Eco Friendly Wall Art: Photowall

 

Before Tom, Evan, and I moved into our new home, I was eagerly planning what Evan’s nursery would look like, from the colour scheme, theme, and layout.  One of the important design elements was wall art. I had seen so many beautiful, cute, and modern prints, but I wanted something that was not the current trend and I to include certain elements in Evan’s room that would grow with him.

At the time of planning and thinking of décor and design, I had very little time to actually look for wall art, since the options and retailers are endless. So, I was pretty excited and grateful when I was asked by Photowall, to review one of their products.  Photowall’s product line-up of canvas prints (with do-it-yourself frame) and wall murals/wallpaper is absolutely stunning and so not boring.  The artists they work with all bring very unique and versatile elements to the murals and canvas prints they design.

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How We Won Our Dream House

Tom and I knew we wanted to purchase our first home before Evan arrived. We decided to purchase when we did, since the market in Toronto was (and is) ridiculous. Prices were being blown waaay over asking due to inevitable bidding wars. We were lucky the government put new rules and regulations into place when we were in the market, which helped ease the pain of buying and selling. Both our buy and sell had to be timed just right to avoid having our house search drag on too close or even past Evan’s due date (and good thing since Ev decided to arrive a month early).

We went into house hunting expecting to have to look at over 20 homes and possibly having to place at least 10 different offers before getting a house we wanted. We had heard stories from friends and acquaintances being in the market to purchase for over a year and seeing well over 100 houses, even putting in over 25 offers! Thankfully, that was not the case. Phew!

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Great To Be Back

 

I know I’ve been MIA for way too long, but let me explain.

2017 wasn’t “busy” in terms of having a full social schedule, but being pregnant for the first half of the year made me a total couch potato.  The first trimester started at the end of 2016 and trickled into 2017.  This was my first pregnancy and I don’t remember feeling as lethargic and exhausted in my life as I did then (actually, when I volunteered for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and didn’t sleep for over 24 hours then having to catch a plane for my vacation over seas, was the only other time prior to becoming a new Mother), and when I finally got my energy back in the second trimester, I was trying to play catch up at the gym – keeping myself physically healthy during my pregnancy and in preparation for Evan’s arrival.

There was a whole ton I wanted to blog about and share with you, but experiencing pregnancy for the first time was a real kick in the butt and a serious reality check. I always thought I would be able to have everything balanced, organized, and running like clock work as I am so proudly able to do – it is part of who I am…My crazy organizational and plan-ahead skills…Which all went to poo with my pregnancy.

I decided several years ago that I wasn’t going to force myself to do things if I just wasn’t feeling it. Doing that stressed me out and made me antsy.  I didn’t need to feel like that during my pregnancy. I wanted to be as calm and cool as possible (when my hormones weren’t raging). From being tired and exhausted to developing pregnancy brain (it is real, believe me. I tired to fight it.) which then turns into mommy brain once your little one arrives. You can’t get away from it. But I’ll touch more on that in a future blog post.

I still have so much I want to share about my pregnancy and on being a first time mom. Forgive me as I now play catch up on Flour + Paper, and I may seem to be all over the place as I travel backwards with my life events and make my way back into blog land.

To give you a quick rundown, aside from sharing my pregnancy experiences, I have yet to share all the tips I came across while planning our wedding in the fall of 2016, and not to mention Tom and mines latest adventures in being new parents and new home owners in a new city – there is SO MUCH to share! I don’t even remember Christmas since it flew by so quickly. I think it took a back seat to us moving and settling into our new home.

I never even got around to thinking about New Year resolutions for 2018, but what I have decided (over and over again since thinking that getting my balance back seemed like it was never going to happen, up until recently) is to follow a handful of key things that really made a difference in how I lived my daily life a few years ago, when I was stuck in a rut:

 

GO WITH THE FLOW
This was my dad’s advice to me back in 2011 when I was trying to force things in my life. Whether it be relationships, jobs, chores, hobbies, etc. So, I started to just let things be. If something didn’t click with me, I left it alone and let it be. Forcing it never ended well or left me feeling great. I took more of an “If it does, it does. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t” approach to just about everything. I accepted the good and the not so good potential of my situations. That way I wasn’t left feeling let down by expecting anything from anything or anyone.

