November 2, 2013

Stitch Fix: My First Fix

It finally arrived!! My first 'fix' from StitchFix!

I know, I know: this is a mommy blog, right? Well, it's specifically a working mommy blog and I am pretty sure this is exactly what every working mommy needs in her life! Anyone else out there totally run out of time to go shopping for herself? Or if you get the time you are too intimidated to try on things outside your comfort zone? Or 'true' size? After taking a year off from my 'regular' wardrobe to be pregnant (and then newly post-pregnant in the 4th trimester), I've rather lost touch with what's 'in style' and what might address this new body of mine. Enter StitchFix.
The concept is basically that someone else does all that work for you. And they even send you cards with little pictures to show you how to wear each piece! You fill out a questionnaire with info about your sizes, and preferences for style and even price range. Then you request a fix. You could opt to do this monthly, or as needed. You may want to try sooner rather than later, because the time to receive a fix has already increased from 4 weeks to 6 weeks! They send a box, you try everything on. Keep what you like. Send the rest back for free. They charge a $20 styling fee, but its applied towards anything you decide to keep. AND if you keep all 5 pieces you get an extra 25% off everything.
So now to the real question: What did I think?
Well, my husband and I are invited to a wedding in a couple weeks. The first we've been to in, literally, years, and it's at the same location we got married ourselves. Needless to say, I am overjoyed for a chance to dress up and be grownups AND relive my own wedding (and actually get to eat the food and drink the drinks!). And I want to look like my best possible self doing so!
I signed right up for the fix, and specifically requested some help on what to wear to this wedding.
The questionnaire seemed spot on, asking all the right questions, and even letting me choose between photos of outfits to indicate things I liked or didn't like.
My fix was scheduled to arrive on Halloween, and it did exactly that. Which meant I had to wait past taking the kids trick-or-treating and getting everything packed for school and work the next day before I could try it all on (but truth be told I snuck into the bathroom to open the box and sneak a peek at the style cards even before all that).

The box is wrapped up like a gift from a friend, with a personal note tucked in it. The note has a sheet of all the style cards for the entire box (and each piece has a card attached as well). See that cute pattern peeking out? I was already excited. This is not a pattern I would ever pick out myself, but seeing that someone else thought I was worthy of wearing it was exciting already!

So on with the pieces!

Piece #1: Minerva Geo Print Peplum Blouse
That cute pattern was still cute all the way out of the box. However the cut wasn't for me. The waist on this was just not in the right place for me. Higher or lower would be much better. Not to mention that it was SUPER snug on my upper arms (a bit of a bummer since this is a trouble spot for me). I had to get my husband to help me out of it :(
Verdict: RETURN

Piece #2:Crosby Floral & Dot Print Tie-Neck Blouse
I was really excited about this one. And I really wanted to keep it. Except, again it was too tight in the upper arms. There would be no reaching of any kind in this. And again I needed assistance being extracted. Boo.
Verdict: RETURN

Piece #3: Carrie Polka Dot Fit & Flare Dress
I loved the material on this dress, and the subtle print (sorry, its hard to see in this photo). But again, the waistline wasn't quite right. Or maybe it was more the darts that were there added width to an area I didn't want to be any wider?
This might've worked for the wedding, were it to fit better.. and if the pairing suggestions had a dressy suggestion with some warmer options? Perhaps piece #5 was hoping to go with this? I don't really thing so.
Verdict: RETURN

Piece #4: Aaliyah Velvet Zig-Zag Fit & Flare Dress
Eek. This thing was downright obscene in my opinion. Waaaay too short. And kind of cheap feeling, in a stretchy flock-patterned fabric. Just no.
Verdict: RETURN

Piece #5: Abrianna Longlsleeve Knit Cardigan

I have always wanted to love cardigans, but never seemed to get it quite right. This one fits the bill. It doesn't have pockets where I don't need them, or end too high or too low on me, and add interest or bulk where I don't need it, and its a high quality fabric. And it's a bold color, one that I would never otherwise have picked!! Not too bad even paired with my trick-or-treating skeleton shirt :)
Verdict: KEEP

Now the true test: Did I wear it the next day? No. But I really wanted to!! It was 'game day' Friday which means I HAVE to wear something orange and the red was not only rival colors, but would clash with anything orange... I think, right? It's hanging right at the edge of my closet for now - just waiting to be worn!! I decided to staple the style card to the tag that was safety-pinned to the garment, and loop it around my hanger for a quick at-a-glance for rushed work-day mornings!

The four other pieces going back are already in the the mail (you have 3 days to return what you don't want in a prepaid envelope). I just threw them in and sealed the top, and asked my husband to drop in a post office box near his work (it was too big to fit IN our tiny mailbox... especially because I forgot to squeeze out the air first... and I don't have a post office box near my office).

Admittedly, I am bummed that I didn't get something new and wonderful for this upcoming wedding. I really really wanted this to be my answer. (Taking suggestions on what to wear to an afternoon, outdoor, Fall wedding, please!!) However, I still turned right around and placed my feedback so my stylist could learn a little more what would work for me. I also updated my profile to include my favorite body feature - at my stylist's request.

Also, I forgot to mention that StitchFix offers a $25 referral credit, which really is genius marketing for them. If you want to use my link, please click here!

September 3, 2013

If I could cloth diaper all over again...

As a part of their series "If I could cloth diaper all over again..." Padded Tush Stats has invited me to share with you my thoughts!

First, let me give you a little insight into my life. I am a mother of two (an amazing three year old boy and an adorable 6 month old girl), and married to my fantastic husband/best friend for 7 years. We've been cloth diapering since our son was 3 months old (my idea, but hubby is gracious enough to go along with it as long as I do the washing). We both work full time (40+ hrs) outside the home. Both of our kids attend a childcare center while we work our 9-5's.

Given our situation and experience with all kinds of diapers over the years here's what I would do if I could cloth diaper all over again:

1. I would stick with disposables for the first 6 weeks to few months. I prefer one-size AI2's and AIO's (more on that later) and those didn't generally fit either baby until they were almost 10 lbs. Also, as a new mom (especially as a first time mom) I didn't need another new thing to put pressure on myself about. The points about needing to figure out something new or having laundry to wash are debatable (because disposable diapers were new to me, too, and my son generated plenty of laundry from blowouts in disposables).
   What I really did: this. I wanted to do a cloth diaper trial, but more towards the end of my maternity leave when I was feeling settled (and recovered from stitches!) and ready to take on a little experiment. So in the meantime we used the diapers from the hospital and the diapers gifted to us from our baby shower. And then some more diapers :) We emptied that diaper genie 2-3 times a week!

