What Do You Love About Blogs?

Yesterday afternoon I had a little bit of time to sit down and catch up on my favorite blogs. I don't know why, but something about a few of the posts I read yesterday just got me completely jazzed. I thought the posts were fun, not just fun ... but F-U-N, and it made me remember why I started reading blogs (and writing my own) in the first place.

You can't deny that there is something a little crazy about it. I know we are in the generation of technology overload and oversharing, so maybe it's not too far-fetched that we get so much pleasure out of sitting in front of our bright computers, peeking in on how others live their lives. But really. Let's all agree that it's a tad cuckoo.

Journelles Maison: Prints & Poster – DER Deko-Trend des Jahres!

When I first started reading blogs (NieNie Dialogues was the kickstarter blog for me), I was so enthralled with the world of blogging and the sort of subculture out there of people who put their lives -- or at least what they were willing to share -- online for all to witness.

I love finding a blogger whose writing style I really click with. Someone who makes me laugh -- and if their specialty is dry wit, then I'm even more sold. Someone with fun life experiences. Someone who isn't scared of a little self-depricating humor. Someone who can balance strength and confidence with vulnerability. Someone with meaningful photography in their posts (unlike this post, ahem). Someone who is optimistic. Someone who brings a unique perspective to the table.

So I think that's my "love list" when it comes to blogs. 

I'm curious, what do you love about blogs? What type of posts really speak to you? Do you remember the first blog you ever really got hooked into? 

Life is short. So, enjoy today! #quotes /// via


Three Tuesday Loves

A gorgeous day here in Charlotte and not too much on the books for us. Camille and I will go pay a visit to a friend's new bakery -- today is their opening day and I couldn't be more excited for her! Opening a sweet shop has been a dream of hers for a long time coming, and she has turned that dream into a reality.

We are also visiting today with our doula and it will be our first time seeing her since Camille's birth. We can't wait to see her and catch up.

Three things I'm loving this Tuesday:

The Southerner's Handbook : A Guide to Living the Good Life
available here
My girlfriend gave me this book as a hostess gift and it is the best. All sort of tips and tricks for living "the good life." And darn cute as a coffee table book!

Jam Hands: Moist Pineapple Banana Bread

Pineapple Banana Bread
recipe here
This pineapple banana bread was SO delicious and, from the recipe, I made one large loaf and three mini loaves. Two of the mini-loaves went to friends and one went in our freezer. This will definitely be a recipe I will make again.

Essie Tart Deco Nail Polish
available here
Going out for a manicure isn't in the cards for me these days because I don't want Millie to be around those fumes just yet. I treated myself to a new Essie polish the other day -- Tart Deco. I'm in love with this pretty coral color!


Monday Musings

During my maternity leave, my mom has driven up to Charlotte one day a week to give me an extra set of hands. This has been absolutely invaluable ... and a lot of FUN. I have always appreciated her so much, but seeing her as a grandmother now, the way she loves Camille with her whole heart -- it is truly the best.

Her weekly visits are also a great time for me to get some errands done that are easier to do solo -- I've been to the doctor, eye doctor, and dentist, and this past Thursday I got my hair chopped!

The decision was made around 3am the night prior when we had a little spit-up-in-the-hair situation. No bueno. I had about four or five inches taken off, layers added too. It was a huge change from how long it was to begin with.

My hair inspiration was Sonja Morgan from Real Housewives of New York. She's such a hoot -- maybe my most favorite of the Housewives. And this season, her hair is ON POINT. I showed these two photos to my hair gal.

I love having shorter hair, and although I didn't think those few inches would make a big difference in styling time, they really do!

Saturday night Ian and I decided to throw a little caution to the wind and we had a date nite. Camille was with the best babysitter ever, I'll give you one guess. :) We saw Ray Lamontagne in concert and loved, loved, loved the show. It was a sit-down concert which was awesome. Not to sound old, but that was the best. Isn't it a little crazy that we all buy seats at concerts and then stand in front of them the whole time?

Yep, I'm old.

Although he didn't play our wedding first dance song, You Are The Best Thing, he put on quite a show! We missed our Millie but loved the time together as a couple.

Time for us to head out to Baby Power Hour this morning so mama can get her sweat on. Happy Monday!


Humor Me ... Baby Pictures

Over the past week, Camille has just been deliciously cute -- please humor me while I share a few photos here. She's getting these pudgy cheeks that I could just kiss all day. And I do. 

Storytime at our local library has been our new favorite activity. We sing songs and clap and blow bubbles. She is just getting to an age where she is starting to take it all in and it is adorable!

Happy Friday to you and I hope the weekend is a lovely one! :)


Our Decision To Use A Doula

I was over halfway through my pregnancy when I traveled for work to Vermont to visit a client. My contact there is a female that I'm close enough to that we can work hard during the day together and then kick back in the evenings over dinner and have "real talk."

