Earlier this month I shared a somewhat surprising post about why I was actually excited for January this year – although that was before I knew just how cold it would get this month, ha! Basically I wanted to spark creativity in my life by challenging myself to design one print per day for the entire month. Now that we’re at the end of the month, I wanted to share an update as to how it worked out. Did I actually accomplish this?
Answer: Yes! I did! I designed a print, every day, no matter how late at night it was that I actually remembered to do it or how inspired I was feeling that day. I have two major takeaways from this challenge.
First, that I’m not very good at designing prints – at least not right now. Most of these prints are so terrible that I didn’t want to put them up on my office wall, much less share them on here. You see, it’s been years since I’ve really designed prints to any extent, and I’d lost my touch. In addition to being rusty, I didn’t spend much time at all trying to find inspiration for these prints, and when I don’t find inspiration, it really shows and the design is just kind of blah (like 70% of the prints are). So while it’s a bit of a downer that I’m not very good at print design right now, I think I know how to change that – if I want to. I’m confident that if I were to put forth the effort and the time needed, I could produce prints as good as the ones I designed in a corporate setting.
Second, that, even in these early stages of motherhood, I can make the time to do what I love, and it’s not even that hard. Sure, it wasn’t until late at night that I made some of these prints, but that was usually more due to me forgetting about it until then, as opposed to not having time for it until then. With having only one baby who still takes multiple naps a day, it’s not hard to take fifteen minutes or even a half hour to do something that I love.
So there’s that. January resolution, check! Now to see if I can keep this creativity spark alive for the rest of the year… stay tuned!
This post is the fourth in my At Home series (you can find the first about our fireplace here, the second about our nursery here, and the third about our master bathroom here).
Today I want to share some photos with you of our living room! Yay! Which we basically furnished for $100! Double yay! Wait, seriously? Yes, with two disclaimers:
The roughly $100 we spent to furnish the room did not include what we spent on paint for both the walls and the trim (in which case it would bring the total closer to $200).
We did not set out to only spend $100 on this room, it just kind of happened unintentionally. And we were more than okay with it.
All right, now that we have those disclaimers out of the way, let’s move on, shall we? I’m excited to share what our living room looks like now and let me tell you, it took awhile to get it this way. I had admired that it was always a light-filled, large, open, room at the front of our house, but in the months following our move, it really turned into a catch-all room and one that we didn’t use. At all. We instead focused our time and energy on other rooms that we used a lot more – like our family room and my office. One thing that was a big turn off for me in this room was the carpet. Let me tell you: it is UGLY. (I say “is” because unfortunately it’s still there. More on that in a minute). It’s different than the rest of the carpet in our house (thank goodness!) because it’s a lower tuft so it’s not very comfy and it’s a deep beige color with an orange tint in it. Kind of something you might expect to see in an office building from the 1970s. Yuck. Because we had already scheduled our master bathroom renovation at that point and knew we would want to renovate the kitchen afterwards, there was no way we would be able to replace the flooring in this room anytime soon. And so, mainly because I didn’t like the carpet, I dismissed the entire room and just left it as is.
A few months later, I happened to see someone post a free oriental rug on an online marketplace. My husband and I went and snatched it up that very day. It was HUGE and heavy and soaking wet because it had been sitting out on the curb in the rain all day, but it was free and it was ours and it ended up being a beautiful rug. We clean it, dried it, and put it in the living room, where it ended up covering most of the carpet. And finally, I started to feel inspired for the room. I picked out a neutral gray paint color, and with the help of a friend and some family, I painted the room and the trim (story of our house, painting trim!). Immediately the room brightened and, alas, the rug did not match anymore. It was too dark and too red for the room – see below.
So, I sold the rug and and bought a new lighter one for a $16 difference. If you’re wondering how we only spent $100 on the entire room, that rug is a large part of it. The rest of the furnishings were either:
a. Left at the house when we bought it (china cabinets)
b. Given to us (piano, round table, end table, green lamp, world map)
c. Bought by us (green chairs, silver lamp, silver table, rocking chair)
d. Made by us (wooden bin)
It all ended up coming together beautifully. I look at the room now and love how it looks while also being aware that it’s not totally finished quite yet. For one, the carpet is still there, albeit mostly covered by a rug. And, I’m not a fan of those open china cabinets – both the color and the fact that they’re mostly open, just not practical with kids around! I also like our rocking chair but it doesn’t match the rest of the room, so eventually it will need to be replaced with something else. And finally, one day this living room is going to double as our playroom, so the space that’s open by the wall with the Joy sign will eventually be filled with toys, bins, shelves, etc., but it makes sense to leave it empty for now.
