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Boost Your Iron Levels During Pregnancy without Supplements

Apparently I have this genetic thing where vitamins make me sick, my mom has the same issue. When I was pregnant with William I was anemic and I’m fully expecting to be anemic again, in this pregnancy. But those iron pills just make me horribly sick. Actually, I can’t even take normal prenatal vitamins, I have to take the tummy-safe gummy ones. I’ve had to look for alternatives to boost my iron levels. I followed as many of these as my food aversions allowed in my first pregnancy and William was born with solid iron levels. But always remember to check with your doctor for what may be best for you and for baby.

01. Eat iron-rich foods.
Foods like pork, poultry, seafood, red meat, beans, tofu, lentils, dark leafy greens, dried fruit, eggs, whole grains, and fortified cereals are typically high in iron and other vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to both you and baby. If you also have gestational diabetes most of these are bonus foods because you can typically eat as much protein as you’d like in your diet.

02. Avoid foods that absorb iron.
Foods that are high in calcium can obstruct your body from readily absorbing iron. So do your best to eat a low amount of cheese, milk, and other dairy products. Another thing that messes with your iron absorption is tannin. Tannin can be found in foods like black, green, and rooibos teas, as well as coffee. Also try to avoid other caffeinated drinks.

03. Cook with cast iron pots and pans.
Whatever foods you cook in the cast iron pans will absorb iron from the pan.

What other tips and tricks do you have for upping your iron intake without taking a supplement?

Moms' Night Out 2016 Recap

I can't believe that it has already come and gone. The first Moms' Night Out was this past Friday at Commonwealth on Queen and I have to say, it was everything I hoped it would be. I had 11 lovely ladies, old friends and new, join me for the dinner and a kid-free night.

The evening was photographed by the sweetest photographer I've ever met, Andrea of onethirtynine Photography. She is such a pro, the kindest soul, and she got the photos to me within a few hours of the event ending! She's not a mama yet, but she loved the idea for the event and she wanted in. I'm so glad I got to work with her, it definitely won't be the last time.

Commonwealth is an amazing venue (and cafe during the day!), I got there maybe 45 minutes before the start of the event and all my friend Shawna and I had to do was set up the details like the raffle table and craft table. I am so thankful for Rachel and the rest of the staff at Commonwealth, they helped me throw an amazing event.

The doors opened at 6:30 and attendees checked in at the front with Shawna where they received their place cards and raffle tickets. We had some amazing raffle prizes, donated by tons of companies and business owners.

Prizes included a Mary Kay set from Cindy Templeton, a beautiful fabric/leather pouch from Petaline Prints, a collection of paper party goods from Susty Party, Framebridge donated two Instagram-Mini frames, a beautiful Stella & Dot bracelet from Amanda Turner, a gift card to Younique Makeup from Danielle Newswanger, a $20 gift card to The Bead Works in Lancaster, four gourmet baking mixes from Krista's Baking Co., a healthy snack basket from Alicia Johnson, and Alicia also donated a free month with her online fitness challenge group and a supply of Shakeology.

Dinner started off with a delicious salad course, guests could choose either a mixed greens salad or a pear and goat cheese salad. I tried the pear and goat cheese salad and it was AMAZING and from what I heard, the mixed greens was great too. I, unfortunately, could not eat the main entree because of my pregnancy food aversions but everyone absolutely raved about it. Rachel came up with a maple cider chicken over herbed quinoa for everyone to enjoy.

For the craft we decorated little ceramic mugs, it was so fun to see the designs that everyone came up with.

Honestly, my favorite part of the evening may have been handing out the raffle prizes. It's always just fun to see people excited to win beautiful prizes. And we also got to munch on homemade desserts while we went through the raffle prizes. I really loved being able to bless these amazing mamas.

Most of the ladies I did know but I loved getting to know them better and I loved meeting new friends as well! And it was cool to see the guests build new friendship amongst each other.

As everyone was leaving they all said that they couldn't wait for the next Moms' Night Out. I plan on doing a fancy dinner party like this once a year if all goes as planned. And throughout the year I'd love to do a couple smaller events, so be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram to get updated on future events.

Moms' Night Out was a much needed, relaxing evening. Even though I was technically "working," it seemed more fun than anything to me.

IF It's a Boy Nursery Inspiration

Last week I shared the nursery inspiration for if we have a baby girl so now it's time for if we have a boy nursery inspiration! William's nursery was this bright, bold adventure style room, actually, when we moved I kept the same colors in his room, we're just transitioning it into a big boy room. IF baby number 2 is a boy, I want to go with a more modern look for the nursery with a Modern Woodland Nursery.

Woodland Art //  I love this modern looking forest-themed artwork, of course found in Etsy. Featured prints: the fox, dream big, let him sleep.

