Gift Guide: for the working mama

I always have such a hard time figuring out what to ask for for the holidays. Most often, if I want something, I either buy it for myself or determine I don’t really NEED it and change my mind – which I’m sure many working mama’s can relate to.

So I put together a fun gift guide comprised of fun pieces that are both practical and not so practical – things I wouldn’t be likely to buy for myself but would love to have.

 

[Clockwise from top left]
Convertible tunic | Glossier phase 1 kit | Essential Oil Diffuser | Under Armour leggings | Athleta Crossover sweatshirt | Chillax key finder | Aerie flannel joggers | Bluetooth Headphones | J. Crew Pajama set | Kate Spade tumbler | Reversible Tote Bag with wristlet | The Empowered Mama: How to Reclaim Your Time and Yourself while Raising a Happy, Healthy Family

 

  1. I saw this convertible neck tunic on Audrey’s blog and have been lusting over it ever since. I love that you can wear the off the shoulder look or the cowl neck look – a great piece for weekends or work. ($54)
  2.  I don’t spend a lot of money on my skincare but I’ve heard so many amazing things about Glossier and this Phase 1 Kit would be a great gift for the mama who loves to pamper herself but doesn’t love to spend the money. ($40)
  3. I’m dying to get an Essential Oil Diffuser for my desk at work and for our living room. I’m a huge fan of them in general and think they really help with moods – plus I’ve totally gotten into making my own cleaning supplies (mainly an all-purpose cleaner with vinegar)  so consider me an Essential Oil super-fan. ($18)
  4. For a long time, I was a Lululemon evangelist when it came to my workout leggings. I still am – their running shorts are my all-time favorite and the only ones that don’t make my legs chafe. But these Under Armour leggings are my new favorites. The colors are fun (I’m a solid color legging gal) and the price doesn’t break the bank. ($35)
  5. I have this crossover sweatshirt in white and it’s one of the coziest pieces in my wardrobe. It’s a great to and from the gym pullover or to wear on the weekends with a vest/leggings and boots. ($69)
  6. How often are you late because you can’t find your keys? Too many to count? I’m dying to get one of these bluetooth key finders to prevent those frazzled mornings.
  7. I am a HUGE fan of Aerie’s pj’s – one of those things I just hate spending money on for myself but a fun, cozy pair of fleece joggers would be a great gift for mama to relax in on the weekends. ($16)
  8. Lately, I’ve found working out with my HIIT workouts at the gym has been a pain in the butt with my issued earbuds from Apple. A nice pair of wireless/bluetooth headphones to make those long runs or HIIT workouts easier would be a great stocking stuffer. ($28)
  9. Similar to the Aerie PJ’s – J. Crew makes the BEST matching PJ sets. I don’t think I know anyone who wouldn’t love a cozy set like these under the tree.
  10. I’m not a hot coffee drinker – iced coffee all the way – and every day i pour my stok’d coffee into hubs’s old tumbler. Time to upgrade. Get the iced coffee-loving mom in your life a pretty Kate Spade tumbler. ($18)
  11. This reversible tote bag with wristlet is a super winner. It doesn’t break the bank and you get like three bags in one with the included wristlet. ($25)
  12. I don’t need to preach my love about Body Back, but the founder of Fit4Mom recently came out with a book – The Empowered Mama: How to Reclaim Your Time and Yourself while Raising a Happy, Healthy Family which is like the ONLY book on my wishlist because there are some books that you just need to have in your library and this is one of them.

Anything I missed? What’s on your wishlist friends? 

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Holiday Fun: 9 Things on My Holiday To Do List

Ahhh the holidays. It always seems to go by FAR too quickly and there never seems to be enough time to do everything I want. This year though, I’m making a list. Little man is super into Santa and our Elf on the Shelf, so that just makes this whole time of year more festive.

  1. Bake cookies

    My favorite recipe is one that I remember my Nana making every Christmas (similar). I know they’re Peanut Butter based, so I’ll just make sure to NOT give them to E’s teachers. But this year I’m making four types of cookies, inspired by this post – candy canes, pinwheels, traditional sugar cookies and of course, peanut butter blossoms. If I’m inspired, I’ll also make my cranberry, white chocolate chip cookies to boot.

  2. Donate to a good cause

    I gave to Junior League of Annapolis on Giving Tuesday – an organization I’ve been involved with for nearly 8 years. I also plan on giving to the Alzheimers Association – that I do every year, usually on the anniversary of Nana’s passing, but this year we were low on funds so I’ll do so before the end of December. We also pick out angel tree families from church and E’s daycare as well to help teach him that it’s good to give back to kiddos with less than you.

