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? 

Hacking a Tiny Play Kitchen

If you are parents then you probably know all about what an awesome deal the Ikea Duktig Play Kitchen is. It's small, cute, relatively easy to assemble, and super easy to hack. And that's exactly what we did for Adeline's Winter Solstice gift this year. I checked out a bunch of Pinterest ideas, talked design with Keith, bought supplies, and we started working on it about two weeks out. First tip: this is a little labor intensive.

IMG_0541.jpg

We decided to paint the kitchen the same gray as Adeline's bedroom accent wall (Benjamin Moore's Platinum Gray), leave the oven door white, and paint the microwave the coral color from her accent wall (Benjamin Moore's Tangerine Dream). I want this kitchen to grow with her, so we decided that putting a little time into really giving it an unique look was worth it in the long run. I covered the counters in a Marble Adhesive Contact Paper that I found on Amazon and painted all the door knobs, sink, faucet and outside of the stove top with Rustoleum's Metallic Hammered Spray Paint (in copper, though now I'm kind of wishing I had done copper rose).

IMG_0542.jpg

I did not think to take a ton of step-by-step photos so I'll talk you through the few that I have and share some more tips along the way. The very first thing that I did was pull the entire thing apart and figure out which pieces needed to be painted and what weren't going to be seen. I covered the counter-top with the adhesive faux marble contact paper and made sure to leave the holes on the bottom side of it uncovered. I don't have any photos of this process, because it was definitely the most challenging and 100% a "fly by the seat of my pants" application. I didn't want to risk cutting the holes for the top of the counter-top (for the faucet) and make them too big, so that I actually left for after the counter-top was adhered. It is very much like wrapping a gift. I'd recommend adding some clear packaging tape to the (not seen) bottom of the counter to insure it's adhered, and you may also need some clear tape on the edges to keep them in place. You can't see them unless you look really close on mine, but the tape is totally there.
Tip: A second pair of hands and credit card for smoothing out bubbles would definitely come in handy for this part.

IMG_0568.JPG

The next step before you start painting is priming. Zinsser is not only my favorite primer on the market, but if you do a google search for what to prime Ikea furniture specifically with, this is the primer everyone will tell you to use. They do have a Zero VOC option, which I have never tried, but that may definitely be worth checking out if you're concerned about paint fumes. We applied their low VOC oil primer with a paint brush outside, since it is still a little more fumy than the Benjamin Moore paint we used. It only needed one coat of primer and took to the piece great. Here was actually where I made my first mistake. For some reason, I didn't prime the door knobs, sink, and faucet. Don't be me. Prime every single thing.

We gave the primer 48 hours to fully set, then started painting. The painting is pretty straight forward. We used a paintbrush (rather than a roller) and it took two coats to fully adhere. We actually primed the oven door to de-gloss the piece and left it like that. We did one coat, lightly sanded it, and then applied a second coat. I love the low gloss look, and knowing that if it needs touching up in the future, it's an easy fix.  I used green Frog Tape on the stove, oven and microwave doors while painting and then made sure to remove before paint had fully dried to prevent sticking. I spray painted the door knobs, utensil hooks, sink, faucet and outside of the stove top with the copper paint. This is actually my biggest regret with the piece, because I had to spray-paint outside due to the fumes, it was a bit too cold to be painting, and the spray-paint did not adhere well. It ran down (especially the faucet and sink), formed globs and looked terrible. We had to sand everything and re-spray twice, but if I could re-do that one thing, I would have primed them all first and waited for a nicer day to paint.

The last two things we did were drill three holes above the oven for stove "dials" and drill new holes for the one cabinet handle to be on the side instead of at the top. I wanted to break up the matching door pull look, and it was pretty simple to just drill new holes and then putty in the original ones on top. The stove top dials were a Black Friday sale and are now sold out, but Anthropologie has lots of other great options. Then we started assembly. That is pretty straight forward and you just need to follow the instructions. The only extra step is based on the marble contact paper if you also didn't put holes for the faucet before adhering it, like me. I just used a flat head screwdriver to poke holes from the bottom of the counter through the top (for the faucet). It made for a tight fit and worked perfectly. Lastly, I glued the sink in place with a thin line of Gorilla Glue.

