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Along Abbey Road | A Lifestyle And Family Blog : September 2013


Pregnancy Essentials

Over the past few months, I've been thinking about my most-loved pregnancy essentials and I've narrowed it down to a "must-have" guide for the expectant mamas out there! The list is compiled of my tried and true items, along with some items I've been generously gifted for review that I was sincerely pining to try out, and now use daily because I absolutely love them. Although the list is not extensive, it goes to show that the biggest thing I've learned with staying comfortable and happy in pregnancy is keeping it simple.

1) First up! My trusty Bellybuds. However tempting it may be to hook up a microphone and blast baby boy with a Modern Family Gloria-esque rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Lamb," I like to play soft music for him and recordings of family member's voices. Studies have found babies in the womb hear and make memories by 30 weeks, so we are preparing him to be a musical prodigy and to know all of his kin, both near and far! These little Bellybuds have become a bit of a lifesaver too, because the little man is breech (another story for another day) and I am able to stick them low on my belly to prompt him to turn head down toward the music and recordings. Turn baby, turn!

2) I probably have the worst swayback in the history of, oh, practically ever. Girls in junior high used to talk crap by saying I stuck my butt and chest out when I walked, but it really was just my back being its wonky self (hashtag swayback problems). This issue has continued to hassle me throughout life, especially being pregnant for the second time. Then one day something magical happened. I was introduced to Blanqi support tanks and my back has lovingly treated me with kindness since. It tightens up and supports the core, gives you a lift in all the right places and holds your pants in place. Blanqi support tanks for the win!

3) Coconut oil is the stuff pregnant lady dreams are made of. Can I get an amen on that? You can eat it and slather it up on every surface of your body. Doesn't get much better than that. Not only has it helped decrease the keratosis pilaris on my upper arms (those unsightly little red bumps) but it has kept my belly stretch mark free and smoo-oooth. I prefer to use Dr. Bronner's Coconut Oil (you can buy it at Sprout's) because it fair trade and all that good stuff. I just rub it on in the shower once a day and that seems to do the trick. Smelling like a cookie after lathering up in it isn't half bad either.

4) I'd be lying to you if I said I don't wear my Isabella Oliver top every other day. It literally adorns my body the better half of the week, stains often included because I can't part ways with it to give it a proper wash. Every pregnant woman needs a drapey tunic in their life and a place to score some maternity clothing that is actually flattering and on-trend. There is a reason maternity clothes get a bad rap -- it's because 95% of them are frumpy and make us feel even more like cows that we already do. Point blank, they suck. I was lucky enough, however, to discover the brand Isabella Oliver and every single piece in their maternity line is high quality, chic and fits a pregnant woman's body in a sleek and slimming way. I truly recommend snagging a few pieces from this brand. It's absolutely worth the money and investment and right now they are offering 25% off select Lookbook items using code LOOKBOOK25 at checkout

5) Last, but DEFINITELY not least, is the holy grail of pregnancy essentials... the Bump Nest pregnancy body pillow. There is a good chance I am actually in love with this tube of heavenly fluff. I am sure Matt envies the beauty since it gets all of my tender love and affection these days, but I've caught him sneakily sleeping with it too! I've tried two other body pillows in my time of being with child, and nothing compares to the Bump Nest. Allow me to lay it out for you: A) The U shape, materials and stuffing contour to your body like no other and are incredibly soft -- kind of what I imagine a Care Bear cloud to feel like (you know you've always wanted to snuggle up in one of those clouds, and now you pretty much can with this pillow). B) Both the cover and pillow are machine washable. Need I say more? C) The prints are whimsical, beautiful, and will actually complement your bedding instead of being this random lump of a pillow on the bed. And you can buy multiple covers if you feel like switching up colors. Bonus, the folks at Bump Nest make hats and blankets for babies in need using the scraps from their products. Basically, it's the best thing that ever happened to me. I would not be sleeping at night without it, and that's not an exaggeration. Now that you are convinced you need one (oh, but you do!) Bump Nest is offering you $10 off your order and free shipping using code ABBEYTEN at checkout.

