side effects of sleep deprivation (and a solution).

did you know that one of the biggest lies they tell you when you have kids is that one day your kids will sleep through the night? it’s true. because kids never sleep through the night. not ever. they might have a period of time where they sleep through the night, sure. but then they stop and are up all night again ruining your sleep. with two kids now, at least one of them is up at some point almost every single night.

all that to say: i love coffee. you guys, i love it so much. i haven’t reached the point of no return with my addiction, but i will say that coffee and i are in a very serious relationship. if you’ve ever met me, talked to me, or watched my instastories, you know this about me. and the thing is, i’m not prepared to give that relationship up. i look forward to my morning coffee (and maybe an afternoon americano at work) because it makes me feel cozy, and let’s be real, because it wakes me up. this beautiful relationship has been born out of necessity because i haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep in a few years.

as much as i love my morning cup of love, i do NOT like that it makes my teeth discolored. they’re not the MOST yellow, but they’re definitely not the whitest white they could be. the side effects of sleep deprivation are real my friends.

until i got the opportunity to try smile brilliant. when they contacted me to do a review of their product, i was really excited. (i was given a kit to review, but as you know, i will always give my honest opinion about any products i talk about here). i’ve tried other teeth whitening products in the past, and i’ve just never been able to get into using them for one reason or another. they’re either too sticky and fall off my teeth, or they make my sensitive teeth hurt after just one use.

guys, this is the real deal. have a look at my before and after photos. these are straight out of the camera and totally unretouched, just so you know.

my teeth weren’t the worst to begin with, but they definitely improved after using smile brilliant. i really wish my mouth was big enough so you could see my bottom teeth, because there was a huge difference in the whiteness there. #tinymouthprobs

like i said before, my biggest complaints with other whitening products is that they don’t stay on my teeth to whiten them, and that my teeth are really sensitive so most hurt me. because smile brilliant is a custom fit system (they send you molds to get the exact fit of your teeth, like a retainer!), the whitening gel actually gets on your teeth and stays there. no gross strips falling off your teeth and making you talk funny. the biggest pro for this system is that they have a sensitive teeth option for people who need it. i just applied the sensitivity gel after the whitening gel, and my gum sensitivity totally dissipated. i highly recommend for anyone who has that same problem.

my one tiny complaint about how it works is that you are supposed to avoid drinking or eating anything that could stain your teeth for 12-24 hours after whitening, so they recommend doing the treatments before bed. well, it turns out that i like to drink wine before bed. so thanks a lot smile brilliant. you made me curb my nighttime wine drinking habit. are you happy? (it’s fine guys, i used the whitening gel every day for a week, and then moved down to every few days for upkeep, so i was able to drink my wine AND have white teeth too!)

i highly recommend this kit if you’re looking for an affordable teeth whitening solution, or if, like me, you’re living with the side effects of sleep deprivation and too much coffee drinking. i’ve had a great experience with it and i’ll continue to purchase and use it in the future when i need a little whitening boost (or maybe my kids will start sleeping and i won’t need it…hahahahaha just kidding that will never happen).

and now, for a giveaway!

even if you aren’t suffering from the side effects of sleep deprivation, i’m guessing you might have your own reasons for wanting whiter teeth. if you’re interested, you could win a $139 smile brilliant credit to use towards a whitening kit for yourself. enter here to win!

if you decide that you’re interested in just going for it even if you don’t win, you can use code “everythingwithlove10” for 10% off a smile brilliant product.

*giveaway is open for one week. MUST enter through the link above to be counted. giveaway is for $139 credit and is open to USA, UK, Canada, and Australia residents.*

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Tooth Whitening Gel

i have a podcast problem.

my name is erin, and i’m a podcast addict.

i know, i know, i’m totally late to the party on this, but i have recently become addicted to listening to podcasts. i listen to them in the car on the way to and from work, while doing dishes during amelia’s naps, and even while nursing her on the weekends. I CAN’T STOP.

there is something about radio voices and interesting stories that just captivates me. mister man travels a lot, and i used to keep the tv on in the house, just to have noise around me and keep me company so to speak. but the problem with tv is that there is a visual aspect to it, so if i was trying to wash dishes or fold laundry or do some other task, i would inevitably get distracted by the images on the screen. not good when you’re trying to get stuff done when the baby is sleeping for lord knows how long.

so when i found podcasts, it was like this perfect solution. the sound of the voices keeps me company, but since i am only listening to them and not watching them, i can be a lot more effective when i’m doing the tasks i need to do.

if any of you have been thinking about getting into podcasts, here is a random post of a few of my favorites that might help you get started.

1) this american life. this is one of the most popular podcasts out there, put on by NPR. every week, they tell a different interesting story. it can be anything from how a used car sales shop on long island makes their sales quota to digging into the tension between the police and society going on today. i’ve learned a lot of really interesting and random things from this podcast, and ira glass is the cutest voice on the radio today.