2. I would do a diaper trial. I'd look around for a trial that appealed to me (like those from Modern Cloth, Jillian's Drawers, and Kissed By the Moon) while I was still pregnant, and contact them to set up a trial for when baby approached 10 lbs. but also (hopefully) I'd still be home on my maternity leave to get acquainted with the process. I would get enough diapers to really try this full time (24 or more diapers, to get me through two days before doing laundry).
   What I really did: a mini cloth diaper trial. I was fortunate enough to live a short drive from the then-home-based Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique. Beth helped me choose a small sample of diapers to cover the basic types (prefold+cover, pocket, AIO) but I was only willing to fork out the cash for 4 diapers. Most diaper trial state up front that you get all or most of your money back at the end of the trial, so there is really no risk even in the event that you find you don't like cloth diapering at all. It's key to note that you really need a pretty full 'stash' of diapers to get a feel for the real diapering process. I only had 4, so that only got me through half a day, and then I felt like I was wasting water and energy(even with a small load) to wash those four diapers and get them dry to use again. And it seemed like I couldn't really fall in love with one type or another because of how infrequently I used them. Luckily I was still hooked on cloth and decided to move forward with it.

3. Stock up on your favorites. But not too much. After the diaper trial, I would look for upcoming sales or discount deals to get 20-24 diapers (many stores offer store credit and discounts from their trials). You'll need this many to keep on with the routine you developed from your trial. I stress favoriteS because you and your partner may like different types of diapers - get both if you don't want to have to change all the diapers. You may like one type for at home, another for out and about and still another for naps and nighttime. Get a small variety.
   What I really did: added a few here and there when there were deals ands sales. At one point I did buy 10 of the same diaper through a website with a pretty good deal. They were our favorites for a while, but I am finding that with baby number two they aren't (or at least right now they aren't...).

4. Know ahead of time that you WILL want more. It just happens. Your second baby is a girl, so you need more pink and feminine prints! Baby is now walking or having solid poops, so a style you used to like now isn't the best choice. A new diaper or print comes out that you just HAVE to try or need for a special event or holiday. Figure out where to sell off or trade in or donate your least favorites.
   What I really did: slowly add to my initial collection of 4 diapers. Painstakingly slow. It is hard to pony up that much money all at once, but retrospectively, I knew I was going to use cloth, and could do the math to justify it. I still add here or there, but have promised my husband I will only do so if they are free... from winning a contest or using store rewards points).

5. Get a few 'extras'. Get some CJ's butter in your favorite scent (Irish Tweed for a boy, and I am still deciding my favorite for a girl - probably lavender). Get a few wetbags (see below for my picks). Cut up a receiving blanket to make 16+ cloth wipes (we dont' send these to school, so this is plenty for evenings and weekends). Get at least one swim diaper for each size, but buy these as you go, since you won't know how big your baby will be each summer. My favorites are the bummis swimmi and the Little Bee Co Aqua Bee. But even a spare diaper cover works, too (just beware that chlorine may wear on the PUL, and ocean water may discolor anything white!)
   What I really did: pretty much this. I went with only one medium wetbag and one pail liner until my second baby was born, but now I have a couple more. I still use one for water day at school for my toddler or to keep a spare set of clothes in the car for my mostly-potty-trained toddler.

Maybe you were expecting me to say, "I would buy x diaper" so then you could go buy it. OK, then. After having tried more than 13 different types of diapers, I feel like I do have some favorites. If it were up to just me, I would probably buy 10-12 Softbum Echo's or Grovia AI2's with 15-20 or so extra inserts (so 25-32 total inserts). And I would be done with diapers (unless I found I had a heavy wetter, in which case I'd add a few bamboo inserts for nighttime. Also I would get two Planetwise medium wet/dry bags, and one large hanging wet/dry bag (ours hangs just right off one of the bedposts on the crib, near the changing table). I'd also cut up a receiving blanket to make some cloth wipes (I did finally do this about 6 months ago - but I could have been saving tons of $$ if I'd done this sooner!)

If you are asking my husband, he would just as easily use disposable, but if he had to choose a cloth diaper, he likes the TotsBots EasyFits the best. He doesn't like to mess with matching pieces together, and likes that he knows how to easily add an insert to it for nighttime.

And if I was a SAHM (and/or only used cloth at home) I'd go with prefolds and covers. They were intimidating to me at first, but now I find them really simple (read about them here). And they are cheap! I recommend everyone keep at least three prefolds and one cover around... just to have.

If you want to more about what diapers I send to daycare see this post: Cloth Diapers for a Working Mom: What I send to Daycare.

** This post contains affiliate links **j

Cloth Diapers for a Working Mom: What to Send to Daycare?

Thanks for asking, " What kind of diapers do you send to daycare?"

I have all kinds of diapers, but only so many total, so I eventually have to send whatever I have on hand. However, when they are all clean and I can choose here is what I like to pack in baby's bag:

1. AI2's - these are my favorite diaper to use, period, at the moment, but I really like them for daycare because at school they function as an AIO (see #2), but at home, I can just snap out in the inners and snap in new ones. Boom. Ready to go for the next day. [This is for wet diapers. Poop diapers usually require that the cover be washed, too]

2. AIO's -  these are all one piece and function most like a regular disposable diaper. I feel like this makes the transition for my baby's caregivers easier (the are changing lots of other disposables over the course of the day) and there is nothing to get lost or confused. They are also easy for me on the back end to just toss in the wetbag at home or wash.

