Soul Survival

Trying to find time to workout with a newborn and breastfeeding is no joke. For nearly a year, I've been wanting to try the much-loved SoulCycle but when feeling like a house combined with preggo complications late in my second trimester, I never went.

 

As I'm slowly starting to feel like a semi-normal functioning human post-babe, it was time to get back at it for myself and the little one.

 

My girlfriend booked us bikes with one of her favorite instructors and gave me a brief run-down. I was pseudo familiar with the general platform - music-driven, thoughtful yoga-esque intentions and bike dancing woven throughout - as well as being pricey and drawing a cult-like fan reputation. (I mean it couldn't be worse than Crossfit with the latter, right?!)

 

I have to say, I was nervous. We walked in to a clean, stark, yet vibrant lobby space packed with a fashion-forward, generally in-shape crowd.

 

I rented my bike shoes and strolled into the dark room lit with candles, which also was surprisingly warm. (Surely they will turn down the temp when a room of 50-plus bodies are closely packed in, right?!)

 

Then there was the pre-ride prep. I swapped out weights, added seat padding (because, birth) learned and adjusted to proper seat positioning with an assistant's help and clicked in. 

 

The über-fit instructor with colorful tattoos covering her toned arms began class welcoming us newbies, quickly shared the theme of the class - London - and we all joined in to send positive thoughts to the Orlando nightclub shooting which occurred only hours before. A welcome and feel-good start.

 

The class itself included a warm-up and the music made my jelly legs want to keep to the beat. I mean who has Florence and the Machine playing in their workout?! Amaze. Other tunes included the Spice Girls, Ellie Goulding and Queen where we turned up bike tension after hearing the famed "Another One Bites the Dust" bridge. Woof. There were "bike push-up" movements (which hurt my wrists), favoring of each leg and some light arm weights work towards the end of class. The instructor encouraged support throughout class with suggested neighbor high-fives, calling out regulars, encouraging individual dancing and sharing quick personal stories where agreeing nods were seen.

 

Net, I survived. I appreciated the ability to scale the workout, the positivity, the instructor talent and direction and the sweat. However, the thirty bucks plus shoe rental is no joke on the wallet, but I will return. And it's easy to see how regulars just can't get enough. See you again soon, soul riders. 

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Neighborhood Bites

I love exploring my own city. And even better when there's new restaurants in close proximity... well, because baby.  

 

Our Chicago neighborhood is experiencing quite the expansion. With Google new to the area and a McDonald's confirmed move, changes are still a-coming.  (P.S. Google's free employee breakfast and lunch fresh buffet spread is incredible - tip: find a friend and get put on the visitor list!)

 

I recently ventured out and tried a few new digs...  

 

Monteverde (1020 West Madison) is an "Italian restaurant that blends the traditions of Italian culture and cooking with influences from Chef Sarah Grueneberg’s trips around the world, as well as her family heritage." This former Top Chef didn't miss a beat... if I could bottle a summer outdoor experience, this would be near the top. A friend, my babe and me snagged a walk-in patio spot on one of the most gorgeous summer evenings. Enjoying rose, a friendly-peppy waiter and incredible dishes with fresh ingredients, I can't wait to go back. 

 

My favorites were the special truffle-mushroom egg toast and the unique, but wildly flavorful skate wing schnitzel. The pastas also do not disappoint. 

SPECIAL - truffle mushroom toast with egg

SPECIAL - truffle mushroom toast with egg

 SKATE WING SCHNITZEL caper salsa verde, asparagus, arugula, watercress, cherry tomatoes, parsley new potatoes

 SKATE WING SCHNITZEL caper salsa verde, asparagus, arugula, watercress, cherry tomatoes, parsley new potatoes

The second newcomer down the road sits on Randolph's 'restaurant row'  where famed chef Rick Bayless expands his chops to this hot destination. Cruz Blanca Cerveceria (904 West Randolph) is the more chill, Mexican-style informal "hermanita" of attached Lena Brava bursting with craft beer options.

 

The open, airy space was a perfect lunch destination to catch up with a former colleague with taco platters, sides and "agua Del dia" infused drinks. 

 

Note: no reservations are accepted and the set up is a place-your-order and wait for your name to be called. And a huge kudos to the staff who were overly accommodating for my behemoth stroller.

Beef tasajo taco plate, guacamole, cucumber salad, agua del dia and oaxacan peanuts.  

Beef tasajo taco plate, guacamole, cucumber salad, agua del dia and oaxacan peanuts.  

Any other must-try new Chicago spots?  Bonus for those stroller-friendly. 

