2018 | Dearest Lou

OXO Tot Stick and Stay Suction Line

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by OXO Tot. All opinions are mine alone.
Mama is wearing: Dress || Head Scarf || Bracelets (Mantraband Promo Code CECILIA10 for 10% off) 
Adrien is wearing: Top
Oxo Tot Products: Stick & Stay Suction Divided Plate || Transitions Straw Cup 9oz

Adrien has never been a picky eater and it feels like he eats all day long! He is also very independent and likes to do things himself, one of those is cleaning up after himself. However, in the process of cleaning up he will sometimes accidentally spill his leftovers all over the floor. OXO Tot just released this amazing Stick & Stay collection and it's made both of our lives a little easier. Adrien's plate will stay in place so it's easier for him to eat and grab things and his plate is suctioned onto his tray or the table so only mama (or dada) can pick it up. Such a win-win for everyone!

All of the products OXO Tot sent us are high quality! They are definitely a step up from any generic store brand products we have purchased in the past. I'm wanting to replace all of our current children's dishware with OXO Tot after trying them out. I love that OXO Tot products come in easy to remove packaging. All of the stickers came right off without leaving any residue and the boxes were very easy to open! That is reason enough to purchase their products, you won't need a pair of scissors or a knife to cut into the packaging.

We are very pleased with our OXO Tot products and we highly recommend them to any little friends in need of dishware. 

MadeGood Granola Bars

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by MadeGood. All opinions are mine alone.
One of my favorite activities to do with my family during the spring & summer months are picnic/park hangouts! I love throwing a blanket, eating some yummy food, and watching our children play while reconnecting with Daryl after a long day of work. When it comes to picnic food I like to keep things simple. Sandwiches, water bottles, and a healthy snack are usually my go-to items. A nutritious snack our family has recently been introduced to are MadeGood granola bars! We are big fans of granola and knew these would be the perfect snack for our picnic.

I always have a MadeGood granola bar or two in my diaper bag for a quick and healthy snack! These little bars are perfect for little hands. I find that my boys are a bit wasteful when it comes to larger portions and these granola bars are the perfect portion size for them. MadeGood granola bars contain the nutrients of one full serving of veggies in each snack! Perfect for sneaking in those veggies most kids won't eat (; They are also organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO project verified, these three qualities are very hard to come across in a granola bar.

MadeGood granola bars are made in a dedicated facility free of eight common allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, wheat + gluten, dairy, egg, soy, sesame, & fish). My boys don't have any allergies that we are aware of but we have a couple friends that do. It's so nice to know I have a snack in my bag that Zaden & Adrien can share with all of their friends.

We picked up our MadeGood granola bars at our local Smiths (Kroger store). They are also available at Whole Foods or if you are an online shopper like myself, you can buy them in bulk on Amazon. I highly recommend checking them out, these little bars are essential for any summer activity.

Lily Jade Madeline in Green + A Giveaway

I'm wearing: Dress || Hat || Sandals (thrifted) || Lily Jade Bag-Madeline c/o
Z is wearing: Top || Shorts || Sandals
A is wearing: Top || Shorts || Sandals

This weekend was a busy one! Lots of photo shoots, editing, and family/friend gatherings. I unplugged from my phone as much as possible and soaked up every minute that I could with my boys. When we have busy days ahead of us, I like planning our outfits, snacks, and what I need to pack in my diaper bag ahead of time.

Speaking of outfits, I found this beautiful Free People dress on sale a couple week ago and knew I needed to have it! I used Wikibuy and it automatically applied the best coupon at checkout! Who doesn't love saving money? Also, how cute are the boys in their little matching shirts? I recently purchased these oversized t-shirts and I'm obsessed with the style and fit.

When it comes to diaper bags, I usually like to over-pack instead of under-pack, there's nothing worse than not having what you need when you are out and about! I recently received this gorgeous Lily Jade Madeline to review and the photos don't do it justice! This bag absolutely stunning and so well made.. I can tell it is going to last for years to come. 

