100% Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil Review

If you know me well, then you know I try to avoid chemical and pharmaceutical remedies and medications whenever possible. I prefer going the natural route, whether it’s by drinking apple cider vinegar and honey to ward off a sore throat or cold, rinsing my mouth with coconut oil, or cleaning my kitchen sink with lemon juice.

So when a representative at Apothecary Extracts contacted me to gauge my interest in sampling and reviewing their 100% Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil, I jumped at the opportunity.

tea-tree-oil-1

Tea Tree Oil is very pungent (be careful not to spill half a bottle on your bathroom floor like I once did!) but it can be used to replace many household products like cleansers, insect repellant, and skin treatments—just to name a few.

Already, I’ve added a few drops of tea tree oil to my bottle of witch hazel, which I use as a skin toner each morning after showering. While some of my good skin days can be attributed to pregnancy, I have noticed that my skin is much softer and less oily. I’ve even stopped wearing foundation and powder for the most part, opting to go au naturel.

I’ve had also experience with tea tree oil as a yoga mat cleanser and topical treatment for an embarrassing plantar wart outbreak on my heel (I’m telling you, when nothing else would work, a combination of probiotics taken daily with my multivitamin, soaking in apple cider vinegar, and swipe of tea tree oil before bed made them vanish!).

tea-tree-oil-2

I’m excited to try my 100% Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil in even more ways, now that I’ve seen its antiseptic and antibacterial properties at work!

I’m anxious to take advantage of the outdoor table we recently purchased, and since many commercial bug sprays contain DEET, which can be especially harmful during pregnancy, I’m curious to see how well tea tree oil works as a mosquito repellant. A few weeks ago, we noticed a single flea on Iggy. After I decided to sprinkle a few drops of tea tree oil onto his bedding, I haven’t seen a flea since. Seems to me it would work for humans, too!

Check out the guide below for more facts about tea tree oil.

tea-tree-oil-uses

100% Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil is not available in stores, but it can be purchased on Amazon. The large 4-oz bottle will last a very long time, and the myriad uses for this oil make it worth the cost.

**I received a free bottle of 100% Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil to review on my blog. I was not compensated for this blog post, and all opinions are my own.**

Transformation Tuesday

Chances are, if you have Facebook or Instagram, you’ve seen the hashtag #transformationtuesday and the oodles of weight loss/weight gain photos accompanying it. Bodies transformed from loose to ripped, pre- and post-pregnancy comparisons, or even an underweight frame with a healthy smile and few added pounds are common themes.

I think it’s great to celebrate one’s physical accomplishments, so long as there’s no body shaming, deprivation, or unhealthy comparisons going on. Self-improvement is something to which we all should strive, whether it’s our health, energy, or fitness.

I thought I’d share with you my transformation. Per my pregnancy updates, I’ve gone through quite a few physical changes in the last 8 months. Nevertheless, I’m giving you insight into a mental transformation.

I’ve mentioned before how last year was a struggle for me. I wasn’t unhappy, per se, but I wasn’t wholly aware of the many blessings in my life. In many ways, I was trying to be something I’m not; through blogging, and even keeping up with my childhood and college friends, I was stuck neck-deep in the comparison trap, that dreaded but pervasive mental state many of us find ourselves in as we delve into new careers and families.

In all honesty, it was suffocating!

I was unhappy at my job, and I felt as if I’d fallen far short of all the expectations my parents, teachers, and peers had of me. My marriage was (and still is!) one of the greatest things in my life, but I was envious of both my single, fun-loving friends and friends who appeared to have it all together: high-paying job, perfect home, and the adorable 2.5 kids.

In short, I didn’t know who I was, and what little of myself I did know, I just didn’t like that much.

But, with self-reflection, time, and active attempts at change, I’ve found myself in a much better place.

I’ve realized that we make our own happiness, and that, while I’m not always challenged by my job, I’m just not one of those career-focused people who search out ladder rungs to climb. While the reality of having my first child and losing much of my free time is nearing, I’ve realized I’m anything but a social animal. As much as I love travel and dining out, I’m perfectly comfortable with my calmer lifestyle that often includes Friday night Netflix binges.

I’ve also learned through my outlet and hobby (blogging) that I don’t have to be just like the bloggers whom I follow. I can enjoy eating well and staying fit, but I don’t have to eat a salad a day or instagram myself after every workout. I can enjoy running one day and loathe it the next. I can go a week without doing any exercise at all, and life still goes on!

I’ve learned the importance of meditation through Bikram yoga. While beating myself up during classes initially, I learned to love my body and what it could do for me rather than how it looked in spandex, shaking and dripping with sweat.

One of the most important changes I’ve made, though, is how I approach others. I’ve noticed myself smiling more and being friendlier. I’ve allowed myself to open up to strangers and friends alike, realizing that sometimes all you need to go from aggravated and self-loathing to chipper and grateful is a good conversation, a genuine compliment, or an intense laugh.

self-shine

So, before I go, I encourage you to think about your own transformation. If you’re trying to improve your health or eating habits, by all means, continue! But remember true self-love comes from within. You won’t get there overnight, but with daily practice, you will get there. Repeating these 5 steps until they become a daily habit will help.