Monkey Morning

My three-week-old little guy slept two back-to-back three hour stints, so this 'well-rested' mamma was motivated to whip something up (incredible what a few extra hours can do when caring for a newborn round-the-clock - perhaps that's another post). After a load of baby laundry, a shower (always a daily win) and a quick Swiffer around the house, why not make a healthy nosh?! 

 

I quickly pulled up my favorite healthy banana bread recipe from COOKIE + Kate (it's bookmarked on my phone) and started baking in between baby cries.

 

I love love this recipe - I use honey, whole wheat pastry flour and tossed in some crushed walnuts and chocolate chips in my back pantry corner. I've also alternated between coconut oil and olive oil for a few recipes, and both are delicious. 

 

Full recipe link: Healthy Banana Bread Recipe - COOKIE + Kate

 

Voila! 

 

 

 

A New Journey

To say that the last three weeks have been the biggest daze is an understatement.

 

From my first hospital stay to the helpless, hopeless and frustrated feelings the first week home to new cries, moans and yawns, it's been a veritable adventure but with a boundless increase of love.  

 

The world will never be the same as my husband and welcomed a new life on April 4, 2016, promptly at noon (on the dot!) with a healthy baby BOY. It's been a wild ride but the sweet face has certainly changed all of us. 

Photo credit: Bella Baby

Photo credit: Bella Baby

 

 

Saturday Sips

I love playing tourist in my own city.

 

For a friend's birthday over Easter weekend, we celebrated by enjoying afternoon tea in The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago. The elegant lobby, scenic Chicago views overlooking the Terrace and Michigan Avenue bustle, striking florals, live string band and top service completed a delectable experience. 

 

While 37 weeks pregnant, I was still able to partake in most menu offerings and found (why just now?!) a delicious preggo-friendly bubbly! Perhaps I was most excited about this discovery... for those curious, it's the Fre Sparkling Brut (with under 0.5% alcohol) and was most refreshing with notes of green apple and ripe pear. 

 

Other highlights were the rich desserts (hello chocolate mousse cake bites) and my favorite - the cucumber sandwiches and warm scones. And how can I forget my very own 'Peninsula Easter Bunny Bear' gifted to my baby bump. Now that's hoppy-tality. 

Afternoon tea menu.

Afternoon tea menu.

Lovely display. 

Lovely display. 

Easter florals

Easter florals

Sweet treats, please!

Sweet treats, please!

Home Stretch

Wild how pregnancy has flown by. I'm 36 weeks, and each day is a different challenge! 

 

Overall, I'm grateful for my journey although there have been bumps in the road.

 

First trimester was ridden with nausea round the clock (thank you, diclegis!) and bizarre food aversions (chicken, broccoli, meat = vomitous) and some extreme bouts of exhaustion. Also, we didn't quite know how far along we were at the beginning - we were anxious to tell folks but ended up having to wait a bit longer after confirming baby's gestational age. 

 

Second trimester things looked up with more energy but towards the end I was diagnosed with pelvic separation. Not a rare symptom, but essentially the front joint of the pubic bone separates - it was painful to stand up, walk and I quickly got diagnosed and started PT which did wonders. We had some scary doctor's visits as well - had to get three extra ultrasounds to check on a heart photo that one of the Northwestern specialists (as the OB doctors office sends out) wasn't pleased with. Per multiple images, one of the heart ductus' looked abnormal, small. After many total hours of ultrasounds, different angles with different machines, and seeing the specialist himself combined with checking with the Northwestern Prentice fetal carioligist specialist, he confirmed the baby's heart was great. A great relief. 

 

Now in the third trimester I was lucky to get a 33 week ultrasound (hey, extra photos!) to check if the placenta had moved up - as it was low in earlier ultrasounds - and indeed it did. Given I'm less than one month until due date (eek!), I'm seeing the doctor every week. The pressure is down there when I walk (welcome to waddling), my ears are popping like crazy (extra fluid everywhere!), I'm apparently snoring (sorry, hon), cannot wear my wedding ring (hooray for bloating!) and the heartburn is increasingly unbearable at night. 

 

More to come, can't wait for Baby R to get here!  

 

Bathroom bumpie @ 34 weeks  

Bathroom bumpie @ 34 weeks  

Lounging with my bump, babe and sweet Winnie. 

Lounging with my bump, babe and sweet Winnie. 

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Countdown

Today marks 28 weeks of carrying this now little eggplant. Aloha, third trimester.

 

Wild how relatively quick this whole journey has been... sure there have been aches, pains, vomiting, bloating, nausea but also lovely kicks, punches, funny belly movement and glorious beating heart sounds.   

 

Any momma tips, tricks for the third trimester? Let's do this.

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New Year, New Journey

Well, it's 2016! 2015 was a year of growth, travels and a big announcement... hello, preggers! I know 2016 will be the biggest journey yet.  