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Pants, Shmants

Who needs pants when you have a sweet graphic sweater and the baddest sneakers known to man?  Luke has implemented a firm "pants optional" policy and I am fully endorsing it. He is becoming quite the trendsetter in the world of microfashion.

You go, Luke RoRo (I think we're onto a new nickname here, folks).

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A Random Thing Or Two-sday

Tunic: c/o Isabella Oliver (on sale today!). Leggings: F21. Boots: JCPenney (similar). Beanie: Target. Sunglasses: Free People (similar). Bag: Sprightly So (similar). Bracelets: H&M (similar).

1) My accessories are indicative of the confused weather here in Southern California. Cool enough to wear a beanie, yet still too bright and sunny to ditch the sunglasses.

2) Fact: If you take your age and multiple it by 7, then multiply it by 1,443, the product repeats your age 3 times (source).

3) Nashville starts tomorrow night... yeeessssss. The love story between Rayna and Deacon gives me butterflies and makes my heart want to explode out of my chest. There is just something about a first and forever love that cannot be extinguished, you know?  That's why The Notebook is so heart-wrenchingly wonderful (and this kiss).

4) On Sunday at church, Luke decided he would turn to the people across the aisle from us at the most dead silent time -- I'm talking hear a pin drop dead silent -- and tell them "NO, NO, NO" as he wagged his head and finger in shame at them. At a very loud volume. It was kind of funny, kind of embarrassing and made me reevaluate how often I tell him no, because apparently he thinks it's just what you say to people in public. Parenting is tricky, I tell ya.

5) Would you rather turn into an owl when the sun went down or a horse whenever you touched grass?

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Halloween Decor

I know, I know, it's not even October yet, but things are officially spooky in our house. We intend to make the most of each holiday this year, which means we will be decorating early and elaborately. You only live once, right (or twice if you're Björk)?

Every surface has been draped in webs and skulls, and pops of orange and black are everywhere! Luke especially loves the pumpkins -- he calls them "pumpos." 

Hooray for Halloween!

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DIY Halloween Treat Bag

The season of Halloween costume making is upon us! Time to bust out those glue guns and scraps of felt, because there are frightening monsters and fuzzy things to be made. Like this Halloween treat bag. 

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Luke is going to be Max from Where The Wild Things Are. I find it most fitting because he is very much the type of child to say "I'LL EAT YOU UP!" when asked to come to dinner (if he could verbalize such nonsense). And he makes a marvelous king, if I do say so myself.

The inspiration is from the Pottery Barn Kids Halloween costume line. We all know how dreamy Pottery Barn is, so just imagine the perfection of the Halloween get-ups. I've been lucky enough to partner up with them to bring you an easy DIY accessory to go with a costume. Enter the Halloween treat bag!

It is a no-sew, affordable project (we're talking maybe $2 for the felt) that simply requires your creativity and a bit of time, and it can be tailored to any costume. We opted for one of the monsters from the story, but it can really be anything you conjure up in that head of yours!


-Fabric scissors
-Glue gun
-Felt squares in colors of your choice (got ours from Michael's)


1. Choose the color of felt you want the main background of your bag to be. You will need 3 felt squares for the body of the bag. Cut a 4 inch wide strip from one of the squares, making sure it is the longest length of the felt square. With the remaining 2 squares of felt, cut out the shape you want your treat bag, making sure they are identical in shape and size. Now you should have a front side, a back side and a middle strip.

2. Cut out the facial elements and glue them onto one of the sides to make the front of your bag.

3. Taking your 4 inch middle strip, hot glue it onto the backside of the front piece of your treat bag. It is easiest to glue it in small sections and fold it down as you go. Once the first side is complete and dry, glue the back side onto the strip so it makes a bag. 

4. Using the same piece of felt you used to cut your 4 inch middle piece, cut a 1 inch wide piece using the longest length to make the handle of the bag. Glue it on the inside of the bag to make a handle.

5. Let all the glue set and dry for about 10 minutes, then TA-DA! You've an adorable Halloween goody bag to stuff full of treats for your little one, that just so happens to match their sweet costume.

