Evian-A spray to start your day

Photography by Shadi Garman

Sponsored by Evian

Hi Guys! Hope you are all having a great week so far. I am super excited to talk about this new beauty product, the Evian Facial Spray. To be honest, when Evian asked me to try this out and potentially post about it on my blog, I must say that I was super skeptical. I mean, it’s just a spray bottle with water so I couldn’t imagine it was going to be anything to write home about! I have been using this spray for about 6 weeks now, and I can honestly say that I am 100% obsessed. Evian markets this spray as a great hydrating tool for traveling, which it absolutely is. That said, I use this spray every morning after I apply my facial moisturizer as well as when I am traveling. My skin has never been this hydrated during the winter months and I know it is 100% because of this product.

The ultra-fine pure, natural, powered mist allows the skin to absorb a unique balance of beneficial minerals along with the water. It has a neutral 7.2 pH. and relieves dry, irritated skin caused by high altitude and poor air quality making it amazing for travel or dry areas like my apartment when the heat is blasting! I received this travel pack and I have one of these spray bottles in every bag at this point haha! It’s great if you feel like a refresh or that your skin is tight from being dry. I really love this product and I’m super excited to share it with you all!

Xoxo-J

Step-1 F-Factor Approved Banana Bread!

 

Hi everyone! I hope you are all having a great Sunday! I have been getting inundated with requests to share the F-factor banana bread recipe I make at least once a week! I got this recipe from Shana Pantirer of @Spantirer. You all should follow her if you are an F-factor devotee like me! Shana actually works as a Senior RD at F-factor’s headquarters in NYC! She shared this recipe a little while ago and it has become a weekly favorite of mine and my family’s! I love to have a slice for breakfast or snack or even for dessert if I am craving something sweet and delicious. This banana bread is so good, you would NEVER assume it was low carb. Check out the recipe and details below:

Nutrition per serving (recipe makes 10 slices): 110 calories, 2 g fat, 10 g fiber, 9.5g protein

Only 9 g net carbs!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup F-Factor 20/20 vanilla protein powder
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour or buckwheat flour ( I have used either and have no preference)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 bananas broken into small chunks (this makes it easier to mix up)
  • 1/3 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • Baking spray with flour (I use Pam baking spray)

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. You don’t have to separate dry and wet ingredients as they mix together well
  • Make sure all of your ingredients, including the bananas are well mixed. It’s ok to have a few chunks, but the creamier the better
  • spray your baking dish with baking spray so the banana bread doesn’t stick to the pan. (I use a Staud 10.5 x 7.5″ pan)
  • Pour your batter into the pan
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
  • ENJOY!

Xoxo-J

Tips for Traveling with Toddler!

 

Hi Guys! Welcome back to the blog! I got back from NC last weekend after a wonderful week spent with family over the Holidays. Matt unfortunately had to head back a few days earlier than Charlee and I, so I was solo traveling back with the babes. I have to say I was really nervous to travel with Charlee by myself. I have done it before, and I wrote about that experience here. Despite having traveled with Charlee by myself before, she is much older now and harder to wrangle than she was when she was a baby. I was so surprised that our solo trip back to NY went so much better than I anticipated. I never even brought out the ipad once for the entire flight. Granted, we were in the air for only two hours, but I was so happy with how much easier this fight was than I anticipated. I had a few tricks and back up plans that I brought along with me on this flight so I thought I would share with you all in case you have a solo flight booked with your littles!

