Our Brooklyn Kitchen

I keep promising an apartment post about our living room / office / dining room, but we're currently in the middle of a few minor updates and changes, so I'm putting it off another few weeks and sharing a different room on this tour, our kitchen. For a reminder of our apartment layout, here's the floor plan. The kitchen is at the end of the apartment, next to our daughter's bedroom that I shared in last week's apartment update.

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The apartment has original hardwood floors, high ceilings, and tall windows. The kitchen is probably one of the larger ones we looked at last summer, and it certainly has the most cabinetry of any place we saw. It's not totally our style, but it's spacious for a Brooklyn apartment, and has served our family well the past five months of living here. Aside from hanging a fruit basket, filling the cabinets and drawers, buying a floor runner, and placing items on the counters, we really haven't done much to this space. It's a little tricky to photograph as the window looks out on another apartment building's wall, and the space itself is a little dark.

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 My cookbook collection

My cookbook collection

 Utensils, cutting boards and microwave

Utensils, cutting boards and microwave

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 "It's not about how big the house is, it's about how happy the home is."

"It's not about how big the house is, it's about how happy the home is."

 View from the kitchen, into the living room / dining room / office.

View from the kitchen, into the living room / dining room / office.

Renting obviously presents limitations on changes you can make, so while I'm totally happy with this space, if we owned, I would totally be open to renovating. I thought it would be fun to show some ideas of what kinds of changes if budget was no limit and we completely gutted the space. We've gotten much more into mid-century style lately, so I would replace all the cabinetry with a flat-door style in a walnut wood with marble or concrete counters. I would also rip up the dark floor and pull color inspiration from the original hardwood in the rest of the apartment for a wood floor to continue into the kitchen. It could never be as spacious as the following inspirational photos, but hopefully you get the gist of what I'd envision in this dream scenario. 

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The cabinet handles in those two photos are a bit heavy, so I'd probably go for something a little more sleek and slim, or no handles at all. I also think in a smaller space, it could be fun to go with something a little more graphic and bold for the back-splash (you know I like bold walls!). I thought something a little more fun, like the below examples all the way up to the tall ceilings, would be gorgeous in this dream space.

I totally fell down the Pinterest rabbit hole a little bit on this search. It's just so much fun daydreaming about kitchen renovations as I have yet to get to do one! That last image is absolutely breathtaking. The faucet? That chandelier? The deep navy with those granite counters? Swoon! Major kitchen envy happening over here. I might even be searching for stick-on tile and renter kitchen inspiration as you read this.

Next up? I've been working on a "week in the life" post of what all our lives are like in a typical week, along with some top-secret photos of our food coop. Anything in particular you'd love to hear about our day-to-day lives living in Brooklyn, NY? Share in the comments below.

Learning to Apply Makeup in my 30s

I have talked about this a few times on Instagram, and shared with a few friends, but one of my goals for this year of taking better care of myself, revolves around my skin. I feel good about my daily skincare routine, but I have never really figured out the best makeup products for my skin or put much effort into any kind of daily makeup routine. For some reason, now that I am in my 30s (and a tired mom of a toddler), I've been growing increasingly interested in having a better idea of how to properly apply makeup and the best products for my needs. I have spent the past few months researching, watching Instagram tutorials of bloggers that I respect and like their makeup choices, and trying a few samples of products before investing in any full-sized version. I went to makeup stores, tried different products and colors, and even hired a makeup artist for help.

This past weekend, as a birthday treat to myself, I paid a local makeup artist to come to our apartment and spend a hour and a half looking through the products I narrowed my search down to, demonstrating how to properly apply to one side, and then talk me through me applying to the other side of my face. It was SO much fun! If you're also interested in learning more about makeup application, check out local makeup artists in your area and see what kinds of services they offer - they aren't just for special photoshoots or weddings. The lovely woman that I worked with will go shopping with you and help you narrow down the right colors and products for your skin type, will come to your apartment to help with application (like she did for me), and hosts customized parties for groups of friends or a shower (along with also doing events, weddings, photoshoots, etc). If you live in New York City and are interested, just comment below and I'll link to her website.

If you want to see how I look without makeup, you can friend request me on Instagram (I only accept follows from friends & family). Otherwise for a made-up look, here's a photo from Two Pair Photography on my wedding day almost seven years ago, all done up. This collection of photos is from our wedding feature on Style Me Pretty.

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Without further adieu, if you are interested in upping your makeup game and would like to know more about my exact process, here's a step-by-step:

1) Research cruelty-free and vegan brands and products through Peta and Cruelty-Free Kitty.