Animal Mobile // I made William's mobile but holy cow is this mobile adorable. I may just have to shell out the money for this wooden animal mobile. I love the modern but vintage feel of it, it totally matches the rest of the house too. Is it weird that I want one for myself?

Leafy Bedding // I really want to pull some greys into the room while still matching the brown tones. The leafy print really pulls the woodland theme together.

Modern Rustic Crib // This is actually a different colored version of the crib William is currently using. I like this tan-ish toned one, it would match the grey colors I'm trying to pull into the room.

Natural Looking Area Rug // I generally like rugs with more of a pattern but a forest needs a natural  looking rug, right?

Throw Pillows // I can't tell you how many nights I ended up accidently falling asleep while nursing William in the glider. I've learned my lesson and this time, I'm getting some pillows for the glider to make my surprise sleeps a little more comfortable. Or for in case I sneeze, to press on my c-section incision. Featured pillows: watercolor pinecones, grey pillow.

Modern Lamp // Lamps are a perfect way to add a really contemporary look to any room. And it pulls in more of those grey colors.

So what do you think of the modern woodland boy's nursery? I won't lie, I still really love my idea for a girl's room but this modern forest look is pretty cute too!

Recipe for a Perfect Snow Day

We've had a weirdly but wonderfully warm winter this season...up until this past weekend. For those of you who don't live on the East Coast or don't read the news or get on Facebook, we had a pretty epic blizzard this past weekend. The "official" snow levels for our area are measured at Harrisburg International Airport and the amount of snow measured this weekend was 30.2" with some areas getting even more snow than that. Winter Storm Jonas has left the largest amount of snow ever in our area. The last blizzard we had in my lifetime that was similar to this one was in 1996 when I was two years old. My mom has some funny pictures of me standing in the snow.

On Sunday after the snow stopped, we were finally able to go outside, Seth and the other neighbors shoveled and cleared the sidewalks and driveways on our street. Seth was outside shoveling for four hours. There was just nowhere to put all of this snow. William is a weird kid and loves cold weather and cold wind so he loved the snow. We had a super fun snow day on Sunday, here's a little peek at our day.

We let Seth sleep in a few hours since he normally has to get up at 5am on Sunday's to get the church ready and we obviously didn't have church services on Sunday. William's current favorite breakfast is waffles with peanut butter. Actually, he'll eat anything smothered in peanut butter.

Once Seth got some of the driveway and sidewalk cleared we got all of Mr. William's snow gear on and took him outside for his first real snow experience. I, of course, took way too many photos.

For lunch, I made William my famous "Cheater Grilled Cheese." My mom taught me how to make and now I'm going to share this awesome trick with you. Check out the recipe below.

Cheater Grilled Cheese
Yields: 1 sandwich

2 slices bread
2 slices cheese

1. Place the cheese slices in-between the two slices of bread.

2. Place the assembled sandwich on a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 30 seconds or until the cheese has melted. Let sit for a minute or two before serving.

And I have another recipe for you. This one is special to me because my best friend Morgan, gave it to me in second grade. Snow Ice Cream is my favorite winter time treat. It's not "real" ice cream or anything like that but it's perfect to make with your kids and now I make it at least once in the winter just because of the fun memories of second grade.

Snow Ice Cream
Yields: 1 serving

1 cup snow
1/2 cup whole milk
dash of vanilla

1. In a mixing bowl, preferably one that has been chilled, mix the three ingredients together. Taste and add more vanilla if needed or if there's too much vanilla, add a tiny bit more snow.

William's faces when he tried the snow ice cream for the first time were hilarious.

How did you survive the blizzard snow days? If you make snow ice cream, let me know! Take a photo and tag it with #littlecitykitchen.

*this post is sponsored by Wayfair. All opinions are my own.

IF It's a Girl Nursery Inspiration

There's still about 11 weeks until we get to see baby again and find out if we're having a boy or a girl this time. But I can start planning, right? I've been so super sick this time, compared to last time, so most people are predicting that we're having a girl. I don't want to get my hopes up one way or the other so I'm planning for a girl or for a boy. Next week I'll share my If it's a boy nursery inspiration.

I spotted this sheet set on Wayfair and instantly knew that I wanted to work a nursery around them. Here are the necessities for the nursery IF we have a girl.

Flowery Mobile // I love this coffee filter mobile from FilteredArt on Etsy. It's perfect girly and simple and just adorable.

Adorable Artwork // I loved putting together the artwork for William's nursery but if we have a girl, I may just have more fun looking at the floral paintings and gold foil. Featured pieces: Je t'aime, She Believed She Could, and Proverbs 3:15.

Fun Rug // Sometimes it just takes a fun rug to pull a room together. I have a thing for goemetric rugs, like the one in our living room, so I'm loving this Ikea rug.

Beautiful Bedding // I am fully aware that I will need to get like five sets of crib sheets, in case for when baby makes a mess, but one of them will just have to be these beautiful sheets from Wayfair.

