Living a tasteful life

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Maternity Photos + A Giveaway with Meredith Hilleary Photography

Dress: Ingrid & Isabel
I debated whether or not to do maternity photos for a while. Simply because I became discouraged and overwhelmed trying to plan it all. Not only could I not find anything to wear, but I also couldn't seem to find a photographer that had the aesthetic I was looking for at a reasonable price. Giving it one last attempt, I was scrolling through Instagram one night and came across a beautiful maternity photo taken here in Charleston. I immediately clicked to see more and to find out who was behind the lens of this stunning photograph. That's how I discovered Meredith Hilleary Photography. I send her a direct message on Instagram and received a prompt response. Next thing I know, we had been chatting for an hour and she was sending me inspiration boards based on the the information she had so attentively gathered from me. Finally, someone with my same vision for classical coastal photos, someone whose passion for photography was clearly evident just through a few direct messages on Instagram.

Meet Meredith, the wonderful photographer behind my maternity photos. The photos that I'm now so glad I ended up taking. Meredith is based out of Savannah, GA but travels for sessions in Charleston, Hilton Head, Bluffton and the surrounding areas. She has a passion for the lowcountry and eye for all of its beauty.  When I told her I wanted to take photos at a local marina, she was thrilled and we immediately started brainstorming. Whit and I love the water and spend a lot of time enjoying it, so incorporating it somehow just seemed right. I also considered going to a local plantation but the majority of our professional photos have been in similar settings, so this seemed like a good opportunity to change it up. 
A few reasons why I love Meredith, aside from the beautiful photos she takes and her southern hospitality, she was able to get my husband to cooperate for the photo shoot. Her sense of humor and casual attitude seemed to provide the right distraction. Whit hates taking photos, especially scheduled shoots like this. In all fairness he hasn't had to do anything like this since our wedding, which was almost five years ago. I hate to break it to him but we have to do it all over again in just a few short weeks after our son is born. 

Meredith has a way of making you feel comfortable in front of the camera which assists in getting those natural shots. When searching for a photographer, one of the most important things to me is working with someone who gives direction. I think it's so important that a photographer take the lead and be prepared so no time is wasted. In an effort to get all of the shots Meredith and I had discussed that were meaningful to me, she brought a handful of printed examples to make sure we didn't miss anything. She also brought some cute little props (like this sail boat) to use for a few styled shots and to assist in telling our story. Her portfolio with other examples can be seen here. I think it's a bonus that Meredith is also a mom and has an understanding for the experience and photos a first time mom like myself would like to have. She was so thoughtful and had put together a little gift basket for me that include a bottle of water, a snack bar, a coffee mug and two hand painted oyster shells — one for me and for our little nugget.

We took advantage of the beach being right near the marina and snapped a few photos there too. I wanted that bright white effect in the photos and that's exactly what she was able to capture. My mom was there with us the whole time so it was nice to be able to get a few with her as well. 

I took a chance on working with someone I had never met before and I'm so glad I did. I absolutely love how our photos turned out! And today I've got a giveaway that I'm excited to share with you. Meredith is offering a free styled portrait session ($400 value) for up to a family of four, taking place in the surrounding lowcountry areas (Savannah, Tybee, Beaufort, Bluffton, Charleston). Head over to my Instagram feed to enter!


Thursday, May 17, 2018

34 Week Pregnancy Update + Our First Baby Shower

My to-do list is getting longer and the days are getting shorter. Things have been so crazy busy since the last baby update. I’ve had two baby showers, three doctors’ appointments, a CPR class and a meet and greet with a pediatrician, and there is still a mile-long list of things to do. I’m trying to take things one day at a time and not drive myself too crazy. 

I had an ultra sound last Thursday which showed that our little one is in fact little. No surprise here or from the doctor. My husband and I are not large people so naturally they don’t expect our child to be either. But in an effort to make sure everything is progressing as it should, I now have to go in twice a week, once for an NST, and a second visit for an ultra sound. Although this requires more time in the Dr.’s office, it’s comforting to know that he is being closely monitored. 

Here are a few updates since my last post, plus a look at our first shower! 

How far along? 34 weeks and 1 day.

