Slide Show

Healthy Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie Balls - *NO BAKE!*

Ok- If you're like me and you have a CONSTANT sweet tooth, then you need these as much as I do!


I made these in about 20 minutes- start to finish. They're no bake- which makes them even easier! In fact I even made them while Gavin was awake- he sat in his chair on the kitchen counter and watched me make them! (I can't wait until he's old enough to "help" me! And by help me, I mean make an even bigger mess than I already do by myself...)

So, as I always seem to do, I came up with my own recipe! It was all stuff I already had right in the pantry! I was looking at making a similar recipe- but didn't have all of the ingredients, and didn't feel like bundling Gavin up to go to the store (it's about 10 degrees out today, so no thank need spring & summer!!! Like, NOW.). So, using what I had on hand, I came up with these yummy little treats!!

What You Need:

3 Cups organic thick rolled oats
3/4 Cup xylitol
4 Tablespoons pure organic coco powder
1/2 Cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 Cup organic almond butter
1/4 Cup honey
1 Stick organic unsalted butter
2 Teaspoons natural pure vanilla extract

What To Do:

1. Blend oats, xylitol, and coco powder in a mixing bowl.

2. In a separate mixing bowl melt butter. Once melted, stir in coconut milk, almond butter, honey and vanilla. Stir until smooth.

3. Using a spatula mix together your bowl of oats and your bowl of butter/almond butter..etc.
Stir until it's mixed up real good.

4. Now the messy part. Using your hands, roll into 1 inch balls. I laid wax paper over a cookie sheet, and put them on there. Once I had them all made, I put the cookie sheet in the fridge to chill.
I got 28 cookie balls out of it.


Distressed Planter Box

The finished product... well minus the plants.
I'm still deciding if I'm going to use it as an actual PLANTER, or put
a few mason jars in it and use them as vases for flowers.
(I can already picture it overflowing with deliciously smelling lilacs and hydrangeas!!)
This project took a grand total of about 20 minutes- including the drying times (that's why I LOVE using acrylic paints- super fast drying!)!

What You Need: 

Unfinished crate (I got mine from Michaels for about $5.00)
2 Acrylic paint colors- distressing color & top coat color
Paint brush
Sand paper

What To Do:

1. Using your distressing color (I used a dark brown) paint a thin coat all over the crate. This coat of paint does not need to be perfect! You'll be covering it with your top coat color. Let dry.

2. Using your top coat color, paint a thin-to-medium layer over your distressed color. Again, this layer doesn't need to be perfect either. I left mine thin enough that the dark color showed through quite a bit. This way, I had less sanding/distressing to do!

3. Sand & distress to your liking. :)
Like I said, I painted my top coat color thin enough that all I really sanded were the corners and the edges for some extra distressing.

Simple as that! A nice indoor OR outdoor planter!
I think I'm going to add some little handles on the sides also- just for some extra character.

DIY Name Sign

So over the weekend Aaron was gone working, so it was just me & Gavin man holding down the fort.
I had time on my hands, and decided to take a trip to Michaels.
The photo above is the end result.
I've been seeing so many of these cute name signs, and decided to finally make one for us! 
Here's how I made it!

Supplies You Need: 

(I got everything from Michaels)
Unfinished Wood Sign
Acrylic paint colors- distressed color, top layer color, and your font colors
Sand paper
Paint brushes
Stencils & dabber
Burlap flower & hot glue gun

How I Did It:

1. I lightly sanded down the wood sign. I rounded off the corners so they weren't so sharp and clean cut. I wanted to give it a distressed look, so I didn't want perfect edges. I roughed it up a bit.
(As you can tell my table cover is an old diaper box... I'm so fancy) 

2. I used a dark brown acrylic paint and did just one coat. This is the color that will show through when you distress. As you can see, I didn't cover it completely, you'll be painting over it with your top coat anyway, so it doesn't need to be perfectly covered.  Let dry.

3. Next I did my top coat. I did one quick layer- and I made sure to do it thin enough in some areas that the dark color showed through, this way I would have less sanding/distressing to do when I was done. Let dry.

