Plan B

On January 31st, 2012, I stood on a beautiful white sand beach and exchanged wedding vows with my better half.

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The following day, we hopped on a ferry and embarked upon the ultimate honeymoon vacation.

St. John.

Tortola.

Jost Van Dyke.

Virgin Gorda.

For ten glorious days, we traipsed around the Caribbean without a care in the world.

HM2HM1HM5

We ate. We drank. We celebrated.

We dreamed. We laughed. We loved.

It was hands down the best vacation of my life. When we returned home from our honeymoon, I was chomping at the bit to plan our next trip. We would need to travel during the off-season to afford where we wanted to stay, as we would be fitting the bill this time around. I researched islands until I was blue in the face and finally settled on Nevis, a tiny island near the top of the Lesser Antilles archipelago. We would travel in November and call it our Almost Anniversary Trip.

Leading up to the trip, I spent countless hours researching the best bars, beaches, and restaurants on the island. I bought cute swim suits and flirty dresses. Our couples massage was in the books.

And then October rolled around, and everything changed.

You see, B and I weren’t planning to have a baby for several years. We wanted to travel and hold onto our freedom for as long as the biological clock would allow. Evidently, the universe had other plans for us.

It’s funny how abruptly life changes when you find out that you are expecting. My husband and I began saving money instead of living paycheck to paycheck. We made responsible decisions instead of acting on every fleeting whim. We cancelled our Almost Anniversary Trip and earmarked the funds for Baby J’s birthing bills.

B and I haven’t made it back to the Caribbean just yet, but we have shared two of the most glorious years together in the comfort of our very own home. And thanks to Baby Jack, we laugh harder, dream bigger, and love stronger than we ever imagined possible… There is no denying the allure of an island vacation, but in all honesty, the Caribbean has nothing on my sweet little family.

jack

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Faking It

Have you ever arrived at work, caught a glimpse of yourself in the bathroom mirror and wondered, “What the hell happened?” This happens to me on a daily basis. Each morning I leave my house confident that I look somewhat presentable (my expectations aren’t low, just realistic… There’s a difference, right?), yet arrive to school looking more like something that the cat dragged in.

I can say with some degree of certainty that lack of sleep (and perhaps bad lighting?) is the largest contributing factor to my less than ideal appearance these days, although the extra glass of wine each night isn’t helping my cause. I have come to terms with the fact that I will not be getting more rest any time soon, but I am holding out hope that I can perhaps find a way to at least fake a full night’s sleep.

Instead of grading the stack of papers that I have managed to avoid for the past week, I’ve decided to scour the internet for tricks and tips to help me look more rested. My theory is that if I look more rested, I will feel more rested, and if I feel more rested I will finally get around to grading all of those papers. So you see, this endeavor is completely warranted and not another way to procrastinate at all.

Here are some of my favorite ideas that I plan on trying out STAT. And by STAT I mean when I get paid.

1. Line Your Lower Lashes

tarte-emphaseyes-inner-lip-brightener

But don’t use black. To make your eyes look bigger and brighter, trace a nude eyeliner (like Tarte EmphasEYES™ Inner Rim Brightener, $18; Sephora.com) on the inner rims of your lower lashline. “Make sure the liner is a beige-y color and not too white,” says Tim Quinn, celebrity makeup artist for Giorgio Armani Beauty. “Beige looks more natural and does a better job of neutralizing redness in or around the eyes.”

www.oprah.com

2. Even Out Your Complexion

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A sheer, dewy foundation can do more than a concealer alone to make you look beautifully awake. Case in point: An actress we recently worked with arrived at our O shoot straight from a red-eye flight—yet looked as if she’d just woken from a long, delicious nap. She credited a layer of Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation ($62,KohGenDoCosmetics.com). “It’s luminous and totally imperceptible,” she raved. “Even though it’s light, it evens out redness and discoloration, and makes me look instantly refreshed.”

www.oprah.com

 

3. Deflate Lids

To counteract puffiness, choose an eye treatment containing a mix of peptides — some of the least irritating anti-aging ingredients — and caffeine, which has a diuretic effect. Try First Aid Beauty Detox Eye Roller ($24, Sephora). Stash it in the fridge before applying under eyes. “Coldness counters puffiness,” says Elise Brisco, O.D., an optometrist in Los Angeles. Or, rest refrigerated 2nd Skin Moist Burn Pads ($8 for six, drugstore.com) on lids for five minutes. They’re filled with a soothing gel that’s 97 percent water.

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www.goodhousekeeping.com

4. Hang Around the Water Cooler

Sleep deprivation can mildly dehydrate you, even if you’re not suffering from a happy-hour hangover. And dehydration actually compounds fatigue, Breus says—so sipping water will help lessen sleepiness. Drink enough so you’re not thirsty and you have clear-ish urine, Breus recommends.

Another trick: Throw in a few ice cubes. “Unlike warm drinks, which tend to relax you, cold beverages can increase alertness because they are more refreshing,” Kennedy says.

www.health.com

*I am really good at this. I drink water all day long at school, and wine all night long at home. 

