our cloth diaper routine


Anything you buy for a baby, before you have said baby, is EXTRA stressful because in reality, you have no idea what the kid will want or need. Cloth diapers are no exception… In my pregnancy-related cloth diaper research craze, I came across parents who pointed out differences in how different diaper brands fit, some with superior absorbency, complaints about leaking at night or tricky laundry routines.

And so I did whatever I do when I’m in the home goods section at Anthropologie and can’t decide between the embroidered kitten tea towel or the boho Turkish hand towel. I BOUGHT THEM ALL.

Just kidding… Kind of. I decided to take my chances and stock up on mostly Bumgenius Freetime diapers, but I also bought a few different kinds as back-up. That way if the Freetimes were totally failing us, we’d had a Plan B, without waiting the OMG-48-hours for a shipment of new cloth diapers via Amazon Prime.

Plan A worked out fine. With 10 months of cloth diapering behind us, we’ve settled into a very comfortable, easy routine.


We’ve firmly settled on the all-in-one style of diaper – no stuffing one part into the other, or snapping inserts, or any confusion at laundry time. We just toss the pail liner with all dirty diapers directly in the washing machine, along with any dirty wet bags, and go on our merry way.

As I said above, most of our cloth diaper stash consists of Bumgenius Freetimes. The majority of them I purchased used from local Facebook buy/sell/trade groups and Craigslist, but occasionally when a new pattern comes out, I’ll spring for a new diaper.



Besides the Freetimes, our other tried-and-true AIO diapers are Smart Bottoms 3.1 AIOs (love their prints and wish we had more!), Blueberry Simplex, and GroVia AIOs. We also have two GroVia O.N.E. diapers for nighttime for our little heavy-wetter.



I surprised even myself by staying aboard the cloth wipes bandwagon. To the uninitiated, they seem to cross the line between eco-conscious and gross. But as it turns out, they’re not much maintenance – as long as the baby is exclusively breast-fed, you can toss them right in the wash with the cloth diapers; once you introduce solids, and you’re spraying diapers, just give the wipes a quick spray too.

These super-soft GroVia wipes are my jam. We’ve never tried any others, and Grovia wipes, we’ll never cheat on you!


…Except for when we’re on the road. Keeping a stocked diaper bag is enough of a headache without worrying about packing a pile of wipes and a bottle of wipes solution. When we’re away from home, we have a pack of Honest Co. disposable wipes that get the job done.



To those without kids, it may seem fairly crazy to spend $70 on a glorified trash can. However, just wait until the hot, humid summer mingles with some dirty diapers to create a terrible stench, and you will be glad you forked over the money for a decent diaper pail. We love our Ubbi.  Some people claim that they will continue to use it as a trash can one their kids are out of diapers, but let’s stop making excuses.


If you’re using disposable diapers, most likely you’re lining the pail with trash bags, but with cloth diapers you’ll need a washable pail liner to prevent mold. The Planet Wise pail liners are the gold standard – they can stand up to countless heavy-duty wash cycles while keeping in the moisture. We have two, so we’re never in a pinch on laundry day.



Get a Spray Pal. Just do it. Worth every penny.



The Fluff Love & CD Science group is an incredible wealth of information on anything cloth diaper-related. I bought a “bad” laundry detergent (harsh on cloth diapers) and was guided back on the golden path by one of the admins, who recommended a laundry regimen for me based on my detergent preference (all-natural) and washer and dryer.

Every 4 days (or sooner, if it’s been a baaaaad week), I toss our cloth diaper laundry in the washer for a quick rinse on the heavy duty/heavily soiled setting with 1/4 capful of Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus detergent, and then I add more laundry (Baby K’s clothes, plus any towels laying around) to top off the load with a full cap of detergent and run a heavy duty cycle. Everything then goes right into the dryer.


Once every six weeks, I add a tab of GroVia Mighty Bubbles during the laundry cycle to help prevent mineral build-up.



If you haven’t started diapering yet, you may not know that most of the traditional diaper rash creams are NOT safe on cloth diapers. I repeat, do NOT use Triple Paste on your cloth diapered kid. In a nutshell, those products can impact the absorbency of the cloth, which is a no-no. We have enough diaper balms to treat an entire army of babies. Our favorite, however, is the Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm. I also lather on a little coconut or jojoba oil after each bath to keep Baby K’s skin moisturized.



Rule #1 of leaving the house with a cloth-diapered baby: always pack a wet bag. Ignore this warning and thou shalt encounter mold. Our #1 faves are the Planet Wise wet bags, of which we have many. We also have a GroVia wet bag which has held up well to the test of time and heavy-duty laundry cycles.