3. Pockets - I send these when all the other options are dirty. I think pockets are bulky for daytime and kind of a pain. At home, I prefer a prefold/cover combo to pockets. But I think they are easier than prefolds at daycare, so occasionally I'll send these.
my favorites: little bee co (love their mission!), Rumparooz

What else I send:

cloth-safe diaper cream - i only send a sample-sized jar. my kids don't seem to use much, and i am sure to give her a good slather in the morning with her first diaper. I can easily refill the small jar from my bigger one at home. But I think its fine to send whatever kind you prefer (spray, etc.) as long as its cloth safe. I like CJ's BUTTer (especially in the Irish Tweed scent!).

a wet bag - actually we send a medium sized wet/dry bag that seems to hold 4 or 5 diapers. We take it home each day with the dirties and send it back the next day with clean-ies. We have two of these in rotation (and 1 large bag at home to collect all the diapers until wash day). I like the ones from Planet Wise.

back up disposable diapers - I think this serves three purposes. a) there are extra special days where my baby goes through more than the 6 diapers I send (especially when teething!) and these are easy to just keep at school so I can make sure most of my diapers are in regular rotation. b) the kids get to do special art projects sometimes and school, and usually are only in a diaper or have on a smock. event though the materials are usually washable, I'd rather risk a 'sposie just in case. But also c) I think it lets the teachers know I am not THAT crazy (no offense to anyone that disagrees with me!) that I think disposable diapers are the devil (however the disposables I do send are eco-friendly... (and these Honest diapers are SUPER cute).

* when baby starts having solid bowel movements, you may choose to use disposable diaper liners (I like the smaller version of these TweedleBugs brand). If so, I recommend you pre-line the diapers you send with them. The goal is to make this process as easy as possible on the caregivers as we want their attention on the right things (safety, etc of all babies in the room).

What I DON'T send:
prefolds/flats + covers (unless I put one on as the first diaper of the day at home. Beware of the snappi though. We've been skipping it lately, but I know it can be tricky for those who aren't familiar with it, and I have seen little cuts occur with them). As I said, I really like to use these at home, but I don't think they are a good fit for daycare.

regular diaper cream. NOT EVER. Unless you have a really bad diaper rash or your doctor has prescribed it (in which case you are using disposables along with it), just don't even go there and let there be confusion about what to use with your cloth diapers. Regular diaper cream can ruin cloth.

Side note, some feedback from the occasional "grandma-care" is that she prefers velcro diapers because the snaps are harder for her to work with and hurt her hands.

A great cloth-diapers-in-daycare resource:

j* this post contains affiliate links *

May 16, 2013

Cloth Diapers: Going Simple

photo credit Diaper Junction

If you are interested in cloth diapers because you want to save money above all other reasons, then think prefolds. Prefolds are pretty much the least expensive way to cloth diaper ($1-2 per diaper + a few covers that start around $11 each). Though you will need a couple of sizes to cover your baby from birth to potty training, you can still get everything you need to diaper your child for 3+ years for less than a couple of packages of disposables. If you are only cloth diapering part time, this is still a great option to save $$, too.

So what do you need?

1. Prefold Diapers - before I started cloth diapering, I knew these as burp cloths, but really they are the 'old school' diapers you see on baby posters. Some good options are Thirsties Cloth Diapers -hemp prefolds, or the very inexpensive but effective Indian Prefolds.  For full time diapering you probably need 20-30 of these, depending on how often your baby 'goes' and how often you want to do laundry.

photo credit Diaper Junction
2. Diaper Covers - Thirsties Diapers makes two great options - either a sized cover, or the Duo Wrap, where two sizes will cover your baby's diapering lifetime. There are lots of cute patterns and options out there to choose from, so check out Blueberry and can be very inexpensive, like Econobum,  For full time diapering at home you probably need 3-5 of these in each size, depending on how often you do laundry, or how often baby poops. Covers can be reused several times between pee diapers, but need to be washed after poop gets on them.

3. Snappi (optional) - the snappi replaces the need for pins in this 'old fashioned' way of diapering. It works like the gripper on an Ace bandage to hold together your folded diaper. I say this is optional, because I often forgo the snappi and fold the diaper Angel Wing style and just lay or tuck it into the cover. You probably only need one or two of these for full time diapering.

THAT'S IT. That is really all you need.
... Of course it is easy to go crazy with a collection of covers, and maybe you will get a few accessories (like a wetbag for storing dirty diapers, detergent specific for cloth diapers, cloth diaper safe diaper cream, to name a few)

I admit that I don't send these to daycare (I am so grateful that our teachers are willing to cloth diaper, that I want to minimize any potential intimidation), but I frequently turn to these myself at home. They take up very little space when packing the diaper back for a whole day out - and we seem to always have some handy. That big stack of burp cloths? Those can double as a diaper in a pinch, too (after all, that's what they really are...).


May 13, 2013

One Hot Mama Challenge - Month 1 Week 4

Week 4: New Normalcy

Also I am sort of ignoring the fact that I have 1.5 weeks left of being home with my baby on our own little time schedule. I need to get cracking on a little mommy makeover and jump back into the real working world!

My workout schedule for all three months!
Hubby and I still haven't had our date night, but I know its because I am not ready to leave my new baby with a sitter. I think as we get closer to her starting daycare, I want to practice with her taking a bottle, so I'll make this my homework to schedule a date and kill two birds with one stone... or rather make an excuse to take care of myself (and my awesome husband)...

This section of the book talks a lot about cementing routines (y'know the NEW/revised ones), and now this really is key for me. I'll have to be out the door, and at work at a reasonable time, so we'll have much less flexibility on weekdays. Now is the time to practice!

I've been getting up at a 'real' time and trying to get dressed and made up (I still can't bring myself to dry my hair...) before the kids are up (Baby Sister is getting more predictable). Then hubby and I tag-team preparing breakfast and getting the kids dressed in whatever way is needed so we can all have breakfast together before we head out to school/work.

We are still packing lunches and school/work bags at night after the kids' bedtime routines, during after-dinner cleanup. This is the time we get to catch up with each other on our own days and plans and dreams (the deeper stuff that's not really needed to be discussed in front of M) and even enjoy a beer or glass of wine. After that is done we can settle in with a TV show (we got rid of cable around the time M was born because we didn't really have time for it anymore! And I don't miss it one bit! ...Except for ExerciseTV...).

Another routine I am nervous about it preparing dinner. When I worked, hubby was on pick-up-from-school duty, and I would head home to start dinner. It was usually done 15 minutes or so after they got home. Since I've been on my maternity leave, I've had it ready and waiting when they walked in (which has really helped stave off the "I need a snack" requests). Hopefully we can still go back to the old routine with few hiccups.