Since she is a mother herself, a lot of our conversation this past trip revolved around pregnancy and childbirth. I was so interested to hear about her experience, which included the use of a doula. I was somewhat familiar with the concept but spent a good amount of time researching doulas and reaching out to some local ones in Charlotte.

Here's why we ended up choosing to use a doula:

+ We were complete amateurs. First time parents with no births attended, ever. We loved the idea of the hand-holding we would get through a process that can frankly be overwhelming.

+ We loved the statistics: evidence-based research shows that doula-attended births are shorter, have fewer complications, are associated with more positive birth experiences, and reduce the risk of emergency c-sections, forceps, vaccuums, etc.

+ I wasn't closed to the idea of a medication-free birth, and I knew the use of a doula could be extra helpful in laboring unmedicated. I truly believe that most hospital nursing staff can also provide great support, but in my own time of laboring, there were several times that the nurses needed to be tending to other patients. Our doula was always by my side. Seriously, I don't even think I saw her take a break; she was amazing. I did end up choosing an epidural but only after dealing with extremely strong and quick contractions for about 7 hours, and she got me through all of that pre-epidural laboring.

+ We had various family members coming in for the birth and our doula was a great help in managing everyone's expectations and being a source of support to everyone.

+ I wanted to feel that my husband was my biggest cheerleader through the birth, and our doula helped coach him with how to best support me and my needs.

+ Lastly, I loved the "old school" concept of having a female who is very experienced with births to be my side, someone who had seen it all and could bring a wealth of information to the process. Someone who was my advocate.

In my personal experience, our hospital worked seamlessly with our doula. They did not seem put off at all that we had her in the room with us, but I think this is also due 100% to her wonderful attitude and teamwork approach. She has a gentle but firm personality and never overstepped her boundaries. She worked with me before our due date to lay out my "birth preferences list" which is like a birth plan but a lot more flexible to account for changes that may need to occur for the baby's safety or my safety.

Additionally, she was an incredible source of education and support to me while I was approaching my due date and then in the nine days past that date that we went before meeting our daughter. She and I texted or spoke on the phone daily. She helped me with preparing for the birth and the labor -- everything from what to pack in my hospital bag to what sort of really strange labor signs I could look out for. She brought to the table helpful ideas to move us in the direction of having our baby, and most importantly, she kept my spirits up. 

She helped me through a morning of cod liver oil to induce the birth, but that's a story for another day :)

While I labored overnight without my family members there, she held my hand, stroked my hair, put a cold washcloth on my forehead, pushed my hips together, rolled tennis balls on my back and massaged my shoulders -- which allowed my husband to sleep and get rested for the huge day ahead of us where I would really need his help. In the morning, we three walked the halls of the hospital together. I don't know if I would have made it out of the bed for a walk without her encouraging us to do so.

Hiring a doula is an added expense that is often not covered by insurance plans, but my husband and I are both in total agreement that it was money very well spent. Our doula has a special place in our hearts and will always be a part of our lives. She shed tears of joy right next to us as our darling Camille made her way into this world. It was an incredible moment that we had all been waiting for!

If you are in Charlotte, here is the site I used to research doulas: 

Other websites to check out: 

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to leave them in the comments or contact me personally. If you've used a doula, I'd love to hear about your experience.

Feel free to Pin the below image if you feel that this information could be helpful to you in the future!

Pin It!


Our New Outdoor Rug

Our old outdoor rug kicked the bucket, HARD. It went from looking okay to looking absolutely heinous in a blink of an eye. Ian begged me to shop for a new rug ... um, you don't have to ask me twice.

Large rugs can get costly, but I was thrilled to find a major sale going on at World Market. We scored this green and blue tassel rug for $150, and it's 8x10. You can find it online here.

We already had the umbrella from World Market, so it coordinates really nicely.

When I first ordered the rug, I received a notice saying it was backordered, but it still only took a week or so to get it in. I was really impressed with the way it feels -- much softer than our previous rug. My only concern is that it will potentially show dirt easier due to how soft and absorbent it is, so time will tell.

It's also available in yellow, but since we already had a good amount of greens and aquas outside, this color was the perfect fit for us. 

Amazing what a new rug will do for a patio! I love spending a little time out here daily.

I know $150 isn't chump change, but for a rug this size and quality, I think it is an incredible deal. 


Family Time

We've shared some good times recently with Ian's side of the family. They don't live as close to us as my side does, so getting together is a bit more of a challenge. This was the first time that they met Camille, and we loved catching up with all of them.

Our first visit was to the mountains to spend time with Ian's sister, her husband, and our niece and nephew from Cincinatti. They were super excited to meet Camille since it was their first cousin ever!