Having a few different sizes of wet bags on-hand can be helpful. I keep an XL wet bag hanging from a hook next to the toilet sprayer, so that freshly-sprayed dipes can be stowed away in a stink-free place until the next laundry cycle.



why we cloth diaper


On more than several occasions, we’ve been met with blank stares or – worse – incredulity when we’ve mentioned to others that Baby K wears cloth diapers. But for us, it was really a no-brainer once we learned of all of the benefits of cloth diapers.



Have you ever felt how soft the inside of a cloth diaper is? Because the only thing softer is baby skin itself. After 6 months of exclusively cloth-diapering Baby K, I picked up a pack of disposables for a trip, and had a visceral reaction to the crinkly, coarse paper dipes. No surprise, considering the disposables contain:

  • Dioxin (from bleach)
  • Sodium polyacrylate
  • Dyes
  • Fragrances
  • Plastics
  • Toluene
  • Xylene
  • Ethylbenzene
  • Dipentene


via Baby Gear Lab


LESS $$$$$

Cloth diapers involve an up-front capital cost (i.e. “buying a stash”); however, there are no long-term costs. They’re even more economical if you cloth diaper multiple kids. It’s easy to buy gently worn second-hand cloth diapers on Craigslist and buy-sell-trade Facebook groups. We spent ~$250 on second-hand diapers for Baby K (I’ll share our stash & regimen in an upcoming post!) and hope to use the same diapers for future kids.


via Mama Natural

We also use reusable bamboo wipes, which cost ~$25 for a stash of 20. We occasionally buy a new package of disposable wipes for on-the-go, but for the most part, we’re saving money on the wipes front as well.



Dara’s main incentive to cloth diaper Baby K was cost, but for me, the number one reason to cloth diaper is to prevent heaps and heaps of diapers from ending up in a landfill. Assume the average American baby goes through 5 diapers a day – that’s 1,825 diapers per year, or over 5,000 diapers in three years. Imagining all those diapers in a landfill makes me nauseous.


30% of non-biodegradable waste in landfills comes from disposable diapers. Surely we can make a tiny dent in that.



Is your kid’s diaper covered in vintage campers?

via B. Lime

Even the solid-colored diapers are adorable. This year, our 4th of July game was strong.




This is purely anecdotal, but cloth diapers are believed by many to result in fewer blowouts. Any parent who’s experienced an extreme blowout (I’m gonna go ahead and definite extreme as “full-body bath needed, including but not limited to the baby’s hair”) will do whatever it takes to prevent recurrence.

The elastic on the back of cloth diapers does a great job of holding it all in.



We know a couple families that use cloth diapers at night for their heavy-leakers. Based on our experience, I wouldn’t say all cloth diapers have incredible, superpower at holding in liquid. But show me a disposable diaper that can contain a gallon of pee, and I’ll show you a Grovia O.N.E.




Look, if contributing to the profits of corporate behemoths is your M.O., you do you.

But if you want to support small American businesses, there are a lot of kind, hardworking people who have built the foundation of the cloth diaper movement. Many cloth diapers (including Thirsties, Bumgenius, Blueberry, Bummis, and Best Bottoms) are made in the U.S., and many cloth diaper retailers are small businesses.


how to survive a plane ride with a 9-month-old


When we found out I was pregnant, I swore up and down that we wouldn’t become that couple that gives up on travel once kids are in the picture. We live for travel and spend many long hours dreaming about where to go, planning trips abroad, and relishing every moment of our vacations.

Even with a squirmy baby in my arms, I remained determined to travel as a family. We have a couple trips under the belt and more trips on the calendar, and I can safely say that we have survived air travel with our party of three. It takes a little extra planning (ahem… no more packing 2 hours before our flight) and a whole lot more patience, but it isn’t as daunting as I once expected.

While we’re hardly pros, here are our tips on how to survive air travel avec bebe.

1. Pack snacks

This is critical, as snacks can double as sustenance and entertainment on a long flight. The answer to parents’ prayers is the “snack catcher,” which will allow your kid to feed himself small snacks one by one without turning your aisle into a disaster zone. D laughed in shock and awe when he saw the size of the Cheerios bag I packed for our most recent flight, but said Cheerios provided at least 30 minutes of entertainment. I’ll take what I can get.


Munchkin 2-piece snack catcher

2. Bring new toys

I learned this trick from my mom, who is a seasoned veteran of traveling with kids. She would always buy us each a new toy for the plane ride, and I still have fond memories of the joy of unwrapping the little gift as our plane taxied. Baby K is entering a new stage of loving everything that is plastic, colorful, and loud – and we have begrudgingly discovered the Fisher Price aisle at Target.

For our last trip, I picked up this caterpillar, which turned out to be perfect: colorful, lots of “flaps” to lift and buttons to press, and devoid of the Old MacDonald loop that would drive our fellow passengers to insanity.