Lastly, I seemed to have lost the time to snack since I've been home. Or maybe I've just been confined to the choices at the house (rather than the admin's candy dish!) so I feel like I've stuck to the foods I really want to eat. Hopefully this has conditioned me to be resistant out in the real world. Fingers crossed!!

****Question: What is the biggest change you noticed between your new normal, and your old normal? How are you making it work for you? ****

Check out some of the Freebies from Erin's website (especially the "Revive your Mama Mojo" checklist)

Find the other One Hot Mama posts here.


May 9, 2013

One Hot Mama Challenge, Month 1 Week 3

Week 3: No Comparison

Two pounds lost this month! Admittedly, I'd love to see faster progress, especially since I anticipate having even less time to work out in the coming weeks as I go back to work, but I need to celebrate me, right?! I am right on the edge of really wanting to compare myself to 'regular' people... those who are further past giving birth than I am (or those who have never given birth!). I was so supportive of friends who recently had babies, but were struggling (or coming to terms with) their post-baby weight, but now I was having to actually hear my own words. And it really is tough.

It is true: it took 9 months to put this weight on, I should expect to take 9 months for it to come off. And realistically, I expect to keep a few extra pounds around while I am breastfeeding (which I hope to be lucky enough to do for a while... tradeoff!). I love that at the end of this month is when Erin points out that I might notice a change in my fitness (I do!) and only now should I really start watching my measurements (ie. the scale!!). So: deep breath. It's ok. I am doing well.

I officially finished my 10-class Stroller Strides pass, which really have given me back my confidence in working out. I felt so uncoordinated - like a liar when I said I like working out and that I used to run and be a rower. But this last week, I feel like I am getting it back. So to stay motivated, I started using that free 'Couch to 5k' app I mentioned earlier... and I am actively searching for a race to run when I complete it!

Chugging along...

*** Question: Take some time to brag here - What ways are you awesome! What accomplishments/talents are you most proud of? ***

Find the other One Hot Mama posts here.

May 8, 2013

One Hot Mama Challenge - Month 1 Week 2

Month 1, Week 2: Money Talks
toddler's version of our 'gulf fish in papillote'

We decided to keep M in preschool during my maternity leave. Well actually, it was more a given between us - we never considered not keeping him there. Even though I am only partially paid for some of my time off (we can cover this hot topic later...) I wanted to give Baby Sister my full attention, realistically be able to take naps if I need them, and really take the time to go to things like a lactation group and Mommy and Me Yoga. We were fortunate enough to have some savings to help us keep covering the cost of daycare (and the regular bills) during my time off.

This week's focus in One Hot Mama is coming to terms with your new budget, be it temporary or permanent, and all the ways this might come into play.

Of course, when you aren't working, you're pretty much spending money (why does it seem there is no middle ground?) So, I wanted to get a good jogging stroller, a key to making a work out, and even just getting out of the house, more realistic. But I couldn't come to terms with a $600 price tag, especially when we already had strollers that technically worked just fine for their purpose. So I found the one I wanted gently used on Craigslist and saved half.

I mentioned my weekly meal planning before in regards to saving my sanity and time during the week, but it helps in the $$ department, too! Having a plan for our groceries keeps wasted food to a minimum. I find that meat is the priciest item in our food budget, so planning at least one meatless meal per week helps here. Also I can plan to split meat between meals, like using half a rotisserie chicken for Monday's meal, and the other half later in the week, or buying a bulk package of ground beef, etc. and doing the same. Feel free to look at some of my weekly menus by clicking on the recipe key word on the side.

If a class at the gym or a Stroller Strides group isn't in your budget, you can still get some good, regimented fitness. The book gives a suggested workout schedule for a full three months, that allows you the flexibility to choose what you like to do (for example, one day's prescription is '30 min walk, 20 min jog, or cardio class at the gym'). I downloaded a Free 'Couch to 5k' app on my phone that gives me three walk-to-run workouts per week, and even gives audio cues on when to start/stop running, and can incorporate music from my own phone. Additionally, Erin's book gives some great strength and yoga routine ideas. I even started to dig up my old workout DVDs that I haven't seen in a year!!

Some of my favorites:
Yoga for Surfers, Peggy Hall
Postnatal Rescue, Erin O'Brien (has some gentle stretches you can do as soon as you get home from the hospital)
The Biggest Winner series, Jillian Michaels
Yogini Workout, Ellen Barrett

Erin gives some other examples of what she thinks are worth splurging for - and how you can set a goal to get the cash for them.

Erin is graciously giving away a *FREE* signed copy of her book - for a chance to win it, answer this question -

*** Question: What ways have you made room in your budget for your new addition? ***

Find the other One Hot Mama posts here.


May 7, 2013

One Hot Mama Challenge - Month 1, Week 1

Our first run with Stroller Strides!
So tracking weekly may have been a bit ambitious... but here it (finally) is...

Wow - where to start? So in the book, each week has a theme, but covers a variety of topics. Since this is meant to be read a week at a time, its helpful to keep being reminded of all the balls that are up in the air, and the nuances that emerge as you move through this fourth trimester.

So the themes for Month 1 are
Week 1: Putting yourself first.
Week 2: Money talks
Week 3: No Comparison
Week 4: New Normalcy

Putting yourself first covers a lot of aspects. I have already mentioned that I am also a fan of The Baby Whisperer, and I love her E.A.S.Y. plan that let's me know that I do get some me (You) time in the day. Granted, I tend to use this time to udpate the family blog and get things done around the house (there is always so much laundry - and sorting out the Pregnancy Disability and daycare paperwork! ... and somehow dishes and grocery shopping has slipped into my day, too... who did these things when I was at work before?), but I am also committing now to doing at least something to nourish ME during these breaks. I like working on this blog (and our family blog), so that counts. As does taking a shower, and getting a workout in, or going to a mommy group. I was actually scheduling in these activities and looking forward to them long before my maternity leave - and I am having so much fun with them, I am already sad about having to give them up when I return to work. To be honest, my biggest challenge will be to keep all these elements incorporated into my life when I DO return to work!
trail running with Stroller Strides!