  3. Go ice skating

    Hubs is afraid of ice skating but I grew up ice skating on weekends with friends and had many cousins who play(ed) hockey so I absolutely want to make sure Little Man learns how to skate. This year is the year where the three of us will head out to an ice rink under the lights and have a fun family night out!

  4. See a train garden

    There are a couple in Anne Arundel County that are supposed to be fun to check out – at least two of those being outdoor train gardens in Pasadena, so we’ll be sure to visit before the season is up/they close down!

  5. Visit Santa

    We’re doing that this weekend at Homestead Gardens when we get our tree, since the line was SUPER long to see him at the Lake Shore Plaza tree lighting last night.

  6. See Miracle on 34th Street in Baltimore

    We keep meaning to do this, but this year I actually want to trek up to Baltimore to see it. Apparently, it’s incredibly fun and festive to walk around, and I think little man would LOVE it.

  7. Drive around looking at lights/Go to Lights on the Bay OR Festival of Lights at Watkins Park

    We did this last year on Christmas eve when little man was sick with a high fever (we ended up in the ER because we couldn’t get a good read on it, and he was super lethargic – viral. of course) but it was a lot of fun.

  8. Run a seasonal race

    I haven’t signed up for it, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be running the ugly sweater run on the 16th in Odenton with my MRTT friends.

  9. Watch Elf

    Not so fun fact: I’ve never seen Elf. I’m more of a Love Actually/The Holiday kind of gal myself. BUT this year I want to see it. Hubs is less enthused but it’s going to happen.

What’s on YOUR holiday bucket list this year?

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Currently | December

Happy Wednesday my friends! I’ve been a little behind on my blogging game lately (life!) But I’m out of the holiday craziness

Lighting | Holiday scented candles. We finally used up my Fall ones so I’m busting out the holiday scents like Christmas Cookie, Snow Day and Merry and Bright. Target has some FANTASTIC scents right now in their signature soy candles but I usually get my favorites from either Yankee Candle OR Bath & Body Works. #Targetdoesitagain

Spending | A lot of time on pinterest looking for Elf ideas. Seriously, I’m on a roll – exception my Saturday night, when I had a little too much fun at my company holiday party and Hubs, took over – but I’ve been perusing ALL of the Elf Ideas.

Choosing | CHRISTMAS cards. I’m pretty good about getting them out in a timely manner, but I’m a little behind this year. This is also the first year of using a 2-3 photo card since we have some awesome ones from Disney and then our family photo shoot last month so narrowing down pictures is going to be tough!

Sending | all of the emails. We’ve been on an email marketing binge (thankfully to segmented groups biggest marketing pet peeve) sending no fewer than 2 emails per week for the past two weeks. Exhausting to say the least and my marketing brain is mush!!!

Singing | All of my favorite holiday tunes. The other day I was finally into the festive mood when I was getting my nails done for my holiday party – my favorites are Wham!’s Last Christmas, U2’s Please Come Home and of course, Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas (is you).

Linking up with Anne in Residence for the monthly Currently roundup! Join us on the first Wednesday of the month to share what you’re currently up to!

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What to Wear: Thanksgiving Outfit Ideas

My family has never been a “formal” dress kind of family for any holiday. I personally err on the side of classic and comfortable when it comes to my holiday attire. This, to me, means ponte pants, nice sweater, boots or heels, or jeans, a nice top and flats.

I dress, in the words of a few, dressy casual.

This year, like the past couple of years (excepting the year my Nana passed), we’ll be traveling up to New Jersey to spend with my Brother-in-law’s in-laws (his wife’s parents – who are absolutely lovely and put up an amazing Thanksgiving spread).

So even though most days off from work, you’ll find me in leggings, boots and comfy sweaters, for family affairs, I generally step it up just a notch or two without going full-on “business casual”

So here are four comfy, and slightly dressed up casual outfits that’ll be in my suitcase for the holidays.

Outfit 1 – Butter top and Ponte Pants  

{ Top: Nordstrom | Pants: Loft | Shoes: Old Navy, similar | necklace: Nordstrom }

I saw this top on another blog and it is one of my favorite purchases this fall. It’s super comfy, cozy and with the right shoes – either boots, booties or even flats/mules- it’s perfectly dressy casual for a nice Thanksgiving feast, but can also be dressed down if needed.

Outfit 2 – Ponte Pants and Knotted sweater 

{Sweater: Nordstrom | Pants: Loft | necklace: J.Crew | Shoes: J.Crew}

Another comfortable find is the Gibson knotted fleece pullover which I picked up early this fall. I have it in Olive and Heathered grey – both would work with either knee-high boots or nice flats (as shown) or heeled booties.

