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The Cake that Wasn’t…

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From Instagram: This is why you don’t let a pregnant lady go grocery shopping without a list…


So, here’s how I feel about pregnancy cravings, or basically any craving:


When you’re talking about an actual craving, whether it’s for mangoes or broccoli or cheeseburgers or birthday cake, that is your body and brain, together, deciding that you need to consume that item right now


And when that happens, I listen up.  I go out to the store and grab a green apple or a cake pop and happily consume it, enjoy it, and then let the craving pass.


Here’s what I do not do: when the craving is something unhealthy, I don’t eat a bunch of other semi-unhealthy things to try to make it go away.  If I want cake, I eat cake.  I don’t eat four bowls of low-fat ice cream thinking that what I really want is sugar.


For the last couple of decades, that method has served me pretty darn well. 


And then the last month of pregnancy came along.  And I don’t just “want cake” anymore.


I want it. Every.  Single.  Day. 


Sometimes while I’m eating cake, I actually want more cake. 


I blame Chad’s birthday for this, in part: last month, like every year, I bought him a giant supermarket birthday cake, with yellow cake and white icing, which we proceeded to eat over the course of a week or so. 


And when we finished it, he was pretty much satisfied.


I was not. 


So, after a few weeks of trying to satisfy this craving with cake pops from Starbucks and mini cupcakes from a bakery in our neighborhood… I gave in.


I went to the grocery store and bought a whole birthday cake. 


This, I figured, will do it.  If my body isn’t satisfied after a second birthday cake, this baby is just a complete glutton.


So I took it home, showed it to Chad (thrilled!  best wife ever!  birthday cake for no reason!), and we cut into it…


And I watch as his smile morphs into a horrified expression…


Chocolate-Cake


Chocolate. 


{slumps shoulders}


I hadn’t read the stupid label! 


Sure, I’ll eat it anyways.  But the score remains: Craving, 1.  Katy, 0.


Let’s hope this baby stays inside long enough for next week’s grocery run!




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rambo update!

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Remember back in November, when I introduced our new puppy Rambo?


Well, now that he’s been part of our family for four months (!), I figured I owed you guys an update!


It’s no secret that we got Rambo under sad circumstances — after battling a number of health issues for the past year and a half, in October we found out that our eight-year-old dog, Calvin, had congestive heart failure.  Fortunately, there are some great medications available to prolong his life, but our vet was candid with us: the medication would work for a year (maybe two), but it wasn’t a cure.  Eventually, it would stop working.


Needless to say, I was a mess (Chad and I both were).  I’ve had Calvin and Coco since they were babies, and Chad has been part of their lives from day one, when we road-tripped to Ohio to pick them up.  They’ve been our babies since long before there was a human baby in the picture, and they’ve changed and improved our lives in too many ways to count.  The idea of losing Calvin was devastating.


And it still is — getting Rambo didn’t change that.  But we decided that if we were going to get a puppy in the next year or so, it was better to do it before the baby gets here.  The idea of a newborn and a new puppy, at the same time?  A little overwhelming.  Getting a new puppy at five months pregnant wasn’t exactly a breeze, but I’m grateful that Rambo could be my top priority on his own for a little while.


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And ultimately, it turned out to be a terrific idea.  Calvin and Coco *hated* Rambo at first, but they’ve slowly thawed to him — it was quite a change to bring an insane new puppy into our extremely laid-back household, but it also feels like he’s breathed new life and fun into our day-to-day routines. 


From what I read, it was important to let the dogs sort out their own pack hierarchy, so I tried to stay out of it when they had little tiffs early on.  It helps that Calvin and Coco are so gentle — I knew they’d never hurt Rambo, no matter how crazy he drove them (which he did, frequently, especially in the early days). 


For the most part, his training has gone pretty well.  Calvin and Coco sleep in our bed, but Rambo has been sleeping in the laundry room, where he has a crate (we leave the door open), some toys and a puppy pad.  (Calvin and Coco have always gone on puppy pads, thanks to our NYC days, so we figured it made sense to train Rambo that way too.)


