ICYMI | DIY Lawn Dominoes

It's officially summer!!  And what better way than to celebrate in the great outdoors with friends, family & fun?!  After returning home from our 3,000 mile road trip, we're looking forward to grilled dinners, playing with the twins and a healthy dose of competitive game nights!  In case you missed it, last summer we shared this DIY and were thrilled to see it featured in this months All You Magazine
 Inspired by our summer game-nights we decided to make an oversized version of a classic!
An easy DIY Lawn Game of Dominoes!  Add a splash of color that screams summertime and what you've got is a weekend favorite!

This DIY is so easy and simple ~ I promise it'll be a sure-fire hit at your next backyard BBQ!

Materials Needed for a Set of 28 Dominoes:

1 Quart each of Glidden® Paint in the following colors:

Paint Brush

Paint Containers for Mixing Colors

Non-treated Pine Wood
Two 2x6x10
One 2x6x8

Miter Saw or Saw to cut wood



Cardboard for Domino Template

Cutting Tool to Create Domino Template

To Make:

Start by cutting the wood into 28 individual pieces that are 11 inches long:

Using sandpaper, smooth any rough surfaces and edges.

Because our oversized dominoes are made for outdoor use, we chose to use Glidden Paint's Premium Collection Exterior Paint, in flat.  One thing we love about Glidden Paint is that you don't have to go through a bazillion color swatches to find the one you like.  Instead, they've done all the narrowing down for you, creating a simplified palette that makes color selection a breeze!  Which, let's be honest, we'd all prefer spending time enjoying a finished project, rather than wasting endless time deciding on paint colors.
After only a couple minutes we decided on a tropical inspired, turquoise palette of Glidden Paint Peacock Blue, Glidden Paint Hawaiian Teal & Glidden Paint Muslin White.  To achieve our ombre color scheme, we painted 5 dominoes Glidden Paint Peacock Blue, 5 dominoes Glidden Paint Hawaiian Teal, and 3 dominoes in each variation below:
In planning for this DIY we assumed we'd need to paint our dominoes a minimum of two coats, possibly even three since we opted not to waste time and money priming them (this was our first time using Glidden Paint's Premium Collection Exterior Paint).  So of course I was jumping for joy when I saw how thick and amazing the coverage was on just the first coat.
And I was even more shocked to see how that the first coat dried with full coverage.  Brian couldn't believe I had only given them one coat of paint ~ and given my current case of pregnancy-brain, he kept asking are you sure this isn't two coats?!  Needless to say we were more than pleased with the results and decided not to give an unnecessary 2nd coat of paint.
While I worked on painting, Brian created our Domino Template.  Cut a piece of cardboard to size, 5.5" x 11".  Then trace and cut out 1 1/8" circles and a line in the middle (finished it will look like the green template below).  Remember: this is for a set of 28 dominoes, 6 will be the largest number.  Once your template is made, use a pencil to trace onto each domino.

Then use a small paintbrush and Glidden Paint Muslin White:
Making your individual dominoes look like this:
Once your set is done, enjoy a friendly (or competitive) game of lawn dominoes!!
To store, use a large basket or laundry bag.
Wishing you a summer filled with FUN!!!

What I Wore | Martha's Vineyard

On our recent roadtrip, we spent time in Martha's Vineyard.  The sun was warm, but the breeze was cool.  Mornings tended to be foggy and the afternoons windy.  Layering pieces made the daily temperature transitions easy.  Colorful totes acted as a diaper bag, purse and camera bag in one.  And what better place for preppy, casual attire!  Some of my pieces I bought on sale and are no longer available.  For those items I linked to similar pieces below.

I LOVE these shorts, the subtle stretch is great for my post pregnancy body, I bought multiple colors for the summer!  Hands down the best fitting baseball cap around, plus they come in a multitude of cute designs! 