So, will you be attempting a DIY Halloween costume this year? Would love to see your crafts and projects!

*This post was sponsored by Potttery Barn Kids. Thanks for supporting our sponsors!

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A Random Thing Or Two-sday

Sweater: LOFT. Skirt: Handmade. Boots: Thrifted. Hat: UO. Clutch: Target. Bracelets: INPINK. Ring: Street Fair.

1) For whatever reason, I have the hardest time making decisions when it comes to Halloween costumes. Especially for Luke. I want him to have the perfect costume, but I want it to be something cute and fuzzy since I only have a couple years left to make the most of that stage of Halloween costume life. I am 98.3% decided on Luke being Max from Where The Wild Things Are. I found the most darling version of the costume here at Pottery Barn Kids. Isn't it the sweetest? I will, however, be making it myself and will be sure to post a DIY, so stay tuned!

2) Fact: Lifesavers will spark when you bite down on them in the dark (source). I have yet to try it, but apparently there is an eHow tutorial on how to do it with Wintergreen flavored ones, so...

3) Luke is officially starting to repeat every last thing I say. Guess it's time for me to stop swearing whenever I miss an exit or drop something on my foot (which is pretty much every single day). The last thing I need is my child walking around church yelling, "SHIT!" (sorry, Mom).

4) The most beautiful home and family on the most beautiful blog.

5) Would you rather eat 10 tubes of lipstick or drink a full glass of perfume?

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Cross-Nursing: Would You Breastfeed Your Friend's Baby?

 || A throwback of our breastfeeding days on Luke's 4 month birthday ||

If that title didn't scare you away, I am proud of you for making it this far. 

Quite a few moons ago, my friend... let's name her Jane for the sake of anonymity... and I were talking about the subject of cross-nursing, AKA breastfeeding other people's babies. It was moreso in the context of nursing friend's babies -- boob swapping, if you will, so your babies could be milk siblings and all that jazz. Jane's friend had approached her and suggested that they cross-nurse their brand new babies. My immediate reaction to her story was one of horror and disbelief...

"Wait! Whhhaaaat?! That's a thing? She was being completely serious?"

Jane replied with partially raised eyebrows and a simple,


Mystified. I was absolutely mystified. It's like I had been living under a rock in the world of motherhood. There were so many avenues and corners of breastfeeding I never even knew about! Cross-nursing being the biggest of them all. 

So, was this cross-nursing thing a big trend? Was it actually as strange and bizarre as it made me feel inside? I understood the notion of wet-nursing in a situation or culture where it was necessary for the baby to simply be fed, but for the elective thrill of it? I needed to know more. And I needed to know if Jane was actually going to go through with the insane suggestion.

Turns out she slammed her friend's dreams of a cross-nursing kinship as soon as it was mentioned, but it left me realizing that there were mothers out there doing it. 

Thanks to my trustiest of friends, Google, the La Leche League gave me the lowdown on the cross-nursing situation. And I guess my astonished mother's intuition kicked in for good reason. As common sense would tell, it is not recommended mostly for the fact that each mama's milk supply contains vital antibodies and nutrients specific to their baby, and the risk for transmitting disease is high. Other crazy facts include that it can decrease the amount and quality of your own milk supply, and it can cause psychological repercussions since each mother's body nurses differently (let-down time, milk flow, etc... we all know how those babies like routine!).

Let's not forget the argument for cross-nursing, though. What about those mamas that so desperately want their babies to be breastfed but just don't produce enough milk? Is foreign breast milk still better than formula? You know what they say... breast is best, people. Then I got to thinking about sibling cross-nursing. Are the implications the same? Technically you have similar genetic makeup (and the very same if you're a twin!) and would inherently have a closer bond with the babies. Hmmm.

So, what say ye? Would you, could you, do you cross-nurse?

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Jacket: LOFT (similar). Shirt: UO (similar). Pants: LOFT (similar). Boots: Kohl's. Beanie: H&M (similar). Bracelets: H&M (similar).