All Lily Jade diaper bags come with a removable 12 pocket organizer and changing pad! This makes organizing and finding what you need easy and convenient. The four large exterior pockets are perfect for things I'm constantly grabbing! I love having one pocket dedicated to Adrien, one for Zaden, and one for me. The back pocket is used for my phone. In the smaller pocket I keep my tiny Thread wallet with all of my most used cards and some cash!

I love that my Lily Jade can be worn as a shoulder bag, messenger bag, or backpack! My personal favorite carry is the backpack style. Backpacks leave both your hands and arms free when chasing little ones around. I love that I will be able to use this bag throughout the years since it's stylish and cute!

Lily Jade is having their first ever Summer Clearance Sale! Unfortunately, Lily Jade sold out of the Madeline in Jade very quickly but you can score major savings on the Madeline in Red & Silver, Madeline in Navy & Gold, and all of their other bags.

I have teamed up with Lily Jade to giveaway a $350 store credit to one lucky Dearest Lou reader! You can enter either on my Instagram or by entering in the rafflecopter widget below. I will be importing all of the Instagram entries into Rafflecopter at the end of the competition and the winner will be selected at random. Giveaway is open now through 6/29/18. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
WINNER IS @ninaskye31! Rafflecopter wasn't letting me manually enter all Instagram entries so I took all of the Rafflecopter entries and entered them into Random.org to generate winner (:

Adrien Style: HOTBUNZ Leggings + Discount Code

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by HOTBUNZ. All opinions are mine alone. #EasyonEasyOff
Head in the Clouds Leggings c/o HOTBUNZ || Shirt (old, see Z styling it here) || Freshly Picked City Moccasins

I can't get over Adrien in these photos, they showcase his personality perfectly.. a little cutie on-the-go! It's near impossible to capture a still photo of Adrien since he is such a busybody. When it comes to dressing him on a day-to-day basis, I like to dress him in comfortable clothes. No one likes lounging around in clothing that is tight around the waist! I think we can all agree that leggings are much more comfortable than restricting pants or jeans.

HOTBUNZ designs cute and comfortable baby clothes. Their leggings feature a signature waistband and cuffs that are super soft, stretchy, and leave no elastic marks on tummies or calves. They are so easy to pull on and off which makes diaper changing time more pleasant for the both of us.

The Head in the Clouds leggings are my go-to-pair for everything.I love how easy it is to match and style these leggings, they go with nearly everything in Adrien's wardrobe. Monochrome, clouds, and cute little birds make for a perfect gender neutral everyday print! HOTBUNZ are comfy, practical, and I love that Adrien looks super stylish in them! We are now hooked and I definitely need to get more.

Want to purchase HOTBUNZ for your little one?
HOTBUNZ is generously offering Dearest Lou readers 15% off with promo code: CECILIA15
This promo is valid now through 6/30/18 

Snapfish Father's Day Gift Ideas

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Snapfish. All opinions are mine alone. #snapfish
I can't believe Father's Day is just a few short weeks away. When it comes to gift giving I never know what to buy, what I do know is that the more meaningful a gift is the better. Meaningful gifts reflect the time you spend together. You would think with all of the photos I take that our home would be filled with portraits hanging on the walls and countless numbers of prints! I'm not very good at printing, framing, or putting together albums with photos but it's something I'm working on. Snapfish makes it super fun and easy to create gifts with the photos I take. It's so easy to import photos from Facebook, Instagram, Google Photos, or your computer.

The boys and I have teamed up with Snapfish and purchased some meaningful gifts for both Daryl (dada) and my dad (papa)! Snapfish has so many awesome gift ideas and is the perfect destination for meaningful Father's Day photo gifts. I love that Snapfish offers budget-friendly gifts that look like a million bucks.

Here are some of my favorite photos of the boys giving their dad his gift:

The Canvas Print we got Daryl turned out amazing! The quality was beyond what I expected and the colors printed true to color. The boys love pointing at themselves in the photo and their cute smiles brought a big smile to his face. I personally like the unframed look but for a few dollars more you can add a custom black, chocolate, or oak frame to your canvas!