The best part: from day one, he never cried at night!  I was *shocked* — with Calvin and Coco, I remember waking up every two hours all night when we were potty training!  I was in law school at the time, and I remember literally falling asleep in an 8 a.m. lecture because I’d been up all night with the two dogs.  It was like having a newborn — and one of the main reasons that I was reluctant to get a new puppy right before the baby arrived!  But Rambo stays quiet all night, and only starts to whine when he hears that we’re awake in the morning.  It’s heavenly!


Really, in almost every way, Rambo has been a million times easier than Calvin and Coco were.  (Good life lesson: one puppy is a handful, two puppies are a nervous breakdown waiting to happen.) He started to understand the pads within a few days, although he still has a handful of accidents.  His puppy energy has calmed down by now, and he’s incredibly sweet.  He’s more chill than either Calvin or Coco, he’s good with strangers and hardly barks at anything (a godsend characteristic in a dog that’s going to spend a lot of time around a newborn). 


On the other hand… he eats poop. 


So, welcome to the family, Rambo.  We’re very glad you joined us.


(And, in other happy news, Calvin is still doing well!  He has good days and bad days, but he’s still here, and we’re grateful for that.)


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Highlights of Instagram Vol. 7 : A Brush with Travel

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Go here for full text and images: Highlights of Instagram Vol. 7 : A Brush with Travel


instagram 7 Highlights of Instagram Vol. 7 : A Brush with Travel


Wooh! How quickly the weeks fly by, and before we know it, we just ended the first quarter of 2014! How was it for you guys? Did you have a good start to the year? Or was it kicking you in the butt?


I pretty much got kicked around the first few months of 2014 but the thing is that when you’re down, you can’t get much lower so the best thing to do is pick yourself up and continue on your journey. It’s the best way to stay sane and remember, positivity breeds positivity! No matter how dark the clouds might seem.


On that rather ruminative note, here’s some highlights of what I’d been up to on Instagram in the past fortnight. There’s lots more of course, but I don’t want to bore you so here are just some of my favourites.


**Read lots more & Share your thoughts here**

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Last Week’s Lesson – Find Your Own Happiness (& Stop Looking to Others For It)

From time to time, I share my personal revelations and life lessons on Instagram or Facebook. Recently when I shared one, a friend encouraged me to blog about it and share my truth here on Afrobella.com. That inspired this new series, Last Week’s Lesson. I hope others can learn from my experiences! I used to […]

The post Last Week’s Lesson – Find Your Own Happiness (& Stop Looking to Others For It) appeared first on Afrobella.

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my baby shower!


It’s a little funny, but I had a lot of anxiety over my baby shower.  (Is that normal?) For my bridal shower and basically every wedding-related event before Chad and I got married, I was so happy and excited to have “my” special day and to have it all revolve around me.


For my baby shower?  Weirdly, I was sort of uncomfortable with it. 


It may just be that I’m at a different place in life than I was four years ago (almost five!), when Chad and I got married.  Sometimes, I wonder if having this blog has actually made me less interested in attention in my day-to-day life — since I’m constantly posting photos and stories about all the things that are happening to me, when I’m off the internet, I’ll happily blend into the crowd.  My capacity for attention is just about maxed out. 


But, thankfully, I have a wonderful, amazing family who wanted to celebrate this special moment, and I am so, so grateful they did.  And in the end, my mom, sister and mother-in-law threw the most amazing baby shower I could have possibly imagined, and I loved every second of it.  In retrospect, all those nerves seem totally silly — having a baby shower isn’t just about focusing everyone on the mom-to-be, it’s about gathering your friends and family and celebrating the little person who’s about to enter this world. 


I always say that the most amazing part of our wedding wasn’t the party itself — it was having all the people we care about together in one place, even briefly.  And I had the same feeling about this shower.  It was a wonderful way to reflect on how grateful I am for all of our friends and family, and how much love there is waiting for our son when he arrives. 


So, with that, I thought I’d share a few pictures with you guys!  I know that many of you saw some of my pictures on Instagram right after the shower, but I also took a ton of video clips, with the hope of putting them all together to capture how beautiful and lovely the day was.  So please take a peek at the video above, or scroll down for photos!


Also, I have to give a special shout-out to our amazing balloon bear decorations!  Our housekeeper, Leonor, made them for us, and she is so incredibly talented and they were such a special addition to our party!  (You can see more of her designs on her Facebook page here!


Alice and Olivia Fierra dress, BHLDN Luna Moth earrings, Jimmy Choo Abel pumps.


