fam photos with minted

Posted on: Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hi! We recently had some family photos taken via Minted’s new Photo Op program and I wanted to share them on my blog! We took our photos a few blocks around our apartment, including in Alamo Square (our go-to park for picnics and dog adventures).

Minted’s Photo Op program allows you to set up and schedule a convenient 30-minute family portrait mini session and holiday card styling for just $100. It’s a perfect and affordable way to get high-quality, professional photos that you can use for holiday cards, hang in your home, or just to keep for yourself. More details below! I really love how our photos turned out! 💛

TO GET STARTED…

Visit Minted’s Photo Op website, enter your location (this year, the service is only available in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, and New York Metropolitan Area) and start your Photo Op quiz.

Choose your Style – Candid, Informal, or Classic. I choose Informal, which falls somewhere in between candid and classic.

Choose your “Look” – you can select the vibe you’re going for, like neighborhood stroll or monochrome or photo strip style. Or, select your “look” by location beautiful walls (cool walls as the photo backdrop), beach, in-home or on your porch.

Choose your Location – enter your address (so they can match you with a photographer in your area)

Choose designs that inspire you – select from different holiday card themes and styles that inspire you. You definitely don’t have to use these designs; it’s basically a way for the Minted team to determine your style and how you might want the photos to look within a card itself.

Choose a date + time – self-explanatory 😉

That’s it!

A FEW DAYS LATER…

You receive an email from Minted with 10 retouched photos from the Minted team and a folder where you can download all photos from the photography session. You also will receive recommendations on Minted holiday cards that would work well with your particular photos (and get 20% off your order!). Of course, you aren’t required to order holiday cards, but this program makes it super easy to find the perfect holiday card to go with your photos. 🎄

Thanks to Minted for partnering with me on this post!

air travel with pets: tips and tricks

Posted on: Friday, November 17, 2017

Today, we’re heading to LA and Ohio for a total of three weeks! Jack will be joining, so this will be his 8th, 9th and 10th flights of the year. 🐶 ✈️’ Ive had a few people ask me about tips for traveling with a pet, so thought I would share some tips and tricks for airline pet travel!

I’m definitely no expert on this topic, and only know what I know through personal experience and recommendations from friends. I do want to preface this post with two things – every airline has their own policies and procedures for pet travel so make sure you research beforehand. Here’s a great resource linking to different airline sites and their pet policies. Second, this post just covers traveling with a small pet in the airline cabin, since that’s what my experience entails. I don’t have any experience with traveling with pets as cargo, and have heard some horror stories, so won’t be going into that aspect of pet travel for larger animals.

Most airlines only allow small dogs (under 20-25 pounds) and cats to fly in the cabin. Jack is about 13 pounds, so there’s no issue size-wise for him when traveling. If your dog is on the cusp size-wise, I would do extra research on your airline carrier to make sure you don’t run into any last-minute issues when you arrive at the airport.

BEFORE YOU TRAVEL:

Most importantly, if you’re planning to travel with a small pet, you need to secure their spot on the plane. After booking a flight, call your airline immediately and let them know you’re carrying on a pet with you. If you’re traveling with a pet, I would recommend booking your flight as soon as possible, since airlines have a max amount of animals they will allow to travel on each flight. For example, Southwest only allows six pets at a time, outside of emotional support and service animals. You could also call the airline in advance of buying your own (human) ticket to make sure they have room for a dog as a carry-on. You’ll have to pay a Pet Fee ($95 on Southwest, $125 on Delta, United and American). If you are traveling with an emotional support animal or service animal, you still need to call the airline in advance and let them know you’re bringing a pet. The only difference is that you don’t pay the Pet Fee and the pet isn’t required to stay in a carrier during the flight (although, it’s way easier to still keep them in there, in my opinion).

WHAT TO PACK/BRING FOR PLANE:

An airline-approved pet carrier – we have the Sleepypod Air Carrier, which definitely isn’t the cheapest option out there, but has worked really well for Jack. There’s a thick, padded shoulder strap for easy carrying, but my favorite feature is that we can slide Jack’s carrier over the top of our suitcase and securely/easily get from Point A to Point B in the airport. The carrier also expands, so once you’re in the air, you can open the side pockets of the carrier so your pet has the maximum amount of space while traveling. And, you can also use this pet carrier as an on-the-go pet bed or car seat for your cat or dog. The carrier is also plush inside so it’s like a little luxurious palace for your pet while traveling. 👑

Leash – (this is an obvious one?)

