Despite days full of washing diapers & messy fun, Shawna is determined to make mommyhood a stylish adventure. Married to the military & mother to one feisty girl, she is a passionate DIYer & loves sharing how to make the complicated simple.
Leaving the corporate world behind, she became a certified home stager & dove into the world of design...but found an unexpected joy behind the lens. Her love of photography began during her infertility struggle, as the camera gave her a voice when words just wouldn't do.
While still shooting the occasional newborn client, her top priority is being a full time mama. Shawna talks creativity, style, food, decorating, green-chic living & mommyhood here at styleberryBLOG, a daily-ish dose of something fab.
For many people, medicine is a mystery. As I try to explain here & there, exactly the process that we are going through right now, it’s quite clear that unless you have a family member involved in a career in doctoring, most people just don’t understand the path to become one. It’s not a process you hear about every day–and since I have been asked so much I thought maybe I would share here, so you know, in part, why I have been so physically & emotionally unavailable to blog regularly.
First comes medical school, then comes residency. We all know this. Any practicing physician does at least three years of residency–and to get that residency, he/she is required to “match.” This involves interviewing (and funding travel to interviews) and eventually a “rank list.” Programs rank medical students, and medical students rank programs. If they “match,” then everyone is happy. But you can see the obvious issue–and the reason for all the suspense–it is rare to match exactly where a med student wants to, because there are always limited “spots” at any given residency. So some people get at the least, the specialty that they want. Some “scramble” if they don’t match, and find programs who will take them for a year, until they can find a spot the next year if someone drops out or washes out. Not everyone makes it through residency. & some people continue on beyond residency.
So this is where our story continues. My husband is very close to being done with residency. Five years down. One to go. & he has decided to sub-specialize even further. Which requires three more years of even-more-intense training. (omg omg omg, is right.) So here we are again. Another “match” ahead. & there have been ten interview trips, done post call (meaning he skipped a night’s sleep & flew out to spend a night & day with a program, then returned to work.) Which also means, he went ten weeks without a day off. & skipped ten nights of sleep.
Still with me? Yeah. So you can see why I have been just a little busy.
I have recently noticed that many of my friends who have husbands who work with mine have degrees in counseling. Like, psychotherapy counseling. & I totally see why. Add the daily life & death stuff that we deal with as spouses (yes, they bring it all home), with this schedule and yeah. I can certainly see the value in earning that kind of degree. Maybe some day. So anyway…
We’re a couple of weeks away from the big day. The day where we learn how this match settles. It’s a whole lot different from residency–because there are very few programs and most take A fellow. (that’s what you are called after you complete a residency, most of the time.) So ONE. One person, maybe two, get to train at the prestigious programs. On rare occasion there are up to four fellows, but the point is that it is HIGHLY competitive. Only thirty-something people a year are trained for this particular job. & the process is a painstaking one. & the actual work hasn’t even started yet.
So help me, GOD.
So rank lists are in. They become final in a couple days. & then…we wait. TWO WEEKS. We wait. & pray and take comfort in the fact that every step in this journey across this country has put us exactly where we are meant to be during each phase of life. We pray the place he picked first is the one who picked him back. & if not, that we can choose to be happy wherever we end up.
Whew. So that’s where we are. That’s where I am. That is why this little space is so neglected.
But I feel its neglect and it makes me sad. I really miss having the energy to put into styleberry. At the end of the day, when everyone is tucked in & lunches are made & the house is picked up, I just don’t have any energy left to write. Add in those aching muscles from exercising regularly (major sanity saver) and I just need to get every bit of my my six hours of sleep to recover.
I think my balance will begin to start swinging back as summer approaches and our days are a little more relaxed. As soon as we KNOW what’s coming next. We can soon spend less time worrying & preparing for trips and recovering from them & the exhaustion that we feel as a family right now will hopefully be a distant memory.
But this has been really challenging.
So stick with me. Know I miss this place of creativity. Know that if you are like me & finding yourself overwhelmed with life and losing the things you love that this season will soon come to an end & life will shift again. Maybe soon we can find some more time to do the things we love & need to do to fill our souls…with something other than mothering. I love mothering, I really do. But sometimes, I need a break. My break used to be my blog, and right now, it’s lots & lots of yoga. That is ok. I’ll soon have enough energy to do both.
At least that is what I am telling myself. :) The mind is a powerful thing.