Baby’s size: This week baby Smith is the size of a cantaloupe.

Weight gain: 20 lbs

Energy & How I'm Feeling: I've been climbing into bed around 9:30 lately, in an effort to get my rest. I've felt a little tired in the afternoons but I wouldn't say as tired as I was in the first trimester. 

Appetite: Give me all the carbs (but only in small portions)!

Workouts: Be lazy. Those were Dr.'s orders per my visit last week. She told me to take a break from the gym and even walking in order to give everything I've got to the baby. It's only been one week and it has been a little tough. I'm not one to lay around on the couch all day, but I am listening and taking a break from all physical activity. It's difficult because working out is what makes me feel good and I've been active my whole life, but I will do anything I'm told that will benefit our little one.

Sleep: I've been waking up with random hip pain. I'm not sure if it's because of all the weight I'm supporting when I lay on my side or if it's my body preparing for birth...probably a little of both. But it literally feels like my hips are going through growing pains.

Movement: He's continuing to wiggle around a lot and also has the hiccups at least once a day. In my last ultra sound, we could see that he has turned head down, which is good news. 

Wardrobe: Loose fitting dresses are my favorite right now, especially with the rising temps here in Charleston!

Nursery Updates: The room is almost complete! We are currently trying to find a rug that we like. We ordered one that didn't work, so the search is still on. We also still need some artwork for above the crib. Other than that, we are in pretty good shape.

Doctor's Visits: As I mentioned above, I'm now on a twice per week schedule.

Baby Shower Recap: 

I’m beyond grateful for all the love our sweet little baby has been shown lately and he’s not even here yet. The other weekend my mother in-law and Whit's aunt hosted the most adorable shower for Whit and me in honor of baby Smith. It was so wonderful to be surrounded by friends and family to share in all the joy this little one has already brought us. We received so many great gifts, including several precious outfits that I can’t wait to see him in. 

My mother in-law and Whit’s Aunt left no stone unturned when it came to the details. Here are few of my favorite photos from the day. 

Whit's Aunt and Uncle own Lowcountry Kettle Corn and I'm always thrilled anytime popcorn shows up. These made the best favors for guests.
How adorable are these onsie shaped pimento cheese sandwiches. Whit's grandfather whipped up the homemade pimento cheese filling and his dad cut them all out. This shower really was a family effort.
 How adorable is this cake?!
These two can hardly wait to meet their grandson!
 We received so many thoughtful gifts from our friends and family.
 I just adored all of the cute little outfits he got, like this precious one with the bow tie.
My mom was able to find my old Beatrix Potter books that I had when I was a child. These are so special to me and I'm thrilled to be able to pass them down to our baby.

 A huge thank you to our family and friends for making our first baby shower so special!

33 Weeks
33 Weeks

34 Weeks
34 Weeks


Thursday, May 3, 2018

32 Week Pregnancy Update + Maternity Sneak Peak

Meredith Hilleary Photography
Dress: Ingrid & Isabel

It's really hard to believe that by the end of next month we will be a family of three! I've had so many emotions lately. I'm so happy and excited for this new adventure but I'm also nervous and scared of the unknown. Everyone keeps saying "you'll figure it out." I guess only time will tell, but in the meantime I've got some fun things to look forward to before baby Smiths arrival. I'm looking forward to my very first baby shower this weekend and a second one the following weekend. Also, I had a maternity photo session this past Sunday with my talented photographer, Meredith, of Meredith Hilleary Photography. Above are two sneak peak photos from the shoot. I can't wait to share them all with you as soon as I get them back. Here's an update of how things have been going. 

How far along? 32 weeks and 1 day.

Baby’s size: This week baby Smith is the size of jicama.

Weight gain: 19 pounds

Energy & How I'm Feeling: I'm a slow mover these days, but not due to lack of energy, just due to my growing belly. It's tough to get moving in the mornings, but once I do I'm fine. Also, I've started to have mid afternoon back aches at work, but nothing I can't push through.  I've been so lucky thus far and really can't complain.

Appetite: My cravings seem to have come back. All I want now is cereal and sandwiches, with crunchy potato chips, on the side and in the sandiwch! Or just carbs in general... I've also found several great mocktails at a few different restaurants in town. I plan to share a separate post on that later.