 

Outfit 3 – Ruffled Hem Sweatshirt with Jeans

{Sweatshirt: Nordstrom, similar | Jeans: Old Navy | boots: Macy’s, similar | Necklace: J.Crew, similar}

If you’re apt to wear jeans,  a fun, cozy top, and nice flats. Personally, Jeans are uncomfortable for me after a large meal (hi Food Baby hahaha) so I err on the side of Leggings or ponte pants. Just me?

Outfit 4 – Jeans with Tippi sweater

{sweater: J.Crew | Jeans: Old Navy  | boots: Macy’s, similar | Necklace: J.Crew}

This is one of my favorite outfits for fall, I have the Tippi sweater in four colors – it’s a solid piece and a staple in my winter wardrobe because it’s so versatile for work and play. (Today the Tippi – and everything else at J.Crew.com – is 40% off with code THANKU!!)

I’m not a dress kind of gal for Thanksgiving – mostly because I grew up in VT and if it wasn’t snowing, it was usually in the 30’s and hardly dress weather. On top of that, I still haven’t figured out how to wear tights with dresses so it doesn’t look like I’m 12. That being said, I love this swing dress, and this pretty ruffle shoulder sweater dress if you’re looking for something a step up that’s comfortable and casual.

What’s your holiday wardrobe go to?? 

{this post contains affiliate links – thanks for supporting my blog!}

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A Body Back Inspired Workout

I’ve finished two rounds of Body Back now and I’m an evangelist. Seriously, I’ve lost a total of just about 5 lbs and nearly 10″ total over the past five months, but the strength I’ve gained – mentally and physically – has me in awe of what my body can do now that it couldn’t do when I started this journey.

One thing I haven’t been great at through either of these sessions is fitting in my at home workouts. However, now that Little Man has OT for an hour and a half on Monday evenings, hubs and I have started using that time for the gym…rather than the happy hour at our favorite restaurant.

Since I’m signed on to do a mini-session and the January session to keep me moving through the winter months and since I’ve committed to Monday’s at the gym with hubs, and Saturdays (so long as it’s not raining) with MRTT and two days of Body Back per week, my new goal is over the next four weeks of mini session to get in all my at home workouts. 

What does my workout schedule look like? Well, this is for this week but this is pretty typical give or take depending on what’s going on after work each week.

Monday – GYM (after work, 6:20 – 7:15ish after E goes to OT)
Tuesday – BODY BACK (7:30 – 8:30p)
Wednesday – GYM (I like going right after work if I can get out on time – a new habit I’m trying to keep up)
Thursday – BODY BACK (7:30 – 8:30p)
Friday – rest
Saturday – LONG RUN with MRTT
Sunday – at home workout after bedtime (treadmill or TB)

Here’s a workout that I’ll be doing this week (Definitely tonight and maybe Wednesday unless I go for a run after work instead).

body back workout

This workout was inspired by the whiteboard workout we did after our assessment in class last week.

I changed up a few things – there were some TRX moves in there, so I swapped them out for a lot of things that you can do without equipment – If you don’t have a bosu ball, swap the bosu squat jumps for regular squat jumps. Really, the only equipment you need is a set of weights (I use 15lbs nowadays thanks to my BB workouts).

How do you keep yourself motivated during the holidays?

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What I Wore: Family Photos

So we had our family photos this past weekend – it’s become a tradition every year and one that I always enjoy.

We had a new photographer that I found via a recommendation in a Facebook group since our usual photographer moved earlier this year. Our new photog was super fun and accommodating – especially when little man kept jetting off.

{photos via Jess Lombardi Photography}

Does anyone else feel this pressure to have the perfectly styled family pictures though? Just me? I usually coordinate and move away from being matchy-matchy, but this year Hubs forgot his sweater, and I didn’t take off my vest so my attempts at coordinated were foiled.

Here’s what it was supposed to be… (sorry about my sad attempts at a flat lay 😉 )

flat lay

[sweater | jeans | boots (similar) | necklace | button down (similar) ]

I even got my hurrr did. I was due for a cut, but my stylist (love her!) curled it for me. If only I had someone to curl my hair every day (insert crying emoji here) because every time I try? It looks like garbage. Yes, I’ve even watched all the YouTube videos.

