Tuesday, March 31, 2015

4 Tips for Picking the Perfect Beach House

One of my favorite weeks of the year is always my family's annual trip to the beach. We've been going to Myrtle Beach for almost 15 years now, and typing that, I feel really old. But it's true, all throughout high school we went during Spring Break, and for the past 8 years we've gone in late August. 

When we went to the beach in high school, we stayed in a three bedroom condo in the same hotel as all of our friends. It was perfect because our parents could easily keep an eye on us, and they didn't have to drive us back & forth to meet our friends all the time. But as we got older, and stopped traveling as a pack, we quickly realized that we hate elevators & public pools. Thus, a beach house is the ideal option for us. 

The first time we went to rent, we were overwhelmed with options. So, I thought I'd break it down for all of my readers. My tips are specifically geared towards Myrtle Beach, but can easily be applied to other beach vacation towns too! 

1. Location, Location, Location

In Myrtle Beach, the area is separated into 4 main areas. North Myrtle - which is primarily condors & hotels. South Myrtle - again, hotels & condos. Surfside Beach, Garden City, & Murrel's Inlet - primarily beach houses. We personally stay in Surfside, because it is closest to Myrtle Beach & the restaurants and activities that we enjoy. However, Garden City & Murrel's Inlet still have every major convenience that you could ask for, and offer just a little more peace & quiet. Be sure to do your research & find out what your family will be interested in doing while you're there - no one wants to spend half an hour in the car to go to dinner every night! 

2. Party of ??

A lot of beach houses say they sleep 18 people, but you need to take into consideration if that includes pull out couches, bunk beds, or people sharing rooms. We always look at the number of bedrooms, then the number of actual beds. The house that we're staying in for the third year in a row has four bedrooms upstairs and a master bedroom downstairs. It has six total beds. For us, that's more than enough room & allows my grandma or aunt to join us if they choose to do so. We could certainly get by with less room, but we all enjoy having our own space. 

On the flip side, my boss goes to Myrtle with a group of friends & neighbors every year and they fill their house to capacity. He says the kids don't mind sleeping on the pull outs & it's a great way to save some money! 

3. Beach Front or Pool? 

Personally, I'm a pool person. Yes, I love a good walk on the beach, but when it comes to laying out & swimming, I prefer a pool. And with Ella, a pool is definitely easier than going back & forth to the beach all day. Since my family is on the same page with me, we always rent a house with a pool, a few rows back from the beach. Generally, it's less expensive because you aren't beach front, but it's still only a 5 minute walk away. 

4. Eating In or Dining Out?

Some beach houses come equipped with 5 star kitchens, others... not so much. If you have no plans to eat anything other than a bowl of cereal at your beach house, don't worry about it. But if you're like my family & eat over 2/3 of your meals there, having a large, functional kitchen is key! Be sure to look at the amenities to see what is included! 

5. Go in the Off Season 

If your schedule allows, go during the off season to save a bundle of money. I'm obviously a teacher, so going in September when prices really drop off isn't an option, but we did do it the year Ella was born while I was still on maternity leave & it was awesome. We still had great weather, but the restaurants were quiet & we paid far less for our rental. Most years, my family still avoids the majority of the crowds by going the very last week of August, when most of the southern schools are back in session. 

By going in the off season, you're likely to get the most house for your money. In many cases, just going one week later can suddenly make beach front or an extra bedroom affordable! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring Break Kick Off Weeke

As I mentioned on Friday, my Spring Break started at 3 p.m. that afternoon. Many of my colleagues bolted for the doors so that they could finish packing & hop flights south. I, on the other hand, had a wild night planned with these two...

I had strategically scheduled Charlie's grooming appointment for 6 p.m. on Friday night so that we'd have an excuse to go out together. We had a coupon for free dessert at Uno's, so that was where we went! I had my favorite salad & Eric opted for pizza. The real champ of the night was Ella though, that girl housed her macaroni & cheese and broccoli, then ate over half of the dessert we were all sharing! Eric & I just kept laughing because we rarely see her that excited to eat.

