100 days.

{photo via Instagram}

While working on our registry today, I was reminded that we have 100 days until baby {v} is scheduled to arrive. My iPhone also notified me that I'm two weeks away from the third trimester. If I'm being honest, it all feels a little surreal. After our miscarriage last fall, I wondered if I would ever feel the kicks of a little one. I dreamed of what it would feel like to have a baby bump which people actually noticed. In the sadness of those months, I truly questioned whether it would ever happen for us. As the deep freeze of last winter finally lifted, {cv} and I were blessed to have a second chance at parenthood. It was as if the change from winter to spring was our "new" year. A fresh start. A blank canvas. When we found out we were expecting in late March, it was as if the sun began to shine again.

Life is funny like that. I scolded myself for being down in the dumps, but I couldn't shake the sadness of the child that would have been. As tough as it was, I knew God had everything in His hands: the timing of this pregnancy meant my first trimester would be in the books around the same time I would have delivered. Somehow, it made processing that June due date a little easier. Our second pregnancy didn't take away the pain, but this child certainly gave me hope for what else 2014 would hold.

This pregnancy has been full of surprises. Somewhere along the way, this very strong extrovert has become a bit more introverted. I haven't gone the conventional blogger route of sharing weekly updates on my pregnancy. While I take bump photos every seven days, I don't always share them here or on Instagram. On my daily walks, I find myself soaking in the quiet time. Despite my "pregnancy brain", I feel as though I have more clarity than I have ever had. Though I want to share more, I find myself towing the delicate line of my private vs. public life. It is easy to share about mocktailsmaternity wardrobes, pregnancy skincare, and babymoons, but it isn't as easy to share the pitfalls of pregnancy. In my gratitude for this child, it doesn't feel right to complain about the little things. I can't say pregnancy is always peachy; I can say, however, that each passing day makes me more excited to meet this little one.

Since I've been a bit mum on the little details, here are a few tidbits to help answer those burning questions:
-Barring any complications or cold feet, baby {v} is due to arrive December 6th. We are waiting until baby {v}'s birthday to find out the gender! 
-Though we aren't sure when the house will be finished, we are hopeful it will be done before the baby arrives. If it isn't, we will survive. I am surprising myself {and all my close friends} by not being stressed by this prospect. 
-With our move-in date still up in the air, the nursery is also up in the air. I have some semblance of a vision on the gray and white spectrum, which should be no surprise after looking at my nesting Pinterest board. {I also pulled together this ideabook for Houzz as research for the nursery.} Since lead times are crazy for upholstered items, we ordered a glider and ottoman for the nursery...even if we don't have a place to put it today. We will, right? It shouldn't be delivered until early November, so hopefully we timed it right.
-After hemming and hawing about getting one of those big preggo pillows, the lovely folks from Bump Nest sent me a Pregnancy Pillow to try. I now can't think of a night without it. While I'll be happy to be close to {cv} again after baby, this Bump Nest beauty will be my best friend until December. The cats like it too ;)

My parting words are for those ladies who might be experiencing the sadness we did last winter {but are applicable to everyone}: take it one day at a time. As a lifelong planner, I expected things to go in the order I wanted them, but I learned very quickly that I was not in control. Learning I wasn't always in the driver's seat is one of the greatest takeaways from this journey. Sometimes, being the passenger and getting to observe life out the window for a bit isn't so bad. I'll enjoy the quiet rides for a few more months before baby {v} arrives. All of my love to each of you! xoxo {av}

P.S. Thanks for bearing with me in this post--and for sticking by me even if I post less frequently. If you want to be notified when I do post, click here. {You'll get my posts right in your inbox!}

big sur babymoon.

48 hours in Big Sur, California!

Though it feels like yesterday, {cv} and I have been back from our Big Sur babymoon for over a month! I finally had the chance to sit down and go through some photos to capture the highlights of our trip. {cv} planned the whole thing as a surprise, so I knew nothing about the destination other than the predicted weather. When we boarded our flight to the west coast in Boston, I was still in the dark about our final destination. {I knew we were flying to San Francisco, but that was it!}

When we landed in San Francisco, we made our way to the rental car facility and scored a convertible. {cv} hopped in the driver's seat and pointed the GPS southbound. This wasn't our first rodeo on US Highway 1: we took a quick trek down the California coast in 2011. While I was still in the dark about where we would eventually land, I had a hunch it might be Big Sur. {We spent a fantastic afternoon there in 2011; it had also come up numerous times as a place we would like to return one day.} After a quick spin down 17-Mile Drive, {cv} kept heading southbound. When he pulled in Ventana Inn in Big Sur, I was positively giddy. I had dreamed of staying there for ages! From start to finish, {cv} continuously knocked it out of the park with this surprise babymoon. This photo-heavy post will illustrate his handiwork...

the drive down to Big Sur, California!

the drive down to Big Sur, California!

