Friday, June 28, 2013

Day Trip to the Zoo!

One of the biggest perks of our new home is its proximity to the zoo! We purchased Ella a zoo membership for her birthday & plan to spend a lot of time there this summer, even if it's just using the playgrounds & grabbing an ice cream treat! Yesterday, we took my MIL & SIL on our inaugural visit. Here are my favorite photos from the trip...

Happy Friday Everyone! 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Grand Plans

Ella & I have grand summer plans. We have 10 glorious weeks ahead of us & let me tell you, we will be savoring every single second of them! I'm trying my hand at being a stay-at-home mom, soI'm  focusing in on little things to keep me sane & focused all summer long. On our list...

1. Go to the Mall Every Week

Ella loves to chill in her stroller while I shop...
Ella loves the mall & it has AC, but this is actually so that we can score awesome clothes at low prices. I've learned that if you sift through the sale racks on a regular basis, you're far more successful at finding items you love. If I only get to shop once in a while, I pay full price. So Eric, if you're reading this, this plan is actually a money saving mechanism & totally genius. Although I'm sure you will try to convince me otherwise. 

2. Finish Our Household Projects 

the first area I decorated when we moved in
 Eric is actually doing most of this, but I'm in charge of aesthetics. I need to redecorate the guest room & bathroom. I take decorating seriously, so who knows how long it will take me to find the perfect curtains & bed set for our guest room! Maybe all summer... 

3. Eat at Home 

I am so tempted to run out for food when I'm home all summer! I know in the long run both my waistline & our bank account will be happier if I eat at home. So, I'm going to try planning meals ahead & recreating leftovers for lunch. I'm turning to Pinterest to keep things interesting & maybe I'll even start to enjoy cooking! (We'll see how long this lasts...) 

4. Sunbathe

I just ordered Ella an awesome kiddie pool! It even has an umbrella on it :) I'm looking forward to being outside as often as possible for the next two months. That means walks, splash parks, & pool time! She is a total fish, so she's down with my plan. 

5. Start Training

I have 12 weeks until my second half marathon! Time to start training... which means running early in the day while its still cool. That may be a challenge, but I'm looking forward to getting to know our new neighborhood & toning my body up for our beach trip in August. 

Yeah Summer!
Wednesday, June 26, 2013

You Need These Shorts! Like Today!

This morning I woke up & checked my email... I responded to a few blog comments & then stumbled upon this - 

This email was fate. On Monday afternoon, my sister, Ella, aunt, & I all went shopping at my favorite mall. We decided to go into Ann Taylor Loft to scope out the sale racks that were an additional 60% off. While in the store, I fell in love with these shorts.... 

I tried them on & was willing to pay full price for them. They were that comfortable. So we're standing at the register & I can't find me wallet. PANIC. I end up calling Eric, who goes out to my car and finds it sitting on the passenger seat. FAIL. My sister offers to buy me the shorts, but since I was already going to make her buy me dinner, I declined. I was pretty bummed, but then I got a 20% off coupon and decided it was fine, I'd just run out to get them today while Ella was at daycare. 

So when I opened up my email & found a 50% off coupon, I knew I was meant to have the shorts. They didn't originally mark down, but since they are in fact shorts, the sales associate kindly agreed to honor the discount! Lesson - it never hurts to ask sales people for help, they're usually awesome about stuff like this. I also scored a mint tank top for 1/2 off too. My total bill was less then $25! That's less then that original price of the shorts - SCORE! 

Now let me actually tell you about the shorts, they're terry cloth with an elastic waist. This is normally slob-kabob territory, but they're so well tailored that you can look comfy & polished at the same time! I immediately came home and took a photo for you all! 

I will be in these non-stop this summer, since I am trying my hand at being a stay-at-home mom & will have plenty of time to play in the yard :) Get shopping! It's fate! 

What I'm Wearing - Bye Bye Kiddos!

