Friday, March 31, 2017

5 Apps to Improve Your Blog

Sweatshirt: (sold out), similar, similar | Mug: similar, similar

Between work, kids, and life in general, running a blog can take up time that we just don't have. Luckily we have discovered some amazing apps that help us with both the look of our blog and social media accounts, and our blog productivity. Today we decided to share five of our favorites that we use everyday!

WordSwag: We use this app for all of the quotes that we post. It has so many different fonts, colors, and background options so that you can tailor all of your posts to fit in with the theme of your Instagram. 

Pictapgo: This app is great for giving you more photo options. We use a specific filter from this app on all of our Instagram pictures for continuity and to improve the look of our posts. 

Hootsuite: This app is great for scheduling posts. One of the best times to post Instagram pictures is right around when you are probably sitting down for dinner. This app allows you to schedule your picture or blog post at your convenience with minimal interruption to your life. 

Wunderlist: This app is a list and task manager app that makes organizing your life a lot easier. That way you can balance the kids, work, and your blog ;)

Scope: This  app creates a personal news feed for most of your social networking sites so you no longer have to jump from app to app.

What are you favorite apps?

We will be announcing the winner of the $50 HomeGoods giveaway on Monday so be sure to stop by! Have an amazing weekend!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Home Tour: Danica's Kitchen + Giveaway

Continuing with our home tour posts, we decided to each show our kitchens and the styles we went with when building our homes. I am so happy with everything I chose for my kitchen, it turned out just how I pictured it would and fits our family's needs perfectly! We spend the majority of our time in the kitchen so it was really important to me that it turned out how I wanted!

I really wanted to do white Carrera Marble for my countertops but we didn't want to deal with the upkeep of marble. We therefore went with a less expensive and more durable option that looks very similar with the white with grey veins, but is actually a quartz countertop. I chose the whitest of white paint that they had for my cabinets and just did a standard shaker style door. Our pulls are all from Home Depot. We ordered them in a package of 25 and I love them! My sink is from Home Depot as well.

Going along with our home tours, and as a thank you for all of your support, we decided to give away a $50 certificate to HomeGoods, our go-to place for home decor! You can enter below!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 20, 2017

Perfect Skin on a Budget

Today on the blog I'm sharing cheap and free things you can be using and doing to improve your skin. Commercials and magazines often make it seem like if you aren't using super expensive products it's impossible to have nice skin. While I sometimes do believe investing in more expensive items can be worth it (like foundation and shampoo), there are a lot of cheap products everyone can be using that not only will improve your skin so much, but also won't break your wallet. 

1) Biotin: I started using a Hair, Skin, and Nails vitamin before I had Harper to try and head off the nasty hormone effects that happen after you have a baby. Ever since I started using this vitamin I've noticed a huge difference in the strength of my nails and my hair. During pregnancy my nails grew fast but were pretty brittle. Now my nails are growing fast and they aren't breaking! In the last couple of years I've also noticed that my hair is growing a lot slower than it used to. I hoped that taking Biotin would improve the growth rate and it definitely has! My hair is finally getting to the length I want it after cutting it short 2 years ago. Luckily for you and I, Biotin products can be very inexpensive. I've been using this vitamin from Target and not only does it work great, but it also tastes great, and is a great price! Look for a vitamin that has 2500 mg or more of Biotin to get the best results.

2. Sheet masks: I'm sure you have seen sheet masks making the rounds on social media but what you might not know is that there are tons of cheap sheet masks that are just as good (or better) than the expensive ones you see advertised. My favorite sheet masks right now are from the Sephora line. They are only $6 and they have all types to choose from. You can find my favorites here and here. This winter I had a really bad cold that dried out my whole face. I used tons of moisturizers and nothing worked. I finally went and bought a mask and within 15 minutes my face was glowing and no more dry skin! I try to do a sheet mask once a week as part of my weekly beauty routine.

3: Washing Your Face: It still amazes me every time I talk to someone and I find out that they fall asleep with their makeup on, or they don't wash there face when they wake up! The simple step of washing your face can drastically prevent premature aging. If you don't have time, or you are too tired to use a dedicated face wash and washcloth, try these wipes to quickly get makeup off.

4. Water: This has to be the easiest, cheapest thing you can be using to dramatically increase your skin. Dry skin? Drink water. Under-eye bags? Drink water. Face feeling bloated? Drink water. I try to drink a gallon of water a day and I can definitely tell when I don't because my face just looks tired and dull. So drink water! You can find some cute water bottles here and here to help make it easier :)

5. Silk Pillowcases: This is something that can actually help you and your man. Having your man sleep on silk pillowcases can help prevent hair loss as it doesn't pull on their hair like a regular pillowcase. For a woman, not only is it easier on your hair, but it also helps prevent waking up with sleep lines on your face and can help prevent wrinkles from forming. Just remember to wash your pillowcase every week! Alot of bloggers are obsessed with this more expensive pillowcase from Nordstrom, but I have been using ones I bought off of Amazon and they seem to work great. 