48 hours in Big Sur, California!

When we finally got settled in our room, it was much past this pregnant lady's bedtime. {The time difference was no joke!} We ended up making the short walk to the restaurant on property for a taste of Californian cuisine, which was both tasty and beautifully plated. Though the picture below was taken during one of our breakfasts, you can see that the view from Ventana was one for the record books. The entire resort exceeded our expectations by ten thousand percent. Though it was certainly a splurge for us, we soaked up every minute -- be it in the hammock off our room or watching the stars on a crystal clear night. 

48 hours in Big Sur, California!

a Big Sur babymoon.
{TOP VIA TJMAXX | NECKLACE | SUNGLASSESMATERNITY JEANS}

During our days in Big Sur, we spent a good deal of our time driving up and down the coast. Whether grabbing dinner or hiking the coast, {cv} and I had the chance to see the beauty of Big Sur up close and personal. A few of our favorite stops included:
  • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: {cv} arranged a photo safari through our hotel, which was essentially a three-hour session with a talented local photographer. {We were not the subjects -- the coastline was!} This was, hands down, one of the highlights of our trip. We caught golden hour at McWay Falls, which was truly a sight to behold. During this little excursion, we learned about the fantastic hiking trails around the park. {cv} and I came back bright and early the next day and took a nearly two-hour hike. The cell phone photos from the vista don't do it justice, but the views will be forever emblazoned in my memory. One point of note: the trail wasn't particularly well marked, so take a bit more precaution than we did before we started our trek ;)
  • Pfeiffer Beach: Though the name may be the same, this is not to be confused with the previously mentioned state park. We caught another sunset here and would highly recommend you do the same. The rock formations and the gorgeous sandy beaches made for a stunning sunset from nearly every angle. {Scroll down just a bit to see those photos -- I'm sporting a sweater and jeans in the middle of our Pfeiffer photos.} Though we didn't picnic here, we did bring a pair of ice cream bars for dessert. {cv} knows the way to my heart.
48 hours in Big Sur, California!

48 hours in Big Sur, California!

a Big Sur babymoon.

48 hours in Big Sur, California!

Beyond our favorite sunset spots and hiking trails, {cv} and I scored some tasty meals along the coast. asdfas
  • Nepenthe: As repeat visitors, {cv} and I knew to hit Nepenthe off "peak" dining hours. We made our way for an early dinner the night of our photo safari and were immediately seated with an incredible view of the coastline. {Reservations not accepted}
  • Big Sur Taphouse: Far from fancy, this roadside find was the perfect choice for a relaxed dinner in Big Sur. The portions were hearty and {cv} enjoyed a few brews. The patio out back was ideal for a short, quick meal or a long, lingering feast. We opted for a short meal before catching the sunset at Pfeiffer Beach, but we almost returned after the sun went down. {Reservations not necessary}
  • Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant: Though we only grabbed pastries from the bakery, we would certainly consider a sit-down meal on a future visit to Big Sur. With killer ambiance, it is worth the hype. Their homemade graham crackers took our in-room s'mores at Ventana to an entirely new level. Our room had a cozy fireplace for the colder coastal nights. {Reservations highly recommended for the restaurant; not necessary for the bakery}
  • We did not make it to Deetjen's, so I can't speak with authority on their food...but their parking lot told the story. It was always packed! From our frequent drive-bys, the entire property looked fantastic. Beyond the restaurant, they also have an inn, which looked equally as charming. {Reservations highly recommended}
48 hours in Big Sur, California!

Doing a solid visit of Big Sur in 48 hours is absolutely doable. With two nights to catch beautiful sunsets, the days are ideal for hiking and exploring the beauty of this slice of America. You'll also be able to get your fill of fabulous food. Big Sur has it all. Here are a few other pointers before you go:
  • Prepare for terrible cell service. Regardless of your carrier, reception is not ideal. While wonderful for a social media hiatus, you'll actually need to look at a map and plan ahead. The flashing blue dot on Google Maps will not be there to guide you ;)
  • Pack an extra sweater. On both of our visits {in May 2011 and again in July 2014}, the temperatures were lovely in the daytime. The evenings definitely cooled down. Even with my internal heater {aka baby bump}, I was chilly at night. 
  • If you are renting a car and can swing a convertible, it is worth every single penny. You can truly immerse yourself in the beauty {and smells} of the California coast. 
  • Regardless of where you stay, Big Sur is an incredible landing point for spots all along the coast. Be aware though: their days do not start as early as you might expect. We couldn't find any coffee shops before 8:00am on the day of our longer hike.
  • Should you choose to do Big Sur for your babymoon, you will love it. I would recommend going when you're still comfortable and mobile. We chatted a few other couples who went later in pregnancy and were more hotel-bound. I was 20 weeks at the time of our trip and it was truly the sweet spot. I was finally showing, but I was still able to squeeze in tougher hike. 

