Monday, December 28, 2020

Shane's Brown Butter Pecan Cookie Recipe









Okay, these have been the star of the show over on stories multiple times since Shane first made them a year ago. They're probably the most requested recipe post I get from you guys, so when I had a craving for them earlier this week I got Shane to agree to make them again if I placed a quick free delivery order from our local Walmart store for the ingredients with my Walmart+ membership ($35 minimum, restrictions apply). This membership has come in so handy more times than we can count, and they just launched a new benefit starting this month where Walmart offers Walmart+ free shipping, no order minimum for Walmart+ members as well (excludes oversized/freight & marketplace items). Members also receive member prices on fuel at Walmart, Sams Club, and Murphy gas stations, and access to tools that make in-store shopping faster. Our store has same day delivery, so it's easy to convince hubby to make these when it doesn't require either of us to have to leave for the ingredients -- and I'm sure it'll only become handier once the baby is here. 

As for the cookies, these are hands down my favorite cookie ever! Shane has become quite the baker during the pandemic and the extra time at home, and I think he sort of has a secret calling in the kitchen. Everyone we've shared the cookies with has also been impressed (and addicted immediately) so if you need something fun to bake that's a sure fire hit - these are it!  

Brown Butter Pecan Cookies 

INGREDIENTS:

- 1 cup of unsalted butter
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups of flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt
- 2 cups (approximately 1 bar) chunks of chocolate (not chips)
- 1 cup chopped pecans 

DIRECTIONS:

In a small sauce pan, boil butter until browned. It should smell nutty and have a caramel color to it. Remove butter from heat and place in the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes. Next, mix the butter and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix. Add in the flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix together. Next, add in chocolate chunks and pecans and fold into a dough. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover dough and set for 30 minutes. Roll dough into balls and cook for 9-11 minutes, they should be fairly moist still. Let cookies cool for approximately 8 minutes after you remove them from the oven. We like to take a fork and press down on the top of them, and sprinkle a little Pink Himalayan Sea Salt on top!

Keep me posted if you make these! We would love to hear how they turn out, and don't forget to check out the Walmart+ benefits in your area! It costs $98 a year, or $12.95 per month and includes a 15-day free trial period so you can test it out and see if you like it (but trust me, you will)! To sign up for the free trial, click here. 

*Thank you to Walmart for sponsoring todays post. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Our Maternity Photos + A Third Trimester Update















We are officially 3 weeks away from our due date! Honestly, time is flying by. I know most everyone tells you the last few weeks crawl due to anticipation, but I'm not experiencing that. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the holidays are also around this time, and that we are still working on getting our new home furnished and ready for our parents to visit long term. I'm so busy with work (holiday season), buying and wrapping gifts for everyone, decorating the house, getting little man's nursery organized, ordering the last of what I need for postpartum and what we are still missing for this little peanut etc. that life.is.busy. I never want to forget this time, so it's helpful for me to write out all that I am feeling and experiencing, and while I'm at it - maybe it'll help you too. So here's a little update on the homestretch!

HOW I'M FEELING PHYSICALLY

I honestly feel really good! I was prepared for the worst after hearing everyone else's 3rd trimester stories, but like I've mentioned with other pregnancy topics, you really can't (and shouldn't) compare your story to others, because each pregnancy is so unique and different. I also strongly believe that mindset and staying active has so much to do with how you feel in these last few weeks. I've always been a regimented person, and sticking to a routine is what's keeping me sane. I'm still waking up at 6 AM daily, starting my day with a workout - yes, even at 37 weeks - although my workouts look a lot different, I'm proud of myself for staying committed to moving every day. I do a 20 minute Peloton walk on the treadmill, followed by 30-40 min of weights, and Shane and I take a walk in the afternoons with the dog 3ish times a week as well. I'm also still riding the Peloton if I'm not walking (about 2-3 times a week). I'm hoping that by staying active, my body will be more prepared for labor. We will see! 

