Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bedroom Tour


** This post contains affiliate links to products I have in my home. I make a small commission for purchases through these links. 

I don't think I will ever be done decorating our bedroom. It's constantly evolving. But in the spirit of being more open, I'm sharing just about as personal a space as it gets in all its imperfect glory.

We have lived in an apartment, which has been an adjustment, for the past two years. We previously lived in a condo that we still own, so we could do whatever we wanted to it. Sadly, we don't own this place we live in now and can't change things we're not entirely pleased with. But we make it work. I think of our bedroom as a relaxing place, and that's ultimately the goal.

If you're curious, here's how our bedroom room is set up:

Some background: This bedroom is not in what was designed to be the master bedroom. We made this room our bedroom because it has a gas fireplace and we knew Victoria would be joining us. We didn't want to have a fireplace in a toddler's room for safety reasons.

The room has two sets of French doors. Our bed has storage underneath, which we use for spare bedding and pillows. (It is on an angle because behind it is a radiator and because it gives us more room than other configurations.) Above the bed is a canvas of a photo we took at Arches National Park. We typically search Groupon for canvas print deals like this.


Before Victoria came to live with us, my workspace was in the second bedroom. Now that she has taken over that bedroom, my desk is in our bedroom because we lack a better place to put it. There's simply not enough room to put it in the living room or the hallway. But it's actually working out well.


On the small sliver of wall next to my desk is a postcard/photo/trinket display I found on Marshalls. It holds special postcards, souvenirs and stamps. On my simple white desk I typically keep both my work and personal laptops, a box full of mementos, a couple of photos, my planner, a notebook and "The 52 Lists Project" book that I'm currently working through.

Race medal holder is from Etsy.
Above my desk is my race medal holder, which I found on Etsy. Next to my desk is a printer stand that can hold two printers: one for work and one for photos.

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I added this small rug to protect the wood floors from my chair's wheels. I plan to get a better one. This also doubles as a photo backdrop

In the opposite corner we have our white Ikea dresser, 80 percent of which holds Graham's clothing. 




Next to it is a lamp with shelves that hold our router (hidden behind a photo), our home phone (which we need for the apartment gate) and my work phone. Unfortunately these are things we need and can't store elsewhere because a quirk of our 100-year-old building is that the outlets and plugs are only in specific places. The opposite side of the room is all windows, where I like to place plants and photo frames. We don't have nightstands because we have no need for them. I do have a small stool that was given to me by my in laws that I place my phone on when I sleep.




On top of the dresser we have tiny turtles we collect on our travels. We also have two Homesick candles that were given to us by my best friend. They smell like Arizona and Kentucky! We also have a sketch of our dog Taylor, who died in January. This was a gift from a friend. We don't have the perfect frame for it yet, but when we do this precious image will have a new home. In front of that is a paw print that was included in the package when we had Taylor cremated.  Behind that Taylor sketch is a jewelry holder we bought in Costa Rica. (We were assured it was sustainably sourced wood.) Above that is a canvas of a photo I took in Hawaii.


To the left of the trinkets is my accessory holder. I also hold my rings and earrings in one of the turtles. As you can see, I don't wear earrings often. I do like necklaces, though. I also have an amethyst given to me by one of my yoga teachers at our teacher-training graduation.




In the next corner we have our small closet. Luckily, Graham and I don't have a ton of clothing. I am constantly donating and selling clothes. Inside, I hang hats on these hooks to save space.



That same corner has a print by Anastasia Mak Art. We bought this print at a local arts fest, but you can also find Anastasia Mak prints on Etsy. I want to get more prints to hang above and below this one.


In between my desk area and the bed is a fireplace. On top of it I have a diffuser given to me by my in-laws. Above it hangs a canvas of us with Taylor. This is a recent addition, because we miss her so much.

And that's about it! A small wall space next to the closet holds Graham's diploma, but I'm not showing that. (My diploma is at my mom's house.)

Thanks for stopping by our humble abode. Let me know if you'd like to see tours of other rooms in our apartment. Also, any tips for living in a small space are appreciated!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Half-Marathon Training Update |
Don't Be So Hard on Yourself


** This post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission for purchases through these links.

Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless Headphones, Garmin vivosmart HR, gray capri leggings (old) and Yogo Athletica top (found at Marshalls)


I had planned to run a half marathon yesterday.

If you've read this blog recently, you might remember seeing four half-marathon training updates and reflections. After a late start, I was finally on track and preparing for the Chicago Spring Half Marathon on May 21. I was able to do all my midweek workouts throughout training, but the long runs seemed impossible to complete.