Fisher-Price Flip & Surprise Caterpillar

3. Breastfeed during take-off and landing.

This is a surefire way to soothe and distract her while protecting her ears. Sucking on a bottle or pacifier can also help.


4. Pack a lovey and a blanket.

Planes are as frigid as Siberia, and are a great place to take a nap – said no one, ever. Help mitigate some of the discomfort with a soft blanket and lovey. We also dress Baby K in warm pajamas before we leave the house, so he’s as comfy as possible.


Burt’s Bees Organic Lovey


5. Prepare for blowouts

This is a sad truth about babies and planes: the chances of a diaper blowout greatly increase when you’re 39,000 feet in the air. The best we parents can do is pack a lot of diapers and wipes, a change of clothes for anyone within close proximity of the infant, and save the stories for future girlfriends and wedding toasts.

6. Purchase a seat for the baby

We generally travel on a tight budget, but we recently flew on a flight that was far from full, and having a whole row to ourselves was an incredible relief. If you can afford it, buy a seat for your kid, and enjoy the extra space!


7. Check the car seat, wear the baby

If buying a seat for the baby isn’t within your budget, I suggest checking the car seat (the JL Childress gate check bag does the trick) and wearing the baby onto the plane. Going through security with the baby nestled in a carrier is a breeze, and you’ll be glad to have your hands free to navigate the airport and rummage through the diaper bag.


Lillebaby Carrier – a.k.a. travel lifesaver!

8. Bring a book or magazine for yourself

Listen… Unless you are one of those magical unicorns who actually sleep on planes, you will find yourself wide awake and trapped underneath your hopefully sleeping child. Perusing the absurd gadgets hawked in SkyMall will only entertain your sleep-deprived self for all of 5 minutes before you’ll find yourself restless and craving a margarita. Do yourself a favor and pack some sort of entertainment.

Cook Smarts review – meal planning for busy new parents


This post is not sponsored in any way by Cook Smarts, I’m just an exhausted new mama who needed someone else to take over the meal planning for our little family.


Before Baby K was born, I used to spend hours meal-planning. I’d perch on a kitchen stool, poring through recipes I’d pinned, anxious to make the BEST MEAL EVER and always anxious to try new things. And then D and I would spend our Sunday afternoons gathering groceries for the week ahead. By Friday, much of the produce would be wilting, untouched after a busy week of happy hours and social events. There is almost nothing that gives me worse guilt than the act of throwing away food – fresh, healthy food that we were just too busy to eat.


It drove D crazy as well when we’d be driving around Houston and pass our favorite grocery store, and he’d propose running inside to pick up groceries for the week – but NOPE, we couldn’t possibly set foot in the grocery store without the official Meal Plan and corresponding Grocery List. And so we’d return home, where I’d spend a minimum of an hour going through my meal-planning routine, trying to choose meals with overlapping ingredients or with sides that could be enjoyed again later in the week.


This was obviously unsustainable.


So when Baby K was around 2 months old, I said a quick prayer and signed up for the meal-planning service Cook Smarts. For those of you who are uninitiated, Cook Smarts offers weekly meal plans, cooking guides (including video tutorials), and online cooking classes for a small monthly fee (~$8/month, depending on the subscription you choose). The weekly meal plan is emailed to you each Thursday, and you have the option to choose the number of servings for each meal; modifying the recipe to be GF, paleo, or vegetarian; and replacing a meal with one from the archives.


Then, if you pull up the meal plan on your phone’s browser, you can click on the Grocery List for a complete checklist of ingredients; as soon as you change your meal plan, the Grocery List automatically updates. This is genius for our problems that I outlined above – now, instead of spending 1+ hours at home glued to my computer, attempting to meal plan, I can select our meals and generate a grocery list in the 2 minutes it takes us to walk from our car into the grocery store. I can also “favorite” the best recipes so I can quickly retrieve them later.


Here are the pros:

  • Huge time-saver. Queuing up a meal plan and grocery list on the Cook Smarts website is super efficient; even in the most difficult days when Noah was a fussy infant and I was running on 3 hours of sleep, I managed to cook a few fresh meals a week.
  • Great variety. We’ve tried a lot of new things in the last 6 months, and I can’t say we’ve ever fallen into a funk of same-old recipes – among our favorites that I’ve cooked repeatedly are turkey kofta (Turkish meatballs), beef and broccoli soba, dukkah-spice salmon with pickled shallot and chickpea salad, beer simmered brats on pretzel buns,  and tilapia with herb and olive gremolata. I’ve learned how to roll my own spring rolls, and I’ve made my first frittata.
  • Nutritious. While there are some comfort foods that I wouldn’t categorize as “healthy,” most meals include a side, often roasted veggies or a salad with a homemade dressing. I love the paleo option to steer clear of buns and starchy noodles.
  • User reviews. At the bottom of each recipe is a reviews section, with a space for a star rating (out of 4 stars) and comments. I find other users’ reviews helpful and usually do a quick scan of the reviews before I begin cooking in case there are any modifications others recommend.
  • Easy to follow. No one is going to set you up with a timer and expect you to create a flawless souffle. If you’re unsure of how to cut into an unusual vegetable (Japanese eggplant, I’m looking at you) or could use a refresher on the art of poaching eggs, there are awesome little videos linked in each recipe.
  • Efficient use of ingredients. Often you will make extra portions of one ingredient (cauli rice, farro, and vinaigrette, to name a few) that are incorporated into another meal later in the week – who doesn’t like to kill two birds with one stone? Each meal plan also includes ideas for leftovers (e.g.: “add stock to leftover burrito fixings for an easy Southwestern soup”) and a link to a freezer guide in case you end up with any excess ingredients.
  • Weekend prep tips. I rarely get around to meal prepping on the weekend, but when I do, this is a sweet feature – for each meal plan, Cook Smarts provides a list of steps to prep everything for the week ahead. If I do follow the weekend prep routine, each meal takes under an hour – often under 30 minutes – to prepare. That, my friends, is the key to the universe of Busy Parenthood. On Day 1, God created take-out, and on Day 2, God created easy weeknight meals.
  • View recipes by photo. One option in Cook Smarts is to scan the archives in photo view – so I can hand my phone over to D and let him pick a few meals from the photos. This is actually much simpler than scrolling through pages and pages of a food blog, and then scrolling through walls of rambling text to dig up a photo of the meal just to say, “Hey, this is what we’re having tonight!”
  • Seasonal ingredients. I’ve seen a progression in the meal plans over the last 6 months, as spring turned to summer which is slowly turning into fall (at least, in the rest of the country) – the ingredients will shift to fresh food that’s in-season, and the Cook Smarts team will offer up a fun meal plan for each holiday (the 4th of July caprese burgers were a big hit in our household). This is much harder to accomplish when you’re doing your own meal-planning.


And here are the cons:

  • Under-seasoned. I suppose that’s the pitfall of meal planning for the masses, but I find many of the recipes too bland and usually add additional seasonings.
  • Uninspired vegetarian recipes. We like to include meatless meals in our weekly routine, but I haven’t been too impressed with the vegetarian Cook Smarts recipes.
  • No “average rating.” In this world of Rotten Tomatoes scores and Amazon reviews, I need all the data! As I mentioned above, the reviews from other users are often helpful – but there is no way to know the average star rating of a particular recipe, which would be useful in choosing an old recipe from the archives to sub in for a new one when creating a weekly meal plan.
  • Simplified ethnic recipes. While I appreciate the attempts by the Cook Smarts team to offer a myriad of international cuisines, many recipes fall a bit short. For example, a recent recipe for Banh mi sandwiches called for a “spicy mayo” blend of mayonnaise and hot sauce. I really missed the pâté that’s typically stuffed in Banh mis at Vietnamese restaurants.


I’m at a crossroads where I’m not sure whether we’ll continue along the Cook Smarts road or try something new. A couple weeks ago, the default meal plan included Italian sub sandwiches with chips, which was… a bit disappointing. On the other hand, we’ve developed a nice, quick and easy work week routine and our food waste has declined to almost zero.


Whew. Who knew I could have so many feelings about a meal-planning service? If you have any questions or recommendations for another meal-planning service to check out, leave a note in the comments below!

travel Thursdays: planning a babymoon abroad


D and I are pretty travel-obsessed. We plan our trips months in advance, savor every moment, and sift through trip photos and video clips periodically afterwards. We also have a very ambitious travel bucket list (it basically consists of the full list of United Nations member states, minus a few countries that we both agree are too dangerous to venture into at the moment). So with our unexpected pregnancy news, we wanted to squeeze in one more international trip before Baby K arrives.

We spent days, if not weeks, tossing around destination ideas. Southeast Asia, Morocco, and the Galapagos were all taken into consideration. Ultimately, we wanted to choose a place with a decent healthcare system in case I needed immediate maternal care, relatively relaxing activities in case I wasn’t feeling up for strenuous adventures, and accommodations that wouldn’t break the bank. (Maldives, I love you, but you’re so dang expensive!!) We finally decided on Greece as a fun place we’d never traveled to together that checked off all our boxes.

I’ll share a recap of our trip soon, but for those considering planning an international babymoon, here’s our advice:

Consult your OB/GYN

This may seem obvious, but before pulling out your credit card to book anything, make sure to clear the trip with your doctor. If your pregnancy is considered high-risk, or if you’re hoping to travel late in your pregnancy, he/she may put the brakes on your travel plans. Your OB can also make copies of your medical record to take along, in case you have any complications and need medical care while abroad.

