April 25, 2017

Books We're Loving

*affiliate links have been used

Confession time: I haven't been reading much at all these days. Like, I've read half a book so far for the month of April. January started out really strong, with 4 books read, and then my reading progress just piddled away from there. I can't even really explain it, but I'm just not reaching for a book when I have time to read. Blame it on being too tired, focusing on other hobbies right now, or just lack of interest in reading. Perhaps a combination of all three even, but however you look at it, my reading is severely lacking so far. That being said, the books I have managed to read at least have been really good reads! There's nothing worse than reading bad book after bad book, especially when you aren't reading very much to begin with. 
Great Books You Must Read
Loved: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was such a charming and lovely book. The writing was beautiful and it hit me with all the feels when I was least expecting it. It's about loss and love and family and how when you least expect it, the right people (both young and old), will find their way into your life. And it's a book about books, so what's not to love? 

It Ends With Us was also a really good read. A little more chick-lit and a lot more sexy times than I was expecting, but I had a hard time putting this book down. I was worried that the ending was going to be too cliche, but I think the author approached a difficult topic really well. I don't want to give anything away, but the message this book sends is really important and be sure to read the author's note at the end!

The last good book I read was The Lost Husband. If you've read any of my last book posts, then you know I adored Happiness for Beginners by the same author so I was excited to dig in to one of her other books. I wasn't disappointed in the least! This is a book about loss, moving on, forgiveness, hope, love and self-growth.While I couldn't relate to having lost my husband, I could relate to being a mother, and I just really liked the main character, Libby. She was honest, real, and just trying to live a good life in order to give her children a better life. 

Currently Reading: I had high hopes that I would read all of the books while on holidays in Florida, but alas, that never happened. I started reading Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid while on the airplane and devoured 150 pages. I was pulled in on page one and crying by page two. But, despite loving it, I haven't been able to bring myself to read anymore (see first paragraph again, haha!). Anyway, my goal is to finish it by the end of the month! 

Looking Forward To: I feel like this is a trick question, haha! I can't say I'm looking forward to reading anything right now, BUT, I do have two books I recently purchased that I am really interested in reading as soon as I find my reading mojo. Ange highly recommended Unf*ck Your Habitat: You're Better Than Your Mess to me and I think it will be really helpful in learning how to attack clutter and disorganization in my home. The second book I picked up was The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy, a memoir about the adventures and heartbreak of being "a woman who is free to do whatever she chooses". Let's hope the reading bug hits me again soon!

Don't forget to head over to Becky's blog to see what she's loved, is currently reading and what she's going to read next! 


What are you reading right now? 

Any new releases you're looking forward to?



April 21, 2017

Peace of Mind with Owlet

Owlet Baby Monitor Smart Sock 2
Owlet Honest Review
This post was sponsored by Owlet, but as always, all thoughts and reviews 
expressed are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that continue to 
make this hobby of mine possible!

I think one of the scariest things about being a parent is nighttime. You so desperately want your babies to go to sleep so that you can get some sleep, but then once they are asleep you can't help but worry. Are they safe? Are they still breathing? What if I don't hear her if she wakes up? I'm a pretty easing going parent, too easy, some might say, except when it comes to sleep. Peace of mind at nighttime can be hard to come by when you're a parent.

I like to keep my babies close during those first few months. I sleep better with them in my room, and I'd by lying if I said I didn't check on them a few times in the middle of the night to feel for their chest moving up and down. Emmy likes to sleep wrapped up like a burrito so sometimes it's hard to tell if she's moved at all once I've put her down for the evening.

