My 2015 Summer Bucket List

my 2015 summer bucket list

It feels like I just sat down to my computer to write last year’s summer bucket list! How is it that it’s that time again? About this time last year I found out I was pregnant, so obviously a lot has happen and changed since then on my end! Last year’s list was such a success and really got me motivated to accomplish things when all I really wanted to do was sleep all day. If you followed along last year, you’ll remember that my husband planned my birthday based on the things on my list, so I joked that this year I should add things like “buy diamond earrings” and “take an Italian vacation” just in case he needed some pointers :)

Lots of the things on my list were on there last year. They came up again because I either a) loved them so much I wanted an “excuse” to do them again or b) I didn’t complete them last year and wanted to give myself another chance. The goal is to complete these all between the start of Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day (May 22-September 7).

Okay, here we go with my list…

  • Take Cecilia to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park at least once 
  • Go to the beach at least three times – I seriously think I went once last year. Ugh.
  • Read the books on my Summer Reading List – 10 books! I can do it!
  • Make at least three new ice cream flavors – I’m taking requests if you have any!
  • Exercise at least three times a week – I’ve been pretty consistent with going to Stroller Strides 3-4 times a week and hope to keep it up during the summer.
  • Go for solo runs at least twice a month – I haven’t been out on a run by myself since I was pregnant. I’d love to run another half marathon this year (it will be my 5th) so solo runs will be a training must!
  • Fit back into my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans – My skinnys were S-K-I-N-N-Y! I was able to button them up for the first time the other day, but it was not pretty. Can we say muffin top? I want to be able to button them and for them to fit well and not like I’m trying too hard for them to fit.
  • Have fresh flowers in my house at all times – I did that last summer and have been doing it pretty consistently the past couple of months. They make me smile and I want that to continue.
  • Take a spontaneous family day trip 
  • Send 10 handwritten cards – I did this one last year and wanted to do it again. Who doesn’t love getting and receiving gorgeous handwritten cards. Just maybe I’ll send them out on one of my personalized stationary picks!
  • Start making baby food for Cecilia – I cannot tell you how excited I am about this one. I’ve been thinking about it since last summer!
  • Have a date night at least once a month – YES!
  • Go to at least three outdoor concerts – First up on the calendar – The Rolling Stones on May 24!
  • Successfully make a loaf of bread – I think I’ve killed the yeast every single time I’ve tried. I WILL do it this summer!
  • Work through Bon Appetit’s list of 20 Cooking Techniques Every Home Chef Should Master – I can do most, if not all, of these, but I want to go through them officially. Stay tuned!
  • Make jam to enjoy throughout the winter – This really should be on my Foodie Bucket List, too, because I’ve been wanting to do this forever!
  • Have at least one picnic in the park
  • Go to at least one new museum
  • Purge and organize each room of our condo – I’m in a total post-baby nesting stage, so I have to take full advantage and clean out our space.
  • Go to a drive-in movie theater – So, the last movie I saw at a drive-in was Jurassic Park when it first came out. I think I’m due again.
  • Go to a city I’ve never been to – It doesn’t have to be far away, just somewhere I’ve never been and want to explore.
  • Have fun and enjoy each day with my little family to the fullest! – This should be on all our lists, right?

Just like last year, I’ll check in a few times this summer with updates in order to help keep me accountable for what’s on my list :)

What’s on your list? For more ideas, check out my 2014 Summer Bucket List!

My 2015 Summer Reading List

my 2015 summer reading list

What is it about summer that makes me want to make a “to read” list? I don’t do it for any other season and it’s not like I’m still in school and have summers free to finally read for fun. Either way, I love to scope out books ahead of time to add to my list and imagine myself reading them while soaking up the sun on the beach. Side note: I hardly ever read on the beach, so I have no idea why that picture always comes to mind. :)

Last summer, I had high hopes of reading a ton of books, but the entire time I was pregnant I had absolutely no patience for reading. Not that it takes a ton of patience to sit down and read a book, but for some reason, reading was the last thing I wanted to do. I want this year to be different, so I’m making a lofty goal for myself to read 10 books between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Most of the books on my list are newer, except for Angels & Demons which has been on my “to read” list for a while since I’ve read all of the Robert Langdon books except for this one and DaVinci Code.

Please feel free to read along with me since I’ll be chatting up each of these books here! And if you have any other suggestions to add or thoughts on these, let me know!

All the Light We Cannot See  by Anthony Doerr – I’ve heard about this book from a few other bloggers, so I’m excited to read it myself.

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams – This book has the word “summer” in it, so it’s got to be a good summer read, right?