4. This is when I forgot to keep taking pictures- I was trying to hurry and finish it before Gavin woke up from his nap...oops! BUT, next was the stenciling.  I used my gray color and stenciled "Arfstrom" and "2013" in the same color. Then I used the same color I used for my distressing color (the dark brown), for the "est.". I wasn't too careful about not letting the paint run or smear at all from stenciling- since I was going for the distressed look I knew having imperfect letters was only fitting :) 

5. Once the stenciling was dry, I used my paint brush and the top coat color (the cream) and "dry brushed" it all over- on top of the stenciling. 
For dry brushing- I put a TINY bit of paint on my brush, then wiped my brush off on a dry paper towel. You'd think this wipes off all of the paint- it really doesn't! You want your paint brush to look like it doesn't have any wet paint on it (don't worry- you'll be surprised how much is actually still on there). Then I took the brush and wiped (with the wood grain) all over the top of the sign. The tiny amount of paint left in your paint brush will leave your letters looking perfectly distressed. I dry brushed over it a few times until it was as distressed as I wanted it to look.

6. Last but not least- I roughed it up again. I used sand paper and sanded all of the sides of the sign, as well as the corners (I sanded those more than anything) and then went over some areas on the front/top of the sign. Basically I just sanded until I was happy with how distressed it looked.

7. I guess I lied, last but not least was the burlap flower. I bought this already made from Michaels. I used my hot glue gun and (used quite a bit of glue) and stuck it on there. :) 

Simple as that!  

My Diaper Bag Must Haves!

Here's what you can ALWAYS find in my diaper bag:

1. Diapers.
I always have way more diapers than I need in my bag. Better safe than sorry right?

2. Wipes. 
I keep a large pack of wipes in my diaper bag. I never take these wipes out (I did one time, and of course I forgot to put them back in before I left...learned my lesson).

3. Diaper Rash Cream.

4. Extra Burp Cloth.

5. Extra Outfit.
Another better safe than sorry.

6. Nuks.
I have way too many nuks, and Gavin doesn't even use them. But for some reason they stay in my diaper bag- I guess in case maybe I'll need them ? ? 

7. Baby Nail Clippers.
The ones we bought came in a pack of 2, so why not toss the extra one in the diaper bag right?

8. Bulb Suction Sucker Thing.
What the heck is that thing called anyway? We got it from the hospital- and since then, it's just stayed in the diaper bag.

9. Changing Pad.
A nice comfy pad for diaper changes on the go- you never know where you'll have to change that diaper.

 Now the fun stuff- stuff for Mom :)
Lipstick (a couple of those)
Honest Company Hand Sanitizer
Nursing pads (better safe than sorry with those too)
...Oh, and a pen.

My *Baby Product* MUST HAVES!

I pretty much love all things Honest Company. 
No harsh chemicals- ever.
This is pretty much going to be one big ad for their numerous baby products!
But I can't rave about them enough! I LOVE every single one of these products on this list!

Honest Company Shampoo & Body Wash
Gavin gets a bath every night and we've used this soap on him since he had his very first bath.
It's hypoallergenic, tear-free, color-safe, vegan, biodegradable, pH balanced, and naturally non-toxic.

Honest Company Face & Body Lotion.
After every one of Gavin's baths we use this lotion on him. It's hypoallergenic, vegan, plant based, biodegradable, pH balanced, and naturally non-toxic.

Honest Company Wipes.
These wipes are awesome because there are NO parabens, chlorine, phenols, or risky chemicals, so you can use the wipes not only on your baby's bottom, but on their hands, pacifiers, toys, etc.! The wipes are also biodegradable, hypoallergenic, chlorine-free, medical grade cloth, and Oeko-Tex sustainably harvested.

Honest Company Healing Balm
If you do not have this stuff, just go get it, like right now!! It's magical, I swear. When Gavin was maybe 1 month old, he had a couple little scales of "cradle cap" on his head. We used a tiny bit of this healing balm, and within a couple days it was totally gone! It also works wonders for any dry skin that he gets- literally within the day I see improvement. It works wonders! They also say to use it for diaper rash. I use it as a diaper rash preventative- the beeswax in it creates a barrier against urine. It's also hypoallergenic, certified organic, vegetarian, biodegradable, pH balanced, and naturally non toxic.