5. Don’t Skip Your Lids

If you’re focused on under eye circles and puffiness, it’s easy to look right past another dead giveaway of exhaustion: pink eyelids. Baumann tells patients to dab them with a cotton ball soaked in (of all things) Afrin.“Nasal sprays contain something called oxymetazoline, which addresses both redness and swelling,” she says—and notes that it’s particularly effective when you’ve been crying. If they still look pink, makeup artist Troy Surratt recommends applying an eye-shadow base. “One that’s peachy will neutralize blue, purple, and gray tones,” he says. In a pinch, yellow-based concealer will work on purple circles—just be sure to pick a formula that isn’t thick or drying. Try: Estée Lauder Pure Color Eyeshadow in Peach

afrin

www.allure.com

6. Conceal

An under eye concealer is a new mom’s BFF. Try: Benefit’s Erase Paste ($26; benefitcosmetics.com)

www.parenting.com

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7. Brighten.

A dab of eye brightener in the inside corner of each eye diverts attention from dark circles.

www.parenting.com

*I use a white, shimmery eyeshadow & dab it in the inside corner of each eye with a Q-tip. Sometimes I think it makes my eyes look awkwardly close together. Perhaps I am not applying the shadow correctly?

8. Exercise for dull complexion

If skin isn’t allowed time to renew overnight, it can look sallow, ashy, and pasty. “When you don’t sleep, your body doesn’t have a chance to increase microcirculation, which means it can’t deliver key nutrients to the skin, ” says Jeanette Graf, M.D., a dermatologist based in Great Neck, New York. Even a short morning workout session can help boost circulation, as will a dry body brushing before you shower.

www.naturalhealthmag.com

*Good in theory, at least.  

9. Eyelash curler–  Curling your lashes opens up the eyes and will make you look more awake and alert. This eyelash curler by e.l.f. retails around $1.50! Eyes Lips Face (e.l.f.) products are not only inexpensive, but cruelty-fee, as well. You can find e.l.f. products at Target & Walgreens.

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10. Blush- NARS Blush provides a healthy glow to flatter any skin-tone. Orgasm Blush makes cheeks blush a perfect pinky-peach flush and subtly highlights with accents of golden shimmer. The perennially pleasing, universally flattering shade is again and again a makeup artist and beauty editor favorite. According to Sephora.com, “the super sexy pink flush gives the effect of a radiant afterglow.”

*Sign. Me. Up.

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www.sephora.com

11. Birth Control Not going to help you look rested, but will pretty much guarantee a better night’s sleep. 

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I am definitely going to try some of these ideas over the next few weeks. I’ll keep y’all posted on how it works out. Do you have any tricks to help you appear rested when you actually feel like the walking dead?

XO,

Elleigh

Mama’s Little Helpers

My head is spinning. My eyes are burning. There is not enough coffee in the world to pull me out of this post-Christmas, sleep-deprived funk. I need a vacation.

Yes, today is only my second day back to work after a two week long hiatus, but I am already counting down the days until Spring Break. The deadline for finalizing report card grades is looming. A stack of ungraded papers is scattered haphazardly across my desk. My computer monitor is swimming in to-do lists. Would anyone notice if I gave everyone a 100 and called it a day?

God, I miss maternity leave…

I miss my pjs. I miss Willie Geist. I miss my baby.

I must focus on the positive…

I am grateful for my healthy baby boy. I am grateful that I have a job. I am grateful for my family.

I found this quote on Pinterest today:

happy

Perhaps my interpretation of this quote is a tad too literal. Having a baby seemed to have robbed me of more brain cells than I’d care to admit. So bear that in mind- along with the fact that I am running on fumes today-  as you read my list of some “common things” that are keeping me afloat until Friday afternoon.

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Danielle Earrings by Kendra Scott

Perhaps the green will offset the redness of my blood-shot eyes?

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Blushing Floral Infinity Scarf/ Anthropologie

 The gorgeous colors in this infinity scarf brighten my mood & conceal some of my less than ideal outfit choices of late. I’ve washed the same load of laundry THREE times this week, and it has yet to see a dryer… I need all of the help I can get.

candle

One of my students gave me this candle for Christmas. She said she picked it out especially for me because, “You’re a teacher, and teachers like apples, ya know?”  Gotta love the logic of a ten-year-old. And for the record, I hate apples. I wouldn’t mind a hot toddy, however. I swear this is the very distinct scent that Anthropologie uses to fragrance all of their stores.

Spiced Apple Toddy Candle/ Bath & Body Works

VINO

And speaking of booze, this wine is legit. At $10 a pop, I can afford to self-medicate for the entire week. I tasted and purchased more than my fair share of bottles at Whole Foods over the holidays. Is it weird that the in-house wine expert knows me by name? Because I think it’s pretty damn awesome.

Herdade Do Esporao Alentejo Alandra 2004

vampirewkend

Love the band, love the music, love everything. 

Gave The Hubs Vampire Weekend tickets for Christmas. Wanted to see them at ACL this year, but the dang kid shot that plan to hell.

