Spring is in the air (finally)! That means it’s time to spring clean. This week is Earth Week and it is a great reminder that we should be mindful of our earth and instead of throwing things away find ways to recycle them.
The organization, Second Chance Toys (SCT), rescues, cleans and redistributes gently used plastic toys to children in need. It’s part of a huge effort underway – organized by SCT and 1-800-Got-Junk. The two have partnered not only to help disadvantaged kids – but also to keep these toys out of the landfills.
Do an act of kindness this week by putting toys in the hands of underprivileged kids, teaching more privileged children to donate the toys they’ve outgrown and helping to keep thousands of pounds of non-biodegradable waste out of our landfills.
Families can drop off toys at any of these LOCATIONS in the NY, NJ, PA, MA, D.C. areas.
I love talking with new mamas. It brings me back to those early months with my first baby girl and how life-changing, crazy, confusing, amazing, wonderful, emotional and brilliant it was. It’s one of those “you don’t know until you’ve actually experienced it” things. You just can’t explain how you are feeling, thinking, surviving during those first few days/weeks/months. That is definitely one common bond all mamas share.
I had the chance to chat with new mom and fashion blogger, Elaine of SEE LARK!. She is brutally honest about life as a new mama so all you new mamas and mamas-to-be will definitely be able to relate. She also shares how she looks so pulled together and how you can look that way too, really! (even though you haven’t slept in days, can’t remember what your last meal was and just had a meltdown!). Read on to get the scoop…And seriously how ridiculously adorable is her son!?!?
Fit Fab Mommy (FFM): How/Why did you start See Lark?
See Lark! (SL): I have had a lot of life events in the past 4-5 years such as buying a house, planning a wedding, having a baby, etc . With each one, I discovered a new found joy of decorating, completing a DIY project, finding something I coveted at a discount, and (of course) dressing for all these special occasions. I started SEE LARK! as a way to share my interests and practice photography. A great side benefit is that I have a chronicle of life events that I can look back upon and share with my family.
FFM: Congratulations on your new role as mama! What was the biggest shock/biggest adjustment for you from no child to mommy hood?
SL: This was a tough question for me to succinctly answer. There are a lot of adjustments and surprises, but I think the biggest adjustment is defining my role and expectations as a new mother. Before baby, responsibilities were clear between me and my husband and there was always time to take care of myself. The first few weeks we were all out of sorts and I wasn’t sure where or how I should spend my time. If I spent it away from baby I would feel guilty, if I did all the baby-related tasks I would feel a little resentful. I think I am balancing out now and my husband and I have our new responsibilities figured out (he is good with diapering, I do baby’s laundry) so we are figuring it out.
FFM: What were your three favorite items when you were pregnant?
SL: Yoga blocks, Hatch maternity line, and cocoa butter lotion. Yoga is a great stress reliever and yoga blocks were a life saver for me, especially in the third trimester. I would use them as an assist in stretching, sit on them to adjust my pelvis, and just to have around to help me off the floor or couch! Maternity fashion has definitely improved and the Hatch Collection pieces, even if just a couple, just makes you feel prettier while pregnant. Their high-quality legging, a v-neck tee, and a dress are what I would recommend. The pieces are really flattering and totally acceptable to wear when not pregnant (I still wear the leggings and plan to wear a couple of their dresses in the Spring time). This line is a bit of a splurge, but you can find an occasional discount by shopping their sale section or looking on Gilt which has a flash sale with this brand on a semi-regular basis. Finally, as your skin stretches it gets itchy. I got into a good practice of using cocoa butter lotion after showers every day. I think it helped me reduce stretch marks as well.
FFM: What did you wear home from the hospital?
SL: A plaid dress by Hatch, black loafers, and a Club Monaco cocoon coat. No one ever talks about what happens after birth and the fact that you will still look pregnant. Therefore, loose silhouettes are ideal for those first few weeks after delivery.
FFM: How do you stay comfy, yet look so fashionable now that you are a mom?
SL: Fortunately, the trend these days is “athletic chic” so mixing style with comfort is much more achievable. I look for things that are both true to my personal style (simple, clean lines, and anything black, white or gray), functional, and I am firm believer in layering. For example, a pair of distressed boyfriend or slouchy skinny jeans is my go-to piece. Then I choose a henley or a button-down shirt (something nursing friendly) to wear on top and then add a scarf (that can double as a nursing cover) and leather jacket or a drapey coat.
FFM: 5 items all new moms need to own?
SL: Boyfriend jeans, red lipstick, shape wear, smartphone, and Blue Apron. The boyfriend jeans and red lipstick really helps you feel a little glam and like your old self in this first few weeks. Shape wear makes you feel secure if you have to go out and wear something other than sweatpants soon after giving birth. We all have smartphones but mine is an extension of my arm these days. I use it to track diaper changes, naps, feedings, blog, read blogs, online shop, pay bills…all while holding or nursing baby. Finally, Blue Apron is a game changer for dinners. You don’t have to think about planning dinner and the meals are well balanced.