I have started slipping in a milestone I was pretty proud of: daily showers!! Pretty much by my daughter's second week home, I had gotten into a grove of showering and getting dressed, so I didn't look like a schlub when I dropped off my son at daycare. I know they don't really care what I look like - and that they probably expected to see me in pajamas, but it was probably the most public I'd be all day, so it was a good goal. And if I didn't do it then, I wouldn't do it at all. But once I got the go ahead at my six week visit, I started going to a Stroller Strides class MWF. It was at 9:30, so I wasn't going to shower before the class. I put on my workout clothes (luckily they are stretchy - so they still fit) and took M on into school. And since I did shower after class (usually sometime around lunch), I didn't feel like I needed another shower the next morning...
So, here I am at the end of my 10-week Plum District deal for Stroller Strides, so I am free again to shower as I please. And I'd better get to it, since the countdown for my return to work is getting low. I decided I still need a motivator to keep exercising, so I downloaded a free 'Couch to 5k' app (my completed workouts are going out on twitter!!), and started day one (in the afternoon of the hottest day of the year so far!!). Even though I only had to run for 60 seconds at a time, it felt great!! And its so refreshing to have it feel great. So today I got up when my husband did, and showered and dressed and put on makeup (I still can't bring myself to 'do' my hair... it's been 3 months... I hope I haven't forgotten what little I know about it...)
meal planning - sharing with the toddler!

Another way I can take care of myself is eating well. So I took Erin's advice and finally pitched my security stash of Christmas/Halloween/Valentines/Easter candy (really it was M's and we were hiding it from him... but it was easy to break into at a time of weakness.
I have also been trying to keep making healthy meals for the family. Click the 'recipe' keyword on the side of the blog to our weekly recipes. I have been meal planning for years (I really don't remember NOT doing this... how else do I know what to get at the grocery store? And I refuse to do more than one trip per week...)

Also, I've already had to go solo with both kiddos twice this month... which has really reinforced the need to keep up with our routines.

Giveaway! Answer the question below for a chance to win your own copy of Erin Cox's Book One Hot Mama!

***Question: How do make time for yourself? And what do you do with this special time? ***

Find the other One Hot Mama posts here.


May 2, 2013

This week's recipes!

Thursday's lunch:
Slow cooker pork Cuban Sandwichn on whole wheat,
cherry tomato halves,
blueberries and blackberries
Here are our recipes from this week!! As always, we included a fish dish and one meatless dish. We all take dinner leftovers from lunch the next day (makes clean up/lunch-packing efficient!).

I have to admit, I was even surprised how filling our meatless baked potatoes turned out to be!!

Easy Chicken Curry - this one we had actually planned to make last week, but let our laziness convince us to order a pizza. This is a new recipe, and Hubby was skeptical. So When we finally made it this week, he was kicking himself for voting pizza before...

Shrimp and Cannellini Beans (with asparagus and toast) - This recipe is SO ridiculously easy and makes your kitchen smell SO yummy! We pair it with a veggie, and some extra carbs (sprouted wheat toast + butter).

Friday's Toddler Lunch:
Baked sweet potato + mozzarella, strawberry,
shelled edamame, orange slices,
and yogurt pretzels

Cuban sandwiches (with Crockpot pork loin). I got this recipe from magazine, but couldn't find a link for it online. For the pork loin, cook tenderloin, onion soup mix, 1c water, 3/4c red wine, 3 tbsp garlic, 3 tbsp soy sauce, on low for 4 hrs in a Crock Pot. We shredded it and used half to make sandwiches. We toasted split, wheat ciabatta rolls, and topped with pork, provolone, deli ham, and dill pickle slices. We served with a side of steamed broccoli.

Sweet potatoes, mozzarella and edamame - really, this is all we ate for our meatless meal. Super quick: microwave some potatoes (M and I had sweet potatoes, hubby went for a regular russet). Cut open and apply a smidge of butter. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese. Serve with shelled edamame. Very filling. Nutritional bases covered. :)

Pork tacos - (see the Cuban sandwich recipe for how we made the shredded pork). Stir in 2 tbsp BBQ sauce with 1 cup of the shredded pork. top a corn tortilla with meat and 1/4 c bagged coleslaw + 1tbsp greek yogurt.

Grilled Pizza - We use store-bought whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe's. I shop there about once a month, so I stock up on a few for the freezer when we are low, but we have also found it at many 'regular' grocery stores. You may have to ask where they keep it (sometimes its in the freezer section). Then we skip to Alton Brown's recipe for margherita pizza (about halfway down this lengthy recipe). We omit the red pepper... and usually the garlic (but only because we forget it since this is easy enough to do from memory).

April 25, 2013

Recipes this week!

Feeling a bit in a rut lately with recipes, so I had to rifle through my big 3-ring binder for a couple of old favorites to liven things up!

As always, one meatless meal and one fish meal!

Cozy at Home (Cauliflower) Mac and Cheese - Ok, this one isn't new... but its one of my favorite meatless options! You can use any veggie in place of the cauliflower, and sometimes we add peas, too. I like that the cauliflower blends in... though I feel a little guilty sneaking them in on my toddler...

Raspberry Chicken Salad (first recipe here on Cooking Light's recommended uses for apricot preserves). I swap in canned, no-salt green beans for the salad greens for my toddler. I also lay out each ingredient separately on his plate, like an artists palate. This is one of his favorite meals :) If you miss the carbs, you can serve with some crusty bread or whole wheat toast.

Chicken Tortilla Soup - Easy and filling! I put this in a pre-warmed thermos for my toddler's lunch.

Gulf Fish en Papillote + Kale Pesto Pasta - Dusted this off from the back of the 3 ring binder! The gulf fish is so simple, fast and healthy, but has the best presentation!! Serve this one to guests! This was my first time making the Kale Pesto (recipe from It was tasty, but we had tons of leftovers!! I think I still prefer the basil variety, though...

Easy Chicken Curry - truth is we didn't get to this one this week... it will be the first one we make next week, though!

April 14, 2013

Recipes this Week

Just returned from a week vacation visiting our parents over Easter break, but we are hitting the ground running to make our weekly meal plans, and keep my sanity. Sunday morning after we flew in, hubby and M ran to the store for breakfast supplies (eggs, sausage, fruit, bread and milk). Then later he went back during naptime for the veggies for the sausage and rice! My motivation for cooking most weeknights is to have leftovers - so I have something to pack for M's lunch as well as our own. It helps us all make better food choices when we are crunched for time, and let's us spend our $ on meals out over the weekend when we can really enjoy it.