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – This New York Times Bestseller about the collapse of a civilization due to a flu epidemic.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella – I must admit I love the Shopoholic books by Sophie Kinsella, so I’m interested in reading her newest book and first in the young adult genre.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – The name of this book is enough to suck me in and see what it’s all about!

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown – I love me a Robert Langdon book. As I mentioned, I’ve read them all except the two most popular ones that started it all!

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh – I’m excited to read this one that goes deep and uncovers the dark side of a seemingly idyllic neighborhood and charmed characters.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton – Family secrets, murder and love. This book has it all!

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – Alice’s life is going great, but then one day she awakens on the floor of the gym and realizes it is 10 years on from her last memory and her life and relationships are in shambles. Is it bad that this really intrigues me?

The Andy Cohen Diaries by Andy Cohen – Okay, so I’m kinda cheating on this one because I started reading the book when Cecilia was first born and totally got sidetracked since. I’m back to reading it and I love it’s juiciness. Hello my name is Christina and I’m a Bravoholic!

Alright, there’s my list! Read along and feel free to suggest others I should add!

Happy Summer Reading!

 

Monday Musings

monday musings
How was your weekend? On Sunday for Mother’s Day we had a french toast breakfast at one of our favorite neighborhood spots then met up with some friends and their kids at the zoo. It was Cecilia’s first trip (of what I’m sure will be many) and, of course, she slept through most of it! Afterward, we came home and she took a nice long nap while I did some reading, so it was a great, laid back day! Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all you mamas out there!

Isn’t the orchid above absolutely gorgeous? I’ve tried to have orchids twice and both times were incredibly unsuccessful. My dad and aunt on the other hand, pretty much just have to look at an orchid and it grows tall and beautiful. Obviously I’m exaggerating about this and they put a boat load of work into their orchids, but seriously, one day…

Mad Men was soooo good last night! Can you believe Betty’s storyline? Since everyone’s storyline is getting wrapped up, I’m sad that we may not see anymore of Joan and Betty :( I’m still in complete denial that the show is almost over. Wah!

I can’t believe there is only one more Mad Men episode. Ever. This past TV season has been so depressing for me because three of my favorite shows (including Mad Men) are ending. First it was Sons of Anarchy then Parenthood and now Mad Men. In my opinion these three are three of the best shows to ever be on television. I haven’t liked a new show in a really long time, so I’m hoping some good ones pop up next season to fill the void of these shows!

Later this week, we’re embarking on our first trip as a family of three when we take a road trip to my home in the San Francisco Bay Area. This trip is an annual trip to take part in the Bay to Breakers 12K. Last year I (unknowingly) ran the race pregnant so it’s crazy that this year I’ll be there with my 3 1/2 month old! What a difference a year makes! We’re making the trip a mini road trip, so be sure to follow along via Instagram as we make the scenic trip north!

We won’t be coming back from our trip until late Monday, so I’ll see you back here in two weeks!

Personalized Stationary

I love sending and receiving hand-written cards. I mean, who doesn’t?

I also love shopping for gorgeous cards and personalized stationary. Yup, I’m the person who will totally spend $7 on a birthday card if it’s beautiful and fits the person who’s receiving it and the occasion. Oh, and I also buy special pens for when I’m preparing to write and send out a batch of cards. I did it when I sent our wedding and baby thank you notes and I do it every year when I send out holiday cards. The pen always writes perfectly, matches the color scheme of the card and can’t be used for anything else until all the cards have been mailed. I’m probably the only person who notices, but that’s totally fine with me because I’m a total perfectionist when it comes to cards, pens and stationary.

That all being said, I love cruising sites and stores for gorgeous stationary. Here are a few of my current favorites from Minted

personalized stationary

top: Starlight | Poppy Talk
middle: Marais | Faded Chev
bottom: MajesticEasy Elegance

Do you have a love affair with stationary like I do? Post links below to some of your favorites!

For more of my faves, check out my Pinterest board.