So, in closing, while the room’s not technically 100% finished, it’s pretty close and it’s great for right now. We’re happy with another room that we’ve transformed in our home. Thanks for following me on this journey! Here are the “after” photos:
“Within the past six months I’ve been working towards incorporating more natural and toxin-free skincare products into my daily routine, at least where it made sense. I’ve almost completely switched out our household cleaning supplies to non-toxic products, thanks to wonderful brands like Seventh Generation and Norwex. Since skincare products are literally absorbed into my bloodstream, I figured that would be a pretty good place to focus on next! I am a huge fan of Beautycounter and how it only sells safe, nontoxic beauty products. Hopefully you’ll be hearing more about them from me in the future!”
Well, that mindset certainly hasn’t changed. I still love Beautycounter (I’m a consultant for them now) and since that date I did continue to switch over my skincare products to safe options . In fact, I’ve now totally made the switch to only using safe skincare products (YAY) and am currently working on switching out my makeup for safer options.
What has changed are the actual products that I use. Interestingly enough, I no longer use any of those three products I featured a year ago. Both the sunscreen and the rose water facial toner that I used at the time had some harmful ingredients in them, and while the vitamin C serum that I used was safe, I found another option that works better.
So, here are three products that I’m currently using daily – and as a side note, I use more than three products on my face each day, but today I’m choosing to only feature these three. Maybe in the future I’ll share my whole routine!
In my opinion, this is the best sheer sunscreen available. I love how easy it is to apply without making my skin feel oily, and Supergoop! is a safe brand I’m happy to support. I put this on every day before anything else. UV rays? No thank you!
This is now how I incorporate Vitamin C – known for its brightening and antiaging properties – into my daily routine. I put this on each evening before moisturizing, and I love how light it is for an oil. It hydrates my skin and has helped to diminish dark spots.
This post has been a long time coming for two reasons: one, because getting back in shape after having a baby took longer than I thought it would (more on that shortly). And two, because even after it happened I struggled a little bit with how to word this post.
Why? Because it is an extremely sensitive topic. As an avid fitness lover, I love reading other women’s stories of how they overcame obstacles to get back into or stay in shape, and I’ve been especially encouraged by hearing other mom’s stories. But I also know how easy it is to fall into the comparison trap. I know I sure have. Getting back into shape after having a baby is HARD work, and it presents different challenges for different moms. Some moms are able to bounce back more quickly than others, for some, it takes awhile to start looking like they did before they had a baby. I hope that you’ll find my story informative and encouraging– and that’s it! No need to compare it to your own. So here is my story:
When I was pregnant and eagerly anticipating not being pregnant anymore and holding my baby in my arms, I thought it would be a fun challenge to lose the baby weight considering I had never needed to lose weight before. No sarcasm here, I truly did think it would be fun. I pictured myself eating only the healthiest of foods and doing all of the pre-pregnancy strenuous workouts I used to do as soon as I was cleared by my doctor.
I had a smaller than average baby, but I did not have a smaller than average weight gain. I gained 30 pounds and still had 15 more to lose after we left the hospital.
To me, 15 pounds seemed like a lot of extra weight, but it was also fairly easy to hide. I got dressed like a normal person and left my baby briefly for the first time for an event one evening when she was two weeks old. I was talking to a group of other women who I had just met at the event and it came up in the conversation that I had a two-week-old at home. They all started gushing about how great I looked and how I didn’t look at all like I’d just had a baby. I should have been thankful for their encouragement but at the time, all I could think was I may look great but I feel awful. At that point, I was waking up every two hours to feed the baby (which was normal, but still tough!) and it meant I felt like I was constantly moving through a sluggish haze all day.