1. Practice gratitude

Whether this takes the form of prayer, writing in a nightly journal, or filling a gratitude jar (as I’ve done), it’s important to take a moment to reflect on the joys you do notice in your life.

2. Practice self-affirmation

When we hear something repeatedly, we tend to believe it, whether it’s true or not. Rather than cutting yourself down, make a point to give yourself a compliment every day. Whether it’s a “looking good!” in the mirror or a “you nailed that presentation!” after work, encourage and lift up yourself as you would a friend or beloved family member.

3. Practice kindness

When you’re unhappy with yourself, you’re going to feel the same way about others. Make a point to speak to strangers at the grocery. Practice random acts of kindness daily. Whether it’s cooking dinner when your spouse normally assumes that responsibility or having lunch with a lonely coworker, be sure to step outside of your comfort zone and do something for others.

4. Find your passion (or at least something you enjoy)

This can be anything: volunteering, painting, cooking, yoga—the opportunities are endless. Just make sure you take time to participate in or improve upon whatever makes you happy. And please, do it for yourself, not for recognition and praise.

5. Remember where you’ve come from and where you’ve been

When you do feel discouraged, think about past troubles you’ve already overcome. Don’t dwell on them, of course, but remember that things do get better. Live in the moment and don’t take anything for granted.

Whether you’re struggling with self-acceptance right now or loving your current life, I hope you take something beneficial from this post. :-)

Weekly Links 08.24.14

How is it already Sunday evening? This weekend went by rapidly, to say the least. Saturday I got a hair cut and treated myself to a mani-pedi before we took our maternity pictures at the botanical gardens. Why we chose the hottest day of the summer to take pictures outside, I’ve yet to figure out, but we had a great time! The photographer was really sweet and judging by the sneak peak below, I think she did a fabulous job. I just hope the photos toward the end of the session aren’t too gross (my hair was soaked in sweat and sticking to my face!).

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This morning we went to mass at St. Ignatius. We figured we might do some church shopping before Baby M arrives. Go figure both of us really liked the priest, because he was actually visiting while on sabbatical and today was his last day. Guess we’ll try again another week.

I did a little shopping with my mom this afternoon, picking up a couple of night gowns for “d-day.” I know I need to get on the ball buying nursing bras and tanks, but I feel like it’s still too early to know sizes.

And now I’m enjoying the aroma of my husband’s spaghetti and meatballs simmering away. Before I go, here’s a roundup of the recipes that made me drool and the articles that made me think this week. Happy Sunday!

weekly links header .Recipes.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting via Edible Perspective

For whatever reason, I’ve never made zucchini bread, muffins, or cake—despite the numerous recipes out there. This looks so scrumptious, that it might be my first attempt.

Boozy Coconut Hot Fudge Milkshakes via How Sweet It Is

Yum. I’m sure I could leave out the rum and be perfectly happy drinking my weight in these.

Tomato, Peach, & Burrata Salad via Two Peas and Their Pod

This is an older recipe I found through Pinterest, but it looks so summery and refreshing.

Chocolate Lava Nutella Cookies via Averie Cooks

Words are unnecessary here.

Socca for One: With Sundried Tomatoes, Kale, and Feta via Heart Beet Kitchen

I’ve heard of socca, but I’ve never made it (probably due to the fact that I’ve never purchased chickpea flour). This looks like a perfect meal, though, since I’m addicted to flatbread.

.Health & Wellness.

An Unstoppable Killer: New Research Suggests Cancer Can’t Be Eradicated via NPR

At the risk of sounding defeatist, I think this is probably true. But, that doesn’t mean that certain individual cases can’t be cured or that we should even consider reducing or stopping research. I’ve known many people personally who have beaten cancer, and I’m so proud of them and grateful for their health. Cancer can be prevented to a certain extent, and developing new, more efficient treatments should always be a priority. While I do believe that some cancers just develop for no apparent reason (it’s nature, and the bottom line is we will never 100% understand exactly how and why our bodies and environment work a certain way), I think everybody who’s diagnosed should think positively, take care of themselves, and go for the best treatment possible. Cancer survivors—and even those who ultimately succumb to the disease—are remarkable people!

.Food & Nutrition.

‘Salt Sugar Fat’ and Why Michael Moss is Right via Running On Happy

I’ve been wanting to read the book, Salt Sugar Fat, for a while now, as I’m sure it contains both legitimate truths and some hyperbole as well. There’s no denying the processed food industry has us in a choke-hold, but I will never completely stray away from some of my favorite “convenience foods” (though I will continue trying to buy the “healthier” versions of them). I’m glad this post made the point of some fats being essential to our health and also reminding us that too little salt in our diets is dangerous. And I do believe that processed foods are formulated in a way that causes addiction to them (you can’t eat just one!). All good reasons to eat foods close to their natural state when possible!

.Body Image & Mental Health.

The Gratitude Challenge: Does Expressing Thanks Every Day Make You Happier? via Huffington Post

Maybe it’s a combination of other factors, but I know I’ve felt happier since I started my “gratitude jar.”

