August 20, 2014

Say Goodbye to Stretch Marks!

As I am well into my third trimester, I have definitely had my go at all kinds of stretch mark lotions and oils and butters and creams to prevent those buggers from making their way into my life.  And listen, I am not some naive consumer who thinks spending loads of my hard-earned cash on tummy rubs will prevent stretch marks.  Often times, they are hereditary.  And other times, they make their appearance because we take the whole “eating for two” far too literally and next thing you know, we have gained 20 lbs in our first trimester.  Ouch.

For me, I actually already have stretch marks from years ago when I decided to put on the Freshman 20 (yes, 20, not 15).  But they aren’t horrendous.  And, I wouldn’t trade that bagel or giants bowls (plural) of pasta I ate every single day or beers or pizza at 2am for anything.  I just wouldn’t.

Okay, back to the point here.  Because I do have a bit of stretch marks, when I got pregnant, I did want to do my best to prevent them from getting worse, prevent new ones and keep my skin hydrated (can someone say itch relief?!).  That first had to start with me not “eating for two” and going crazy with food.  And second, I had to try out a few different brands to see which worked for me.  Below is the list of all of them I tried (sources also noted).  Yes, I tried all six.  And I uncovered two things:

1.  My top two favorites are Basq and Mama Mio.  I love Basq.  LOVE it.  I love the smell, the texture and a little goes a long way!  I use their exfoliation in the shower, the oil after that and then their creams and butters.  And I am diligent about it. Mama Mio is also very good for the same reasons above.  I just happened to receive their travel set gift months ago so I use that on the road.  They are a close tie in my book.

2.  I plan on using these products post pregnancy.  They are filled with great vitamins and nutrients and do wonders on my skin.  So, they aren’t just for mama’s-to-be.  I recommend for any gal who wants a nourishing, daily body moisturizer.

I will end with this.  These things are very personal.  Smell alone could deter a first trimester mom-to-be from some of the products below.  So you do have to test and learn on your own.  But, if this list could be a start for you and could help a bit, I have done my job!  Happy moisturizing!  Oh, one more thing.  I still have about 9-10 weeks to go, but, so far, no new stretch marks.  Thank you, Basq and Mama Mio!


House and Host Pre Natal Stretch Mark Lotion and Oil-2

Mama Mio // Burt’s Bees // Basq NYC // Palmer’s // Mustela // Bio Oil // Mederma

August 14, 2014

Vintage French Nursery

For those of you who know me, you know that designing the nursery would for sure be a highlight for me when I got pregnant.  And you were right.  It has been so fun and a surprisingly refreshing creative outlet.  My credit cards are loving it and, ahem, Rick isn’t.  But, he’s been a gem and is allowing me to have some fun…this is the key to be happily married to me and he has mastered it.  Kidding.  Ha ha.  No I’m not.  I digress.

I went back and forth between a modern aesthetic (which is SO big right now with nurseries), something more classic or something more vintage.  So many choices, so much cute stuff.  It’s hard.  For me, the deciding factor on the nursery theme was the furniture.  That was the hub of my vision.  After hours and hours of research and ideation, I landed with furniture from Restoration Hardware Baby & Child and I think their descriptions sum up where I netted out pretty well.

Bellina Dresser – We took the best features of our favorite French designs from the late 18th century and combined them to create this beautifully balanced composition. Raised molding and rosette carvings add a genteel air.

Grayson Crib – An antique inspired our substantial yet graceful iron crib. Expertly crafted, its nostalgic design features arched end panels, classic round spindles and decorative castings at each joint.

I love their designs so once I decided to invest in these pieces, the story began to unfold…here is a sneak peek of Baby Ueno’s Vintage French Nursery!  All sources are noted below.  Oooh la la!

And you can see other inspiration and individual pins for the moodboard over on my Nursery Pinterest Page!

baby ueno nursery

1.  Palais Chandelier from RH Baby & Child // 2.  Bellina Wide Dresser from RH Baby & Child // 3.  Grayson Iron Crib from RH Baby & Child // 4. Graham Glider from West Elm // 5.  Sawan Pouf from Anthropologie // 6. Nursery Bedding from RH Baby & Child // 7. Art and Prints from Rifle Paper Co and RH Baby & Child

August 12, 2014

We Bought a House!