All Spring I wore this Jacket.  I've found the large pockets to be a huge asset to running errands with the twins, easily storing my small wallet and a plethera of pacifiers!  These sneakers (whites currently sold out) are surprisingly comfy and oh so affordable.  They were my go-to shoe the whole trip.

Weekender | Dress | Madras Tote
This sailboat and beach umbrella dress is my favorite for summer!  The nautical weekender is the perfect size for a travel bag.  And this madras tote will be accompany me through farmer's markets, aquarium visits, picnics in the park and days by the pool all.summer.long!
(Remember: Tomorrow's the last day to save 10% off at Sea Bags | Promo Code: IRONSAIL)


You asked, I listened.
In a recent reader survey, consistent feedback I received was for me to share products I love and sources for my outfits.  So, rest assured this blog isn't turning into a wannabe fashion show, simply sharing the outfits you'll continually see me in all summer!

Want to share feedback?  If you haven't already, I invite you to complete our reader survey here!

Reader Survey Results

First of all, I can not thank you enough for taking the time out of your very busy schedules to fill out our reader survey!  I was shocked at how many of you filled it out!  Your feedback proved to be very
valuable, and while some of your answers were expected, some were a surprise (a very insightful, good, "why didn't I think of that", kind of surprise).  So enough of me blabbing, here's the results of that fun little questionnaire (warning, this post is long winded): 

The majority of you prefer blogs that focus on many topics.
Most of you check in on your favorite blogs, first thing in the morning or right before bed.
Your favorite blogs to follow?
45% said DIY and 45% said Home & Family


I would like to see the following added to IRON & TWINE:

A whopping 75% of you asked for Home Styling to be added.
Heard, triple heard, and I've got some projects in the works hoping to accomplish this for you!

53% of you asked we share Products We Love & Use
and I am sooooooo excited for this!  I've worked really hard to start a new series, highlighting those products...no infomercial material...just products I truly love and stand by and to kick it off, I have a really fun post for you next Thursday!  (stay posted!)

48% commented wanting more Life with Twins / Baby & Kid Posts
I have to be honest, this one threw me for a loop.  Comments were split 50/50 with this.  Half of you told me you wanted more kid/baby posts and the other half made it very clear that you didn't want any baby/ kid posts.  So, frankly, I'm not sure where I'll go with this.  Maybe post these on a certain day? or keep it limited?  Honestly, I'm still brainstorming this one. 

I wish IRON & TWINE would focus more on:

60% of you said DIY & Tutorials
This surprised me a bit.  Honestly, I'm honored so many of you want to follow that part of the blog and I'm super pumped for the challenge of creating this content.  So, for this, I ask for a little added patience.  In order to give good quality, great content and continued inspiration, I'm taking the next month to work on some ideas and will start posting these more regularly this summer.

My least favorite post on IRON & TWINE is:

More than a third of you stated Antique & Vintage.
Antique & Vintage?!
Putting it all on the table...
I shed a tear over this one.
But, with all things...good & bad,
they must come to an end (sniff, sniff).
And I get it.
Nothing's worse than someone sharing some obscure object that they found at some hole in the wall for 50 cents.  An object that you, yourself can not easily find or can not purchase for the ridiculous deal that this blogger is bragging about.
I get it.
I'll get over it.
Just please pass the tissues in the meantime.

I wish IRON & TWINE would post ____ times a week

41% of you asked for 3 posts a week.
And I think this is totally fair.
I'm still trying to decide if we keep a schedule (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), or what specifically, but I'm excited to recommit to you on a regular basis!

If I had one question for Michelle it would be:

Your responses to this were overwhelming!  And it felt like a lot of fun questions from a close friend.  So, to make this space more open and fun, I've decided to start a mini-series of Ask Michelle.  I'll answer your questions there and give more insight to who I am, who I want to be and more behind the scenes to my daily life.  Sound like a plan?