  1. I highly recommend buying your toddler their own seat. I know this is a luxury and I understand that not everyone can afford to do this. Charlee is a true toddler: squirmy and independent. The idea of getting one seat and sitting next to a stranger gives me major anxiety. I knew that Charlee was going to most likely bother the heck out of our seat mate and just feel very trapped and unhappy, so Matt and I made the decision to purchase her a seat on the plane on the way back. It was a game changer!
  2. If your child has their own seat, then I can’t recommend enough the Kids Fly Safe Airplane Safety Harness. Charlee is wearing it in the photo above. This contraption essentially creates a harness that makes your child feel like they are riding in a car seat, without having to lug your enormous car seat onto the flight. It is small and compact and fits in a diaper bag. I was able to install it in under one minute and had her strapped in with no problems. She sat in her harness the entire flight and didn’t complain once. She is good in the car, and in her stroller so she is used to the experience of being harnessed in. It made my trip a breeze.
  3. Make sure to travel with your child’s lovey. Charlee has all of a sudden started to show major affection towards a specific stuffed bunny that she calls “Nana.” I made the last minute decision to pack her “Nana” with us on the flight down and back and it was a major help. She loves her “Nana” and snuggles it and sucks her thumb for comfort. If your child has a lovey, make sure to bring it on the flight to make them feel more comfortable.
  4. Bring surprise toys! I went to the local CVS in NC before we got on our flight and bought Charlee a brand new Lisa Frank Sticker book and a mess free coloring set to surprise her with if she got antsy on the flight. The sticker book gave me about an hour of engaged entertainment for Charlee. She LOVED it. I would ask her which sticker she wanted, she would point to one and then she would hold the sticker and place it on me or her “Nana” or on the seat. It seriously helped so much! It has about 1 million stickers in it haha so it is a great one to purchase. I also pulled out the mess free coloring pad and markers once she was over the stickers and that gave us another 30 minutes. I bought the mess free pad for obvious reasons!
  5. Bring your child’s favorite toys. Charlee loves this “My First Purse set “that I got her for Christmas. I brought it and she spent some time on her “cell phone” and putting on her “lipstick.” Whatever toy your child loves, bring it!
  6. Give your child one activity at a time. Charlee gets overwhelmed when surrounded by too many toys. I get more calm and focus from her if I offer her one thing at a time. I was able to really spread out the use of each toy by offering her a new one once she was bored of the one before.
  7. Invest in a great travel stroller. We own this great travel stroller by Mountain Buggy. It’s super lightweight and folds down compactly making it easy to take on to the plane and put into the overhead compartment. This time I had to gate check it since there wasn’t a ton of over head room on the plane, but I didn’t mind since I was able to bring it up to the gate and drop it before boarding.
  8. Bring snacks. If you are a Mom you’re probably saying, “well DUH!” I am the queen of snacks and stash them in every pocket of my diaper bag! I bring pouches, milk, water, cookies, crackers, cheese puffs, fruit bars etc. I will let her eat whenever and whatever she wants on planes and it definitely helps keep her entertained. Luckily now that she is a toddler, she drinks whole milk. They serve whole milk on flights so I always bring an empty bottle to pop it into. Makes it easier than worrying about bringing a cooler etc.
  9. Board first. I always take advantage of the option to board first when traveling with Charlee. This lessens the stress of getting her situated and in her flight harness.
  10. If you must offer an iPad for entertainment, do it last. I had this as my backup if my other toys and snack options weren’t enough for Charlee. I know if I had given it to her first, she would have watched it but then gotten board too quickly and less interested in her toys. That sounds weird, but she gets like that when we let her watch the Ipad.
  11. If you are traveling during nap time, bring nap props. Charlee sleeps in a sleep sack at night and for naps. (Size large for reference.) We didn’t travel during nap time this trip, but if we had, I would have put her in her sleep sack to help her realize it was time for a nap.
  12. Have fun!! You and your baby are on an adventure! I’ll never forget how nervous I was to take Charlee on our first flight just us. I had anxiety for weeks! It ended up being SO MUCH EASIER than I thought it would be and really fun! It was a Mommy and Charlee adventure and a memory I will always cherish.

I hope this is helpful to those of you who are traveling with your toddler! Good luck!

xoxo-J

The World’s Best Low-carb Lasagna!