Honest Company Diaper Rash Cream.
We use this on Gavin every night before bed. He's never had diaper rash, but we use it every night on him just because it's obviously when he's in the same diaper for the longest amount of time. It's all natural, hypoallergenic, plant & mineral based, non-toxic, clinically tested, and made with certified organic ingredients.

Honest Company Baby DHA.
This is a supplement they just came out with. We just ordered it for Gavin and can't wait to start giving it to him! DHA helps support brain and eye development, which is especially critical in your baby's first two years of life.

* I told you this would be one big Honest Company ad. 
In all honesty (no pun intended), we could not be more happy with our Honest Company products. When you educate yourself on the harmful chemicals, toxins, and unnecessary additives that are in most other baby products, it's such a relief to know you can use these Honest Company products with none of that harmful junk in them! 

Getting My Body Back After Baby

40 Weeks Pregnant
5 1/2 Months Post-Partum

During pregnancy I felt like I pretty much loaned my body out to this little human growing inside of me.
(because you pretty much do...)

No wonder most of us moms are anxious to get our body's back!

I gained exactly 40lbs during my pregnancy with Gavin.

At my six week post-partum appointment, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight.

In those first 6 weeks, here's what I did:
 I ate extremely healthy- very low, to no sugar.
I drank a lot of water, 90-100oz every day.
I breastfed (& pumped a lot).
(and no, I did NOT workout in those first six weeks- I was not at all ready for that yet!)

During my pregnancy I ate extremely healthy! I never had fast food ONCE, never had a soda(I'm not really a soda drinker anyway...), I ate almost all organic, I juiced a lot(check out my favorite juice here.), ate tons of protein, veggies and fruits. Those nine months were by far the healthiest nine months of my life.
(I wasn't a crazy health freak though- I still had Orange Leaf ice cream on occasion, Oreo cookies here & there...I definitely gave in to my sweet tooth cravings, but it was rare!)

A healthy diet is, as everyone knows, key in losing weight! I was anxious to lose the baby weight, but I was NOT in any hurry to start working out! So in the beginning I just focused on my diet.

My diet those first 6 weeks consisted mostly of:

Oatmeal for breakfast(organic, thick rolled oats) with cinnamon
Scrambled eggs with broccoli
Cranberry Cream Cheese Chicken
Eggplant Parmesan
Grilled chicken breasts
Venison steaks
Venison burgers (no buns)
Egg sandwiches (with organic sourdough bread)
Chicken/Steak shish kabobs w/ peppers & zucchini
Sweet Potato Fries
*With our dinners we always have lots of (organic) veggies- broccoli/green beans/zucchini/sweet potato...etc. and sometimes we'll do a side of some sort of quinoa*

*I really did my best to stay away from as much sugar as possible. No sweets and I tried to stay away from bread, rice, potatoes (sweet potatoes are ok & GOOD for you!) as much as possible.

Working Out

I wasn't ready (and frankly, didn't want to) workout yet in those first 6 weeks, but I made sure to get out as often as possible and take Gavin for walks outside.
I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I still had a lot of toning up to do!
(anyone who's had a baby knows that your poor stretched out belly doesn't necessarily tighten right back up to it's pre-pregnancy self all on it's own! ...if only!!!)

So, at 3 months post-partum, I gave in. I knew I had to get back into working out (ughh!), so I decided to do "mini" workouts at home. I kept them short, and really focused on my core.
I would run on the treadmill (only for 5 minutes..I hate running...yuck) and then followed that with squats, and ab exercises (at least 200 crunches, planking...etc.).

I did my own workouts for about a week- and then decided to get my gym membership back!
SO glad I did!

Once I had my gym membership back, I started taking weekly Body Pump Express classes (my sister-in-law is the instructor..which is the only reason I decided to try it!) and oh my gosh, I LOVE it!
I go to the class twice a week and they're only 45 minutes long!
(For more info on this class check out the "Body Pump" link above)
I love this class because you can literally SEE progress- not just with how your body changes, but in the amount of weight you use (you choose how much weight you want to use for each track). I've never been a "class" person.. but if this class is available to you- TRY IT!!!
I highly recommend it!