During the same visit, we also saw Ian's mom and his aunt, uncle and cousin who live in the DC area.

This past weekend, Ian's grandparents came down to Charlotte. His grandmother is 92 years old and she didn't skip a beat when it came to keeping a baby enthralled. Camille was so taken with her! She raised three boys of her own and I'm sure she was a great mom to them. When she saw Camille's rabbit, she started reciting the story of Peter Cottontail to Camille, and Miss Millie was all ears. I was having to hide my teary eyes -- it was such a sweet moment. 

They returned to DC on Sunday and called us to let us know they made it home safely. They are such special people in our lives and I am so thankful that Camille got to meet her very loving great-grandparents.


Saturday Sip & Shop XXVI

This recipe looks so refreshing for the hot weather. I think thyme is an underused herb.

Blackberry Thyme Sparkler

Blackberry Thyme Sparkler


Tassel necklaces ... love them. I have two that I wear often, and this one is a stellar price for the look!

Gold-Tone Beaded Y-Shaped Tassel Necklace


Friday Randoms & Affiliate Links Discussion

It's Friday morning, and I'm sitting on the couch drinking a cup of coffee and watching my baby sleep on the video monitor.

Today will be great :)

What's necessary? The coffee. I've been up since 5:30am. It's not as sweet as I would like it to be, but I'm currently tethered to a pump (tmi?) so I'm enjoying it as-is. 

What's not necessary? Watching the baby on the monitor. She's asleep and will likely be for the next half hour or so. Our house is small enough that if she were to wake up, I'd hear her. But she just looks so darn cute on the monitor that I enjoy watching her sleep.

I do have a bit of anxiety about today because the baby has to get several shots. It's her two month appointment and, from what I've read, I think she gets three today. Three shots! I'd scream-cry, too. I am ready to comfort her afterwards with lots of love and snuggles, but I just hate to see her in pain. And I have this fear that since I'll be holding her during the shots, she might think that it's something I'm doing to her. I'll gladly take any advice from anyone who has been in these shoes.

This weekend Camille will meet her great-grandparents (Ian's side). I'm really looking forward to this since they are so special to me. Every day I wish that my own grandparents were still alive to meet Camille. They didn't even get a chance to meet Ian. I do have a pretty amazing story about visiting my grandparents' resting places when I was newly pregnant and something pretty magical happened -- but I'll save that for another day.

Absolutely Fabulous Quotes about Love, Life, God, Strength, Friendship

Hey, I wanted to discuss affiliate links for a bit. If you have a blog yourself, you may be familiar with these, but I know many of you who read here may not have a blog. Affiliate links are links in a blog post that, if you click on them and make a purchase, pay a certain percentage back to the blog writer. In many cases, we are talking about a very small percentage. A finders fee, if you will, from the company to the blogger who "made the introduction." If you have ever shared your personal referral link to Groupon or Rue La La with someone, it's basically the same deal (except they pay a LOT more when someone makes a purchase!).

I choose to use affiliate links because what girl doesn't like a way of earning a little side cash? What I earn from something a reader buys is not sending me to Paris ... or to the spa ... or heck, even to the Hair Cuttery. As a blog reader myself, I love supporting other bloggers through their affiliate links. My take on it is this -- if the products cost the same to me whether I purchase directly or through their link, but I can help a friend out in a small way financially, then it's no skin off my nose to use her affiliate link.

Now I'm going to tell you how to recognize an affiliate link on my blog and also tell you about how I use them and do not use them.

If you want to know if something I'm linking to is an affiliate link, you can hover your mouse over the link. If what you see pops up as a link with "rstyle" in it, or if it's a shortened "" link, it is an affiliate link. If you see the straight link, however, then it is a normal link to a site. No money involved.

If I'm going to link to a product, I will typically (if I have time) check to see if it is one for which an affiliate link is available. If not, I will still link to it. My goal here with my blog is to share with you my favorite items and wishlist items, regarless of whether I make $0.14 from it if you buy it, too. :)

What you won't see is me just throwing out a bunch of affiliate links I could care less about. Personally, that's just not my style. I want my blog to reflect items I truly own, love, want, need.

Here's where, as a reader and consumer, you maintain the power: you can choose whether to use the affiliate links or not!

Take, for example, my Anthropologie top.

I used an affiliate link when I linked to it above, which you can see with the mouse hover technique. But if you choose not to use that link, that's your right! You could easily go to Anthropologie's site directly.

And for what it's worth, the top is now reduced to $19.95 ... only sizes left however are XS, S, and M. My XS fits true to size (I'm a shorty ... 5'2) but I did read online in the reviews that some people are saying to size down.

So there's the scoop on affiliate links. Baby's waking up now so I'm done. Have a fantastic weekend!