And no matter how many times I check on Emmy, nighttime still makes me nervous. Plus, she goes to bed hours before me, so I'm not always upstairs when she's sleeping. This is where Owlet comes in and gives me peace of mind. The Owlet Smart Sock 2, which debuted last month, tracks your babe's heart rate and oxygen saturation and is designed to notify you if either falls out of the preset zones. As a registered nurse turned stay-at-home-mom, this technology is amazing to me.
Why I love the owlet baby monitor
The Owlet Smart Sock 2 comes with a small, minimalist base station and 3 different sized socks which are meant to grow with your baby. For reference, Emmy is wearing the second sock, which is designed for ages 1-4 months. The sock can be worn on either foot, and even with a squirming baby, is easy to put on. Then you download the Owlet app on to your phone and it will take you through the set-up, which was also incredibly easy. I did have issues getting my wi-fi to connect with the base, but I followed the trouble-shooting guide and all I had to do was restart my phone. There's also a short video on the app when you're setting it up which I found useful, so I would definitely recommend not skipping it. You can customize the app to your baby by adding his/her birth date and photo and you can turn the base station off and on right from the app. If an alarm goes off, both your phone and your base station are designed to notify you.
Owlet Baby Monitor App is easy to use
Peace of Mind with Owlet
I can't compare the Smart Sock 2 to the original one since I never tried that one, but from what I've learned, the improvements Owlet made to their original design have only further enhanced the brilliance of this product. The sock has been redesigned so that it fits more securely and the sensors are positioned so that there are fewer false notifications. The bluetooth range has been increased to 100 feet, which means the sock can be further away from the base station now, and the socks have been made open toed, making them more breathable and also allowing placement on either foot.
Owlet - baby gear every parent should have
Must have baby item - the Owlet monitor
A Review of why I love the Owlet Baby Monitor
We've been using the Owlet for a few weeks now, and I cannot emphasize enough, the peace of mind it has given me when I go to bed at night. Or anytime Emmy is sleeping. I know there are so many "must have" baby products out there nowadays, but I honestly think, sponsored post or not, this is that one item that every parent should have, whether you're a first, second, or third time parent. And if you're not a parent, but you know of one, or one to be, do them a favour and let them know about this product. If I could go back in time and have this technology for when Sully was a baby (had I known it about then), I 100% would!



April 13, 2017

Currently // April

Hello, from Florida!

If you don't follow me on Instagram (but why not? you really should!), then you probably don't know that we're currently vacationing in Florida right now! Even though I was really organized leading up to us leaving last week, I was also super busy getting ready for the trip, plus mommying and the posts I had hoped to have posted before we left never happened. I don't generally blog much when we go on holidays, but since it's been awhile since my last post, I thought I'd share a little currently post - Florida edition!
Enjoying: just being. My in-laws place in Florida is so relaxing, it's hot out, and I'm just enjoying waking up every morning with my family and not having an agenda. We've been down to Florida many times, and we plan to return many more, so we never feel this urge to have to do and see everything while we are here. This family vacation is exactly what I have been needing!
Reading: Forever, Interrupted, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I started this on the plane and read almost 150 pages. I haven't picked it back up since we got here, even though it hooked me from page one and had me crying by page two. I'm just having a serious problem with picking up a book these days. Even Jim commented the other day on how he hasn't seen me read in weeks. That's because I haven't been, I told him. I can't even call it a reading slump, I'm just not in the mood.

Listening To: nothing. So, I downloaded a whole whack of podcasts for the plane rides, only to get my phone out during the flight and realizing that you need that dumb headphones connector for the iPhone 7! Ugh, never have I been so annoyed at Apple in my life! I looked at TJ Maxx here for a connector, but they didn't have any. If I make it back to Target before we leave, I will look there, but it seriously annoys me to buy something that I already have at home! These are the Podcasts I was hoping to listen to: The Minimalists, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, and That's So Maven.

Eating: all of the food from Trader Joe's! There's a Trader Joe's in Sarasota that's not too far from my in-laws place, but it's also not convenient to go to either. But we always make sure to go on our first or second day here so that we can buy some groceries from there to enjoy during our stay. I also stock up on some of my favourite nonperishables from there. I'm also indulging in all of the Chobani I can stomach, champagne from Trader Joe's because I have a serious love affair with champagne and it's so cheap from there, and fun cereal you can't get in Canada. Healthier eating can resume next week! ;)
shopping at trader joe's
Doing: cross-stitch. So, I haven't been reading or blogging because I've recently become obsessed with cross-stitching. I've been intrigued by some really neat cross-stitch designs I've been seeing on Instagram lately, and even though I haven't cross-stitched since I was a young girl, I just had this strong desire to start it up. I find it SO relaxing, and it's an activity that's much easier to do while watching TV or chatting with my family than reading or writing is. I'm pretty pleased with how my first piece is turning out and I'll be sure to share the finished product with you!