Depression isn’t a choice but suicide is: my detailed response to the critics via The Matt Walsh Blog

In my opinion, this is a well-written response to the critics of his previous post, which I talked about last week. While his first post was certainly controversial, I think this man is sincere in his words. I think a lot of the criticism was unfounded and downright cruel, though there is always room for intelligent debate, especially on such an important topic.

.Pregnancy & Parenting.

When to Lower Your Standards via Delights and Delectables

I can relate to every word Brittany’s written (well, except for the weekly mopping habit, that’s never been an issue), and with a baby on the way, I need to put this idea into practice. No mom is or can be “super mom” and I am going to need to let go of my perfectionist tendencies big time!

Our Drug-Free Birth Plan via Healthy Tipping Point

Such great information here! I’ve already spoken to my doctor about whether I need a birth plan, how she and the hospital feel about non-emergency interventions, and how much they’ll respect my wishes while I’m in labor, but this really made me rethink (or encounter for the first time) some things. I realize that it’s highly unlikely that my labor and delivery will go 100% as I envision, but I think it’s important for a woman to feel (somewhat) in control of her body and this amazing experience. My doctor and the nursing staff know best when it comes to emergency procedures and intervention (I would never refuse medication, induction, or cesarean if it was truly necessary for Baby M’s and my health or survival), but I want the birthing experience to be memorable (in a good way) and free of unnecessary stress and anxiety. I don’t want to look back with any regrets.

Pregnancy: Week 32

You guys, I’m somewhat ashamed this is my only post this week. I’m in a blogging rut, it appears, but I’m trying to get out of it.

Here we are at 32 weeks—eight months!!!—already. It’s been a decent, though extremely hot, week! Luckily, I’ve still been feeling pretty good physically and mentally, so let’s get right to the update.

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What’s Baby M up to this week?

  • By now, Baby M is about 16.7 inches long and weighs around 3 ¾ to 4 ½ pounds; he’s the size of a large jicama
  • Of the approximately 1 pound I’m gaining per week, about ½ of that goes to Baby M; he’ll gain up to ½ of his total birthweight during these next 7 weeks
  • He’s sleeping 90-95 percent of the day (how is that possible when I’m constantly feeling him? I guess he moves around in his sleep a lot like I do)
  • He now has toenails, fingernails, and real hair (or at least respectable peach fuzz)

How am I feeling this week?

Weight Gained: 

27 pounds according to the scale today at my prenatal appointment

Workouts: 

Not a whole lot this week, but I’m still walking quite a bit and enjoying my barre class on Tuesday nights. My goal is to continue going till 35 weeks, and, depending on how I feel at that point, till 37. I have to modify a good bit (mostly ab exercises), but I don’t struggle too much when we’re standing. I guess we shall see! I’m also easing my way back into my short Pilates and barre DVDs.

Symptoms: 

  • Heartburn (almost daily, but it’s not excruciating or anything)
  • Some lower back pain (it was worse earlier in the week and has mostly vanished these last couple days)
  • Dry/stuffy nose (kind of related: do any other preggos out there cringe every time they sneeze because of rib pressure?!! Yowzers.)
  • Leg cramps at night
  • Some shortness of breath (I’m not wheezing like an 80-year old yet, but boy are those stairs more difficult than they used to be!)

Food Aversions:

I must be the oddest pregnant woman ever, because I’ll still eat almost anything (at any time) these days. Although, I will say that last night nothing really sounded good for dinner, so we went with the obvious choice: brinner!

Food Cravings:

  • Apples (berries have moved to 2nd place, I guess)
  • Cold things (which will probably be the norm till it starts getting cool around the time Baby M makes his debut)
  • Sweets
  • Guacamole and hummus (they’re ba-aaack!)

Sleep:

Pretty good. I still wake up to roll over and readjust myself a few times a night, but that’s about it. Miraculously I make it through most nights without having to go to the bathroom, though any time I do have the urge, I make sure to go (I’ve read that holding it in can actually stimulate contractions!).

Swelling?

Not really, which is amazing considering the heat this week (Wednesday and Thursday saw a 109 heat index!!).

Stretch Marks?

Still none—though I did discover these weird, honeycomb-shaped bruises on my bottom Monday! They’ve since faded, but I think they’re a result of my sitting on the gazebo railing at the park (it’s super thin, and my scrawny derriere probably isn’t used to holding up those extra pounds!).

Wedding rings—on or off?

Still on

Belly button—in or out?

Basically flat

Happy or moody?

I’m still mostly happy, but for several days this past week, I was easily aggravated and completely on edge. I had a slight mental breakdown Monday night when I found a bug in our bedroom (and couldn’t shimmy around the nightstand to try and get it because of my belly!), and for much of Tuesday I felt I would burst into tears at any given moment. Wednesday and yesterday were better, though.

Maternity Clothes?

Nothing new, though I did buy a pair of workout leggings in a larger size. I’ll be living in them!

Baby Purchases:

Mark bought the changing pad for the dresser (we didn’t get a changing table since our nursery is pretty small and the dresser is large enough to double as one).

Looking forward to:

  • Our pictures Saturday!!
  • My dad’s back surgery next Tuesday (ok, I’m not excited for his surgery, but I am looking forward to his feeling better and being able to move around without hurting)
  • Going to dinner tonight with my parents for Mark’s belated birthday dinner

Miss anything?