A couple weeks after that my doctor cleared me to begin working out again, which I did right away, eager to get the weight off. But I had to stop working out after only a few days back into the routine as some of the symptoms I’d experienced shortly after giving birth started to return. I waited a week and began again, and it was better this time, hard as it was with the lack of sleep. And eventually, the weight started coming off. I had hoped it would take three months and it ended up taking five. In the words of Rachel Hollis, here’s what worked for me:
Consistency. This is SO key. You’re never going to get results without consistency. Once I started back up with my workout routine, I never stopped. Sure, I sometimes have the time and energy for a harder workout and some days my only exercise ends up being yoga or a walk, but I make sure to get something in 5-6 days every week. Every workout instructor or trainer that I’ve had has reiterated this truth. Stick with it.
2. Sleep. It’s so very important for your health and wellbeing, and yet I don’t think any of us realize just how essential it is until we don’t have it. I’ve read some studies that have shown that it’s harder to lose weight when you’re tired or stressed. I definitely saw that to be the case with me. When I got out of the tired fog of the first three months and my baby started sleeping through the night (yay!) is when I actually started to see some results and lose most of the first ten pounds.
3. Healthy Eating. This has been a struggle for me, I’m not going to lie. I had all of these ambitions to only eat the healthiest of foods after I had the baby and to lost a lot of the weight that way, but that didn’t happen. I have had to eat more than I had planned on because of nursing – I feel like I’m still just about as hungry as I was when I was pregnant. And that’s totally fine, but eating more food makes it easier to eat more food that’s not great for me. I’m still trying to find that balance, but overall it’s improved. My favorite way to start the day is with a green smoothie loaded with nutritional value or with a hot bowl of oatmeal topped with lots of fruit. Healthy starts mean I’m more likely to stick with it the rest of the day!
4. Yoga. I’ve done yoga off and on throughout the past few years, but I’ve really fallen in love with it these past is months. It’s actually kind of funny how it started: the first month or two after my daughter was born, I was SO tired in the mornings because I’d been up with her multiple times during the night. Even after dragging myself out of bed with a cup (or two) of coffee, the thought of doing an intense, high-energy workout just wasn’t going to happen most days. So I started doing Yoga With Adriene in the morning. It was good for my body to find gentle movement and helped to shake off the brain fog. I found that I loved it so much I’m still doing it most days in addition to my regular workouts – right now I’m doing her annual 30 day yoga journey – I can’t recommend it enough for a great at home yoga practice. It’s especially helped to strengthen my core, something I’ve been focusing on post baby.
5. Mom’s Workout Class. I’m a member of Baby Boot Camp Columbus, which I found when my baby was less than two months old. It’s a mom’s workout class that holds several classes each week (outside in warmer months, inside in the colder months) and it’s taught by certified group fitness instructors. Every week I go and just about every week I want to die – yes, the workout is that hard. I wanted something that would push me harder than I would push myself when I work out on my own, and this sure does! Without a doubt I wouldn’t have been able to be as successful with losing baby weight and regaining strength without this class, and it’s been great to do it alongside other young moms.
So that’s my story–for now! That’s where I am today after having my first baby. And, if you’re still reading, please know that all of this is 1,000% worth it. I wouldn’t trade any of my experience for the world, because it means I get to hold my sweet, precious, healthy baby daughter. She truly is my greatest gift!
Okay, you can definitely file this under Blog Posts I Never Thought I’d Write. Because, if you’ve been following along for pretty much any amount of time, you’ll know that I really hate winter. And January is most certainly winter, no doubt about it. It’s usually a somewhat depressing month, with the holidays being over, the days are still pretty short, and the weather is just cold, dreary and grey (fun side note, if you live in Ohio like I do, you haven’t seen the sun since 2018!).
So why am I excited about it then? Because last month I decided that I wanted to change my mindset about January this year and actually give myself something to be excited about that month: I wanted to spark creativity.
I wanted to return to what I love doing, what I haven’t been making time for as a new mom, what I used to do all the time and have all but completely stopped. I want to design. For me, designing is the ultimate form of creativity. For you, it might be something else. Whatever it is, make time for it! Being creative is never a waste of time. We all need an outlet.
My goal is to design one print per day for the month of January – that’s 31 prints total! I cut out little squares ahead of time so that all I have to do is take 10-15 minutes each day to sketch, draw, color, whatever on a square. When I’m finished with a print, I’m taping it to the wall in my office. At the end of the month I will have a large mosaic of prints – how cool is that? Some will be good, some will probably be pretty bad. And I am okay with that, because like I already said, being creative is never a waste of time. January, let’s do this!