 

BE GRATEFUL
My sister called me out on this when I was feeling super down on life in 2013. I don’t remember why she said it exactly and what we were talking about, but I remember my outlook changing almost immediately and I started to look for the tiniest bright side or good things that happened throughout my day. By doing this, so many awesome things started to enter my life, and I started to take notice of all the amazingness already filling my life.

 

PAY ATTENTION
In 2011 I started reading The Celestine Prophecy series of books. I had bought them a few years before that based on a recommendation from one of my close friends.  The first book in the series is the original and the best of the four. The Celestine Prophecy takes the reader through nine insights, one of them being “Meaningful Coincidences.” I won’t go into detail, but to sum it up, pay attention to situations or messages you experience or hear multiple times. They usually take place when you are in need of an answer to something and they keep occurring until you take notice and act on them. It’s one of the reason’s we are sleep training Evan right now and why I’ve been able to spend time writing this blog post the past couple of days.

 

As Tom and I work our way through the adventures in parenting, I’m slowly finding a balance, amongst other personal goals, and so you can look forward to more posts (trickling in) from Flour + Paper from here on out.  I can’t promise they will be regular, but they will happen bit by bit.

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Maternity Style Staples: Tips To Stretch Your Closet + Budget

Once I got through the first semester, and my belly started to actually grow, is when I started thinking of having to purchase dreaded maternity clothes. I didn’t want to get sucked into spending tons of money on clothing that is insanely overpriced and, realistically, would only get worn for a few months. For the most part, the majority of pregnant women are going to need a wardrobe that takes them through 2 weather seasons, since they can get away with wearing regular clothing for the first trimester.

I did purchase a few non-fashion items in my first trimester which I found essential and would use throughout my pregnancy as well as after. However, when it comes to maternity clothing, it seems like wearing most of what’s available after pregnancy, could look a bit odd.

When shopping for maternity clothing, I found that prices range from average to just plain ridiculous. So, although it took a bit of searching (and self restraint to not blow all my cash) I managed to shop my own closet and purchase items that look great during pregnancy and will be just as stylish to wear postpartum.

 

STRETCHY TUNIC TANKS

These are perfect for layering with sweaters, shirts, and blazers. They have a whole lot of stretch and the extra length helps to keep your belly from showing a bit of skin once you’re baby bump is pretty plump. | $7 CAD, Old Navy (on sale)

 

SWING DRESS

Swing dresses are great and will fit your bump all the way through your pregnancy since they are cut in an A-line shape and the style naturally has extra fabric, allowing lot’s of room for belly growth. They look great with just about any boot, shoe, or sandal. I’ve been wearing mine since the first trimester and still wearing it proudly. | $48.96 CAD on sale at The GAP

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Pregnancy: First Trimester Essentials

 

Yes! I’ve made it through the first trimester (Tom survived as well…and is still surviving through all the pregnancy hormones) and am basking in the bliss I’ve heard SO much about that comes in the second trimester. And it sure is wonderful!

The first trimester of pregnancy is between weeks 1 through 12 and I’m not going to say it was the worst thing ever, but it wasn’t very pleasant either. All pregnant women will have a slightly different pregnancy experience, but for the most part, many of the symptoms are the same – the sore breasts, aches and cramps, bloating, constipation (I know, T.M.I.), nausea (I had ALL day nausea without the puking, thank goodness), and food aversions. I’m going to say…This. Was. The. WORST. I can’t speak for Tom but I’m pretty sure my raging hormones accompanied by mood swings will always rank #1 of the worst thing for my entire pregnancy. I think he’s a bit nervous about how I’ll be after the baby. I don’t blame him. I’m a little scared myself.

There are a handful of items I found very practical and essential to surviving the first semester. Seeing that we chose not to tell friends and family about our baby-on-the-way news for the first trimester, I was left up to my own devices on figuring out how to deal with certain symptoms. Here were some of my favourite things that helped me get through it:

 

BOOKS + APPS

Being newly pregnant and not being able to share the news or get advice from those who have been through it before, can be tough. You want to know if what you’re experiencing is normal and figure out how to manage. I found these books and app to be very helpful (in addition to talking with my doctor).