Any additional constructive criticism for IRON & TWINE:

The number one request?
More consistent posting.
And I couldn't agree more!
But, first, I have to say, it truly makes me happy to hear you want to hear more from me.  A lot of times there's a lot of silence from the other end of my computer...and besides the cheering on from my mother (thanks Mom!)...I do wonder if anyone really cares.  So, thanks for your kind words and encouragement!
You know how they say the first step to recovery is admitting it.
I know my greatest downfall with this blog has been consistency!
A lot of professionals in the field have given me that same advice.
And reading your comments on this only confirmed that realization.
So, for this I thank you!

I also want to say thanks for all the feedback I received.  So many of you were honest, yet kind with your insights and so much of it has me really thinking about ways to make this blog better.  I'm still going over all the comments and promise to implement that feedback.

Now, for what you all are probably wondering...
Did anyone really give me the blunt, honest, rude, truth?
was kind.  Nice actually.

The only criticism I received that is (dare I say, not gonna change) were comments about the "cuteness" and "flowery language" that I use on the blog.  A few of you asked I be more real, get to the point and stop adding "fluff" to my writing.
And I'm here to tell you...
suprise, surprise...
I'm not a writer.
If I had it my way I'd stop writing words and make this a blog of pictures.
But, this is a blog and a lot of times I have to write to express a process, my thoughts or feelings.
And that voice you hear, is 100% my own.
Cute...Fluffy...whatever you want to call it.
That's me.
I tend to look on the bright side of life, and if I'm completely honest, it's not the first time someones told me I'm "too happy".  So, if you're willing to put up with the "cute", "flowery language", I'd love for us to be friends.

So, where have I been the past two weeks?  Brian is taking the rest of his paternity leave and we've been enjoying the simple things of new family life.  We took an amazing 17 day vacation with the twins ~ I have some blog posts associated with that and you can follow along our adventures on Instagram.  And in the meantime, I'm ironing out the plan for the new and improved Iron & Twine,

So, again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being patient with me and believing in this community that is Iron & Twine!


OK, friends...we need to have a chat.
Nothing too serious, just a bit of the state of the blog address!
You see, IRON & TWINE's a little over two years now (oh yeah, Happy Birthday to us!).  And I feel like recently we've lost touch with who we are and who are readers are.  I had that little thing called
pregnancy last year and am now so excited to have entered the new mom club with twins P & K!  But, with this new, exciting, wonderful new phase of my life, things got a bit busy and crazy and way off balance ~ I know you guys can relate to what I'm saying!  So, it got me thinking...
 I love this blog and this little amazing community!  But in order to move forward I need to get serious.  And by serious I mean FUN and committed!  I want to recommit to the reasons why I started this space and recommit to YOU!  I've got some BIG plans in the works, but before I get too involved in some of those projects I need your feedback.  Nowadays, you're BOMBARDED with TONS of information on the web and I'm not looking to waste any of your time or mine for that matter.  So, after consulting with two of my favorite bloggers for some advice, I'm asking PRETTY please with a cherry on top, for you to take a few minutes out of your busy day and complete a brief survey below!
And before you get all shy, and afraid I'll be like "whoa!!!  did she/he really just say that?!
The survey is 100% anonymous!  
So, go ahead and get all real with me.  But not so real that you call out my gray hair or the fact that the bags under my eyes are significantly bigger than last year.  But seriously, honest...real...constructive criticism of the blog is highly encouraged!
So....will you do it?!
 You're the BEST!  I knew there was a reason you've stuck around!

Baby Favorites | Serena & Lily

I love it when brands partner together to create a one of a kind item that's both functional and beautiful!  And these  Serena & Lily Baby Sleepers by Hanna Andersson are no exception!  They're perfect for P & K's playdates with friends or make for good weekend wear.  The zipper allows for easy and quick changing and above all else the quality is superb...they hold up to a ton of washes without fading or loosing their soft texture!  Need I say more?!
Sadly, this collaboration is being phased out, but the good news is these are on a mega sale
right now (ending April 1st midnight).  So, whether you need these for your own child or looking for practical & pretty baby gifts, I strongly urge you head that way and scoop some of these sleepers up!  
Click on the photos below to go directly to the item!
Serena & Lily also partnered with another favorite of mine, Aden & Anais, creating these cute baby necessities, also part of the private sale!
 I can't get enough of these swaddle blankets, they also make the perfect stroller blanket.
With P & K recently starting on solid foods, we need all the bibs we can get.
And these sleep sacks are the perfect weight for summer!
 Now, fingers crossed this collaboration is here to stay!