On days that I don't do Body Pump, I do my own "mini" workout at home.
10 minutes running on treadmill
100+ squats
100+ crunches
30+ rotator presses
30+ bicep curls
100+ leg extensions (one of my favorite ab exercises)

All in all, my own little workouts take about 20-30 minutes!
Gavin LOVES watching me workout too :)

Losing baby weight or toning up is different for every mama out there! 
Your diet, your metabolism, your workout routine, breastfeeding- it all has a factor in it.
Take your time, go at your own pace!

In terms of WEIGHT LOSS, I can definitely say my diet and breastfeeding did most of the work (breastfeeding/milk production alone burns 300-500 calories/day...some sources even say closer to 1,000 calories/day!!). 

For TONING my body, once I stuck to a good workout routine, and started my Body Pump class I saw results almost right away! It was just a matter of doing it, and being disciplined enough to stick with it. 

Stick with a healthy diet and a good workout routine, and you're guaranteed results! 
Here's 6 months post-baby.
Working on finding those abs again!
...pregnancy hid them quite well on me...

Juicing: My Favorite Juice

Kale. Granny Smith Apples. Celery.

That's all you need!

For a single serving I use:
5 large kale leaves (stems included)
2 granny smith apples
2 celery stalks

I also add 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds to my juice.


Books I Recommend *To Soon-to-be or New Mamas* :)

Well this list will most likely grow as time goes on.

Here is a list of the books I read, and would recommend to other expecting, or new moms!
(I also added a short list of apps I recommend as well at the end of this post)


Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds, by Cynthia Gabriel.
I read this book twice during my pregnancy (notice all of the little book marks in it...ha!). It was so educational and informative. Throughout my pregnancy I planned on having a natural, drug-free labor/delivery in the hospital. So reading this book was great because that's what it was all about! The author does a great job at explaining a lot of common, but completely AVOIDABLE, interventions that happen during a lot of labor & deliveries. She explains numerous possible interventions & side effects that can occur from an epidural, so going into labor being far more educated on epidurals and other interventions, I felt better prepared at what I was getting myself into! The author also explains the different stages of labor, which was really helpful to me because I chose to stay out of the hospital and labor at home for as long as possible, so I felt I had a good idea of what stage I was at throughout my labor. So that being said, I HIGHLY recommend this book to any expectant mama out there, not just if you're interested in natural birth, but even just to educate yourself on labor/delivery!
(let me also clear the air- I got the epidural at the hospital- don't regret my decision one bit!!)


The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, by Tracy Hogg & Melinda Blau
If I had to choose ONE baby book to recommend, this would be it! Gavin is currently 6 months old and I still find myself going back in this book and referencing it! I feel like within this book she covers everything (probably why they chose to reference "All Your Problems" in the title)! Whether it be newborn sleep/feeding problems, fussiness, establishing a schedule/routine, even just information on breastfeeding, starting solid foods... all of that and MORE is in this book (it covers infancy through toddlerhood)! As much as I took away and used (and still use) from this book, there are still some things that we just didn't do, or didn't have the need to do with Gavin (such as the "dream feed"). Like any book, read it and decide what you want to take away from it! 

Baby Wise, by Gary Ezzo & Robert Bucknam
This is a great book! Definitely took some things away from it and utilized them- but not everything. Read it and decide what you do & don't want to try! 

The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet, by Karin Knight & Tina Ruggiero
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book! I try to make as much home made baby food for Gavin as possible, it's something I actually really enjoy! In this book she gives advice on how to start baby on solids, and there are TONS of different recipes. It breaks them down month by month in the beginning, and then even goes all the way into toddlerhood. An added bonus that I love about this book: she gives all the nutritional contents below each recipe!! 


Boundaries With Kids, by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
This book is great- and I highly recommend it. Wow does it open your eyes to raising children, and the impacts that your parenting (or lack there of) has on your child. The easiest way to explain this book is taken right off of the back cover "Learn how to: set limits and still be a loving parent, bring control to an out-of-control family life, apply the ten laws of boundaries to parenting, and define appropriate boundaries and consequences for your kids...and much more"!!! GREAT READ!!
(P.S. the people that have recommended this book to me, have some of the most well behaved children I have ever been around!)


