily get lost in a non-fiction book. But most of the time, I like reading research.

I know...so cool.



But I do. I like learning everything I can about whatever it is I'm going through in life...whether it's infertility, or pregnancy, or product information, or whatever other thing has been deemed super important in my life at the time.

I like research. I was one of those read the back of the shampoo bottle people while peeing, before cell phones were a thing, and I guess the need to learn a little something here and there is fun for me.


Listening to Gangster Rap: Oh Hi. Yes, I am probably the whitest white girl ever who knows all the lyrics to nearly every rap song that came out in the 90's.
Don't care.
Because I am basically TuPac's side bitch when I'm feeling sassy.
Mark is always thrilled with this.



Cleaning an entire room at lightning speed: Sometimes the need for me to clean something is so urgent, I would rather be late from work than step on crumbs one more morning.

Again...throw on some gangster rap and this white chick knows how to get down with her mop and broom.



Pulling my glasses down my nose when speaking to people:


I used to have a lady-boss that wore glasses. Whenever she would speak to someone she would pull her glasses down a bit and look over them, and it always made her look super bitchy.

And I loved it.

Without realizing it, I started doing the same thing.
The real reason is my eyesight for distance viewing is different than my glasses Rx, but let's just pretend I'm just putting off an air about me, m'kay?

Buying the good wine: I was a cheap date. There, I said it.
I used to be perfectly happy with whatever was on the bottom shelf at Trader Joe's.
And then I went through a year of fertility treatments and had to curb my alcohol intake.
And then I was lucky enough to sample some really good wine at a friend's house...and my thinking changed.



Now, I'm not about to drop $50+ on a bottle of wine for a Tuesday, but I have definitely allowed pricier options into my life. And I don't regret it one bit.

Hell, knowing it's more expensive has even curbed my consumption in general.
I savor it a bit more.

It's a win-win for my hang-over and my wallet

Living within our means:

Total dork here. Are you seeing a trend?
I get super giddy on payday....not to hit up the bar...but to pay bills for the month and drop money into savings. HOLLA 'ATCHA, SON.

Having debt gives me more anxiety and stress than I know how to handle.
We buy the big things when we can, and wait for the smaller stuff a lot of times.
I love not giving into my every whim...because there is always the bigger, better goal ahead.



Planning and budgeting towards the good stuff is my spice of life.

*it's worth noting that the cost of IVF and when and how they require payment is outside the immediate realm of living within our means. They are making a TON of money off our need to have a baby. 

Organizing my closet by Season and Color: Enough said.


Sincerely complimenting a woman:  Not like in Mean Girls


I mean like a REAL compliment. How another woman acts, how she carries herself, what an awesome job she did, what she's wearing...WHATEVER.

You may or may not have noticed that we women kind of, sort of have to work a lot harder for EVERYTHING we do (side eye times a million)...so when I see a lady rocking what she's got...I fucking tell her.

We have to lift each other up, yada yada ya. Girl Power, bitches. :)

Painting:
I forgot how much I love to spend a little bit of time creating something beautiful. Painting has always been fun for me and I've dabbled a bit more in it from time to time. It keeps me sane and level-headed during so many times of uncertainty.



Thinking I'm using a word correctly: Mark likes to point out that I use words in places they shouldn't be used. What he doesn't know, is that a lot of times I know I'm doing it and slyly grin when I can see his blood boiling. (and also I like to think I'm always right.)

ie..."I know! All that drama! It was like a chain connection or something!"





Do something for myself: This typically equals one of three things: Spending time in a hot epsom salt bath or pool (pending the season) with a glass of wine, hitting the gym at an odd hour (in lieu of my 5am normal routine), or sitting on my ass to watch a show only I want to watch, instead of what WE want to watch (and by we, I mean Mark.)

Apparently binge-watching Fixer Upper isn't something my husband is into.
Pssshh.



Hugging my dog:
When all else fails...I do this.
Like a really big, super squeeze-y hug that makes him squirm a bit.


He gets to lick my face and I get to snuggle a huge land manatee.