Praise the sweet Lord!  It only took 4 months and 4 offers but we did it.  Well, we haven’t moved in yet and we haven’t closed, so technically the race isn’t over BUT, we are in the lead and the finish line is drawing near.  I am hopeful and optimistic on this one, you guys!  The short and sweet story goes like this…

Ann in Mexico City.  Rick in Miami.  Text message from Rick that reads “house was good, I put an offer on it.”  Desperate, at peace and trusting my husband big time, my response “um, what?!?!”  Fast forward a few weeks later, we agree on a price, the house passes inspections, owners are fantastic to work with and our realtor seals the deal.

Yes, Rick put an offer on this house before I had even seen it.  But the day after I returned from Mexico City and was able to see the house, I could understand why he did what he did.  Yes, okay, it’s full-blown Jurassic Park surrounding the house.  I bet if you looked close enough at those exterior shots a giant T rex would be somewhere in the midst of that jungle.  I have no words for this landscaping other than “what lives in there?” and “how much will this cost?” and “so this is what Floridian homes look like?” On a really positive note, I found out during the inspection there is an avocado tree and a mango tree LIVING IN THE YARD!  Yahoo!  Guacamole and mango margaritas for all of our guests!  That totally makes all the expenses worth it.

Okay but seriously.  I get why he did it.  Is it perfect?  Nope.  Is it missing a few of our my “must haves?”  Yes (namely a pool and a half bath).  Are we at peace with our decision?  Yes.  The house just has that good vibe you want in a house.  It’s move-in ready which was important to us, given my due date is November 6 which means ain’t nobody got time for renovations!  The location – Miami Shores – is ideal for us.  It’s perfect for entertaining.  There is a great family room for our growing family.  There are tennis and basketball courts across the street (since we do those things so often).

What I love most is how much the current owners loved and cared for this house.  They were in the home for 11-12 years and you can just feel the soul when you walk in.  It’s a home.  A special home cared for by special people. And, the wife is from Mexico City.  Coincidence?  I think not.

It’s just that sort of special house you feel comfortable and warm the minute you walk in.  It sort of embraces you and makes you want to sit down and stay a while.  That’s why Rick did we he did.  Or so I like to believe :)

Here’s to meals around the table, decorating a new space and bringing our baby home to this perfect-for-us abode!

August 10, 2014

Thoughts on Third Trimester

And then it happened.  I woke up a few days ago and realized I was officially in my third trimester.  And I had a major minor panic attack.  First of all, I didn’t even really know what constituted as my third trimester.  How many weeks did you need to be?  What did Wikipedia have to say?  Or the 8 million opinionated woman that share their voices on the 15 million pregnancy blogs, forums and websites. There is still confusion in the world about the whole 9 months vs. 10 months pregnancy.  People, it’s 10 months.  Ask any woman who is pregnant or has had a baby.  And that equals 40 weeks.  So, 40 divided by 3 (trimesters) equals 13.3.  So, one must be roughly 27 weeks pregnant to be considered in her third trimester.  On Tuesday, I will be 28 weeks pregnant.  Oh my dear Lord. 

And this past Friday I had an ultrasound.  The 3D kind (bonus to being high risk).  And she was smiling.  And she has Rick’s nose.  And the technician used words like “perfect” and “healthy.”  And the emotional fell over me like gallons of cold water on a hot, summer day in Miami.  The tears strolled down my face.  I gave thanks to God.  This girl is His.

Moments like this are moments I will never forget about being pregnant.  They are intimate and almost, in a way, romantic.  They are gifts from God.  They bring you emotions that you never knew existed in your inner most being.  I do not take these for granted.