FFM: Baby essentials – items you can’t live without for your little one?
SL: Breast Friend nursing pillow, Kickee Pants onesies, Fisher Price Cradle N’ Swing. The Brest Friend is the best nursing pillow out there. It really helps you hold baby up higher which your shoulders will thank you for later. Kickee Pants are the softest onesies I have ever encountered, they are my go-to for baby pajamas and as baby gifts. I’d like to think I have an “average” sleeper on my hands but who knows! But what I do know is that coupled with tight swaddling and the sound of running water, the Fisher Price Cradle and Rock swing really puts my guy to sleep so much more easily at night than me rocking him to sleep. It’s another game changer!
FFM: Do you think your style has changed since becoming a mom, if so, how. And what is the one or two items you probably won’t wear when you are with you baby?
SL: This is a great question. Before having a baby I wouldn’t think twice about material or care instructions, but for now I steer clear of silk and anything that is dry clean only! Also, I have to put the dresses with a crew neck collar on the back burning…who wants to lift up their entire dress to feed baby?!
FFM: How do you make work/life balance?
SL: Check in with me in June when I have had a few months of work under my belt! Right now I am on maternity leave so it makes work/life balance a little easier. I go back in March and to be honest, I am a little anxious. I do think it’s important to define what balance looks like for you. I think a common misconception is that balance is that both work and life are great and equally fulfilled at the same time. To me, balance is knowing when one may take back burner for awhile. This may mean that I will want to focus on life and be as efficient and productive with work during work hours and try to limit working late hours (which my job can often demand).
FFM: What do you find most challenging about being a first time mama?
SL: As a first time mother, you don’t have a point of comparison. It’s hard to know what is normal and you end up second guessing yourself a lot or benchmarking your kid with someone else’s. I know the advice if ‘you know what will work best for you and baby’ is conceptually correct, but that sixth sense doesn’t kick in automatically.
FFM: What do you love most about being a mom?
SL: I knew I would love my baby boy, but I wasn’t prepared for how much I would love him until he was born. The amount of love and joy just cannot be described in words. That “feeling” is what is best about being a mom. It’s the looks, that first smile, it’s knowing that he loves you back unconditionally and that your voice and touch brings him comfort. I’m tearing up just writing this!
FFM: Words of wisdom for mamas-to-be…
SL: It will take time but pick and choose (and have confidence in your decisions) from the flurry of advice you will get from parenting books, online, and from friends and family. When you feel ready, carve out time for yourself to workout, get a mani/pedi, or for some fresh air. Get dressed everyday, it will help your mindset and mood. Lastly, find good girlfriends or a new parent support group to talk to, be it venting, sharing good and bad experiences…anything that helps you emotionally and have a since of belonging.
I love buying hair accessories for my girls. Bows, barrettes, headbands, you name it. The bigger, the better. So you can imagine how excited I was when I found the company So Bailey.
Each month you receive a variety of bows, headbands, flowers or barrettes delivered right to your door. It’s like birch box for hair bows. It’s fabulous! I just got my Valentine’s day box and it came with 3 items: 2 headbands and 1 bow. I’m officially obsessed and so are my girls (well my big one at least, the little one doesn’t have a choice lol).
What little girl wouldn’t love receiving a box of new hair accessories in the mail each month? It’s a great gift idea too. We have been testing out our new hair accessories all week and can’t wait to get our next box! Get your March box for only $10 and FREE SHIPPING, just go to SoBailey.com and enter code: FB10.
What if I told you those three ingredients pictured above, when combined together make a delicious and healthy dessert. Would you believe me? When talking about dessert, delicious AND healthy aren’t usually used in the same sentence, we often sacrifice one or the other.
I used 3 ingredients, purple sweet potato, frozen banana and unsweetened almond milk to make this delicious, purple ice cream sorbet. I put it to the test with my biggest critic, my 3 1/2 year old daughter. She not only loved the color (slight purple obsession), she asked for a second serving! It’s a great way to get some fruit and veggie servings in (while satisfying your sweet tooth) for the little ones and for yourself.
-1/2 medium sized purple sweet potato (cooked, should be cold from refrigerator, not hot or frozen)
-1 small frozen banana (it’s important that it is fully frozen to get that creamy texture)
– 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1. Chop banana into small pieces and combine all ingredients in blender or food processor.
