the daily julie

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Jason and I don’t get out much anymore these days. When you live in a house where the one person who can’t fend for them self goes to bed at 7, your night kind of ends then.

But we are so grateful when the stars and schedules and babysitters align and we get to go do fun things. Not that sitting at home with wine and Netflix is not fun because it totally is, but sometimes you need the kind of fun that involves paying someone else to make you a cocktail, a new to you restaurant (this one, highly recommend), loud music and lots of laughing.

We are so grateful to have found the last part of that in our friends Krissy and Mo. And also ever so grateful for my parents who let Nora have a sleepover so we can step away from the Netflix and step out in the cool, adult world with our cool, adult friends every once in a while.

It’s good for the soul.

Also, major props to Mo who filled us in on the fact that Uber is available in the Raleigh now. We used it to secure a safe ride home and not only was it a million times more pleasant that trying to find a taxi that someone else might steal so then having to wait for another one whose credit card machine is “broken,” but it was literally about half the price of what we’d normally pay for a cab to get home. Aside from briefly being worried that we were about to be murdered by our driver because she was wearing latex gloves (apparently it helps her psoriasis because we asked what they were for to ensure we weren’t about to be murdered, but once we got that out of the way, it was nothing but pleasant as she told us all about her grandkids), it was a 5 star experience and I will definitely use it again. Payment is linked to your Uber account so no cash needed. Heck, you don’t even need your credit card because it’s all done through your account. genius! You can sign up here and you can also use my code juliec125 to get your first ride free (up to $30).

OBX Beach Trip Recap

Like I mentioned yesterday, we spend the five days before Memorial Day at the beach - the NC outer banks to be specific. There was a lot of this:

and this:

Nora did a lot of this:

and this:

When we weren’t at the beach or the pool we did this:

and this:

and this:

(my dress appears to be sold out everywhere, but there are some on ebay)

Our last morning there, I woke up at the ungodly hour of 5 am and could not get back to sleep. I used it as an opportunity to go watch this:

It was a glorious trip and 5 days was not nearly long enough.

Baby Shower Weekend

So, the Grammy’s were last night. Beyonce and Jay-Z. omg. I had to take a couple of cold showers after that and I’m still not right. Actually, everything after that was a blur.I just remember Anna Kendrick’s boobs presenting an award with the Arby’s hat, Lorde who got caught in the polar vortex last week because how else do you explain her frostbitten fingertips, hair thrashing, helmets and Ringo Starr singing. (Sorry Ringo, but there is a reason you were the drummer.)

Anywhoooooo, prior to learning exactly how Blue Ivy was conceived, I cohosted a baby shower for my friend (how do you like that segue). We held it in the private room of a local brewery. I know what you’re thinking… babies and beers don’t quite mix. Well, in the case of a couples shower they do! It was so much fun to put this together and it was even better to spend the afternoon among a group of people I truly care about.

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(Me and the mama to be)

I think the highlight for everyone was when my friend Amanda surprised us all by popping in from California. She moved to San Diego last summer and North Carolina hasn’t been the same without her.

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The older I get, the harder it is to make time to see my friends. We all have some mix of husbands, careers, babies and family that when we are all in one room together it is just so special. My heart was overflowing by the end of the day.

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"Best friend isn’t a person, Danny. It’s a tier" - Mindy Lahiri

(My dress is by Sanctuary. I couldn’t find the exact one online, but here and here are two very similar styles.)

Brrrrr

It’s not quite the snowpacalypse here in NC, but because it MIGHT be too cold/icy/snowy, all the schools (including Nora’s daycare) are operating on a delay. A somewhat known fact is that I was born in North Dakota and lived there until I was 9. I know what cold is. The Carolina winters have spoiled me but I can just see all my North Dakotan friends and family have a chuckle at the silly southerners who can’t handle a little chill. I mean, it is 12 degrees right now. 

This was a very long intro to simply express the fact that I am so thankful for work-from-home options. I prefer to go into the office where I can focus and hone in on the work I’m doing. But, that’s not always possible and in those situations (especially last minute situations), I’m grateful for telecommuting and a supportive team at work. I’m also grateful I get to spend a couple more hours with these two. 

