Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How To Get Your Creative Mojo Back

We've all been there at some point. Our passion in life, our greatest talent, gets stuck and for a period of time, just doesn't happen. For writers, it's Writer's Block. Here are a few tips to help you break through any creative block that I use myself. 

1. Don't force it, but try every day...even it's total crap. I struggled with writers block for most of 2014 (almost 6 months), which was a first me. I wrote blogs here and there, but I couldn't sit down and write something that I needed to write. Writing is a true outlet for me and when I do it, my soul fires up and words pour out onto paper.  When it doesn't feel that way, I know I've hit a block.

Recently, I had a moment where I thought, "Wait a minute, who am I? I'm a writer. I need to get back into my game." So, I sat down, and I forced myself to write something.  Anything. And, I wrote a blog about becoming a stay-at-home mama. I didn't really feel fired up when I wrote it, in fact, it almost felt sad because it's all I could ever ask for, but I struggled with finding time to write like I used to and not having a grip on the balance isn't easy. But, I needed to write something and that's how I was feeling when I wrote it, so it matters.

2. Have you truly lost your passion or did you replace it? I mentioned the word balance in the first tip for getting your mojo back because sometimes a block happens because we've replaced it.  

I know what you're thinking. Replaced it? That sounds so serious...

Becoming a mama did not squash my mojo, because I believe that when we truly want something, we get it. However, I think I fell in love with another passion, my baby, and up until the arrival of my baby, there had never been something that engulfed my life more than my writing career or my relationships...or anything other than taking care of my own well being for that matter. 

At first, it worried me that I wasn't writing as much (don't get me wrong, I'm obsessed with my baby), but after a while, I realized that I just needed to work on balancing my writing career with being a full time mother.   This is where a routine becomes your best friend. You have to schedule time in for yourself every day, especially as a parent.

3. Get a little heated by looking at what your competition or copycats are up to.  

Do people still use the word copycat? At least it gets the point across. 

I know I'm not a public figure or a celebrity,but I am aware when people blatantly copy my work and copy my ideas when starting blogs of their own.  It's almost a joke to say you have a blog now because who doesn't have a blog about random bullshit? For a long time, it made me so frustrated.  But, when you're struggling with writer's block, there is nothing quite like looking at your competitors work.  Something inside of you needs to write something major-- to show that you're back and better than ever and they better get ready to read what you're about to write.  Whatever that might be.  

4. If you're bored with it, chances are other people are bored with it, too.  If you feel like what you're working on is stale, change it up! Reinvent yourself. You are the one who makes up the rules when it comes to your talent-- remember that.  In fitness, when you hit a plateau, you change it up. When I originally started a blog, it was called "The Vintage Rush" and it was about what people were up to in Pittsburgh.  I soon grew bored with it and needed to change it to something I felt more passionate about, so I changed it to a lifestyle blog.  Change is what keeps us alive.  

Follow me on Twitter @styleandwisdom

Photographer Credit: Fred Blazek

Saturday, May 24, 2014

How I Introduced Finger Foods To My 8 Month Old Baby

When Noah was 7 months, I began giving him puffs (we use the Gerber puffs and the Happy Baby puffs).  Our pediatrician said to wait until he seemed interested in food before starting him off with puffs or Cheerios and if we gave them to him and he didn’t want anything to do with them-- wait a week and try again, but never to force him.

Babies will show interest in what you're eating and this is a good way to know when to start with finger foods. Much earlier on than 7 months, maybe 6 months, Noah would stare at Dan & I when we were eating and practice chewing, like he saw us doing, and that was a dead giveaway that he was ready to start eating more than purees.  

Let your baby get a feel for using their hands to eat(and be prepared to see most of what you give them end up on the floor at first!) As I’ve mentioned before in my mommy posts, Noah has always been ready when it comes to eating milestones, so right at 7 months, I put a handful of banana puffs in front of him and let him play with them. (I popped one in his mouth to show him that this was food, as well.) Our doctor said to let him play with his food in the beginning to get a feel for it and to allow him to practice picking up his own food.  When a baby can pick up his or her own food and put into their mouth, they can do what is known as the pincer grasp, and self-feed.  Once they can self-feed, our doctor said they can begin to eat small bites of any food.  

Use your parenting instincts. I let little Noah eat only puffs, Cheerios, and softer bites of food (like bananas) until he was 8 months to supplement his normal routine of cereals & purees. He was able to pick up his own food when he was 7 and a half months, but I wasn’t ready to give him bites real food yet.  I was scared he would choke on something that wasn’t soft or easily dissolving. 

I just have to say, the anxiety about him choking was purely my anxiety-- every time I would give him food, he would give me a look that said, “It’s about time, MOM. I’ve been ready for this.”

So, by 8 months, I was more confident when it came to giving him real food. He had his two front teeth & the two matching bottom teeth so he could rip into a piece of steak if he wanted to. So, anytime I made food, I would make him a “baby” plate with little pieces (to go along with his normal bottle & fruit/veggie puree feeding schedule). This has been the most fun I’ve had when feeding him so far because you get to make cute plates of food (that usually ends up all over their face, their hands, their belly, the highchair, and of course, the floor.)

I started off with scrambled eggs and then I began giving him things like chunks of french toast, grape tomatoes--quartered, blueberries, grapes sliced--quartered, elbow macaroni, sweet corn, etc. (Pictured above is Ezekiel bread, which I am happy to report that my baby loves.) I haven’t offered him any meats because I want to wait until he is a little bit older.  When I do so, I plan to use organic chicken because “baby food meat” freaks me out!)