Looking Forward To: Our last few days in Florida. Sully started fighting a cold after the first few days here, and it's just getting worse. He is not himself and he just looks and sounds horrible. Then I felt like I was coming down with something, but thankfully, have been able to fight it off, although at one point I was convinced I had an ear infection, which has since gotten better with some polysporin ear drops my mother-in-law just happened to have on hand. Thank goodness for that! You can't purchase them in the States apparently, but she always brings them down from Canada with her. Here's hoping Sully starts feeling like his old self so we can get back to enjoying the pool, get to the beach, and just have some fun during our last few days here!

I won't be posting again until we are back from vacation next week, but I'll be posting over on my Instagram account if you want to follow along! And once we're home, I'll share all the highlights from the trip, as well as how traveling with both a toddler and an infant went!


Tell me something you're looking forward to!

How do you like to pass the time on plane rides? 





March 31, 2017

Emmeline: Three Months

emmy three months old

Oh Miss Emmy,

I cannot believe you are already three months old! Your personality is coming out more and more and it's such a treat to have more awake time with you. You are still a pretty easy going little thing, but when you are not happy, you are NOT happy! There's not much of an in-between, that's for sure! Your daddy is pretty confident that you might end up having a stubborn personality just like your big brother. You can blame me for that trait later on ;)

You are still a wee little thing, weighing only 9.5 pounds. You are proving to be a very slow gainer, much to the frustration of your doctor. Your daddy and I think you are just perfect though. You are bubbly, alert, and hitting all of your milestones for this age. You refuse to take a bottle right now, but we're going to work on that! At least you are finally fitting in your 0-3 month clothing. I think I am going to be in trouble when it comes to shopping for you! Little baby girl clothes are just so darn cute.
lulujo mountain blanket
I Will Move Mountains blanket

You are a great napper, and still spend a big portion of your day sleeping. And at night, you love sleeping in your Dockatot beside me in bed, and often give me 7-8 hours of sleep. You are also a good little traveler so far and we took you to the mountains for the first time the other week (which makes the blanket in these photos so very fitting!).

You really seem to adore your big brother and are always looking at him when he is near and he can really get the smiles out of you. He likes to lay with you under your activity gym and he also reminds me to do tummy time with you, which he likes to do with you as well. Watching you two grow up together is going to be one of my life's greatest pleasures, I just know it.
Emmy Three Months
Emmy, I still can't believe you're mine, some days.

I love you with all my heart,

xoxo
Mommy

March 24, 2017

Personalize Your Phone and Laptop with CaseApp {& A Giveaway!}

Ever since I one dropped my (previous) phone on concrete and smashed the screen to bits, I vowed to never go without a phone case again. As much as I love the sleekness of not having a case on my phone, and granted, screens can still crack even with a case on, I'm in the camp of some protection is better than none. And while I want to protect my phone as best I can, I'm just not a fan of huge, bulky cases. I also think it's fun to personalize your phone with a cute/pretty/loud/stylish case.
marble phone and laptop case from CaseApp
When CaseApp reached out to me asking me to design my own custom phone case and laptop skin, I was pretty pumped! At the time, I was currently rocking a clear phone case and I was ready to change it up. The hardest part about this whole process was deciding on a design. CaseApp has a ton of pre-designed phone cases and laptop/tablet skins, to which you can add font or your own photos/designs. Or you can completely design your own case from scratch. The options are pretty endless!

I went back and forth between different design options, but ultimately, this marble one kept catching my eye. I loved the pop of pastel and I decided that this time around, I wanted a sleek, yet eye-catching phone case.
marble and pink phone case
CaseApp offers phone cases in two different styles: a "regular" slim-fitting one, which offers light protection from bumps, scratches and shocks, or a "tough" case, which offers protection against more aggressive falls and bumps. The cases also come in either matte or high gloss finish.