2. Blend until smooth and creamy (don’t over blend or it will turn into liquid)
I love smoothies, especially in the morning after a workout. Some of them can be calorie bombs and lack in nutritional value. I found one on one of my favorite blogs Skinnytaste.com called the Skinny Green Monster. With just a few simple ingredients you can refuel in a healthy way.
The recipe below was taken from Skinnytaste.com. I used Fage Greek Yogurt instead of Chobani and I also said you could substitute peanut butter with PB2 to cut out some of the fat and calories.
1 small frozen ripe banana, peeled
2 cups baby spinach
1 tbsp Natural Peanut Butter (I used Whole Foods the one you grind yourself) – you can also use PB2 instead to cut out some of the fat and calories
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
This is a large serving, about 2 cups (16 oz), so I usually make it all and give half to my hubby. On Skinnytaste.com she says it is one serving (the whole 16oz) so I adjusted the nutritional facts below for an 8oz serving size.
Place all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth
Servings: 2 • Serving Size: 1 cup (8oz.) • Calories: 126.7 • Fat: 2.0 g • Carb: 19.3 g • Fiber: 2.8 g • Protein: 8.8 g • Sugar: 9.2 g
Sodium: 118.4 mg
*REMEMBER if you drink the whole thing multiply all of the nutritional values by 2.
I was inspired by DailyLook to participate in The Little Black Dress (LBD) style challenge. For me this is a dream come true. I love putting together outfits, especially showing how to style one piece several ways. I chose the DailyLook Classic Bodycon Midi Dress as the base to create my Day to Night look. I love anything classic because it means that it is timeless. You will have this LBD for years to come and by changing the way you accessorize it, it can be easily updated with the changing trends. It’s sexy with a plunging neckline, yet leaves a little mystery with the long hemline and sleeves. This dress gives you all the right curves in all the right places and is one of those dresses that looks good on all body types.
To create the perfect Day Look it’s all about the layering. Right now in NYC it is frigid! Having layers allows you to take items on and off depending on where you are or what you are doing, plus it looks amazing! I would throw on this funnel neck cropped cable sweater in beige to give my LBD a more relaxed casual look. Pairing it with Steve Madden Ponncho Fringe Booties gives the look a little edge, without sacraficing comfort. And this Vaughn Faux Fur Vest as our third and final layer because every girl needs a littl (faux) fur in her life. A chunky bracelet, a leather bucket bag, some Ray-Ban Aviator Sunglasses and a dab of Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Petal and you are ready for work, brunch, shopping or any other day activity. You look pulled together and glam, but in a comfy, cozy subdued kind of way.
A LBD is a perfect canvas to work with because you can start out slow by incorporating a few key pieces and depending on how glam you want to go you can keep layering items on to increase the glam factor. Adding some bold, statement piece jewelry, such as a necklace and ring is one of the simpelist ways to transition your LBD from Day to Night. I love me some bling, so this rhinestone clutch is a perfect choice. A pair of sexy heels is a must and I’m loving these by Chinese Laundry as they tie in the gold accents from the jewelry and clutch perfectly without overdoing it. I’m a fan of Old Hollywood Glam so by throwing on a glamorous faux fur coat and some red lipstick and you are ready to hit the town for a night out with the girls or a dinner date with your love. To check out all of the items used to create my LBD Day to Night Look, go to DailyLook.com.
Egg salad is a quick and easy option for lunch (for you and the kids). Traditionally, egg salad is made with mayo, which isn’t so healthy and doesn’t have much nutritional value. Eggs on the other hand are an excellent source of protein and rich in minerals (calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorous & iodine) and vitamins (B, B12, A, D, E & K). The white part of the egg, known as albumen, contains mostly protein. The yellow part is the yolk, which contains about 80% of the calories and almost all of the fat present in the egg.
There has always been controversy over whether or not to eat the yolks or not because the fats that they do contain is saturated fat and cholesterol. But, there are so many good vitamins and minerals in the yolk! So what should you do? Use something else that has all those amazing vitamins and minerals found in the yolk (and maybe a little yolk too, in moderation of course).
So as a substitute to mayo I use avocado. Like, mayo and the egg yolk, it contains fat, however, avocado contains the “good,” healthy fats and also has a lot of vitamins and minerals. Plus it tastes so yummy, so why not!
-1/2 ripe avocado
-2-3 eggs (I only used one egg yolk, mostly for color, but that isn’t even necessary)
-black ground pepper to taste
-slice up eggs, add avocado and pepper and mash together to get a creamy consistency.
-Eat alone, on top of salad or on whole grain bread.