April Bluum Box

Yay! It’s time for our second Bluum Box review!

april bluum box

I loved our first Bluum Box, so I was so pumped to receive our second one this week. It really is such a fun treat to get each month and I love discovering new companies and products for babies and moms. Also, the box is packaged beautifully and is so bright and cheery, that it automatically brings a smile to my face. I’ve never been so excited to open a package that’s not for me! :)

april bluum box

Here’s a rundown of this month’s goodies…

april bluum box

Hello, Chick – A peekaboo adventure book
I think I’ve read this book to Cecilia about 10 times already. It’s great because I’ve been able to talk to her about all the animals in the book and she loves to look at them all. She’s got quite the book collection already, and I’m glad to add this one to the bunch.

april bluum box

Boudreaux’s Rash Preventor
I think this is a new product from Boudreaux’s because the company is requesting feedback from those who receive it and use it. Knock on wood, our little one hasn’t yet had a diaper rash, so I can’t really attest to how this product will work in the near future, but I’m sure it will be great for those little ones who are prone to getting a rash!

april bluum box

Angel Dear Swaddle Blanket
I was so happy to get something from Angel Dear again this month! If you remember I got two “lovies” from them last month that my daughter loves. I’d never heard of them prior and I’ve been cruising their site on the daily staring at their gorgeous products. This blanket is much larger that our other blankets and is soooooo soft.

april bluum boxAh Goo Baby Pacifier Tote
I had actually been wanting one of these, but couldn’t find a cute one at the baby stores I’d gone to, so I was happy to get this adorable one for the diaper bag. Perfect timing by Bluum Box! This was the gift “for mom” versus “for baby” which I thought was a bit weird, but oh well. The tote is cute, so I’m fine :)

Overall, I liked the items I received this month. The box was valued at over $50 and I paid $23 for it all with my 3-month subscription. I love that this box is full of fun things and is something to look forward to each month. If you’re interested in signing up, you can do so here!

Until next month!

Disclosure: I was not paid by Bluum Box to write this post, but if you click on one of the links above and sign up for three or more months, I do receive a referral credit toward future monthly boxes. All opinions are my own.

Monday Musings

monday musings

How was your weekend? We had a fun outing on Saturday evening and took Cecilia to the beach for the first time! I’ve been wanting to take her, but since you’re not “supposed to” put sunscreen on babies until they’re six months, I haven’t wanted to take her during the day. Saturday evening was good weather for it, so we took the short trip from our place to Coronado and let her get a feel for the sand with her feet. Not sure how she felt about it, but this certainly won’t be her last trip there for us to find out.

I loved last night’s Mad Men episode! I loved how strong Joan was during most of it, but was a bit letdown when she gave in to the jerks at McCann. I can’t believe there are only TWO episodes left! With all the junk that went on with the Sterling Cooper crowd in their first days at McCann, I just wonder how things will end up with them. Also, I can’t help but think Don and Betty will get back together. Am I crazy for thinking that?

So since I’m home in the afternoons now, I love watching Ellen.  Seriously, how much does she rock? Not only do I think she is hilarious, but she is so incredibly generous. I cry almost every episode when she presents an incredible person with a big check from Shutterfly. I’ve tried to get into her audience three times and I’m determined to get in one day!

Congratulations to the Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of her and Prince William’s daughter, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana! And yay for a baby girl being in line for the throne! I’m glad the royal baby watch is finally over and I can go back to NOT checking Twitter non-stop for possible updates.

Oh, and if you were wondering after that last statement, yes – I did wake up at 2am the day of the Royal Wedding four years ago to watch it live. And I ate English scones while I did so. Ha!

As you can tell from my picture above, I’ve been super busy during Cecilia’s nap times. As I mentioned last week, I’m in the middle of crazy post-baby nesting syndrome. If that’s not a thing, I just totally named it. Let’s call it PBNS for short. Anyway, last week I organized most of our kitchen cabinets/pantry and Cecilia’s clothes since she’s gradually growing out of her 0-3 month clothes and into her 3-6 month threads. My label maker is getting some good use again!

Remember there’s still time to enter the giveaway I have going for a Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Coffeemaker! It’s a great prize!

Boozy Iced Coffee Float + GIVEAWAY!

Summer is coming…I can feel it.

boozy iced coffee float

Store catalogs coming in the mail are filled with bright colors and tropical prints and home stores are starting to stock outdoor furniture. Yes, yes, summer is coming.

I know I’m spoiled living in San Diego, so it’s not like I’m busting out of my house yelling “free at last” now that the weather is getting nicer and snow isn’t blanketing everything around me. Event though the weather is pretty stinking awesome here all year-round, the onset of summer still excites me for so many reasons. Some of which are…

I love the smell of sunscreen.

I love wearing my bright colored J.Crew shorts (I own these shorts in about five different colors).

I love baseball.

I love driving around on a warm summer evening with my windows down and my radio blaring.

I love a good summer beach read.

I love that it stays light out for so long.

I love enjoying a cool adult beverage as the temperature outside rises.