A high-value treat or toy – we always “surprise” Jack with a special treat or toy to chew on for a flight. This is positive reinforcement that being in the pet carrier and traveling = good things for him. Highly recommend doing this!

Letter from doctor – this only applies if you have an Emotional Support Animal, but super important to not forget to bring with you! Make sure your letter complies with exactly what the airline requires. It’s worth doing specific research on this before your flight to ensure you don’t run into any issues when checking in your pet at the airport.

Potty pads – we don’t do this because Jack can hold it and we haven’t flown more than 5 hours (or 7ish hours of all-up travel time), but I know a lot of people bring these in case their pet needs to relieve himself on the plane.

Pet anxiety/stress relief remedies –  we’ve tried this natural Rescue Remedy before (just drop into water) but Jack didn’t like it. But, some people swear by this stuff and says it really helps their pet stay calm in the new travel environment.

Non-plane stuff to pack for a trip – food/water bowls (up to you if you want to include these in the carrier for eating and drinking during flight), enough food for the duration of your trip (or, we often just buy a small bag of food at our destination to avoid traveling with it), extra treats and toys, potty bags.

DAY OF TRAVEL:

Limit pets food/water intake that day – We’ll pull Jack’s food and water about 4-5 hours before the flight time.

Exercise pet before flight – If you have a super active pet, I highly recommend going to the park the day before or morning of your flight for a big play sesh. It’s much easier to travel with Jack when he’s tired.

WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT THE AIRPORT:

Potty time (outside) – Before going inside, find the pet relief area at the airport or walk around so your pet can go to the bathroom (one last time 🙏🏻)

Check In – When you get inside, go to the ticket counter and check in your pet. Again, if you have a service or emotional support animal, you have to also check them in at the ticket counter. Bring appropriate paperwork from a medical professional for service / emotional support animals.

Getting through security – Take pet out of carrier at security, take off leash/tags/collar and put both on the security conveyer belt. Hold or walk with your pet through (you can ask the security people what they prefer – it’s always been hold for us). If you have any pet food in your bag/carrier, I would recommend taking out of the bag/carrier. We’ve had secondary screenings of dog food several times, so it’s helpful when it’s out of the bag already or at the top of your suitcase instead of buried at the bottom.

ON THE PLANE:

Pet stays in carrier – Your pet needs to stay in its designated carrier throughout the flight. Again, the exception here is for service and emotional support animals who can just sit on the floor or on your lap (size depending).

Leave your pet alone – Minimize “checking in” on your pet – we’ve found that checking in on Jack and giving him attention simply distracts him from sleeping or just chilling in his carrier. Just let them chill and nap in there! ✌🏼

Food/Water – depending on how long your flight is, give your pet some water or ice an hour or so before landing. We’ve done this on our 4-5 hour flights and usually, he prefers eating ice over drinking water out of a bowl while traveling.

WHEN YOU LAND:

Go outside right away (duh) – especially if it’s a long flight, I always try to hustle to make sure Jack can relieve himself right away. If you are waiting for checked bags, take your pet outside first, and then come back into the airport to grb your bags.

Okay! So those are my tips and tricks for air travel with a little furry family member! As mentioned earlier, the rules and policies are a bit different when traveling with an emotional support animal or service animal. My friend Davida wrote a great post HERE about emotional support animals – what they are, how to get a pet registered, etc.

If you’ve traveled with a pet before, would love to know what other tips you have to share, in case I missed anything. Thanks for reading and safe travels! ✈️

second trimester update

Posted on: Thursday, November 9, 2017

Hi friends! I’m now two weeks into the THIRD trimester of my pregnancy (whoa) but wanted to share a quick overview of the second trimester (so weeks 13-27), for those of you interested! I had shared some pregnancy updates in my
first baby announcement post, so thought it would be fun to give an update on how things have changed since then!

It’s pretty common to hear that the second trimester is the best part of being pregnant (or the “honeymoon period”) because you feel the most normal, as you’re out of the morning sickness often experienced in the first trimester, but often not big enough to experience the uncomfortableness and aches/pains of the third trimester. Here’s all the dets on what’s been up with me and the little one growing inside me! Also, I wasn’t planning to share these publicly, but I’m amazed just seeing how the bump has grown, so there’s some photos of the progress at the bottom of the post.