I was trying to do everything: Freelance writing, working full-time, being a full-time work-from-home mom with little help, editing YouTube videos, planning a third birthday party -- the list goes on. I found myself worn out and constantly stressed. I would write my running schedule in my planner, schedule a sitter and set aside the time, but then life kept disrupting my plans. One weekend I could not schedule a sitter because it was Easter and they were busy or booked. The gym with daycare was closed and Graham worked late. The next weekend I planned to run in Phoenix before Victoria's birthday party, but I spent the entire time with the worst sinus infection of my life. (I powered through the party.) The next weekend I planned to complete my long run of 10 miles (I at least wanted to do that before the race.), but then a fire at our apartment building caused a power outage that lasted three days. I didn't feel right keeping Victoria in the apartment with no electricity, even with a sitter, so I took her to the zoo instead and we spent most of the weekend at my friend's house. By the next weekend I just knew: Yes, I can complete this race with little training, but I don't want to half-ass it. It's not who I am.

This experience reminded of something: You can do anything but not everything. With that in mind, I decided to defer my race entry to 2018. I am already signed up for the Chicago Fall Half Marathon in September, so that will be my next race.

As soon as I gave myself a break, I noticed a difference in my motivation and how I feel about my body. I have run almost every day since, either on the treadmill or outdoors. I actually want to work out and run. I am not stressed about planning my workouts; I just fit them in when I can. I feel excited to start PROPERLY training for my race in the fall.

Here's what I plan to do differently:

  • Interview more sitters to have more backup options when one cancels or isn't available.
  • Use the gym with daycare more and cancel other memberships.
  • Sign up for group half-marathon training with the coaches who prepared me for the Chicago Marathon. It starts June 21 and I can't wait!
  • Go to at least one group run per month.
  • When life gets in the way of running, practice more yoga.
  • Focus on one thing at a time. If I know I have a big running week, I'm not going to make a bunch of social plans or to try to freelance write/blog. 
  • Take Victoria on short jogs in the running stroller.
  • Use my apartment building's treadmill to run after Victoria goes to bed, if all else fails.
  • Re-evaluate my why. The reason I want to do another half is to meet or improve my race time, show myself I can still be a runner while being a mom, and set a good example for Victoria. It's also my moving motivation, or at least it was when it didn't feel like a chore. I want to get back to thinking of running and working out as a joy.

While post centers on my struggles with fitting my running goals in with my busy mom and career life, I hope you can take away some lessons from this.

  • Single tasking is better than multitasking.
  • Don't be so hard on yourself. It's easy to compare ourselves with social media fitness gurus, but you have to remember fitness is a full-time job for most of them. Yes, they can fit workouts in because that's what they do for a living. A typical person often has to plan carefully to make sure he or she can work out/do whatever it is he or she loves.
  • You are stronger than you think.
  • Get creative to fit in your fitness. (I plan to share tips I learn along the way.)
  • Plan, but go with the flow when it's disrupted.
  • Incorporate your child/family/friends into your workouts. (Read about our toddler and mom yoga class.)


Related Fitness posts:


Fitness Clothing Picks**:


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Friday, May 19, 2017

Recent Cruelty-Free Empties, Vol. 8


** This post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission for purchases through these links.



It's been a hot minute since I shared what cruelty-free products I've been using up and whether I would buy them again. Even though I have certain products I love, I am always trying new beauty products to see if there's something out there I'd love even more. Sometimes I go back to the tried-and-true favorites, but other times I find something awesome to recommend.

Here's how recent empties fared:

  • Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Face Wash. I keep trying other cruelty-free cleansers but I come back to this one. It is gentle, has a lovely fragrance and gets the job done. Also, it's relatively affordable. I will continue to buy this.
  • Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Foaming Cleanser. I tried this in February and March. While I had no major complaints, I didn't love it as much as my Pacifica face wash. The scent is not my favorite, either. I would not repurchase this.
  • e.l.f. Mineral Infused Face Primer. I received this in an Influenster Vox Box. While I also had no complaints besides the packaging that makes it seems as though you get more product than you actually do, I don't think this is anything that impressive. It's a nice base for your foundation but I love other drugstore cruelty-free primers more. I would not repurchase this.
  • Burt's Bees Lip Balm. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I can't live without this stuff. Maybe someday I will stop losing or washing these in my laundry. I have already repurchased this.
  • Wet 'n Wild Coverall Primer. This is a great primer. It's been my go-to along with the Milani Prime Perfection Face Primer; they are basically the same thing, except the Wet 'n Wild one costs less. I actually received this as a free gift with a purchase a few months ago. The Milani one has a slightly better scent, but they are nearly identical. They both look great with my go-to foundations lately (Wet 'n Wild Photo Focus and LA Girl Pro Coverage Illuminating Foundation). I would most definitely repurchase this.
  • Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation cream. My skin was looking clear and healthy during the month or so that I used this along with my other products, but I can't say I attribute it to this cream. It's lightweight, but I didn't enjoy the packaging that much and I did not find this to be a must-have item. I have not repurchased. 
Of course, we are all different and what I like may not work for you. I wouldn't say any of these is terrible, but some didn't perform as I expected. 

