Newborn Realities for Second Time Parents March 29, 2018 05:00

Brian and I recently welcomed our new nugget, Margaret (Maggie), into our family. She was officially one month earlier this week. The past month has flown by and yet feels like it has taken forever. There have been many highs and lows. I feel like when preparing for our first child we were so intentional and thorough. This was probably because we knew we were adventuring into the unknown. This time with both of us working full-time and having a energetic toddler running around we honestly didn't have nearly as much time or mental capacity to prepare. I think we both secretly hoped it was like riding a bike, that it would all come back once she was born. The truth is that was only halfway true. Brian and I regularly look at each other and exchange the glance that means, "oh yea, I vaguely remember that, but I can't seem to recall the specifics, mental note to ask pediatrician next time we go in." I also personally think that God has somehow engineered our minds to suppress the newborn phase, cause really, who would remember all the details and choose to have another? But then again, those sweet tiny precious little fingers!

Newborn Realities for Second Time Parents

I jotted a few of those newborn-isms down that we failed to remember:

  • Babies are typically born nocturnal and it takes a few days (in our case weeks) for them to readjust to a regular schedule.
  • The most in-depth conversations that you end up having with your spouse seem to all happen at around 4:30am when you are both for some reason really awake. The few moments you don't have a toddler melting down or a baby crying.
  • Babies cry. Our first hardly cried. Maggie seems to express all emotions, good and bad, by crying. Definitely an adjustment for us. 
  • The "let you baby cry it out" thing is a lot harder to do when you toddler is sleeping soundly.
  • Babies have growth spurts where they are hungry all the time. 3 days, 7-10 days, 3 weeks, so on and so forth.
  • We completely forgot about acid reflux and gas. Our new addition seems to want to be upright or decently angled all of the time in order to be comfortable. 
  • For those that breastfeed, it takes up so much of your day, completely forgot the time commitment. 
  • Also for those that breastfeed, you forget about having to live life in 2 hour stretches of time.
  • I regularly have to look at my phone to know the day of the week. 
  • How long does it take for a baby to sleep through the night? We hit it at 8 weeks with our first, I'll keep you posted regarding round two.
  • You're continually washing everything: bottles, poopy clothes, milk covered everything!
  • We hadn't fully processed how our son was going to react. There have been very high highs and very low lows on this front. 
  • Cabin fever is real!

A New Addition to the UPstudio Team! March 1, 2018 05:00

Congratulations to Mary Beth and her husband on the birth of their beautiful baby girl, Margaret!  Maggie is the cutest little thing, even though she likes to stay up all night.  We're so excited to add another member to the UPstudio family!  Join me in congratulating MB on her precious and perfect addition to their family.

PS - Mary Beth's dedication to UPstudio is REAL.  She wanted to write a blog post while she was in recovery after giving birth!  (We didn't let that happen).

33 - The Jesus Year (and figuring out life) July 6, 2017 05:00

I'm turning 33 tomorrow.  33 might not seem like a milestone birthday like 16, 18, 21, 25, and 30 are, but I've always referred to 33 as the Jesus year.  Jesus was 33 when he was crucified, and man did He do a lot in those 33 years... kind of makes my birthday feel even weightier with the comparison because spoiler alert: Jesus was a way better person than me.

I've always thought that I would have my life figured out by the time I turned 33, and used this as my goal year to know what I was actually doing with my life.  For a long time this was totally attainable because 33 was so far off.  But now, it's tomorrow, and as I sit here and reflect, here is what I've learned.

I don't think I'll ever fully have my life figured out, and maybe that's ok.  Most of the time, I'm Type A and need to feel in control and have a plan, but, maybe being flexible is part of figuring out life (actually, I think this is definitely the case, it's just hard to realize sometimes).  I'm pretty good with most of the things in my life - I have the best husband, and some really awesome kids.  My day job has recently narrowed it's focus with a concentration on K-12 work, which is something I feel invested in.  Mary Beth and I are working in stride and growing UPstudio.  My youngest daughter is now old enough that we are in a routine as a family instead of constantly floundering with newborns.  I've been studying minimalism and how to simplify my life, and am taking steps in that direction.  So on the surface, everything is great.  There is one thing that I feel is lacking though, and it's really within myself.

My husband and I were talking recently, and the only way I could describe what I was feeling is that I want to do more good.  We had been reflecting a lot recently on the life of someone that we admired so much for her goodness.  She was real, and not perfect, but she was the type of person who would drop everything to help a friend, was always volunteering to help where needed, and never let anything that was going on in her life hold her back.  I want to be more like her - to be an example for my daughters and feel like I'm making a difference with all aspects of my life, and maybe even let go of some control to just be available as needed.  

I thought about trying to task myself with doing something for a year.. daily, weekly, monthly.. but ultimately decided that if I failed even once then the whole project would feel like a fail.  My goal isn't to put more pressure or stress on myself, but to live my life more intentionally.  My mind went back to some basic principles that were instilled in my early Christian days: the fruits of the spirit.  If I can live my life with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, then everything else should fall into place.  Easier said than done, I know, but something to strive for.  

When I thought more on this, I could easily see ways that I could apply each of these "fruits" to my every day life.  I've been trying to put it in to practice these past few days, and have felt and seen a difference in the interaction with my daughters, and even that difference alone is worth it.  So, here in my Jesus year is a reminder to try to live each day more like Jesus, and let life take it's course.  