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Healthy Banana Peanut Butter Cup Oatmeal

Healthy PB Cup Banana Oatmeal


Hey guys! Today I thought I would share with you one of my favorite recipes that I have concocted lately. It may seem a bit weird, but trust me, this is so cozy and delicious and relatively healthy. (No added sugars – unless you’re like me and add brown sugar or honey at the endPlease Click To View The Full Post →


The post Healthy Banana Peanut Butter Cup Oatmeal appeared first on Pretty Shiny Sparkly. Please click to see the full post.

Your Say: Where do you like to shop for your beauty products?

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Go here for full text and images: Your Say: Where do you like to shop for your beauty products?


I was talking to someone last week, when I was told that a couple of luxury beauty brands will be setting up freestanding shops soon. Now, most of us would have been used to seeing freestanding luxury shops for leather goods or clothes or accessories, but not many for beauty right?


In recent years, I did notice some beauty brands breaking away from being housed in multi-brand department store beauty halls. Clinique is a noticeable breakaway with some standalone counters, and Shu Uemura has long had its own shop for a while as does Kiehl’s and Bobbi Brown. From the luxury brands, I have noticed that Chanel has its own beauty store in 2 major malls locally, and soon, Dior will join in with their own standalone Dior Beauty store.


So it got me thinking (Dangerous business, this thinking thing…)


beauty shopping Your Say: Where do you like to shop for your beauty products?


Where do you like to shop for your beauty products?


Do you prefer to shop in a department store beauty hall, with the different brand counters surrounding you for variety and choice? Do you prefer somewhere like Sephora or Sasa which is just dedicated to all things beauty (albeit pretty much like a department store beauty hall) with different brands in one place? Or do you prefer going straight to a specific brand’s standalone counter or store outside of a beauty hall?


Curious minds want to know! icon biggrin Your Say: Where do you like to shop for your beauty products?


**Read lots more & Share your thoughts here**

the old apartment

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In August, while I was in New York for a project, I found myself staying in a hotel that was about five blocks from our old apartment in the West Village. Since I was in the mood for ice cream and knew the best spot in the neighborhood (L’Arte del Gelato, since renamed Dolce Gelateria, on Bleeker Street), I figured I’d take a walk past our old door on my way there.


And it’s funny: you know how muscle memory kicks in when something is so completely familiar to you, even if it’s been a long time? As I walked past my old subway stop, I didn’t need to think about where I was going. My hand was on the doorknob before I even realized I’d made the turn.


(It was locked, obviously. This is New York we’re talking about. But I couldn’t resist texting Chad a picture of our old doorway before I kept going.)


When we left Manhattan, I had extremely mixed feelings about it. My rational mind knew it was the “right” decision and it made the most sense for our lives… but that didn’t mean that I was ready to go.


I sometimes describe it to friends as the “one more year” syndrome. I knew that New York wasn’t our long term plan, but I wanted one more year before we left.


But the thing about “one more year” is that it’s not a decision — it’s the postponing of a decision. A tiny part of me knew that if we stayed another year, I’d want one more, and then one more.


I loved New York. And while I liked the idea of Texas and all that it had to offer (warm winters, the chance to buy a house, the possibility of kids), I wasn’t sure that I wanted all of that right now. Next year, maybe. But right at that moment, I liked my life the way it was.


And on the eve of another huge change, two years later, I find myself thinking about that decision almost every day. For a long time, I felt the same way about having a baby as I did about leaving New York — sure, I knew that I wanted to do it someday, but not quite yet. When Chad and I bought our house, we agreed that we’d spend a year getting adjusted to it before trying to have kids. Our timing turned out to be impeccable — I found out I was pregnant a year and three weeks after we moved in.


I’m very glad we took that year — this was one of those cases where “one more year” made all the difference. But even when you’re ready for them, life changes are huge and exciting and wonderful — and they’re also terrifying. No matter how excited you are for the next step, you’re still giving something up.


So I look at our old apartment kind of the same way I look at our pre-baby life. It’s full of wonderful memories. There are things about it that I miss terribly (gelato being one of them). And while I’m happy to be moving forward, there’s also a little ache that comes with thinking about the many things we’ll be giving up in a few weeks — sleeping in on the weekends, long, leisurely dinners without babysitters, quiet time to myself.


