St. Patrick’s Day In America Through Irish Eyes

Surviving St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is one thing. Surviving it in America when you’re Irish, is another! Put on your best smile and your pointiest elbows and be prepared for an obnoxiously green, semi-racially offensive grand ol’ time! I kid of course. Kind of.

St Patrick's Day in America

On March 17th, the whole world seems to honor the Irish – famous landmarks go green, parades are held and guinness flows more freely than usual. However, as far as parties go, America wins. You won’t meet one American on St. Patrick’s Day whose Dad’s cousin’s husband’s sister’s mail man was Irish and therefore so are they.

St Patrick's Day in America

Surviving St. Patrick’s Day in America

I-rish I Were IRISH

My husband always has a new anecdote for me and it cracks me up! Now and again at his workplace my nationality will come up and the response has more than once been, “Oh really? I’m Irish too! Where is she from?!” Now this would be a perfectly acceptable question if they were asking from which county or town. Alas, multiple people have now asked WHAT STATE I am from. Here’s what’s wrong, Americans now claim Irish heritage so haphazardly that being Irish no longer means from the country. It’s just a generic label and it can simply mean, ‘Ohio’. I’m currently working my way through all fifty States in response.

BEGORRAH, BEGOSH, TOP O’ THE MORNIN’

and all those other words and phrases that Irish people quite literally never say. They will be repeatedly shouted in your face if your nationality has been exposed. My personal tip for dealing with this is the ‘Carlsberg response’ of “ciúnas, bothar, cailín, bainne”. Irish people will know that in our native tongue this means nothing more than “silence, road, girl, milk” – a collection of random words. You’ve got to give the people what they want! Tell them it means “you’ve never met a nicer person” and be on your merry way.

DRUNKEN TOMFOOLERY

It sounds like a guy’s name (and NO I don’t know him because he’s Irish) but in fact it’s the theme of the day. This is the more offensive aspect of the day for me. A lot of people in the US and beyond view drunken debauchery as the ONLY mark of a true Irishman. Mimic my accent and use stereotypical Irish-isms – it’s fine. I don’t take it personally because frankly I know a lot of these people genuinely like Ireland, the culture and the accent. They mean no real harm. But hearing that I’m Irish and responding with a ‘drunk’ related quip then I’m going to get real mad, real fast! Sometimes I like a drink. Sometimes I don’t like a drink. Contrary to popular belief, holding an Irish passport doesn’t mean I binge drink regularly and have Jameson flowing through my veins.

Again through my dear husband this wretched stereotype has reached me again and again. Sometimes directly to my face. It’s taken me a while but I’ve managed to perfect a smile that is much less psychotic than my first few attempts.If you’re familiar with The Big Bang Theory it’s like Sheldon’s smile.

There I am among a group of people (all enjoying a quiet drink) and my friend is asked what she’s drinking, she replies with the name of her cocktail and then I’m asked by the same person. I tell this person what’s in my glass and the response is “of course you’re drinking, you’re Irish”. Now should I be mad at that comment or that my friend seemed to be able to enjoy her drink with no rude comment attached at all? I will stress again that I don’t really take this one too personally but I DO feel awfully self-conscious every time I take a sip of my drink after such a comment.

I will leave my feelings on a certain drink called the ‘Irish Car Bomb” completely out of this post!

If you’re looking for something to remind you of Ireland please let it be beautiful scenery, ancient history or scholarly achievements, not excessive alcohol consumption!

GREEN

All shades of it and all at once. If it’s green they’ll be wearing it, eating it and drinking it.

Last year I attended the parade in Downtown Savannah, the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world. That epic thing was almost 4 hours long. It was a sight to behold and probably my best St. Patrick’s Day ever! I have never seen so much GREEN! I probably shouldn’t tell you that practically nobody in Ireland with the exception of small kids will wear green on March 17th! But when in Rome…wear all the green you can?

Remember to keep it clean people, we’ve already established the penchant for assuming we’re a nation of drunks but at kid friendly parades it’s probably best to keep your explicit t-shirts in the closet at home!

St Patrick's Day in America

PATTY, THE FORGOTTEN SISTER OF PATRICK

At least, that must be who she is because no Irishman is called Patty. Patty is short for Patricia, Paddy is short for Patrick. Those are the rules. “But there’s no T, it makes no sense!” – I hear you cry! The name Patrick is Padraig (Paw-drig) in Irish, hence the Paddy.

Men called Patrick may be known as Pa, Pat, Paddy, Pod, Pawd, Pauric, Padraig the list goes on. But never Patty. I repeat – NEVER PATTY!

This sign was posted by Dublin Airport last year and I think it’s hilarious!

Paddy Not Patty


“Please share this simple message with your friends and relations in the United States and Canada. Using the power of your network, hopefully we can banish the scourge of St Patty once and for all. – Dublin Airport”

Every time you utter the phrase, ‘St. Patty’s Day’ a tiny leprechaun dies. True Story. You don’t want that on you, do you?!

Keep it real, protect the leprechauns. They’re dying out like the Irish language.

PINCH THIS

I don’t know where the heck that came from but I’m sensing it’s an American invention since as I said, Irish people don’t generally take part in greening their attire. The story goes if you don’t wear green, you’ll be pinched as a reminder that leprechauns will pinch you for the same reason. Fortunately, you’ve all said ‘Patty’ so much the leprechauns have suffered a massive decrease in population and won’t be around to cause any pinch pains.