I have not seen a student in a week! So even though I've been working, I've been dressed down like you wouldn't believe. Packing my room, unairconditioned faculty meetings, and curriculum writing are not cause for dressing up - they're cause for being cool & comfy. Many of my colleagues have been living in running shorts & t-shirts for the past week, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. It must be the blogger in me, because even though I know I can look like a total slob, I just can't. 

Let's start with today's outfit. I'm headed into work for a few, but I also have a bunch of errands to run. It's Ella's one day a week at the babysitter, so I'm going to savor every moment of alone time. She's all mine the rest of the week :) I'm wearing my slouchy tee from T.J. Maxx & my lace shorts from Kiki LaRue. I strongly advise that you go up a size in these shorts. I'm in a medium & they fit perfectly. Also - they have an elastic waste - making them the comfiest shorts you'll ever own. 

Thursday was hot as balls... I dressed appropriately for it, keeping it simple in a tank & shorts. Keep in mind that this is a 6:30 am photo - my hair was in a top knot by 9. 
shorts - Gap // tank - Target // watch - Forever 21

This is probably my favorite outfit of the week. I was so excited when my tank top from Hello Apparel arrived in the mail. I bought it to support the Oklahoma tornado victims & I'm in love with it. I bought a medium & love that it's so slouchy. I paired it with my favorite denim cutoffs & a cardigan because I knew I'd be in and out of AC. Then, I added pearl studs & my Coach watch to pull it together just a little bit more. 
shorts - AE // sandals - AE // tank - Hello Apparel
cardigan // J.Crew // watch - Coach 
Teachers only worked a half day on Friday, which means we spent the afternoon drinking. I'm not going into details on how that ended for me. I'm just going to tell you that this dress is so comfortable you sleep in it all night if you have to. 
maxi - J.Crew Factory // watch - Coach // sandals - AE
I love that this maxi isn't too long - I'm only 5'4", so most maxis have to be hemmed for me. This required no work at all though! It's also red, white, and blue - so I plan to wear it on the 4th, another holiday I may need to sleep in it for. 

Today I'm linking up with... 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Myrtle Beach - My Home Away from Home

Today I'm linking up for Vacation Dreaming with Holly & Amy because I LOVE VACATION!

Every year my family packs our bags & heads to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina...

In high school, we always went in April during our spring break. As we got older, we turned to August for our vacation - going during the week of both my mom & dad's birthdays. The weather is far more reliable & it actually feels like vacation when half the town isn't there with you. We used to stay on "the strip," but now we rent a beach house in Surfside Beach. We've stayed in several different houses & they've all been amazing. Private pool + 0 elevators = vacation paradise! 

I wouldn't trade those spring breaks for anything though... backpacks full of booze, making out on the beach, tanning with girlfriends all day long - amazing high school memories.

backpacking it on the beach!
This summer will be Eric & my 10th trip to MB! He has gone with us every year since he was a junior! This stat makes me feel very old, but it should also explain a bit of the connection we have to the locale. We love it so much, we even had a set of engagement photos done there....

This year will be Ella's second trip. We road tripped with her when she was 7 weeks old for last year's vacation... she loved it too :) I can't wait to see her splashing in the pool & playing in the sand. I'm sure she will grow to love MB just as much as the rest of us do. 

Ella @ Margaritaville - so tiny! 

If you've never been to MB, here is my must-do list... in picture form - because I think the pictures provide a far better description than I ever could... 

drink on the beach!
Splash in the Ocean!
Go to Crocodile Rock - a piano bar that serves the best rum cocktails ever!
Play Put-Put! There are tons of places, but they're all essentially the same. 

Go out to eat... we have tons of faves & I will gladly share them with you in an e-mail,
but this picture was taken at Margaritaville - a place we make sure to visit every year. 
Monday, June 24, 2013

True Life: I'm a Former Fat Kid

I was never a FAT kid, but I was definitely an overweight kid. (I remember always being the girl in dance class that voted against the two piece costume. I didn't want my belly to jiggle as I tap danced.) I took dance class four times a week, played soccer, and was on the cheerleading squad. I guess the weight didn't really bother me, as long as I was in 8's, it was ok. I was active and healthy, so no big deal. 

my senior prom - doesn't the hubs look cute?