What to expect when you’re expecting

What to expect: What to eat when you’re expecting

What to expect app

 

PRENATAL VITAMINS

These are imperative during your first trimester. However, my doctor did recommend I start taking them once we started planning and actively trying since certain vitamins and minerals help to prevent neural tube defects which affects the brain and spinal cord (which are the first parts to develop of your growing baby and before you will even know you are pregnant). The most important vitamins and minerals are folic acid, iron and calcium.

 

GINGER

Another recommendation by my doctor as well as my pregnancy books and app. Since you are limited in the medication you can take during pregnancy, especially if you suffer from nausea and morning sickness, ginger is a great natural remedy to help alleviate those symptoms. Try ginger tea, ginger ale, and ginger lozenges.

 

FIBER

Constipation is pretty much guaranteed during pregnancy. It’s all due to those lovely hormones, specifically progesterone, which has a relaxing effect on your muscles, including your digestive system (causing food to make its way through your intestines rather slowly). The best way to fight this is to eat fiber rich foods such as whole-grain cereals and breads, fruits like apples (with the skin), and dried fruits such as figs and apricots.

 

CRACKERS

Such a simple thing, but when you have all day nausea and just can’t stomach anything, saltine, arrowroot, or ginger snap crackers are like gold. Have them on hand to help you get something in your tummy. The saltine crackers can help with the nausea as well.

 

MATERNITY BRAS

These are a MUST! Regular bra’s just won’t cut it when you’re breasts start to swell and become ridiculously tender. I find that regular bra’s don’t provide the proper support or comfort you will need over the next nine months. A well fitted maternity bra can help prevent stretch marks, reduce sagging, and alleviate back pain. This is because a maternity bras cover the entire breast, which is more than an everyday fashion bra covers – everything is cut higher from the top of the breast to the breast tissue under your armpit. And between underwire and wireless, I’d say wireless all the way – they don’t feel so constricting and tight.

 

THE MIRACLE BALL METHOD FOR PREGNANCY

Towards the end of my first trimester, I started to get a lot of lower back pain and discomfort in my hips. My sister gave me the Miracle Ball Method for Pregnancy, which is a set of two teeny Swiss exercise balls and an instruction book on how to use them for different aches and pains. I wasn’t sure about them, but after the first time of using them, I noticed a HUGE difference. You have to be sure and be gentle with

 

BELLY BELT

During my first trimester I didn’t gain much weight, but my waist did grow enough for me to notice a difference in the way my clothes fit, especially my pants. I didn’t want to start purchasing  maternity clothes until I absolutely had too, and besides, maternity pants seem to be made for expectant mothers unless they are in their second and/or third trimesters.

The Belly Band is a perfect start to maternity gear while still wearing the pants and jeans you love most. It’s a set of elastics, at varying lengths to accommodate you as you grow, which easily attach to you pants with a button hole and button. I needed an additional inch and a half on my jeans by then end of my first trimester, and these did just the trick!

 

BELLA BAND

This I used (and still use) with my Belly Bands. I find that while the Belly Band give you more pant room, my pants would slide down slightly. The Bella Band helped keep my pants from sliding too much and would smooth out the bit of bulk that comes with using the Belly Bands.

 

SUPPORT SYSTEM

Surrounding yourself with family and friends who provide endless support and welcomed advice is always a good idea, especially for first time mom’s. The first several weeks were tough as Tom and I decided to wait until the end of the first trimester before sharing news with our family and closest friends. After sharing the surprise with everyone, it was the best feeling to have other supportive and experienced mom’s who had been through pregnancy already.

Are there any tips or must have items you used during your pregnancy? Would love to have you share them in the comments below!

1. Rosie Pope Wireless Nursing Bra $59.87 CAD | 2. Belly Belt $30 CAD | 3. What to Expect When You’re Expecting $18.17 CAD | 4. Miracle Ball Method for Pregnancy $20.21 CAD | 5. Bella Band $42 CAD

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