Vintage Copper Tea Kettle

2nd to cooler weather and fire pit evenings, my favorite thing about fall is vintage shopping.  Getting out to local antique festivals, thrift stores and quaint rows of shops to find that special treasure makes me oh so happy.  So, when I came across this Vintage Copper Tea Kettle for $12, I knew it had to come home with me.  Made in England of copper, brass & wood, all it needed was a good cleaning to make this guy tea time ready!

What vintage fall finds are you currently on the lookout for?

Recipe | Blackberry Basil Sauce

This summer pregnancy is bringing on all kinds of cravings and this Blackberry Basil Sauce hits the spot in the tart sweet department!  By using ingredients found in my pantry & garden I was able to whip up my new summer favorite.  Chilled and poured over waffles...

or a bowl of vanilla ice cream...
 I can't get enough!
To Make:
1 Pint Blackberries
1/3 cup of water
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 - 3 tbsp Sugar (to taste)
3 - 5 leaves fresh Basil
In a saucepan over medium high heat bring all ingredients to a light boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and puree all in blender or food processor.  Chill, pour, enjoy!

With most of my recipes I use ingredients I have on hand ~ I highly suggest adding a squeeze of lemon to this sauce prior to chilling (I was out when I originally made this).  Also, if you don't have basil, mint would be a great substitute!

Homemade Infused Olive Oil | Rosemary & Garlic

I love summer and all the fresh garden bounty that it brings.  To bottle up the freshness of summer and to make evening dinners a breeze, I'm a huge fan of herb infused olive oil!  To make your own it's E. A. S. Y. and the possibilities are endless!

 When I say the possibilities are endless I mean it -
look at your herb garden & see what you've got!  
I decided to start with a Rosemary & Garlic Infused Olive Oil.
To make you'll need an airtight container, extra virgin olive oil,
3-5 cloves of garlic and 4-6 sprigs of fresh rosemary.
Depending on how 'garlic-y' you want, add more or less garlic.
Using the backside of a wooden spoon smash your garlic cloves.
Over medium-high heat warm your olive oil, be careful that it doesn't boil.
Once olive oil is heated add smashed garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Remove from heat and add 2-3 sprigs of Rosemary.  
Let cool for 5-8 minutes, then discard garlic & rosemary.
In your container add a couple fresh sprigs of rosemary, 
then pour in your warmed olive oil.
Be sure to store in the fridge to prevent botulism and keep for no longer than one week.
How fun & easy is that?!!
Comment below with your favorite flavors!

Non-alcoholic Watermelon Sangria

With summer at full speed I'm craving refreshing iced drinks.  Whether you're pregnant like myself or prefer something non-alcoholic, this Watermelon Sangria is sure to hit the spot!

 What You'll Need

2 Limes
Club Soda (1 quart)
7 up (8 fl oz)

To Make

Start by muddling mint and juice of half of a lime:
Add a handful of blackberries and muddle: 
Add chopped watermelon, lime slices and blackberries to pitcher:
 Pour in Club Soda followed by Sparkling Watermelon IZZE:
 Now for my secret addition ~ add 7up ~ trust me on this!
Stir together, pour over ice and ENJOY!

Watermelon Sangria

 Watermelon is a summertime staple ~ add blackberries and wine and what you get is one refreshing drink! Whether an afternoon on the porch or at your next BBQ, this Watermelon Sangria is sure to be a crowd pleaser!  Looking for a non-alcoholic version?  Click here for an equally yummy version!