2) Check out Cruelty-Free Kitty's shopping guides and product guides for reviews, products, and pricing information. Tip: Not all cruelty-free products have to cost insane amounts of money.

3) Read product reviews on Sephora, Ulta, Amazon, etc.

4) Look up your favorite bloggers on Instagram, most have makeup tutorials and tend to wear a lot less than YouTube makeup artists. They will probably give you a better sense of what products you actually need for every-day usage.

5) Go to Sephora, Ulta, your local drugstore, etc and check out the products in person. Sephora and Ulta have store employees that can help you find the best color for you and will provide additional product recommendations. Tip: They may try to convince you to buy something you don't need. Be strong. If you don't like eye liner, you don't need it. If you don't like foundation (like me), don't buy it. p.s. If they sway you, most stores have great return policies. Don't use the products, take them back.

6) Go home and start playing around with makeup application. Put it on in different light settings, in different rooms, with a recently cleaned mirror. Use your fingers, a clean brush or sponge. Tip from the local makeup artist: If you have dry skin, try liquid or non-powder products. If you have more oily or combination skin, try powders.

After a bunch of research and watching several makeup tutorials, I decided that the main products I needed for every-day usage were (and would be applied as follows):

1) Rosehip Oil (been using for well over a year)
2) Foundation Primer (I LOVE this stuff!)
3) Tinted Moisturizer (been using for almost 2 years)
4) Concealer
5) Setting Powder
6) Brow Gel
7) Mascara (most days)

 I returned the Tarte Concealer and Foundation pictured above. Everything else was a keeper!

I returned the Tarte Concealer and Foundation pictured above. Everything else was a keeper!

For someone who only used rosehip oil and tinted moisturizer daily for the past two years, this is obviously a huge change. It took a little longer initially each morning, but now I can apply it all pretty quickly. I have never liked foundation, and so even though the Sephora sales clerk initially convinced me to buy some when I went into their store, I wound up returning it as I prefer keeping things really light with my tinted moisturizer (CC or BC cream is also a great foundation alternative option for people that like a less made-up look). I initially bought a Tarte concealer from Sephora, but after sampling it at the store, by the time I got home I was not happy with how it held up. I wound up returning it and buying this much less expensive e.l.f. concealer, and I like it SO much more! If you were starting totally from scratch, investing in all of these exact same products up-front would be about $120. I already owned the rosehip oil and tinted moisturizer though, so I spent about half that amount.

Before going into this experiment, I had no idea how to use makeup brushes or sponges, so I didn't want to spend a ton on either. I did some research and found a nice middle-ground option for both (which turned out to be the same brand the makeup artist I worked with uses!). I bought this base set of brushes and sponge from Ulta. I read a lot about this in my research process, but it's also a bit more obvious as an adult, that it is super important to keep these very clean as you're probably using them every single day. When cleaning the brushes, do not get the base of the bristles wet as it will destroy your brush. I heard really good things about this sponge cleanser, which I can now say works great, and I use it to clean both the sponge and brushes. Altogether, those three items cost me an additional $30 from Ulta and e.l.f.

Keep in mind that, if well taken care of, a lot of these products will not require regular replacement (the brushes, sponge, or cleanser) and all of the products I listed are used so sparingly, and have a long shelf life, so they will probably only need to be replaced 1 - 2 times per year. A perfect example is the tinted moisturizer. I thought that foundation primers were totally silly and unnecessary, so I bought the $16 sample size just to try it. It spreads so easily that you barely need any, but it also cut my tinted moisturizer use in half. I need so much less moisturizer now, because the primer reduces my skin's absorption of it. It is awesome and my skin feels so much smoother and better hydrated! 

 Mirror selfie to show you I put makeup on my face! :)

Mirror selfie to show you I put makeup on my face! :)

Second product I thought was completely unnecessary and a total marketing ploy? Setting powder. But guess what? If you workout with any products on, go outside when it's warm and start to glisten a little, find makeup on your collars or clothes on the regular - you need this setting powder. It is vegan, cruelty free, super highly reviewed, lasts a very long time, and I have seen a significant decrease in shine and reapplication needs (even after teaching a fitness class in a warm gym!). I do not make a commission or anything, I just really love it and am so glad I decided to try it. There are a few additional items that I also bought, which are certainly not necessary if you're trying to keep things within or under the $150 range, but I'll mention them below in case you want some additional options for every-day or going out usage.