IMG_0593.JPG

We are really happy with the finished look and Adeline absolutely loves her kitchen! In the next month or so, I plan to add a sheet of thin plywood to the open back with adhesive faux subway tile contact paper, a hook on the side for her play apron, and eventually hack the oven door to open like an actual oven with shelves that slide out. I am really happy with the 90% final design though, and I'm definitely enjoying having "freshly baked cookies" at our tea parties every day.

Revision: If you are interested in hacking this play kitchen for your kids, I came up with three different design ideas along with price estimates for each. This a really easy piece to make your own, so have fun with it!

My first design idea was for a "modern", simpler play kitchen. For this one, I thought you could actually leave the body of it pretty much as is, but swap out the handles for something a little more streamlined and less chunky, spray-paint the oven and microwave door a metallic blue or light pink (depending on your room's color scheme), and add a thin plywood sheet to the back opening painted with any variation of chalkboard paints you can find at Home Depot. You would need a power screwdriver with drill bits to add new holes, plus putty to fill in the old holes, for the new drawer pulls.

Modern Kitchen.jpg

Sources: 1. Ikea Play Kitchen. 2. Rust-oleum Pearl Metallic Spray Paint. 3. Satin Nickel Drawer Pull. 4. Rust-oleum Chalkboard Paint (Matte Charcoal). 5. Ikea Duktig Utensil Set. 6. Melissa & Doug Fridge Play Food. 7. Avril Loreti Modern Home Tea Towel.

This next design might just be my favorite, but I'm a total sucker for copper (plus how gorgeous are those drawer pulls?!?). If you have a very soft color palette, this may be a good choice for you. This one could easily sway less feminine by swapping out the tea towel for something in yellow or crimson. This one is a bit more labor intensive than the first one. I was envisioning this having the bottom portion painted a light gray, the top a creamy white, swapping out the cabinet pull for that copper and pearl knob, the oven and microwave pulls for a glass/copper pull, covering the counter-top with a light marble contact paper, and spray-painting the faucet and sink that metallic copper color to tie in with the new pulls. I thought that plush tea set from Land of Nod would be a fun, sweet addition.

Copper Play Kitchen.jpg

Sources: 1. Ikea Play Kitchen. 2. Rust-oleum Metallic Spray Paint (Copper Enamel). 3. Mother of Pearl Knob. 4. Rock Candy Handle. 5. Low VOC Paint & Primer in One (Behr French Gray). 6. Marble Contact Paper. 7. Party Guests Tea Set. 8. Yao Cheng Floral Tea Towel.

My final play kitchen was entirely designed around a Tile Self Adhesive Paper I spotted on Home Depot's site. How cute would this be in a more southwestern inspired home (or a western-themed nursery/play room)?!? This one is a little more labor intensive than the first two, as it does involve adding a piece of plywood and back-splash as well as painting. This one I was envisioning painting the majority that tan color (#6) so it ties in more with the back-splash, then painting the counter-top a deep gray color (almost like a concrete counter). I would probably leave the oven and microwave white (or maybe spray-paint them to match the sink, faucet and drawer pulls). I thought it would probably really sweet to swap out the cabinet pull for that leather one, and fill the top open cabinets and hooks with those wooden mugs and utensils I found on Etsy. Lastly, add a thin sheet of plywood and adhere the contact paper as a back-splash that inspired this all. 

Southwest Play.jpg

2018 Word of the Year

I am sure you wait with bated breath every year for my "word of the year", (*please note the sarcastic tone*) but first let's do a quick recap of this past year. 2017 was the "year of firsts". I dyed my hair blue, got my first color tattoo, bought my first business, and taught my first Fit4Mom class. Adeline took her first steps, celebrated her first birthday, got her first full-size bedroom, and said her first sentences. Keith shaved his head, wrapped his first solo editing gig, went to his first film festivals (Sundance and Toronto), and went snowboarding for the first time in his 30's. We wore our first family Halloween costume, took our first (multiple states) road trip, and moved into a new apartment as a family for the first time. All in all, it was a good year.