I don’ t talk about this part of my life on here very often because I have always felt that it is irrelevant. But–the more time I spend seeking support, the more I realize how little there is for this kind of lifestyle. If you are a residency widow, or have any advice to share, please help me make this a safe place for sharing that support. This lifestyle is lonely and exhausting and you don’t really get it unless you live it. Hang in there. Being married to medicine is a lot less glamorous than most think. We are not alone! :)
Tap, tap, tap…is anyone still there? I know, I know. I am the non-blogger, blogger. I think I have been turning on my computer about twice a week. Will this life with little people ever be less exhausting? Who knows. But I am doing what I can. They are first. Me second. Then the husband. & everything else is a distant…fourth? I don’t like it, but this is the way life is right now. We are still in survival mode here, with my husband’s work schedule the way it is. But “survival” has been looking better. Why? I started taking care of me. More on that eventually, but that “taking care of me” part means I am going to the gym five-ish days a week. I’m doing lots of yoga. Throwing around weights. Getting stronger, in all ways. But…my daily wardrobe sure looks different! Enter: workout accessories.
For real. You can only get so creative with spandex & spandex. Why not wear at least one cute thing while you’re sweating it out!! So I decided to make myself some headbands. I’ve seen several people in my life rave about their headbands. My SIL loves the one she picked up at a race recently. & after looking at how they were made I instantly thought…”hey, I could totally do that.” I mean, spending $20 on a headband is just not something I’d love to do right now. So I hopped to it! & surprise, surprise–they are SO easy. Here’s my latest project:
WHAT YOU NEED
ribbon/fabric about the same width as the velvet ribbon
thread in a coordinating color
elastic band (I used 1/4 in, braided in black)
The secret to success here is VELVET RIBBON. It doesn’t budge! I found mine at Hobby Lobby, on sale for $2. You can find it at any fabric store. HL has the most color & width options. I have black, turquoise, pink & hot pink. You want the velvet side DOWN towards the hair. The easiest way to make them is to literally sew two ribbons together. I found a ribbon that is super shimmery & made my first headbands out of that. It hid everything. I am actually wearing it right now! See:
HOW TO MAKE THEM
Choose two ribbons about the same width and sew the ribbons together the long way, leaving the short ends open
Take small piece of braided elastic & stick it in between the two ribbons, then sew one side shut
To get the perfect fit, try the unfinished headband on (it’s easiest if you put in on upside down, elastic at the top of your head, during this step) and play with the tension of the elastic until it feels just right–you do want it tight, as it will stretch out a bit. Then pin it & sew shut.
For synthetics, you can use a lighter to melt the edges of the ribbon on the ends so they are not raw & do not fray. (I am talking about the little short ends here, where the ribbon was cut)
Now if you want to get fancy like the colorful one you see up there, then you need scrap fabric. I folded & ironed a strip of fabric just a little wider than the velvet ribbon & sewed it on. As you can see in the picture, I tucked the short fabric ends under the velvet ribbon where it attaches to the elastic. It was a little trickier, but it is my FAVORITE! I get compliments on it every time I wear it! :) I would not recommend sewing these right sides together, then flipping over & sewing again, as the goal here (at least my goal) is to have the fabric lay as flat as possible on your head.
Super easy. Super fun. & definitely something sassy to add to my five day a week sweatproof wardrobe. :)
Oh–and size guides? Well, the great part is that you can really make the headband perfectly for YOUR head by measuring after you’ve got it mostly complete. But my favorite bands have 15 in of ribbon/fabric and 4.25 in of elastic exposed. But mine actually fit caroline perfectly (she does have a 99%ile noggin) so please know, that my measurements may be a bit small for an adult! 14-15 in of ribbon is a great start though. The elastic is where you’ll really customize. Happy sewing!
Holy Cow. It’s been a really long time. But with REALLY good reason. I was preparing for a huge local consignment sale and went through every single baby thing in my house and am sitting about 600 items lighter at the moment! YAY for the great big PURGE! Ah, feels so good. I still have a nice collection of things for shop styleberry (still some major designer denim & girl shoes, kelly moore & cake bags, and some bugaboo & newborn prop goodies that need a new home!) so that is definitely on the horizon! But for now, let’s talk cleaning! One of my FAVORITE topics! I was so sick of buying the toxic & expensive bleach wipes at costco that I decided to make some disinfectant surface wipes of my own. To know me is to know how much I LOVE vinegar. So here’s my recipe! Happy Spring Cleaning!