Ok, the WORLD’S best may be a stretch, but this low-carb lasagna is SO GOOD you won’t believe it only has 4 grams net carbs per serving! I made this dish for dinner and couldn’t get over how delicious it was, and neither could my husband :). I took a few different recipes and combined them to create this one. I hope you all enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of Palmini lasagna noodles OR  Zanuzzo Hearts of Palm Lasagna
  • 1 Pound uncooked Italian Sausage (you can use chicken sausage for a leaner option!)
  • 8 oz Organic Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese, (you can use part-skim fat for a healthier alternative!)
  • 1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 & 1/2 Cups Marinara Sauce (I like to use Rao’s or the Trader Giotto’s Marinara since they are both low-carb)
  • 12 ounces Low moisture Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 medium sized baking dish (I used a 9×12 in)

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Take the Zannuzo Hearts of Palm Lasagna noodles out of the cans and run them under cold water in a strainer for one minute.
  • Take the hearts of palm noodles from the colander and place them on paper towels. Pat with paper towels to dry them out. They won’t be 100% dried out, but you are just trying to get rid of any excess water before making the lasagna.
  • While the noodles dry, cook the Italian Sausage. While the sausage cooks, chop the sausage into super small pieces. It should take about 10 minutes or so for the sausage to cook.
  • In a medium sized bowl, mix together the ricotta, Italian seasoning and garlic powder.
  • With the sausage cooked, noodles patted dry and your ricotta mixture mixed together you are ready to assemble the layers of the lasagna in your baking dish!
  • Start with spreading your first layer of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. This will keep your noodles from sticking.  Then assemble in any combination of layers that you choose making sure to complete the same pattern. After the last layer, the shredded cheese should be the last layer. This will ensure a cheesy baked topping.
  • Bake your lasagna, uncovered for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts per 1 serving (should make 10 pieces in all) : 320 calories per serving: 5 grams carbs, 1 gram fiber

xoxo-J

A NYC stroll + 21 things you should do in NYC

Photography by Max Polito

Sweater: Zadig and Voltaire Jeans: 3×1 Coat: Something Navy Sneakers: Converse x Comme Des Garsons Bag: Gucci Socks: J.Crew

Hi Friends! I hope you’re all having a great weekend. I wanted to put together a list of things to do in NYC because I get asked for advice from my followers on this a lot. I put together a list of 21 things I recommend doing. The list is never ending because NYC has so much to offer. I hope you all enjoy!