What products have you used up recently? Did you love them?

Shop the post**:





Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mom & Toddler Yoga | Poses to Try


** This post contains affiliate links to yoga products. I make a small commission for purchases through these links. Thanks for supporting Floradise blog!



Victoria and I tried a yoga class together for the first time over the weekend. It was a workshop at one of my favorite Chicago yoga studios in honor of Mother's Day. The teacher had to bow out at the last minute so another studio teacher filled in, bringing her toddler along.

I wasn't sure what to expect from the class. I figured it would be like a regular class but with the toddlers attempting to follow along. This is what happened in reality:

The class began with dancing to Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off." Then we sat down and started to work on our breathing. The instructor assured us that this was a safe space and that anyone who needed to feed their child should feel free to do so. We next moved into cat/cow, downward-facing dog and various folds. Victoria was following along at this point. So far, so good. But then she became more interested in playing with blocks and bolsters than trying to copy her mom.  All the moms attempted to get yoga in but ended up trying to wrangle their kids. The teacher emphasized that we should let the children do what they want and not force them to do anything, and that was good advice. It was a lesson in going with the flow, which is pretty much at the center of yoga.

Victoria's shirt is Spiritual Gangster. (Not an affiliate link.)


We did manage to do some yoga together though. The following are poses that I think you can do with toddlers in your own home for 15 or so minutes, or however long you have their attention. (Yoga Journal has thorough descriptions of how to do these poses.)

Poses to try at home:
  • High lunges with child on your back or on your knee. I opted to do the lunges and have Victoria do them alongside me, but younger, lighter kids can be held in your arms or settled onto your front bent knee.
  • Seated forward fold with feet together. Sit facing each other with your feet touching. Each of you folds forward toward the other person.
  • Standing forward fold with arms swaying, resembling an elephant.
  • Bridge with child on your stomach or crawling underneath you. I did both bridge and upward-facing bow, and Victoria enjoyed crawling under me. You could also have your toddler on your torso.
  • Downward-facing dog. Victoria loves to do the variation with one leg lifted. 
  • Seated twists.
  • Cat/cow.
  • Child's pose. Victoria loves child's pose as well. 
  • Savasana.
At home, Victoria likes to take her "ABC Yoga"  book** and mimic the poses inside. (It was a Christmas gift from her aunt and uncle.) It illustrates yoga poses in fun ways and is fun to do with toddlers. She also likes to try her variation of handstand, believe it or not. I plan to keep practicing yoga at home and asking her to join me if she seems interested. 

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Have you ever tried yoga with kids?

Yoga essentials**:


  • Blocks. If nothing else, your kid can play with these while you practice.


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  • Bolsters. It feels great to recline on a bolster in savasana and bound angle pose, along with seated poses.
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  • Yoga mat. We rolled out two yoga mats next to each other for class.
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Dinos & Dragons at Brookfield Zoo


Brookfield Zoo Dinos & Dragons exhibit, Chicago


This little gem turns 3 today and I can't believe it. To celebrate, I am sharing our weekend visit to Brookfield Zoo.

Sunday was supposed to be my long run, but then the electricity in our building went out after a fire in the service room. (A post on how half-marathon is going will be up soon. Spoiler: Not well.) We needed to spend as much time away from our apartment as possible. My friend Rachael was nice enough to have us over most of the weekend, and she also suggested we go to Brookfield Zoo, where she is a member.

It just so happened that Sunday was the first day of the Dinos & Dragons exhibit at Brookfield Zoo. And Victoria looooves dinosaurs. It was perfect and we were rewarded with the most gorgeous day. At least the sort of makes up for three days with no power. ...

I'm always amazed by how beautiful Brookfield Zoo is. The grounds are so well taken care of, something I appreciate because it's my husband's profession. I can't help but stop and take photos of and with the flowers.

The Dinos & Dragons exhibit had an indoor section as well as an outdoor walkway. The indoor portion was a bit crowded, so we headed outside to walk the pathway. Victoria was captivated by it all. I had to sort of wrangle her in a little because she kept wanting to run around, but I don't blame her; the place is so much fun!