Lighting // Obviously we're going to need a lamp of some sort in the nursery. I acutally had a black version of this lamp in my room when I was growing up (I had this cool black and white and lime green theme going on). A smaller version of this lamp would even be great as a nightlight!

Chic Changing Table & Storage // We had a really hard time finding a changing table that matched William's nursery furniture so if we have a girl, I definately want to go all white and get this adorable changing table. And it has great storage options too!

Lovely Little Crib // We got William an Ikea crib and we never had any problems with it. I will say that it doesn't last as well as a more high end one would, but then again my child is nutso and kicks while spinning in circles as he falls asleep...every night. But Ikea cribs are a great affordable, safe, and cute option.

So what do you think of the color scheme? I'm kind of swooning over it. I really hope we have a girl, not only do I want to buy adorable baby dresses, I want to buy those amazing sheets!

Dress Your Tech

I know I'm not the only one out there who loves pretty things. And it's even better when those pretty things are high quality, right? Enter CaseApp.com.

CaseApp approached me a little while ago asking me if I would like to review some of their products. I was hesitant at first because I've never had a custom phone case that looked as good in person as it did online. And I've never seen computer stickers that didn't look cheap. Until my goodies came in the mail.

I was so pleasantly surprised when I opened up the phone cases. I chose one of their premade cases with a gloss finish and then I made a custom case with a matte finish. You can collage photos onto it as a gift (Valentine's Day is coming soon!) or do what I did and upload your brand logo! As you can see, my logo has a gold foil graphic in part of the logo. I was worded it would come out looking flat and odd when printed onto the case but it looked wonderful, almost like it was actually gold foiled onto the case.

The only cons I have are 1) the matte case seems to get dirty fairly quickly and 2) if dropped (which happens often in my house) the case pops off of the phone.

The vinyl computer skin is my favorite item out of the bunch. I expected a flimsy sticker that would roll up on itself while trying to put it on my computer. But it is very thick and easy to attach to the case of my computer. I used to have little rainbow keyboard stickers on my old computer but then there was an incident with water and the keyboard had to be replaced. And then I recently got a new computer. I've been feeling like I needed something to jazz up my new computer and this is perfect. I have absolutely no complaints about the skin.

Putting together a custom case or treating a friend to a funky computer skin would make a great Valentine's Day or birthday gift. It would also make a perfect treat for yourself!

Head over to CaseApp and let me know which products you think are awesome!

Interested in something from CaseApp? Use the promo code LITTLECITY20 for 20% off!

*I was compensated with free product in exchange for a review. All opinions are, as usual, my own.

Recipe | Chocolate Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies

I've had this recipe idea in my head for quite some time so it's fun to finally have it all done and ready to share! People always ask how I come up with recipe ideas so I thought I'd tell you.

I make them up in my head.

Towards the end of 2015 I started planning posts for this year so three or four times I sat down with the intention of coming up with recipe ideas. I either simply sit with a notebook while watching tv and come up with recipes from inside my head (does that sound crazy? I promise I'm not that crazy). Or I sit at the kitchen table with my recipe book collection and foodie magazines spread out and a notebook in front of me. I flip through the pages and look at the pretty pictures for inspiration. I look at different flavor combinations, types of dishes, and cooking methods, I never just copy a recipe, I use them as inspiration. I also just find it calming to flip through my favorite recipe books, the pictures are so pretty and the food looks so yummy.

I keep a running list of recipe ideas, mostly because I'm obsessed with making lists. I also keep a list of my makeup wish list. I like to watch those Youtube beauty videos and I write down the products that I think are pretty. I'm never going to buy three fourths of what I write down but I find list making relaxing.

Okay, I sound kind of crazy again, don't I?

Chocolate Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies
Yields: about 1 dozen

1 ¼ cups butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 ½ tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cup quick oats (not rolled!)
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ cup butter, room temperature
¼ c shortening
¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
4 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and line three baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a stand mixer, butter the butter until smooth and creamy. Mix in the sugars until combined in the butter. Mix in the egg followed by the vanilla and maple syrup.

3. In a separate bowl, use a wooden spoon or whisk to mix together the remaining cookie ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture until well combined.

4. Scoop about 2 Tbsp of dough at a time onto the prepared baking sheets. Be sure to place them a few inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking, or until edges are golden. and the middle has set. Let sit on the baking sheets for a few minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack.

5. While the cookies cool, prepare the filling. In a large bowl, beat the butter with the whisk attachment on a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer. Once smooth, mix in the melted chocolate.

6. Mix in half of the confectioner’s sugar until combined. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt and mix until combined. Add the remaining confectioner’s sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

7. Scoop about 3-4 Tbsp of filling onto the flat side of one cookie. Close it with the flat side of another cookie that is about the same size and shape. Repeat with the remaining cookies.

Use #littlecitykitchen when sharing your chocolate oatmeal sandwich cookies!