 

Here are my top 3 tips to low-maintenance styling for holiday photos

  1. Consider the weather
    it was 35 degrees when we got our pictures taken on Saturday afternoon. Thankfully it was a mini session so we were only out for about a half hour (which is about the length of little man’s attention span for these things). But make sure you layer up. Subsequently, if we were to get our pictures taken earlier in the year, we probably wouldn’t wear sweaters if it were an 80-degree day.
  2. Be complementary
    I don’t like being too matchy-matchy when it comes to photos. Some families do that – like the beautiful photos where the whole family wears khakis and chambray and they all look perfect, but that’s not us. I usually pick a neutral (grey or tan), a solid and then some sort of complementary pattern – this year we were red and grey – well, little man and hubs were in red/grey, and I was in green. But hubs forgot his grey sweater. So he was in red gingham. Thankfully with little man in a grey sweater over his red plaid, and my grey vest, I think it all worked quite nicely.
  3. Dress like yourselves
    Don’t wear heels often? Don’t wear them to your pictures. Is your little one never in dresses or dressy clothes? Do dressed up casual. Don’t style yourselves in a way that screams uncomfortable OR a way that is inappropriate for the setting you’re in – probably not going to put a little girl in a velvet, frilly dress on a Christmas tree farm right?

 

Do you do holiday photos? How do you style yourself and your family? Matchy-matchy? Complementary or free-for-all?

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Ten Ways to Practice Gratitude this November

November is always a reflective month for me. Everyone seems to practice gratitude and share what they’re thankful for throughout the month – it’s just that season.

Happify Daily states “People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.”

When things are really tough, sometimes it’s good to really stop and be grateful for what you have and the blessings in your life and to give back. The one thing I’m struggling with is teaching little man to practice gratitude when, clearly, he’s still learning his peas and thank yous regularly without prompting.

 

Here are the ten ways I’m practicing gratitude this month (and every month because really gratitude should be a year-round thing not just a November thing) and how I’m encouraging little man to practice gratitude as a little person 🙂

  1. Journal.
    I’ve been following the gratitude prompts on The Mighty this month and it’s really helped me refocus on all the blessings in my life. I’m a day or two behind but it’s really helpful to me to write things down and reflect.
  2. Smile more often.
    Seriously, just smile. Forget a reason for it. Just try to smile and smile at others. It may seem creepy but I promise, it’ll change your mood and brighten up at least one person’s day.
  3. Practice random acts of kindness.
    A couple Christmas’s ago, my former company gave us all $50 to give back. We were traveling on Christmas, but on Christmas Eve, I paid for a random person’s lunch behind me in line at the drive-thru while Little Man and I ran errands, and then we paid for lunch for some pilots at the airport who were away from their families on Christmas Day and thanked them for their work as we traveled to CT. I still like to pay for people behind me every so often in drive-thru lines, and people have done it to me, it’s just a nice way to brighten someone’s day unexpectedly.
  4. Volunteer.
    We’ve started looking for ways to get Little Man into volunteering – hubs and I are both active in our community, me through Junior League and Hubs through the Knights of Columbus, and really value giving back. Whether it’s serving meals at a soup kitchen, or donating toys to kids at Christmas, little man is starting to learn that we give back to those who need a little more help.
  5. Commit to one day per week of not complaining.
    I complain a lot sometimes, it’s just those wahhhhh-mbulance ruts that we all get into. Whether it’s about my commute, how tired I am, how little money we have, whatever it is – but there are always people that have it worse. There are people without cars who commute to Baltimore via bus for upwards of Two hours just to put food on their family’s table. People who don’t have jobs, and people without warm beds to sleep in. Perspective people.
  6. Meditate.
    Take your gratitude list, and meditate on it. Stop for five minutes and just slow your mind down. Think about the things in your life that are going well, all the blessings you have. I like the Calm app to meditate, but there are lots of other options out there too if you need a little meditation guidance.
  7. Call a friend or family member to say you love them.
    I’m terrible at staying in touch with family, with friends. But call someone just because and thank them for being in your life.
  8. Share your gratitude.
    Share on social media, join a gratitude challenge (I’m sure there are many) and share every day something that you’re thankful for. ‘Tis the season but seriously, these can be done at any time.
  9. Thank your public servants.
    I’m pretty sure police officers, fire department members and EMT’s don’t get enough thanks for their hard work. Thank your child’s teachers for their work, teachers work long hours – long past the 8-3 that they’re in the classrooms, saying a simple thank you for everything they do, goes a long ways.
  10. Stay away from negative media and replace it with inspiring media.
    Hubs and I watch the NBC Nightly News every night – it’s our thing. But one thing I love about it is the inspiring stories they have as the last segment “Inspiring America.” There is so much negativity and Facebook is a vacuum of news – positive and negative. Try for a week to turn the negativity off and each day watch one video or read a story of something positive and inspiring. It goes a long way to remind you of everything we have to be grateful for.