Once dinner was over, we make a quick pit stop at Target to pick up Olivia's crib mattress, then picked up this handsome fella to head home!

Saturday morning was super-productive around our house. Actually, I should say Eric was super productive. He woke up me up with the smell of bacon, then he put Olivia's crib together. I love that man.

While he did all that, I lounged around watching Fixer Upper & colored with this peanut.

We put that huge box to good use!

Ella is really fascinated by Olivia's crib. I keep finding her in there, just kind of looking around. I think it will be interesting to see her reactions as we put more & more touches on the room that used to be hers...

While Ella napped, I headed to the gym for some cardio & watched some more HGTV. I just can't get enough of that channel. I'm not sure if it drives Eric crazy or if he's just grateful it isn't the Kardashians.

After the gym, I made a quick pit stop for some tea & a banana. I really wanted one of those drinks that's basically a milkshake, but I stopped myself because I'd already went over my calories on Friday night with the apple pie sundae.

We had a nice, home cooked meal for dinner, then Ella & I "played sleepover." This basically consisted of her getting out her sleeping bag and the two of us sharing popcorn. Best game ever in my opinion.

Unfortunately, Ella barely slept on Saturday night. She kept coming into our room & telling me that her nose was all bubbly. What she meant was her nose was running & it continued to run all day Sunday. She was seriously irritated by it, but that didn't stop us from another day of low key fun.

We FaceTimed with her grandparents, then got ready for a trip to Wegmans for groceries. We timed our trip perfectly & Ella hit the jackpot on samples. She tried a strawberry smoothie with kale, greek yogurt with blueberries, and cranberry raisin bread with brie. Homegirl - and her daddy -  were in heaven.

While Ella napped, Eric & I decided to exercise in shifts. So, he went out & walked the dog while I stayed with Ella and did some baking. Then, when he got home, I headed out for 3 miles. The sun was shining & even though it was brisk, it was just nice to be outside. Once home, I got back into the kitchen and made dinner to take over to my sister's house. Then, I heard a boom & walked upstairs to see this... I swear I thought she was dead at first. After a mini-stroke, I heard her breathing... then snapped a photo of course. 

We headed over to my sister's so that Eric could help my brother - in - law bottle his home brew. We have to wait a week to two weeks to see how it turned out. We're keeping our fingers crossed for Matt... 

It was a lot less involved than I'd expected, and they didn't need my help, so I kind of just hung out with Ella in the living room...  

It was a great night with lots of pasta, lots of family time, and lots of college basketball. But the best part of the night was getting home & not having to pack a million bags to head out at 6 am this morning. Yay for Spring Break! 
Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Break Goals

It's already Sunday evening & I feel like my Spring Break is flying by! I decided that I needed to get my act together & set some goals for the week. It'll be over before I know it if I don't! 

1 - Try 3 New Recipes

We get stuck in serious dinner ruts around here, so I try to mix it up when I have extra time on breaks.

2 - Clean Ella's Closet & Consign 

I need to switch out Ella's winter clothes & pull out what doesn't fit her. I will be saving my favorite pieces for Olivia, but some of it will be headed to Once Upon a Child.

3 - Stay within My Calories 

Self - explanatory.

4 - Get My Steps In 

I averaged over 10,000 steps every day last week & am really hoping to keep it up this week. You'd think that if get more steps in on my days off, but I'm on the move so much at work the opposite is actually true. I may end up pacing around the living room, but I'm determined. 

5 - Finish All My Bloodwork 

I have orders from my doctor to get my glucose test done this week and also do a baseline of my protein count. Not fun stuff, but I have to make it a priority. 

Is anyone else on break this week? Exciting plans?! 
Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Favorites in Photos

It has been a super crazy, busy, hectic week. But today is the light at the end of the tunnel because as of 3 p.m. - I'm on SPRING BREAK!! My goal is to have all of my unit tests graded before I leave at the end of the day, so I'm going to keep it simple & share my favorite (and random) photos from the week! 

Let's start with my favoritest of my favorites! I had this peanut butter fro-yo topped with hot fudge, crushed Reeses & cookie dough bites as my major treat this week. I had been craving fro-yo so badly, so I just went for it! 