But here’s how our New York move worked out: now that the dust has settled, I find myself constantly grateful that it all happened the way it did. Change isn’t always easy, but it makes room for wonderful, exciting new things in your life — things that couldn’t have fit if everything had just stayed the way it was.


Sure, I miss walking around the West Village on Saturday afternoons, and I miss the noise and excitement and energy of living in Manhattan. But I also love our new life here in Texas. I love our little neighborhood, and my job, and our house, and the many new and wonderful friends we’ve made in the last two years. And most of all, I love this little baby boy who’s going to be officially joining us in five more weeks.


So this weekend, I took a moment to be uncomfortable with all the changes that are heading our way. I let myself be nervous and terrified and overwhelmed by just how much our life is about to be completely different.


And then, I let it go. Because two years from now, I’ll probably look back at this post the same way I now look at our New York apartment. It was a wonderful moment to be in, but it was also followed by other wonderful, different moments.


Everything changes.


And that’s not so bad.


22c89f3a02d611e3a07e22000a1f9a28_7{Yes, at the end of all that, I got my gelato. And it was just as amazing as I remembered it.}




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Up Your Happiness Quotient With Just One Notebook…


Up Your Happiness Quotient With Just One Notebook...




When people ask me how to get cracking with radical self love, invariably one of the first things I recommend is the practice of gratitude. Sometimes the reaction I get is surprise, but more often than not I hear, “Yeah, okay, sure, but what can I really do?”



The answer remains the same: count your blessings. Gratitude is immensely powerful. Being thankful for what I have has literally changed my life. I know it sounds too simple to work, but that’s the beauty of it. You can discover the wonder in your own world in an instant: all you have to do is take a moment to do it.



The effects of gratitude are incredible, so it makes sense that I’m always on the hunt for more ways to incorporate it into my life.



Enter stage left: The Five Minute Journal. The creators claim “A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day”, which I don’t doubt, assuming you use the thing, of course!




Up Your Happiness Quotient With Just One Notebook...




“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” (Meister Eckhart)



Hovering at around 270 pages and bound with grey cloth, The Five Minute Journal is an unassuming-looking thing. Just like gratitude itself, the concept behind the Journal is simple: keep it beside your bed, and write in it when you wake up and before you go to sleep.



Every day has a template. In the morning, you write 3 things you’re grateful for, 3 things that would make today great, and a daily affirmation (“I am…”). In the evening, you take a few moments to jot down 3 amazing things that happened, and a quick note of how you could have made today better.



In addition, every seven days, you’ll be issued a weekly challenge (for example: smile at three strangers, visualise your perfect day, no electronic devices after 9pm). The journal is full of quotes, and the front of the book is all about how gratitude works, the point of keeping a journal, and what you can hope to achieve by making it a daily practice.



My Five Minute Journal showed up this morning, and I immediately placed it next to my bed. I’m going to start tomorrow morning, and I can’t wait! Would you ever consider a daily gratitude practice? I think this book could be the perfect way to kickstart your thankfulness.




Love,





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one thousandth post!

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Yesterday, I realized something totally insane: Today is my one thousandth Sugarlaws post


I think I was subconsciously anticipating this huge milestone when I wrote on Wednesday about all the transitions I’ve gone through since starting this blog, but it’s crazy to think that in the last five years, I’ve written over a thousand posts on this site! 


I’d write about all the amazing ways my life has changed since starting this blog, but I already did that a few days ago


So I’ll just say this:


Sometimes the biggest moments in our life start in the smallest, least anticipated ways.


When I started Sugarlaws, I had no idea of the journey it would take me on.  I didn’t have a clue that it would change everything about my life, or that it would ever become such an integral part of my day-to-day.  It was a place to keep track of recipes as I made them, and my own little corner of the internet that I assumed no one would ever visit. 


I had no idea of the challenges and incredible opportunities it would bring my way, and I had absolutely no inkling of how many of my dreams it would make come true. 


I thought I was starting a blog.  I had no idea that I was starting a whole new life.


If you’re curious, check out my first post here.  Blogging was a different world back then — no magazine-style photos, no graphic designers creating the perfect layouts.  It was a lot less polished, but there’s something kind of sweet about starting that way. 


What a long, strange, and ultimately incredible road it’s been from there.


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