WHAT YOU NEED:
paper towel roll
sharp knife (NOT serrated)
round plastic container with a hole cut in the top
1 cup vinegar + 1 cup water
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR SURFACE WIPES:
Use the sharp knife to cut the paper towel roll in half. If you use a serrated knife (like a bread knife) you will have little bits of paper towel that stick to your wipes and it will drive you nuts! So a nice smooth sharp blade will allow you to cut that roll in half, yielding a half a roll just waiting for your next batch (or for your upstairs container, if you are like me!) Pull the center cardboard tube out of the roll & pop the first towel up to get it ready to soak. You’ll be working from the center of the roll out.
Mix your water & vinegar 1:1 in your chosen container. (I found the perfect container to be the one that you’ll find Oatmeal Cranberry Dunkers in at Trader Joe’s…you’ll hate me for this purchase…so really, any round tupperware about the size of half a roll of paper towel will do)
Put your roll of paper towel in the mixture and let it soak. My roll is always too tall for my container, but once it is saturated, I can squish it down and it fits just fine. Put the top of the container on when they are ready & you’re set to clean!
I use these on everything! Kitchen table. Counters. Toys. Faces. Hands. Bathrooms. They are awesome. I’ve never had them dry up on me–I always use them in plenty of time. & I did try to use the half sheets (you know, those Bounty brand sheets that are really half the size of a normal paper towel) and they were just OK. I like to double mine over & then it is nice & thick and just exactly the size of my hand. I dream of a paperless kitchen, and I am sure that I will have one someday, but now is just not the right time! :)
Time to go shop for some oatmeal cookies, then clean, clean, clean!! You’ll burn off the calories if you clean hard enough! HA! ;)
Yummm. We sure do love these. Here’s the one thing you need to know about: Honey. Do your research. Decide when you are comfortable feeding it to your children. It is an absolute no-no before one–and so are nuts, though the latter is now up for debate thanks to some recent news from the Journal of Allergy. But because of the honey and choking hazards, children under one should not eat these. But I am not a doctor or nutritionist or anyone qualified to give advice on these topics, so talk to your doctor about nuts & honey. I’m just here to share how I make our favorite snack!
Now that THAT is out of the way, here’s the basic recipe for our faaaaaaavorite granola bars (& big thanks to my super mama friend, Christine, for sharing it!):
1-2 cup raw shredded coconut or raw sesame seeds (or peanut butter? maybe?)
1 cup wheat germ or almond meal
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup honey
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tb pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chopped dried fruit (pitted dates, dried apricots, cherries and/or cranberries)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking dishes with parchment paper. (I use a rimmed baking sheet)
Toss the oats, nuts, wheat germ/almond meal and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. (Coconut makes it chewy; for a hard crunchy texture, omit it)
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over low-medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour in the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dried fruit and stir well.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dishes. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan, or use more parchment paper to press it down.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. (If it’s not cooked enough, they will crumble and break).
Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Enjoy!
Now, you can add whatever you want to suit your taste. Our favorite concoction so far is a mix of everything above, but specifically choosing: organic oats, sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, pistachio meat, almond meal (not wheat germ), sweetened coconut, dark brown sugar, organic dried cherries & cranberries. Oh, and I added a bunch of Chia seeds, because they are so good for you. I got all my ingredients at Trader Joe’s. My kids cannot get enough of these! I make them in a giant wok on the stove because I make big batches–double the above! They stay fresh for quite a while!
Soooo good. Now I need some new ideas–what do you add to your granola? Please share!
This may not sound like a big deal. But it’s a big deal to me.
I first wrote about my faith back when I shared the news about Everett. He is my moment. He is my sign. He is my blessing. Everything about him has brought me to where I am on this journey right now. I am not sure where I would be if it was not for him. The clarity and desire and open-mindedness is a direct result of his existence. I have no doubt.
During my infertility struggles, I prayed for the first time. Like, really meant it when I prayed. I challenged “God.” I wasn’t exactly a believer, but I had no other hope. Show me I have a reason to believe you exist. I struggle. I have always struggled. Show me I can’t help but believe.
& He gave me a baby.
I prayed while I was pregnant. PRAYED. Give me the gift of this beautiful child and I will give back anything you want to this world. I will do the work you see fit for me. I am not ungrateful.
& He gave me Everett.
And then I didn’t sleep for nine months. & I had no help. & no patience. & no idea how I was going to survive. I had no time for me. No time to do anything but sleep and nurse and cook and clean and care for my babies. And I felt like a total failure.
& yet, somehow, my blog reached record readership.
All while I had tears welling up in my sandpaper eyes hourly and the darkest under eye circles you could imagine.
But this is no coincidence. There is no doubt in my mind. Not for a second, that this is all an orchestration beyond my control. All that time I spent wondering why this blog existed and why I am doing this and what on Earth this was all for is crystal clear. This blog is not about money. This blog is not about photography. Not about my kids. Not about anything I can show you.