EMOTIONS 

I feel fairly level headed. To be honest, I think everyone around me would say I've been super "normal" in the emotions department this entire pregnancy. Of course, I have my days here and there. I think it's fair to say that most of those days have been triggered by things that are out of my control, like Covid. I miss my family tremendously, and have truly let myself mourn the loss of the idea in my head of what I always thought pregnancy would look like. For example, having my family around for the milestone moments like the gender reveal, the baby shower, putting together the nursery and shopping for baby items together. Just writing this out bring tears to my eyes because it feels so unfair. I'm constantly reminding myself to focus on the things I can control, versus what I can't control, and to be grateful for a healthy growing little boy. I'm a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason, and God chose this timing for our family for a much greater purpose than we can physically see today. If you are going through this same season, just know your feelings are valid and that you are not alone. On the other end of the spectrum, I am so excited to meet our son. We talk about what he will look like and his personality daily, and it's been so fun to imagine life with him earthside. Our bodies are capable of so much, and I feel so grateful for such a huge blessing during a year like this. He has given us so much to look forward too, and the love we feel for him is already exponential. 

 SLEEP

Sleep is something I've struggled with most of my pregnancy. Around 32 weeks I started getting this intense itchy feeling all over my body at night which was really keeping me up. We were worried about Cholestasis so I went in to get tested, and thankfully did not have it. The doctor thought that the itchiness was most likely due to hormones as they are at their peak around this time and suggested Benadryl at night, and Allegra during the day to help with the symptoms. Well, the Benadryl has provided the best sleep I've had all pregnancy, and for the most part doesn't make me drowsy the next morning (I only take half the dosage). As of this week, I am starting to feel more tired later in the day but that's all part of the game. I can really only sleep comfortably on my right side with a king size pillow in between my legs so that's where I land for the most of the night. The belly sort of makes moving from side to side a whole project, and don't even get me started on getting up from the bed - haha! 

THE BELLY

Baby has definitely dropped! I'm not 100% sure exactly what week this happened, but I want to say I started noticing it most around 33 weeks. My weight gain slowed way down in the 3rd trimester, but I can tell when baby boy is growing because there's a noticeable difference in my belly size and the scale reflects the gain too. He is also head down now! It's incredible being able to feel where his body parts are as he gets bigger. The kicks are a lot less frequent now that he has less room, and his movements tend to feel more like wiggles at this point. He likes to shove his butt right into my ribs and shifts from side to side daily. Sometimes I feel like I need to stretch my arms above my head to get him to shimmy down some because the rib situation is rather uncomfortable and cramped. My appetite also seems to be the biggest it's been to date these last few weeks, although, I tend to feel full fairly fast since there is less room so I eat lots of smaller meals throughout the day. I think the most noticeable difference for me now that he's in position is the amount of pressure I feel, especially if we are walking or I'm doing leg day. I also still have the lower back pain almost daily, but with a giant belly and a 6 lb baby down low inside of it - I guess that's to be expected. 

CRAVINGS

I really haven't had a ton of cravings. I talked about this in my first trimester recap, but I experienced more aversions than anything. I will say, I still want fruit nonstop and as of late - I could eat 3 bowls of wheat bran cereal with blueberries a day and be perfectly happy. I'm definitely indulging in sweets more than I've ever let myself in the past, but overall - I've been fairly balanced with fueling my body, but also letting myself enjoy this time a little.

SIGNS OF LABOR

I've been keeping my eyes peeled for early labor signs. I noticed I started feeling lower back pain that feels more like the back pain you get right before your period (vs the back pain from weight - it feels different) last week. It comes in waves throughout the day, and as experts say, that's typically a sign that your body is preparing itself. I've had a little cramping here and there as well, which the OB said is normal around this timeframe and again - is a sign your body is preparing for what's to come. Other than that, there have been several days recently where I feel what I think* are Braxton Hicks contractions - they tend to take my breathe away for a second and then go away. We both feel like he will be here early, but then again, what do we know!? As excited as we are to meet him, I am hoping my body will start the process naturally when it's ready.  