 What You'll Need

2 Limes
1 Bottle Dry White Wine

To Make

Start by muddling mint and juice of half of a lime:
Add a handful of blackberries and muddle:
Add chopped watermelon, lime slices and blackberries to pitcher:
 Pour in Dry White Wine 
followed by Sparkling Watermelon IZZE:
Stir together, let chill.  Then pour over ice and ENJOY!

Summer Sale | Nursery & Baby Finds

I hope you're having a wonderful holiday weekend!  In the world or retail, July is a huge month for summer sales and this weekend retailers seem to be pulling out all the stops!  Above are some nursery and baby finds that I've come across while surfing the web ~ but hurry because some of these items are sure to sell out fast!  Also check out  these other promos going on:

Restoration Hardware ~ 20% off Everything
Serena & Lily ~ $50 off $300, $100 off $500 and $250 off $1000 (ends July 8th)
Pottery BarnFree Shipping on almost everything (today only, July 6th)
Land of Nod ~ just added a ton to their summer sale, up to 65% off
Hanna Andersson ~ extra 30% off sale (ends today, July 6th)

What summer sale have you scored recently?

White Baby Cribs
When it comes to baby, a crib is an absolute must!  I've rounded up my favorite white crib styles and am sharing what makes each a great choice for any nursery!  And soon I'll share what crib we finalized on (hint: it's one of the designs above!)

Whether your going for sweet or whimsical a vintage crib will bring character to any space. 

1.  DaVinci's Jenny Lind Crib ($199)  This 3-in-1 convertible crib has been a classic for quite some time.  It's rounded spindles give a very sweet look while its delicate frame leans towards whimsy.  In person, the color is a slightly bluish white and personally I'd recommend removing the wheels as they cheapen the look.  Price point is great on this crib and would be perfect in a girl's nursery. 

2.  Ikea Hensvik Crib ($99)  This crib gets my best on a budget award!  Quaint and cute and not as bulky as other cribs on the market.  While it meets safety standards, I wouldn't call this an overly sturdy (bulky crib).  Also to note, there tends to be some debate about whether or not a standard crib mattress works for this crib (Ikea does sell their own) ~ so before purchasing do additional research. 

3.  Franklin & Ben Liberty Crib ($399)  This 3-in-1 convertible crib is made from American poplar hardwood and boasts a non-toxic staining and painting process.  In person the color is a true white and quality and craftsmanship is apparent!  It's the perfect mix of vintage and timeless and it's not-too girly design would work beautifully for a girl or boy's nursery.

Perfect for small home and urban living, these space saving cribs can be a huge asset!  While they do give BIG on space, they won't accommodate standard mattress sizes which will also minimize your options for off-the rack crib bedding.  But if space is what you need, simply plan to purchase the coordinating mattress along with coordinating or custom crib sheets and bedding.

4.  Stokke Sleepi Crib ($799)  This unique oval frame crib is actually 4 beds in one, easily converting as your child grows.  By purchasing additional mattresses and adapter kits, this crib can turn bed and accommodate a child up to 10!  If luxury and longevity is your style this crib is a great long term investment for your baby boy or girl.

5.  Babyletto Origami Mini Crib ($249)  This crib's collapsible design allows for easy transport and storage making it a perfect choice for families on the go. Its budget friendly price point is also perfect if your looking for a secondary crib, either at home or at grandma's.

6.  Bloom Alma Mini Crib ($399)  This beautifully designed folding bassinet/mini-crib is perfect for the contemporary chic nursery!  It's patented no-tools required design allows for an almost instant set up.  Quality is apparent and the color is great!  Perfect for a boy or girl's nursery.

These are some of my favorite

7.  Babyletto Hudson Crib ($379)  This 3-in-1 convertible crib is the perfect balance of mid-century modern meets simple.

8.  Dwell Studio Mid Century French Crib ($799)  This crib is the perfect mix of modern style and sophistication!

9.  Pottery Barn Kids Harper Crib ($999)  This solid wood crib is great for the boy or girl nursery.  And if white isn't your thing, it's offered in a fun array of colors ~ check out coral & aqua!