My wardrobe is slowly transitioning back to it's muted colors and layering pieces. The neon hues and bold floral prints are safely tucked away on the upper shelves of my closet, and I am happily welcoming the greys, olive greens, mustard yellows, browns, blacks, and deep purples and reds back into my life. 

Want to know a good maternity styling tip? Make good use of the baggy, flowy tee trend -- they are comfortable and fit well over a baby bump! Layer a jacket over the top to give it some dimension, pair it with your favorite cropped pants and ankle booties, and you have yourself a pregnant-friendly outfit that is totally doable, comfortable, and on trend for fall!

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$500 Back To School Giveaway

Cue this song, because one of you lucky folks is about to win a $500 e-gift card to Kohl's or Best Buy! The 10 lovely bloggers below (myself included) and Coupons.com have teamed up to bring you our must-have back to school essentials and this marvelous giveaway. 

Above are the things we are in need of for our "back to school" haul (Luke does plenty of learning around here!). Colored pencils and paper, a new computer (I am still using the beastly white model from 2007... yowza!), some shnazzy erasers that double as toys, and photo paper so I can print all 5,249 pictures I take of Luke each week. Sounds like the ultimate back to school stash to me!

We also wanted to let you know that even though all your kiddos are back in the swing of things with school, there are still those trailing items, clothes and supplies that need to be picked up! And if you are anything like me, you don't buy anything without it being on sale or a coupon in hand. You're in luck! There are tons of back to school coupon codes to use that will save you a grip load and make that $500 gift card stretch even further.

Be sure to check out all the different posts for back to school shopping inspiration to Kohl's and Best Buy and then enter to win your own shopping spree in the widget below! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Giveaway ends September 16th at midnight. Contest open to U.S. residents only.*


Spinach And Tomato Quinoa Bake

Until last night I was a quinoa virgin. 

In all of my gluten-free living, I cannot believe I'd never tasted the stuff! Countless people told me about, but did I listen? No. I suppose I settled with the "why eat quinoa when I can simply eat rice?" mentality. Was I ever mistaken! I'm a big texture girl, and I love the texture of quinoa. It reminds me of tapioca pudding, and my inner 92-year old is mildly obsessed with tapioca, so one can only imagine my new-found infatuation with quinoa.

I have this caprese bake recipe to thank for it. What was supposed to be a last hurrah meal involving summer herbs ended up as me adapting my own fall version of the caprese bake. Because guess what? Basil is absolutely nowhere to be found come September. I at least figured I could find some outrageously priced imported basil being that I live in a virtually summer-all-year sort of climate, but apparently things like that don't exist. Enter spinach and oregano!

But, really. This spinach and tomato quinoa bake could possibly change your world because it's super healthy and delicious.


2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup of your favorite pasta sauce
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella, divided
1/2-1 cup pearl tomatoes, cut into fourths
1 large bunch fresh spinach, washed and cut
1/4 cup fresh oregano
1 clove of garlic, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Sauté the entire bunch of spinach and the oregano in the olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Set aside.

3. Heat the  tomato sauce and tomato paste over low heat in a large saucepan. Once warm, stir in the heavy cream, parmesan, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the quinoa. Fold in half of the mozzarella and half of the tomatoes, then add in the 3/4 of cooked spinach and oregano. Once thoroughly mixed, spray an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish with non-stick spray and pour the entire quinoa mixture into the dish. Top with fresh shredded mozzarella and the remaining tomatoes and spinach.

4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes and then turn the broiler on and broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

5. Remove from the oven, allow to sit five minutes and enjoy!



This Second Time Around

Body pillow: c/o Bump Nest

Pregnancy this second time around is incredibly different than the first. And in a beautiful way.

Sometimes I feel guilty because I am not writing down each and every experience like I did with Luke, nor am I reading 10 books and receiving 5 baby growth emails per day in an effort to understand every single change my body and baby endure. But, I think there is peace in that. Instead of letting pregnancy paranoia take over in every single thing that happens making me feel the need to read 20 articles about it, I am just letting my body grow and feel and experience.