  1. Top of the Rock: Everyone is Familiar with Rockefeller Center, but did you know that there are a few tours you can take there? The first is tickets to the top of the Rock. The 360 degree views will take your breath away. It’s definitely a must-do.
  2. Another really fun thing to do at Rock Center is to do the NBC Studios tour. I took this tour with Matt, my Mom and Papa a few years ago. It was SO COOL and actually really fun. We decided to do it last minute and really enjoyed it.
  3. The Campbell at Grand Central: Grand Central is of course a must-see when visiting NYC. One of my favorite parts of Grand Central is having a drink at Campbells. John W. Campbell was a very successful financier back in the early 1900’s. He leased an office and reception area out of Grand Central. He felt he needed to be in the heart of NYC but also close to the trains, hence renting a space at Grande Central. So cool, right?! Well they turned his office into a bar, restoring it to it’s glory day.
  4. Get a wine and Cheese plate at Nota Bene in Eataly. We are so lucky to live only 5 blocks from Eataly. Eataly is an Italian Market filled with different restaurants and curated Italian goods. They have fresh organic produce too. It’s a really cool place to visit. My favorite thing to do there is order a fresh cheese plate paired with some Rose at Nota Bene. It’s in the center of the market so you get to people watch and drink. Such a NYC thing to do.
  5. Have brunch at Tavern on the Green: I will never forget having lunch here when I was 13 years old. I felt like a celebrity! This place is such an iconic establishment and a must-visit. They have a beautiful outdoor bar and patio which I love to frequent over the summer months. That said, it’s so fun to visit over the Holidays. It’s decorated and cozy and charming, not to mention the food is delicious!
  6. Pier A: Matt and I actually had our rehearsal dinner at this incredible place. It’s located all the way at the end of the Island of Manhattan next to the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. It was built in 1884 to serve the New York City Department of Docks and Harbor Police. You can read all about the history of it on the website. Today, it’s a huge food hall and bar, and they do private events like weddings etc. on the top floor. I recommend going for an afternoon beer and sharing a large pretzel. My Papa would agree with you ;).
  7. Spend an afternoon in Battery Park City. Battery Park is such a gorgeous area. You can take the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, or you can walk the outskirts of the park along the Hudson River. I remember when I took my Mom down to this area when she came to visit. She said she didn’t even think we were still in NYC! It’s so gorgeous and fun to visit. Matt and I had our wedding reception at Battery Gardens which is a beautiful restaurant right on the water. We love grabbing a bite there and watching the sun set :).
  8. Order the burger at the Spotted Pig: Best burger I’ve ever had. Not much more to say than that!
  9. Grab a bite at Minetta Tavern: I went on a date with a guy who took me here on our first date. I think I ended up dating him for way longer than I should have because he clearly had incredible taste in restaurants! Minnetta tavern opened in 1937 and was named after the Minetta Brook — which ran southwest from 23rd Street to the Hudson River. The Tavern was frequented by various layabouts and hangers-on including Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Eugene O’Neill, E. E. Cummings, Dylan Thomas, and Joe Gould, as well as by various writers, poets, and pugilists.
  10. Visit a Speak Easy: There are so many cool Speakeasies. One of my favorites is actually across the street from our apartment called Patent Coffee. During the day it’s a coffee shop. At night, you have to ring the doorbell outside and they let you in a secret door behind the counter. It’s a dark and cool bar! It’s so cool and they have a really great cocktail menu.
  11. Grab a drink at Lillie’s Bar. This bar is one of the coolest places to get a drink in NYC. The entire bar is decorated in crazy vintage finds. There is simply not a single empty space on the wall and the food and atmosphere can’t be beat. There are a few locations. I love going to the midtown location before or after seeing a Broadway show.
  12. Eat at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. First of all, Madison Square Park is my favorite NYC park. We had our first date there, got engaged there and have lived around the corner from this park since 20012! The Shake Shack in the park is actually the very first Shake Shack ever. It’s so fun to grab a bite and eat outside under the sparkling lights.
  13. Play Ping Pong at Spin. This is such a fun date-night idea. You can sign up to play ping pong and drink and eat at the same time. What a great idea, right!?
  14. Go to K-town for some Karaoke. I do this every birthday. I just love karaoke and some of the best Karaoke bars are in the heart of Korea Town in NYC. MK Kareoke is my favorite spot but you really can’t go wrong.
  15. Go to a NYC Comedy Club: My personal favorite is Comedy Cellar. I love comedy and I especially love live comedy. NYC is known for it’s undiscovered talent and it’s such a fun way to spend a night out. The last few times I have been to a Comedy Club there have been some famous people make surprise appearances! I almost lost my mind when Jim Gaffigan walked on stage! You never know who you will see ;).
  16. Spend an afternoon in Dumbo. There’s so much to do in Dumbo. Matt and I spent a whole day in Brooklyn Bridge Park when Charlee was 10 months old. We walked all around and took her to a public pool and splash pad. Then we went to lunch at the 1 Hotel and sat outside looking at the NYC skyline while she napped. It was a perfect day!
  17. Eat a bagel from Best Bagel and Coffee. Every New Yorker has their favorite bagel place. This is mine. HANDS DOWN the best bagel I’ve ever had. They have hand rolled and kettle boiled bagels and all the bagels are made on the premises. My go-to order is a plain bagel with veggie cream cheese, tomato and onion. DELICIOUS!
  18. Play Mini Golf overlooking the Hudson River: This is such a fun little place along the West Side Highway of NYC. Best part is, it’s only $5 to play!
  19. Go to the Frying Pan for a boozy afternoon. This is one of my favorite places to go during the summer. The Frying Pan is essentially a big boat with a restaurant and bar. When the weather is nice I love to go sit outside and eat and drink with Matt and friends.
  20. See a Broadway Show: This is an obvious one, but so necessary. The theater in NYC is amazing! Did you know that you can go to the box office same day to see if they have any rush seats? They are usually much cheaper! You can also buy tickets same day at the TKTS booth!
  21. Take a lunch cruise on the North River Lobster Company boat: Matt and I discovered this amazing lobster cruise this past summer! We absolutely love taking this little lobster cruise. It only lasts about 1 hour, you can drink wine and order seafood AND bring your baby. It’s a super fun thing to do in the summertime.