KEURIG

Love my new Keurig, though the sound it makes when brewing coffee is eerily reminiscent of my breast pump. *shudder*

primer

This primer will perk up even the dullest & driest of skins (i.e. mine). Her tinted moisturizer has a cult-like following, though I have never tried it myself. If there was ever a time to shell out $43 on moisturizer, this would be it.

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer- Radiance/ Sephora

What keeps you going during the week?

XO,

Elleigh

A Few of Our *Least* Favorite Things

As a follow up to our previous post, we thought it would be helpful to highlight some of our least favorites products of 2013, as well. We hate to be Negative Nellys, and we’re certain that there are plenty of people out there that absolutely love these things… Just not us. 

Our *Least* Favorite Baby Gear of 2013

mamaroo1. mamaROO– Aside from the aesthetics, which are totally not my style (hello Startrek!), I really wanted to like this one. Thankfully, I did not shell out $200 only to learn that my little booger did not in fact want to take a ride in the Cadillac of infant seats. I borrowed it from a friend, whose son coincidentally hated the Roo, as well. 

Learn more here.     $200

 

babybath2. Blooming Bath for Babies- So dang adorable, but not a practical option for me. Unfortunately, this flowery bath did not fit very well into our kitchen sink. Baby J was forced to sit completely upright, which not only made for a difficult bathing experience, but a pretty pissed off baby, too. Needless to say, my husband, Baby J, and myself were all scarred by the experience. No joke, we did not bathe him for 2+ weeks following that experience.

Buy the bath here, or contact me and I’ll sell you mine for half-price!     $40

ktan3. Baby K’Tan– I just know that the Baby K’Tan is a great product, and I sincerely hope that Baby #2 loves it, because he/she may not have much of a choice! Baby J despises infant carriers however, and trying to manipulate the K’Tan into place with a screaming baby just didn’t work for me. The B’jorn was also a no-go, but I can occasionally use the Ergo at the grocery store without someone calling CPS.

Check out the K’tan here.     $50

nosefrida4. Nosefrida- In addition to the ick-factor, this thing just can’t compete with the good ‘ole fashion blue bulb snot sucker that our moms used on us. No matter how hard I suck, I just can’t get the boogers out with the Frida.

See what all of the hype is about here. I’d offer you mine, but that’s just kind of gross.    $15

book5. Moms on Call Basic Baby Care: 0-6 Months– I read this book cover to cover leading up to the birth of sweet Baby J. I memorized the schedules and prepped my hubby on how our days with a newborn would play out. I just knew that things would fall right into place as the book suggests. WRONG! Trying to get an infant on a schedule is just flat out ridiculous, and it took two long months, a ton of tears, and a “Come to Jesus” talk with my husband to realize that I had lost my mind somewhere along the way.

*Do yourself a favor, and do not buy this book.*

 

XO,

Elleigh

LWO

Aunt Carrie’s Oatmeal Muffins

This recipe is one of my all time favorites. These unassuming muffins are hard to resist… They don’t last longer than a day in our home, which is why I only make them occasionally. My mom was kind enough to make me a batch almost every day for weeks following the delivering of Baby J. I also grew up eating these muffins, so they hold a special place in my heart, too. And as much as I would like to claim Aunt Carrie as my own, I can’t. This recipe is from the Raleigh House Cookbook, which is well-worth the $10 it costs used on Amazon. The Raleigh House Restaurant operated in the Hill Country of Texas for 34 years.

As a side note, I am taking over the blogging side of LWO, so you will primarily be hearing from me from now on. I’ve mentioned before that I really try to eat healthy during the week and indulge on the weekends guilt-free. Last night we went to happy hour at La Mancha, where we drank a few rounds of margaritas and ate more queso than I’d like to admit. Some might think it’s a little cold outside for a frozen drink. I couldn’t agree less. It is never too cold, too early, or too soon for a margarita.

We ate an obscene amount of food and paid the price of keeping Baby J out past his bedtime. Here’s a picture of our little nugget all bundled up… He’s pretty dang cute if you ask me. And yes, he has a very large head.

BabyJ

Aunt Carrie’s Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients

muffins1 cup quick oatmeal

1 cup buttermilk

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

*the original recipe calls for 3/4 c raisins, but I only like raisins in Raisin Bran cereal, so I leave them out!

Directions

Combine oats and buttermilk in a large bowl. Cover and let stand for an hour in refrigerator. Add sugar, eggs, and oil and mix well with a fork. Mix flour, baking powder, soda, and salt into a separate small mixing bowl. Add to buttermilk mixture, stirring again with a fork just until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not use an electric mixer. Add raisins if using. Spoon into greased muffin cups filling 3/4 full. Bake in a pre-heated 400 degrees oven about 20 minutes or until done in the center.

Yield: 12 muffins

To make a healthier version of the muffins, I will occasionally substitute any of the following ingredients:

  • flax eggs for eggs
  • 1/2 the amount of brown sugar
  • applesauce for oil
  • whole wheat flour for white flour

I don’t recommend using all of the substitutions at once, however.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I have throughout the years! Thanks Aunt Carrie!

XO,

Elleigh

-LWO

*muffin image from www.tasteofhome.com