Last summer I wasn’t able to enjoy any cooling adult beverages because I was pregnant, so I’m looking forward to having an occasional cold one this year. This boozy drink is perfect for when you would want (and need!) the kick of a mixed drink and some caffeine all-in-one. Oh, and there’s ice cream in it. Seriously, it’s happiness in a glass.

boozy iced coffee float

I made this drink using the 2-Way FlexBrew Coffeemaker from Hamilton Beach. Honestly, I love this machine because it’s like two coffeemakers all-in-one. On one side you can use your favorite beans to brew a full 12-cup pot for when you need an extra pick-me-up or when you’re entertaining guests and on the other side you can brew a single serving of your favorite coffee. Now, here’s what separates this machine from others – for the single serve side, you can use your beloved coffee beans OR single-serve packs like K-Cups. Bonus! I’ve been trying a few different types of K-cups the past couple of weeks, and I am so obsessed. In addition to coffee, I’ve used K-cups in the FlexBrew to make a cold strawberry lemonade, hot chocolate and espresso. You can’t beat that from one appliance!

boozy iced coffee float + giveawayFor all of it’s flexibility and everything it can do, the 2-Way FlexBrew Coffeemaker is sooooo simple to use and clean. It’s design is sleek and it is the perfect addition to my kitchen counter. I honestly never used to like to make coffee at home and now I’ve done it almost everyday – LOVE!

And now for the fun part! Hamilton Beach has kindly offered to send one of my lucky readers one of these fantastic FlexBrews! To enter, just use the widget below (after the recipe). There are multiple ways you can enter, so be sure to do them all to increase your chances!

In case you aren’t the lucky winner, you can find and purchase the 2-Way FlexBrew Coffeemaker at a Wal-Mart near you!

Good luck!

Boozy Iced Coffee Float
Yields 1 drink

Ingredients
1 cup brewed coffee, chilled (I used a Kona blend light roast K-Cup)
1 tablespoon half and half
1 tablespoon Kahlua
1 tablespoon tequila
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 generous scoop good-quality vanilla ice cream
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  • Brew coffee
  • To chill coffee, let stand for one hour at room temperature, then chill in the fridge for another hour until cold.
  • Place the coffee, half and half, Kahlua, tequila and vanilla bean paste in a glass and mix thoroughly until all is combined.
  • Add ice cream to the glass and give a slight stir to make sure the ice cream isn’t all floating on top.
  • Top with cinnamon.
  • Enjoy!
Click here to view this promotion.

*Disclaimer: I was honored to be asked to receive and review the Hamilton Beach 2-Way FlexBrew Coffeemaker mentioned in this post by the company. Hamilton Beach will also provide one reader with the coffeemaker. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

*Terms & Conditions: The giveaway will be open until May 11, 2015 at 11:59pm EST and the winner will be notified by email by May 12, 2015. The winner will need to respond within 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be chosen. Winner must be 18 years of age and reside in the 50 United States or Washington, D.C. to win. The prize will be mailed by Hamilton Beach and cannot be shipped to a P.O. Box.

Monday Musings

monday musings

How was your weekend?

Don’t you love that cheery Spring flowers (like the ranunculus above) are filling up your grocery stores and farmer’s markets????

Mad Men time – what did you think? I thought the episode was the best so far this half of the season and it makes me even more excited for the last few. Who else wanted Peggy to tell Stan that Pete was the father of her baby? And who else wants Stan and Peggy to get together????

Is post-pregnancy nesting a thing? If so, I’m sooooo in the thick of it! I’ve seriously been cruising Pinterest for inspiration and am on the Container Store and IKEA websites on the daily to find what I need. I started with Cecilia’s room, but then got fed up with how unorganized my kitchen cabinets are right now, so then I started in on them. Then I thought of about 10 other projects I wanted to do around the house. I’m so pumped and just hope that my energy keeps and it doesn’t fizzle half-way through each room of condo.

I’m getting back into Goodreads now that I have some time and energy to read so what are you reading right now? I’m trying to set up a summer reading list and would love recs about books you’ve read and loved or books on your “to read” list.

I’m also working on my second annual summer bucket list and will unveil it here next month! Are you working on yours? If you need a bit of a jump start check out my 2014 summer bucket list.

Last week I attended my first Mom’s Night Out with Stroller Strides. It was so great to have a night out with my new pals and be surrounded by strong women who share similar experiences. Can’t wait to continue to get to know these awesome ladies and their babies!

Did you see this ad video making the rounds on Facebook this week where kids are blindfolded and have to pick their mom out a lineup of ladies by touching them, smelling them, etc? I was in tears! How special!