Would love to know in the comments below:
Which crib is your favorite?

aden + anais | swaddles

In preparing for our twins I've fallen in love with the oh-so-versatile, functional and adorable aden + anais swaddle blankets.  They're lightweight, breathable and their generous (and I mean BIG) size is perfect for swaddling, but they're also the perfect stroller blanket, nursing cover and burp cloth.  An all-in-one blanket?!  What parent-to-be doesn't love that?!  Compared to other muslin swaddles I found, these were hands down the softest and by far the best quality.  With any newborn, messes are sure to be had and the last thing I want are a bunch of baby products that don't stand up to multiple washings.  In shopping for two newborns and having a small space, my philosophy is I'd much rather invest a little more money in good, quality products that can keep up with life with baby.  By investing up front, I won't have to continually spend money replacing items that don't last.  So, you can be sure I'll be adding these swaddles to my must have list. Above are some of my favorite designs, I love the whimsical feel they'll bring to you and to your baby.

What are your favorites?
Would love to hear from you in the comments below!

July 4th | Al Fresco Gathering

With summer in full swing, what better way to celebrate than with a festive 4th of July party!  For this July 4th table setting, Blue and white checkered fabric was used for a tablecloth, vintage napkins served as place mats and sparklers marked each place setting.  Matchsticks were covered with an american flag printout and centerpieces included fresh blueberries and recently picked hydrangeas.  An old potato sack was pinned to a near by Magnolia tree and a wooden star was lit with a string of white lights.  No matter how you celebrate this July 4th, we're wishing you and yours a very safe and happy holiday!

4moms Breeze vs joovy Room

So glad you're joining us for another baby HAPPY hour!  If you missed yesterday's post click here.  When it comes to baby gear, especially for first time moms like myself , the options can be overwhelming!  Since we're expecting twins and planning to stay in our small house, we've made the conscious decision to not make any unnecessary purchases that we ultimately don't need or have room for.  Because of this we had originally planned not to buy anything for quite sometime, that was until I ran into a sample sale at a local Buy Buy Baby.   And of all the things to buy for baby, I find it hilarious that a playard ended up being our first purchase.  When the Joovy Room, along with the 4moms Breeze, both happened to be 45% off retail due to being floor samples, it had me quickly weighing the options between the two.

WHY I LOVE IT:  Hands down this is the easiest playard to set up and take down.  It opens and closes with one step...ONE step people!!  
No wonder they named it the Breeze!  It also has wheels making this function particularly helpful for small spaces like ours where a pack n play can quickly and easily be closed up and stored in a corner and rolled out of sight.  It's design is simple and non-fussy and comes equipped with a bassinet for infants, a leak proof changing pad and a convenient travel bag.

THINGS TO CONSIDER:  The minimalist features will be a pro for some and a con for others.  If you're expecting twins like us, the infant bassinet's maximum weight limit will practically make the bassinet obsolete soon after birth.  And while this thing is quality built and super sturdy it does make the Breeze heavy!  It's not a playard I would want to lug up and down stairs or on frequent trips visiting friends and family.  However, if you're like us and don't have a large home to carry it around, or not needing it for frequent travel, the easy set up and minimalist design is perfect! 

WHY I LOVE IT:  This is perfect for those homes wanting a more stationary playard and makes a lot of sense for larger houses where the playroom may not be in close proximity to the nursery.  It's removable changing table makes changing baby easy and its additional storage allows for things like diapers and toys to be organized within the unit itself.  The built in accessories are another added bonus, including a night light and speakers for you to play personal music.

THINGS TO CONSIDER:  The all in one feature will be a pro for some and a con for others.  Take down and set up of this unit is time consuming and quite complicated.  Again, this is not a unit I would want to frequently take down and set up, especially if you have its storage area packed full.  But again, as a more stationary unit, either in a playroom or at Grandma's house, this option in one to consider!


