Father’s Day Favorites

Yesterday included celebrating Father’s Day, along with everyone else, and loving the chance to celebrate how much we love Mr. Layland! He is such a loving father to little Calvin and all the fun our little guy deserves. When I’m exhausted – he can take over with his Energizer Bunny personality and Calvin loves it. From Day #1 Mr. Layland has been a great Dad and since then he’s only gotten better!

IMG_1856 Becoming parents has been quite the adventure and I’ve loved having him by my side through everything. I wanted to get him something special but I’m the worst at buying gifts! I racked my brain for a few weeks and shopped around online until I finally came across what I thought would be the perfect Father’s Day gift – engraved collar stays.

They’re essentially the bobby pin equivalent for men. You own 5,000 but can only ever find 3. I figured getting nice metal ones would somehow make them easier to keep track of. We’ll see!

I mulled over a few clever phrases to have engraved but in the end I decided to stick with a classic monogram. Thank you to Jane.com for continuing my online shopping addiction and to NameJewelrySpot.com for coming up with this genius idea!

After going to church in the morning and getting in our post-church naps (because going to church for 3 hours with a 1-year old is exhausting) we whipped up a batch of Mr.Layland’s favorite cookies from Modern Honey. She’s come up with copycat cookie recipes for Levain Bakery – which are some of our all-time favorite cookies in NYC! This way when we can’t make it into the city for a sweet treat we can get pretty close right in our own kitchen.

If you’re more into chocolate, have no fear, she has an amazing Levain Bakery Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip recipe!

I’ve had my Kitchen-Aid mixer for almost 4 years but I honestly haven’t used it that much. When I came across this recipe I decided to use it since it calls for cold butter and have been hooked ever since! I love using my Kitchen-Aid!

A couple of months ago I noticed the new line of colors Kitchen-Aid came out with and just about died over the Ice Blue color but when you have a perfectly functioning mixer you can’t drop $430 on a new one just because it’s pretty.

Mr. Layland, being the helpful genius he is, found this Apartment Therapy tutorial on painting a Kitchen-Aid and I was sold! It’s really quite easy, and so much cheaper than buying a new mixer, so if you’re interested I’d say go for it! I used Ocean Mist spray paint from Home Depot and LOVE how it turned out!

We finished off the day by calling our fathers and playing with little Mr. C and by all accounts, had a really great day! Happy Father’s Day!

Beauty Hacks for New Moms

Becoming a mother has been the most amazing experience of my entire life. From the moment the doctor told me to open my eyes and take my son in the delivery room I fell head over heels in love with him.

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Calvin is pretty much an angel child but something I didn’t anticipate was being completely okay with putting ALL of his needs before my own. He’s just so darn cute that it’s way more fun to watch him sleep than go take a shower, or a nap.

I remember when Calvin was 2 weeks old I got out of the shower and heard him crying in his swing – like really crying. That was the first time I had heard him cry like that, where they still make those little gasping sounds while they calm down. It broke my heart and in that moment I swore off showers for the rest of my life.

Not really, but I seriously considered it for a second.

Taking care of yourself can go out the window pretty quickly as a new mom. Every baby is different and every woman approaches motherhood differently so it goes without saying that some moms don’t need these hacks – they’ve got it together. Pretty sure those moms are also imaginary.

But if you’re not imaginary and you’re very much real, here are five beauty must-haves I’ve discovered make life a little easier.

Makeup Removing Wipes

As a brand new mom my days and nights blurred together for a while so my nightly routine went out the window. Several brands market makeup removing wipes but I prefer Neutrogena. These wipes make it easy to clean your face before you hit the hay for a few hours or when you realize the next morning that you look like you were partying all night when in fact you were just trying to keep your little human being alive.

You’re doing great, by the way. Keep it up.

Tinted Moisturizer

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Of all the time-saving products out there I think tinted moisturizer is genius. Pregnancy did a number on my skin so if I’m meeting up with someone or going to church I still use my separate lotion and foundation but for an every day natural look, this works! The 2-in-1 product is every mother’s best friend.

 

Dry Shampoo

I didn’t think to use dry shampoo until Calvin was almost 3 months old! Let me save you the hassle – do it. Buy it, use it and love the fact that if you don’t manage to shower that day your hair won’t look like a bird’s nest. Unless that’s what you’re going for.