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2014 Resolution: An Attitude of Gratitude

I gave up coming up with a lengthy list of resolutions a couple years ago because while it feels good for a couple days my resolve weakens after a few weeks days, nothing changes, and I wind up just feeling bad for not achieving my goals. I’m not going to vow to go to the gym 5 times a week or wake up when the alarm actually goes off or read 12 books (seriously… I didn’t even do that one!)

This year, my goal is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

There is so much in our lives to be thankful for, but I think the human tendency is to focus on what everyone else seems to have and what we don’t by comparison. I firmly believe that the grass is not greener on the other side, it’s just greener for those who tend to their own lawn. 2014 will be the year of watering my own damn lawn.

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Things I’ve Bought and Liked in the Past 1-5 Months

This post is 100% dedicated to consumerism. I’m all about things that make life easier, faster and more comfortable. There are several products I’ve purchased recently that have vastly improved my quality of life, and if a product can do that, I figured you should probably know about it. So, hurry up and buy now before your new year’s resolution to save money kicks in.

Dry Bar Blowout in a Box - $199

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I used a gift card that I won at Jason’s work’s Christmas party to offset the cost of this set. I had been in need of a new blowdryer for about 6 months and my list of wants was pretty simple - perfect hair in about 5 minutes with minimal effort and when using after hot yoga class, it must not make me sweat uncontrollably before going back to work thus negating the effects of the blowdry. Oh, and please be lightweight and magical. Simple, right? I’m happy to report that this blow dryer delivers on all levels. I mean, it doesn’t cool me down after hot yoga class but really, I was asking for a lot. The first time I used it, I thought my shiny bouncy hair might just be because of the products included in the kit, so the next time, I used my regular shampoo (Oscar Blandi’s Jasmine Shampoo and Smoothing Conditioner. I love it and 80% of the time can find it for like $6 at T.J. Maxx). My hair was still super sleek and shiny after using the blow dryer without the included products. The brush is a little hard to finagle, but I’ve always had trouble using a round brush AND a hair dryer. I will say that this brush grabs my hair way better than any other round brush I’ve used which makes it easier to control. I typically just use it on the front section for extra bounce. The big question is though - would I drop $199 on this if I didn’t have a gift card. Realistically, I would probably not, but that’s because I’m a closet cheapskate. Am I glad I had a gift card to use toward this and that I now own it? Hellz yeah.

Honest Company Bundles* - price varies

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I had heard a lot about the Honest Company but had not signed up until they were offering 50% off all bundles during a black Friday promotion. 200 diapers for $40? YES PLEASE! I now subscribe to the the diaper bundle every month which includes diapers and wipes for $80 and the Everyday Essentials #1 bundle which includes your choice of 5 household products (think counter spray, laundry detergent, hand sanitizer, dish cloths, etc). I have this bundle set to deliver every other month. I absolutely love not having to worry about running out of diapers and one less trip to the store is one less thing I have to do. The diapers are really, really cute and praise to grilled cheesus have no commercial cartoon characters anywhere on them (file sesame street characters on diapers under pet peeve of mine). The household products really get the job done well and I feel really good about reducing the amount of toxins in my house by using their cleaning products, which also smell amazing. I think the real star is the Honest Company’s healing balm. I primarily use it as diaper rash cream for Nora and it’s work the best of anything I’ve tried, and I’ve tried them all (Yes, I’m looking at you Boudreaux’s!)

I also should probably include a mention on our adventures in cloth diapering. I still use cloth diapers, but primarily at night time and in the off chance I run out of disposables. While Nora’s daycare supports cloth diapering, the laundry during the week got old and then when our guest bathroom flooded back in May and wasn’t completed until a few weeks ago, I lost the ability to easily and conveniently remove bowel movements from cloth diapers so the disposables entered into the picture more permanently. It’s a little nauseating to me how much I will spend on diapers and how many will go to a landfill until Nora is potty trained but the Honest Company is committed to making their diapers eco friendly which provides some consolation. It is what it is. sigh.

*Referral link, duh.