Ultimately, the one-step set up and take down of this unit along with it's minimalists features sold us on it!  While I LOVED the idea of a changing table on the Joovy Room, it really didn't make since with us having twins.  Purchasing a unit that came with a changing table and additional storage would make those features completely obsolete for our needs.  At the end of the day, we just need a playard for our newborn twins to nap in and later play in.  We'll keep it in our TV/ Playroom /Guest Room, but I LOVE that it can easily be wheeled into our kitchen or living room when needed.

Nautical Table Setting | 4th of July

I absolutely love July 4th!  And if you can't celebrate at the beach, then bring the beach to you!  For this nautical table setting, we paired lanterns, a natural table runner, galvanized buckets, nautical knots and these sea inspired plates, perfect for this weekend or any summer gathering.

How will you show your
RED, WHITE & BLUE this weekend?

You're Invited | Baby Happy Hour

It's time to beat the summer heat, so grab your favorite drink (I highly recommend a frozen fruit smoothie for the mom's to be) and join me daily for 
In the afternoons I'll share a blog post focused on all things baby, from my favorite pregnancy must haves and baby products to DIYs and nursery decor.  Think of the afternoon as a baby palooza here at Iron & Twine.  For those of you not interested in the world of baby ~ no worries!  I'll continue to post normal Iron & Twine content in the mornings!

First up for Baby Happy Hour:  My Favorite Pregnancy Must Haves 
 Click HERE for the post!

Wishing you an oh-so-happy kind of day!

Pregnancy Must-Haves


As I get further into my own pregnancy, I'm finding back pain to be a real pain (pun intended ~ ha).  But seriously speaking, it's become a real daily inconvenience.  If you're in the market for one, I highly recommend going to a Maternity Store or Boutique to try on different styles as well as get fitted for size.

1.  After trying on multiple options, the Ultimate Single Maternity Belt ($40) was the best choice for me.  It seemed to give me the best support compared to the other styles I tried.  Pros: I love that the additional straps allow you to customize the support level and the price point was lower than other options I found.  Cons:  The material itself is quite rough and scratchy and not something you'd want to wear on your bare skin, but rather over clothing.  

2.  Another option I really liked was the Upsie Belly, Belly Support by Belly Bandit ($69.95).  Pros: I loved the uber soft bamboo viscose material that this model was made of, plus it comes with its own hot/cold insert.  Cons:  Maybe it's because I'm carrying twins, but this model just didn't give me the ultimate, heavy-duty support I craved.  And the price point is one of the hightest.  If you're only experiencing moderate back pain, I'd highly consider this as an option.

One of the most important things during pregnancy is to stay hydrated.  I've found that having a water bottle near by encourages continuous drinking, which of course keeps you and baby healthy, minimizes round ligament pain and helps combat dry, itchy skin by hydrating you from the inside out.

3. The Eddy by Camelbak ($14) has become my go-to reusable water bottle.  I love that it comes in a wide range of fun colors and is the perfect size for drinking at home or hydrating on the go.  I also love that it comes with a straw ~ perfect for my fruit smoothies.

Soothing Shower Gel
With the heightened sense of smell during pregnancy, a soothing shower gel is a must.  Find a fragrance that relaxes and soothes you and your ever changing body.  I promise whether before bed, or before the start of your day, this is a daily investment you'll appreciate.

4.  Pure Grace by Philosophy ($24 for 16oz), while a splurge, is one of my favorites!  It's aroma leaves you with a subtle clean scent that's not too overpowering for your heightened sense of smell. 

5.  Baby Grace by Philosophy was given to me as a gift and I absolutely LOVE it!  It's exactly what my tired body needs and the aroma is completely soothing.  I'm not sure if this has been discontinued, as I couldn't find it too many places online.  However, I have seen this on store shelves.  If you happen to find it ~ buy it!