Mascara

Now that your face is clean, skin tone evened out, and your hair is on point it’s time to bust out those lashes! Your eye lashes might feel like the only asset you have left after having a baby. Recovering can be emotionally hard too, so feeling great about the way you look doesn’t always come easily. Mascara is a staple for me because I feel like as long as your hair isn’t insane, your lashes are defined and your baby is still alive — you’re doing pretty darn good for a new mom.

Essie Nail Polish

essieGorgeous nails are the icing on my beauty cake. I realized pretty soon after having Calvin that getting a predictable hour to myself wasn’t going to happen. So I’m crazy about Essie’s Gel Couture nail polish! In 30 minutes you can have fabulous nails that last for 2 weeks! So far I’ve stuck with a neutral color because it goes with whatever I end up wearing that day. If I actually get dressed.

Calvin is 4 months old now and I’m proud to say that most days I take a shower and seldom do I sit there and watch him sleep. He’s great at napping in his crib and I’m great at getting stuff done! Mostly.

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Anyways, if you’re a soon-to-be mom or just became one, CONGRATS!!!!!! it’s the best thing in the world! Get ready to love someone more than you ever thought you could.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself and don’t worry – it gets easier!

 

So that’s life with Mr. Layland & Me!

Fall in the Northeast

I should be folding laundry right now but decided to write a quick update instead. I’ve been so busy with freelancing, taking care of the house, and soaking up every minute with Calvin while he’s awake – it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day! Despite all the insanity, I really love my life.

Fall in the Northeast is absolutely gorgeous. I’m loving the cooler weather and watching the leaves change has been so amazing! We practically live in the city on the weekends and I have to say I really prefer this time of year in NYC.

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This past weekend we took the Staten Island ferry across the bay to Manhattan and counted that as visiting the Statue of Liberty. Neither of us have a strong desire to actually go to the island right now so floating right by it was perfect!

The Statue of Liberty really is just a statue on a pedestal. You think it’s going to be so much bigger – like the size of a skyscraper bigger – but it’s not. We were going to check out Governor’s Island but on our way there we realized it’s only open during the summer. I guess we’ll just have to add it to the list for next year!

Two weekends ago we switched things up a bit and instead of going into the city we actually drove out to Connecticut for the Hartford temple open house.

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If you live out this way you should definitely go! It’s open to the public and tours are free. The New England theme makes it feel like it has always been there.

My friend Aubree (who trained me on my mission) lives in CT and invited us to stay with them for the weekend. We had the best time going through the temple, apple picking & just getting to hang out with their cute family. Calvin loved licking the apple I gave him…we might start trying solids soon!

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Aubree has a photography business and takes amazing pictures. After she took a few pictures of Calvin it made me want to buy my own camera & set up camp in that orchard! Needless to say, it was a fun weekend for all of us!

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We ended up liking Stayman and Empire apples the best so we bought a few pounds along with some fudge and apple cider doughnuts from the market. When we got home Mr. Layland made an apple pie and I used this recipe to make apple sauce. I think we might have a new fall tradition!

Calvin is 4 months old and so close to sitting up on his own, it’s really exciting. He learns new tricks all the time — his latest thing is growling. Yes, growling. It’s so hilarious! The pediatrician said he’s discovering that he can make different sounds. She also said he might start to make an eagle screeching sound soon. That should be fun.

I hit the jackpot last week when it comes to baby toys. Check it out.

All for free! My friend Shawna texted me one morning saying someone down the road had a bunch of baby stuff out in front of their house. I was just about to leave for the store so I took a detour and ended up taking all of this home! Everything was in almost perfect condition so after a gentle wash everything was good to go.

So Calvin basically had Christmas this week 🙂

I recently became a Level 2 Seller on Fiverr.com which was a personal triumph I’m really proud of. But it means I have been busier than normal. I typically have one or two projects at a time but at one point last week I had 12! Luckily, I can work while Calvin naps and get a good amount done.

The drive to church this week was especially relaxing and beautiful. I love that you can drive from the city and within an hour be passing fields with hay bails and cows. Moving to New Jersey has been one of the best adventures of my life.

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Happy Fall everyone! Here’s to hoping your weather is just as gorgeous and that your baby sleeps for 9 hours straight like mine did last night. No idea how that happened so I’m just going with it.