IMG_0765.JPG

2017 was also a challenging year for us though. I was diagnosed with Diastasis Recti, started getting migraines again after two years of respite, we put ourselves under financial strain, and we're all three finishing the year with back-to-back group colds. I love the idea of fresh starts, new opportunities, and clean slates, so without further adieu, starting tomorrow our new "word of the year" is Health. 2018 will be the year we start taking better care of ourselves, each other, our finances, and our careers. 2018 will be the "year of health" - emotional, personal, financial, and career.

healthy-new-year-banner.824015f6d18ba7744fd00379a4b8e50e65.png

I want 2018 to be a BIG, exciting year. A year full of growth, new opportunities, celebration, overcoming obstacles, and so much more. There is a lot that goes into focusing on multiple goals all at once though. In the past, I've typically tried to accomplish one thing each month that focuses on my overarching goal of the year. Next year, there are multiple big-hairy-audacious goals that I hope to accomplish, so just one task per month simply will not do. I haven't laid it all out yet, but Keith's and my plan this evening after dinner is to write out our overarching goals within each of those categories I listed above (emotional, personal, financial, and career) and then break it down into smaller goals for each month that will help us work toward achieving those. I found a variety of career roadmaps online, and this was a visual that I really liked. What are some of the steps that must be taken to achieve one's goals?

military-spouse-career-roadmap-1-638.jpg

I am a detail-oriented person. I am not a big picture person. I have a rough idea of where I might like to be 10 years from now. I have a rough idea of what I might like my career to look like, my marriage, my parenting style, my relationship with my daughter, and where I might like to live. But I've never really sat down and mapped out all the steps it would take to get there. Partially because living in NYC would never have been on my life roadmap five years ago. And I really, really love that it wound up being part of our adventure. I want to keep the doors open to various possibilities, alternative routes, windows opening where doors close. All of that stuff. But, I also think that achieving certain goals starts by taking action.

And that is what this post, this evening's roadmapping, and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone to look at the big picture is all about. I want to end next year feeling stronger, healthier, happier, well loved, and debt-free. Since I haven't mapped it all out yet, I don't know entirely what it all looks like just yet, but here are a few initial rough ideas. Please keep in mind that I know this is not perfect, and may not be entirely the best process for goal setting. It's a work in progress, just like me.

My 2018 BHAG

Emotional // Set aside "me" time daily - reading, bathtime, meditation, exercise, etc.

Personal // Focus on my marriage - date nights, counseling, weekly check-ins, etc. Focus on my nutrition - how what I'm putting in my body makes me feel and affects my fitness goals. Eliminate (or at least reduce) migraines and illnesses. Establish new and improved habits.

Financial // Build back up our savings to where it was at beginning of 2017. Have better sense of where our money goes. Reduce unnecessary expenditures.

Career // Make a business plan and partner with people that hold me accountable for taking steps toward making it happen. Determine where my strengths lie and hire people to fill areas that aren't within that realm. Establish a work routine.

I can't wait to share more as this all continues to unfold! I'll also be sharing updates on my personal Instagram (for family & close friends), on Facebook (for a wider audience), and hopefully on more posts like this one. Next steps? Please comment below with your favorite meditations, journals, blogs, podcasts, recipe books, documentaries, books, articles, etc that focus on all these areas that fall within the realm of healthy living.

Happy New Year! Happy goal setting! Cheers to your health, happiness, and prosperity in 2018. Thank you, as always, for following along on my journey. xoxo

Migraines and Diastasis

A better title for this post might have been "Is my body falling apart?", but questions don't necessarily make the best blog post titles. I am writing this almost six weeks into my diastasis recovery process (read all about that here) and two months into my migraine homeopathic recovery process. Yes, that's a whole lot of self-care going on. If you know me at all, you probably know that self-care is my biggest challenge. I love working out and drink a lot of water daily, but anything beyond that (sleep, food, stress, etc) I struggle. This and my last post have been possibly some of my hardest to write. I'm not exactly an "open book" kind of person, but part of the process of taking care of yourself is being open about your needs and sharing with others, so here goes.