What are your favorite cheap ways to take care of your skin? 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Harper's Birth Story Part 1

Hi Everyone,

If you have been following our Facebook and Instagram accounts you have been able to see that Harper's birth turned into quite the journey for us. Today I'm sharing the first part of her birth, before the nightmare started. 

The Monday before she was born I went to the doctor for my 37 week checkup. To our surprise there was protein in my urine and my blood pressure had skyrocketed compared to the week before. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and put on bedrest for the week. Our doctor told us that I needed to come in again on Thursday and that I would most likely be induced on Friday depending on what my tests showed during Thursday's appointment. I also had an ultrasound to check on Harper's weight and my amniotic fluid level. I know that there are a lot of stories about the ultrasound weights being way off target late in pregnancy but in this case the ultrasound was only off by 1 ounce! Skyler and I were both shell-shocked on the way home. Our doctor had wanted to induce me by week 39 due to Harper's size, so I had that date in my head. Two weeks earlier than that caught me a little off guard, especially work-wise. I spent the week on bedrest and on Thursday we went to our appointment. My blood pressure was down but my protein levels had increased so the doctor told us to check into the hospital that night to start being induced! 

We headed to the hospital that night with so much excitement and nervousness. That night they started me on a cervix softener that basically hurt worse than child birth to insert. My cervix was literally a rock, I hadn't started dilating on my own at all. They gave me an Ambien to help me sleep but I was so excited sleep was impossible. By early morning I was starting to have contractions and had dilated to a 2. The doctor came in early on to break my water and at that point I decided to get my epidural as the nurse said my contractions would get worse now that my water had been broke. During my epidural a few things were weird. The anesthesiologist said that the space where the epidural was supposed to be inserted was very narrow, and it took 3-4 shots of the numbing medicine before I didn't feel the epidural which was rare. Well we found out that the "weirdness" meant that the epidural didn't work. I had about an hour where it worked before I started to feel the contractions. Once they started to get stronger the doctor came in and inserted 2x an epidural dose in my line...but that didn't work. An hour later he came in and inserted half a c-section dose, which should have rendered me unable to move at all. I could still feel everything and move my whole body, it was awful. For three hours I felt every contraction full strength..I can now say that I have basically experienced a natural birth. (Surprisingly I still think my endometrial cramps are worse than labor which gives you a picture of how bad my periods can be). 

During those three hours the nurse wasn't checking my progression at all as we were trying to get my pain under control. Finally the anesthesiologist came in and redid my epidural in a different place in my spine. Once that started working the nurse checked me again and to everyone's surprise (and my relief) I had gone from a 3 to a 10 during that time and it was time to push. We hurried and texted our birth photographer, Cali Stoddard, and she arrived right as I started pushing! Since first time moms usually push for awhile before the baby comes we decided to do some practice pushes which means the bed wasn't broken down, and the doctor hadn't arrived yet. Little did we know I'm a boss at pushing babies out because it only took me 4 sets of pushes (about 10 minutes) to push our babe out. The surprised nurse ended up catching her and then called for doctors to come in. My doctor arrived 2 minutes later to start stitching me up as I had torn a lot pushing her out that fast. Harper Rae was born on 2/17/17 at 5:17 pm weighing 8 pounds 3 ounces and measuring 20.75 inches in length. 

 Words can't describe how amazing and overwhelming it was to hold her for the first time. After over 4 years of trying for a baby and so many fertility treatments it still didn't feel real that my dream of having a baby had come true. She is the greatest blessing I have ever had in my life besides finding Skyler. 

After placing her on my chest and doing about 20 minutes of skin to skin Harper unfortunately began to show signs of sickness while laying on my chest. She started to have trouble breathing and turned purple so she was taken by the nurses so they could listen to her lungs. After examining her they placed her on oxygen and decided to take her up to the special care unit (they didn't have a NICU at that hospital) for further tests. Everyone assured us that she would be fine and most likely just had some fluid in her lungs that hadn't come out because I pushed her out so fast. Skyler went with Harper upstairs and I stayed in the room while they finished stitching me up. Right after my doctor finished I asked to be wheeled upstairs to see her. Her breathing had become very rapid and uneven but we were still assured by everyone that she was fine. After an x-ray they didn't find signs of infection but decided to start antibiotics just in case. I then returned to my room alone to be checked out and get some sleep while Sky and my mother-in-law stayed with Harper in her room. Little did we know how bad the following week was going to be.

Part 2 to come soon...

This experience made me so grateful that we chose to use a birth photographer, and we couldn't have asked for a more amazing photographer than Cali Stoddard. (And no, this is not a sponsored post, I just  loved having one so much I wanted to share my experience). I didn't get to hold Harper or nurse her for over a week because of how sick she was so pumping was my only option to help my little girl. I was so grateful to have these pictures to look at my baby and help at night when I couldn't be with her. Cali actually sent me multiple shots right away which really helped me to make it through the first couple of days with such limited time with Harper.