My parents were in Orlando most of last week & part of this week. Vacation = shopping in my mom's world, so they obviously ended up at the outlets. She texted me this picture of the soccer shorts she purchased for Ella & I can't wait to see her in them at soccer class! 

We had Taco Tuesday this week & I topped mine with my favorite corn salsa from Trader Joe's! 

One of my favorite moments of the week was watching Ella taking care of her Minnie's while I was making dinner. She's going to be such a good big sister! 

I couldn't wear them outside, but I did finally get to wear my new sandals! I already know they're going to be a favorite this summer! 

And even though it may not have been the most figure flattering outfit of the week, it certainly was the comfiest, making it my favorite! 

Linking Up with Andrea for Friday Favorites!
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bumpdate: 23 Weeks

size of the baby: Mango 

total weight gain: still holding strong at 14.5 lbs. - don't expect that to be the case after Spring Break next week! 

gender: Baby Girl - Miss Olivia Rose 

maternity clothes: same as ever around here! I'm doing really well finding non-maternity clothes in my closet to wear with my maternity pants. I did just find some amazing white maternity jeans from Old Navy (less than $20!) too that I'm really excited to bust out! 

movement: I feel her most while I'm laying down at night & when I'm driving in the car - so basically if I sit down, she winds up. 

sleeping: No problems sleeping, but my weird dreams are back again! 

missing: Running. All of my friends are signing up for races & I'm just like I'll meet you after for tater tots if you want... 

craving: Fro-Yo & Moe's - I've had both this week. Everything in moderation people :)

exercise: I stayed active & hit my step goal 6 out of 7 days this week. I could have hit it on Saturday, but I opted for a nap instead. #whoops  

symptoms: My feet are getting itchy, which happened with Ella too. I haven't done any research into it because it really isn't that big of a deal right now. If it really starts bugging me, I'll ask my doctor about it. 

Ella: is all about taking care of her babies! She tucks in her Minnie, Elsa, and Baby every day before we leave for school. It is the most adorable thing ever... 

looking forward to: Spring Break. As of tomorrow at 3 p.m., I'm a free woman! We're going out to dinner to celebrate, then spending another low key weekend at home. Back to back weekends at home happen so rarely that I'm actually really excited about that too. 

best moments: The crib arrived yesterday & I'm not gonna lie... my fro-yo was damn good. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Boho Inspired Preppy Casual - Is That a Thing? I'm Making It One...

One trend I am absolutley loving this season is boho! It's not just at Free People & Anthro this year either, some amazing pieces are popping up in the least expected places - like Loft!  I wouldn't really go as far as to say that I have a boho personality, and I'm not really into crochet crop tops & floral headpieces, but I do love the laid back style of flowy pants with sandals. 

I initially fell in love with this look at my friend Kristine's 4th of July party last year, when the lead singer of the band that was playing wore these amazing printed beach pants with a tank, jean jacket, and sandals. I really wish I'd taken a picture of her because it would have been pinned on a Pinterest a million times by now. She was gorgeous & an awesome mix of boho & laid back preppy casual. I immediately started my hunt for similar pants to recreate her look, but had no luck whatsoever.

Look 1 // Look 2 // Look 3 // Look 4

Fast forward to January, when I get my daily Zulily email & happen to click on the Roxy sale. OMG - there they were! They probably aren't the exact same pair, but they were exactly what I'd been looking for! I snatched them right up & figured I'd stash them until I had the baby & hopefully be able to wear them by our beach trip in August. 