What are your go-to quirky happy times?

Thanks for reading!! XO

Jun 16, 2017

Gifts for the Infertility Warrior in Your Life

So your super awesome friend confided in you that she is having difficulty conceiving.

She finally feels confident enough to share her struggle because she is looking for support, but you quickly realize you have no idea what she's talking about.

She spurts out words like IVF, transfer, embryos, genetic testing, hormones, needles, baseline, low antral follicle, male factory infertility, etc, and you are left staring wide-eyed trying to make sense of it all.

It's okay, lady...you totally don't have to get it.

We infertiles are going through Hell and back trying to make a baby with science.
We have A LOT of hormones surging through our bodies, and worries about results, and pain from procedures for many, many days.
And through it all we are hoping to God that it's all worth it in the end.

And you...because you want to help, but don't really know how?
Fear not, for I have rounded up the best the very best gift ideas designed specifically for the gal in the wait.

Water Bottle // Believe Bracelet // Stress Fix Roller // Lucky Socks // Daily Affirmation Cards
Stress Fix Salts // Pineapple T-Shirt // Book - It Starts With the Egg // Book - Art of Waiting
A water bottle seems sort of....basic, right? I mean, who needs another water bottle. But I can assure you, after going through three retrievals, and two transfers, we require a lot of water before, during, and after the procedure. Gift her a cute one that isn't made of plastic. Her ovaries will thank you.

A mantra band is all the rage these days. Why not give her something she ACTUALLY wants to wear. A dainty rose-gold bracelet with a simple phrase....Believe. Sometimes we think that Journey song was written for us. ;)

My mom gifted me two items from Aveda, this stress oil roller and these lavender soaking salts. And they are literally the best things in my life. I keep that roller in my purse and use it at least twice a day, if not more. The smell really does calm your ass down when you're waiting for the next phone call from the nurse.

Lucky socks. There are tons out there. I took the plunge and purchased the "Retrieval Day" socks and could not have been happier. Those operating rooms are fairly cold and these babies keep those tootsies warm. Warm feet = happy embryos!

Sometimes we need a little extra pep talk. This deck of daily affirmations is the perfect desk accessory for the frazzled infertile. Super cute design and thoughtful words.

There are a ton of infertility-related t-shirts out there, but I just LOVE this t-shirt because it's allowing me to represent my infertility-warrior self without attracting too much attention.
Get what I'm saying?

Finally, books. We read. A lot. And a lot of times it's about stuff that is really relevant in our lives...like our egg quality or surviving the two-week wait. I love the feel of a real book in my hands and own both It Starts With The Egg and The Art of Waiting. They were very informative and appealing during different parts of my journey and a welcome distraction as the minutes slowly ticked away.

Happy Gifting! XO

Jun 14, 2017

To the Asshat That Questioned How I Bought My Car

I belong to a very small gym in my home town.
My schedule has always been roughly the same, and because of this, I typically see the same small crowd of people in the same small gym.

I don't talk to anyone because I hate most people.
I have never been one of those people that goes to the gym for social hour.
I am there to do what I have always done; try to keep this ass in check so I can keep up with my other love; sipping cocktails.


Par for the course, there is....that guy....at the gym.
You know the one...who feels like he JUST. HAS. to chat with everyone?
He makes small talk with most of the men, and for some reason....tries to with me.


It's worth mentioning that he doesn't bother talking to ANY of the other girls that show up at the same time.....just me.

Now, I'm not trying to act snooty, but I'm 100% sure he wouldn't even glance my way if his wife was around. Based on what I have noticed, he's a dad, mid-to-upper 40's, lives in the same town as me, he's probably a coach from one of his kid's sports teams, and seems like he would talk about grilling and mowing lawns a lot.

I have nothing against the guy.
I just don't feel like interacting with people, especially when I'm huffing and puffing on the treadmill.
I wouldn't even talk much to my own husband while at the gym...so you just know this guy is way lower on the totem pole.

My (second) all-time favorite interaction with him was when he...just happened to notice....that I didn't make it to the gym for a few months over the winter.