I found that a nice perk of membership, besides bringing guests, is that parking is free in the north lot. South Gate parking was $2 for members.

We had a lovely Sunday afternoon in the best weather we've had all week in Chicago. Now if the current rain could go, that would be great.

What have you been up to lately? 




Subscribe to my YouTube channel for more fun videos!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Sources of My Freelance Income


** Referral links are included in this post. I make a small bonus for using these links. Thanks for supporting Floradise blog!



Every month, my goals post includes freelance writing and editing work. While I have a full-time editing job that keeps me quite busy, I like to also seek out freelance opportunities because I use the extra income for travel and other fun stuff. (I suggested freelancing as a way to help make money for travel in a recent post. Check it out!) Last month wasn't as successful as I would have liked, but I have generated more revenue each month this year from my side hustle than I did last year. In the spirit of helping my fellow blog ladies, I'm sharing ways I've used to find freelance work recently.


  • Reach out to friends and family. I have edited three books for a family member simply because I let people in my life know that I am always willing to help and that I'm looking for work. Sometimes people tend to keep side hustles on the DL, but we should really be broadcasting the fact that we are willing to work. I am a former newspaper copy editor, so I know many people in the industry. In the past I have contacted former coworkers and friends to ask about freelancing for them.
  • IZEA/Social Spark. When I first signed up for IZEA, I would only occasionally be selected for social media posts, such as sharing content on Twitter, for a handful of dollars here and there. But recently IZEA started sending me emails (as part of their list) seeking applicants for various special projects. A recent project in March netted me $220. I am waiting for more work to come in (soon, I hope!) as well. Use my referral link to get started. 
  • Linqia. I haven't done a Linqia sponsored post in a while, but I earned some cash, as well as hotel nights, during my last campaigns. Use my referral link here. 
  • Social Fabric. I find that I'm not selected for SoFab posts that often, but I keep applying. The last Shoppertunity I completed was in December.
  • Pitch directly to brands or small businesses. This one I find takes more work, so I don't do it as often as I should.
  • Affiliate programs. I use Shopstyle Collective, Brand Cycle, Impact Radius and MavenX. Many brands are featured in each program and you can also earn referral bonuses. My referral links for Brand Cycle and MavenX are included here.
  • Activate by Bloglovin. When I first joined, I would only obtain sponsored social media posts, but now I am seeing more sponsored blog opportunities available as well. 
Methods I am exploring/working on:

  • While I don't know how much time I have to devote to this, I am considering taking on virtual assisting work for bloggers.
  • Finishing my book. 
  • Influence Central. I have applied to several opportunities, but I need to put more effort into these pitches.

Do you have any freelance sources you'd like to share with the class?

Monday, May 8, 2017

April Favorites


**This post contains affiliate links, but these are my honest opinions about the products. I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.


I'm also loving this palm tree print makeup bag I found at Marshall's.

April was a bit exhausting, but in a good way. Graham fulfilled a lifelong career dream, we celebrated Victoria's birthday early and I did my best to balance an overwhelming workload with my fitness and personal goals. I also tested some new beauty products and accumulated more empties, which I'll be sharing soon. (One recent purchase was the LA Girl luminous foundation, which I like so far. ) I am still making my mind up about recent buys, but I do have some favorites to share:

KL Polish in Miss Honey: Kathleen Lights described the color (pictured above on the left) as something Miss Honey from "Matilda" would wear, and I agree. It's become my everyday nail polish color since I bought it last month. I was looking for the perfect spring color, and this is it for me. It's cruelty-free as well. KL's website describes it as a warm, melon hue. This polish is long-wearing for me, which is saying a lot.

Photo by KL Polish



The Big One Gel Memory Foam Pillow (Side Contour): I don't know what I have been doing with my life, except not sleeping well. I switched to this pillow recently and have been sleeping much better. My head and neck rest comfortably on the pillow, which is contoured, so I don't need to constantly adjust the pillow during the night. I am getting much better sleep, minus the sinus issues I've been having. These are normally about $50, but I found them on sale recently for $15 and $25, both good deals.


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DV Bailey Slide Sandals: I found these at Target (it wins again!) and when I saw the price tag of about $16, I had to get them. I was in need of new everyday, neutral sandals to throw on with many of my late spring and summer outfits. They come with yellow and black straps as well.


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Army Green Criss Cross Front V Back Short Sleeve Top: I was hesitant to order this because I was unsure of the quality for the affordable price, but I was not disappointed. It's a thicker material than you'd expect for $10 and it's comfortable and cute. I've worn it many times already. (I'm actually wearing it as I type this, too.) It comes in maroon, black, blue and yellow, too. 