With each bite that I see him doing okay with, it makes it easier (on me-- a nervous first time mama) to keep going and let him explore all of the wonderful food that the world has to offer.  

Our next challenge is the sippy cup, which hasn’t been quite as easy.  We have tried 3 different styles of sippy cups so far and the little guy hates all of them…


*Note: I am not a baby-expert or a doctor-- just a new mother learning what works and what doesn't. This blog is about how my baby started eating finger/table foods, but all babies are different.  Check with your pediatrician before offering any new foods. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

New Research Suggests Wine & Chocolate Have No Health Benefits After All

We've all heard that a piece of dark chocolate or a glass of red wine is actually healthy for us because they both contain a polyphenol known as resveratrol, which is considered to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects. In fact, we've all probably used this as an excuse when indulging after a long day at work.  However, new research , published by JAMA Internal Medicine, suggests that this common belief might not be true, after all.  

Researchers studied 700 elderly people in Chianti, Italy who included red wine in their diets and over the course of 9 years, they took regular urine samples to test the levels of resveratrol in their systems.  During the 9-year study, 268 of the people died. After controlling for factors like gender and age, they determined that the levels of reverstrol made no difference when it came to preventing heart disease, inflammation, or cancer, or why these people died.

At least we are still getting the antioxidants?

Image Credit

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Currently Reading: #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

"It’s unfortunate that school is so often regarded as a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. And if it doesn’t fit, you’re treated as if there is something wrong with you; so it is you, not the system, which is failing. Now, I’m not trying to give every slacker a free pass to cut class and head straight to Burger King, but I do think we should acknowledge that school isn’t for everyone. So, #GIRLBOSS, if you suck at school, don’t let it kill your spirit."--Sophia Amoruso

Image Credit: Penguin

Becoming a Mama Changes Your Entire Life

First of all, I am so sorry for not blogging more! I have been busy taking care of little Noah (now 8 months old), who I am absolutely in love with. His precious smile lights up my life and I'm okay with the time I've spent focusing solely on him.  

For the first three months of his life, I worked and found it to be exhausting for the both of us (I even worked from home during my maternity leave.) At the end of 2013, though, the small company that I was working for closed, and instead of looking at it as a burden, I chose to look at it as a huge blessing. I wouldn't have chosen to be a stay-at-home mom on my own, so it was a blessing that I was pushed into it.

I was able to care for my baby at home, instead of putting him into daycare or trying to find someone to look after him. I found that we were finally able to have a daily routine that revolved strictly around him and his own home.  We were able to develop a nap-time every day.  I was able to control some of the habits he learned because I was with him constantly. For instance, we never used a pacifier with him and we never calmed him down with a television. He has been an easy baby, though, so we were never really tempted.

Also, I found breastfeeding much more practical when I was with my baby.  When I was working, I was forced to pump in my car because there was no "non-bathroom private space" for me (which is what the law says a nursing, working mother is entitled to). I found this to be a nightmare.  I'm blessed enough to have a spacious SUV, but even with the space, it is embarrassing when people walk by and when you aren't comfortable, you tense up and your milk flow tenses up, as well. I have so much respect now for working mothers, especially working mothers who can pump at work.  It seems easy enough in theory, but for me, I found breastfeeding (everything about it) harder than I thought it would be.

My time at home these past months as a homemaker & new mother have really changed me and I've almost felt too boring to blog. About two months after Noah was born, I went to the Pittsburgh Whiskey Festival to write an event review about it.  I had spent so many months unable to drink that I was excited to get out of the house, get dressed up, take photos, and sample a few brands of whiskey. I had attended a few years ago, wrote an article about it, and thought it was such a fun event. I remember having a fresh inverted bob haircut, red lipstick, a new dress, and heels. This time around, I wore jeans, a flowy blouse to minimize the awkward hugeness of my breastfeeding boobs, and heels, which felt so strange to have to wear.

After I got there, all I could think about was my baby and how much I wanted to be snuggled up at home with slippers on.  I left early and went home to watch a movie with my family.  I sort of realized that my old "pre-Noah" life was over & that the direction of my blog was probably going to have to change.  I don't really go out anymore except if I can bring my baby. While some people might think this is boring, this is how I absolutely prefer it. These days, if I have an "adult beverage", it's at home in my slippers while dinner is cooking.  I think Dan & I have been to a bar one time since Noah was born and we were there waiting to pick up takeout on New Years Eve so we each had a beer.

I recently came across this video in my newsfeed and it made me realize that I'm a new mother and I need to own it.  I need to be able to write about it, as well, because it is an incredible journey. 
To get back in the blogging routine, I plan to do a variety of mama blogs, style blogs, blogs about cooking healthy for my family, blogs about taking care of my home on a budget, inspiration, and of course, some pop culture topics (because who doesn't love a little teeny dose of celebrity news here and there). I just want it to be a little bit more personable and little bit more real. (Sort of like... my birth story.) I'm not typing from a Starbucks anymore, I'm typing during Noah's naptime, with dinner in the oven for my always hungry boyfriend.

I love hearing about how other new mamas are raising their babies, so I hope my future posts (about things like diapers and babyproofing) will be entertaining, not a snoozefest.

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