I’ll share some of my journal entries throughout the month over on my Facebook Page.

I want to know what are YOUR favorite ways to practice gratitude??

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What I wore; Gingham Top Two Ways

There is nothing that I love to wear more in the fall than a gingham top. It’s just one of those versatile, any season top. It can be dressed up for office wear and dressed down with leggings and boots for the weekend. So many pieces in my wardrobe are dual purpose – tops that can be dressed up for work and dressed down with leggings for the weekend.

My weekend outfit this past weekend channeled my inner Audrey  with navy and yellow – it’s a damn shame I wasn’t hitting up a Navy football game but nope. It also reminded me that I desperately need new knee-high boots (Christmas maybe?) because these ones that I picked up (…2014?) are ancient and look like garbage. But that’s another post for another time.

Button Down: J.Crew Factory
Tank: lululemon
Leggings: LOFT
Boots: Macy’s (Similar)
Vest: Old Navy
Scarf: Amazon

For work, I mixed gingham with leopard print heels and a leopard print belt (what’s up pattern mixing!) and a light tan cardigan. I love these navy pants from JCrew factory that are really the perfect length for me (i’m 5’1″ for record)

Button down: J.Crew Factory
Pants: J.Crew Factory
Shoes: Thirfted – J.Crew, Similar
Sweater: J.Crew Factory
Belt: J.Crew Factory

What piece in your wardrobe is your favorite for business and play?

 

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What I wore: Casual Friday in All Navy

I’ve never met a mono-color outfit I didn’t like. Granted, I haven’t been brave enough to try the white on white outfit and really the only other ones I’ve tried have been all navy or all black. This casual Friday all navy outfit with accents in leopard print shoes and the striped pleats didn’t disappoint either. All navy ftw! 

I picked up this adorable french terry top during the big Nordstrom Anniversary sale in August and lo, it’s been too flipping warm to wear it. But it is quite perfectly, a fantastic casual Friday outfit or good for kicking around on the weekends when you want to look…slightly more put together than just leggings (as most of my weekends are spent). 

The top itself, I was worried about because the cut to the pleats is a little funky and I think it’s probably not the MOST flattering of tops but man, is it comfy as all heck. The pleats are kind of a pain – unlike most of my other peplum/pleated tops that are more of a crepe type material, these are more of a stiff cotton so they get wrinkled super easily and don’t like to lay flat and look pretty like they should. Silly pleats.

[jeans | Sweatshirt (similar) | shoes (similar) | Necklace (similar)]

 

 

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Currently | November

How, how, how is it ALREADY November? Time apparently flies when you’re having fun. Although not going to lie, October was a doozy so I’m glad we’re moving on. Moving on to the first Wednesday of the month means it’s time for the Currently Linkup with Anne and her co-host! Time to share what’s currently going on in our lives 🙂

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Realizing | The holidays are SNEAKING UP wayyyy too soon. Time to start planning our holiday shopping list so I’m not frantic in the last two weeks before Christmas as I often am. Seriously, where does the time go! Before you know it, I’ll be registering Little Man for kindergarten (cue all the tears!).

Stirring | My SToK Coffee with Almond Milk Caramel Creamer. This has become my FAVORITE caffeinated beverage and I LOVE that this caramel creamer is made of almond milk and not cream. It’s helped me cut back from my Dunkins Habit and is…pretty likely that’s much lower in sugar than the Dunkin’s Caramel swirl… Likely.

Appreciating | My village. October was a rough month, especially on the tail end. My Body Back mama pals and coaches were fantastic at lifting me up during my workouts when I just, quite honestly, wasn’t feeling it. You never, ever regret a workout, but you do regret the one you didn’t do. Also hubs. Because he’s my rock and I wouldn’t have made it through the past two weeks without him.

Investigating | Sensory Processing Disorder. Little man just started Occupational Therapy while we wait on the list for Kennedy Kreiger for an ASD evaluation. The OT – though still working on a thorough assessment of motor skills, etc.., mentioned vestibular sensory processing disorder as well as low muscle tone. So…we’re currently researching all the implications of that on little man and prepping him for kindergarten.

Following | Lemon Lime Adventures and Inspired Tree House – they both have amazing resources re: SPD that I’ve really enjoyed reading. Them and I’ve found a bunch of fantastic mama bloggers in my search for influencers for a campaign at work – I adore finding fellow working mom lifestyle bloggers 🙂

What are you currently up to??

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