SHAMROCK NOT  FOUR LEAFED CLOVER

Shamrock was used to symbolize Christianity in Ireland and is an unofficial national symbol. It’s not to be confused with the Harp which is our official national emblem and also not to be confused with a four leafed clover. Shamrock is a common three leafed clover, the four leafed version is said to be lucky because it’s harder to find.  The three leaves of the shamrock were used to symbolize the Holy Trinity by St. Patrick. On March 17th, people typically pin a small bunch of shamrock on their lapel or hat. Some don’t know the meaning of ‘small’.

All jokes aside, America made St. Patrick’s Day what it is today and like anything they do, they attack it with gusto! We all must grit our teeth  and roll our eyes deep within our brains from time to time but there’s little I would change (except Patty – stop that!) about Irish America and the festivities of St. Patrick’s Day here. The relationship between our nations throughout history has been strong and continues to be. No matter where I go in the US, people have nothing but positive words and funny stories to tell about their travels to my homeland.

Since I can’t be in Ireland, America is the only other place I’d rather be!

 

 

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Third Trimester Self Care Essentials

Here I am at 36 weeks pregnant. Yes six weeks have passed since my last update, it feels like I just blinked and February was suddenly over. I’m officially in the 9th month of my pregnancy and it could very well even be baby month! It’s a little bittersweet. Although I have been through the general worries that come with pregnancy, I have enjoyed this time and made a conscious effort to soak up the entire experience. I have had it pretty easy, medically, and honestly haven’t yet thought ‘I am so sick of being pregnant!’. I think I’m going to be of those annoying women who whines about missing their bump!

 

THIRD TRIMESTER SELF CARE ESSENTIALS
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Something I did struggle with and still do in my pregnancy is some emotional issues that go beyond raging hormones. Needless to say, depression and stress are not good for baby. Today, as well as a quick pregnancy update I want to share with you some of my absolute self care lifesavers in these final weeks. Now, more than ever, is the time to get all the sleep you can to help that baby pack on the pounds! It’s also your final time just being you. Alone. Kind of scary, huh? A little guilt free indulgence is just what the doctor ordered!

Boppy Pregnancy Wedge

I bought this rather late, probably around week 28 but it has been so good for supporting the bump and my back both in bed and while sitting on the couch.

Essential Oil Diffuser

Give me all of the calming lavender oil! I love my diffuser and it’s really fun to create new blends. I’m not an essential oil expert by any means but it’s an interesting new world to me! Just make sure the oils you are using aren’t harmful to your pregnancy.

Back Support

I admit I don’t use this daily but if I have some chores to do or anything that involves standing for a little longer than I’m used to this is a life saver! It takes the pressure off my abdomen and also my lower back. There are far more expensive (and probably much higher quality) ones than this but for my needs it’s perfect.

Glam Glow Super-Mud Clearing Treatment

This one’s for sure an indulgence! I have problematic skin since I was 13 years old and pregnancy has wreaked even more havoc. This is the only ‘glow’ in my third trimester. I’m pretty certain while the mask is on I can almost feel the gunk being sucked out of my pores. Gross but satisfying. I’m not usually one for cult beauty products but for me, this really works.

Compression Socks

As well as long road trips, I did some international travel during my second trimester so compression socks were a must for my circulation during my flights. If you’re on your feet all day, I highly suggest donning a pair of these. They are also recommended during c-section recovery if that happens to be on the cards for you.

Measured Water Bottle

After becoming dehydrated a few times I got very serious about my water intake. It is so important for baby. I drink three of these per day and the reason I can do that is thanks to the marked measurements. I drink a certain amount by a certain time of day and by 8pm I’m confident I have satisfied my water intake!

Body Pillow

From the start a body pillow seemed like a pointless expense. Enter the third trimester! YOU. NEED. THIS. Sleep is fleeting or non existent. Do everything you possibly can to get some.

Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter

I used this from day one. I’m sure it’s more down to my body type and the fact that I’m very slight but so far I have no stretch marks. I apply this to my belly and chest after a shower and again before bed. It doesn’t react in any negative way and leaves my skin feeling so soft!

Be sure to check out a previous post on the importance of self care during pregnancy and pin this list of simple self care activity ideas for later!

Self Care Activities For A Happy Healthy Pregnancy

36 Weeks Pregnancy Update

36 week update

Baby’s Size

According to the app, at 36 weeks baby is the size of a honeydew melon! Baby weighs close to 6 lbs and is around 18.5 inches long.

Total weight gain

24 lbs

Maternity clothes

Living in leggings and flowy tees! Maternity jeans are my BFF on weekends as well as soft jersey midi dresses!

Stretch marks

None and happy to get to 36 weeks without any but I won’t mind too much if I still do.

Sleep

I’m really struggling to fall asleep these past few weeks. Sticking to sleeping on my left side makes my face numb and kills my neck! I still do ok once I actually fall asleep but getting there is so difficult. It’s often well past 2am before I get to sleep. I feel exhausted all the time but trying not to nap as it makes falling asleep even more difficult.