You know, because I was on exercise restriction due to pregnancy, and then grieving my miscarriage.

So...OF COURSE....on my first day back at the gym, he makes sure to run up and grab his jacket at the same time I'm walking through the door.

LOOKS LIKE YOU TOOK A BIT OF A VACATION FROM THE GYM OVER THE HOLIDAYS?!

I stare back at him, only able to mutter.....a vacation?!



No, not exactly....and I continue to put my stuff away and ignore him.

WELL...YOU TOOK SOME TIME OFF, AND THAT MUST HAVE BEEN A NICE BREAK.

oooohhhhh buddy.....if you only knew.


I have decided this lovely conversation is over and turn to start my workout.

Now, normally if someone blows you off like that, you would take the hint that maybe they don't want to talk to you.

But NOPE...not this guy.

I have done my best to not make eye contact...because I just know eye contact leads to a quick smile (on his end), which leads to some dumb fucking conversation about, well, nothing, and does nothing but waste my time.

I mean...for the record, this guy has never even bothered to ask my name, or any other initial formalities like you would when you meet someone new.

He always just starts talking like we were in the middle of a conversation already.
I find it odd.


So, a few months ago, I purchased a newer car to drive around in.
Mark and I are....car people.
And have a soft-spot for the Italian variety.
It's our thing.
You'll never see us running around in a Honda Civic.
We like unique looking cars with a bit of an edge.
And speed, for that matter.
Mostly speed.

We make a great team, because I'm cheap as Hell, and Mark does the research to find the best car for the best deal. It's a win-win for both of us.

So, this "new" car is ten years old, but was kept in pristine condition.
I loved the color combo and the mileage, and Mark loves the engine and the mechanics.

And it's now my daily driver.
Which I also happen to drive to the gym in.
Which Asshat has noticed, as is apparent in the next string of events.

So one random Wednesday morning, a couple weeks ago, I'm dying a slow death on the stair-machine, when good ole' Mr. Shitbag literally jumps into my line of sight and just starts talking.

His presence immediately annoys me.

My music is blaring, so I pause the stairs and pull the earbud out of my ear.

uhhhh....excuse me, what were you saying?

He squints his eyes and repeats himself slowly.

...How did YOU manage to buy THAT CAR?!

I actually think lasers darted out of my eyes at that point.
What the fuck did this ass bag just say?

As I, in no-way, have a poker face, I get all pissy and reply...


What the fuck does THAT mean?
I immediately throw my hand up


told him to


then turned around and continued my work-out.

I didn't want to make a scene.
But my heart was racing at that point.
All I'm thinking is....


What....because I'm YOUNGER than him?
BECAUSE I'M A GIRL?

What does he REALLY mean by that statement?
And WHY did he feel it was necessary to say it in the FIRST PLACE?

Is it so hard to believe that a WOMAN might be capable of working, buying, and DRIVING a "man's car"?

Is it so hard to believe that I ACTUALLY might be a GOOD driver and can handle it?
Is it so hard to believe that A MAN didn't GIFT me this car?
That I'm not just borrowing it?
That I'm not showing off?

That maybe, juuuust maybe, I deserve to drive whatever the fuck I want, just like everyone else is?

The way he approached this "conversation" was so ass-backwards, I couldn't wrap my head around it.

Why not start off with, "is that your car out there?" or "I like your car."
ANYTHING that doesn't sound back-handed and undermining.


But no....that's not what happened.
So here I am , confronted with yet another envious douche-bag, that feels it's appropriate to spout his two-cents and give me a piece of his mind.

So to the ass-hat that questioned how I acquired my car?

I bought it. Because I liked it.


And that's all I have to say about that.

May 31, 2017

If I could do it all over...


I think if most people go through any experience more than once, by the time the second or third opportunity arrives, they are basically a pro at the situation.

This goes for most things in life; buying a home, having a baby, negotiating a salary, picking a good boy/girlfriend, applying eyeliner, knowing just how many drinks to suck down before you reach black-out city...and the list goes on.