And with that, let me get real with you for a second.  I am terrified.  As each day passes, as my belly – and other parts of my body to go unnamed – get bigger, as this child becomes more and more real, I become more and more scared.  I am going back to first trimester days.  Days when the devil and fear take over and it feels impossible to think of nothing but the worst of thoughts.  Sigh.  I thought I was through it.  Nope.  Not through it.  Double sigh.

But, it’s then I draw near to God and, to the best of my ability, give it to Him.  Let go, let God.  The constant battle worth fighting.  The one where, after each minute, each prayer, God wins and the devil doesn’t.  Amen?  Yes, amen.  That’s where I am at, week 28, third trimester.  And above all I am so thankful to be right where I am at, despite it being ridiculously hard.  And trying very hard to remember to practice this:


Print/Image via Lily and Val:



August 5, 2014

5 Things to do in Mexico City

A few weeks ago, I had a business trip in Mexico City.  So did my husband.  So what does any normal couple do?  Go beforehand for a leisure getaway, of course!  I had never traveled to Mexico City before and did no research and had no expectations.  And it blew me away.  So much so that both Rick and I agreed we could live there, that’s how much we loved it!  For those of you who have never been before, I highly recommend it.  It’s a perfect urban escape and a relatively short flight that lands you in what feels like Spain or just somewhere amazing miles and miles away.  For me, it was only a little over 3 hours by plane and when we were there, I literally felt like I was in Europe the whole time.  Just exchange cheese and bread for mole and tortillas. 

First, did you know that Mexico City has a population of 22 million and about 9 million in the city property?  Just to put it into perspective, NYC has a little over 8 million in all five boroughs.  Needless to say, the city is HUMUNGOUS.  But, I had 7 days there between work and personal and I feel like I was able to get a true taste of the culture and, um, tons of delicious food.

Second, the weather.  Praise God for Mexico City weather.  The city is about 7,000 feet above sea level which means this: average temperature in the 70′s all year round.  Who knew?!  Well, now you do and this gives you just another reason to travel to Mexico City!

And so, I bring to you my 5 things to do in Mexico City.  There is so much more to do there but I chose my highlights to help simplify your future travel plans.

1.  National Palace – Located in the city’s main square, El Zocalo, this is a must-see (if nothing else, the outside is stunning).  And let me confess.  I don’t love museums.  And was reluctant (but Rick loves museums and he planned the day so I was along for the ride).  We had a guided tour take us through the core of the palace which were the murals that Diego Rivera painted and were fascinating.  The stories behind the murals were worth every single second.  Even for this non-museum-lover.


2.  Azul Historico – one of the best meals I had in Mexico City.  Go for lunch, a long lunch.  Lunch in Mexico City starts around 1:30 and ends around 4.  We were here for about 2.5 hours and I loved every second of it.  The ambiance was my favorite part by far.  And the food was a close second.  Get the tortilla soup.  Oh my word.  And it was here that I tried grasshoppers (a local delicatessen).  They were actually really good, as noted by my smile in the picture below.

Mexico city azul historico

Mexico city azul historico 2

3. Bazar del Sabado – I love markets.  Like LOVE LOVE markets.  And this one did not disappoint.  Beautiful local art, food, crafts and entertainment.  Only open on Saturdays and a perfect start to the day.  Get a coffee and pastry, walk around, bargain and buy and after all that work, sit and have a 3 hour lunch.  I am not sure if there is a better way to spend a Saturday.

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mexico city bazar del sabado 3

4.  La Casa Azul ( otherwise known as the Frida Kahlo Museum) – the family home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera turned museum in 1958.  Now, this is my type of museum!  I love exploring homes, new and old, so this was definitely a highlight for me.  To see where Frida painted, their kitchen, where she slept, the beautiful grounds.  I fell in love and would highly recommend!

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5.  San Angel Inn – another impeccable dining experience filled with incredible beauty and ambiance in a charming area.  Mexican cuisine paired with a great locale and service made this a favorite for us.  This restaurant is an old Carmelite monastery in the historic San Angel – please get tortilla soup to start and the cheese and beef enchiladas for your main course.  I still dream of this meal.

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