There are so many more things I could list out as must-do’s in NYC but I think i’ll start with this list ;).

Thanks for stopping by!

xoxo-J

Let’s Jess Up x Meg Cusick Holiday Gift Guide for Toddler boys and girls!

 

Hi friends! I am so excited because I teamed up with my blogger bestie Meg Cusick of Alexander-Alexandra to share with you two holiday gift guides for toddlers! She put together the toddler boy gift guide with her adorable baby boy Jett in mind and I created the toddler girl guide with Miss Charlee Q in mind! Meg and I met via Instagram and have become such close friends. Our babies were born only two weeks apart so we have gone through motherhood on almost the exact same timeline. She’s such a wonderful friend and Momma! If you don’t follow her, you should! We hope you enjoy these gift guides!

  1. Mini Kitchenette: We bought this for Charlee as her big present from Santa. Not that she knows who Santa is, but I am SO excited to give it to her. They have a big plastic Little Tykes kitchen at her daycare that she loves and I just know she is going to lose her mind when she wakes up to this on Christmas morning!
  2. Toothbrush: We just had Charlee’s first dentist appointment! She is 16 months and has a total of 4 teeth! I wanted to get her her first toothbrush and this one has great reviews. It will be one of her stocking stuffers!
  3. Baby’s first Purse: I may or may not be the MOST excited about this gift. Charlee is absolutely obsessed with my purse and tries to carry it around all the time. I know she will just love this. It also comes with the cutest purse accessories. Too cute!
  4. Bath Pipes Toy: I love these bath pipes! Now that Charlee is older, she enjoys playing in the bath and I know she will love playing with these.
  5. Skip Hop Snack Bee:  This adorable snack case makes snacking fun! It’s a great stocking stuffer. Too cute!
  6. Winter Jacket:  I had to add this winter jacket to the gift guide! I bought this for Charlee back in October on Amazon for $30! It has become our go-to for cold winter days. It’s very warm and as a bonus it’s so chic! I had no expectations since it was inexpensive but have been presently surprised. I ordered her a size 12-18 month for reference and it fits great!
  7. Flash Cards:  Charlee is very verbal and basically tries to repeat anything we say. We have had to be careful hah! We wanted to start introducing flash cards to see if she can learn even more words. These came highly recommended.
  8. Toy Vacuum that works! : If you follow me on Instagram, then you know my child is obsessed with any type of cleaning appliance. Hence the reason behind this gift and the one listed below! This vacuum actually sucks which I think is the absolute coolest thing ever.
  9. Toy Broom and dust pan set: Charlee unfortunately figured out how to unwrap a few of her presents under the tree and got into this one. Good news is, it’s a HIT! She’s obsessed.
  10. American Girl Bitty Baby Doll: This is the cutest! It’s the American Girl Doll baby doll. You can buy individual outfits from American Girl and it’s just a beautiful gift.