Pregnancy +
I LOVED this app! It gives you some sort of new information or pregnancy tip every day. You can track the growth of your baby. You can add pictures. It gives you weekly changes/developments for each week of your pregnancy. You can enter in your weight as it changes (maybe you'd rather skip that one...some days I didn't really care to keep track of that!). You can log all of your dr. appts/phone numbers. This app is awesome. Check it out!!!

What to Expect
This app is great! I love it because it not only gives you advice/tips/information for pregnancy, but once your baby is born, it continues to give you baby advice/tips/info! 
It has new tips and additional links for you every day. It has additional weekly/monthly info for the development of your baby (both during pregnancy & after birth). It has all kinds of fun stuff for us moms :) Check it out!

Baby Nursing/Breastfeeding
This app was my life in the first couple months after I had Gavin! I wanted to be able to keep track of when he was eating, how long, and which sides I was breast feeding him from. I'm well aware a lot of other moms could care less about this- but I wanted to keep track of it. If I went on to explain everything this app offers- it would take forever, but here are some of the options it offers: nursing times/durations/which side, diaper changes, baby's measurements, bottle feeds, doctor visits, sleep times... and like I said, there's still more!! There are so many things this app allows you to do! Check it out! (I don't currently use this app- I just became more laid back as time went on, and didn't feel the need to keep track of every little thing, but I LOVED it for those first couple months with a new baby!)

Eggplant Parm - *Our* Recipe

Eggplant Parmesan is one of our favorite recipes!
We've tried numerous different recipes that we've found online, but we always ended up tweaking them, or thinking "next time lets try it this way". 
So we finally just came up with our own recipe & we love it!! 
This is definitely a recipe that takes a little more time.
Prep time takes us about 30 mins, and it bakes for 1 hour.
But if you have the time- it's so worth it! 

What You Need:
1 medium eggplant
2 1/2 cups almond flour
4 organic, cage free eggs
1 (8oz) container grated parmesan cheese
4 cups shredded organic whole milk mozzarella
Dried Parsley
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Sea Salt
1 jar tomato sauce (we use Garlic Roasted Garlic organic tomato sauce)
Coconut oil

What To Do:
1. Grease large cookie sheet & a glass 9x13 pan with coconut oil & set aside.

2. Slice eggplant into thin slices. (I always try to get at least 16 slices). Sprinkle each with sea salt.

3. In a shallow dish whip together all 4 eggs, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, and a few pinches each of garlic powder, and dried parsley. 

4. In another shallow dish, add 2 1/2 cups almond flour, 2 Tbsp garlic powder, 3 Tbsp dried parsley, 1 Tbsp onion powder, 2 tsp sea salt, 2 tsp pepper and mix together.

5. Dip each slice of eggplant into the egg batter, then in the almond flour making sure to cover both sides, and lay it on the greased cookie sheet (we always slightly overlap our eggplant slices).  

6. Once all slices have been battered, broil on High until they become slightly brown and crispy (this never takes long AT ALL...we usually only broil ours for about 2 minutes- so keep an eye them!). 

7. In the greased 9x13 pan, put a thin layer of sauce, then sprinkle some parmesan cheese, then sprinkle mozzarella cheese, then add the eggplant slices(we usually use 8 slices per layer)- slightly overlapping each other. Then repeat- another layer of sauce, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, eggplant slices. 

8. Once you have used all of your eggplant slices, we top it with one last layer of sauce, then mozzarella cheese, and then we sprinkle the very top with parmesan cheese, dried parsley, and garlic powder.

9. Cover with aluminum foil & bake at 350 for 1 hour.


Strawberry Cucumber Water

My Favorite Flavored Water!

This water drastically helped me drink MORE WATER every day!

Chop up strawberries and cucumber & toss them in your water! The longer they soak in your water- the more flavor! I started doing this when I was pregnant because I wanted to start drinking more water, and having this awesome tasting water really got me into drinking more & more water every day!