Here are some of my favorite photos of the boys giving their papa his gift:

Papa was in need of a pen holder and this Personalized Acrylic Photo Desk Set was a perfect personalized gift for him. I love the sleek design and the photo of the boys will be a great reminder of his two biggest fans. These boys LOVE their papa.

Now is the perfect time to put together a fun project for your husband, dad, or a special guy in your life. You can use coupon code: 60MAY18 for 60% off sitewide now through 11:59PM PST June 5, 2018.

Fitness Update (Before & After Photos) + HomeDNA Healthy Weight Testing

Living a healthy lifestyle can be a struggle in today's world. Most American's live a sedentary lifestyle, with all of the convenient fast foods and effortless ways to commute it's so easy to gain unwanted weight. 

Did you know that learning more about your DNA can help you figure out what exercise and diet can help you reach a healthy body composition? I've heard of people testing their DNA to figure out their ancestry but never thought about testing it to figure out what form of diet & exercise works best for me! 

The HomeDNA Healthy Weight Test is a scientifically-based weight-management test that identifies a person's genetic makeup and provides diet and exercise strategies uniquely tailored to their specific genotype. In just 4-6 weeks after samples arrive at the lab, you can receive a comprehensive report with personalized nutrition and fitness recommendations that work best for your body. 

I have been working on my fitness ever since I gained a bunch of unwanted fat from postpartum depression after Zaden was born. I embarked on this journey a little over 4 years ago and I would be lying if I said it's been an easy road. There has been lots of trial and error, a few fad diets, another pregnancy in the middle, and going back to unhealthy eating habits along the way. If I would have known about the HomeDNA Healthy Weight Test and known what sort of exercise & diet plan worked best for my genetic makeup it would have saved me a lot of trial and error trying different things! 

Ultimately, when it comes to losing weight nearly any diet or form of exercise will work if you stick to it. It all comes down to a matter of calories in versus calories out. If you want to eat your TDEE in candy or chips and stick to eating at a deficit you can and will lose weight. However, the way our bodies are designed certain diets and forms of exercise can help us achiever a healthier body composition much faster. Also eating a well balanced diet makes feels good and provides more energy. 

Here are my most recent progress photos. I took the "after" photo shortly after receiving my results from my HomeDNA Healthy Weight Test. You can read previous Fitness/Health related blog posts here.

Body Composition
1/2/17 33.7% Body Fat
4/20/18 22.2% Body Fat

My Results + The Testing Process

Taking the test was convenient and simple! The instructions were easy to follow and came with a prepaid postage stamp which made it easy to send to the lab. All it took was a couple cheek swabs (no needles or urine samples) and creating a profile on their site. I had my results within 4 weeks and was excited to find out about my makeup! 

I was blown away with the report, I did not expect to receive such a comprehensive report and was excited to read more about my DNA. The report provides results in four key areas: Weight Loss Ability, Food, Nutrients, and Response to Exercise. I want to touch a little on each of these and how I have applied them into my new fitness routine the last 6 weeks!

Weight Loss Ability: Below Average
I figured my weight loss ability would be below average since I have to work SO HARD on my diet and exercise in order to lose fat. I know that it isn't impossible to lose weight it just takes a little longer to lose than someone with a more favorable genotype! 

As far as implementing this information into my life nothing really changed. I have since continued to workout and eat healthier (more on that under food). 

Food: Protein Utilization Normal | Fat Utilization Normal | Carb Utilization Enhanced

Enhanced carb utilization?! WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!!

Prior to taking this test I was following a Keto diet. I did Keto from mid-November 2017-February 2018. March was on and off but primarily low carb, my only goal was to continue working out and eating at a deficit. There's a misconception with Keto that you will gain weight back once you are off it, it's true that you will gain a bit of water weight since your body replenishes the water and glycogen in your muscles and liver but as long as you continue to eat at a deficit, your fat loss won't change. 