Real Talk: Two Months Post-Baby Update

Thank you, Kate Middleton, for showing us that it's incredibly abnormal -- even for a seemingly-perfect duchess -- to leave the hospital looking like you never had a baby.

I still looked pregnant ... about six months pregnant!

Here are some notes from my postpartum experience in the past two months.

The First Few Weeks Home
I'd read a lot of advice before giving birth about what the first week or so would be like, and my doula was also a huge help here. She gave me some recommendations about what to bring home from the hospital and what to have on hand. My favorite purchase per her advice was the Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm (online at Walgreens or Along with the Dermoplast, Epifoam, and Tucks pads (all brought home from the hospital), this balm really brought relief and repair.

We also asked for a sitz bath before we left the hospital, and Ian used to get it prepared for me at night after the baby went to sleep.

I had a prescription for Lortab but I quit taking it due to the fact that it was hard on my stomach. I did take some regular pain meds that the rounding OB prescribed me (ibuprofin) and kept a time log next to the pill container to ensure that I was taking them regularly.

Ready for the glamorous part? I got a lot of relief by sitting on an ice pack wrapped in a dishtowel.

Yep, I don't miss those days one bit.

Weight Loss and Toning Up
I've mentioned here that I'm back down to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I've also mentioned that my body just isn't the same. My weight is "redistributed" if you will. It brings to mind an image that has always struck a chord with me ... the picture of women who all weigh 154 pounds. I love this photograph because it shows that weight is TRULY just a number on the scale.

All of these women weigh 154 pounds. Just something to keep in mind as every woman carries her weight differently. Stop comparing yourself. Don't focus on a number! Stop trying to look like someone else. Proudly be who YOU are.

With that said, I recently got the all-clear from my MD at my 6-week appointment to resume exercise. I've been taking a few fitness classes each week in order to tone up my tummy. Your stomach muscles experience some pretty incredible changes during those nine months that take lots of time to bring back to normal.

It's not important at all for me to have washboard abs (because it's not like I had them before ... ever). But  I would like to tone up my stomach a little more so that I can feel confident in my pre-pregnancy clothes. And frankly, I love my clothes and don't want to have to go out and purchase an entirely new wardrobe!

I did get comfortable enough to wear a two-piece during our recent beach trip, but my stomach still has a way to go before my pre-pregnancy jeans fit well again. This photo does do the belly justice as I was reclining back. My linea negra on my belly is also still present -- and I love it. Although I know it will fade with time, I actually hope it stays.

Moral of this story: don't think you'll be packing away your maternity clothes shortly after birth. I was still wearing maternity shorts six weeks post-delivery.

Nursing Notes
Nursing is what I attribute weight loss to. I have not made major changes in my diet, although I'm a bit less likely to pull a U-turn into Cook Out for a banana split milkshake these days. Man, those were delicious while they lasted. The weight loss I have experienced is likely from the calorie burn from nursing. I've read that it can burn upwards of 500 calories each day.

A great find for me was Lily Padz (online at These were awesome not only for pool days but also for nights when I wanted to wear a comfy, loose nightshirt to bed. Otherwise, you will want to wear something tighter that can accomodate your nursing pads, like a tank with a built-in bra. Two months out and I still can't go without the nursing pads at night -- Lansinoh are my favorites and here on you can get the best price I've found.

Skin and Hair
I swear my wrinkles significantly decreased when I was pregnant. Well, they are coming back. :) I plan to ask the pediatrician on Friday what sort of over the counter anti-aging products I can use while nursing. Around 7-8 weeks postpartum is when I've started really experiencing hair loss! You'd be amazed how much comes out when I am drying my hair. It's scary.

Wardrobe Needs
The built-in bra tanks I mentioned above? Go ahead and stock up on lots of those ... they are great for sleeping and for daily wear under tees and cardigans when you are breastfeeding. You can get the nursing versions if you'd like, but I personally don't really like for those plastic snap-off hooks to show.

I've always liked wearing all black, but I learned that my black tops were also a great way to conceal the lumps and bumps. Anything too thin or clingy hasn't seen the light of day yet.

Here's what I truly swear by: SHAPEWEAR. I wore shapewear daily not just to smooth everything out, but also in the hopes that it would help my body return to my previous size. Sort of to remind those muscles how they used to be, perhaps. Here is the exact pair I swear by and they are $16. I have the latte color and they worked under everything. I wore these for about the first four weeks until I was comfortable enough to go without them.


So there you have it; my two cents. I'd love to hear from others about their experience. Hopefully this post will be helpful to any of you who plan to have a child at some point. Getting back to a size or shape you are happy with is not an overnight feat; it took a lot of time to put on the weight, and all of those body changes happened for a very important reason. And even if I don't look exactly how I used to, that is OKAY. As long as I feel fit, strong, and healthy, and as long as Camille is happy and healthy herself, we are all good.
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