As usual the lineup includes one meatless dinner and one fish dinner.

Sausage and Rice - Our dinner-in-a-pinch, this week with brown rice! I still haven't perfected this, but I try to sub whole grains for processed ones in as many places as I can. I started 1 cup of brown rice with 3 cups of water. Brought to a boil and then simmered for 10 minutes before adding the kielbasa rounds. Cooked with sausage for 10 more minutes, then added the chopped broccoli and red pepper. Cooked for a final 10 minutes. The result was still a little soupy, and a bit creamier than the white rice version, but I let it rest, uncovered for a bit, served with a slotted spoon. By the end of dinner the extra water had been absorbed/evaporated.

Chicken and Bean Nachos - adapted from this recipe, We make the avocado salsa (usually omitting the jicama if we can't find it). Otherwise we layer tortilla chips, then shredded rotisserie chicken (we use about half of one, and save the rest for something else), rinsed canned pinto or black beans, and a thin layer of shredded Mexican or cheddar cheese on a cookie sheet. Broil for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted, and top with the salsa. We usually make one cookie sheet-ful for our family of 2.5, and the rest makes all our lunches for the next day.
To make the next day lunches, I put all the topings together in a tupperware, one in each corner, and pack chips seperately. Hubby and I assemble all but the salsa, microwave to melt cheese, then top with Salsa. M eats all his seperately.

Not your mama's tuna salad - courtesy of Rachel Ray. This is another easy favorite of mine :)

Tacos & re-fried beans - The tacos are your average recipe (store-bought shells; meat seasoned with a store-bought packet of seasoning... we used half a pound of leftover bison, and some of our leftover rotisserie chicken from the nachos above; diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, avocado chunks, plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream) and we used Ellie Kreiger's recipe for the beans (delicious! even my husband was pleasantly surprised!)

Quinoa salad - adapted from this recipe, I swapped quinoa for the wheat berries, but everything else is the same - YUM!

This week we also took a family urban hike to our closest grocery store on a chilly, overcast day and picked up frozen pizzas (hubby and I always get our own since we like different things, which means plenty for M and lunch leftovers) + frozen veggies for a Saturday-night-in dinner. We also picked up ingredients to make our favorite breakfast casserole Sunday morning:

2 cans reduced fat crescent rolls
1 roll reduced fat breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled
8 eggs (1 yolk reserved)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350
1. Unroll one can of crescent rolls on the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.
2. Top with sausage and cheeses (beware: too much cheese will make the casserole too greasy).
3. Scramble the 7 eggs and 1 egg white (reserving the 8th yolk), and pour over the sausage and cheese.
4. Unroll and top with the second can of crescent rolls.
5. Brush top layer with reserved yolk.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until center of casserole is set.
Cut and serve!!


April 9, 2013

One Hot Mama challenge!

And so it begins!!

I headed to my OB/GYN today for my 6-week follow up visit. I got my green light to get back into shape!!

I have been reading Erin Cox's book, One Hot Mama, which was a Christmas gift to me from a family friend. I have read half of it already, but I am going to be re-reading it week by week, as she's intended for it to be read, and trying to incorporate her tips bit by bit as I readjust to being a mommy of TWO kiddos.

During my first six weeks postpartum, I have walked practically every day, at least some. I even went ahead and found a great jogging stroller (one of Erin's tips) on Craigslist and have been using it. I have been retraining my core muscles using Erin O'Brien's Postnatal Rescue video, and just started the 3rd phase (I love that this video gives you some stretches you can do starting day one home with baby - and I love her prenatal video, too!). Core includes the pelvic floor, ladies...

My starting point: 15 lbs of pregnancy weight left to lose! You gals keep me honest!! I'll be tracking food and fitness along using the MyFitnessPal app (my name is Jillfrog if you want to link up there!)

Also tomorrow I am starting a Fit4Mom Stroller Strides class. I scored 10 classes in a Plum District deal towards the end of my pregnancy. I plan to use it for some AM classes at a local park. I am not sure I'll be able to continue them (if I like them) when I return to work, but we'll see.

And the Challenge isn't just focused on getting back in shape - it's about taking care of myself in other ways, too - so I don't forget who I was before I was a mom of two, and also so I can stay sane and happy.

I'll try to post each week about my progress, so stay tuned - and advice/discussion is welcome! I also intend to be realistic. I am still going to be a working mom of two, so I will be truthful in what works for me (so, yeah, that was me with a scoop of Ben and Jerry's on Free Cone Day yesterday...).

Also, Erin Cox has agreed to give away a signed copy of her book each month.
Answer the question for each week to gain an entries!

Month 1 *now open*
Week 1 - putting yourself first
Week 2 - money talks
Week 3 - no comparison
Week 4 - new normalcy

Month 2
Month 3

Tell me about your own 'Hot Mama' journey!

April 8, 2013

Elabloom Nourishing Facial Oil - Review and Giveaway!

Since I just used my last drop of my vial of Elabloom Facial Oil (time to re-order!!), it's about time I got this post out to you!

If you've been living under a rock, like I have, you may not know that the new "it" things in skin care are "nourishing beauty oils" (been by a Sephora lately?)

Guess who's already mastered this art? Elabloom!

Looking for something to finish your skincare routine? I've found it! I received a great gift from a family friend for Christmas - a bottle of Elabloom Nourishing Facial Oil!

I have tried an oil facial routine before, and have heard a lot about actually cleansing your skin with oil, but this is different. To be honest I was a little afraid of applying oil to my face and leaving it there. But this really absorbs quickly and my makeup goes on great - right on top (I use Bare Minerals). I'll be honest, I totally used this product BEFORE doing my research. But now that I am looking at all the great stuff. I have been using it for a month now, and can attest that it is great for winter weather and plane rides, as well as the low humidity of the West Coast! My face has stayed hydrated and looks refreshed!

AND I thought my bottle was empty, so I didn't pack it for our recent weeklong trip East. Boy, did I see a re-emergence of fine lines! I am grateful for the last dropperful, and hoping I can stretch it until I can reorder. Also, Elabloom makes a BODY oil... I am thinking some postpartum areas would really like to drink that up... :)

Elabloom is 12 essential oils - and that's it. Jojoba and Argan are becoming pretty mainstream so you may already know their benefits, but other more exotic oils in their blend include Avocado (I dig the fruit, but didn't realize it had beauty properties, too), Camellia seed oil (aka. Tea Tree oil, used by geishas - improves complexion!), Boabab (moisturizes and promotes skin elasticity), Sea buckthorn oil (which heals scarring and cares for prematurely aging skin), among many others!!