Longing for

All the sweets, soft drinks and caffeine in the world. I guess cravings only hit me in the third trimester! I’m doing well with not giving in to every craving. Sodas are not consumed, coffee is only allowed once a week and sweets are kept to a minimum!

Movement

Baby is pretty cramped in there now so feeling jabby little stretches and pokes rather than the previous full body flips I had been feeling. It seems the baby has the hiccups often though which is a rather strange sensation. Sometimes it continues for ages.

Cravings

Baked goods. Especially donuts. Sigh!

Symptoms

Difficulty sleeping, fatigue, skin tightness, sudden strange bursts of energy in the midst of long stretches of lethargy. But no nausea! So that’s always good.

Belly button in or out?

Out as much as it will be. Still doing its weird half and half thing and still freaking me out.

Wedding rings on or off?

On and still wrestling to take to them off, especially in our warm Georgia Spring weather.

Happy or moody?

Anxious, which more often than not leads to moodiness over happiness!

Looking forward to

Installing the car seat, placing my bags by the door and setting up some baby gear around the house. It’s suddenly very real. It will feel even more real when my family visits later in the month. I can’t wait to hear an Irish accent 🙂

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How To Keep Indoor Succulents Alive

Do you struggle to keep your succulents alive? Last Spring I posted Succulents for Beginners, a general beginners guide to planting and caring for your succulents. It was a big hit and I’m so glad it’s been useful to tens of thousands of people. During the Summer I followed up with another post on how to propagate your plants. But I have left you hanging, succulovers and for that I apologize. You’ve now purchased your succulents, chosen a whimsical planter and even learned how to propagate the clippings but what about the middle part? How do you keep your succulents alive in the first place?!

How To Keep Indoor Succulents Alive
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After a disastrous first round (RIP) I have managed to keep my second lot of succulents alive. That’s a year now despite quite frankly, sometimes forgetting they exist. Considering I kill every other other plant (that isn’t a cactus/succulent), I call that a victory. One of them even survived a near fatal Labradoodle munching attack. Did I mention they’re hardy little guys?

How To Keep Indoor Succulents Alive

8 Key Steps To Keeping Indoor  Succulents Alive

  1. Space. Avoid overcrowding. I’m guilty of this, especially if I buy a pre-arranged dish garden. I later re-pot them if they begin to suffer. Your succulents need space to breathe and grow. There’s nothing stopping you planting multiple succs in one terrarium/container just make sure they aren’t on top of one another. Even succulents like personal space.
  2. Light. Give them enough of it. Because succulents are hardy and need less watering than normal plants, people tend to think they don’t need to be cared for in other areas either. Don’t neglect your babies! Succulents love light just not direct sunlight. Make sure they are positioned to get a few hours of light a day. If your plants don’t get enough light they’ll stretch toward the light and get ‘leggy’. This is a good time to propagate.
  3. Temperature. Make sure they’re warm enough…and cool enough! Succulents like to be warm in the Summer and cooler in the Winter months.
  4. Ventilation. If you can, have some air flow around your plants. An open window or where all else fails, an air vent. This helps with the draining/drying of the soil and you can keep track of their watering needs.
  5. Watering. Don’t over-water. Succulents only need to be watered when their soil is completely dry so check if the soil is still soggy before their next drink!
  6. Drainage. They love well draining, gritty soil. Ideally your container of choice needs to have a drainage hole so that the soil doesn’t remain soggy and drown your succulents.
  7. Food. Give them a treat! Get a plant food made specifically for cacti & succulents and feed them once in a while.
  8. Species. Knowing which varieties you have and their specific needs is a good start to knowing how to keep them alive.

How To Keep Indoor Succulents Alive

I want to hear about your succulent success!

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What’s In My First-Time Mom Hospital Bag? + What’s NOT!

Not another hospital bag post, you cry! Yes. I’m not even sorry because reading so many helped me immensely! Way back in December, I had a slight baby scare which thankfully turned out fine! Being so unprepared for the hospital frightened me into seriously thinking about packing my hospital bag at just week 24. Since then, it was not fully packed but I made it my priority to buy and organize what I needed. This week (at 34 weeks) I finally packed it along with the changing bag for baby.

First Time Mom Hospital Bag

After reading quite literally EVERY ‘what to pack’ article in existence, I have packed some of the highly recommended hospital bag essentials along with the things I deem applicable to me.

Conscious that a c-section might be a possibility, I have packed enough for a more extended stay than most women will have. I have still kept those extra items practical and to a minimum.