I had the chance to chat with Christina S. Brown, style blogger, social media specialist and all-around digital media maven. This Native New Yorker and founder of LoveBrownSugar.com, which focuses on fashion and beauty for multicultural women with an emphasis on self-empowerment, can also add first-time mom to her resume. Lucky for us Christine started the blog BabyBrownSugar.com (BBS), which is all about her journey as a new mom. It’s informative, inspirational, and witty and her daughter is the cutest, best dressed little lady around, I guess that’s what happens when your mom is a fashionista! Christine shares her secrets of how she always looks so fab, key items every mama should own and how she keeps a work/life balance.
FFM: Why did you start your blog? BBS: I’m a blogger and social media consultant. I’ve been blogging for over 5 years and I’m also a new mom! I started my blog LoveBrownSugar.com because I didn’t see many voices like mine represented online at the time and I wanted a space to empower women through fashion and beauty. BabyBrownSugar.com came about as a response to my pregnancy and wanted a space to document the trials of new mommyhood as long as document my baby’s growth and updates.
FFM: What is your favorite part about being a mom? BBS: The hugs and kisses! I love picking her up from the sitter and seeing that bright smile on her face. I adore kissing her goodnight. There is nothing like receiving love and affection from your offspring! It is so amazing.
FFM: How do you find work/life balance? BBS: I have help! I have a village of people around me that help with taking care of my daughter including her father, her grandparents and my close friends. On the nights or weekends when I’m alone, I make use of it! I take some “me” time, get a little extra work done or just relax. As for my business, I have help there too. I have blog contributors that help me keep things afloat when I need to spend extra time with my family.
FFM: Where do you get your style inspiration from? BBS: I get inspiration from so many places! Everywhere from social media to my favorite magazines and even vintage photos. Inspiration is everywhere.
FFM: You always dress so fab. How do you keep it all together with work/being a mommy. Can you give some new moms some tips on how to still look fab even when you feel like staying in your pi’s!!! BBS: I try to keep things cute but still comfortable. If I do heels, they are always platforms or wedges (height but still comfort!) I invest in great statement accessories like handbags, necklaces and shoes so that even if I have on a plain pair of leggings and a sweater, I can upgrade my whole look immediately by accessorizing. Wear clothes that fit, develop a simple beauty regimen, have a go-to hairstyle and do things that make you feel beautiful on the inside too! When you feel beautiful, naturally your outward appearance will reflect that.
FFM: What are 3 key pieces every mom must have in their wardrobe? BBS: A structured blazer – you can take it from day to night and it instantly makes you look polished. A little black dress – ultra-flattering on everyone. A great pair of heels – staples like pumps are perfect for wearing in any season. Get them in a nice contrasting color or pattern so they make a statement.
FFM: Cadence always has the most adorable clothes! What are some of your favorite baby brands? BBS: Thank you! I spend all my money at GAP, Old Navy and Carter’s. Those clothes last a lifetime and they’re so classic. They also don’t shrink, which is great considering how quickly she’s growing.
FFM: What do you find most challenging about being a mom? BBS: I want to be around for EVERYTHING. For every moment in time with her. But I just can’t. I’m learning to let go a little. Also, how quickly they grow! She already wants to wiggle out of my arms and venture out on her own. And I just want to cry in a corner like “why did you grow so fast?” It happens so quick!
FFM: What are some of your favorite activities to do with Cadence? BBS: She loves this place called Kidville. It’s an interactive play center for kids. We go there for Open Gym and also for the scheduled classes. She has so much fun there and it’s a great place for her to meet and interact with other babies.
FFM: Words of wisdom for all the mamas-to-be. BBS: Do your best and let God handle the rest. Some things will just inevitably be out of your control. You have to be comfortable with that and just go with the flow!
Keep up to date on all your baby needs and advice, from challenges of pregnancy and motherhood to product reviews, by following Christine at BabyBrownSugar.com.
For beauty and fashion tips check out LoveBrownSugar.com.
Cold days like these call for a good, hot, hearty chili to warm the bones. Try this Turkey Chili Recipe and you will definitely be satisfied. I had some for lunch today and it was delicious! Combine a few simple ingredients and in no time your belly will be full, your body will be warm and you will be happy!
-Olive oil – to sautee
-4 bell peppers, chopped
-1/2 yellow onion, chopped
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 lb. ground turkey meat
-2 cans crushed tomato
-1 1/2 cups beans, soaked and cooked
-spices, smoked paprika, salt, pepper (to taste)
-1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
-dollop of 0% Greek yogurt (optional)
1. In a large pot, sautee bell peppers, onion and garlic. At the same time, in a pan gently born ground turkey to remove all the juices (doesn’t have to be fully cooked as it will cook in pot once added).
2. Add turkey, tomatoes, beans spices and cilantro to pot and cook for 20-30 minutes on low to medium heat.
3. Let cool and serve. I always like to make and then have the next day for lunch or dinner as everything has time to marinate together to get a rich, delicious flavor.
4. Add a dollop of Greek yogurt for added flavor.