SECOND TRIMESTER HIGHLIGHTS:

Traveling to Europe (Greece and Italy) for two weeks! And, thankfully, feeling really good throughout the entire trip.

Celebrating our second anniversary!

In the middle of the second trimester at 19 weeks, before our Europe trip, we found out the baby’s gender! She’s a GIRL!!! It was such a special moment during the ultrasound appointment when we found out and super fun to surprise our family (I did a group video chat with my entire family to tell them) and friends.

Feeling the baby kick for the first time. Annnnd, now she’s doing it all the time, which helps make it all feel more real and exciting! We can also hear her heartbeat and even hiccups. 💛

Trips to Nashville and Ohio! My sisters met E and I down in Nashville for the weekend, and I went back to Ohio with them to visit my parents and grandparents. It was super fun to spend time with them! My last visit with them was around 15 weeks, so the whole baby news thing felt a lot more real this time around.

Decorating and prepping our apartment for baby! Can’t wait to share more photos of the baby’s room soon! 😍

Hiring a doula! We hired the amazing Julia Peterson as our doula and working with her leading up to the birth has been so, so helpful and empowering.

20 weeks!

FEELING (PHYSICALLY): most obviously, I definitely “popped” and it’s obvious that I’m pregnant. I think the bump really started obviously showing towards the end of the second trimester…maybe around weeks 23-24? Other than that, I am way, way, way less tired than the first trimester. In those first few weeks (mostly like 7-13), I was so tired that I had to take a nap almost every afternoon because I physically couldn’t stay awake. During the second trimester, I really felt my energy increase. I did try to stay super attuned to my body and rest when I was tired, but it wasn’t the same all-consuming need to nap like I initially experienced. The acne I had in the first trimester went away completely (🙏🏻) during the second trimester, thanks in part (I think) to my probiotic vitamins. I also shared that I was really gassy in the first trimester, which I think wasn’t as noticeable or common in the second trimester. Towards the end of the second trimester, I really started to experience a lot more back pain, especially at the end of the day and while I’m sleeping. 😣 Unfortunately, I don’t think this is going to go away or get better, but trying to stay positive about it, since overall, I’ve been really fortunate in terms of pregnancy symptoms and issues. Overall, I felt much more myself and definitely more productive than the first trimester.

FEELING (EMOTIONALLY/MENTALLY): a lot of the feelings of overwhelmingness, stress, anxiety and panic subsided in the second trimester. I think having the news “out there” really, really helped. We told our family and close friends at 8-9 weeks in the first trimester and publicly shared a little after the second trimester began at 15-16 weeks. While I did experience some stress in the second trimester, it was more focused on the future and OMG WE’RE GOING TO BE PARENTS excitement vs. stress and worry about all of the testing procedures, possibility of miscarriage, etc. Overall, during the second trimester (and now) I’m feeling a lot more calm and at peace with the birth process and just being a mom in general. It’s obviously still overwhelming, but it’s shifted to more a really good overwhelmed vs. stress/pain/anxiety overwhelmed, if that makes sense. I’m super grateful that Eric is such a calm and stable person, because he often navigates me back to a more centered, peaceful view on all the life things. ✨

PREPARING FOR BABY: I’ve been doing lots of shopping for cute baby things! I’ve been told to not buy a ton baby clothes, because other people will do that for us, but it’s so hard. 😳 I’ve been in full-blown organizational mode, so sorting baby clothes and accessories by age/size. During the second trimester, we really started getting our apartment prepped for baby. We transitioned the walk-in closet off our bedroom into the baby “room” and put up removable wallpaper, set up the crib, etc. More to come! We also worked on our birth preferences with our doula during the end of the second trimester, which made me feel a lot more educated, empowered and excited about the birth experience.

READING: Mama Natural Week-by-Week Pregnancy Guide (and a ton of non-baby related books that I shared in this post)

WEARING: I really haven’t transitioned into a full-blown maternity wardrobe, but instead trying to weave in regular clothes with a few maternity pieces. During the second trimester, I bought a Bellaband, this amazing band that allows you to wear your regular, non-maternity jeans for longer. I was able to wear my regular jeans with the Bellaband until about 23-24 weeks. Woo hoo! In the second trimester, did pick up some maternity basics that have been great, including maternity jeans from ASOS (SO COMFY) and this black STORQ jumpsuit. I’ve been wearing regular non-maternity tops and sweaters (since most of my clothes are oversize and baggy anyway 😆) with leggings a lot, as well as flowy non-maternity dresses. In terms of footwear, I pretty much wore tennis shoes or my slides/mules throughout the entire second trimester (and now, too!). I’m working on a big blog post of my maternity wardrobe, so stay tuned for that!