1. Little Tykes Cozy Coupe: Jett has loved this truck for months now, and even as he gets older he seems to love it more! He loves to put toys in the trunk, and is just now able to pedal himself around – I think this toy will be loved for a very long time!    https://rstyle.me/n/ddb4qscbrxx.

2. MOLUK mini Bilibos Toy: These may look unsuspecting, but these toys can be stacked and nested, they act as floating ducks, sand shovels, candy bowls, spinning tops, racing cars or scoops for snowballs. (Go watch the video – they look so cool!)  https://rstyle.me/n/ddb36ecbrxx

3. Uniqlo Baby puffer coat: We love this winter coat for Jett – its lightweight and really warm! He never seems uncomfortable in it and it packs up really small into my diaper bag! https://rstyle.me/n/ddb39kcbrxx

4. Toy Train with Letter Blocks: Another one of Jett’s favorites! He can ride on it, play with the letter blocks, push buttons that light up, and so much more! https://rstyle.me/n/ddb267cbrxx

5. Tee Ball Set: Jett has a tennis racquet that is his size, as well as golf clubs. He has really loved trying to tap balls with these “stick” toys, and I know Tee Ball will be really fun for him too! https://rstyle.me/n/ddb33ccbrxx

6. Balance Bike: Jett may be a bit too young for this now – the box states 2-5 years, but I know we are just around the corner from being able to play with these! A great way for him to learn how to balance on a bike! https://rstyle.me/n/ddb3bdcbrxx

7. Aqua Doodle: no mess! I have been on the search for a large play mat that Jett could color on and I think this is the one! https://rstyle.me/n/ddb37wcbrxx

8. Personalized Book:  We had this “Baking Cookies with Mom” book personalized and Jett is obsessed! Such a special gift! http://www.kqzyfj.com/click-8953065-8236968

9. Bumble Bee Fountain Bath toy: This toy you can fill up with water and when you pull it out, it creates a fountain! One of Jett’s favorite bath toys. https://rstyle.me/n/ddb3rfcbrxx

10. Uniqlo toddler PJ’s: We have 4 sets of pajamas from Uniqlo because they are the best! Thin, yet warm, stretchy.. and the top can button to the bottoms so don’t come apart in the night! This Winnie the Poo print PJ is my favorite of the bunch. theyhttps://rstyle.me/n/ddb24ncbrxx

Christmas Traditions 2018

 

Photography by Shadi Garman

On Me: Pajama Shorts: Gap Pajama Top: Gap Slippers: Amazon Socks: Walmart

On Charlee: Pajamas: Amazon Socks: Amazon

Matt’s Pajamas: Pants: Gap

Happy Holidays everyone! This is my absolute favorite time of year. Growing up, Christmas was seriously like the Olympics. My Mom outdid herself year after year! She made every type of cookie you can imagine, she decorated the entire house and just made the holiday so special. The traditions were my favorite part. We always woke up on Christmas morning and had a delicious breakfast. She made the same Christmas breakfast casserole year after year along with fresh Swedish Cinnamon Roles called bullar. We started the day opening our stockings and then opened our gifts one at a time which lasted all day long. I just love Christmas so much and I’m excited to start introducing Charlee to my favorite family traditions as well as starting some of our own!

A new tradition I wanted to start this year was to gift the family a new set of Christmas Pajamas to wear on Christmas morning. I bought all three of us Pajamas (Matt’s set not pictured but I linked it above)! I found Charlee’s pajamas on Amazon for $9! They are so nice and surprisingly nice quality for the incredible price. What are some of your most favorite family traditions? Make sure to share in the comments :)!

These pictures are so very special to me. The most incredible gift I could ever receive is the gift of love from this little girl. Sending you all an extra measure of comfort joy and love this Holiday.

 Xoxo-J

Let’s Jess Up Holiday Gift Guide- FOR HER!

Hi Friends! Happy Holidays! The season is upon us and Christmas is around the corner. I will be sharing a few gift guides this Holiday season for you all to shop. I hope you enjoy!