LuluLemon Gratitude Wrap - $118

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I know I’m supposed to hate lululemon for their overpriced spandex and fat shaming, but gosh… I love this wrap. I spotted it while walking past my local store and it was love at first sight. Then, I put it on and y’all, I’ve been living in this thing. It is so comfy and cozy and exactly what you want to put on after stuffing your face with Christmas cookies and it’s rainy and cold outside and you just want to lay on the couch and watch all of the Harry Potter movies in succession. It appears to be sold out online so I would suggest checking your local store or stalking their website for it to be restocked.

Atralin - prescription only

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I’m pushing 32 and I figured it was time to get serious about some skin care. I went to the dermatologist for the first time ever this past summer to get a retinoid prescription since I seem to read about retinols in every skin care article of every magazine that publishes a skin care article. Anyway, the derm gave me a prescription for this stuff which is Tretinoin and somehow related to retinols,  and it’s awesome. I have some light acne scarring around my chin which is practically gone and my skin just looks more clear and glowy all around. As for makeup, I can get away with some strategically place concealer under my eyes and blush on the apples of my cheeks without feeling totally disgusting. This little tube is still going strong 5 months after getting it. And extra perk - it’s cosmetic so may not be covered by insurance but since it’s a prescription, it’s reimbursable through a flexible spending account.

Anything you’ve bought and used lately that’s improved the quality of your life?

Holly Jolly Time and Family Christmas Pageant

My family’s schedule is pretty jam packed between now and December 24. I’m really trying to not feel overwhelmed and savor the season because it really is my favorite time of year. But between the hustle and bustle, it can be hard! Jason and I had a conversation last night about prioritizing and making sure the important things are getting done while the not so important things can wait. (Example: Important - Spending time with visiting family. Not as important - Wrapping presents. Pretty obvious stuff, but sometimes I need to remind myself.) I’ll probably be the mom staying up late on Christmas Eve to wrap everything but as long as I have a glass of ‘nog it will be okay.

Moving along… I try to keep pictures of Nora on here to a minimum, but these by Grace Hill Photography are too cute not to share! Kelly and I both married into the same crazy, fun family and we had the annual party, Christmas pageant and gift exchange this past weekend. She is such a talented photog and captured some fantastic snaps. Enjoy!

View More: http://gracehillphotography.pass.us/2013-hill-family-play

View More: http://gracehillphotography.pass.us/2013-hill-family-play

View More: http://gracehillphotography.pass.us/2013-hill-family-play

View More: http://gracehillphotography.pass.us/2013-hill-family-play

View More: http://gracehillphotography.pass.us/2013-hill-family-play

(Jason and I debuted as Mary and Joseph for the play, but unfortunately Nora fell asleep before she could make her entrance as baby Jesus.)

View More: http://gracehillphotography.pass.us/2013-hill-family-play

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Baby’s Nursery

An interior designer I am not, but I thought I’d share how I’m planning on decorating this little one’s nursery. Behold, my attempt at a mood board:

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I’ve actually made really great progress on the nursery so far.

The crib is something we have on hand that’s been stored at my parent’s house. My grandpa made it many many years ago and it’s such a special piece. The crib in the image above is not our exact crib, but it’s close.

I’ve already got the curtains and rug and the wall paint has been slapped up. We also ordered the glider a couple months ago and are just waiting for it to come in.

I have loved these baby animal prints by Sharon Montrose for a long time, and the hardest part is just narrowing down which ones to choose. These three are my favorite. I think.

Oh, and that is not the dresser/changing table we have. We are using one we have on hand and will just be painting it white (or more likely, we’ll be paying someone else to do it because ain’t nobody here got time for that). But in my nursery fantasies, I would be changing poopy diapers atop a white campaign-style dresser.

And I am obsessed with jelly cat stuffed animals. They are so cute and have so many fun options. This flamingo makes me laugh, so I know she’s a keeper. She’s so spunky with that hair-do!

And that’s about it. I’m sure there will be some more touches we’ll add as we go along, and I’ll be sure to share photos once the space is all done. This is actually the first room in our house that we are decorating from scratch and it’s been so fun to pick out each piece specifically for the space rather than try to make what we already have work. Now, if only money grew on trees. c’est la vie.