The Highly Recommended Must-Haves

  • Baby Keepsake Book to get hand/foot prints and save the mess later!
  • Camera/Tablet/Phone + chargers
  • Boppy nursing pillow to practice good nursing posture
  • Healthy snacks for after the birth in case the hospital food is truly awful

The Basics

  • Packing Cubes! All hail packing cubes. Seriously, these are packing game changers. Buy a set and never deal with chaotic luggage again!
  • Basic toiletries
  • Travel hair dryer. I don’t feel like standing for an hour trying to dry my hair with one of those pathetic hospital/hotel dryers that feels like a small child is blowing on your head.
  • Cozy Socks with gripper soles
  • Slippers with a solid sole
  • Flip Flops
  • Night Gowns x2
  • Loose Jersey PJs for the last day (may not use)
  • Light Jersey Robe
  • Nursing Tanks x3
  • Nursing Bras x2
  • Dark colored, huge undies (so glam!)
  • A basic overnight bag for Dad

Baby’s Bag

  • 1 Going home Outfit
  • 4 Sleepsuits
  • 4 Bodysuits
  • 2 Hats
  • 2 Pair Socks
  • 2 Pair Scratch Mittens
  • 3 Burp Cloths
  • 2 Swaddle Blankets
  • 1 Heavy Blanket
  • 4 Diapers (a small supply for going home)
  • Wipes
  • Nursing cover

The Non-Essentials That Satisfy My Crazy

  • My make-up bag (not full of my usual routine items but basic coverage favorites)
  • The fact that all my packed night gowns/clothing match in some way
  • Carefully planned baby blankets/outfits because again, matchy-match!
  • A flattering, soft jersey midi dress for going home in comfort, ease…and style.

The ‘Will I Need This?’ Stuff  (To Be Left In The Car!)

Do you get the sense that I’m an organization over-achiever?! Every hospital is different. Some will give you everything you need and others will let you fend for yourself for the most part. At least through extensive research on this, that’s the general consensus. So while many moms tell you point blank what not to bring, others have said they weren’t provided with it at all.

This is the stuff I am unsure about and have packed in a tote bag that will stay in the car. If I do need it, my husband can grab it rather than visiting the nearest shops with the world’s most embarrassing shopping list.

  • Extra snacks/drinks in case the hospital food is unbearable
  • Pain relief medication
  • Post-delivery feminine products (this could be a post of it’s own and I won’t go into the gory details)
  • Extra onesies in different sizes. Despite buying newborn and 0-3 months in various brands, they all differ. Some look tiny and others look far too big. I don’t want to take a thousand outfits with me but I would like them to fit baby, whatever size he or she turns out to be. This way I’ll have at least 2/3 outfits that will fit.

The Items I’m NOT Packing

  • My own labor/delivery gown. I 100% plan to deliver baby in the hospital issued gown. I’m vain but not spend $50+ on a designer labor gown vain. An item of clothing that will most likely end up covered in bodily fluids and newborn gunk.
  • A pillow from home. For the same reasons as above and also because there are about 100 of them on the bed I will be in.
  • Athletic Pants. A lot of women suggest yoga pants or some form of comfy pants for after the birth. While I totally agree with the comfort factor, I understand there will be a LOT of checking down there after baby arrives. I will be in no mood to keep wriggling my way out of leggings for my nurse. Nightgowns it is!
  • Hair tools. Straighteners, curling irons etc. Some people recommend them for photos but I don’t see it happening even considering as fussy as I can be with my hair! I’ll be blast drying and curling my hair around a headband to get loose waves for going home day!

WHATS IN MY HOSPITAL BAG

Shop The Hospital Bag Essentials

 

What ‘ridiculous’ item did you pack and never use?

Even better, what ridiculous item did you pack and actually USE?!

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Stepping Into Spring With Pink Blush Maternity

Spring has sprung and so has my baby bump! At 34 weeks pregnant, I am feeling lethargic, anxious and less than attractive. One sure fire way to improve my mood when I’m feeling down is to dress myself up. Dressing up while eight months pregnant however, is no easy task. You are more than likely bored stiff of wearing whatever still fits you. Cue Pink Blush and their vast selection of gorgeous maternity dresses.

This post was in partnership with Pink Blush. As always, all opinions are my own.

Pink Blush Maternity Clothes

Pink Blush Maternity

I wanted something feminine and comfortable to serve me throughout the rest of my pregnancy in a warm Georgia Spring. I was also keen to find something that could be worn postpartum for easy nursing. None of us are the perfect size and shape but I find it especially hard to shop for dresses to suit my frame as I am 6 feet tall. Short dresses on me could be deemed a criminal offense and typically, maxi dresses sit somewhere in the middle of my shins – hot stuff! So for me, finding the perfect midi dress is like hitting the jackpot.

Pink Blush Maternity

To flatter the bump and to suit baby’s nursing needs, I chose this hi-lo style midi number. Nothing says ‘Goodbye, Winter!’ like a pretty floral print and a little big of leg! I instantly fell in love with the dress that ticked all the boxes. This dress not only showcases the bump adorably but also hides a multitude of sins and is SO comfortable. That equates to the trifecta of cute maternity clothes in case you didn’t know!

I noticed the company’s tagline is ‘Effortless styles for the modern mother’ and they’ve certainly got it right. Pregnancy clothes are typically NOT cute, let’s be honest! If you’re searching for gorgeous, on-trend maternity wear, then I suggest taking a look at Pink Blush. You’ll find not only maternity wear but regular sizes, plus sizes, shoes and accessories too.

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Bargain Baby Gear – Where To Find Must-Have Newborn Products For A Steal!

I was always aware that babies are expensive little beings but I quickly realized just how expensive. It was an eye-opening experience setting up for baby! I am so grateful to our families for gifting us the big ticket items like the stroller, car seat, crib etc. Between those gifts, re-purposing furniture, building our own (thanks husband) and my own frugality – we have managed to set up for baby at a fraction of the ‘real’ cost. Hopefully this post will give you an eye for a great baby bargain just like I found in many stores.