I also love the concept of the 'bloom date' on each bottle. They make batches fresh to order, which are best used within one year.

What do I do about SPF? I asked the gals at Elabloom what they recommended. They suggesting using your favorite sunscreen right on top, but the Nourishing Facial oil closest to your skin. I admit, I have been skipping this step during these winter months, but the sun came out last week, so I put my 'old' spf 30 moisturizer right on top (after I applied the oil, and brushed my teeth while it soaked in before applying the SPF). Then makeup as usual. The combo didn't feel too heavy or greasy at all.

How long will my bottle last using 2x's a day? The 0.5 oz bottle I have should last 6-8 weeks, given my 2x/day (the recommended) application schedule. The 1 oz bottle usually lasts 8-12 weeks (confused by the math? They say the find that women who have the bigger bottle tend to use more!).

You can bet I will be throwing my bottle in my hospital bag, too!


The fabulous ladies at Elabloom are going to give one of YOU a bottle of your very own!

For an entry into the giveaway, leave a comment here telling us what intrigues you most about Elabloom. Or, if you've already tried it, tell us what you LOVE about it!!
Follow along on our Facebook page for more ways to enter this week!!

March 28, 2013

Easter Week Recipes

Our version of the Easter Egg Lunch Box!
The list is short this week for the holiday weekend. But I loved the two Easter-themed ideas below. The Easter Egg Lunch Box is SO easy, but such a cool idea!!

We still included a meatless dish and a fish dish!! :) And, as usual, leftovers went to school for the toddler's lunch as well as our own lunches!

Sweet Broiled Salmon (Yum - hubby was especially a fan). We served this with steamed broccoli and leftover brown rice and boiled beets (see below)

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs .we only did a few colors (blueberries for blue/purple, raspberries for pink, turmeric/yellow beets for yellow, and red cabbage for blue-green), but the toddler really liked helping with this. And we used the leftover berries and juice in a smoothie (seemed wasteful to toss it). We used the boiled beets as a side with our salmon dinner.
We made deviled eggs with these and served with multi-grain bread, and raw veggies (pepper strips, carrot sticks, celery - frozen peas for M). I thought this was going to be viewed as a cop-out dinner, but both of my guys gobbled it up and asked for seconds!!

our resulting naturally dyed eggs!
top row, down: blueberries, raspberries,
 red cabbage + baking soda (one un-dyed egg in this row)
, yellow beets + turmeric
Easter Egg Lunch Box - I used cubed cheese, blueberries, Annie's whole wheat bunnies, frozen peas, and a 'trail mix' of sunflower seeds/pepitas/dried cranberries. I served with some of the leftover deviled eggs from above.

Tacos - the usual recipe, a special request of my husband. We used ground bison meat, taco seasoning from Sprouts, as well as their guacamole seasoning. We added chopped tomatoes, spinach instead of lettuce, shredded Mexican cheese, and black beans, and both crispy shells and soft corn tortillas.


March 22, 2013

Recipes this week

pretty peppers :)
Baby Sister turned 1 month old this week, and I am finally feeling like I can start to get back in the swing of things! The first two weeks she was with us, we had parents around to help us cook and go out to dinner with, and the first week I was home alone with her we had a lot of 'salads': pasta salad, egg salad, etc.

So, this week, we still have easy recipes, that can, for the most part, be done in stages (prep during the morning's nap (or any of the others during the day when I can catch a break), cooking during her last nap during the day.

As always, there is one fish dish, and one meatless dish. :)

Leftover Quinoa Salad for M's lunch.
We usually swap salad for green beans.
Also I made a batch of a new *No Bake* lactation cookie recipe from The Gluten Free Go To.

So, this week's recipes?

Veggie Bow-Tie Pasta Salad-  ( we used penne instead of bow-ties, and added leftover rotisserie chicken, since that's what we had on hand.

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers (Real Simple, using brown rice instead of white)

Crab Cakes with Roasted Vegetables (Cooking Light) I omit the butter sauce. Not because its bad tasting or for you, I am just lazy and find it isn't necessary... and this week we added the leftover rice from the stuffed peppers as a side... even though this already has potatoes)

Taco in a Salad (What to Eat When You're Expecting)

Curry Quinoa Salad - (, I couldn't find this online, so I printed it below. I am sure in a month or so it will be available) Even M got into this one once I pointed out all the new words in there: "Chickpeas!", "Pepitas!", "Keen-wah!".

Remember the magic words from Sam-I-Am:

"You do not like them, So you say.
Try them! Try them! And you may.
Try them and you may, I say."

watching the monitor while making crab cakes
(stick in the fridge to set up while you run to pick up M from school!
Cook them when you get home!)

Curry Quinoa Salad
1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
pinch of salt
2 medium carrots, shredded (about 1 cup)
1 15-oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 granny smith apples, cored and chopped
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas!)
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp grated lime zest
juice of two limes
salt and pepper to taste
9 cups mixed greens

1. In a saucepan, combine quinoa, water, spices and salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low for around 15 minutes, until quinoa is transparent and liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, cool, and place in a large bowl.
2. Add carrots, chickpeas, onions, apples, pumpkin seeds and parsley.
3. To make the dressing: whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper. Pour over quinoa mixture and toss.
4. Divide into 6 servings and serve over 1 1/2 cups of mixed greens.

March 4, 2013

Potty Training Progression

The convenience of the travel potty seat!!
This is in the back of our car!
I've been trying to record some notes from our potty training saga. This is rather lengthy, but I want to share it with you to demonstrate that I think potty training is very much a process. For us we made little steps forward a bit at a time, and with each one I would still say we are training (and are today, since he wears a diaper for naps and bedtime), but more and more I would say we are 'mostly trained'.


When M was about 20 months (May, 2012) we bought a plush potty seat, just to try, just in case, and happened to notice his poop face, and got lucky, every now and then. But then something happened and the potty became intimidating for a while. We were frequently declined when we offered him the chance to go, even though he clearly had to go, and was uncomfortable in poopy diapers, and refused to sit in a high chair or carseat when soiled.