Random Life Update

Whew! What a week (and weekend) it’s been.  This blog has been suffering a little bit but I think of you guys a lot. Here’s the lowdown on life lately:

1. Work has been crazy busy. Between busting my tail in the office and trying to get ready for a baby, I’ve pretty much had time to eat and sleep and do little else. But life doesn’t stop just because work is busy!

2. Speaking of getting ready for the baby, we finally, finally started to prep the space for the nursery. It’s involved lots of furniture moving and rearranging of bedrooms, but we’re almost done and should be ready to paint and get some baby furniture in here in the next couple weeks. 

3. Jason’s Meme had major heart surgery earlier this week. We spent two days in Charlotte this past week to visit her after her surgery. She’s on the up and up, but her recovery is not without its challenges. Prayers during the coming weeks are welcome. Meme is such a special woman in many people’s lives and is one of, if not THE most honest, loving, and genuine person I know. I’m always telling Jason, I’m so lucky I married into Meme.

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(photo by Grace Hill Photography during Christmas 2012)

4. On the weekends, we’ve been balancing our free time with prepping for baby and shopping for new stuff for Early Bird. We took a bit of a hiatus over the holidays because traveling and Christmas festivities left little time for snagging new goods, but we’ve got some new-to-you stuff added to the site and I should have some more up later this week or weekend. Thank you all SO much for your support over the past couple of months. This little hobby of ours wouldn’t be possible without you.

5. I’m sure there is more that I’m forgetting. I tend to do that a lot these days. I thought pregnancy brain was some sort of fake excuse concocted by I don’t even know, but it’s real, I tell ya. I find myself walking into rooms and forgetting why I’m there, not being able to find things that are right in front of me, opening the fridge and completely forgetting what I was going to get (um… milk for the cereal), and if I don’t write something down, you can forget about it ever happening.

So, that’s about it until I remember what else it was I wanted to tell you.

Have a great week, trillas!

Most Wonderful Time

Is Christmas really less than a week away. Wowza! The good news is that I’ve purchased and wrapped all of my Christmas presents. I asked Jason if he wanted to go to the NCSU basketball game on Saturday and he told me he needed that day for Christmas shopping. say wha? That boy is cray, but I love him for it or maybe I should say despite it. LOLZ. (gah, I just annoyed myself with that LOLZ.)

I’ve got a few life updates for you:

1. We spent this past weekend with my inlaws in Charlotte to celebrate the season. It’s always such a whirlwind because Jason comes from a LARGE family that all still lives in Charlotte so we’re always bopping from here to there to make sure we get to see everyone. It’s a total blast and the weekend culminates in all the cousins getting together to perform the Christmas play for the “grown ups.” You may argue that we should fall into the category of grown ups, but alas, birth order and not age dictates who does and does not participate in the play. If you are lucky enough to have married one into the family, then you get to be in the play, too. This is my 7th year running as an angel in the play, but the Tony’s have not yet come calling. Just call me the Susan Lucci of musicals.

Christmas 2012 outfits

It’s really a big production, complete with story telling and singing appropriate Christmas songs at appropriate scenes. Like, when the angels appear, we all sing Hark the Herald Angels Sing. And then when the kings arrive, we sing We Three Kings. And so on and so on.

Christmas 2012-theplay

2. Early Bird was selected to be a Vintage and Market Finds vendor on One King’s Lane. We are supes excited about this turn of events as it allows us to bring some of the finer things we stumble across to a mass market. Some rich person out there has got to be interested in these fab lamps, right? These can go for over $3,000 on 1st Dibs and they are really, really, really awesome. Like I never knew the difference between nice lamps and the $60 ones you find at Home Goods until we scored these. Major improvement. I hope you buy them.

3. No bump picture this week. I know you are frowning into your coffee right now. I’ve been swamped with tying up Christmas loose ends and getting ready for two holiday parties we’re going to this weekend, holiday baking, plus some guests that are staying with us. I love the hustle and bustle that this time of year brings, but I am just one woman and will gladly admit when I can’t handle it all. So this week’s casualty is the bump photo.