There's a lot of conflicting info out there about what lotion and oils are best for your baby bump and what best minimizes stretch marks.  After talking to multiple doctors and plenty of moms, I continually hear that there isn't a secret perfect ointment that will prevent stretch marks ~ DARN!  But rather the important thing is to keep your belly and body moisturized with drinking plenty of water and regularly applying lotion.  The lotion, while it doesn't have magic powers, will help with the dry, itchy skin that comes with a growing belly.  But should you find that perfect potion, let me know!

6.  Mama Bee Belly Butter by Burt's Bees ($13) has become my before bed time bump ritual.  I like its thick consistency of cocoa, shea and jojoba butters.  But most of all, I love that it's fragrance free!  And to be completely honest, the name alone had me sold.

7.  Having combated eczema for years, Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($10.99 for 18fl.oz.) is my hands down favorite and best bang for your buck!  Trust me, I've tried it all! 

Even though I'm pregnant during the summer months, I still find a heating pad does wonders for my achy back!  Whether after a walk, or an afternoon of running errands or doing housework, sitting down to a glass of ice water with a heating bad on my lower back instantly relieves pain and stress.

8.  The Origin's Hug ($45) was a recent splurge and I'm obsessed with it!  I purchased the Ginger one, which isn't showing online, however my Macy's store had them in stock, but any of their fragrances are divine!  Pros: I love it's soft quilted cover and the wide coverage it gives on my back.  It easily heats in the microwave and the fragrance is long lasting (my mom has one and it still smells amazing after a year!)  Cons:  Price point, but it really is worth the cost!

10.  The Original Bed Buddy ($9.99) has been my favorite for years.  Pros: easily heats in the microwave and price.  Cons:  The size of this is perfect for the over the shoulders or on your tummy (which is NOT recommended during pregnancy).  In wanting a heat pad for my back during pregnancy it does the trick, but I wish it gave a slightly wider coverage.  For moderate or pin pointed back aches, this one is great ~ if you need fuller coverage go with the option above.

Comfortable Walking Shoes
I can't stress enough how therapeutic walking has been during my pregnancy.  I honestly feel better on days when I get outside and go for a walk.  I find it helps my circulation and steadily builds back muscles that accommodate my growing bump.  There's plenty of other benefits and given your doctor gives you the go-ahead, I highly recommend making walking a priority during pregnancy! Whether exercising or walking the aisles of the grocery store, a comfortable pair of tennis shoes is a must.  If you don't have a good pair already, invest in some that will work for you during and after pregnancy.

9.  Due to knee pain pre-pregnancy, I became a recent Mizuno convert and have liked the Mizuno Women's Hitogami Running Shoe ($99).  Paired with foot insoles, they've worked great during my pregnancy as well.    

These are my personal Pregnancy Must Haves and  
I'd love for you to share your Past or Present Pregnancy Favorites in the comments below!

DIY Plantation Shutter Chalkboard

It's officially Summer ~ and I love.it.all!  Backyard BBQs, friend & family gatherings, lawn games and the 4th of July are just a few of my favorite summer staples!  And when it comes to entertaining in the summer, easy, fuss-free meals and decor are key to ensure you too enjoy all the fun.  One of my go-tos for any event is a chalkboard and this DIY is perfect for the outdoors!  After sharing this over at The Handmade Home, I wanted to share it with you all here!
I love re-purposing old architectural finds and all too often I'll come across lonely plantation shutters.
What makes these perfect for a chalkboard is that by flipping down the wood slats, you essentially get two chalkboards in one and typically plantation shutters have a border that's perfect to leave as is for your chalkboard boarder.  Start by taping off the edges:
Then use chalkboard spray paint and give each side of the wood slats three thin coats, allowing drying time in between each coat.  
Once you've allowed it to dry completely remove your painter's tape:
Now you have an insta-chalkboard that's perfect for those outdoor gatherings and events!
Helpful Tip:  Chalk works great, but to give more contrast try chalkboard paint pens!
That's what was used in the photos above.
Wishing you a very festive summer!!