Fast forward again to Monday, I'm sitting at my desk when my friend Kristine walks in wearing this... 

everything is Loft - I'm not kidding - she has an addiction
I loved it! And of course, it immediately made me think of my Roxy pants just sitting at home waiting for me to wear them! I decided that I'm not too huge yet, so I'd give it a shot & see if they fit when I got home. They fit - and OMG - these pants are the comfiest things I've ever worn. They put yoga pants to shame! I knew that I had to put an outfit together in them ASAP - so that's exactly what I did for school yesterday... 

pants - Roxy // top - Loft // cardigan - J.Crew // necklace - Loft // sandals - boutique

I was super comfy all day long and the first thought that popped into my mind this morning after I got dressed was, if I was traveling somewhere for Spring Break, this is what I'd be wearing! Expect to see lots of more of these pants, because as long as they fit around my belly, I'll be wearing them. Hopefully without a cardigan because the weather has finally warmed up... #wishfulthinking

And not one to be left out on the trends, here is Ella's version of "boho inspired preppy casual" that she wore yesterday too... 

pants & tee from Baby Gap

Linking Up with The Pleated Poppy & Shanna
Monday, March 23, 2015

Weekend Recap

We kicked off our Friday in the best possible way - donuts! We are normally drive-thru people, but we were running early - #miracle - so I let Ella go inside to pick out her donut. (Sidenote - we only get donuts on Fridays, and even then she never actually eats the whole thing.) As we walked up to the case, Ella did some serious contemplating, but eventually settled on Vanilla Dipped with Sprinkles. I thought it was a good choice & was more than happy to eat her leftovers. 

After school, we headed home & I did some cleaning while Ella did some coloring. Eric wasn't far behind us and started the spaghetti as soon as he got home. (He is extremely particular about his sauce, so if we eat pasta, he makes it.)  

On Saturday morning, we woke up to a lot of puddles, but generally mild weather, so we decided to head out on a family walk. Charlie got filthy. Ella fell asleep. Eric & I enjoyed ourselves. 

Once we were home from our walk, I got ready & headed out for my hair appointment. I really needed a trim, so I was ecstatic that my salon was able to fit me in on Saturday afternoon! There is seriously nothing better than a fresh trim & a blow out. Seriously, if we had a Dry Bar in Rochester, I'd be there all of the time. 

After my appointment, I met this little cutie at Target for some hot chocolate & browsing. Sister + Target = Heaven. I loved her outfit, so I just had to take a pic of her! 

As always, we found a whole lot of treasures... and a some other things we didn't need. Then, we headed back to my house to hang out with Ella & eat baked potatoes the size of footballs topped with pulled pork & cheese. Those were easily my best idea all weekend long... 

Sunday morning we woke up to snow! I was so disgusted I refused to take a picture. It melted off quickly, but #ugh... Ella didn't mind though & snuggled right up in her daddy's recline with her "bagel", clementines, and her shows. It gave me a chance to get some school work done, eat my own breakfast, and empty the dishwasher. Then we got daddy up because I had to get ready for our Cheer Banquet. 

Another car selfie to document the fact that I was feeling pretty glam yesterday on my way to the banquet... 

I loved a lot of things about banquet yesterday, in no particular order... 

  • It was brunch & we all know brunch is my love language. 
  • We had cake... really good cake with lots of frosting. 
  • I got to see all of my favorite girls & talk about how amazing they are. 
  • I got to get dressed up & even though the snow derailed my plans for heels, I still felt super girly. 
  • My friend, Kristine, let me borrow this awesome Boden dress that isn't maternity, but was stretchy enough for me to slither into! 

After banquet, I headed straight for the gym to work off said brunch & cake. I got a solid hour of cardio in & felt awesome by the time I left. The gym is always super quiet on Sunday afternoons, so it's always my favorite time to go. I have my pick of machines & can switch the t.v. station without anyone complaining. 

While I was at banquet & the gym, Ella was out with her Aunt Britt & Uncle Matt. They were going to the mall to do some shopping & thought it'd be fun to take the peanut with them. She somehow managed to con them into buying her a Sofia Duplo set, feeding her Macarollin', and letting her try on Baby Ray Bans. I think it's safe to say she had a great time... 

Ella & I both got home about the same time and the whole family started to prep for the week with our normal laundry, meal prepping, and cleaning routine. Such a relaxed & fun weekend! Can't wait for more of the same next week... plus Spring Break starts on Friday!! 
Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Favorites from Our Week

Happy Friday! It has been a long one around these parts, not for any reason in particular, it just seems like we've been on the go all week long. That said, this week has featured a lot of my favorite things, so I'm linking up with Andrea to share them all with you! 