FITNESS: Thankfully, I’ve still been able to work out and did so throughout the second trimester pretty consistently. When we were traveling in Europe (weeks 19-21 of my pregnancy), I didn’t workout regularly, but we did lots of walking. When home, I’ve worked out on average about 4-5x/week doing a mix of yoga, Pilates and SoulCycle classes. I have been doing more yoga at home (E and I are both obsessed with Yoga with Adriene) and also started taking prenatal-specific Pilates and yoga classes.

FOOD AVERSIONS/CRAVINGS: Same as first trimester – give me all the smoothies or just cold, fruity things! During the second trimester, I was definitely craving less healthy stuff. Usually I eat fairly healthy and WANT to eat fruits, veggies, etc. but I definitely wasn’t as interested in that stuff throughout the second trimester.

VITAMINS: Silver Fern Probiotic Vitamins and Care/Of Vitamin Packs (including a prenatal, calcium and fish oil vitamins)

HELPFUL PRODUCTS: Saje Pain Release Essesntial Oil (so helpful on my back), The Honest Company Belly Balm  and LEGGINGS!

Thanks for reading!

18 weeks!

20 weeks!

25 weeks!

27 weeks!

travel adventures: italy (rome, positano & capri)

Posted on: Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hi! Two months later…I’m finally sharing more photos from our trip to Europe! I shared a blog post about the first half of our trip, spent in Greece, HERE. Today, I’m going to share about the second half, where we visited Italy – Rome and the Amalfi Coast, specifically! I’ve broken down the post based on the three different places we visited and stayed with info about what we did and photos from each spot below. Honestly, this post is REALLY long and I could have broken into three different posts, but decided to just bundle into one. As always, thanks for reading! xx

ROME:

We were in Rome for around 36 hours, getting in on Friday evening and leaving Sunday morning. We stayed close to the train station, since we were coming via train from airport Friday and leaving via train on Sunday and wanted to be close by. Most of Friday evening and Saturday were spent just wandering around to different neighborhoods and walking a TON. Some highlights from our time in Rome:

visiting the Spanish steps (although tourist-y) // getting croissants at Antrico Forno Roscioli (this family is known for their bread and baked goods) // wandering the Campo de’ Fiori market // lunch at a cute cafe called SOFIA, where we had buttery focaccia bread and a yummy tomato and bacon pasta // having wine at Ai Tre Scalini, an adorable family-owned tiny wine bar, right across the alleyway from Emma // dinner at Emma (where we had THE best, paper thin pizza – it was magical and so delicious. make a res! // rooftop views at Hotel Campo De’ Fiori (I would stay at this hotel if I came back to Rome, just for the incredible, plant-filled rooftop and views) // exploring the Traveste neighborhood (bop into the gorgeous Basilica de Maria while you’re there) // gelato (twice in 36 hours) at Gelateria Romana  // having a Lizzie McGuire moment at the Trevi Fountain

 

CAPRI:

Capri was one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to in my entire life. ✨ It was truly so, so beautiful and I’m really glad we went! The coastline of Capri reminded me a lot of Northern California – areas like Big Sur and Mendocino. We took the train from Rome to Naples and then took a ferry from Naples to Capri. From the ferry, you take the funicular (train that goes up a mountain) to get to the main part of town. From there, we walked through the tiny cobblestone streets/alleys to our bed and breakfast. Cars don’t fit through the narrow streets outside of the main road – so walking or paying for a cart service to bring you to your destination.

We stayed in Capri for only one night and while there isn’t a *ton* to do in Capri itself, I could have stayed for longer and just lounged and wandered around the adorable island. Capri is also very expensive, so keeping the trip shorter can help save $$ 😉 .  You can also take a day trip to Capri from Positano or other spots along the Amalfi coast – which is a great and inexpensive way to check out the island without staying overnight.