If you are looking for a great alternative to traditional blush and eye shadow palettes, that can also be used for contouring and highlighting (yes, after meeting with the makeup artist, I have a better idea of what that means), I really like this contour palette for all of those things. I also bought this illuminating stick, though I honestly didn't 100% know what for at the time, but the makeup artist actually showed me how to use it as a blush (use your finger or a brush to apply to the apples of your cheek). The "pinkie dust" color works great for an every-day blush with my skin tone (the contour palette "blush" is a little better for evening use and goes on darker). Lastly, for when I'm really wanting to amp up my look for a night out on the town, I bought this retractable eye liner in brown and this lip gloss in "Creme Brulee". I will never be a lipstick person, but this gloss is really subtle, pretty and not overly sticky like others I have tried in the past. 

If you click on the links for the last three products I mentioned, you'll get a better sense of what I was talking about earlier in this post when I mentioned that not all cruelty-free, vegan products have to be insanely expensive. The NYX eye liner that I bought is $5, had tons of great reviews, and the makeup artist that I worked with said it's her favorite eye liner (she even had it in her makeup bag!). If you're SUPER into eye liner and want something more intense, Kat Von D's Tattoo Liner may be more up your alley, but at a $15 difference for something I rarely wear, it wasn't worth it to me. Altogether, this entire combination of products would come in just under $200. Certainly not an inexpensive experiment, and yes, quite an investment. As I mentioned above, this is not a monthly, quarterly, or even an annual investment. But it IS an investment - in your skin and you. If you wear any kind of products, or want to start wearing more of them, please do your research on companies and consider cruelty-free options. 

Still not convinced cruelty-free is the way to go? Read this article.

p.s. I am not associated with any of these brands or companies, and do not receive any commission or gifts for referring you to them. If you buy anything from this post, all I ask is that you come back here and comment below letting me know what you thought - good or bad. Also, if you have additional vegan, cruelty-free products or brands that you LOVE, please tell us all about them in the comments below!

Our Daughter's Bedroom, Not a Walk-In Closet

The first apartment that we brought our daughter home to was railroad style with our bedroom at the front (street-side) and a teeny-tiny nursery / walk-in closet just off the side of our bedroom. We thought of it as sweet and quaint, but now that we've moved into this larger space and she has an actual bedroom, it's hard to imagine her being in that small of a space again. I had a lot of love for that nursery, but our daughter really didn't spend much time in it outside of naps and bedtime. I mentioned last week that I would be writing about our living room today, but it's currently going through some changes, so instead today's post is about the most up-to-date room in our "unicorn" apartment - our daughter's bedroom.

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When looking for a new apartment, our daughter having her own decent-sized bedroom was very important to us. We plan to be in this new apartment longer than any other apartment or house we've ever lived in, and we want it to be a space she can grow into, a space that will eventually fit a twin bed and perhaps even a desk for homework. Initially when we signed the contract on this apartment, we had actually planned to put her in the slightly larger of the two bedrooms as it is off the front hallway, instead of off the living room and we were concerned about the tv keeping her up at night if we wanted to watch a show or movie. We went back and forth on it for the month and a half before we actually moved in, and one day when checking out the new apartment (and deciding on paint colors), we did a test. I put a movie on my phone in the living room (at the loudest setting) and closed the door in the back bedroom. We could barely hear anything at all - somehow we found the one well insulated old building in Brooklyn.

The decision was made and the back bedroom was prepped for our daughter. We requested the entire apartment be painted Benjamin Moore's Super White in an eggshell finish and then one specific wall in each bedroom was simply primed for us to paint an accent wall. I knew I wanted something bold and graphic for our daughter's new bedroom, so about two weeks beforehand, I narrowed down my options to four colors then did several variations of design options on card-stock with Frog Tape and sample paints. I wanted it to be fun and bold, but not overpowering or too busy.

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My husband and I both agreed on the simpler design on the left, so I bought all the supplies and quart-sized paint cans. Once our landlord's had moved out and finished cleaning the apartment, they allowed me to come in a few days before our move-in date to paint the accent wall in our daughter's new bedroom. It took me about three hours to tape off the trim and wall, then paint the two necessary coats. I did not measure out the design ahead of time, I totally winged it. I didn't want perfection, I just wanted something bold and fun for a little girl's new bedroom. Here is the step-by-step painting and taping process:

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 Benjamin Moore's Carribean Blue

Benjamin Moore's Carribean Blue

 Benjamin Moore's Baby Chick

Benjamin Moore's Baby Chick

 Benjamin Moore's Platinum Gray

Benjamin Moore's Platinum Gray

 Benjamin Moore's Tangerine Dream

Benjamin Moore's Tangerine Dream

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Once the room was painted and had a few days to dry, we started the move-in and unpacking process. My husband and I went back and forth on putting anything on this accent wall, and finally both agreed, it should stay as is. I couldn't fathom messing up all my hard work with some nail holes. This room has gone through three rearrangements in the past five months, but today I wanted to share the most current version, after we added a reading chair, her Christmas gift of a play kitchen, and a toy bin.