 

So that’s life with Mr. Layland & Me!

 

5 Must-Haves For New Moms

Becoming a mom has been 90% amazing and 10% can’t even – mostly because this job is 24/7 and “tired” has taken on a whole new meaning. Luckily, I’ve had a pretty easy go of it with my little Mr. but I also invested in a few life savers every new mom should have.

1. Aiden + Anais Swaddle Blankets

If you live in Arizona you have to get these, it’s not really an option 🙂 These blankets are super soft and lightweight which makes them ideal for hot climates but even here in New Jersey I would still recommend them.

 

Obviously they’re swaddlers so that goes without saying but they also function as a stroller shade, nursing cover, and are key in building baby’s first fort. We have 8+ of these blankets and believe me – we use them. Pair one of these with white noise and if your baby loves being awake like mine they should finally take a solid nap!

2. Milkmaid Goods Nursing Cover

I ended up making my own but if they ever get my favorite fabric restocked you might see me wearing one of their nursing ponchos in my sleep. It’s that cute.

These are a must-have because you get full coverage so you can rest easy knowing you’re not going to flash anyone if baby kicks around while you’re breastfeeding in public. The jersey fabric makes them wrinkle-resistant and easy to pack in a diaper bag. You can put it over your carrier to block the sun (and strangers adoring hands) but still see your baby! If that hasn’t impressed you, just focus on the fact that they’re ridiculously cute.

3. Boon Grass Drying Set

I first saw this when I worked as a nanny in Arizona and promised myself that when I became a mother I would get one. In addition to the cuteness factor it’s really useful.

The grass sits in the white tray so you can easily separate the two for cleaning. The tree and flower hold bottle covers, nipples, bottle rings – all those little parts. I’ve also washed medicine syringes and stuck them over a blade of grass to dry. Moral of the story: drying bottle parts, etc. has never looked so good.

4. Petunia Pickle Bottom Diaper Bag

In the months leading up to Calvin’s birth I asked around, read reviews, researched & FINALLY settled on this diaper bag. They’re expensive though so it’s only thanks to my Grandma that I even have this bag and I’m so glad because I *love* it.

I could go on and one but I’ll just hit the highlights: The bag is structured so it will stand on it’s own. You want the diaper bag to work for you, not against you. The backpack straps are built into the bag so it easily converts from purse to pack. And check out all those pockets – what’s a diaper bag without compartments? Yes, Petunia Pickle Bottom bags are popular but it’s not just because they’re cute, they’re great bags and I would say they’re worth the price. Several moms told me their bags have lasted a few years without having issues or wearing out. So far, so good for us!

5. Diaper Genie

Not cute, fun or soft but insanely useful like everything else on this list. The lid has a slot for an odor-control pack and the entire contraption is designed to keep your nursery smelling well…not like diapers.

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I don’t know why anyone would buy one without a foot pedal but in case you’re on the fence, GET THE ONE WITH THE FOOT PEDAL! Trust me. Being a mom is all about being as hands-free as possible, right? Especially if you have a particularly wiggly baby and need to keep a hand on them when you toss the diaper – you don’t have three hands. You need that pedal. The bag tears off with a little gizmo inside, you tie a knot at the new end and you’re set to change more diapers! Yay? With all those diapers – you need this.

That’s it! Those are my Top 5 Must-Haves as a new mom. I’m only 3 months in but each one of these has made life a breeze! Of course, having my adorable baby helps too 🙂

New Mom = Busy Mom

“Mr. Layland & Me” has gotten a new look and new plans for more posts, which I’m super excited about. Not to jinx anything but I think Calvin has a fairly predictable napping schedule now which will allow me more time to blog about our adventures!

 

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I’ve been working from home since we moved to New Jersey but between having a baby and hosting a ton of company this summer there hasn’t been a lot of downtime to move beyond the basics. Somehow I’ve still managed get a little work done on the side!

One of the most enjoyable ways I’ve been working is by proofreading content and reviewing resumes on Fiverr.com which has gone surprisingly well! It gives me a lot of flexibility to work while Calvin naps or when I get these crazy urges to get some work done after getting up with him at 2 am. I don’t know where I get it.