I find comfort in the been there, done that mentality.

In the trenches of our first year of IVF, I did my due diligence in terms of researching, questioning, and generally hashing out the details of every poke and prod, every sentence, every result, every everything.

I have no regrets in terms of what I could have known vs. what I should have known with science and technology.

But, as we head into our second year of treatment, and hopefully, a second, successful pregnancy to an earth-side baby, there are a few things that stood out from round one that I will absolutely be eliminating from the insanity.

If I could do it all over again, I would bring my head above water more often. 

Life literally passed us by last year. Sure, we tried our best to have fun, party, celebrate, see friends, and do normal things....but we were so involved in the details of each cycle that I regret not taking time to breathe. Ever.

There were so many times where I remember wishing away days, weeks, and months.
Hell, I even wished away summer at one point!

Every cycle was barely met with good news...and I clung to those next phone calls and next monitoring appointments like they were do or die.

Life outside of IVF was frivolous at that point, and I think we suffered because of it.

I now know that yes, IVF can be rather time consuming if you let your entire brain take over....but the few minutes spent in a monitoring appointment, or administering shots, or taking a phone call, are just that....minutes...of a very long day that I can choose to turn into a positive and stay focused on my health, my work, our friends and our marriage.

Sure, it's easy to get wrapped up in anticipation waiting for the results, but I am going to try my hardest to let go, and let God handle it.

I have enough on my plate and come Hell or high-water, Infertility will not define me as a person.

If I could do it all over again, I would refrain from learning the gender. 

When the nurse called with our PGD results, I took that phone call by myself.
She asked if I wanted to know the gender, and because we really, really wanted a girl...I said yes.

After I got off the phone with the nurse, I called Mark, and while telling him the news, I could sense he wasn't thrilled that I made that decision by myself.

I got this huge pit in my stomach. I made a mistake.

I kept brushing it off because...IT WAS GOOD NEWS!!

But still, that phone call, sitting in the air-conditioned car in the heat of summer, is a moment I'll never forget. I should have said no. We should have just gone with the best embryo and moved forward.

What we learned from last year, when the girl didn't take, but the boy did....was that the love we had for the little boy growing inside me was monumental.

It no longer matters what we have, as long as the little person stays put for an entire pregnancy and is born free of abnormalities and I get to spend an eternity earth-side....we're good.

If I could do it all over again, I would refrain from announcing at work.

My work-situation may be a bit different than others.
My career is in Human Resources, and I just happen to be one of a couple girls in an office filled to the brim with men.

So, there is one role I play where I have to use discretion, and another role I play where I'm basically one of the guys.  It's rather fitting, in a way.

But neither of those roles is a good match to announce a pregnancy at 6 weeks, have it fail at 10, and then be hounded with innocent questions through what would have been my second trimester.

How am I feeling?

Am I getting excited?

You don't look pregnant.

Men, I mean...they are basically aloof. So when they were finally face to face with me, in a situation I never meant to have, the question would always come up randomly if they remembered it.
And then the ever-awkward conversation would ensue.

Oh, right...I miscarried at Christmas.

I'm sorry to hear that. 
*enter random mumbling about something similar, yet totally not*
And then there was always some ass-bag who would wrap-up the conversation with...

Are you going to start trying again right away?

*face palm*

At this point, do I start spilling the details about my personal life to a stranger?
The answer is no.

So I just smiled and wrapped up the conversation as quickly as possible, using phrases like....do you really want to have this conversation with your HR Manager?

And...this isn't exactly appropriate for work, don'cha think?

So anyways....the moral of the story is....I will never be announcing a pregnancy at work ever again.

Even when I'm clearly showing, I'm going to just keep denying it and telling everyone I got fat.

Because if someone is going to have fun with the situation.....


What have you done in your life that you want a do-over with?
Thanks for reading! XO

May 26, 2017

DIY - Stenciled Canvas Art

When I moved into my new office, I realized I was constantly staring at a blank wall.
I am always slow to make decisions when it comes to accessories, so the wall stayed blank for almost a year.