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We love this current set-up her room and because it's right off the living room and easy to keep an eye on her in there, our daughter plays in this bedroom so much more than her last one. She loves "cooking" in her play kitchen, reading books to her dolls in that little bean bag chair, and choosing her own clothes from the dresser. I store her doll's extra clothes, a few toys she's not quite ready for yet, and her next size up in clothes all in her closet on a mint bookcase or on the upper shelves. 

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I'd love to swap out that rug in the next few months for a little bit more fun one, like this from Rugs USA. I'm just waiting for one of their 60 - 75% off sales. We also have some more work to do on her play kitchen, as I mentioned in a previous blog post. She's already getting a little too big for that bean bag chair, so we'll probably be getting rid of that in the next few months. I'd also like to hang some of the book shelves we used in her old room under those animal heads by the reading chair, and at some point we've discussed buying a more modern chair for this space in place of that dark gray wingback one.

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Thankfully, our long-legged girl still fits in her crib (and *knock on wood* hasn't tried climbing out yet), so I'm hoping we've still got a few more years left of that crib, even once the toddler rail goes up. But eventually, once she's ready for an upgrade, I think a twin bed will go in that same corner as the crib and she'll get a dresser upgrade too. I'm glad that's still a few years off though, because all three of us love this new and improved, much bigger, space and I'm so glad this is the room our little girl is slowly becoming a big girl in. More apartment updates coming next weekend!

Our Newest Brooklyn Apartment

I cannot believe that the last time I wrote about our apartment was in August. To be fair, I don't blog very often, and we moved into the new apartment not long after I purchased Fit4Mom Brooklyn. Last fall was a bit of a whirlwind. Plus, I still feel like the new apartment is not 100% where I want it to be design-wise, so I've been kind of dragging my feet on sharing with you all. And my last excuse is, I think it's really important to live in a new space for a bit before you get too invested in layouts, design, furniture, etc. For example, I LOVE Adeline's room, but I have rearranged it twice already. And it probably has one or two more slight rearrangements in its future. 

 Move-In Day!

Move-In Day!

We moved into this newest place at the beginning of October, and it's taken the past few months to settle in, rearrange, and brainstorm to feel good about where things are at. The good news is that unlike the interior of our Austin house that I notoriously repainted on a monthly basis (in reality, I repainted the dining room twice and my office 4 times), I haven't repainted any walls in this apartment. I love the white paint we chose as the main color, I love our gray accent wall, and I totally love Adeline's accent wall that I painted. 

 All the colors I initially considered for this apartment.

All the colors I initially considered for this apartment.

 Adeline's Accent Wall - don't mind the window glare (it's not actually splotchy at all)

Adeline's Accent Wall - don't mind the window glare (it's not actually splotchy at all)

 Have replaced bedding since this photo, but SO happy with how that wall turned out. p.s. Is it dangerous to have papier mache deer antlers over your head at night?

Have replaced bedding since this photo, but SO happy with how that wall turned out. p.s. Is it dangerous to have papier mache deer antlers over your head at night?

Okay, so here goes. Here is my plan for sharing apartment updates. I'm going to post one room each week until I'm done. For a sense of what that means, there are five rooms in our apartment, not including the hallways. And I'll probably just post the bathroom and kitchen in one because we really haven't done much to either. This will also give me incentive to finish our bedroom, clean the entire apartment, and attempt to take some better photos. On that note, how do you take decent photos of hallways with no natural light that are naturally dark? I need tips. 

 Adeline vetoed this hallway gallery wall. She was right.

Adeline vetoed this hallway gallery wall. She was right.

I wanted to kick off this weekly series with some progress photos first, so you can see what you're getting yourself into by reading these. And if you want to go back and check where it all started and my original design ideas for the apartment, check out this late August post from last fall.  