I think that's pretty much everything there is to report right now. I am planning on trying to take a little time off in January to be present with him and my family, and to adjust to our new life. The only caveat to this job is that it doesn't come with paid time off, or any type of maternity leave, which gives me a little bit of anxiety as I would love to not feel the pressure to work.  But, we will figure it out as we go and I feel confident that my gut will lead me in the right direction when the time comes. 

Is there anything I left out that you'd like to know about!? Planning to write another post on what's in my hospital bag soon - stay tuned. 

Photography: Anchor & Veil
Dress c/o: Sexy Mama Maternity 

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Monday, November 23, 2020

2020 Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers She Actually Wants


Invisibobble Hair Ties | You can never have too many hair ties, and these protect from breakage and creases while also being sweat proof for the gym goer in your life. 

Beautycounter Clean Deoderant Minis | A great option for the clean beauty lover! I just ordered these, and can't wait to try them. The set comes with four mini deodorants so they're easy to split up into stockings if you have more than one stocking to fill. 

Bolt Lips Protective Face Mask | What's more appropriate and practical than an edgy face mask these days?!

Tula Cooling & Brightening Eye Balm | One of Tula's best selling products, and a favorite in my collection. This eye balm hydrates, cools, and helps reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles. I like to apply this before the gym in the morning on a bare face, as well as over my makeup for a subtle highlight. 

Klavuu Lip Sleeping Pack | Hands down the best lip mask on the market and it is currently 30% off with code BRIGHT30 making it $10.50. These sell out quickly! Moisturizes lips long term, and feels silky and smooth upon application. 

Too Faced Lip Injection Plumper | This gloss dramatically increases the look of lip volume.

Tula Beauty Gummy Vitamins | Not only do these taste good, they work! This comes with a two week supply of beauty gummies that support healthy skin, promote hair and nail growth, and include pro/prebiotics to calm bloating. Use code THECHEEKYBEEN for 15% off.

Knee High Butter Socks | The perfect cozy and warm winter gift for relaxing around the house.

Ivory Leopard Face Mask | I get so many compliments on this mask! For under $20 this makes the perfect practical stocking stuffer gift. 

Miracle Face Eraser | An Amazon find and a great gift option for the sustainable one in your life. This cloth washes away a face full of makeup by simply adding water. Rinse, wash, and repeat - making it a more environmentally friendly option than makeup wipes. 

One Step Makeup Remover Wipes | Perfect for the girl on the go! Gentle enough to use on your face and eyes every day, oil and fragrance free, and another clean beauty product. These also provide hydration and are a great starting point for people who aren't regimented with a skincare routine yet.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

2020 Gift Guide for the Fitness Enthusiast


The second gift guide in my holiday edit is for the fitness enthusiast. We all have that one friend that is fitness obsessed. They know every instructor by name, own all the latest and greatest gear, and their athleisure collection far outweighs the rest of their wardrobe. So what do you get the fitness junkie? Lucky for you, this is my personality type -- so I've rounded up the most useful and unique gift options that are sure to please (speaking from personal experience, here). 

Yoga Mat | Pretty and functional! One of my favorite Amazon finds to date. Being that so many of us are working out at home, it was time to invest in a new yoga mat. We have this next to our Peloton, so when my ride is over, I hop onto the mat and start a strength class. It's durable, pretty to look at, and great quality! A good option for anyone working out from home during the pandemic, any Peloton app users, or yoga lovers.

Apple iWatch | I'm not the only fitness fanatic in my circle and all the girls (except myself) own an Apple watch. The fitness features are endless, and a great motivational tool to help reach your daily fitness goals. 

Dr. Scholl’s Performance Sized to Fit Running Insole | For the runner in your life! This is a unique gift option that most people wouldn't think to add to a xmas wishlist. Runners are always looking for the one thing that will help them run longer, go faster, and without injury - these are an awesome addition to their running game, and a great stocking stuffer! 

Sweat Proof Hair Ties | You can never have too many of these! They are much better for your hair than the average hair tie, don't leave dents and creases, and don't get soaked with sweat. Another great stocking stuffer!