I am NOT a fan of generic artwork, but the idea finally came to me one day to re-use some existing canvases I had previous purchased from Hobby Lobby.

But what should I paint?

Around the same time I was making these decisions, the company I bought my bedroom stencil from saw my work and decided to feature me on their blog. As a thank you, they offered me a stencil of my choice, and the pieces to my canvas art fell into place.

Here is what I painted and how I did it.


SUPPLIES:
- (2) 24x36 Blank Canvases ($14 ea)
- Acrylic Paint: White, Yellow, Fuschia, and Charcoal (Or get a basic starter set on the cheap)
- Large Flat Paint Brush (or buy a different sized set)
- Plastic drop cloth (to cover surface you are painting on)
- Spare cup of water
- Paper plate or similar surface to mix paints
- Mandala Stencil (similar HERE)
- Small Roller Brush - (I used the one from this stencil set)

First, I ripped off the old "art" that was glued to the front of my Hobby Lobby canvases.
Of course, one came off in a snap, and the other I sat cursing for about an hour. This is why it would just be easier to start fresh with some news ones.


Then, once they were blank, I prepped them with a light sanding to remove any glue residue.


It's not perfect. I get it. But that really wasn't the look I was going for in general, so I think it works.

Next up is the background paint.
I was going for a rough, sort of rustic-looking sunset.
I basically just squirted the acrylic paint on in sections, thinned it out with water (a lot of water) and blended from light to dark. Don't do the reverse or you'll end up with a muddy mess.


While the background paint dried, I had a snack and opened up my mandala stencil.
This beauty comes as a "half"...not the whole circular stencil.
So you tape and paint one side, then rotate it 180 degrees and tape and paint the other half.
Turns out, having only the half works out really well when applying it to two different canvases.


I just happened to have some old enamel, high-gloss wall paint lying around, but you can purchase a similar paint here. I used a small roller from the stencil kit, taped the stencil down with some painters tape, and got to work.


Stenciling when the stencil is not spray-glued to the surface is going to make the project an imperfect process. Own your errors and you'll be a lot happier with the results.
If this was a very smooth surface, I easily would have opted to spray it into place with temporary glue.
But I'm also extremely impatient, so I accepted the fact that the paint bled a little and the lines weren't completely crisp. It's all good.

It fit with the whole old-world rustic theme I was going for anyways. :)

Once complete, I grabbed some velcro hanging strips and used the level in the stencil kit to mount my project to my office wall. I opted not to hammer nails into the wall because I figured my boss would flip out. These velcro strips also help for re-positioning if you happen to hang it a bit crooked to begin with.


So there you have it!
A beautiful, custom piece that is super easy to create!

Hope you find some inspiration in my work and create your own beauties!
Happy Memorial Day Weekend! XO

May 24, 2017

How I Quit Running Errands : Part 2 - Hello Fresh

Happy Hump Day folks!
Welcome to Part 2 of the how I eliminated all the things that don't bring you joy goals of 2017.

I decided to stop running errands. Yup.....I just stopped doing all of it.

All that precious weekend-time wasted doing things like meal-planning, grocery shopping, toiletry shopping, checking labels, cutting coupons, looking for deals, driving all over Hell and back, loading up the loot, schlepping all the bags up the porch stairs, unpacking the loot, and dropping into a pile of exhausted confusion.

I eliminated. All of it.

If you missed Part 1 where I explained how I buy all my toiletries and non-refrigerated grocery items from Target now, read up here!


For weekly dinners, we typically volley between actually wanting to cook or throwing in an oven pizza. With this inconsistency, I took a chance on Hello Fresh.

We have been customers for a couple months now, and it's been great. A breathe of fresh air, really.

I have seen other meal delivery services like Blue Apron, but for some reason, Hello Fresh caught my eye. I have also been fielding some questions from interested people, so I thought I would round up my answers on this post.

Q: DO YOU HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO COOK?
A: Sort of. I am not a chef in any way, but I do know how to chop up veggies and sautee things. I would say if you have ever made more than mac n' cheese, you're good. Plus, they give you step by step instructions with cooking times. It's basically full-proof.