This blog is my mission.
My struggles seem to resonate with some of you. Remind you that you are not alone. & hopefully help you find better ways to do things or cope with things in your home. Maybe some of you just pop over to learn how to make a better hard boiled egg, but some of you are struggling, just like me.
This mom job is hard. & this blog is a joy. It felt like less than that for a while, but things are coming full circle.
You see, I was so exhausted that I decided (don’t judge) that an hour of church without a needy baby in my arms seemed like a really good way to spend yet another day without a husband around. So I dropped my kids off with the sweet childcare workers at church & headed in. But what happened was life changing.
“Align your life with the will of the Father, and the power of the Holy Spirit will carry you through” he said, and it all made sense.
Listen. Learn. Go. Do.
I am on a very personal path. I love the church I go to. LOVE. I love going alone. I love seeing my friends there, who have all played a part in this journey. This is MY time to sort out MY feelings and questions in the warmest church environment that I’ve ever experienced. I am moved beyond anything I’ve felt before. The sermons are relevant and poignant and inspiring. I’ve needed this in my life. Big time. This is a season when a lot seems really hard. But each time I go to church, I feel like I can make it through the week again. & I am inspired.
& blessed. So blessed. These two little miracles have shaped me into exactly the person I am meant to be. & this image is the first in some changes around here. styleberry as you know it is getting a makeover. A simplification. A lighter, brighter feel. Right now it’s in my head, but it will make its way out soon. xoxo.
I don’t know about you, but it seems like ’tis the season for hard boiled eggs. It took me YEARS to find the perfect recipe that yielded beautiful butter yellow yolks. It’s so incredibly easy. You can do this with any amount of eggs, just don’t mess with it. They are perfect every time! Here’s how:
Put eggs in a saucepan of cold water & just barely cover them with water. Don’t add anything to the water.
Place over high heat & bring the water to a boil.
Set a timer: boil for THREE minutes. No more. No less. (This is the hardest part because you have to pay attention to when the water begins to boil)
When the timer goes off, remove from the heat and cover immediately. Set the timer for EIGHT minutes.
When those eight minutes are up, head to the sink and drain the hot water, & rinse them with cold water for a minute or so.
Peel OR refrigerate with the shells on–whichever is your preference!
& we love farm fresh eggs, but they aren’t always readily available here. I usually buy them six dozen at a time (we LOVE our eggs around here), organic at Costco.
As You Stitch Baby Wipes: these are single ply serged flannel. I prefer single ply flannel for wiping, found double to be too thick. I think I have ten dozen? Could totally get by with six dozen or so. And…AND…Alison is generously giving my readers an extra 10% discount on the current (sale!) price through the weekend, ending 3/24. Coupon code: STYLEBERRY. Yay! Stock up!!
FITori on Cloth Wipes: detailed description on the HOWs & WHYs (she’s the reason I am even doing this at all!)
A couple of notes:
I did not do this with caroline. I started with a giant nudge & these as a gift from Tori (see link above!). I do not know why I didn’t use them sooner!
I do not use them for most #2 diapers. Breastmilk poop–no prob. Used them 100% of the time for six months. Toddler poop is a different story to me. I use disposable for that. Once or twice a day.
I do not use them on the-go. I use disposable wipes for that. (I don’t have my shit quite that together. Ha!)
I use the itty-bitty-est amount of the baby bum drops. Literally, maybe a quarter of a cube for that big bottle of premixed solution. It lasts FOREVER. I’ll never use it all! It dissolves best in hot water. & I don’t use vinegar like Tori. I haven’t needed it.
I keep the bottle in E’s nursery to pre-moisten his wipes in a wipe warmer. I thought I would be a sprayer, but I am not. I like my wipes soaked. Nice & wet. I found they were a bit scratchy & not very efficient otherwise. The bottle holds about five “changes” of wipe solution. I make it about once a month.
I keep the wipes in the warmer pre-folded just like disposable wipes to make it really easy to grab them & use. I fold a stack after each load of wash & keep them in stacks in his drawer. This way I can reload the warmer in a jiffy & dump some solution right on them, without having to do any work the minute they run out.
Here’s how I fold them. I would have loved to have done a video but…yeah. I am sure there’s one on YouTube!
What else can I tell you…
This is not a long & involved post because this is not a long & involved process. I made it out to be so much more than it was in my head. It’s simple. It’s easy. & after you do it a week…it’s normal.
Any questions?? Anything you want to add? Let’s share!
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