Weighted Jump Rope | A great cardio add that can be used at home, thrown into a backpack for at the gym, and works wonders for building strength and toning arms. The personal trainer I worked out with for years always incorporated a weighted jump rope into our routine, now you can provide a little PT for your favorite fitness lover at home. 

Lululemon Leggings | A cult favorite. You can never go wrong here. A solid pair of leggings are a must, and if you're an avid gym goer - you know you can't ever have too many quality leggings. Wear, wash, repeat! 

Self Cleaning Water Bottle | I love a reusable water bottle, but I hate how difficult they are to clean. They get dirty quickly, and with repetitive daily use germs can manifest. This is a bit of a splurge, but such a cool and unique gift! The bottle self-sanitizes the water and bottle via a built-in light. Definitely an idea for the one who has everything!

Smart Scale | Use code CHEEKYBEEN20 for 20% off of this one. I have this and absolutely love all the features it provides! I used to pay Orange Theory to run a full body scan periodically for me so I could keep track of measurements like body fat percentages, body mass index, water weight etc. This scale does all of that from home! If you have any Orange Theory lovers to shop for, I bet they'd like this!

Ankle Weights | These can also be worn around the wrist, and are fully adjustable for a little extra oomph to your daily walk or workout routine. Another item we used frequently in personal training sessions that double as great gear for at home. Lifting and toning, here you come!

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Thursday, November 12, 2020

Thanksgiving Outfit Ideas









I love the holidays! Everything from the food, to the togetherness, and all the cozy decorations just give me all the feels. It is arguably my favorite time of year. This year obviously looks a lot different for many of us, but I'm still excited to bring you the holiday content you know and love - starting with this outfit. I actually shot this last year, and before I could post it, the entire outfit was sold out from head to toe. That said, almost all the pieces are back for round 2 this year and with most of us being home for the holidays, it's the perfect casual outfit for all your Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner festivities! If you haven't shot your holiday card photos yet, this look is also ideal for that. 

Being that I'll be almost 40 weeks pregnant at the holidays this year, I'm thinking it'll be a sequin leggings and oversized sweater kind of year for me -- but let me know if you'd be interested in seeing some bump friendly holiday outfit finds!

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Monday, November 9, 2020

The Best Gifts for Men

 In a recent poll on Instagram Stories, I asked you all what gift guides you would be most interested in seeing this year, and the answer was almost unanimously the same across the board: gifts for men. Requests ranged from gift guides for the husband, to gift guides for dad, to guides for the man who has everything. So, I went to work and did a little digging with the men in my life to figure out what they valued most. The answer from most of them was fairly similar no matter what category they fell in (dad, husband, boyfriend, friend) - men want items that are useful in their day to day life, and items they may not necessarily buy for themselves. 

What is the best gift for a man?

Look for items that are thoughtful and useful. Something he may not buy for himself, but that are both practical and useful in every day life. A perfect of example of this is the Swanky Badger personalized wallet. I've gifted this to both my dad, and my husband, and both of them listed this as a gift they valued most when I asked. Not only do they both use the wallet daily, it symbolizes my relationship with them via the personalized message on the inside which makes it a unique option.

What is the best gift for the guy who has everything?

Experiences. Answers ranged from ski trips, to trips to Hawaii, to season tickets to their favorite sports teams. These are also things a man is less likely to spend money on himself. I've done this as an anniversary gift for Shane in the past, and the memories are the gift that keeps on giving.

What are good budget friendly gifts for a man?

The best smaller gifts for a man again, are items they use daily but may not buy themselves regularly. Think cologne, work socks, a nice tie for work, nicer boxers or briefs, or even a good chess board like this best selling one on Amazon. Believe it or not, both Shane and his best friend love to play Chess at the airbnb's we've rented in the past over a glass of whiskey after dinner. 

In need of something in a hurry? Check out my Amazon finds here.

Top 5 Gifts For Dad

Starting this list with the top gift options for your dad. Here you'll find practical gifts that dad's appreciate and use year round with creative options to show that you care. Afterall, he's the guy whose been there for you through it all.