If you're debating a trip to Big Sur, I hope this post tipped you over the edge. I'll be forever grateful for the days we shared here before baby {v}'s arrival. Hats off to my amazing and thoughtful husband for making it all possible! If you're a veteran of Big Sur and have other spots to add to this list, please share them! It may be a few years before {cv} and I return, but we are already plotting our trip. xoxo {av}

creative avocado recipes.

11 creative avocado recipes.

TOP ROW (LEFT TO RIGHT): Avocado, Grapefruit and Edamame Salad via Joy the Baker | Avocado Toast with Cracked Black Pepper and Sea Salt via 1-2 Simple Cooking | Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Avocado and Lime via the little red house
SECOND ROW: Creamy Avocado Yogurt Dip via Two Peas & Their Pod | Avocado Caprese Salad via Foodie Crush
THIRD ROW: Avocado Coconut Toast via Martha Stewart | Chicken Avocado Lime Soup via Cooking Classy | Grilled Avocado Tacos via Oh, Sweet Basil
BOTTOM ROW: Hashbrown Avocado Breakfast Wrap via Dine & Dish | Avocado Baked with an Egg via What Should I Eat for Breakfast Today | Spring Quinoa Salad via Two Peas & Their Pod

Five years ago, I wouldn't touch an avocado with a ten foot pole. As a lifelong picky eater, adding this interestingly textured delicacy into my diet wasn't an easy task. It definitely didn't happen overnight. I began with light, half-hearted dips in guacamole. I slowly worked my way up from there. 

While we make this super easy guacamole on the regular, I want to diversify my avocado intake a bit. In usual fashion, I went to my veg out Pinterest board to pull a few recent recipes. These 11 creative recipes range in time and effort, but they would definitely satisfy my avocado cravings. What other ways do you like to prepare your avocado -- besides guacamole? xoxo {av}

how to build a maternity wardrobe you'll love.

how to build a maternity wardrobe you'll love!

As I begin my sixth month of pregnancy, there are a number of things I wish I could tell my eight-week pregnant self about building a maternity wardrobe. Though I cannot profess to be an expert on dressing for the entire duration of this journey, I figured I could share a few tips now and add more depth as I edge closer to delivery. Without further ado, here are my eight tips on how to build a maternity wardrobe you'll love...

1) Invest in a pair of comfortable maternity jeans early on in your pregnancy. I know a lot of people want to "hold out" to buy maternity clothes, but honestly, it isn't worth waiting to buy a reliably comfortable pair of jeans. After years of working in a boutique, I have high standards for denim, so I asked for this pair of maternity jeans for my birthday. They were worth every penny my mother spent. Since a fair portion of my pregnancy fell in the summer months, I opted to add a pair of white maternity jeans as well. It was another of my better maternity wardrobe decisions: even when I didn't feel super visibly pregnant, I was comfortable and could throw on a top without fear of a serious "taco belly" dilemma. 

2) Stick to the basics. Since most pregnancies last about three seasons, there is plenty of ebb and flow in the fashion world during those ten {yes, ten} months. My early 20's self often fell victim to some crazy fashion trends, but my late 20's self has finally learned her lesson. Fabulous prints and bold colors are fun, but they won't stand the test of time. Lord-willing, this won't be our last pregnancy. If things work out the way we hope they will, I will need these maternity clothes again! I don't want to buy things which look great now but will be totally faux pas in a few years. I decided early on in my maternity wardrobe building process that I would stick to the basics. From colors to cuts, I have been picking things which aren't so specifically 2014. {If you take one look at Shopbop's maternity section, you'll understand what I mean. ASOS Maternity is the polar opposite.} The clothes work together and aren't totally out of the box. This philosophy has worked well so far, so time will tell if it was a good call or not. One small note on this: if I am making more "trendy" purchases like this dress from TJMaxx {also seen here!!!}, I try to choose items I could wear whether I was pregnant or not. In other words, I won't buy trendy pieces from the maternity section of a store, but I will buy something a size up that I could comfortably wear for a few months in the post-baby days. 