2. Research healthcare options, and know your insurance coverage abroad

This is a matter of personal preference, but I wanted to be within 2 hours of a health clinic with English-speaking staff. I researched these options in advance, and ensured that even the smaller Greek islands where we planned to babymoon would be able to provide care for me and the babe. We’re saving the exotic Southeast Asia backpacking trip for once I’m no longer growing a fetus.



3. Book refundable travel and accommodations

We planned our trip for early September, when I would be 22 weeks pregnant (an ideal time, according to my mama friends who flew while pregnant) – but we wanted to book well in advance to take advantage of travel deals. We made sure to book refundable flights and hotels, and AirBnb apartments with “flexible” cancellation policies. We also read the fine print on our Chase Sapphire card (which is our go-to card for travel rewards) and learned that we’d likely be covered by Chase if we needed to cancel our trip due to a medical emergency.

I waited until much closer to the trip to book things like our ferry reservations, which I knew wouldn’t sell out too far ahead of time and were non-refundable.


4. Pack light

I always advocate for packing light, but this is especially important when you already have your own extra luggage you’re hauling around in your belly. We each packed a small carry-on suitcase for our two-week trip, and we were grateful when we found ourselves lugging them up and down steep cobblestone streets on Santorini and lifting them up high into the overhead bins of buses and ferries.

 Carry-on suitcases: check. Baby on board: check.

5. Prepare a flight survival kit

Being the hypochondriac that I am, I was paranoid that I would puke on our trans-Atlantic flight. I very fortunately escaped morning sickness in my first trimester, but I heard horror stories from other mamas. So that’s how I found myself at CVS the night before our trip, with a basket full of anti-nausea measures: Dramamine, Sea Bands, Bonine, and some Tum, Pepto-Bismol, and Benadryl for good measure.

My OB’s main concern was swelling, and she advised me to wear compression socks on the long flight. I found these cute polka dot ones on Amazon (see in photo above) and my ankles were only slightly swollen by the time our plane touched ground in Athens. I ended up flying frequently during my second trimester, so I got a lot of use out of the socks. I hear they come in handy during the final weeks of pregnancy, too.

6. Bring snacks

I learned long ago that the survival of our marriage was dependent on keeping my cranky husband well-fed. Once he reaches the level of being Hangry, things go downhill very quickly. Plus, there is nothing worse than being in a beautiful place (say, Paris) with a starving, cranky husband who refuses to go inside the Louvre until someone feeds him a pain au chocolat.

Learning from past experience, for this trip I swung by Target and picked up several boxes of Clif bars, and I packed a few into each of our bags (my purse, his and my suitcases, and his camera bag). These were a life-saver when we were stuck on long ferry rides without food readily available. I was in one of my ravenous-hunger phases of pregnancy during our trip, and having snacks readily available helped me keep my own hunger at bay between meals.


7. Soak up the quality time along together

The first three years of our marriage have been amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better guy to spend my life with. And to be honest, I will really, really miss our alone time when we’re towing around our little guy with us. It’s been a busy year for us, so 14 days of uninterrupted, unplugged time together was exactly what we needed.

I know our travel lust won’t go away, and we have big plans to keep exploring the world together even as our family grows. But our babymoon was incredibly special, and I wish every expecting couple the opportunity to relax alone somewhere together before embarking on the sleeplessness and stress of new parenthood.


Where is your dream babymoon destination?

pregnancy survival: 9 months, 9 essentials


When we found out I was pregnant, I was pretty nervous. We don’t have many friends with babies, I don’t have any sisters, and I felt like we had no idea what we were doing.

But you know what? You figure it out as you go along. We downloaded an app (Ovia) that gives us weekly updates on the baby’s development. My OB gave us a list of medications to avoid, and dangerous symptoms to watch out for. Once my bump became undeniable, I started receiving plenty of advice – solicited and unsolicited. I now know about 100x more about epidurals, baby-led weening, and prenatal vitamins than I would’ve imagined back in April.

Here are 9 essentials that have helped me survive the last 32 weeks:

9 pregnancy essentials

Top to bottom, from top left:

  1. Cocoa butter massage cream for stretch marks – I was pretty bummed out to learn from my OB and others that stretch marks are overall pretty unavoidable and are linked to genetics. There’s not much you can do to prevent them. However, there are all kinds of products to help minimize their appearance and to keep your skin hydrated. (Having an itchy belly is common while pregnant.) This cream is silky and long-lasting, and I love the almond scent.
  2. Nuts – I’ve gone through phases throughout my pregnancy where I am ravenously hungry. As in, eat a big meal and have a growling stomach an hour later. The only way I can make it between meals is by snacking on mixed nuts, which I keep stashed in my desk drawer.
  3. A great water bottle – The only thing worse than summertime in Houston is summertime in Houston while pregnant. I’ve been drinking water like it’s my job for the last 32 weeks. I love Lifefactory’s glass water bottles – and clumsy as I am, mine has survived being dropped all over the place (including onto hard concrete).
  4. A comfy body pillow – My regular doctor recommended this for acid reflux, and it’s been a game-changer for sleeping comfortably while pregnant. My husband has picked up on how great it is and routinely tries to smuggle it from me while I sleep.
  5. The perfect pair of maternity jeans – I outgrew all of my jeans almost immediately. The exception was, funny enough, my cheapest, most worn-out jeans – an old pair of Old Navy Rockstar stretchy skinny jeans. I can still squeeze into those, but life is so.much.better. with a stretchy waistband. These Paige jeans are perfect in every way. (Hint – you can find lightly-worn designer maternity jeans on eBay for far less than the astronomical prices at A Pea in the Pod. Mine were $20!)
  6. A go-to soft, plain tee – I planned to be an active preggo. I planned to be at the gym 5 days a week keeping my weight down, cooking healthy meals packed with vitamins, and busily checking off our pre-baby bucket list. Instead, here I am in a cotton tee and raggedy old yoga pants, halfway through a box of Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice cheesecake cookies. (Yes, they’re amazing, and you should probably run, not walk, to the closest TJ’s and try some yourself.) The entire Gap Pure Body line is incredibly soft and comfy and provides plenty of stretch as your body grows. I bought some v-necks in neutral colors and basically live in them.
  7. Chewable vitamins – OK, my main prenatal vitamins are massive horse tablets that smell like seaweed. (I made the mistake of buying a 300-count vitamin bottle off Amazon and feel obliged to use them all up. Sigh…) But I love these chewable calcium “truffles.” I chew two in the morning when I wake up, and I take my prenatal at night before bed, since calcium prevents iron absorption and it isn’t recommended to take both at the same time.
  8. Second-hand maternity clothes – Look, I know in your pre-pregnancy days, you eyed the maternity section at Target and couldn’t wait to fit into that stuff. But the reality is that clothing yourself over three seasons – 9 months of outfits – is basically like replacing your entire wardrobe, and that ain’t cheap. I’ve become a big fan of ThredUp, a great online source for second-hand maternity clothes which are usually under $10 per item. My favorite brands I’ve scouted on ThredUp are H&M, TopShop, Loft Maternity, Gap Maternity, and ASOS, although there are thousands of options in all different sizes. You can also find cute designer maternity clothes on eBay for much less than the tag prices.
  9. Realistic, break-it-down-to-the-basics registry advice – I’m kind of baffled at baby registry checklists that go on for several pages. Babies don’t actually need that much stuff. A wipes warmer? Nice to have, but babies have survived for most of history without them. Lucie’s List gives simple, honest advice on what you’ll really need and offers a few recommendations for the major stuff, like car seats and strollers. Figuring out what you need is exhausting; this takes out most of the guessing work.

Mamas and mamas-to-be – what are your pregnancy essentials?



Um… where did 2015 go? The last time I posted, I was recapping our trips to Italy in 2014.

Every year around our anniversary (which is in November), D and I start recapping our previous year of marriage. And every year, we remark how it was another one for the books. I think maybe this one takes the cake.

In April, we found out the biggest surprise of our lives – we’re expecting a baby boy, due on Christmas Eve! We couldn’t be more excited (and nervous… and scared…).


When we found out, we put the lid on plans to travel to Japan in November, and I exchanged our airfare tickets for round-trip tickets to Athens in August. We called it our babymoon. It was incredibly relaxing, and we’re dying to go back and spend more time exploring some of our favorite islands.


And now here we are, watching my belly expand and counting down the weeks until we get to meet our sweet little guy. The nursery is *almost* ready, and I can’t wait to share that with you!


We have all kinds of things to talk about – cloth diapering, second-hand baby gear, crossing off items on the pre-baby bucket list, etc. Stay tuned!

travel thursdays: day trips from Florence


If you’ve booked a wine-tasting tour from Florence, then you’re doing it right. There’s plenty of travel-guide fodder and veteran advice out there on the best Tuscan wine regions. But if you’re looking to get away from the tour buses, here are some alternative day trips from Florence (all easily accessible by train!) that provide the quintessential Italian adventure.


On our most recent Italian adventure, in summer 2014, we made a day trip from Florence to Siena, and it was one of the highlights of our trip. Siena is what you think of when you think of Tuscany.

Sweeping views of the Tuscan hillside: check.


Jaw-dropping medieval cathedral: check.




Best chocolate cake of your lifecheck.

The whole town of Siena is divided into fiercely competitive “contrade” (roughly, neighborhoods) and they face off in an annual horse race in the main square. If you don’t happen to visit Siena during the Palio, there’s still plenty of people-watching and photo opps in the main square.