2) invisibilia. another NPR production (you’ll see a trend here). this one is produced by two women who look into the invisible forces that govern our world, like fear, sensory experiences, etc. some of the things they talk about will blow your mind, because they dig into how our brains work, and i don’t know about you, but i think that stuff is crazy. 

3) serial. oh yes. i’m on this bandwagon big time. probably everyone has listened to serial at this point, unless you live under a rock. i am just waiting for the second season!

4) snap judgement. oh look. another NPR podcast. this one has great music and sound editing, which is what makes it fun. the concept is that there is a new theme each week, and three different stories that relate to that theme are told by different people. vignettes if you will. this one is just great storytelling and the stories are about the human experience.

5) TED radio hour. i know there are some TED talk fans who read this blog. this podcast chooses a different theme each week, and then chooses a few TED talk participants whose talks relate to the theme, and they kind of adapt their TED talk to radio. they talk to the host, and snippets of their TED talks are played, so it’s kind of a mashup show of sorts. SO ADDICTING.

6) mom enough. this is a podcast put on by a local minnesota mom and daughter team.  the episodes are usually only about 20 minutes long (perfect for moms with short nappers) and each show deals with issues that may interest parents, like sensory development, how to be an engaged parent, and so on. i love it.

do any of you have this addiction? if so, please share your favorites with me in the comments so i can expand my listening even more!

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recipe: strawberry cream cheese pie.

if you ask me what my favorite dessert is, my answer is going to depend on the time of year. in summer, give me all the ice cream. in the fall, it’s my mom’s coffee cake. winter, creme brulee, preferably at a cozy restaurant with my husband. but springtime has me craving anything with fruit. the fresher the better. even if it’s not quite in season yet, i just want all the fruity, baked goodness.

my hands-down, all-time favorite fruity baked dessert is the strawberry cream cheese pie that my mom has made since before i have memories. something about the juicy strawberries, the sweet creamy spread on the bottom, and the homemade glace holding it all together gets me every time. it reminds me of eating dinner on the porch when the weather finally gets warm enough, and of family dinners on sunday nights.

did i mention that it’s also gorgeous?

make this and serve it to people you love. they’ll be able to taste the love when they take a bite.

strawberry cream cheese pie, makes one pie, serves 8 with big slices

  • pie crust
  • 1 1/2 qts. fresh strawberries
  • 4 oz. cream cheese at room temperature (use neufchatel cheese for a lower fat option)
  • 1/2 C. powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • splash of milk (to moisten cream cheese mixture)
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3/4-1 C. white sugar
  • 1/2 C. water

for the pie: make your pie crust (or use a pre-made one like i mostly do, pillsbury works great!) and lay it in a 9-inch pie pan. bake according to the directions, making sure to poke the bottom with a fork before baking so it doesn’t puff up. let the pie crust cool.

mix together cream cheese, powdered sugar, almond extract and the splash of milk until smooth. the consistency should be somewhat firm and not runny, as you will be spreading this in the bottom of the pie crust. add more powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency. spread in the bottom of the crust and refrigerate until set, around a half hour.

while crust and spread are setting up, quarter the strawberries, reserving 1 C. of them aside for the glace. fill the pie crust with the strawberries. the strawberries should be slightly rounded at the middle of the pie.

for the glace: in a small saucepan, mix together the cornstarch and white sugar. mash the 1 C. of reserved strawberries with the water. mash well so there are no large chunks. add to the sugar and cornstarch. heat over medium heat until it thickens, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. boil for one minute, then remove from heat and cool for about five minutes. pour the glace over the top of the strawberries, covering well. refrigerate for at least three hours before serving.

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these days.

let’s bring these back in to the mix, shall we? do you guys remember when i was good at keeping to a schedule and did one of these every.single.week? i vaguely remember that. it seems like a lifetime ago. pretty sure i wasn’t pregnant back when that was happening. my, how life changes.

i’m sure there are a few (dozen) of you who are thinking to yourselves, “great this entire update is going to be about baby and pregnancy stuff. gross/boring/dumb/please stop.” i promise that it will be no more than half full of that stuff, but what can i say, this is my life right now. it kind of consumes me, and if i can prepare any of you for that journey by sharing in my experience, then i’m happy.

i can’t wait for the weekend to start either. i’m registering for baby things tomorrow with my mom (a latte at the target starbucks is on the docket for sure), and we might even be able to work in the garden if we get lucky. i’d even take rain so that i can cozy up and plan out how/what i’m going to plant in the backyard when the ground thaws. i’m in one of those moods where anything sounds good to me. i hope your weekends are just as wonderful as i’m imagining mine will be.


these days i’m…

eating strawberries like they’re going out of style. they went on sale at the grocery store here last week and i may have bought and eaten three packages in that time. i can’t help it, they speak to my soul.

trying to be calm about all the unknowns coming up in the next year. i personally think i’ve done a good job so far, but every so often, i start to think about all the things that we have left to do/don’t know about yet/can’t possibly begin to plan for and i get a little hyperventilate-y. DO YOU GUYS EVEN REALIZE WHAT LOOKING FOR DAYCARE IS LIKE?  it’s terrible, is what it is. not to mention trying to figure what my work life is going to look like. wait, what was i talking about? trying to be calm? yes, that is happening. you be the judge as to how that’s going.