Bargain Baby Gear

I am not in any way stingy. In fact, I have champagne taste but live with a sparkling water budget. I would definitely call myself frugal. I shop around A LOT and a nose around Goodwill is not beneath me, especially when they carry department store overstock (OMG!). My favorite stores for great deals are Home Goods, TJ Maxx and  sometimes, one particular Ross near my home. The gems to be found in these stores are hard to beat but it’s often luck of the draw with what bargain they may have in stock on the day you’re visiting. This is the perfect excuse to go often!

Where To Find The Best Baby Bargain

Goodwill

A year ago I walked into my local Goodwill (my first Goodwill trip ever) and quickly turned my nose up. I actually said ‘EW’. Fast forward to 2016 and while doing a donation drop-off at a brand new store, I gave it another chance and wandered into the baby clothes section. I am hooked ever since!

It hit me pretty quickly that bang in the middle of 4 different Goodwill stores in my locale are two Army installations. Army posts mean families moving in and out of the area constantly. This in turn means families purging their unwanted items often. The presence of military families also means there’s lots of babies around. While many, many adult garments at Goodwill may be ratty and suspect, the baby clothes are in a league of their own. Over the course of about 8 weeks I have purchased a hoard of completely unworn or worn-once onesies and full outfits. My total is usually under $6 and I come away with 6-8 outfits.

Honestly, I often feel guilty buying at Goodwill. I feel like I am stealing the eyes out of someone’s head. They have a ‘color-of-the-week’ offer which means that if you have a bunch of items on your arm bearing that color plastic barb, then that item is half price. In the infant section, this means your outfit could cost you just 49¢! On Sundays, ALL items with the color-of-the-week tag are 50¢.

Some of my Goodwill gold includes

  • Enough adorable infant clothing to dress every baby in North America. I will re-donate any items I don’t end up using. Brands including Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, GAP, Janie & Jack, OshKosh, Little Me, Carters and more (49-99¢ per item)
  • V-Tech ‘Light & Move Learning Ball’  that has been thoroughly disinfected and is like brand new ($1.99 -versus- $14.99)
  • Two soft fold-out books including a Winnie the Pooh clip on stroller book with a tag on. Both washed like a dream (39¢ each -versus $7-10)
  • Brand new, unmarked board books and a complete Nursery Rhyme collectors book for baby’s library (39¢ each -versus- $10+)
  • Playtex Diaper Genie still in plastic and boxed! ($5 -versus- $30)
  • Four ‘What To Expect’ books including ‘When You’re Expecting’, ‘Baby’s First Year’, ‘Baby’s Second Year’ & ‘The Toddler Years’, all very recent editions! (39¢ each -versus- $11+ each)
  • GAP Maternity/Nursing blouse with tags on ($4 -versus- $34)

TJ Maxx

Ok, while TJ is one of my favorite stores, it can be as hit and miss as Goodwill. Their inventory changes constantly so if you spot something you have to snap it up there and then. I promise you it won’t be there next week, or even later that day. I have found so many baby items at a fraction of the cost and though most of their stock is passed season or slightly flawed, some of what I got is still this current season’s styles and prints. Have a good look at something you like in case it is damaged (it probably isn’t) and put it in your cart pronto! Sometimes the flaw and reason an item is there is a tiny as a seam sewn off center. If you aren’t fussy, you will never even notice.

Expect to find great deals here on baby clothing & accessories, nursery storage solutions, toys/books, baby carriers, stroller accessories, changing bags and occasionally bigger items like swings, rockers and bassinets.

I’ve scored:

  • aden & anais 2-Pack Original Muslin Swaddle Blankets, the big 47×47 ones! ($12.99 -versus- $32)
  • Blankets ($6 -versus- $20+)
  • Stroller bag hooks ($2 -versus- $10+)
  • Stroller organizer ($6 -versus- $20+)
  • 25 Pack Velvet Baby Hangers ($9 -versus- $15+)

Marshalls

At Marshalls you will find similar things to TJ or even the same. If you can’t find what you need at one, be sure to check the other.

Ross

I don’t shop here very often. In fact I have purchased something from a Ross store only twice. This past weekend I was looking for something specific so I perused my local and nicest Ross! I didn’t buy one because I have one already but they had Boppy Nursing pillows for $24! Granted, it wasn’t the cutest slipcover they make but those bad boys retail for $39.99!

I did buy a large faux sheepskin area rug for baby’s room for $30 versus the $60+ I’ve seen elsewhere!

Home Goods

I LOVE Home Goods. This place is the dream for kitting out baby’s room for a bargain. With goods much like Marshalls and TJ Maxx but with a focus on the decor side of things, obviously. Some of my finds include;

  • More hangers!
  • Storage boxes/Laundry Hamper ($4-25 -versus- $15-50+)
  • Diaper caddies ($6-12 -versus- $20+)
  • Clip on musical crib nightlight/soother ($6 -versus $20+)
  • A-Z Bookends ($7 -versus- $20+)

Amazon

Amazon may not be a discount store per se but as I am a Prime member it has been worth every cent. As a Prime member I qualify for free two-day shipping, unlimited free TV/movie streaming, unlimited photo storage, access to Prime Pantry (groceries on your door step? Yes please!) and more.