Q: WHAT ARE THEY EXPECTING ME TO ALREADY HAVE?
A: The basics. A pot, a pan, an oven, a fridge. :) Olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper have been the only things I have had to use out of my own stock. And how much you use is completely up to your own taste.

Q: WHAT IF I DON'T LIKE A LOT OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF FOOD?
A: You maybe SOL, then. But, I will say, a lot of the meals we look at it sound...weird. But then we make it, end up loving it, and can't believe we never thought of the flavor combo's before!

Q: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE EACH DINNER?
A: No more than 30 minutes. A lot of the steps are made in tandem, so everything is finished at the same time. In our home, I'll wrap up the second half of dinner, while Mark feeds the pets. Then we can eat while everything is still hot!

Q: WHAT IF WE THINK THE MEAL IS GROSS?
A: Tell them! Hello Fresh is CONSTANTLY looking for feedback to improve their efforts. I write a review for nearly ALL the meals.

So with those out of the way, let's talk about the details!

FIRST, CHOOSE YOUR PLAN TYPE AND AMOUNT:

There are three options:
Classic (meat and seafood meals)
Vegetarian (plant-based protein meals)
Family (budget-conscious meals for larger groups and tiny tummies)

You choose your plan and how many mouths you feed.
We chose the Classic meal plan, for three nights per week, for a family of 2.
Each week we are given seven meal options that typically include meat and fish/seafood options.


Of the seven meals, there is typically one breakfast meal and one pricier meal upgrade (for about $10). I have upgraded twice and have yet to be disappointed.

CHOOSE YOUR DELIVERY DATE:
I chose Saturday delivery so we can enjoy the three meals during the following work-week.

You are not required to be home to accept the delivery!
They are packed in ice packs, very professionally (similar to how my IVF meds arrive!).

I love this delivery option because it takes the mental stress out of trying to figure out something new all the time. A lot of times when I was making meals at home, I would eliminate some of the extras because, well, who always has a container of sesame seeds on hand?

Plus, you can always skip a week if you're out of town, or just burned out of making food.

We typically make these meals Monday, Tuesday, and Thursdays.
We open a box, turn on some Tom Petty, pour a glass of wine, and within 30 minutes, dinner is ready.

Three meals for two people is $60.
So, $10 per person, per meal.
Not too shabby.

BONUSES:
1. Sometimes they throw in "extras" like some chocolates. For Cinco de Mayo they gifted us a whole bottle of Tabasco!
2. All the recipes are available to download if you ever want to recreate a dish again!

A GIFT FOR YOU:
If you want to try it out, sign up HERE and get $40 off your first order!
That's over 60% off the regular price! (Referral code does not expire!)
We did the same thing, splurged on a premium box with our first order, and ended up only paying $30 for 3 meals!!

With the elimination of three week-night meals, all I have left to shop for the remaining grocery items. Stay tuned for my thoughts on our weekly Peapod grocery delivery next week!

Thanks for reading!! XO

May 19, 2017

All Things Pineapple

Fertility Warriors - you damn well know that the pineapple is our beacon of hope.

Pineapples are a symbol of fertility and hospitality.

Our hope and our strength. For joy and fun and laughter and family.

So sprinkle that shit all over your life! Look at all these goodies I found!

Necklace // Cover-Up // Ice-Cube Tray // Sunglasses // iPhone Case // Candle
Face Cleanser // Pool Float // Swaddle Set // Swim Trunks // Tote Bag // Wine Glasses // Hat


This pineapple pool float is being delivered to my house as we speak. I try to add a different float every summer. I can't think of anything more relaxing than floating around on a summer day in these cute pineapple sunnies.

I like to keep a candle burning in the bathroom when we have company over...something citrus and fruity always fits the bill in the summertime. This candle is perfect.

When we're out boating, a cover-up is key to easily transition from the water to outdoor dining. Pair it with this delicate necklace and some flip-flops and you're good to go.

Get your family in on the pineapple action as well with these adorable swim trunks for men and this pineapple swaddle set!