3) Treat yourself to a few pieces you know you'll love. When you don't feel like yourself in clothes, you can feel pretty miserable. The first trimester was especially hard for me: while I wanted to scream to the world I was pregnant again, I also didn't want people to assume that I had a few too many slices of pizza. I found myself feeling very out of sorts in whatever I wore those first 12 weeks. I didn't want to accentuate the extreme case of muffin top I was baking under my clothes and I didn't want to wear a giant paper sack. I decided it was worth it for me to save up and buy a few pieces I would live in -- and love. Case in point: I love Splendid. {I always have -- and I always will.} Their soft cotton is my jam. Even if it is a casual outfit, I somehow feel extra confident in their pieces. I stalk Destination Maternity for sales on my favorite brands and have done very well with their redline promotions. Whether those splurges are at Old Navy or Shopbop, you'll be happy you made them. 

4) You can never have enough white tanks, pretty scarves, and skinny belts. These basics will solve some of your toughest pregnancy conundrums: hiding your lovely pregnancy "ladies" and giving some definition to your higher waistline. I live in these tanks {they're both super soft and cost-effective} and I know I'll wear them even more as the temperatures cool down. I purchased this belt in a few colors {it goes on sale frequently}. I love it because it has holes around the entire belt, making it easy to adjust based on where you want your waistline -- and if you had a big meal. I also scored this scarf on sale this summer and have been loving it for air-conditioned flights and chilly restaurants. No matter where you buy these staples, you'll be glad to have them as your belly grows.

how to build a maternity wardrobe you'll love!

5) Shoes and accessories will long outlive your pregnancy. This point relates a great deal to my third point, but go with me here.} These two wardrobe staples will make your maternity fashion feel much more fashionable--and work with you throughout most of your pregnancy. Example: I snagged these sandals on sale during those early weeks of pregnancy because I knew I would love to wear them, even when I felt large and in charge. Though I won't be able to wear them into the fall and winter, I will be able to wear them next spring and summer...and love them all the same. Also, I realize some folks may fight me on this tip because shoe size can fluctuate with pregnancy. I'll agree on the fluctuation, but I never buy shoes which are so constrictive that I could only wear them at that exact moment. The accessories are a no-brainer though: a fabulous pair of earrings or a beautiful statement necklace will go a long way into jazzing up a baby bump.

6) Max(i) it out. Because I'm on the shorter side, I don't always love maxi dresses. As a clumsy gal, I tend to get tripped up in them--and tripping isn't something you want to do in pregnancy. However, I have found that a baby bump raises the hem of a maxi every so slightly. This is a HUGE plus for me. The maxi I'm wearing in the photo above does have shorter hemline, so I found it worked well--especially with a belt. It just requires a bit of extra effort to identify a maxi which will fall at the right length and grow with you. Though it isn't my normal "look", I do anticipate wearing maxi dresses into the fall with a jean jacket or cardigan and boots.

7) Stock up on cardigans, which will fit now and later. Regardless of your due date, having a few of these easy breezy cardigans will improve your quality of life immensely. This simple cardi is nearly always on sale and available in a myriad of colors. {Word for the wise: buying in store often garners even better deals--I got mine for a whopping $9!} Though I haven't purchased these just yet, I love this cozy shawl collar cardigan, as well as this swingy jersey option. Cardigans are available virtually anywhere, so find one or two you love and call it a day.

8) Don't hold out on buying maternity clothes, just to say "you're not wearing maternity clothes". I see a lot of bloggers talking about how they didn't transition into maternity clothes until halfway through their pregnancy. All I can say is this: more power to them. As a person who has worked hard to stay roughly the same size throughout my 20s, I have also found styles which work with my shape. Let's just say this: most of those styles don't work well for pregnancy. At first, I was embarrassed to buy maternity clothes until I realized how much better I felt in my pregnancy skin while wearing them. I'm not joking when I say that the Secret Fit Belly line seriously changed my pregnant life. The Spanx-like top {without the tightness or constriction} smoothes out my midsection and makes me feel like a million bucks. I have also been a perennial lover of these J.Crew pants, so I was thrilled to see they made them for mamas too.  All in all, don't hold out because you want to "stay strong". Do what your body needs and prioritize comfort!

All baby bumps are different, so I know my advice may not work for everyone. If you've graduated from the days of baby bumps, I would love to hear any advice you might have. If you're going to be in the market for bump advice soon, pin this post for future reference ;) I also can't recommend the "dressing the bump" series on Oh Joy! more highly. Her insight {along with the guidance of a few recently pregnant friends} has helped me successfully navigate the first 24 weeks of pregnancy fashion. I still have a few months to go, but I am no longer scared of how to dress this bump! xoxo {av}

P.S. I think pregnancy fitness attire deserves its own post, so look for one of those in the coming weeks/months!