As a Prime member you are also eligible to become a member of Amazon Family. You can make an Amazon Baby Registry and qualify for a FREE welcome box choc full of baby items and free samples/coupons. As well as this you will receive 15% off an item of your choice on your registry and a number of other offers including a free Kindle e-book and discounted clothing.

For me, the best part about Amazon Prime are the subscription options. When you subscribe to diapers (you choose the frequency of their delivery) you get 20% off and a $2 off coupon on your first delivery. If you subscribe to a total of 5 items at once then the 5% savings on each one becomes 15%! The bargain price of sub $25 for 200+ diapers and peace of mind that they will arrive on my doorstep in 48 hours is especially worth it to me. I subscribe to dog food, baby wipes and other personal items which means I never have to remember them on my weekly grocery shop.

I am so happy with my baby bargain stockpile as I get such a kick out of having exactly what I wanted and still having a little extra cash in my purse! Off the top of my head, there is over $500 of savings just from the items I have listed (I haven’t listed every single item I have purchased on this journey!) including the retail value of the baby clothing from Goodwill.

How did you cut costs for your first baby set-up?

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12 Blogging Lessons Learned In 12 Months

Happy Birthday, Sass & Shamrocks! The blog is one year old today!  A whole year of consistent blogging, I can’t believe I did it! I wish I could say it’s been a consistently wonderful experience. It’s been rather stressful at times but it has been a profound and steep learning curve where I’ve learned lessons not only about blogging but about other people and myself.

12 Blogging Lessons in 12 Months

The blogging world is simultaneously simple and extremely complex. I jumped in head first and definitely felt like I was drowning very quickly. I don’t think it’s ever possible to learn it all when it comes to the internet, blogging and social media. The whole environment transforms so rapidly that every day there is something new to learn.

While I learned many complex lessons (the hard way), here are some of the more basic things I have come to realize which may help those those new to blogging or those considering set up a website for the first time.

12 Lessons In 12 Months

  1. Choose your host wisely. This is something I pondered for a while before purchasing my domain. I researched online  and read horror stories of transferring domain names to different hosting platforms which involved losing all content and subscribers. From the start I chose to go with Bluehost. Of course you don’t have to purchase a domain name at all. You can use any amount of free platforms to host your blog. However, if you plan to monetize your blog through ads or affiliates then many of the free options will not allow you to do that. Make sure you know what’s what.
  2. You are your brand. The way you communicate and let your personality shine through to your website will end up being your brand. Think about this especially if you are using your blog to promote your business. You may be extremely witty, opinionated or curse like a sailor but will this hurt your brand? That being said you must stay true to who you are and be honest in order to gain your readers trust and build a genuine following – maybe just save the F-bombs for your off-screen life.
  3. Screw niche blogging. While some bloggers have a blatant niche by default (travel, food, fashion, technology etc.) I don’t believe that every blog requires such strict boundaries. Most bloggers label their site ‘lifestyle’, inc. me for descriptive reasons. I don’t necessarily stick to this. Your blog will evolve just as much as you will as a person. I started mine to write about the trials and tribulations of adapting to a new life in the US, the challenges of being a military spouse and talking about my home in Ireland. Since then I have given into my creative side and posted many recipes, DIYs and started to pursue a potential photography career. Towards the end of the year my blog took a rapid swing toward pregnancy and parenting with the impending arrival of my first baby. Next year I hope to add photography to my categories and maybe even offer services in that field which will see the blog take more of a business oriented turn. In particular if you are blogging for fun, do not be bound by ‘rules’. It’s your blog. There are none!
  4. Keep it simple. I’m more drawn to clean, crisp layouts with easily readable font that aren’t flooded with ads and pop-ups. A fussy, cluttered site doesn’t encourage viewers to stay let alone read your content.
  5. Connect with like-minded people. For business, this is really important. You must have a target audience and know where to seek them out and connect. Don’t waste too much of your time promoting to the wrong people. For-fun blogging is different, while you may have the most in common with bloggers in your ‘niche’ (I am trying to use the term loosely) there’s no harm in connecting with others too.
  6. Don’t be a selfish group member. Blog groups are a great way to connect with other bloggers, seek advice and promote your blog. Many of these groups offer promotion threads where you can leave a link to be viewed/commented on/shared etc. In return, you must do the same for X amount of other links. These groups have been invaluable to me for getting my blog out there and for making new friends. However, there are a vast number of people who drop their links, do not reciprocate, do not follow any of the rules and even refer to the threads as ‘chore’ threads (HA!). Unfortunately you can’t do anything about others’ lack of integrity. You will come to recognize the bad apples’ pattern and not waste your time, instead giving your time and connection to worthy, honest group members.
  7. You can get what you want, if you’re willing to work for it. If your blog is for fun, you can have immense fun blogging. If your blog is to impact change, you can impact change. If your blog is monetized through ads and sponsored posts then you can work with brands. If your blog is for your business, you can promote your business. Obvious, right? Well it all ties in with my last point. If you are hard working, honest and build the right network all of these individual goals are achievable.  I personally know people who have reeled in a steady income from two months of blogging, people who have used their blogs to get into a position to fulfill a personal goal of theirs (eg, writing/publishing a book, selling a physical product they have created or simply sending out a message for nothing in return). I blog predominantly for fun although I have made money through ads, working with brands and posted affiliate links on occasion. In general I do not seek sponsorship but will collaborate if I like the brand. I have turned down many sponsored opportunities because I didn’t like the product/brand. I won’t post about things I do not like, use or have any interest in because they offer me cash.
  8. Get creative. I have always been creative but in recent years I spent so much time up to my eyes in technological academia that I didn’t allow myself a creative outlet. Since launching my blog I have embraced arts, crafts, cooking etc. more than I ever have. Other bloggers have been more inspirational to me than I realized. My creative side seeping out through little projects for my blog has in turn reignited my love for photography (that I knew nothing about). I am just about finished a year long professional course and am in the process of signing up for more advanced modules to see where the future takes me with that. I aim to be less lazy with my images and ditch the ‘iPhonography’ I’ve been habitually posting as my blog graphics and use my brand new Canon more and more. It’s amazing what avenues a blog is capable of taking you down, embrace them. You may very well find yourself doing something unexpected and realizing it’s your calling!
  9. Know your copyright rights. I have had many cases of suspiciously similar posts popping up days after posting mine but twice this year I had incidents of word-for-word plagiarism. It is so disheartening as well as infuriating that people just steal your work from under you. Sometimes it’s also comical the way they utterly deny it despite time stamps and well…logic. Have a copyright statement on your content. It helps to know the legal protocol and who to contact if you are being ripped off.
  10. Get to know social media trends. This was my biggest mountain to ascend. I have a love/hate relationship with social media and unfortunately you cannot get away from it when blogging. I have come to love Pinterest the most. Not only is it my biggest traffic driver and largest social following but it feeds my creative side and aids my photography/blog skills. Facebook is my enemy. Reach is poor no matter how strategically you play the game and I’ve known some bloggers to lose their pages without any explanation. I use it a couple of times a week but it isn’t my be all and end all. I love Instagram, obviously, because photography is a big hobby of mine but when it comes to the blog I am wary of it. The vast majority of IG followers only follow to gain a follower themselves. Shortly after, they may unfollow! I personally follow accounts of profiles I genuinely like or resonate with. Otherwise, I do not see a point. There are strategic times to post on various SM platforms, your insights will show you what your followers like and when they like to see it. Keep your content true to you but give it to them when they want it.
  11. Time doesn’t have to be your enemy. Don’t be afraid to take a break! I was totally overwhelmed with blogging at the beginning. What I did know is that I wanted to post consistently so I posted three times per week but I wasn’t happy. I had zero time and my content was crappy. I cut one post and started putting out two and have since whittled it down to just once per week. On occasion I will post twice. Read here to see how posting less actually benefited my blog and increased my traffic! If you are in the blogging biz and have to be connected at all times then you should consider paid scheduling services or even hiring a virtual assistant.
  12. Embrace change. Your blog changes on your terms but sometimes external factors change it for you. Example, my pregnancy gave a new avenue to travel down. If you are unwilling to budge or be diverse with content, your readers will get bored and disengage. Don’t be afraid of trying something new. If it doesn’t work, try something else!

