7.22.2014

Buy This - Not That

Okay, here's a little truth for your Tuesday, (though it will come as no surprise to those who know me best.) In my entire 29 years, I've owned only one "designer" label item. That's it. And even that, I got on sale. (My wedding shoes. A pair of 6" Badgley Mischka stilettos. They looked like heaven and felt like hell.)

Yochi Design Turquoise Necklace ($76) // Shine On Necklace in blue from Riffraff ($28)

Call me cheap. Call me thrifty. Call me an assortment of other words. (It wouldn't be the first time.)

I gives no craps.

Yep, girls. Even my "Louis V" bag is a faux , albeit a pretty convincing one. At the time I bought it in 2010, I lived on a single gal's budget that was tighter than the lid on a pickle jar. Ergo, a faux LV for $250, it was. And, do you know what? I still carry the darn thing.

So, what is this post all about? To teach you how to be cheap resourceful like me?

"Why yes, Dorothy!! It is!!"

Here are a few of my recent picks for summer that look pretty doggone similar to their more expensive counterparts:



Kate Spade Saturday Tassel Heels in black ($195) // GMD High-Heeled Sandals in black ($49)


Aurelie Bidermann Esteban Ring from Barney's ($325) // Vertebrae Quad Ring ($28)

Alice D. Perforated White Leather Tote ($371) // Genuine Leather Shopper Tote ($129)


Diane von Furstenburg Tiffany Shorts  ($112) // Gap Sunkissed Striped Shorts ($49.95)


Anthropologie Cartonnier High-Rise Trousers ($98) // Clinton Greylin Pant from Maude Boutique ($39)

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So how 'bout you? Are you a bargain hunter like me? Where's your favorite affordable place to shop?

7.21.2014

A Must-Read for New or Expectant Moms

Y'all. My word.

If you've had kids or are expecting a baby, (or maybe in nursing school yourself), you NEED to read this post by my friend Rachel. She's a Labor & Delivery nurse and today, she's sharing the details and emotions of her job with the blog world.
She's one of my all-time favorite bloggers and internet friends and one of these days, I'm going to meet her in person. (Seriously Rachel, this needs to happen. It's been like six years.)

Read up, gals.


How I Make Caroline's Food

I apologize in advance to those of you who don't have infants. I really try to keep the baby posts to a minimum, but sometimes there's a post that's pretty momma-focused : ) This is one of those. Tomorrow, we'll discuss a new eyeliner, look at some fedoras and discuss how to achieve a "natural" blush. 

I got a couple of emails and comments via Instagram about what our food prep is like for Caroline. We chose to forego "baby food" and opt for fresh fruits and veggies prepared in purees. There's really not a lot of cooking involved and the fresh flavor is SO much better than that off a shelf or in a jar. (Trust me, I tasted it.)

We chose to make her food, simply for two reasons:
1) I wanted her to know what real food tasted like.
2) It was a LOT more cost-effective than the pre-packaged stuff. And with no preservatives. (For the record, it's my understanding that there are some awesome pre-packaged options out there without tons of preservatives or additives, but they are pretty expensive.)


I will say, there is a little bit more prep involved until they get some teeth, but it really isn't that big a headache. I just choose one day out of the week to prepare her meals and it only takes an hour or so.

In our regular rotation

Yellow squash
Yams/sweet potatoes
Carrots
Green beans
Avocados
Pears
Bananas
Apples
Plums
Kiwi
Turkey (we buy the organic, no hormones/antibiotics added variety from our deli and have them shave it thin.)
Full-fat Greek yogurt (plain, non-flavored)

Every Sunday, I prepared fresh food and put it into large Tupperware containers, which we refrigerate. I know you can make larger batches ahead of time and freeze, but since we're in the process of moving and trying to cut down on food we'll have to transport, I'm making smaller batches weekly.

Squash

For squash, I remove the outer skin, then cut it into thin slices. (Usually 2-3 medium-to-large squash will get her through a week.) I spread the slices on the bottom of a sprayed 9x13 glass pan, drizzle a Tbsp. or two of olive oil to get her some of those good fats, and sprinkle with a teaspoon of sea salt to add a little flavor.

Then, I bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the slices are tender and well-cooked.

Hamilton Beach 10-Cup Food Processor, here

Lastly, I puree them up in our food processor. We actually purchased ours from Dillard's back when we got married and it was relatively inexpensive, ($50 or so.) The brand is Hamilton Beach and it does the trick quite nicely!

Sweet potatoes and carrots

For sweet potatoes and carrots, I cut them into small pieces and boil on the stove until tender. Then, I drain 'em and puree 'em. I don't add anything to these veggies for flavor, as both of these are plenty flavorful on their own.

Avocados

For avocados, I ALWAYS prepare them right before I serve them to her. No one likes eating a brown avocado - yuck! So, I puree them up after pulling out the pit, then add 1/8 cup of full fat Greek yogurt, then puree with a couple of pulses to get it to a creamy consistency. The kid loves it!

Fruit

Pears, bananas and apples are all tossed into the processor, too. Just a few quick pulses and they're good to go.

Turkey and Yogurt

We just started introducing her to meat and she loves it. Right now, we are doing turkey. I have the deli assistant to shave 1 lb. per week. (We do a no-hormone/no-antibiotic added brand, which also does not inject extra sodium or preservatives into theirs. It tastes SO much better than that packaged mess.) At home, I'll toss the turkey it in the microwave for a few seconds to make it even easier for her to chew. If there are any pieces that are still a little big, I just use the fork and mash 'em up until they're easy enough for her to swallow.