Don’t hate on this city just because of its association with lunch meat. Bologna is a pretty amazing, off-the-beaten-path gem nestled in the Emilia-Romagna region, Italy’s gastronomic treasure. Think aged Parmesan and balsamic, tortellini and prosciutto, in a city with the world’s oldest university (founded in 1088!).



The botanical gardens are also something to write home about – they’re full of lush spaces, fountains, and oddities like a greenhouse dedicated to carnivorous plants.

All Italian cities have a lot of commonalities – lots of archways, crumbling old churches, and social life organized around piazzas. But Bologna is most recognizable for the salmon- and rust-colored buildings. The city’s just begging for a photographer far more skilled than myself to come snap some shots of the colorful alleys.








Cinque Terre

Recognize this?



Rick Steves single-handedly inspired countless tourists from all over the world to make the pilgrimage to these 5 cliff-side towns on the Mediterranean coastline. The views of the emerald water as you hike from town to town are stunning.


Each of the five towns has its own charm, and there are charming little beaches to dip your toes in if you break a sweat during the hike.


I was pretty blown away by the entire experience – breathing in the salty air, hiking along jagged coastlines and alongside family vineyards, and trying to soak in the colorful views of each town.


I don’t think anyone goes to Cinque Terre and regrets it. It’s truly one of those magical, bucket-list places that you’ll never forget.

travel thursdays: Green Revival’s guide to Florence


I adore Italy. I’ve been enamored ever since, 8 years ago, I was burned out on calculus and chemistry classes, and I spontaneously decided to register for intensive-study Italian. 2 hours, every day, just 30 of us undergrads and the most flamboyant, fabulous Calabrian professor you can imagine.

After college, I backpacked all around Europe, and I spent about a month in Italy. Florence captured my heart – it’s a great mix of culture, Tuscan cuisine, art, and sunshine.



Here’s our guide to Florence – where to stay, wander, and eat yourself into a food coma.

Where to Stay

Many, many decades ago, while my grandpa was stationed in Germany to help clean up the aftermath of World War II, he and his recent bride (my grandma) would travel around Europe on the weekends using money she earned from selling sandwiches to their Berlin neighbors. In Florence, they stayed in a beautiful 14th-century villa run by a sweet local family. My grandma still tells stories about their experience – the home-cooked meals that would bring you to your knees; the sweeping views out over the city; the generous, kind family who maintained the pensione.

Guys – Pensione Bencista is still run by the same sweet family, and my husband and I stayed there last year with two of our best friends. Wanna see?



We also learned from the concierge that Salvatore Ferragamo lives across the street. So, there’s that. We caught a glimpse of him leaving in his Prius one day, and snapped an obligatory Ferragamo selfie.

For a budget option, I’d highly recommend Plus Florence Hostel – it’s practically a hotel, with a pool, sauna, and a bar/disco. It’s located right in town, so you won’t be forking over any euros for buses or taxis. Plus, the rooms start at 24 euros – can’t beat that price!


Where to Wander

Florence is a compact city, but it’s full of gems. Your first destination should be the iconic Duomo. It’s been granted UNESCO World Heritage status, and from this point on it’ll be your point of reference if you ever get lost. (And ambling around the winding streets of Florence, that’s a given…)



If you’re reading this before you leave for Florence, reserve a tickets for the Accademia. Unless you’re some kind of sadist who enjoys waiting in lines for hours, you’ll be beyond relieved that you did so. Hotels can make reservations (thanks, Bencista!), or you can do it yourself online. If you’re planning on exploring other museums in Florence as well, the Firenze Card may be worthwhile – Rick Steves dishes out advice on the pros and cons here.

Once inside, you’ll be rewarded with views of Michelangelo’s David (quite a babe), panel paintings and sculptures by myriad Renaissance artists, Florentine gothic paintings, and even a collection of antique instruments.


When your feet are tired of wandering around museums, cross the iconic Ponte Vecchio and grab some gelato at Gelateria La Carraia on your way to the Boboli Gardens, where there’s plenty of wide open space to unwind and take a nap. (Bonus points if you’ve snuck in a bottle of vino.)




If you’re in search of a (practically) one-of-a-kind perfume or cologne, or if you just want a little adventure off the well-beaten tourist path, head to the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, a.k.a. Santa Maria’s Perfume Workshop/Pharmaceuticals. This is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world, founded by Dominican friars in 1221 (!!). Today, you can buy high-end fragrances (with a special back-story) and wander through the whimsical, historic place.



Where to Eat

Full disclosure: you can’t go wrong with wandering into a divey little restaurant in most Italian cities and ordering a plate of pasta. And many of the best wines are the vino della casa – often unlabeled bottles made in very small quantities by the restauranteur himself. But if you’re the kind of girl or guy who likes to plan ahead (#tripplannerprobz), here’s a few of our favorites.