 One of Adeline's early room arrangements

One of Adeline's early room arrangements

 Early living room styling (our boxes sat against that wall for weeks)

Early living room styling (our boxes sat against that wall for weeks)

Next week, check back in for the first room on this tour - our living-dining room + office combo. You get three for the price of one! 

The Year of Health - Winter

Here we are three months into 2018, and I haven't shared much progress on my "word of the year" front. To be honest, I'm not feeling like I've accomplished that much for already being 1/4 of the way into this year. But obviously, everyone has to start somewhere and sharing with the world wide web is my form of accountability, so here are the latest updates. 

1) I am not yet back to a regular workout routine after my diastasis diagnosis and 6-week physical therapy journey. A few weeks ago though I decided to start doing 100 squats a day for a month after reading this Buzzfeed article, and I've actually found myself enjoying it so much that I might continue past the month. I also started new core strengthening daily exercises (3 variations of heel sliders + belly breathing), after taking a much-needed break from the splint. We bought a sunrise alarm clock to try to help us wake earlier to workout and (to be 100% transparent) it works about 2 out of 7 days so far. Just this week, I started living room workouts again though, which means more work in the evenings after bedtime, but just a 15 - 20 minute afternoon routine is helping my mood and energy tremendously.

I want so badly to get back into a running routine, but after such a long absence, it feels like starting from scratch all over again (like after Adeline was born). I've been really struggling with the accountability piece, but I'm hoping once Keith's work hours decrease a bit, to start running with Fit4Mom Brooklyn's Run Club again. For now, my goal is to just start with 1 - 2 miles increments and slowly regain my strength and stamina again. I was hoping to be up to 5 miles by my birthday next week, but I'm working on accepting that just being able to go for a run right now without back pain is far more important than the mileage.

 Photo from our first Half Marathon, Austin 2014

Photo from our first Half Marathon, Austin 2014

2) My sleep routine is still terrible and I still go to bed far too late. Proof? I'm writing this draft at 10:47 pm at night. I know that just like any new habit, this is something I have to keep working at and slowly adjust my body to going to bed earlier. My goal this next week is to be in bed, with no phone or iPad, at 10:30 pm every night. Fingers crossed writing that on here is incentive enough.

3) I want to feel more energetic throughout the day (due to a combination of sleep, working out, and eating enough protein and nutrients). Adeline and I have been starting to make homemade juices again, and my goal this week was to drink an healthy juice each afternoon (in place of munching on Adeline's snacks). This week I made a kale-spinach-lemon-pear juice, lemon-apple-jalapeno juice, two grapefruit-lime-apple-jalapeno + apple cider vinegar juices, and they did seem to help kick my snack cravings. I've also been increasing my water intake, and switching to decaffeinated tea in the afternoon. That's helping minimize the unnecessary snacking, now the struggle is my sweet tooth, and tendency to treat myself a little more than I should. 

 Juice picture from  Small Kitchen College

Juice picture from Small Kitchen College

4) My biggest health concern currently is my migraines. I started getting craniosacral massages in November, and it's been a really interesting experience. First of all, they are the most relaxing "spa" treatment that I have ever received. Secondly, they have totally changed my migraine experience. The 1st month, I had one day of nausea, slight head pangs, and, what can only be described as, flashes of light behind my temples. The 2nd month, I scheduled my appointment too late in my cycle and had three intense days of migraines. Keith actually had to come home early from work one day because I was in so much pain. I laid in bed half a day with an ice pack on top of my head, on my neck, essential oils on my temples and throat, and a sleep mask on. After that attack, I got a new migraine medicine prescription from my doctor.

The 3rd month, I had a few days of nausea but nothing beyond that. And last week, I never had an aura (fuzziness in my vision), but I did have slight nausea the 1st day, slight head pangs the 2nd day, and gradually the head pain increased each day until by Thursday last week, I took the migraine prescription medicine. It wasn't as painful as it's been in the past, but it was starting to feel a bit like my brain was pressing against my skull. Within a hour of taking the prescription, it completely cleared. Two hours later it started back up again, I took another pill and it never fully came back. I get a lot of neck stiffness when the migraines happen as well, so I'm planning on trying acupuncture for my neck along with the craniosacral massage this next cycle. 

My goals this next week are to run one morning (trying to start off little), go to bed by 10:30 pm each night, finish the business book I've been reading for the past month, try out a few new spicy juice recipes, and go to an acupuncture session (SO lucky our insurance actually covers this!). I'll keep you all updated on my progress.

How are your 2018 resolutions going? Anyone want to be my accountability buddy?