I opted for the tough case in a matte finish, and I'm so glad I did. It's not nearly as bulky as I feared it might be, and the quality is top-notch. The matte finish makes the phone less slippery, which I really appreciate when texting one handed, or transferring my phone into and out of my purse or diaper bag.

For my MacBook skin, I matched it to my phone case, but I added some text to customize it.
custom phone cases and laptop skins
marble and pink custom iPhone and laptop case


But I've saved the best part for last!  I'm giving away to one lucky person, their choice of either a custom phone case or custom laptop/tablet skin! Head over to my Instagram page to enter!

In the meantime, you can use code SLICEOFBRIE20 to receive 20% off your order on CaseApp
Code is good until March 31/17 so don't wait!


*I received a custom iPhone case and MacBook skin from CaseApp in exchange for this post,
 but as always, all thoughts and reviews expressed are my own. 
Thank you for supporting the companies that continue to make this hobby of mine possible!







March 22, 2017

Meet Me at the Barre

The other weekend, The Alberta Blog Squad was invited to have a private class at Barre Body Studio at their Ramsey location here in Calgary. I'm no stranger to barre, I've even done Mommy & Baby classes at one of their Edmonton locations, but it's not an activity that I get to go to very often. Plus, a private class with my girlfriends is always a good time. And the youngest honorary member of the Blog Squad, Emmy, even got to tag along! I had planned to wear her, but the little slacker slept through the whole thing in her carseat.
Barre Body Studio Review
Anyway. Barre class. It's not a new fitness trend and I'm pretty confident it's not going anywhere anytime soon! I'm also pretty sure that if you haven't yet tried a class, you have at least heard all about it. And if you haven't tried a class yet, you should really get on that! (Psst - there's a discount code for you at the bottom of this post!)

Barre Body is a low-impact workout, consisting of a million repetitions (not even joking!) in order to build lean muscles, tighter behinds and stronger cores. The phrase "up an inch/down an inch" will haunt you in your dreams! Little pulses are no laughing matter. Classes often utilize equipment such as light weights (1, 2, 3 or 5 pound weights - I stuck to 2 pound weights and was sore the next day!), resistance bands, a ball, and a balance disk, but a lot of the class focuses on using just body weight as well.
Barre Body What to Expect
Barre class review
In your one hour class, you are put through a warm-up, strength exercises for your arms, leg exercises which can consist of movements both on and away from the barre, cardio sprints and a core workout, ending with a cool down. If you think you aren't going to sweat just because this class is low-impact, you would be wrong! Our instructor Lanette, put us through a gruelling workout that had us all sweating by the end.

Barre is one of those classes that you go into thinking "this is no big deal, how hard can this actually be!?", only to find yourself swearing under your breath at the burning sensation in your gluten and thighs! This class works muscles you didn't even know existed! Which is why I love it. Plus, the inner ballerina in me loves me some barre work. Plié, first position, second position, etc...it all takes me back to my days of dancing. 
Review of Barre Body Studio Calgary
Review of Barre Body Studio Calgary
Barre Body Studio Calgary
Alberta Blog Squad Barre Body Class
Anyway, the class is tough, but the beautiful exposed brick walls and pretty lighting in the studios at the Ramsey location distract you from the pain a bit. The locker rooms are equally as stunning, and offer guests complimentary hair dryers, deodorant, hand cream, hair elastics, as well as free lockers. There's even a private shower should you wish to use it. The entire ambiance of Barre Body is on point! 

What you should know before taking your first class at Barre Body:
  • you must wear grip socks (bring your own, purchase a pair for sale at the studio, or rent a pair for $1 - proceeds go to charity)
  • wear comfortable athletic clothing (think yoga/dance wear)
  • bring a water bottle, you will need it!
  • most importantly, don't be afraid! Even if you don't have a dance background, the moves will be explained and nothing is overly complicated (meaning you will pick it up quickly!)
  • 1-Month New Client Intro pass: $65
  • Drop-in: $25
  • 5-Card Class Pass: $112
  • 10-Card Class Pass: $195
  • 20-Card Class Pass: $390
  • Mommy &b Me Class: $225 (I did this in Edmonton with Sully when he was 7 months old and highly recommend it!)