Five Favorites: Baby Items, Part Two

What a difference another six weeks makes!

favorite baby items, part two

I feel like once Cecilia hit two months, she was a whole different baby and went from really being a newborn to an infant. I know that doesn’t sound like much of a change, but it totally was! I feel like after the two month mark, everyday she wakes up she does something new or something better than she did the day before. While I’m still loving all the baby items I wrote about in part one of my favorite baby items, now that Cecilia is six weeks older, I have a whole other list of favorites to talk about now that we’ve moved into infant-hood!

Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags – The double zipper on these bags is what makes them better than others I’ve tried. I tried the Medela ones, and each bag leaked. Boo! These have been fantastic and no leaks so far! One thing I have found is that the measurements on the bags is a bit different than what my bottles measure, so I make sure to measure in my bottles then write that measurement on the bag versus what the bag says.

The Boppy Pillow – So I wasn’t a fan of the Boppy in my first round of favorites, but I love it now. I still don’t use it for feeding, but now that she’s older, I use it to prop up Cecilia while she’s lounging on the couch and for tummy time. My husband even likes to use the Boppy as a cushion for his back when it baby isn’t using it and said we should just keep it for ourselves once she doesn’t use it anymore :)

Tiny Love Gymini Super Deluxe Play Mat – This mat is where Cecilia does all of her floor time playing (you can see a picture of her on it here). It plays music, lights up, has a squeaky toy built in, a bunch of hanging toys and a mirror. When we put her on the mat and turn on the music (Mozart and nursery rhymes are the two options we have to choose from), she starts smiling, cooing and kicking her feet. We’ve named all of the animals (I call them her friends) and have fun playing and talking with them multiple times each day. This mat is also great for tummy time because she loves to look at herself in the mirror so having one on the mat encourages her to lift her head/neck higher.

Dapple Dish Soap (fragrance free) – LOVE this soap! When I first started washing bottles and pump parts, I used my regular dish soap. After just a few days, I noticed the bottles started to smell like the dish soap. Ick! There was also a thin layer of milk residue lining all of my bottles even though I washed them multiple times to try and get it all off. I found Dapple on Amazon, bought it and loved it! It got rid of the build up with just one wash and within a couple of washes, the dish soap smell was no more. An added bonus is I found out they sell this at Target, so I can pick it up an extra bottle whenever I’m there!

Pottery Barn Kids Chamois Stroller Blanket – Holy soft blanket, Batman! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this blanket. I tell my husband at least once a week that I wish they sold one in my size. I’m tempted to buy four of them and sew them together so I can have one for me to use when I curl up on the couch. This blanket is so soft and is actually really easy to get stains out of – even on the white side of the blanket – which is a bonus for anything for babies. It’s available in a ton of different colors to match any nursery and can even be personalized.

There you have it – another round of baby item favorites! Stay tuned for the next edition in a few weeks!

Disclosure: This was not a sponsored post and I have no affiliation with any of these companies besides the fact that I use and love their products :)

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Can we say new favorite book?

book review: the girl on the train by paula hawkins

I finished The Girl on the Train a few days ago…at 1am. You know it’s a good book when you’re at a time in your life when you have an almost three-month-old and sleep is at a premium and you stay up until 1am to finish a book. A few nights ago, I even stayed up for an hour after my 3am pumping session to read. That, my friends, is how you know you’ve found an excellent book.

I first heard about this book when Reese Witherspoon mentioned it on her Instagram account. A few days after that, I came across the book again when someone mentioned it was the new Gone Girl. Done. I bought right then.

The story is told from the point-of-view of three different women – Rachel, Anna and Megan. Rachel is a divorced alcoholic, Anna is Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife with whom he had an affair with while he was married and Megan is a neighbor from down the road. The lives of the three woman overlap in different and unexpected ways. Each of the women are deeply flawed and have lives that aren’t what they seem to be on the outside. This book isn’t as much of a thriller as Gone Girl until the end, but it doesn’t disappoint. The story is incredibly intriguing, but for most of the book, you’re not really sure where it will go and how it will end. For some books, that can be a total turn-off, but not for this one; the intrigue keeps you sucked in and the shocking end is the huge payoff. Stories can often get muddy when you go back and forth between different narrators, but Paula Hawkins does this seamlessly without feeling like you’re missing out on details. The voice of each narrator is strong and I didn’t feel like I was aching for one person’s side of the story to end, so I could get back to another’s.

The Girl on the Train is incredibly addictive and one I highly recommend. This novel is the Paula Hawkin’s debut and I look forward to reading more from her in the future!