Around 23 months (July), I actually got a yes one morning when I asked if he wanted to sit on the potty. Given his recent pattern, I knew I was going to change a poopy diaper before we left for school, and I was dying to avoid it. And we indeed caught it!! In the freestanding grown up potty. I rewarded this with the first thing I thought of and happened to have on hand: chocolate covered pretzels. The kid probably would have gone for more healthy REGULAR pretzels, or even stickers... But this started a trend I was afraid to mess with. For the next two weeks he was doing his morning business on the potty with only one exception.

Even on our weekend trip to LegoLand (September). We took a travel potty with us, and carried the removable seat around with us when we were out and about, just in case.

The next weekend (October) was a long weekend, and we decided to give the 3-day method a try. Sort of. I couldn't bring myself to really stay home for 3 days straight, without leaving. We went out some, but mostly he wore big boy underwear at home. This was they key to getting pees regularly in the potty (as prior to this we were only catching his daily poo). He finally figured out it was OK to pee in the potty, and we were much more successful.

The Tuesday after the long weekend, we told school, and they agreed to be more vigilant and encouraging, and added him to the list of potty-goers. He went 3 times that day (where previously he's declined or sat with no results)!

The next week we went on vacation, across the country, and he actually made significant progress!! We visited all the bathrooms in the airports and planes and restaurants and friends' houses, again mostly with the handy travel potty seat. On our day traveling back, he stayed dry all day!

His first day back to school he had a couple of wet diapers, but also lots if successes! The next day he was dry all day and they asked if we could send in underwear or pull-ups! I couldn't bring myself to send in Pull Ups, since we'd been using cloth diapers for so long. So we did send in several pair of underwear and lots of extra pants. And we kept offering the potty at home (especially before we left for things) and on the weekends. Only going through 3 diapers per day!

A couple weeks later (November), he finally started going to school in big boy underwear full time (gerber training pants). He still had about one accident per day. That weekend we went to an event outside the house in underwear ( to see Thomas the Train)! He had one accident while there (he was too busy playing with toy trains they had set up to come get us for a potty break), but was not a big deal at all. we have used hardly any diapers this whole weekend. M started getting blisters on his birdie, so we switched to disposables and night/nap time :( Got to use our portable potty in the back of the car before heading home...

During the next month (December) he twice stopped playing all on his own, went into the bathroom, raised the seat, moved the step stool, pulled down his pants and went all by himself, without even telling us! He was already at little wet and needed new underwear and pants but... yay! Once, Daddy and I snuck up outside the bathroom and when he turned around we cheered. He was SO PROUD of himself.

After traveling home for the holidays (Jan 2013), I think we had some regression. could be partly due to the shifting schedule, or the excitement of all the new toys, or the lack of schedule until school started again. Either way, for a day or two every potty opportunity was an accident. Then just a few accidents. And when he started at his new school, he had one accident per day, all three days, and on the weekend, only in the evening. By the next week, he was staying dry all day. whew.

***Mostly we find that accidents happen when WE forget to ask. I found that being pregnant helped me remember to invite him to go with me during each of the many visits I was making. And something my mom said really made me relax about it though and feel like we are 'there'. I was telling her that we still have some accidents and she said, 'Oh hon, you'll have that 'til he's 5...' and I thought, 'OK, maybe he's pretty trained then.'***

It is only recently (Feb, 2013) that he reliably tells us when he needs to go, with enough time to get there, and can actually hold it until he's made it.

- All of this said, look for another post with the summary of what I think has worked best for us. - 

February 18, 2013

OK to wake?

About 6 months ago we transitioned our toddler to a 'big boy' bed, (after his second birthday, but in anticipation of the arrival of his new baby sister). At the same time we bought the guard rails and a mattress protector, we also bought an 'OK to wake' alarm clock/nightlight. We thought this was going to be necessary to help contain him in his new freedom. However, he barely noticed the addition to his bedside table, and when he finally did, he just wanted to press the two buttons on its feet as if it were some handheld game only he knew how to operate (to his credit, one button does send the clock into making some series of faces back at him).

For the first five months we were smug pleased that it'd never occurred to him that he could get out of his new bed any more than he could get out of his crib, and we went happily along sleeping through the night. That is, until recently when he proudly announced that he 'woke up all by himself' and crawled into bed with us. At an earlier and earlier time each day.

When this started to develop into a pattern, we brought the clock to him after dinner and showed him how it worked (after a quick refresher myself, and finally actually setting the the OK time to get up). So you can stay in your bed until your light turns on green, right? Yes. And the first night he did. Even the second night he did. But the third night he must've gotten frustrated waiting, because he just cried out that he wanted Mommy to come wake him up (which is what he used to do before he realized he could get out of bed, if we hadn't noticed he was up yet, so I guess the clock still had some power...). The fourth day, he just decided to get up anyway (over an hour early) and I led him back and we tried to go back to sleep in his bed, but it didn't work. So we played with the stuffed animals on his bed and played with our fingers and time crept sloooowly by. Day 6 he still got up about 30 minutes early, and I laid down with him (this time actually more restful). Today is Day 7. Fingers crossed.

This is just another dimension of the 'transition to a toddler bed'. Parenting really is like the decathlon!!

So far my lessons learned are:

1. Let your little one 'help' you put the bed in their room. And let them help pick out sheets, or a blanket for the new bed (we pulled out every set of Full sized sheets in the little boy bedding aisle of Target and laid them out. Hubby hoped for the sports themed one, I wanted rocket ships. M picked construction trucks. Oh well)

2. Put REAL pillows on your toddler's bed, at least one or two and don't skimp. You will end up sleeping there sometime, and you will wish you had at least decent pillow.

As for the alarm clock, the jury's still out. ps. I was intrigued by this 'clock', too: Kid'sleep Classic

What do you do to keep your kid contained, or to at least get all the precious minutes of sleep you can in the mornings?


February 8, 2013

Guest Blog Post: What about the Poop?

I am long since numb to being up to my elbows in poop and other baby messiness, but my husband still cringes at these messes. What's more - this is one of the first questions you'll be asked about when you tell someone you use cloth diapers!

Kanga Care and Rump a rooz were kind enough to let me write a guest post on their blog about the subject!!