  1. Polka Dot Button Down: I have this top and it’s now on sale for under $20 and stocked in all sizes. I wear it all. the. time. and I’m sure you all have noticed!! It’s long enough to wear with leggings which for a tall gal like me is unheard of. If you are on the shorter side it could 100% be a dress. I LOVE it and really want to buy the black but I am not allowed to buy anything until after xmas…HINT HINT to Matt ;)!! This would be a great gift for your lady without breaking the bank!
  2. Slippers: I always love a new set of slippers each year. These are super cute and the leopard pattern is adorable!
  3. Silk Pillow and Eye Mask set: I sleep with an eye mask every night but I didn’t realize they made silk pillows too!! Wishing for this set for sure!
  4. Christmas candle: This candle smells like heaven.
  5. Winter Hat: The cutest winter hat I ever did see, right?!
  6. The Bucket List: I love this coffee table book! Would be a great gift for the wanderlust loving lady in your life!
  7. Socks: This gift is for me and any of the ladies in my life. WE ALL NEED THIS haha!
  8. Golden Goose Sneakers: I love Golden Goose sneakers. If you are looking for a great gift that will impress your lady this year, this is it.
  9. Festive Wine Glasses: I have these wine glasses which were gifted to me at Christmas last year and they are just fabulous. I think they make such a lovely gift.
  10. Jade Roller: The jade roller is all the rage. Surprise your lady with knowing just what she wanted but didn’t tell you this year 😉

Hope you all enjoyed this gift guide! Keep coming back as there are more where this came from!

xoxo-J

OLFACTORY x Let’s JessUP! A Personalized Fragrance Experience

Hi Friends! I just got home from a fabulous afternoon spent with the lovely people at OLFACTORY. OLFACTORY is a perfumery that bottles on site, meaning they are able to offer the highest quality in fragrance at an affordable cost. The team at OLFACTORY invited me to come down to their store in downtown NYC to experience making my very own personal fragrance! It was so much fun and I went home with the most amazing scent. As a gift to my followers, they have offered me a 20% off discount code on anything at their store! The code is jess20 and it is valid online and in-store! They have also made my personal fragrance that I created today available for you all to shop as well. Just click this link! The scent is described as “A Beautiful Jasmin Notes In The Taylor, So We Added Jasmin Petals, Lily Of The Valley And Freesia For A Softer, More Floral Blend.” You can check out my behind the scenes video below to see how the whole process works!

Xoxo-J

All Things Motherhood!

Photography by Shadi Garman

This picture makes me laugh so hard. This is truly an image that encapsulates the experience and whirlwind of being a Mom. You’re so deliriously happy, but also surrounded by toys that you constantly step on, your hair is in a messy bun and hasn’t been washed in too many days, and you’re exhausted. You guys, I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a Mom, but why does no one tell you how crazy hard it is?! Maybe people DID tell me how crazy motherhood is, I just couldn’t begin to comprehend how crazy since I was so used to being only concerned with myself!? Anyways, I wouldn’t change my life with my delicious girl for anything, but I want to be real and share some of my funny Motherhood thoughts and feelings in one place. This will be sort of a mish-mosh of thoughts so bare with me. I hope you all enjoy!