One of my favorite parts of the week is taking Ella to her soccer class. Two & three year olds running around, chasing soccer balls and/or each other = the cutest thing ever! It definitely makes Tuesday nights more interesting. 

Another thing that made our Tuesday more interesting this week was that Ella didn't have any potty accidents! To celebrate, we all went to Panera for dinner. Ella had her favorite - macaroni & cheese - and I had mine - broccoli cheddar soup. Eric opted for some crazy looking salad with more fruit than vegetables - not my style- but he really enjoyed it!  

Another favorite part of this week was the cookies that I made - well Nestle Toll House should probably get the real credit. I used their rolled & ready cookie dough to make sugar cookie/frosting sandwiches - OMG so good! Mine weren't what I'd call attractive, but they were 100% delicious & easy to make. If you're unfamiliar with the concept, I've included the picture below for reference - again, mine didn't look nearly this good. But, I just used the rolled & ready cookie dough with a can of frosting. It's a miracle I didn't gain 5 pounds. 

not mine... source
And I'm excited that tonight for dinner, we're having my favorite pregnancy meal - spaghetti with homemade meatballs! Eric has been making up big batches of meatballs using his family's recipe & we freeze them for easy suppers. I pulled out a batch last night & know it's going to be the perfect ending to our week. 

from the last time Eric made them... 

And one last thing... if you know me at all, you know I love a good sale! Here are a few of my favorite sale finds from this week... 
  • I think this jacket is fabulous & it's Lululemon! I'm always impressed by the quality of their products & if I wasn't pregnant, I'd be all over it! 
  • Old Navy is having a huge spring break sale & I'm going to run into the store to pick up these jeans for Miss Ella. She had them last year & absolutely lived in them. Right now they're less than $10! A lot of the picks I featured last Friday are on sale right now too! 
  • J.Crew Factory has been having some great deals lately! I picked up this tunic earlier in the week that I'll be able to wear as a shirt while I'm pregnant & a swim cover up after. I'm also loving that they have my favorite shorts in Ella's size! She scored this adorable pink pair while they were on sale!

**Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links**
Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bumpdate: 22 Weeks

size of the baby: spaghetti squash

total weight gain: 14.5 lbs. - same as last week. That is a huge relief to me because I was so freaked out by my "growth spurt"! 

gender: Baby Girl - Miss Olivia Rose 

maternity clothes: I really want it to warm up so that I bust out all of my maxis. I have plenty of great stuff to wear, a lot of it is spring & summer though. If I can just get through this month... 

movement: Eric still hasn't felt her. I swear it's him, not Olivia. 

sleeping: just fine...

missing: my dress collection. I have two more formal events this week & nothing fits me. Finding cute, reasonably priced maternity dresses is a challenge, especially when I rarely get dressed up & didn't think far enough ahead to rent one. Thankfully, I am squeezing myself into a larger size of a regular dress that I borrowed from a friend. 

craving: ice cream. I already have plans to go get some of the good stuff at Cold Stone this weekend! 

exercise: I'm adding this category, because I feel like it's been a huge part of my pregnancy this time around. I hit over 10,000 steps on my FitBit 5 out of 7 days, so I'm feeling good about myself! I know I'll have to adjust my goals as time goes on, but for now, I aim for 10,000 steps a day & it's working well for me. 

symptoms: Peanut butter is definitely triggering my heartburn, which makes me really sad because I love PB. Fried food is definitely my other trigger. I'm doing really well avoiding the fried foods (I don't eat them very often anyways) but PB is a serious staple in my diet, so I've started carrying my Tums with me again. 