But then I went to college and things got bad. I had to buy 12's by the end of my my first semester. At 5'3", I was 163 lbs. - not my finest moment. Upon buying those jeans, I decided to put a stop to this & I asked my mom to sign me up for Weight Watchers Online. 

new year's eve 2005 - at my fattest

I followed the program religiously from January to May, tracking my points and hitting the fitness center at my college. I was dedicated to the cause, and Eric was insanely supportive. I was big into the frozen meals, cut out soda completely, and paid attention to portion sizes. I realized that losing weight wasn't rocket science, it just took discipline and a little prior planning. I was able to go to the beach that year weighing 133 pounds and attended Eric's senior prom looking way better than I did at my own. 

 with my mother-in-law at Eric's senior prom

I didn't stop at 133. My lowest weight is 125, where I stayed for about 2 years. My "happy place" is somewhere between 125 and 130. It keeps me in size 4 jeans, but lets me drink margaritas - which is perfect for me! 

at the beach with my mom & sister in the summer of 2011 

I was a nervous wreck that I wouldn't lose the weight after I had Ella. I know how much work it takes to shed it when it's your only focus. I had no idea how I'd do it with a baby to take care of. Despite my best half-hearted efforts, I gained 60 pounds while I was pregnant. A lot of it was water weight & the actual baby, as I was down 30 lbs by the time I left the hospital, but alot of it was McDonald's Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Bagel Sandwiches too....

two weeks before I had Ella...
Even though I was prepared to sign back up for Weight Watchers, I ended up losing the baby weight on my own. I had goals set for myself & accomplished them little by little. I was back at 130 by Thanksgiving & back down at 125 by Valentine's Day. Those last 5 pounds were killer!

two weeks after having Ella vs. two weeks before my half marathon
I'm far healthier than I was before I had Ella. I stay away from frozen meals & cook fresh foods. I am a runner, with many 5K's and a half-marathon under my belt. I drink a lot less alcohol, because the hangover just isn't worth it. I'm seeting a good example for my peanut and I hope that my story motivates you as well. You don't have to be perfect, you just have to put in the effort!
it's amazing what a difference a year can make...
Friday, June 21, 2013

We're Just Boring Like That...

Well Kim & Kanye just had to do it.... Nadine predicted it, I was praying for something better. E! News confirmed that Kimye has in fact named their daughter North. Yes, North West. But don't worry, they're going to call her Nori for short. Because that's totally normal, right? 

Let's do something crazy and shocking!
I've already had a 72 day marriage, knock me up & we'll name her North. 

I just don't get it. What ever happened to names like Jessica, Sara, Mary, and Michelle? Growing up, Brianne was a pretty exotic name in my town. But, my parents weren't intentionally trying to be crazy. My mom saw it in a baby book & latched onto it. My sister is named Brittany - very normal. 

Me: What do you think of your name Ella?
Ella: I love it! 

When Eric & I went about naming Ella, we wanted something meaningful. My grandma was named Ellen, and she was one of the most important people in my childhood. I adore her & wanted nothing more than to honor her memory. Thus, we switched the ending to an "a" and ended up with Ella. It's simple. It's easy. It's spell-able... which speaking as a teacher, is important for a kid. And when we decide to have another child, he/she is going to have a normal name too. We're just boring like that... 
Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What I'm Wearing: Slouchy Tees

Lately I have been obsessed with slouchy tees... I can't get enough of them. Maybe it's because I've been feeling a little fluffy lately. Maybe I'm just over tight fitting clothing. Maybe it's the fact that my daughter stretches every item I wear into a slouchy shirt, so I might as well go with it. Either way... I am in love with them.