Being able to lift heavy things for myself (I hate asking people at work to change out the water cooler!) and fitting into tight spaces! Not having to be so careful about overheating, staying hydrated, etc. I mean, I do those things anyway, but I feel I have to take extra care these days. Also, I miss how simple shaving used to be! And here I thought it was difficult before having a basketball for a belly…

Oh, and deli sandwiches! I’ve eaten them a few times (I’ve gotta have my California Club at Jason’s Deli every now and then), but to be safe, I’ve generally stayed away from them.

Best moments:

Having somebody (that I don’t often see, but have spoken to in passing every week or so) tell me this is the first time she noticed I was pregnant! Um, I’ve looked obviously pregnant for several months now, but I’ll take it is a compliment (rather than an indicator of her poor eyesight or lack of focus)!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week; pondering and reflecting about our preferences for the actual delivery and early postpartum time (who we want in the delivery room, when and how to announce Baby M’s birth, etc.) and also about how our lives are going to change drastically but for the better. I’m aware that I literally have NO CLUE how challenging, frustrating, exciting, fulfilling, tiring, exhilarating, hilarious, stressful, and a million other adjectives taking care of a newborn will be, but I’m actually quite amazed at how calm (so far) I am about the whole idea of labor, childbirth, learning to breastfeed (and change a diaper!), etc. Of course I think about how scary it will be when Baby M is sleeping (I’m sure I’ll check every 5 minutes to see if he’s still breathing), how expensive it will be buying diapers and formula (if we need to supplement), learning to budget both time and money, and ultimately being in control of a tiny, helpless human being will be, but as cliché as it sounds, I just feel ready. Plus, it’s good to know we have a rock-solid support system in my parents and in-laws.

I suppose that’s it for this week. I can’t believe I have (give or take) just 8 weeks to go! @#$%^&!!!!!!

Questions for moms & moms-to-be:

  • During your child’s birth, did you have anybody else in the delivery room with you besides your spouse—and would you do it the same again?
  • Did you wait long to announce your child’s birth or were the phone calls/texts/social media photos almost immediate? Any regrets about when/how the announcement was made?
  • Were your doctor and hospital progressive and open-minded regarding your “d-day” preferences (laboring as long as needed without medically unnecessary intervention, walking/eating during early labor, skin-on-skin contact and delayed cord-cutting after delivery, etc.) If not, how did you find compromise or work around this?

Weekly Links 08.17.14

Happy Sunday, friends!

Today will be spent running errands, relaxing, and enjoying a backyard barbecue with my husband and dad. While my mom is out of town, we thought we’d be nice and feed my dad at least one night.

I hope everybody’s weekend is going well. Yesterday Mark and I ate lunch at Spring Hill and took Iggy on a short (it was HOT!!!) walk around campus before doing some grocery shopping and cleaning/purging the guest bedroom closet. I’d wanted to go to the beach, but I did NOT want to fight the traffic and crowds at the Florabama for the free Kenny Chesney concert. Too many people for me!

Before I go, I leave you with some weekend reading.

weekly links header

.Recipes.

Watermelon Salsa via Coordinately Yours

This looks so fresh, summery, sweet, and perfect. And the colors! My mouth is watering…

Black Bean Enchiladas via Imma Eat That

I’ve never been an enchilada fan, but something about black beans and squash appeals to me. This seems like it might be a good freezer recipe, too (for making before Baby M arrives).

Matcha Cheesecake Bars via Devour

I have a barely-used bag of this same matcha in the cupboard (barely used because I prefer coffee over tea and don’t want to over-do it with the caffeine, not because I didn’t enjoy the product), and I love me some cheesecake (especially no-bake). These sound like a winner.

Hummus Gazpacho via Kitchen Treaty

Since I could (and have) eat hummus with a spoon, why not try it in soup form?

Salted Caramel Brownie Cookies via Inside BruCrew Life

I love how easy these seem (I am NOT above store-bought mixes), and they’re just soooo chocolaty!

.Health & Wellness.

Why it really is harder for women to lose weight via The Washington Post

There definitely seems to be a lot of truth to this, though it shouldn’t be discouraging to those who are trying to lose weight.

.Food & Nutrition.

Your Guide to Getting Your Vitamins from Food via Huffington Post

A helpful graphic…

Are Egg Whites or Whole Eggs Healthier? via Huffington Post

If you’re one of those people who eats egg-white omelets, then I’m sorry for offending you, but: egg whites are garbage! Just eat whole eggs, for crying out loud. The yolk has so much nutrition (and it just tastes better).

.Body Image & Mental Health.

Why the ‘Real Woman’s’ Body Image Debate Is All Wrong via elephant journal

I agree with much of this. While seeing bare-faced and un-photoshopped women of all sizes is a vast improvement from being bombarded with airbrushed super models, it does still objectify our bodies. Plus, am I the only one who sees an “empowering” image of a gorgeous girl without makeup and still manages to feel negatively because I don’t look that good without some mascara and lipgloss? It’s fine to enjoy looking beautiful and striving to better our appearance, but we have to remember our bodies don’t define us.