12 Blogging Lessons Learned in one year

So here’s to another year, a new baby and seeing where this blogging journey continues to take me!

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Pregnancy & Privacy – To Bare All Or Keep Mum?

The pregnancy journey is thrilling, especially for first time mothers. You want to scream it from the roof tops while simultaneously wanting to not tell anyone out of  sheer worry. In our social media age a tendency to share every facet of lives exists for many. Whether it’s a status on Facebook, a photo on Instagram or a witty one liner on twitter it’s so easy to share your excitement without fully acknowledging exactly who can see it. I admit it myself that sometimes I snap a photograph with social media in mind and not solely to capture a memory.

Pregnancy & Privacy

Let’s be honest, many of use have ‘friends’ on social media we wouldn’t exactly consider to be close. Platforms like twitter and Instagram can invite literally anyone to view your content. This is why for the most part I haven’t documented too many milestones of my pregnancy on the blog. I find it rather eerie to think about who might be reading about such a personal experience of mine.

That said, I read blogs daily where people go into graphic detail about the inner workings of their womb. Some announce their pregnancy on the day they discover it. Others declare the gender of their baby to the public. I have even seen some publish teaser posts inviting readers to guess baby’s name! This is definitely a different pregnancy world to the one I knew growing up. Or at least the one I thought I knew. I personally am more private about my pregnancy. It is overwhelmingly exciting but I would rather contain that excitement within the bounds of my family and friends.

My crux with baring all throughout pregnancy however is not what I read online. I take no issue with what women choose to post and fully admit to thoroughly enjoying many of these posts! My problem lies with the people I meet in the street…

Whether it is due to being surrounded by such open accounts of pregnancy or just a  general sense of entitlement I have been taken aback by some of the questions I am asked on a regular basis. As soon as the bump ‘popped’ and my pregnancy became apparent, I noticed that some people took it as a green light to ask pretty personal questions. Or at least questions I feel are inappropriate and wouldn’t dream of asking others.

My Top Three Irritating Pregnancy Questions!

What are you having?