I’ve also been writing for KSL.com — I love that it’s even a possibility to write for a publication headquartered over 2,000 miles away. My most recent article is about Hannah, originally from Tennessee, who is starting her own line of children’s books to increase childhood literacy rates in underprivileged areas around the world. The first book features a story about life in New York City!

I’ve also written about plans for a women’s healthcare unit in Iraq and an amazing engineering project at BYU. When there is so much negativity in the world I feel so lucky to be writing about these wonderful people and the good they’re trying to accomplish!

Now for the most creative way I’ve been using my downtime — my Etsy shop, Peter & Alice. I’m designing custom watercolor decor using themes from classic children’s stories like Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland…hence the name. Mr. Layland is always so supportive of my dreams and goes above and beyond to help me make them happen. This shop wouldn’t have opened without his help!

Calvin sure keeps me busy and some days I don’t even shower (welcome to reality) but he is so happy and sweet I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

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Yes, adding in these work-from-home outlets means even my “breaks” are busy but don’t worry, Mr. Layland and I still manage to get some relaxing time together.

So that’s life with Mr. Layland & Me!

Mr. Layland & Me + C

After six months of insanity (and not posting) I’ve finally found time to sit down and write a quick update about our lives and all the amazing things we’ve been up to! My life has drastically changed since February and while our date nights now include a third wheel all the changes have been for the better.

Meet the cutest date night stowaway in the world: Calvin.

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Yes, he is always an angel. Just kidding. While he is super happy and has a smile that could melt the coldest heart he is still a baby and does cry and poop. There’s just no getting around those things. But somehow he still manages to look cute when he cries!

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I fell in love with him the moment he was born.

He’s been a solid sleeper and eater since the start and now (8 weeks old) he sleeps 6-7 hours at night! I’m one well-rested Mom…and yet still feel the need for a nap every once in a while. I was nervous about feeling overwhelmed after having him but more often than not when I cry it’s because he’s too cute.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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Mini Birth Story: JUNE 8, 2016: Early that morning Mr. Layland and I went for a walk (after I had been having contractions for 4 hours) and after about 30 minutes my water broke! We got checked in at the hospital around 7:30 am and I’ll tell you right now it’s nothing like the movies. At that point I was dilated to 4 cm and by midday had only made it to 5cm after getting an epidural so they started me on Pitocin. Over the next 8 hours I did what I could to rest and Mr. Layland did his best to not freak out and instead performed card tricks for me. That was a first.

Around 8 o’clock I was (finally) fully dilated and the doctor suggested a practice push to see where I was at. With that first push they could see little Calvin’s head so they called in my doctor, got all the equipment set up, half of my bed disappeared and next thing I know I was having a baby! Thirty minutes later Calvin James Layland was born and he’s been a bundle of smiling cuteness ever since.

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Mr. Layland has been singing to and playing with Calvin from the start. It melts my heart to see them together. I know Calvin is in for some great times with his Dad! The votes on who he looks like seem to be pretty evenly divided but we can see characteristics of both of us in him so for the most part we think he just looks like himself 🙂

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The other big change in our lives was our move to New Jersey which has been an amazing adventure full of new hobbies and new friends. The people here are so warm and everyone at church has offered help and friendship since day one. I’ve started up a new Etsy shop Peter & Alice and now that Calvin has more of a regular schedule I can dedicate more time to designing which makes me really excited.

Posts about date nights, recipes, and nursery decor to come!

So that’s life with Mr. Layland & Me + C

New Adventures

I’ve always been a big supporter of trying new things — new food, new places, new activities — mostly everything except new games because (let’s be honest) learning a new game is the bane of my existence. I’m working on it.

It’s been a while since I’ve taken on a new adventure, the last one was moving to Arizona in the summer of 2013. People do crazy things for love! Some of us move to The Surface of the Sun and fail miserably at not complaining too much about the heat 🙂

Now that it’s 2016 the desert just isn’t cutting it anymore and it’s time for a new adventure! Or what sometimes lately feels like ALL of the adventures.

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ADVENTURE #1 We’re expecting a baby this summer! We are absolutely thrilled and it’s been a blast telling everyone, seeing our baby on ultrasounds and using gender announcements as an excuse to support Gigi’s Cupcakes. Like you really need an excuse. I’ve been so lucky to feel great so far! 6 months down, 3 to go! Our little guy is due in June and we’ve decided to name him Calvin. Of course, it’s taken us three years to decide on one girl name and one boy name so if our next child isn’t a girl we’re in serious trouble.