Ella: is in love with our new Apple TV. We decided to get rid of our second satelite box to save money & instead purchased the Apple TV. She absolutely loves that I can pull up all of her shows on Netflix (something I've always been able to do, but rarely did) and the WatchDisneyJr. app. 

looking forward to: Spring Break. It's another week away, but I'm really looking forward to it. We have some fun things planned already & Ella is going to go to daycare two days too, just so I can get some appointments out of the way. Warmer weather would be nice too... 

best moments: 
  • We were able to get outside & take a few walks this week! Charlie & Ella are all about the warmer weather. We're so ready to get back into our nightly routine of walks after dinner. 
  • I had the best time at my in-law's house last weekend. It was super laid back with lots of family time - just what we all needed. 
  • Our crib is on it's way! I can't wait for it to arrive so that Ella's old room will finally start to feel like a nursery again! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What I Wore via Instagram

My mirror situation seriously needs to be handled. The lighting in Olivia's room is absolutely horrible, not to mention the mirror is currently placed where Olivia's crib is going. I'm thinking of moving it to my dining room, which actually has pretty decent natural light, but is it weird to have a mirror in your dining room? Suggestions please! 

And obviously this isn't even at my house... but I made do with my mother in law's hallway before we went to lunch to celebrate Eric's grandma's 81st birthday on Sunday! We went to Club 57, which is one of Eric's favorite restaurants. I ate a salad, a few of Ella's tater tots, and shared a small piece of cake with Eric, but afterwards I felt like I'd eaten a five course meal. I'm talking to the point where I didn't feel well & skipped dinner. I don't remember feeling that way until after to 30 weeks with Ella, but I swear Olivia is running out of room if I eat too much! 
jeans - J.Crew (non-maternity) // top - T.J. Maxx (non-maternity) // cardigan - Gap // moccasins - Ugg

This dress is the comfiest dress ever! I have it in sleeveless, short sleeves, & 3/4 sleeves - thanks to all of my friends who have graciously shared their pregnancy clothes with me! I will be wearing some version of it quite regularly from here on out! 
dress - Old Navy // cardigan - Loft // necklace - Loft // boots - Steve Madden 

We hit 50 degrees on Monday & that meant that I had to pull out my boat shoes. Is it just me, or are boat shoes the preppiest accessory ever? I just love mine & they've held up really well over the past 3 years. (Yes, I keep my shoes for as long as possible!) I also pulled out this light weight sweater that I found 2 years ago at Forever 21. It's so soft & I loved how it looked with my olive green pants! 
pants - J.Crew // sweater - Forever 21 // shoes - Sperry // necklace - Nordstrom // bracelets - Alex & Ani

And of course I had to get a little festive for St. Patrick's Day! I loved these green pants last time I was pregnant & know that I'm going to again this time around. They're still a little baggy around the rear on me, but they were super comfy & will fit like a glove in no time. I love how preppy the outfit turned out too with the gingham & layered cardigan. 

pants - Gap // shirt - J.Crew Factory // cardigan - Old Navy // shoes - Sperry

Linking Up with The Pleated Poppy & Shanna

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick's Day 2015

St. Patrick's Day is a pretty big deal for Eric's family. He comes from a very Irish town - one that hosts it's own parade & festival each year. And since my mother in law's birthday is March 16th too, we always end up in town celebrating the weekend before. This was the first year that Ella actually understood what a parade was, and she was pretty excited about it! 

It was super rainy outside, so I opted to wear this festive little Guinness hat from my father in law's closet, while Ella opted for some festive bows.

Selfie with my sister in law, Allison, before I dropped her off to march with the band...

Miss Ella is showing off her sash that her Grandpa Dave got for her!

I know this picture is super blurry, but the settings on my mother in law's camera are all screwed up. The point is, she had a matching sash with her Grandpa Dave... 

We hit up our favorite diner for breakfast before the parade. I have no idea how many meals I've ate here, but it's always delicious! Eric's grandma gets coffee here with all of her friends every Saturday too, so we met up with them. They're a real hoot, so it was both an entertaining & delicious dining experience.

Once Ella cleaned the restaurant out of scrambled eggs (seriously, we had to order her a second plate), we headed to watch the parade! I am looking super pregnant in this photo, but it's really just the fact that I'm wearing my North Face cold weather jacket underneath my North Face rain coat. It may have been 50, but the rain made it feel very chilly while we watched the parade for an hour. 

Ella had a little bag to collect her candy in during the parade! She got so into it! 

Dancing to the band (not the marching band - a real band) after the parade! 

And a few shots from this morning because Ella & her besties are just too cute! 

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