Two highlights from Capri (outside of the truly incredible views and just general adorableness everywhere): visiting the Gardens of Augustus to overlook Via Krupp, which is a historic switchback path down to the coast. You pay a euro to visit the gardens and wander around. The Via Krupp path itself was closed when we visited and I was in no shape to do *that much* hiking anyway 🙃. Another favorite experience was hiking to the Arco Naturale, an incredible natural arc within the rocks – pictured below. We stopped for lunch along the pathway and E ended up hiking down to the water for more pretty views while I napped afterwards!

POSITANO:

Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone. Its houses climb a hill so steep it would be a cliff except that stairs are cut in it. I believe that whereas most house foundations are vertical, in Positano they are horizontal. The small curving bay of unbelievably blue and green water laps gently on a beach of small pebbles. There is only one narrow street and it does not come down to the water. Everything else is stairs, some of them as steep as ladders. You do not walk to visit a friend, you either climb or slide.”  – John Steinbeck, 1953

This quote couldn’t be more true about Positano or the Amalfi Coast in general. I find myself thinking about the time we spent in Positano frequently – leisurely strolls through town, hours spent on the beach, soaking up the beautiful views at every turn. It’s such a stunning, picturesque and magical part of the world and photos truly don’t do it justice.

We were in Positano for five days and nights. We spent most of our days in Positano walking into town for a leisurely breakfast and wandered around town and then the rest of the day either doing a mini adventure (like the Path of the Gods hike) or spending hours at the beach reading, swimming and napping. In the evenings, we would hang out on our patio for sunset views and grab dinner at one of the great spots in town. A lot of people choose to do day trips when in Positano, visiting places like Priano, Sorrento and Amalfi. Since we had done so much travel and moving around up until this point in the trip, we decided to just stay put in Positano. 😊 More details on our favorite beaches and food spots below!

Beaches: Our favorite beach was Fornillo, since it was much more secluded and quiet. We went here almost every day and LOVED it. We did spent one afternoon at Spiaggia Grande, which is the main beach in town and where you see all the iconic umbrella photos of on Instagram! It just wasn’t as relaxing in my opinion, but definitely stunning. We also tried to go to Arienzo, which we’ve heard great things about, but it was closed because of the rain earlier in the week. This is the “300 steps beach” – a big walk down, but the beach is a lot more secluded than the main beach and apparently the beach club is super fun!

Food + dining highlights:

Da Vincenzo for dinner – one of the best in town. Super high quality food and they have an adorable shop nearby with ceramics and other local trinkets for sale. Make a res! //

La Tagliata  – one of the most fun dining experiences! You call ahead to make a reservation and the restaurant sends a shuttle to pick you up for dinner. They only do one seating each evening and there’s no menu. It’s 40 euros per person, which includes legitimately 10 courses of food and a bottle of wine per person. It’s like being at a family reunion – the grandmother of the family does all the cooking and when she came out of the kitchen, every stood up and clapped for her. Very unique and fun. //

Cappuccinos and pastries at Collina each morning.

Saraceno d’Oro  – delicious family spot where we had pizza! Not overly fancy, but super tasty and the workers were super friendly.

Il Fornillo – we went here on a night it was POURING outside and I had the best cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) pasta of my life. Obsessed. Like Saraceno d’Oro, not fancy, but really good.

Casa e Bottega – we went here for breakfast twice and they have super local, healthy food like acai bowls, omelets, etc. Tons of gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options. Everything was delicious and the restaurant itself is so cute. Pictured below!

Another dining highlight was our surprise anniversary dinner at Michelin-starred Zass in the San Pietro di Positano hotel. The dinner experience starts with drinks and snacks on their gorgeous patio. I had THE best mocktail of my life made with fresh squeezed/pressed strawberries, pineapple and oranges. After your patio drink and light bites, they bring you inside for your dinner. Fun fact – they give everyone a slice of pizza from their pizza oven as a pre-dinner appetizer! Super fun and just as delicious as all the other food we ordered.

Other recommendations from friends, but spots we didn’t get to visit: Next2 // Al Palazzo // Franco’s // the champagne bar in Le Sierenuse hotel (pictured below – we just didn’t get a chance to go to the bar!) // Da Afolfo // Max Restaurant

Whew! This was a long post! Thank you for reading and of course, if you have any questions about our time in Italy or specific recommendations, just reach out. 💛

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