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Wrappily: I love the fabulous prints offered by this eco-friendly and reversible gift wrap company, which is based in Hawaii. I shared more about it in my last post, so I won't go into too much detail here. P.S. There's still time to enter the Wrappily giveaway!




What have you been loving lately?





Friday, May 5, 2017

Victoria's Hawaii-Themed Party
& a Wrappily Gift Wrap Giveaway!


** Thank you Wrappily for partnering with me for this post. Free product was provided. All opinions are always my own.



Victoria's favorite movie is Moana, which she watches almost daily. And the Flora family's favorite place on Earth is Hawaii. That made choosing a theme for her third birthday celebration easy. Part 1 of the festivities was a Hawaii/Moana theme birthday party with family in Phoenix. She shared the first part of her birthday celebrations (Let's be real: We'll be celebrating for weeks!) with her cousin Olivia, who is turning 2.

Before the party, I reached out to Wrappily, an eco-friendly and adorable wrapping paper company based in Hawaii. I had previously written about them as a fantastic option for gift wrap supplies for the holidays, but they also have wrapping paper for other occasions. What more perfect paper to use for our Hawaii party? While planning a party can sometimes create some waste, you can always choose to do your part in small ways by purchasing wrapping paper that is made from recycled newsprint, compostable and printed with soy-based inks. Wrappily has you covered! Bonus: The sheets are also reversible.

Before the party, I wrapped one of Victoria's gifts in this whimsical Sand Dollar and Fiesta Piñas print from Wrappily. I showed both sides below. I opted to use the pineapples on the outside for her doll.

Wrapping one of Victoria's gifts with Wrappily's two-sided gift wrap.

I wrapped the gifts in twine for a natural, simple look.


I found that the Wrappily wrapping paper and cupcake toppers I was sent fit right in with our Moana/Hawaii theme for the party.

For the party, we cut pineapples and used them as vases for faux flowers (since we couldn't find real tropical flowers). The faux flowers are great because they can be reused and you can obviously eat the fruit.



I also found a tutorial for Jello Moana-inspired treats on Pinterest, so I attempted to replicate them. It was pretty easy, though mine don't look as good as the originals. Partygoers ate all of them, though, so that's a win! We ended up having more than 30 people show up, and they also gobbled up all the barbecue chicken, rice and macaroni salad.


Our cake and piñata were Moana-themed, of course, and a family friend was able to adorn a bounce house in a Moana banner. Victoria and her guests jumped in this for HOURS. The goodie bags were simple blue and pink bags that were decorated with Moana printables my sister found online. The coconut cups you see in this photo were reused from a previous party as decor. We also put faux leis in a tiki bucket (reused from previous party).




Another family friend made the piñata.


Another idea for the party: Use Wrappily's DIY Hawaii-theme print toppers for cupcakes. You can also add a green frosting swirl to replicate the heart of Te Fiti from the Disney movie. The cupcake toppers are super easy to put together. You simple use a glue stick to put two flower prints together with the stick in between. Then use a glue dot (which is provided) to add a button detail wherever you want. The buttons come in various colors to match any decor.






We found another Hawaii party snack idea on Pinterest: to shape a kiwi and pineapple platter like palm trees. The original idea used oranges for the base, but I skipped that part.



When you plan your own party or give your gift, you can at least feel good about using eco-friendly gift wrap from Wrappily for any occasion! Below you can enter to win a cute prize pack from Wrappily! And you don't have to win this giveaway to get your hands on this charming gift wrap; you can use code ALOHA15 for a discount on the site! (This is not an affiliate code, just sharing!)

Wrappily Giveaway!


Thanks to Wrappily's generosity, we are giving away the prettiest prints of wrapping paper to a lucky follower! You will also receive cupcake toppers and a flower kit to adorn your gift!



The giveaway contains:

  • Nautilus/ Aloha Flower print
  • Hawaii Love print
  • Cupcake topper kit (for 12 cupcakes)
  • DIY paper flower kit


Entering is super easy:

1. Follow @maretteflora on Instagram.
2. Follow @wrappily on Instagram.
3. Like this photo.



For a bonus entry (one entry per item below):
  • Tag a friend in the comments of the Instagram post.
  • Comment on this blog post.
No purchase is necessary to win. Open to U.S. residents only. Must be 18 or older. This giveaway is not affiliated with Instagram. Value is approximately $25. Contact me with questions. Winner must respond to my DM on Instagram within 48 hours or a new winner will be picked. Winner will be picked via random name picker. Odds of winning are dependent on the number of entries. Prize package was courtesy of Wrappily but giveaway is hosted by me.