My wavy hair can be a tad unruly in the summertime, but this super cute trucker hat would cure that problem!

I don't know about you gals, but I am constantly on the search for skin care products that are free from nasty chemicals. I have used Alba products for a while and love them. This pineapple enzyme face wash smells awesome and is fertility-friendly as well!

I don't think it's possible to have too many tote bags. So many possibilities and cute designs! I am in LOVE with these gold sequin pineapples. Canvas is quick-drying as well, which is perfect for a beach day! Cover your iPhone in this cute case and you're the perfect kind of matchy-matchy.
I love a good stripe.

My favorite thing to do after work on a hot day, is grab an ice-cold glass of chard and sit by the pool. These pineapple wine glasses are perfect for me because they are stemless (I'm a bit of a klutz). 
And yes, I have been known to plop a few ice cubes in my wine, call it white trash if you will, but ice cubes are even cuter when they are pineapple shaped.
Or maybe you can use these for jello shots?
The possibilities are endless!! :)

That's a wrap! Hope you have a wonderful weekend! XO

May 17, 2017

Relapse

What is really bothering you?
Look at how you're standing.
Didn't the therapist say we needed a safe sentence that reigns in this type of behavior?
Whatever that sentence was...we need to say it now.

Mark is talking to me slowly. Like he always does when I'm about to lose my shit.
When I'm about to relapse with my grief.

It was the Thursday before Mother's Day.
I had just polished off a stiff vodka tonic and was reeling inside.

Looking for a fight.

Nothing. Why would you think it's anything? I'm just a little frustrated.
I just don't understand why YOU would start asking questions about what I do with MY medications. Their MINE. You're not the one that has to take all these shots and these pills.
I do.
So fuck off with your questions!

I storm out of the room and the overwhelming need to smash something to pieces takes over my rational thinking.
I storm back into the kitchen, slam the dishwasher shut with everything I have.
Open it.
Slam it back shut.
Open it again.
Slam it even harder.


I scream.

IT'S JUST NOT FAIR!!!

IT'S FUCKING MOTHER'S DAY!
WHEN THE FUCK AM I GOING TO BE A MOM?!
I AM SUPPOSED TO BE HAVING MY BABY SHOWER NEXT WEEKEND.
I'M SUPPOSED TO BE 31 WEEKS PREGNANT.
IT'S NOT. FUCKING. FAIR.
WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH MY LIFE!?

And proceed to bawl hysterically in the next room.

Burn is concerned.
He rushes over to me and nearly knocks me over while he proceeds to lick my kneecaps.
I start demanding a hug from Mark...because that's totally rational at this point.
No solutions, just a really big hug.

Mark unloads all the broken glasses from the dishwasher and I crumble in the corner, staring off into space. I can hear my heart beating through my ears at that point.

I need to calm down.
I am relapsing again and I hate that feeling.
That feeling of being out of control.
That feeling of being the alien in the room that everyone is staring at.

I'm so sick of feeling this pain.
So very sick and tired of feeling like I could spin out of control at any point.
That these feelings bubble to the surface so quickly I can't stop them, much less warn Mark that it's happening.
It comes on so quickly.

I have been an irritable mess for about a week, knowing that these two weekends were rapidly approaching.

For the most part, I have been good.
My recovery has been steady.
I argue and bicker with Mark here or there, but overall....I would say it's been positive.

But then shit like this happens and I curse the Heaven's asking WHY this is the hand I have been dealt.
Why now.
Why did this have to be taken away from me?
I keep asking for direction.
I keep asking for guidance.

I don't understand, and I'm trying to be patient, but sometimes the anger is overwhelming.

We went to bed halfheartedly defeated.
With no resolution outside of a thick apology, from me.
For ruining another evening.
For not having more patience.
For dumping these ugly feelings on Mark again.

As long as I "should be" pregnant, relapses are going to rear their ugly head at inopportune times.
Like when my due date arrives, or maybe again when yet another birthday rolls around, without the baby I have been wishing for since I was 28.