Why Is Mental Illness Such A Stigmatized Condition? via Huffington Post

A good read, with a good point. Until we treat mental illness, particularly depression and substance abuse, the same as we do other “more acceptable” illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, etc., then we will continue to see too many preventable deaths and tragedies.

Robin Williams didn’t die from a disease, he died from his choice via The Matt Walsh Blog

Before you get angry and state “what an idiot!” because of the insensitive title (like I almost did), do read this post with an open mind. I ultimately disagree with Walsh (and definitely disagree with a lot of his other blog posts), but he makes some great points and does seem to be sympathetic to those suffering from severe depression. My main disagreement with him is his assumption that anybody can be cured 100% into making the “right” choice (e.g., life); I believe that therapy, medication, support from loved ones, etc. can be and are extremely helpful, but I do think that some people are so sick that they just can’t go on. It’s difficult to understand if you’ve never been at that lowest of low points (fortunately, I haven’t, so I just have to be as empathetic as possible). What we need to agree on is that depression and other mental illness are real, life-threatening diseases (affecting all walks of life) that should be taken seriously, de-stigmatized, and given the attention they deserve.

There’s Nothing Selfish About Suicide via Huffington Post

“People who say that suicide is selfish always reference the survivors. […] What they don’t know is that those very loved ones are the reason many people hang on for just one more day.” This is a great article, and it should be a wakeup call to all of us. Connect with others. Smile at somebody and genuinely ask about his/her day. Check in on loved ones who’ve been suffering, especially if they show any signs of suicide.

.Fitness.

The Awesome Effect Exercise Has on Your Pain Tolerance via Women’s Health

Interesting! And a good reason to continue exercising, even if it’s only a 30-minute walk or jog.

The Top 5 Reasons Your Workout Isn’t Working via Eating Bird Food

Although I’ve never followed an exercise regimen with the goal of losing weight or truly changing my body, I can definitely relate to the “workout rut” point. I’d also argue that not changing one’s diet is probably the biggest reason people don’t see any changes when they start exercising regularly and vigorously.

.Pregnancy & Parenting.

Things I Learned About Having A New Born via Healthy Tipping Point

Aww, I love this. These are great tips/things to know. And LOL at the grey shirt and father-in-law (good thing I got my free—ok, S&H only (I fall for the gimmicks)—10 pairs of breast pads in the mail yesterday!).

A Letter To My Pre-Mom Self via Coffee and Crumbs

This is a good one, too, and it left me a bit misty-eyed. “You will learn to love fiercely and wildly without expectations, and for the first time in your whole life, your heart will default to selflessness—a part of you that always existed but was buried deep down inside.”

Last Month of Pregnancy Checklist via Pregnant Chicken

I am bookmarking this for September!

Pregnancy: Week 31

Boy, am I glad this week is almost over! Although I haven’t been extremely busy at work, it seems like every little thing has set me off. I’m ready for some relaxation this weekend and perhaps a movie, some ice cream at Old Dutch, and shopping for new tennis shoes.

Sounding like a broken record, I can’t believe I’m 31 weeks (+ 4 days) pregnant! Monday I can officially say I’m 8 months pregnant, with 2 more to go (since pregnancy is generally counted from the first day of your last period, it comes to 40 weeks, or 10 months). I’m still feeling pretty blissful and anxiety-free right now, but I don’t think the reality of “OMG! We’re having a real, living HUMAN BEING in 8 weeks!!!” has hit me yet. I’m sure I’ll be in full-blown panic mode when it does.

Anyway, I’m excited for this week’s update, so let’s get to it. 31-week-bump What’s Baby M up to this week?

  • He is about 16 inches long and weighs between 3.3 and 4 pounds (around the size of a coconut)
  • He’s heading for a big growth spurt; from now until 2 weeks before birth, he will gain around ½ pound each week
  • His arms and legs are plumping up and developing fat, making those kicks and prods feel even stronger (I’ve noticed this; rather than fluttery, it feels much slower and snugger when he moves, and sometimes a little bulge will just stay there for a while)

How am I feeling this week?

Weight Gained:

Maybe a pound since last week (which would be 26 total)

Workouts:

I tried this week to get in more—and I did succeed, somewhat. (For the record, I’m still walking around during lunch, but I’m not making any loops around the park. Just keeping myself moving in the shade.)

  • Sunday: rest (we walked all day in NOLA the day before, and the heat and humidity were draining)
  • Monday: prenatal Pilates (3 10-minute segments) while trying to keep Iggy off my face
  • Tuesday: barre (a tough one)
  • Wednesday: a super short walk with Iggy/Mark
  • Thursday: a walk with Iggy & Mark
  • Friday: might do a DVD, might take it easy
  • Saturday: not sure what we have planned…

Symptoms:

Honestly, I’m still feeling pretty good at this point. I am having occasional lower back pain and heartburn (can’t pinpoint any specific food or spice that causes it), some moodiness, leg cramps, and a dry/stuffy nose, but I still feel pretty energetic. I’ll take it!

Food Aversions:

Still none. Apparently my appetite is indestructible, even during pregnancy!