  1. Being a Mom is HARD. Yea, yea…you are all rolling your eyes. I mean, I knew it was going to be hard before I had my daughter, but I had no capacity of understanding JUST how hard. Being a Mom is hard physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Becoming a parent rocks you to your core. All of a sudden, after carrying this little baby you can only sort of imagine, it arrives and you are OBSESSED with them. I remember when Charlee was born, the need to care for her was immediate. I felt this overwhelming need to make sure she was OK. I checked to see if she was breathing every other minute, over-changed her diaper because I was scared about diaper rash, and basically decided in one millisecond that everything I did would now revolve around my child. Obviously, the scary terrifying experience of being a new parent has since worn off. It sometimes creeps up but I have done work in therapy to control it. (You can read more about that here) That said, no matter what, the need to care for Charlee and ensure what we do is what’s best for her will last forever!
  2. Balancing it all is impossible. I think the most common conversation I share with my Mom friends is about how to balance it all. What I have found to be the most comforting is when I am able to connect with a Mom who agrees that it’s OK to not have it all together. I feel like I am constantly behind on something. If the laundry is done, the dishes aren’t clean, etc. etc. Something is always sort of falling through the cracks. I have since learned to truly embrace the chaos and it helps! I try to not be so hard on myself.
  3. To work or not to work? Oh man, I struggled with this. I thought for sure I wanted to go back to work full time after having my daughter. Well guess what, I did…and it was SO HARD. I constantly felt like I was falling short in the work department and in the Mom department, and I was just stretched too thin. I now work part-time and I feel like it’s the best situation for me and the family. I think no matter what you have to give up something as a parent. Whether you work full time or not! It’s so hard to make these choices but no matter what choice you make, as long as it is right for your family, it’s the right choice.
  4. Nothing stays nice for very long. That sweater I bought yesterday…it already has an avocado smear stain on the sleeve from Charlee grabbing me. As much as I have had to embrace the chaos, I have also had to embrace the mess! We don’t buy expensive furniture or fancy things that we don’t want anyone touching because guess what, CHARLEE TOUCHES EVERYTHING! I found her dipping her bear in the toilet yesterday when I turned my back for one second. It’s crazy guys!
  5. I will never have enough space. For. everything. This may be a New Yorker thing, but I am always running out of room to house things. I am also the kind of person that needs every thing to have a home or else it doesn’t get put away. I have systems set in place for myself because I am naturally not a neat person. It takes a lot of effort on my part. My home is neat, but it ain’t easy!! Having a child you accumulate so many things. I am also super sentimental and find myself wanting to keep little outfits, shoes, art projects etc. and sadly there just isn’t enough room for it all.
  6. Mom friends are my heroes. Since college, I have had a super tight knit group of girlfriends. They are amazing and supportive and wonderful. Some are from college and some are from my time in NY but they are all amazing. The only thing is that a lot of my close girlfriends aren’t mothers yet. In order to not overwhelm them with baby stuff that they simply don’t understand and probably don’t care to hear about, I developed a separate group of Mom friends. These women and I may or may not have been friends if we had met without the connection of having a child, and some have been friends and found an even closer bond because of motherhood! All of that said, my Mom friends have become my lifeline! Mom friends are there 100% and understand what the crazy looks like because they are living it too. I can go to my Mom friends for advice on what car seat to buy or to just vent about how I smeared poop on my forehead and didn’t realize until 30 minutes later after trying to find where the smell was coming from…not that that happened or anything lol!
  7. I miss my spouse. Don’t get me wrong, I see my husband every day after work and we have date night every weekend. That said, there are moments I really miss him even when we are together! Things naturally become centered around your child and it’s important to take time for each other and be present together.  There are moments I look fondly back on the time when it was just the two of us if I am being perfectly honest. Not that I would change our life for the world! It’s just that the dynamic changed, and it is much more of an effort to be present with only each other. That’s why we try and plan at least a date night a week and a weekend away just us every 6 months. It really helps!
  8. I never knew a love like this-You guys…I love my Charlee so much. It’s honestly impossible to put into words. She is the best part of my every day and the love I feel for her transcends to the stars. I didn’t know just how much I couldn’t live my life without her! How did we not know what we were missing before she came into our family? Becoming parents is amazing and the love you have for these kiddos makes all the insanity worth it. I also love being a family of three. There is nothing more incredible than spending time together.

I hope you guys enjoyed my random thoughts today! I would love to hear some of your thoughts on Motherhood in the comments!

xoxo-J