My sister bought me this shirt from TJ Maxx for my birthday. It's a light cotton with faux leather on the shoulders. Super comfy, but still pulled together. I bought it to wear with my lace shorts, but I haven't had a chance to pair them yet. So instead, I wore it to work on Friday with skinny jeans & flat sandals.
last ever picture you will see in front of my stairs mirror

Here are some of the other slouchy tees that I am obsessed with right now...

Free People from Nordstrom

Slub Knit Tee from Old Navy
Short Sleeve Piko from Kiki LaRue
Parkway Convertible Top from Anthropologie
Today I'm Linking Up With...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bye Bye Belly...

I wrote the other day about how I'm ditching my scale. I'm totally comfortable with the way that I look at this point in my life, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to just stop trying to improve. I've never had flat abs. My core is hands down my problem area & it always has been. The problem was exacerbated by my pregnancy, when I essentially lost every ounce of core strength that I did have. I kind of brushed that problem to the side though, and focused on losing the weight. I was hoping that once the fat was gone, my abs would just suddenly reappear. Not the case. I feel like my stomach is perpetually podding out. The ab muscles that used to hold it all in, are non-existent these days. Time to change that! With school out for summer & time to devote to the cause, I'm finally ready to focus on losing my belly flab! Here's my plan... 

Step 1: Planks 

I dread planks. They are synonymous with torture in my book. I'd rather do 1,000 crunches than plank for a minute. But my hatred for planks doesn't detract from their effectiveness, and the fact of the matter is that they are the most effective way to strengthen your core. Thus, I'm going to suck it up and start planking every day. I can hold each variation for 1 minute right now, and I'm going to keep building up in hopes that I can hold for at least 3 minutes by the end of the summer. 

Step 2: Body Sculpting Class

I've talked about my love for Total Body Sculpt at my gym. The class makes me feel like a total bad ass. My original plan for the summer was to cancel my gym membership, but I just can't do it. I'm hoping to drop Ella off at the free day care on Tuesdays & Thursdays so that I can attend the class two days a week. If Eric is up to it, I might be able to squeeze in a weekend session as well. 

Step 3: Continue Running

I may or may not run the Rock n' Roll Half Marathon in Pittsburgh in August. I haven't totally decided. If I do, I need to get my ass moving. I'll have to jump right into 8 mile runs because the race is only about 6 weeks away - aka half the amount of time I trained for my last race. If I don't do the August race, I'm going to sign up for one of the many fall races in Upstate NY. No matter what - I'm going to keep running!

Step 4: Scale Back on the Carbs

This is a really hard thing for me to do. I love carbs. I love bagels for breakfast, paninis for lunch, and big biscuits with dinner - all of these with butter.


I really think that I'll do ok with this once I'm at home for the summer though. I won't pass a drive thru, so I won't be tempted by bagels. I'll simply make scrambled eggs at home. I won't be going out as much for lunch, so I can make healthy salads at home. Eric & I bought a grill! So I'll be eating grilled meat & veggies for dinner! Take that carbs!

I'll be sure to keep everyone updated on my progress - I may even grow some balls & take some before and after photos. Probably not, but maybe. If you want to keep me motivated, or want me to keep you motivated, shoot me a tweet or an email - backtoblissblog (at) gmail(dot) com!

**Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietician or trainer. All opinions, tips, and game plans are only based on my own personal experience.
Monday, June 17, 2013

We Did It!

I wasn't sure if I'd be able to post today. I seriously thought I might be trapped underneath an avalanche of crap. But I'm here to tell you, I survived! We are officially moved into our new house. 

The closing went smoothly on Friday afternoon and we immediately proceeded to the new house to unload a bunch of boxes that I'd already packed into our cars. It was just Eric & I, so we took care of our PB dishes & other essentials that we I didn't want anyone to break. Eric knows that I'm a little bit crazy about placing items, especially in the kitchen, so he kind of just let me go to it. 