Food Cravings:

Cold things: yogurt bowls, overnight oats, ice cream, smoothies, etc.

Sleep:

The first few days this week were fine, the last couple of nights I’ve been waking up often because my hips and/or shoulders hurt. I never thought I was a big back/stomach sleeper, but apparently I was, because I just get sore staying on my sides.

Stretch Marks?

I still haven’t found any (and I’m not sure the few that I found months ago on “the girls” were actually stretch marks, because I don’t see them anymore). I guess I just have good genes (and have maintained a steady, rather than rapid, weight gain), although I’m starting to fear that if I lose weight too quickly postpartum, I’ll get stretch marks from weight loss.

Swelling?

Not really. My ankles were a tiny bit swollen after walking around outside in New Orleans Saturday, but I think I stay hydrated enough to ward it off (for now at least)

Wedding rings—on or off?

Still on, no problem unless I get really hot

Belly button—in or out?

About the same as before—still in, but tiny/flat. The edges sometimes protrude a little.

Happy or moody?

Mostly happy, but I think I’m beginning to feel the surge of hormones because Wednesday afternoon and most of Thursday, I was cranky, anxious, stressed with work, and on the verge of tears! I don’t know if it’s pregnancy or just my normal job frustrations—maybe a combination?

Maternity Clothes?

Yep, it’s not like I’m shrinking! But I don’t think I’ll buy anymore unless it’s a pair of yoga pants and/or leggings (I noticed at the gym Tuesday night that my yoga capris are super snug).

Baby Purchases:

Nothing this week, but we have baby showers coming up on August 30 and September 13.

Looking forward to:

  • THE WEEKEND. I just need to relax a little.
  • Grilling out Sunday afternoon with Mark and my dad (my mom is in West Virginia this weekend)
  • Maternity pictures next weekend!!!
  • Mark’s birthday (so I can rub it in his face that he is also 30) ;-)

Miss anything?

Downing half a bottle of wine after bad days? Haha, just kidding. (Or am I?…)

Funny/Odd Moments:

Well, it was pretty funny Monday night when I was balancing on my side for leg lifts while Iggy was licking my face and legs! It was also quite amusing when I managed to squeeze my rotund self through the gate and a truck at work. I joked that in a few weeks, I probably wouldn’t be able to accomplish that! Also, after our walk Thursday night, we were talking to our neighbor and he asked, “any day now, huh?” Err, well, I hope not! I am certainly growing each week, but I do NOT think I look 40 weeks pregnant yet! Baby M, don’t get any ideas—you stay in there!

Questions for moms & moms-to-be:

  • I’m beginning to think about packing a hospital bag; what were some of your essentials?
  • When did it really set in that you were going to become a mother? And what were you most anxious/worried about?

Thinking Out Loud: Pregnancy-isms

Happy Thursday-aka-almost-Friday, you guys! The weekend is so close, we can almost taste it. And, after somewhat of a stressful week, you can bet I’m ready for it.

Today I thought I’d link up at Running With Spoons for some #ThinkingOutLoud.

Thinking-Out-Loud

I actually compiled this list months ago after having a near-tantrum at work, but I thought it was fitting since I’m nearing the end of this incredible journey called pregnancy. I’m enjoying being pregnant, I truly am, but every now and then I feel like a freak or a living garbage disposal and am overwhelmed with the burning desire to strangle my coworkers or random passers-by.

Below is a compilation of “pregnancy-isms,” or thoughts that have crossed my mind at some point during the past few months (usually several times a day), TOL-style.

For the record, please don’t judge me until you have a loveable alien being growing inside your belly! I promise I’m a lady—most of the time.

1. It should be illegal for a pregnant woman to have to work with stupid people!

2. Oh, good! Nobody is walking behind me. Inconspicuous fart FTW!

3. My boobs are amazing. No, really, they are amazing!

4. Would so-and-so even notice if I ate her string cheese out of the mini-fridge?

5. Will I ever stop thinking about pizza? Maybe I should just marry pizza.

6. OMG, did Mark hear that?!! …shrugs shoulders… I can just blame it on the dog.

7. Has anybody ever died of ‘peeing too much?’ Is my tombstone going to read, ‘She lived a fulfilling life, then literally pissed it away?’

8. I’ve got to be nicer to Mark; I don’t have it in me to be a single mom!

9. Do that again and I will sit on you!

These are just a few of the irrational/gross/remarks I’ve made silently to myself. There will inevitably be more (especially postpartum), and they will likely be worse! But…I’m pregnant. Everything is forgivable, and there’s always an excuse. ;-)

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins

Bananas are quite simply one of my favorite fruits. They’re cheap, they’re portable, they’re satiating, and they even satisfy a sweet tooth when chocolate, cake, cookies, or muffins are nowhere to be found.

P1030271

Throughout my pregnancy, though, bananas and I have had a rocky relationship. After I realized I was pregnant, I noticed that bananas started leaving this awful aftertaste in my mouth. If they were too ripe, the smell was quite unappealing to me. I never got sick, but I had to take a break from my beloved bananas for several weeks.