Swanky Badger Wallet

This customizable wallet is sure to make him proud. Wether he is one to brag or not, the personalized message inside is an unexpected but welcomed surprise that makes this a memorable and useful win.


This personalized vegan leather phone wallet is the perfect choice! Add the initials of your choice, and a message on the inside and make it a memorable gift for the minimalist who doesn't like to carry a phone and wallet in their pocket. 


Us ladies love our Lululemon, but the men do too! My dad's favorite "weekend" pants are the Lululemon joggers, and with most of us working from home they're getting great use. Lululemons ABC joggers are in their men's best selling category, making it a great option for men of all ages. Who doesn't love a good pair of sweats?! Bonus points for style.


Give dad a better way to stay connected! Let him connect with video calling and messaging, read step by step recipes from a smart display screen in the kitchen, control smart home devices like the lights and security system, temperature etc. This is a great option for the "techy," the dad with grandbabies, or those who love to read the headlines during breakfast or dinner. 


I've never met a dad who doesn't love Amazon, have you? Everyone loves Prime and the perks that come along with it, so there's no better gift than a 1 year subscription ($119). It's the gift that keeps on giving!

Top 5 Gifts for the Husband


When I asked Shane what his favorite gifts ever have been, these were in his top 3. We both have a pair, and in my opinion they're much more practical and comfortable than earbuds. These make a great gift for the traveler, the gym fanatic, or the work from home zoom call husband and they're still ranked amongst men as one of the most wanted gifts to unwrap under the tree.

Swanky Badger Wallet

I know I mentioned this above for dad's, but it also doubles as a top pick for husbands. This customizable wallet is sure to make him proud. Wether he is one to brag or not, the personalized message inside is an unexpected but welcomed surprise that makes this a memorable and useful win. I would recommend keeping the sentiment short and sweet on the inside as men don't typically gravitate towards overly sentimental gifts. I wrote "Go Panthers - love wifey" on the inside of Shanes. He's a big Panthers fan, so anything Panthers related is a shoe in with him!


A watch is always sure to please. Wether it's the new Apple Watch Series 6 for the "tech" or fitness enthused hubby, or a higher end Movado watch for the luxe lover - all of the men in my life enjoy and wear a watch daily. This was in Shane's top 3 gifts, and he does wear it daily. And while you're probably thinking smart watches have been around for a while, it still comes up as one of the most sought after gifts for men. 


Experiences, subscriptions, and memberships were hot answers amongst the men I asked! Furthermore, subscriptions like these seem more relevant than ever with limited travel and more people at home to enjoy life's finest crafts. If your man isn't a drinker, try a clothing subscription service like Stitch Fix. I know it sounds out of the ordinary, but surprisingly - men want these. 


A great option for a wide variety of men. Wether they're a sports junky, love to listen to and play music, the tech guru, or a movie buff - most men appreciate a good sound system. This is the latest generation of the best selling Sonos One smart speaker. Built in voice control and a handsome/sleek design make this a good splurge!


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Tuesday, November 3, 2020

What We Have For The Baby So Far





Being a first time mom, I know first hand how overwhelming all things baby can be. It's comforting to chat with others who are in the same boat about products, what items you like and don't like, and have a little bit of a guide as to what items are popular. I personally had no idea where to start in the beginning. I feel fortunate to have the platform I do as many of you helped me with recommendations along the way. I took your most popular recommendations from stories and compared them to the "most popular" or "best selling" items on several baby retailer websites and based what we purchased off of that. Hopefully this takes some of the leg work out of researching for you! I am also attaching our baby registry link for you here and here, in case you're lost as to what to add to it. I found that BuyBuy Baby had the best overall incentives in terms of completion discounts and coupons along the way. They recently ran a special where for every $200 you spent, they added $50 to your "My Funds" to use on a later purchase. I bought the bulk of what we still really wanted off our registry during this two day event and racked up a whole new gift card to use on remaining items as we get closer. I definitely recommend signing up for their emails to keep track of those promotions - it's worth it!

Gear & Travel



Feeding


Bath & Potty



Health & Safety



Nursery 


To Wear 

 

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