On Saturday morning, Ella woke us up at 5:30 & Eric decided that since we were up, we should just get moving. IT WAS A LONG ASS DAY. To sum it up: 
  • I dropped Charlie off at the groomer at 7. 
  • We went  & picked up the UHaul at 8:30. 
  • My parents were waiting for us at the apartment when we got back. 
  • I opened my birthday present (yay!) 
  • We loaded a ton of boxes into my mom's van/sister's SUV/my car  - while the men loaded every thing else into the UHaul. 
  • My Uncle Billy shows up to save the day & add some muscle to the situation. 
  • Mom, Britt, Ella, & I go to pick up Charlie, buy baby gates, and get lunch. 
  • We go to the new house & eat lunch.
  • We unload and sort and unload and sort. 
  • The couch doesn't fit -- we spend 45 minutes finding a way to get it through the door, damaging it & the door in the process. 
  • Mom goes to buy beer. 
  • The UHaul is finally empty! 
  • Britt & I assemble the crib, while Eric & Dad assemble my bed... Mom plays with Ella. 
  • Dinner - please??? Yes, restaurant has 2 hour wait. 
  • Find new restaurant, where I eat a LARGE buffalo chicken salad & steal Eric's waffle fries. 
  • CRASH. 
Whew... I hope you're as exhausted reading that as I was from experiencing it. I felt awful for my poor hubs, I know he was exhausted yesterday, but he just kept going...

Yesterday was the day that the house finally started to come together! We finished Ella's playroom first thing in the morning... 

Ella in her new playroom! She loves it :)
Then my parents showed up with my sister (they'd stayed at her place Saturday night to avoid the chaos), so I showered & got ready to head out on our shopping mission. This mission was to serve two purposes: 
  1. Get my new watch adjusted at Coach. 
  2. Get Ella out of the house long enough that Eric & Dad could get something accomplished. 
 high meets low - birthday watch from Coach with new Forever 21 sandals
We were successful on both counts. The trip also involved grilled cheese at Tom Wahl's, copious amounts of Dunkin' Donuts, more baby gates, $9 sandals at Forever 21, and a large haul for Miss Ella at Baby Gap. It was a much needed few hours out with my mom & sister. 

Then it was back to the chaos, but at least when I returned the TV was functional, Ella was unable to climb the stairs, and the trash had been moved to the garage. Is the house 100% - not even close. But it is definitely coming along & I'm in love with it! I'll be sure to share photos soon, but here's a before shot of the guest bedroom - aka my "wardrobe room" that I'm redoing & will be taking all of my outfit photos now! It still needs a lot of work, like putting the bed together, but I hope to have it together by this weekend! 

getting ready with Miss Ella this morning in what will
soon be a gorgeous wardrobe room
One more thing! Thanks for all the Twitter love this weekend! 
Friday, June 14, 2013

Closing Time!

Big news people - we're scheduled to close on our house today! I'm beyond excited... we had our final walk through last night and I cannot wait to live there. If we didn't have Ella, I would sleep on the floor tonight just so I could "move in." 
Speaking of moving in... that's what we're doing this weekend. It's going to be a huge undertaking, but my parents are coming to help & the U-Haul is booked. Our Realtor was joking around last night that he's going to avoid seeing Eric & I for the next week, let's just say we were a little intense about where we're going to put things. 

Once we made it home last night, we inhaled Panera and did even more packing, which is when I discovered....

  • We have over 50 coozies - aka we have a drinking problem
  • Pottery Barn catalogs are way classier than newspaper
  • No matter what your husband says, everything does have an expiration date. 
The sellers left a bunch of their junk at the house, so I'm going to be cleaning that out this evening. The bright side of that is that they left their dining room table! It's not an overly expensive piece of furniture, but it is nicer than what we have, so we're keeping it. The problem is, it only has 3 chairs & if you ask me, the cushions are kind of gross. So... I am on the hunt to replace them. Here are my options... 

Option 1 from Target

Option 2 from Target

Option 3 from Pottery Barn

Leave your vote in the comments! 
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