If you read these words, I want you to know that my life is not all gloom and doom.
I write these real emotions, the good and the bad, because I believe it's important to let others know that progress is most definitely not linear.
I can't even count how many times I have muttered the phrase one step forward, two steps back.
Because it's exactly that.
Just like you can't always have good, flawless, positive, drama-free days (although that would be nice.)
But the bad doesn't define me, or negate any of the good that has come out of my progress over the last five months.

I am starting to remember things again.
The therapist mentioned one of the symptoms of depression and grief is short-term memory loss...and of course when you're in the thick of it, you have no idea what she is saying.
Looking back, it's very true.
I still can't piece together a lot of events, but the harder I work at it, the more everything makes sense.

Speaking of therapists, I dumped mine.
Not because I think I'm cured.
But because I have gained a notion of clarity that I did not fully encapsulate before the miscarriage. The clarity to stop allowing bullshit to control parts of my life.

My therapist has screwed up a few times in recent months...double booking me....constantly running late....billing my insurance incorrectly....and while she helped when I needed to talk to someone....the bigger picture is...she was wasting a lot of my time.
And I was getting angry waiting for her to get her shit together all the time.
I simply do not have patience for people that do a half-ass job these days.

Same goes for my fertility treatments.
Having gone through the ringer for years at a company whose sole job is to get women pregnant...when they decided to switch a procedure to a different day....and a different LOCATION...without telling me?
Lord have mercy on them because I gave them a piece of my mind and likely got a few people fired.

This is MY TIME and MY MONEY and MY SANITY and MY FAMILY they are screwing with...and mama has had enough.
These days I feel more like Towanda from Fried Green Tomatoes.
And it feels good.


Thanks for reading. XO

May 12, 2017

Home Design : Our Bathroom Renovation

Let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

Waaayyy back in the fall of 2014, about a year after we moved into our forever home, we decided to gut and renovate our upstairs bathroom.

Confession: I may have cried in that very bathroom, during the initial walk-through of the home when we were deciding to purchase because it was just. so. ugly.

We wanted it to look more chic, more Miami, after our favorite vacation spot.
So this is what I came up with:

Chandelier // Wall Tile // Sconce // Towel Rod // Toilet Paper Holder // Faucet // Mirror
Glass Shelf // Cabinet // Floor Slate // Pedestal Sink // Towel Bar

We decided to handle the demo and prep ourselves over one weekend to save some money.
I know, it's so weird to want to get rid of this wallpaper. :)


It started out on a high note, with Mark getting overly frustrated with our old toilet and karate kicking it to pieces.

After that, it was my turn to take out some aggression on full walls of wood glue. The sanding alone took an entire day.

Then we brought in the professionals to add new sheet rock and lay tile.

Finally, it was on us to install the fun stuff. Mark was always so thrilled.


But the end result was so beautiful. Here is our first reveal, all festive for Christmas!

And this is it's current state (I need to work on my photography skills, ahem)








You all know I have an obsession with Amazon, and this renovation fully embraced that love. After measuring, debating, re-considering, and re-measuring, I pulled the trigger with all the pretty items on the list.

The flush-mount ceiling light is absolutely beautiful. Yes, you have to string up all the crystals by hand, but it was a labor of love and I was so thrilled with the results.

The two wall sconces that flank the mirror mimic the crystals in the ceiling light and provide a nice feminine quality against the dark slate tile.

I knew I wanted a pedestal sink to save space, and the addition of the towel bar and angular faucet added some chrome elements to tie into the glass shelving nearby.

I bought the white storage cabinet from Homegoods, but turns out, it's for sale online for the exact same price! Who knew?

We let the professionals lay the tile. I needed those grout lines to be perfect otherwise my OCD brain will stare at them for eternity. After the dust settled, I spent an afternoon sealing the slate with a wet look sealer. I used a large foam sponge and washed it on thinly, working my way out of the room. Once dried, I did another coat, and that was that!
The results have kept up since 2014 without re-applying!

Thank you for reading, and I hope you find a little inspiration from my home for your next project! XO