When I got my results back I was shocked to find out that a higher complex carb diet works best for my body type in order to lose weight! Like I said earlier in this post eating at a deficit and sticking to any diet will work but I was honestly a bit excited to find out that higher complex carbs work for me. 

According to my food summary my macros should be as follows:

20% Protein | 50% Carbs | 30% Fats

For the past 6 weeks I have been sticking to a diet higher in complex carbs and have broken a weight and fat loss plateau that I haven't seen since prior to getting pregnant in 2012. I haven't stuck to a super strict diet and have had a few "cheat" meals along the way too.

Nutrients: Vitamin B12 Low | Vitamin B9. A, C Below Average | B6, Vitamin D Normal

Micronutrients have not been shown to have a direct effect on body weight/fat but play important roles in a variety of functions in the body that may affect your body composition. I scored low and below average on most of the micronutrients tested, yikes! 

It makes sense that my micronutrients were low since I was doing Keto at the time and eating very little vegetables and no fruit. I also wasn't taking the recommended supplements I should have been taking when following the diet. Since I am now eating more fruits and vegetables I'm hoping my body is closer to a normal. I also loved how the test told me which foods to try to incorporate into my diet in order to get these nutrients. 

Fat Loss Response to Cardio, Low | Fitness Response to Cardio, Below Average
HDL, Insulin Sensitivity, Glucose Response to Cardio, Enhanced
Body Composition Response to Strength Training, Enhanced

Any exercise can enhance weight loss from dieting. When a person loses weight by only dieting, they are likely to lose muscle mass along the way.

This portion of the test was very lengthy and I could write pages but I will save you guys all the details and try to summarize it! The best form of exercise for me is strength training but in order to achieve a healthy body composition I must incorporate cardio as well.

I like that the test put together a workout and sample diet plan for me, I think this info is very useful for someone who is new to fitness and doesn't know where to start. However, I have applied the principles I learned into what I'm already doing and eat more calories than my suggested meal plan recommended since I am very active.

Interested in purchasing a HomeDNA Healthy Weight kit? They are available at CVS and Rite Aid drugstores or online for $119 at HomeDNA.com.

Lime Ricki Style + Discount Code

Top & Bottoms c/o Lime Ricki || Callanan Straw Hat || Black Gingham Baggu

T H A N K  Y O U.
I want to start off this post with thanking all of the men & women (+ their families) who serve our country. I'm so grateful to live in this country & thankful for all of those who have lost their lives for our freedom. 

Today's post is featuring this swimsuit from one of my favorite local companies, Lime Ricki. If you have been around for a while now you may remember my last Lime Ricki post back in 2016. I still own and love that swimsuit. PS how cute is my round belly?! 

When it comes to swimwear I usually stick to neutral colors and prints so I can mix and match all of my pieces. This is my first two-piece from Lime Ricki and I love it! It's super flattering, comfortable, and provides quite a bit of coverage for a two-piece. Also how fun is the top? I LOVE the lace up back.

There are multiple reasons I love Lime Ricki. One of the biggest reasons is they never Photoshop or airbrush their models. They also use models of all different sizes and re-gram/share photos of REAL clients wearing their swimwear. I love that, this is what makes Lime Ricki different from other swimsuit competitors. 

You see these photos of me above?  These photos are untouched! There was no Photoshop or airbrushing tricks many women (+men) use to "enhance" their body. 2018 is a year of not only working on my physical well-being but most importantly my mental health. It's so important to love yourself just as you are, no matter what stage in your journey you may be. Life is too short to worry about how you look in a swimsuit or being "summer ready". So go on, enjoy playing at the pool with your kids or go to the beach with your friends. The moment you stop worrying about how you look will be liberating and the best gift you can give yourself. I'm in no way saying that it's a bad thing to continue to strive and work towards your health but there's NO REASON to be so hard on yourself ♥

PS: Lime Ricki's ONE + ONLY sale of the season is happening TODAY ONLY!
Use code: MEMORIALYAY for 20% off your order.