To make my life even easier,
I chopped up strawberries and cucumbers (A LOT of them) and froze them in separate baggies.  
Now whenever I want to use them to flavor my water, all I have to do is grab them and toss them in my water!

I would also recommend getting a nice glass water bottle that has the separate inner container for fruits, etc. It helps keep the chunks out of what you drink- but still allows you to get all the flavor! 

Almond Butter Banana Sandwiches

Frozen Bite-Size Banana Deliciousness

Ok these things are SO simple, and so delicious!
They saved me during my pregnancy.
They satisfied my never ending sweet tooth craving that I had! :)

What You Need:
(using one banana, you'd probably get about 4-5 sandwiches)
Almond Butter
Unsweetened Chocolate

What To Do:
Cut banana into small pieces (as seen above)
Depending on how much/little almond butter you want, sandwich it between the pieces of banana
Melt your chocolate and drizzle it on top of the banana
I tossed mine into the freezer- they were the BEST frozen snack during the summertime!

Gavin's 6 Months!!

Our sweet boy is already 6 months old!! Wow does the time absolutely fly!
He LOVES avocado & sweet potato.
He desperately wants to crawl, just not quite there yet.
He sits on his own, but still likes to topple over to the side (it's hard work to hold up all that weight).
He's starting to enjoy waking up earlier, around 6am (Mom & Dad don't enjoy that one as much).
He still loves bath time- I swear it's his favorite time of the day.
He loves playing with the dog, Harley.
Still no teeth! 
Wears all 12 month clothes.
Took his first trip to a water park.
Enjoyed his first Valentine's Day :)
He makes us laugh and smile more than anything else in this world!

Gavin's 1st Trip to a Water Park!

Our trip with Gavin to the water park was quite the experience! Aaron surprised me with the trip for Valentine's Day. He booked it for two nights, and we ended up not even staying a full 24 hours (HA!). Gavin was great- super well behaved and loved the park, but none of us slept good! (I take that back- Aaron slept good, Gavin and I did NOT)! 
Gavin slept in the pack-n-play, but woke up more than he ever has, even as a newborn! Luckily, he would just fuss for a couple minutes and go right back to sleep. He decided to wake up for good at about 5am (way too early for this mom & dad) but was happy and content to just lay in bed and play with Aaron's hair, as you can see in the last picture.   :) 
We also got to listen to our neighbor's child scream (and it was legit SCREAMING) from 9pm-11:45pm because he didn't want to go to sleep (well, Gavin & Aaron slept through it, I was not so lucky).
Anyway- all of that aside, Gavin loved the water, he's a total water baby, but he was still too young to be able to really enjoy it. There wasn't a whole lot for babies, so all he could really do was look around and watch everything going on around him. 
He loved the lazy river, and looked so darn adorable in his little swim shorts & robe!! :)
We will never again try taking a baby to stay overnight at a water park. That fun can wait until they're a couple years old! ;)  
I think we were ALL very happy to come home and sleep in our OWN beds that second night. ;)
That being said though, it was definitely worth it and was a lot of fun!

Sweet Potato Fries

Delicious Sweet Potato Fries!

So I actually just made these last night- and my husband said they were the best sweet potato fries he's ever had! Woo Hoo!! (usually he makes them, but last night I took them on because I was hungry and he wasn't home from work yet! No patience here when I'm hungry).
So here's how we make them:

What You Need:
1 large sweet potato
Coconut oil
Salt (we use RealSalt Nature's First Sea Salt)
Garlic salt

What To Do:
Preheat oven to 400.
Peel and cut sweet potato into thin, fry-size strips.
Using coconut oil grease cookie sheet.
Toss sweet potato fries onto cookie sheet in a single layer (try not to overlap too much).
Depending on how much seasoning you like, season with salt, pepper, and garlic salt.
Toss in the oven (we baked ours for 20 minutes..I like my fries to have a good crisp, and 20 minutes seemed to be perfect! If you want less crisp-less time, if you want more crisp-more time)  
I did not flip the fries at all, some people do half way through.

There you go- Delicious healthy sweet potato fries!! 

Post Signature

Post Signature