Lucky for me, bananas and I patched things up during the 2nd trimester. I sliced or mashed them into yogurt or oats, spread them with nut butter, and just ate them as-is for a snack. I didn’t care if they were slightly under-ripe or a little too freckled and soft. I just ate them with my typical banana-loving gusto.

Don’t you just love that word, gusto?

Anyway, now that I’m in the 3rd trimester, I just can’t handle the mushiness or overt sweetness of over-ripe bananas! I’m fine eating them otherwise, but when I had 3 extremely brown bananas wasting away in my kitchen, I knew I had to do something.

One of the bananas I mashed into a refreshing jar of overnight oats, and the other 2 were joined together in holy muffin matrimony.

chocolate chip banana bread muffins

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins

makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (mine was heaping!)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 large, ripe bananas
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (or honey, agave nectar, etc.)
  • ¼ cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I prefer mini chips)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and prepare a muffin tin with butter, coconut oil, or spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a smaller bowl, mix together the mashed bananas, egg, coconut oil, liquid sweetener, yogurt, and vanilla until thoroughly mixed and no longer lumpy.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients, gently stirring until combined, but being careful not to over-mix.
  5. Fold the chocolate chips into the mixture.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin compartments till each is ¾ of the way full.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes* until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean.

*15 minutes was perfect for my oven, but I often need to under-bake most other recipes slightly. Set your timer for 15 minutes, but if they’re not quite set, go ahead and bake another 2-3 minutes.

muffin

I love these muffins because they are just lightly sweet. They’re perfect for breakfast, dessert, or a snack and are relatively healthy. Chopped walnuts or pecans make excellent additions, too!

Weekly Links 08.10.14

After a long, hot, and tiring day in New Orleans yesterday, I almost skipped putting this post together, but then that would negate the whole “weekly” thing.

photo 3-5

We had a lot of fun yesterday, although I did have a cranky pregnant lady moment whenever the hostess at Stanley, our usual lunch spot, supposedly texted us when our table was ready, though we never got the text. We expected a wait, and were perfectly fine walking up by the river, getting my non-alcoholic Bloody Mary at Muriel’s (just as good as the regular version!), and people, but when she told us it would be an additional 20 minutes and couldn’t prove she sent the text, I just got really impatient (I know stuff like that happens all the time, and she couldn’t do much else than what she did). Oh well, our meal was tasty, and we enjoyed the rest of the day when we met with some friends to walk through Audubon Park.

Our walk was cut short when the rain moved in (I got soaked, but it was actually fun; I love summer storms like that, so long as lightning and thunder aren’t involved!), but a delicious tiramisu and coffee at Brocato’s made up for it. So did Bud’s Broiler on the way home.

photo-10

Today was spent cleaning and doing some stuff around the house (hanging paintings & shelves in the nursery!). Tonight the hubs is cooking fillets, homemade mashed potatoes, and green beans for dinner. Yum!

Here are some good reads for the rest of your Sunday. Enjoy, and have a great week!

weekly links header

.Recipes.

Banana Bread Cookie Sandwiches with Cream Cheese Greek Yogurt via Imma Eat That

These sound delicious. Because who doesn’t love cookies?

Blackberry Chocolate Chip Crumble via Love & Olive Oil

Oh, wow. This looks like the perfect dessert! I just love crumbles/crisps/whatever you call them.

Pesto Squash Noodles and Spaghetti via Cookie + Kate

I love how fresh and summery those burst tomatoes look! I’ve made zucchini noodles a couple of times, but they always left me wanting more. Mixing the “zoodles” with whole grain spaghetti sounds perfect.

Ultimate Chocolate Macaroons via Cook It Up Paleo

I don’t care if these are paleo, vegan, or any label you want to put on them; they’re full of chocolate and coconut and that’s enough for me!

Cream Cheese-Filled Pumpkin Bread via Averie Cooks

Nope, it’s never too early in the year for pumpkin. One time a coworker shared some pumpkin roll that was essentially pumpkin bread with a cream cheese filling, and I’ve never tried to recreate it, despite how delicious it was. This filled version looks fantastic (and better suited for my kitchen skills).

.Health & Wellness.

What Makes Us Fat: Is It Eating Too Much Or Moving Too Little? Via NPR

It’s definitely not one or the other. Sure, the quality of calories we consume today is vastly different than what we consumed decades ago, but the fact that we spend hours a day at desks is just as bad, if not worse, for our health (in my clearly non-medical opinion). This is why I try to move around at least hourly! It’s absurdly hot right now, but I’m so grateful I’m able to move around throughout much of the day, even if it’s just taking from my car and office building in the mornings and afternoons.

10 Ways to Recognize Orthorexia via New York Magazine

I don’t think enough attention is paid to this eating disorder, which, if left unchecked, could be every bit as dangerous as anorexia or bulimia.

.Food & Nutrition.

What I Learned After Taking a Homeless Mother Grocery Shopping via Babble

This really opens your eyes to how we take simple things, like filling a grocery cart with whatever looks good in the moment, for granted. It’s shameful how pre-packaged garbage stretches somebody’s food stamps or grocery budget much further than fresh fruits and vegetables, and I admire this woman for trying to bring awareness to the situation.