Locations:
  • Ramsey: 1202 20 Ave SW, Calgary, AB
  • Bow Trail: 4251 Bow Trail SW, Calgary, AB
  • Whitemud Crossing: #184, 4211 - 106 Street, Edmonton, AB
  • Holland Plaza: 11996 - 109A Avenue, Edmonton, AB
Barre Body Studio Review
{Ange//Leigh//Jen//Kaella//Me//Alison//Becky//Laura}

And good news for you! Use code BRIE10 to receive $10 off either a 10-Card Class Pass, 
or a 1-Month New Client Intro!

Thanks again to BBS for hosting the Blog Squad, and to Ange for organizing it! 


Have you tried Barre before? Thoughts? Let me know in the comments!



March 21, 2017

A Little Mountain Getaway

Last week, we decided on a whim, to head to the mountains for the weekend! Meaning, we booked a hotel room Friday afternoon, packed that evening and loaded up the car Saturday morning. Who says all spontaneity dies once you have children? ;)

We didn't have too much of an agenda - the hotel we booked had a pool with a waterslide, and we knew we wanted lots of time to enjoy it with Sully. He loves swimming right now, and loves going down waterslides, so we knew it would be a big hit with him (it was!). We stayed at the Best Western in Canmore, and I would definitely stay there again. The rooms are nice and clean, there was a fridge and microwave (a definite must when traveling with kids!), and a fireplace! Plus, my other must have when staying at a hotel: hot continental breakfast. Nothing makes you feel like you're getting your monies worth than a free breakfast for you and your kids! Unlimited juice for everyone!

On Saturday, we headed out past our hotel, to Banff, where we had lunch and then walked around for about an hour. It was unfortunately raining all day, but it wasn't too cold so it wasn't miserable. Plus, Sully had a blast jumping in all the puddles and throwing snowballs on the sidewalks (snow plus light rain equals the best snowballs).
Banff, Alberta Weekend Getaway
Banff, Alberta
Banff, Alberta
Explore Banff, Alberta
Explore Banff, Alberta
The hotel had a late check-in time of 4pm, so around then, we made our way from Banff back to the hotel. We changed into our swimsuits and headed down to the pool for a few hours. Emmy slept in her bassinet the entire time, which allowed me to get a few runs in down the slide and some time in the hot tub. We ordered pizza in that night for supper and when it was time for bed, Jim and I wished each other the best of luck! Haha! We chose a room with two queen beds so that Jim and Sully could sleep in one, and Emmy and I slept in the other. Sully was pretty restless all night and fell out of bed once (oops!), but thankfully Emmy slept well, other than needing to be fed and changed once in the middle of the night.
Pool and Waterslide at Pocaterra Best Western
Pocaterra Best Western
Best Western Pocaterra
We didn't have time to go swimming again Sunday morning, but we did take advantage of the hot breakfast, and then once we were packed up, we headed back out towards Banff to drive around and explore. There's so much out that way that I've never actually seen and we made lots of notes of places we will return to once it's a) warmer out and b) the kids are older.
Lake Minnewanka, Banff, AlbertaTunnel Mountain, Alberta
Then on our way back into the city, we detoured a bit towards Kananaskis and attempted to hike to Troll Falls. I did this hike on a girls weekend trip just over a year ago, and it's an easy, family friendly hike. I knew I wanted to return with Jim and Sully one day, but unfortunately, all the rain turned the trail into a sheet of ice. We managed to get about 3/4 of the way by walking on the edges of the trail where there was still some untouched snow, but it was challenging for Sully and for me since I was wearing Emmy. But my family was a great sport about it and Sully walked the entire time, so I was proud of him! I'm sad they didn't get to see the frozen waterfalls, but we will be back!
Troll Falls Family Friendly Hike
Troll Falls Family Friendly Hike, Alberta
Troll Falls - A family friendly hike in Kananaskis, Alberta
Troll Falls - A Family Friendly Hike
And that was about it! Our little hike ended around 5:30pm, so we hopped back in the vehicle and made the drive home. Despite the logistics of traveling with a toddler and a newborn (ohhhh the logistics!!), we had a really nice time. The weather didn't end up being as nice as we had thought it was going to be, which made everything a little bit more challenging - like stopping to nurse and change diapers - everything had to be done in the vehicle with it running. But I think we made the best of it, and a trip to the mountains, no matter how short, is always so good for the soul.