Le Volpi e l’Uva – This is a cute little wine bar near the Pitti Palace, and a stone’s throw from the Ponte Vecchio. Try the crostoni and salumi. (Carbs for dayyyyys.)

Caffe Giacosa – This is what happens when Roberto Cavalli designs his own cafe. Quirky, charming, and reasonably priced coffee from a man whose jeans cost an entire paycheck.

Mercato Centrale – If you fell in love with the colors and boundless produce at Barcelona’s Boqueria, you’d probably equally love this market. Beware the tourist traps, and make a beeline for the cheese, fruit, and sundried tomatoes.

Rivalta Cafe – We stumbled across this bar while tracing the banks of the Arno to walk off some pasta and wine, and we were immediately enveloped in a crowd of local 20- and 30-somethings sipping on craft cocktails, chatting, and filling plates of apparently free food. It was amazing. I’m looking at their calendar now, and they have an upcoming “Bubble Night” which sounds very promising. Rivalta, we’ll be back.


Anything I missed? What are your favorite, can’t-miss spots in Florence?

recipes we’re loving lately


Last November, D and I endured our first Whole 30 challenge. Welllll…. we challenged ourselves to our first Whole 30 challenge. We made it 21 days before we caved and relinquished our willpower in the name of bread and cheese.

Still, we’ve been on a health kick since then (Christmas notwithstanding). Here are some recipes we’ve been loving lately.


1. Cauliflower tabbouleh (source: Gourmande in the Kitchen)


If it contains olives – I’m all in. Add fresh mint and and toasted walnuts, and I’m weak at the knees. This is a great hearty side, or – if you’re like me – add some chicken and call it a meal.


2. Meyer Lemon Skillet Chicken (source: Brooklyn Supper)

I noticed a display of Meyer lemons at Whole Foods last fall, and ever since then, they’ve been my jam. This recipe plays up the sweet, robust Meyer lemons, complemented by caramelized shallots and fresh thyme. Yum, right?


3. Sesame-spiced turkey meatballs + crushed chickpea salad (source: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)


Deb (a.k.a. Deb Perelman, the cookbook’s author and small kitchen foodie extraordinaire) is my hero. Without formal training or restaurant experience of any kind, she began whipping up recipes that are now beloved by many. These meatballs are beloved by us, and the smashed chickpeas are the perfect pairing. (Here’s the recipe online, in case you’re curious!)


4. Salmon with sriracha sauce and lime (source: Self magazine)

Apparently Gwyneth Paltrow is kind of a foodie. I usually don’t pay much attention to celebrity cookbooks or lifestyle blogs, but I saw a photo of this recipe on Pinterest and had to try it. It’s pretty simple, but the flavors are complex and the prep time is minimal, making this the perfect work night meal.


5. Pesto chicken + Brussell sprouts


This is a quick, dinner-on-the-run meal I devised myself a couple months ago, but it’s so delicious that it’s become a frequent meal in our household. I cut one pound of chicken breasts into cubes, halved one pound of Brussells sprouts, and combined both with a cup of Costco pesto in a pan over medium heat. The cook time is ~5 to 10 mins. Easy, peasy. With the aid of the pesto, the Brussells sprouts are hardly the bitter things feared by children everywhere, and the olive oil in the pesto keeps the chicken juicy. I dare you not to love this.


6. Chicken-stuffed peppers with spinach and sundried tomatoes (source: Paleo Fitness Mama)

I discovered during our Whole 30 Challenge attempt that stuffed bell peppers are amazing. This recipe is in our frequent rotation – there was a time when I started making chicken-stuffed peppers once a week. D got a little tired of them, so I’m waiting it out until I can break out the bell peppers once again.


7. Pistachio-crusted flank steak with peach puree (source: Running to the Kitchen)


As you can see, we roll on the rare to very-rare side of things when it comes to red meat. I love any meat or fish that’s encrusted with nuts (pecan-crusted salmon is what my dreams are made of). The peach puree in this recipe is good enough to eat by the spoonful, and the marinade provides an unexpected citrus flavor. (Goodbye, plain old salt-and-pepper steak.)


8. Zoodles + paleo pasta sauce (source: Our Paleo Life)

IMAG1822If you’ve been living under a rock and are unacquainted with zoodles, go get yoself a spiralizer. Ours came at the steep cost of $5 from our local Bed Bath & Beyond and is hilarious named the Vegetti.

Zucchini noodles are even easier to prepare than they may appear, and this paleo sauce makes me regret all the years I’ve been buying bottled (sugar-laden) pasta sauce. Never again.

What are your all-time favorite, go-to recipes?