 

While I'm not a faithful journal writer (how I often wish I can write weekly of life happenings), I'm thankful for social media that often triggers great memories - hooray for Timehop! However, I do like to record my yearly travels... below are my 2015 destinations. Cheers to a great year ahead for all of you and making beautiful, happy memories. 

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Nailed It

I'm a brand loyal nail product gal. 90 percent of the time I do my own nails as, frankly, I'm quite particular and with my limited art skills and proper tools, they look great. And I've learned what I like over the years. But above all, my nail time/process is a big relaxation and decompressor. But enough about me. 

 

I made an impromptu Sephora polish purchase of Dior  Autumn/Winter 2015 gel shine and long wear nail lacquer in Cosmopolite (photos below).

 

A seemingly plum/maroon color, it still sits nicely alongside the classic holiday reds. The application itself was a surprise as the brush is slightly curved/fanned out, making those outside corners reachable in one painting motion. The texture is indeed very gel like and sits that way immediately after even one coat. 

 

Net, this purchase was a win. I see a few more bottles of Dior in my future. 

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Glowing and Growing

A new little sparkle is entering our lives come April 2016. And I don't think I can hide my growing belly much longer, so here it is world... I'm pregnant! 

 

It's been so rewarding sharing the news with family and friends over the past few weeks. I guess once the news hits social media, then it must feel really real, right?!  

 

I'm nearly 18 weeks and can't complain too much. I had some struggles with nausea for the majority of my first trimester, but was grateful to take prescribed Diclegis which quickly did the trick. And my, how good that bread and pasta tasted as I couldn't quite stomach meats and much else. Now, there's consistent heartburn bouts and some nasty headaches, but I can't really complain. 

 

I'm excited to share my journey here as well as connect with other soon-to-be-mamas and rockstar moms. I don't plan to overhaul this blog into a mommy blog, but you betcha I'll be sharing cool finds and general updates on this time. 

 

Oh, and hope you like this sketch by yours truly of our little arrival announcement.  

 

 

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Twinkle toes, will travel.

On this #TravelTuesday, I don't sparkle discriminate when it comes to feet.

Granted, unorganized, chintzy sparkles in glue-seeping pods and ill-anchored embellishments I'll respectfully decline, but when perfect accents come along AND pair with function... well, yes please.  

Enter these loafer beauties. A metallic cap-toe with anchored crystals and a rubber sole, this pair is a travel must.

But I won't stop with these, would love to hear your MUST travel kicks. What are your favorite, comfy, travel-worthy picks? 

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Miu Miu Embellished Cap-Toe Linen Loafer Corda 

Miu Miu Embellished Cap-Toe Linen Loafer Corda 

A Decade of Love

This post is dedicated to all the perfection from my cousin's incredible wedding. Words cannot adequately describe the weekend as we watched my cousin marry her best friend - a love story ten years in the making.  

The Standard Club downtown Chicago was bursting with emotion, love and beauty and never looked better. It was magnificent and brilliant - the talented team (credits below) poured into every detail to make her dreams come true. 

Check out some of the incredible decor by HMR Designs.  

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Summer Slowness

Hi friends... my it's been awhile since I posted (ugh!) and oh my do I have much to catch up on here. Weddings, birthdays and more. But, for today, wanted to share some colorful pics snapped (iPhone only) for weekend inspiration. 

 

Check back soon soon for more updates. Happy Friday, and hope you like.

 

 

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A Mother's Day Success

This Mother's Day, my husband and I had both sets of parents over along with a surprise visit from one of my sisters. The husband and I curated a 'paleo-forward' brunch menu so our family could experience what we often eat. Behold our menu below (courtesy of Nom Nom Paleo cookbook) as well as a few photos of our spread! 

 

-Bacon aioli-topped deviled eggs (all paleo filling)

-Pistachio apple endive salad (w/ paleo honey mustard dressing)

-Chinese egg foo young w/ chicken, spinach (egg patty)

-Spicy tuna cakes (made with sweet potatoes as binding agent) 

-Cinnamon apple scones (w/ almond flour and honey) 

-Greek yogurt with vanilla granola, chia seeds, fresh fruit (non-paleo) 

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Manolo Matrimony

One of my favorite wedding shoes is the Manolo Blahnik "Swan" pump. Disclaimer: they are not yet in my closet. From my stance, this is an updated answer to the famed "Carrie" SATC shoe - but with an increased embellished whimsical, swirling vine appliqué feel. 

 

I completed a sketch this week of this beauty in magenta. Hope you like it! What's your favorite wedding shoe?  

Manolo Blahnik Swan Satin Pump

Manolo Blahnik Swan Satin Pump