March 16, 2017

Get Ready to Rumble!

The other weekend, The Alberta Blog Squad had the opportunity to try out another boxing studio. Having just taken my first boxing class shortly before this, I was super excited to have another go at throwing punches and unleashing my inner bad-ass. There is something so cathartic about wrapping your hands, donning boxing gloves and letting loose in a dark, loud boxing studio.
What to expect at Rumble Boxing Studio
Rumble Boxing Studio invited The Blog Squad to have a private class and I have to say, I was much less intimidated this time around. Both because I sort of knew what to expect, and also because I was surrounded by my girlfriends and I'm not nearly as worried about making a fool of myself in front of them!

Rumble is located in the heart of 17th Ave in Calgary. When we arrived, we checked in at the front desk which also doubles as an acai/juice bar (perfect for refuelling after class!), were given boxing gloves (which are always complimentary), and got to work wrapping our hands (you must purchase wraps if you don't already own them). There's also free lockers to stash your stuff in, full change rooms complete with showers, a water fountain and complimentary towels. Make sure you take a towel into class with you - you will need it!
What to expect at your first boxing class
The Alberta Blog Squad at Rumble Boxing Studio Calgary
what to expect at Rumble Boxing Studio
The studio is set up in such a way that the instructor is smack dab in the centre of the room, with the participants boxing bags surrounding them. This allowed all of us to grab a bag facing the instructor. Because of this, I found this class much easier to follow along with and it also made it easier for our awesome instructor, Kealen, to come around to each of us to check our form or encourage us to punch harder. Just like last time, each punch is given a number (1=jab; 2=cross; etc), and I felt much more in control with my punches this time. I found if I over thought the combinations, I got flustered and lost track of which punches to throw, but if you can learn to let your mind relax and zone out, it just flows. Boxing is a really cool sport that way! You get to punch sh*t and meditate, haha!

Kealen led us through a tough and sweaty workout for an hour, that combined punches and squats. We were spared an ab workout at the end which I appreciated. I feel like boxing is already an ab workout as you need to engage your core the whole time. I'd rather box for an extra ten minutes than get down on the floor and do crunches!
Alberta Blog Squad boxing class
what to expect at a boxing studio
After class, we were treated to the best part: Ewan MacGregor! He was in the studio boxing it out in the boxing ring that's in the foyer of Rumble when you first walk in!
Ewan MacGregor at Rumble Boxing Studio Calgary

Anyway, here's what you need to know before taking a class at Rumble:

-You have to purchase your own wraps ($15) or bring your own
-Boxing gloves are complimentary
-Prior boxing experience is not necessary
-Arrive early to fill out your waiver and wrap your hands
-Wear running shoes and bring a water bottle
-Most importantly: don't be afraid! The staff at Rumble are so friendly and welcoming!
-Parking tips HERE

Prices:
  • Drop-in: $20
  • 10-Class Pass: $180
  • 20-Class Pass: $320
  • 1, 3, 6 & 12 Month Passes also available 

If you can't tell yet, I have a newfound love for boxing! I tried really hard (both during this class and while writing this post), not to compare the two studios I've been to. Based on my experiences, I liked the style of the class at Rumble more, but that could be because I wasn't as intimated this time and had a better idea of what I was doing. Of course, I need to go take more classes to really pick a favourite though!



Have I encouraged you to take a boxing class yet?! 

Have you ever had a random celebrity encounter? I want to hear about it!