.Body Image & Mental Health.

Cultivating Happiness via The Lunchbox Diaries

A great post! I’ve learned lately that happiness isn’t something you chase, but something you create each and every day.

.Fitness.

A Do-Anywhere, Full Body Resistance Band Workout via Greatist

I really need to buy a resistance band (and some of the other gizmos we use at barre class). I love workouts that don’t require fancy equipment or a gym membership!

Pregnancy: Week 30

Even though this week is almost over, I’m still having a hard time accepting that I’m already 30 weeks pregnant. Every time I tell somebody who asks “how far along are you?” I find myself in disbelief when I reply.

It’s getting real. Very, very real. But with every momentary freakout and feeling of apprehension, I feel the same amount of excitement for the future.

Here’s my 30 week update.

30-weeks-update

I’m not a huge fan of this picture, by the way. The way my undershirt and t-shirt fit, it makes “the girls” and my belly look like one giant, mountainous entity. Sure, the bump is getting bigger (it’s supposed to!), but there’s a lot more definition between the bump and boobs, I promise!

What’s Baby M up to this week?

  • Baby M is about 15.7 inches long now and weighs around 3 pounds; in other words, he’s the size of a large cabbage! Mon petit chou!
  • A pint and a half of amniotic fluid surrounds him, though that will change in the next weeks as he gets even bigger
  • His eyesight continues to develop, though it’s not very keen; even after he’s born, he’ll keep his eyes closed for a good part of the day. When he does open them, he’ll respond to changes in light but will have 20/400 vision — which means he can only make out objects a few inches from his face
  • Lanugo, the fine hair that covers his body, begins to fall off this week

How am I feeling this week?

Weight Gained:

Per the scale at the doctor today, 25 pounds. I’m still at the top of the “good range,” but my doctor says my weight gain, blood pressure, measurements are all wonderful.

Workouts:

I don’t even know why I have this question in here anymore. Although I manage to get a good bit of walking and moving around in every day, my only real work-out lately has been barre on Tuesday nights. My goal is to continue the class till 35 weeks, and, if I’m still feeling good then, till 37. I’m going to make it a point to start doing my pregnancy barre and Pilates DVDs, even if it’s just one 10-20 minute segment each time. I’m not worried about my fitness by any means, but I feel better (physically and mentally) when I get some kind of workout in.

Symptoms:

  • Heartburn
  • Tiring more easily (not quite like the fatigue I felt in the 1st trimester, but I definitely don’t have the energy I did earlier in the summer)
  • Gassiness (sorry, but it’s true)
  • Leg cramps at night (but I usually flex my leg/heel and catch them before they become full-fledged cramps)
  • Clumsiness (I drop everything!)
  • Luckily, I can still say that I’m feeling pretty good overall. Most of my pains/discomforts are minor; I’m simply aware of them rather than troubled by them.

Food Aversions:

Nothing really.

Food Cravings:

  • Overnight oats (they’re my breakfast of choice lately)
  • Fruit, especially berries
  • Trail mix
  • Almond milk (I’ve been drinking glasses of it lately, whereas I normally just use it in cereal, oats, etc.)

Sleep:

I wouldn’t call it bad, but I’m definitely not resting quite as well as I normally do. Even with my snoogle, I just can’t stay comfortable. I wake up hot or with a sore/tingling shoulder and have to roll over (which is getting much tougher to do lately!)

Stretch Marks? 

I still haven’t noticed any. Hooray for (what I assume are) good genes!

Wedding rings—on or off?

They’re still on, though I might stop wearing them to bed

Belly button—in or out?

Roughly the same; still in, but extremely tiny/almost flat

Happy or moody?

Happy. I’m enjoying the attention and nice comments from strangers and non-strangers and just taking everything in. I’m still trying to make the best of this experience.

Maternity Clothes?

Is this question even necessary? Yes. And I’m really excited about my dress that I ordered for photos. It’s cute and super comfy!

Baby Purchases:

Nothing this week (our showers are coming up soon, though)

Looking forward to:

  • NOLA
  • Our showers
  • Hanging my paintings that I made last weekend in the nursery
  • Finding a pediatrician

Miss anything?

I don’t think much has changed here, either. I just miss having a lot of energy, being able to roll over without using deep concentration and physical strength, and eating/drinking whatever I want. It’s all worth it, though.

Funny/Odd Moments:

In one day (yesterday) I was asked by 2 different people if we were keeping (or moving outside) our sweet dog, Iggy, when Baby M arrives. %$&#!!!!! He’s our fur-child, so of course he’s staying. He’s anything but aggressive, and while he’ll have a lot of adjusting to do, he will get along fine with Baby M.

And I felt kind of stupid asking the doctor about my “cone-belly” yesterday, but she assured me that my weird-shaped tummy (when I laugh or contract my abs) is completely normal. I need to stop reading the internet, as I thought it was a sure sign of diastasis recti (when your abdominal muscles separate more severely than usual), which had me completely bummed out.

Questions for moms & moms-to-be:

  • How did you choose your pediatrician? Any advice?
  • Did you suffer from diastasis recti or any conditions that took time to heal or still haven’t fully healed?