ADVENTURE #2 Given that our first adventure is going to take a lot of my time I’ve transitioned to full-time freelance writing. This will allow me a few months to build a client base and prep for a schedule change when Calvin comes. Toss in the dreamy potential of teaching piano once we get settled (and get a piano) and color me excited!

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ADVENTURE #3 We’re moving! Whaaaaattt??? I know. Believe it or not we are relocating to New Jersey, also on the list of places I never thought I’d live. But forget all your Jersey stereotypes and think hiking, adorable neighborhoods & one-hour train rides to NYC! Mr. Layland got a new job with Wyndham so we’re packing up and making the trek to the East Coast! I think he’s most excited about seeing shows on Broadway.

I’m most excited about not being 9 months pregnant during an Arizona summer 🙂

That’s life with Mr. Layland & Me!

 

Layland Apt 2.0

We moved into our apartment right before Christmas last year and as you can imagine with all the holiday rush we were lucky just to get somewhat settled in. Now, (8 months later) I’ve finally gotten around to sprucing up the place and getting everything a little more coordinated and let’s face it – grown up.

I’ll add a few more updates as I add some final touches here and there but for the most part we’re officially living the coordinated life.

Welcome to our home!

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This welcome wreath still makes me smile every time I come home! It was easy to make and turned out exactly how I wanted it to. I’m so proud 🙂

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The gallery wall in our living room never quite sat right with me so I did a little Pinterest research and designed this new layout. I love it so much better! With this new setup our old pillows didn’t work anymore so I bought four new ones and recovered two of them with fabric I had. This is a great tutorial on recovering pillows.

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As for our bedroom I made the headboard using this tutorial as inspiration. It’s easy to do but it takes some time. The coolest thing out of this whole experience is that I learned how to cover buttons! I bought the grey & white pillows from Target but I made the bow pillow featured on this blog. I got the duvet cover and shams from Target crazy on sale – thank you coupon codes!

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Last but not least – that amazing lamp? I scored it at Goodwill for $9 in perfect condition. It doesn’t get much better than that!

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With all the organizing and re-doing I moved my dresser and updated the paper in my “I Love You Because…” frame so it matched our room! The ceramic figurine was actually our wedding cake topper. I picked it thinking ahead, knowing I would want something we could display in our home after we got married!

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I had this dry erase calendar hanging in our bathroom that I finally admitted – we never use. I was literally headed to throw it away when I had this genius idea to see if it would work as a photo collage frame! I arranged the pictures and used mod podge to set them in place and there you have it.

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This is the only thing I’ve managed to do in the bathroom so far. I’ve got a coordinating sink in the works so that’ll come soon!

That’s life with Mr.Layland & Me!

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

As we crossed the bay bridge into San Francisco and I got my first glimpse of the city I thought “Who in their right mind would want to live like this!? Everyone is stacked claustrophobically close to each other up and down these insane hills!?”

Princess Diaries makes them look amusing but driving them in real life is definitely something to get used to. Surprisingly, two days later I was so sad to leave! It’s amazing how quickly you can fall in love with a city!

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After living in Arizona I think I’d be happy living just about anywhere but oh my goodness, the Bay Area is calling my name! There is so much to do & see and that WEATHER! Sign me up! This trip doesn’t qualify as a “date” for us but for anyone who is in the Bay Area and needs a date idea — just check out the pictures!

What I love about the bay area is that there’s something for everyone. If you like hiking – there are trails. If you like animals – there are zoos and horseback riding on the beach. If you like the water – you have the beach and the bay. If you like food – there are endless options for amazing food from every cuisine. Options are endless!

That’s life with Mr. Layland & Me!

Summer Veggie Tian

Thanks to Pixar’s Ratatouille I saw this dish on Pinterest and thought that’s what it was. Turns out it’s not and ratatouille involves peppers and eggplant…totally different dish which yes – I’ll be trying soon 🙂

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This is one of the easiest recipes in the world. Slice up one potato, tomato, zucchini and yellow squash. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Alternate the slices in a glass dish and sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and back for an additional 15 minutes.

This was our entire dinner but you could always add a side of chicken or a green salad!

So that’s dinner with Mr. Layland & Me!