I think my migraines started four years ago. They became a monthly occurrence, and eventually, I started tracking when they started, what I ate and drank, how much I had slept, how stressed I was, etc. I met with various doctors, neurologists, had x-rays and cat scans done, tried various prescription medications, most of which barely helped. I was told by three doctors that the birth control pill can cause migraines, and since we wanted to have a kid, I got off of it. And sometime later, got pregnant. I hadn't had a migraine since, until six months ago. Migraines with a toddler at home are a sick joke. Parents have enough to deal with, without migraines. Ugh. So, so bad.

Anyway, I started the research and elimination process again, but here's the thing, I don't drink alcohol anymore, I sleep a little more now than I used to, and I'm just as stressed as I've ever been. So why now? Hormones, I guess. Hormones suck. I wasn't about to go back to a neurologist as I didn't find them particularly helpful last time, and I didn't like the migraine medications. So I started doing research in homeopathic migraine treatments. I had heard positive things about acupuncture, so I started there, which led me to craniosacral therapy (read more about that here). I had never heard of that treatment before, but I'd had really great experiences with Slope Wellness in the past and am open to trying new things (especially in the Year of Firsts).

So, my First for last month was (obviously) going to my first Craniosacral Therapy session. I went one week before I am most prone to migraines and a second appointment two days before. And it totally seemed to help! Instead of my typical waves of aura, then nausea, then pain, I only experienced little flashes of pain and light behind my eyes for a few hours. I have my third appointment tomorrow, but yesterday I started experiencing the migraine nausea. It never went beyond that though, and I used some Saje Peppermint Halo oil around my hairline, on my neck and shoulders, which significantly decreased the nausea. I had a little bit again this morning, reapplied the essential oil and it immediately went away. Pretty exciting! The massage therapist also has me lightly rolling the back of my head and neck with a foam roller, which I'm trying to remember to do daily, and that seems to help mainly with the tension that builds up there. 

EDIT: Shortly after finishing this post, I took a long hot bath and wound up staying up until 11 PM watching the final episode of Outlander on our iPad. Bad move during a migraine week. I woke up the next morning with increased nausea and light head pangs. By 11 AM, my migraine was in full swing, but thankfully Keith was home for this one. He took over with Adeline and I took two ice packs to the bedroom, turned off all the lights, blocked out the noise with earplugs and placed the ice packs on my head and back of my neck. I wound up napping off and on for three hours. Keith brought me chamomile tea and oatmeal, both of which I barely touched. I was able to get out of bed around 4 PM, prep for a fitness class I was teaching, taught around 7:30 PM, came home and went right back to bed with more ice packs. I'm feeling better today but definitely learned my lesson on scheduling my craniosacral appointments later and how important it is to stay off the computer and phone during a migraine week.

On another health-related note, I'm heading into week six of my diastasis treatment program and am so completely over this splint. I've finally gotten to a point where I don't feel like my guts are going to fall out whenever I take it off to change or shower. Yes, that's seriously how it felt in the beginning. I feel stronger and have very little to no back or hip pain like I had been experiencing before. But honestly, feeling better also makes me feel more ready to toss it aside and start exercising again, which is tough as I don't have my next check-up until next week. The good news is at my last check-up two weeks ago, I had moved from a deep diastasis to shallow-medium and from 4 fingers wide to 2 / 2.5. If you have no idea what that means, go back and read my last post!

I'll end this note on a slightly more fun kick and tell you my last First for this year - we're driving to Wisconsin with Adeline for the first time ever! Yes, we're going to take our time. Yes, it's a long drive. Yes, there might be snow on the roads. Yes, our daughter sometimes gets carsick. Yes, we're a little bit crazy. Wish us luck!

p.s. I promise apartment photos and updates post-holidays once the tree is gone and decor has been put away again. Stay tuned!