She also loves Greek yogurt. Our pediatrician said to avoid the "baby yogurts" since most pack a lot of sugar. He has seven kids of his own and said that he gave all of his plain, full-fat Greek yogurt mixed with apples or pears as a daily snack. And, since Greek yogurt is full of probiotics, it's great for little digestive tracks. We give her a little less than 1/4 cup at a time, mix it with pureed pears and she gobbles it right down.

Sample Food Day

Breakfast:
Every day, she eats a generous bowl of plain, non-flavored infant, multi-grain oatmeal mixed with fresh peaches, apples or pears.

Snack:
She'll have a mid-morning snack of yogurt with fresh, pureed fruit, followed by a small 4-oz. bottle.

Lunch:
Generous helping of sweet potatoes, green beans, mashed potatoes, butternut or yellow squash or carrots. Sides of turkey and some avocado, followed by a small 4-oz. bottle IF she's still acting hungry.

Afternoon Snack:
Fruit (kiwi, plums or banana), followed by 4 oz. bottle

Dinner:
Same as lunch, just with a different veggie than she had then.

Pre-Bedtime Bottle (5 oz.)
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So that's about it. Nothing fancy and pretty simple to execute each week. If you have any specific questions about her eating schedule, the foods we love or anything else, you can shoot me an email at askblondeambition@gmail.com

7.18.2014

Confessional Friday: {Link-Up}

‘Tis time once again, fair ladies of the interwebs. It’s time to confess (!!)


-I confess that I haven’t been sucked into a book like I am with Gone Girl right now. Holy plot twists and cagey characters! I know I’m two years late to the hoopla, but I’m glad I’m finally reading it. Can’t wait for the film in October now.

-I confess that I enjoyed a delicious bowl of piping hot chicken noodle soup last night because it was 60 degrees here yesterday. Yes, folks; in Arkansas, that qualifies as cold weather.

-I confess that, even though it is quite possible confirmed our Razorbacks will be awful again this year, I am so excited for college football to begin! I’ll admit, mostly because of tailgating food and cooler weather, but I love the energy of SEC football season. Bring. It. On.

-I confess that a very well known Northwest Arkansas boutique is doing a killer college gameday look book (seriously, it is the look book to end all look books) that will launch in August. Yours truly cannot WAIT to share it will y’all!

-I also confess that once again, I’ll be putting up my own gameday outfit picks in a post in August. Already surfing the online stores for the items I want to show ya. And just like always, I’ll post apparel in all color schemes so that, no matter what alma mater you cheer on, there’ll be something for you.

Finally, I confess that I was so caught up in telling you guys about Ainsley earlier this month that I forgot to say THANKS FOR FIVE YEARS OF BLOGGING! A Blonde Ambition turned FIVE on July 9. I never envisioned blogging this long and not sure how much longer I'll keep it up, but hey – I'm elated that you've allowed me to fill your computer screens every morning for the last five years. Thanks for tuning in. You guys have been great friends and I can’t wait to see where we all go from here.

   
   

7.17.2014

The "Second Baby" Body: The Good, the Bad and the Bloated

Alright one-time mamas, I'm going to let you in on a little secret truth: you WILL show a lot faster when you become "with child" for the second time. It is inevitable. You can't outsmart the bump. And it won't creep up silently...oh no, girls. It will come like an atomic bomb in the dead of night.

(Can I get an ayyyyyyyyy-men from my Choir of Moms?)

And you'll be all like, "Hey doc, are you sure there's just one in there?"
And he'll nod his head and, with a smile, remind you that "your uterus is larger and more roomy now."

Wow, dude. Thanks for making me feel like the friggin' Holiday Inn Deluxe Suite.

For real though, somewhere around week 15, I went into the bathroom one morning and BAM! The bump had made itself very present. Don't get me wrong, if I'm going to be pregnant, I want to look pregnant. I just didn't know one could go from a flat(ish) tummy to a full-fledged bump quite literally overnight.

My feelings toward this can best be expressed with everybody's favorite Emoji, Bulgy Eyes:
In addition to my stomach shooting out like WOAH, there are some really fun (no seriously, I'm not being sarcastic) second-baby-body perks. Like, I actually am getting to enjoy a bumpier bump this time. With Caroline, I always had this weird torpedo shape to my baby belly, but Miss Ainsley has brought mama a rounder and more basketball-like (err, at least dome-shaped) baby bump, which I kind of love.

Taken this morning at work. Here we are!

And gosh, did I ever miss pregnancy hair and fingernails. (For the whole five months I was not pregnant, anyway.) I mean, who needs extensions when you've got B-complex vitamins surging through your veins, amIright?

However, with a rapidly expanding bump comes a rapidly expanding need for maternity clothes. With Caroline, I got away nearly to the bitter end with just regular tops and a single pair of maternity pants. ONE PAIR.

I had to gently explain to Stephen why mama may need to purchase a few more maternity items with this bambina. And by "gently explained", I mean I hormonally sobbed in our bathroom one morning while tossing pants around left and right and exclaiming, "I'm a beast!!"

To which he lied to me hugged me and said I was "very pretty and slim", and told me to order whatever my pregnant heart desired.

Thank you Lawd for giving me a kind and understanding man. A man who is equal parts sympathetic and terrified of my raging hormones. 

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All HCG and the unceasing need to pee aside, I freaking love seeing my body support another life. It's beautiful and scary and humbling to think that the human body can sustain and grow another being. It's like the coolest science project ever.

Last night after a glorious round of barfing, I was perched on the couch eating a bowl of pretzels with a ginger ale, and Ainsley kicked. It wasn't terribly hard kick, but more of a little shuffle-ball-change, (tap dancers say what?!) It was like, "Hey mom. I'm here. Thanks for being a pal and bringing me into this world."

And I rested my hand on top of my tummy and thanked the good Lord for letting me do this again.

Because honestly, it's awesome.