Workouts: I've still been spending time on the treadmill, making it to red zone about twice per week, lifting light weights and adding in a barre class here and there. Some days it feels like the biggest struggle just to walk on the treadmill because all I feel is him pressing on me which is a little uncomfortable, but I always feel better after the fact.  I plan to keep going to the gym as long as my body will allow.
Sleep: There are good nights of rest and not so good nights. Falling asleep isn't the issue,  it's waking up multiple times during the night to change positions or use the bathroom. Then I start thinking about all of the things that have to be done before this little ones arrives and the list is pretty long. I've also noticed that I frequently wake up in the middle of the night because my hips hurt from laying on my side.

Movement: Well, there is officially less room for him to move because he is continuing to take over my stomach, which makes the feelings a little different than before. I can feel him moving in lower parts of my stomach now. The night before last I was laying in bed and all of the sudden I saw what appeared to be a tiny bump in my stomach. I could literally see my skin poke up and it was so freaky. I don't know if it was a fist, an elbow or a foot but it was the strangest thing to see. 

Wardrobe: I searched high and low for a dress to wear in my maternity shoot. Here is a link to the one I'm wearing in my photos. Note, Target has similar one for a lot less but it is super see through. I finally found a pair of white maternity jeans! I went into H&M the other weekend and there was literally one pair left, hanging on the sale rack and in my size. It was meant to be! I also snagged a pair of these light denim distress ones as well. 
Nursery Updates: I finally got our custom framed artwork back and love it! Custom framing is a nightmare for an indecisive person like me, but thankfully I was happy with the finished product. It's a piece that we found on our travels to Italy and it fits perfectly in the nursery. I'm currently trying to figure out what to do about our rug situation. We left the one in there that we used when it was a guest bedroom, but after moving the furniture around, I think we may need something bigger. We also need something to go on the wall above the crib. Hopefully I will find all of these things before his arrival. I would like to have everything in place prior to that, so the search is still on.

Doctor's Visits: I'm headed back next week for an ultrasound. I can't wait to see him on the inside one last time before he comes into this world.

31 Weeks
32 Weeks

White jeans on repeat!

Previous Updates: Pregnancy Announcement | 16 Weeks & Gender Announcement | 18 Weeks | 20 Weeks | 22 Weeks | 24 Weeks| 26 Weeks | 28 Weeks | 30 Weeks


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Charleston Dining | The Watch: Restaurant with a View

I've said it before and I'll say it again — there is definitely no shortage of places to dine in Charleston. Choosing one is the difficult part. I like to keep an updated document on hand that I can share with people who travel into town and ask for recommendations on where to eat. My list is broken down by places to have breakfast, brunch and lunch, places to have a fancy dinner and places where the scene is more casual, places for drinks only and those places with a view that are perfect for happy hour. Which leads me to the  I wanted to share with you today. Located on the seventh floor of the luxury, chic, Restoration Hotel, The Watch is a great place for cocktails with a view! When I was searching for a place with outdoor seating to take my girlfriend for her birthday and said she had never been before, I knew we had to go. The outdoor rooftop area has first come, first serve seating and is available for dining and drinks. We got lucky last weekend and snagged a table right when we walked in the door. 
Since we are both pregnant, mocktails were the only order we placed from the bar. I must say, the non-alcoholic version of the White Point Garden was refreshing!   

 And in true hungry, pregnant lady fashion, we ordered all the carbs...
Including the ham and cheddar hush puppies with deviled egg mayo.
And the pesto gnocchi with lemon, basil, ricotta fingerling potatoes and asparagus, with a side of truffle frites.
It was a tad bit windy, but the view was still beautiful. It's a great spot to sip cocktails (or mocktails) with girlfriends, order a few snacks to share and soak in the beauty of the Holy City. 
Photo Credit: The Restoration Hotel

 The inside is pretty too!

Photo Credit: The Restoration Hotel
Photo Credit: The Restoration Hotel
If you're looking for an outdoor spot to unwind on a beautiful afternoon, definitely pay them a visit! 

Where are some of your favorite places to enjoy patio weather in Charleston?  
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