The time seems to slip away faster and faster every day with this baby. Chasing Luke around and being a mama definitely helps that time fly by in a flurry. This bambino will be greeting us in just 2 short months! When did that happen? Matt and I were talking about it last night and he put it into perspective. In the time it has been from the 4th of July to now, we will have a baby. I feel like that holiday happened 2 weeks ago (I guess I better start packing my hospital bag!). Time is such a funny, fickle thing. And oh so precious.

Again, because of keeping busy with a toddler, I don't feel as tired or have time to whine and complain about every ache and pain that comes with a bulging center. Don't get me wrong, I love a good pity party (especially because they often lead to a glorious foot massage), but they are few and far between compared to the first pregnancy, much to Matt's pleasure I'm sure.

The round ligament pains, Braxton Hicks, and growing belly all have made their appearances earlier. I love that my body knows what to expect, and am banking on that for the labor and delivery to be smooth and seamless.

Most of all, I am anticipating baby boy's birth with joy and calmness. I know what to expect this second time around and feel amply prepared and empowered. The role of bringing a soul into this earth is sacred. This child in my womb is in a place between heaven and earth. I am grateful to be blessed with the title of mother. It's the most noble and magnificent thing I will ever do.

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DIY Polka Dot Tote

DIY projects find themselves few and far between nowadays since I am plenty busy with a toddler and another bébé on the way, but this one is simple and practical for any mommy lifestyle. It all started when I spotted this beautiful clutch and got that crafty itch to make my own version of a polka dot bag. 

Luke and I spend oodles of time at the library, beach, and park, and I've been wanting a cute tote to stuff all those books, snacks and toys into. Thus, the DIY polka dot tote was born! This project takes about 30 minutes, start to finish, and is on the super-duper easy skill level for DIY projects. It would even make a fun craft to do with your little ones if they are wanting a fun bag for school or the library! Follow the pictures and directions below to make your own!


-Blank canvas tote (I bought mine at Michael's for $2!)
-Fabric paint in the color of your choice
-Pencil with unused round eraser tip
-Paper plate to hold paint
-Cardboard insert


Insert a thick piece of paper or cardboard to catch any bleeding. Squeezing about a tablespoon of paint onto a paper plate, dip your eraser tip into the paint, making sure it is completely covered. Start in the upper left-hand corner and stamp your polka dots all the way down, making sure they are evenly spaced. Allow 24 hours to dry. Stuff the tote full of your goodies and swing that beauty over your shoulder for the world to admire!

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Hello, September!

1. Homemade pumpkin spice hot chocolate! Who cares if it is still 80 degrees with the worst humidity San Diego has seen? It's air conditioned in this joint, making it nice and icicle-y so I can enjoy my first cup of the season without sweating bullets. Here is the simple and delectable recipe: Mix 1/3 cup of cocoa powder, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of water, and a pinch of salt in a pan and bring to a boil. Let it cool to a warm temperature so it is no longer boiling and then add 1 cup of milk, 1 1/2 cups of half and half, 1/2 tsp of vanilla. Stir over medium heat, add the pumpkin syrup to taste (usually about 1 tbsp per cup is good)! and then serve it up with a hefty dollop of whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkled on top!

2. Someone else enjoying their very first cup of the pumpkin spice delight that is hot chocolate. Evidence that the aroma and flavor of the stuff brings instant happiness to the senses.

3. This candle had me at vanilla. And then I smelled it and was in pure autumn ecstasy. Our house now smells like a fall heaven on earth.

4. Beanies, people. BEANIES!

5. Bustin' out the the fall pillow covers and a fresh, moody pedicure. The color is Essie Wicked. How appropriate for all things fall and the upcoming Halloweenie, right? Also, my pinky toes are the weirdest. My mom said that when I was a baby it looked like they rolled up pieces of clay and stuck them on the ends because they forgot to add my pinky piggies. Apparently that last-minute addition stunted their growth.

The fall season is officially upon us. Funny how a time of death in nature can bring such a rejuvenation and regrowth in the soul. There is just something about the crunch of those yellow and orange leaves under my boots that makes my heart skip a beat. And the pumpkins. Oh, the pumpkins! We saw our first patch the other day and I literally squealed.

We love you, Autumn!

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