reading absolutely nothing. well that’s not true. i’ve been reading back issues of magazines on the bus like it’s my job, but no actual book reading is happening as of late. mostly because i can’t figure out what to read next. i’ve read the divergent series, but i’m in the mood for some really good fiction to try out. any suggestions?

wearing all the most comfortable clothes i own. give me all the stretchy clothes i say! i can already tell that in a matter of weeks, i’m not going to ever want to put on pants, and i’m just leaning right into that instinct. i did make myself put on jeans with a belly band today, and immediately pouted when i got to work because i wasn’t wearing leggings. [shameless plug: now that i have an actual bump, and it’s pretty obviously due to a baby, i’m posting a lot more bump outfit photos on my instagram, so if you’re not already, you should go follow me on there.]

praying for a lot of people. Mister Man and i decided during lent to pray for one person or couple of people that we feel could use some extra love in addition to our regular nightly prayer. it’s been such a wonderful practice for us, and i would love to keep doing it after lent is over. it makes us think about our friends and our community of people around us a little harder than we might normally, and it really helps us be grateful for everyone who’s been put in our path.

drinking ALL THE WATER, all the time. this is a bad combination with my pregnant bladder, but i’m trying to stay hydrated and non-puffy (i can already sense that my rings might not like my fingers for all that much longer). and also i’m craving it? can one crave water?

loving green everything. now that the snow is gone, i am like a little kid on christmas waiting for all the green to appear outside. we don’t take our springs for granted here in the tundra i tell you! there isn’t much growing here right now, but i’m crossing my fingers that i’m going to see the tops of the bulbs i planted last fall start to make their way out of the ground. i have the opposite of a green thumb, so even though i’m pretty sure i did everything right, i have my doubts that they are actually going to grow.

also loving baking again! last week i got the itch to make cookies, and i did and it was so lovely. i hadn’t baked anything since i’d gotten pregnant, partly due to lack of energy, partly due to the fact that i can’t taste the batter with the raw eggs, and it’s not as fun to bake something when you haven’t been able to taste it first. mixing that batter and putting those cookies in the oven made me feel so “normal” again, just like myself.

working on planning the nursery for baby z. in fact, Mister Man and i have a hot date at the home depot tonight to look for closet doors, wall trim and paint colors. because getting the nursery ready means getting the basement bedroom/office finished up first so we can move the guest bed in there. our basement is a mess right now with changing table/carseat/crib box taking up space everywhere, but until we finish the office AND paint the nursery, we can’t move anything new into the baby’s room. so we are moving full steam ahead while i can still help with some of it. i’ll be doing most of the prep work since we can’t ventilate the room properly for me to be able to paint safely. darn.


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the end of an era.

i have what may be the saddest news in the entire world.

costello’s in st. paul, our bar – our precious, darling, hole in the wall, dive bar – is closing forever in february. and now i don’t know what to do with my hands. or my beer-drinking parts.

Mister Man and i have been regulars at costello’s since i first moved to the neighborhood in 2010. we were so excited to discover a small place within walking distance that served food and drinks and always had either the baseball or the hockey game on for us to watch since we never had cable.

we made ourselves at home there immediately, and let me tell you, when i say we were regulars, i mean they knew our names there. you know the cheers theme song? “sometimes you want to go/where everybody knows your name”? costello’s was our cheers. and even though that doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, it was a dream of MM’s and mine to have a place we could go and they would set down our “usual” and we could chat the night away with our bartender and waitress friends. our hearts swelled whenever we walked through the door and brian or nancy would yell “hey guys! there’s a seat over there for you!”

the people who worked at costello’s are some of the nicest i’ve ever met in st. paul. the night we got engaged, after meeting our parents at the fancy w.a. frost’s, we went to costello’s to tell them the news (and they bought us champagne to celebrate). we went to nancy’s going away party when she retired. we hugged brian goodbye when he moved to west virginia (and then hugged him when he eventually came back “home”). we introduced our friends kari and sam there. we even joked about buying a plaque to install on the bar so we’d always have our spots when we came in.

we weren’t there every day, but it was a rare weekend that we didn’t stop in to say hi and have a pint. oddly enough, some of our most serious conversations about our future together (marriage/how many kids we want to have/you name it) were had in the second booth on the right. the only reason we were sad to move into our house was that we were no longer walking distance to costello’s and were losing our regular place. but we always had the reassurance that it was just across town.

a new bar and restaurant will be opening in its place in april. and you know what, it doesn’t sound like a half bad place. and it’s going to be GREAT for the developing neighborhood. but i still feel like it’s the end of an era. costello’s will always bring me memories of when Mister Man and i were just starting to get serious, making decisions about life together, and our first year as husband and wife. and who really needs a plaque for that?

anyone else get nostalgic about physical places like i do? is it odd that i have such a strong attachment to a dive bar? don’t answer that. or do, but just be kind.


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