This one is the only one that makes me genuinely mad and want to respond with a passive aggressive, “a baby”. I do not believe that because some people happily announce their baby’s gender that it is free game in every other pregnancy. What makes people think they have a right to such a deeply intimate fact?

Another question comes with this one and it is, “Do you know but aren’t saying?” or “Do you reeeeeeally not know?”.

STOP IT. If you have been given a firm, “we haven’t found out” then please accept it and move on.

What names are you thinking of?

Note, this isn’t the question – “have you considered any names?”. This question seeks to know what those names are. BEFORE YOUR BABY ARRIVES. The baby is going to come out of me faster and more easily than that information. Keep walking.

When are you due?…because you’re tiny *stares at bump*

Admittedly, this is not an offensive question at all. However it is when paired with a disapproving glance at your belly and a comment about your size. Please stop skinny shaming me. I am 6ft tall and there’s plenty of torso for baby to hide in. FYI my baby is slightly above normal fetal growth rate! Relax.

See also my recent post on Dealing With Negative Nancy During Pregnancy

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Third Trimester Pregnancy Update

I haven’t documented much of my pregnancy on the blog because I wanted to keep it private but now a part of me wishes I had! Time has flown by and it has truly surprised me how fleeting these moments really are. It’s hard to believe I am in the final weeks of this pregnancy – single digits now!

Third Trimester Pregnancy Update

I swore at the beginning I would take a weekly bump photo and it saddens me that I didn’t. I was either too busy, feeling too gross or just forgot until I was already into another week. During the first 16 weeks, there was no bump to photograph anyway! Personally, I like to read about what different women experience at different stages. No two pregnancies are the same but it can be comforting to know what you could expect or even just know you aren’t alone in what you are experiencing. Now that I have officially entered the third trimester, I have decided to post a little update.

Third Trimester Bumpdate 30

How far along?

30 weeks

Baby’s Size

A cantaloupe according to my app! Baby weighs over 3.5 lbs

Total weight gain

18 lbs

Maternity clothes

Over-the-bump jeans (H&M Mama maternity skinny jeans are LIFE! They are super affordable too and often on sale.) since week 16 and some maternity tops since week 25 although most weren’t necessary they were just cute. I still have many wearable non-maternity tops. All my leggings are my pre-pregnancy ones.

Stretch marks

None, yet but the itchiest skin >.<

Sleep

There’s three scenarios here:
  1. If I can get to sleep at a decent hour, I am out until baby uses my bladder as a punching bag. Which is usually about 1000 times a night. In this case I usually get back to sleep.
  2. I get to sleep after midnight but then sleep through until the early morning.
  3. No sleep at all due to an overactive mind, baby thoughts, baby’s movement, wacky dreams and/or restless legs.

Longing for

  1. To nest. All day every day. I have an insatiable desire to organize ALL THE THINGS!
  2. A somewhat comfortable sleep position.
  3. To finally meet baby.

Movement

Lots and lots. It’s always a party in there. Mostly early in the morning, late afternoon and around 10pm. Now that baby is getting a bit cramped in there, the movements are less…violent!

Cravings

Nothing odd and nothing in particular! If I had to say anything I would say cinnamon rolls. But you don’t need to be pregnant to want those all the time.

Nausea

Some occasional morning weakness before breakfast. Since I was so sick in the first trimester I figure it will strike again somewhere in the third.

Gender

Waiting for baby to reveal all!

Symptoms

Indigestion after most foods but not so much heartburn, difficulty sleeping, back ache, fatigue, general lack of motivation to do anything and although my bump is small – the beginning of a very attractive waddle.

Belly button in or out?

A weird, neither in nor out at the moment and it freaks me out so much.

Wedding rings on or off?

Still on although at the end of most days they don’t want to come off.

Happy or moody most of the time

Both. Predominantly moody though. Mostly feeling a mix of excitement and overwhelm in these weeks where baby has become more ‘real’.

Looking forward to

Completing the nursery, finalizing name options, trying to relax knowing everything is ready (HA! When will that be?!) and giving you another update!
 Third Trimester Bumpdate 30

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Valentine’s Day Chocolate Cupcakes with Pink Champagne Frosting

Valentine’s Day is a month away and in stores it’s hard to avoid. In fact, I saw Valentine outfits for babies in DECEMBER! What in the world?! I don’t typically observe Valentine’s Day in any major way like decorating the house or giving lavish presents but I do like to acknowledge it in small ways. I typically love all holidays but I guess I’m a bit of a Valentine’s scrooge. One thing I can get on board with over Valentine’s Day are the treats! Give me all the yummy meals, decadent desserts and sweets! If you don’t buy into the fancy, over-priced candlelit dinners and extravagant gifts then why not acknowledge your Valentine with a homemade sweet treat. You can’t ever go wrong with chocolate cake so I whipped up these easy chocolate cupcakes and got into the festivities with a delicious pink champagne frosting. All of the luxury and sweetness without the added cheese 😉

Valentine's Day Pink Champagne Chocolate Cupcakes

Valentine's Day Pink Champagne Cupcakes

Valentine's Day Pink Champagne Cupcakes

Or maybe you could say “I Love You’ with the gift of peppiness 😉 Take a look at my Vanilla Cupcakes with Espresso Frosting for an alternative caffeine fix!

How sweet are these Valentine’s apt baking items?

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