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control..." Galatians 5:22-23

The Best Planner for Moms (and Dads!) November 24, 2016 05:00

This blog post is a part of the series "The Best Planner for..." which provides suggestions for ways in which you can use the UPstudio Planner.  Each post in this series will focus on a different way to utilize the planner layout. The UPstudio Planner is designed for versatility, and is suited for many uses and not limited to the featured suggestions.  Show us how you use your planner by sending us an email at, or tagging us on social media (all handles can be found on our website).

Mom brain is a real thing.  So is Dad brain.  If you have kids, then you know what I'm talking about.  My husband likes to describe his Dad brain as functioning at the same level as our kids - a 3 year old and a 7 month old.  Because we hold a lot of conversations with a baby and a preschooler, our own minds naturally tend to think in a way that they can understand things.  Also, there's that whole lack of sleep thing... it's just a fact of life that having kids = less sleep, no matter what age they are.  You have to keep going and functioning, sometimes on little to no sleep, and sometimes your brain just can't handle keeping up with the plethora of information it needs to after hearing "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy" a thousand times a day - hence, Mom or Dad brain.

Having the right planner can be a lifesaver when you're juggling a lot of things and need to keep them straight (aka not forget when picture day is and accidentally let your kids wear pajamas to school).  In my daily life I manage: the responsibilities and schedule of my day job, the responsibilities and schedule of my side job (UPstudio), my husband's schedule, my 2 daughters schedules, keeping a relatively put together house, and keeping us all fed - including our 2 dogs (working with my husband on all of these things).  That's a lot to keep track of.

The UPstudio Planner is perfect for me to manage my family and my jobs.  The flexibility is essential, because the items I need to highlight the most change from week to week.  With the UPstudio Planner, the weekly layout allows for me to use the top section as a schedule for my appointments and meetings (although it's just as easy to use this section as a daily to-do list, etc), and the middle sections can vary based on what's going on that week.  My 3-year-old has a theme at school every month, and each day she brings in something to school, or we talk about a particular item or idea that relates to that theme.  In the example below, I'm able to see what she has planned for each day so I can prepare it the night before.  My 7-month-old is branching out in what foods she is eating, and I can easily track what she has each day.  If she has any allergic reactions, I can look to see what might have been the cause.  I can also take notes on what foods she likes and what she didn't like.  The remaining row in the middle section of the layout was used in this example to plan meals for the week.  It's amazing what a difference it makes when I come home with a meal that is already planned instead of blankly staring into the fridge for 10 minutes before cooking a frozen pizza (for more on this, check out The Best Planner for Meal Planning).

The bottom section in this example is shown as a to-do list.  I also like to use this space to write down funny things that my 3-year-old says: "Would you like a brownie? They're really brown!"

The best part is that the next week I can change this up completely or leave it exactly the same.  It's truly the most versatile layout you can use, and if there's one thing I've learned as a parent, it's that things are constantly changing, so having a planner that can adapt to my needs is crucial.  I foresee this layout being extremely useful as more after-school activities are added to our schedules as my daughters grow up as well.

The graph pages of the UPstudio Planner can also double as a coloring book (at home, at the DMV, in the car, etc) - mom tested, kid approved (and no bleed through!)


Sometimes Taking a Risk... Is Worth the Risk July 28, 2016 05:00

Here's the thing... taking a risk is scary. No matter what the risk is, you're putting yourself out there, maybe making a big decision, but you're not sure that the outcome will be what you want.

For Mary Beth and me, forming UPstudio was a big risk. We both had full time jobs and families - in other words, we had plenty of responsibility, but not a lot of free time. However, we also had numerous of conversations through our years of friendship about each wanting to do something on our own. Neither one of us felt quite satisfied with our careers, feeling an urge to do something more personal, more tangible, more on our own terms. So, one day when we were comparing our planners for the new year, talking about what we did and didn't like about each one, it made perfect sense that we could create our own. And then it was a brilliant idea that we create an entire business around this one shared interest. That was it - we were going to do it!

Taking a step back, we knew that this was a risky move, and we needed to think about it individually before committing. For one, neither of us had any experience with business minus the occasional lemonade stand of our respective childhoods. We had no experience with marketing, limited knowledge of product fabrication, limited knowledge of website design, no contacts in the field to help us, and knew we would have to spend our own money to invest in a start up. On the other hand, we are both designers, and knew that we worked well together. We knew each other's strengths and our own weaknesses, and knew that we would be able to fill in the gaps for each other. In our discussions we discovered that what we each wanted to do for our business perfectly balanced out. More than anything, we both had drive, and knew we could trust each other. So many things were working in our favor, but there were so many other things that made this way too scary. MB was newly pregnant and about to start on a whole new adventure by becoming a mom. This project would take up most of our free time.  Was this something that we were really willing to take a risk on?

With the support of our husbands, we decided that it was. And now, a year and a day after initially launching our website, we know that all our hard work has been worth it. Let's not get carried away, it hasn't been a cakewalk, and we aren't exactly rolling in the dough, but we have learned a lot. We've taken countless risks along the way, some leading to better results than others. Through our Lessons Learned posts, we're sharing this information with you all.  Goodness knows we've scoured resources as we embarked on each new step of this journey (and we're still going!), so we're now excited to be able to give back and be a resource for others.

In the coming weeks you'll see some of the results of the efforts we've made: the 2017 UPstudio Planner is in production (and we are SO excited about some changes we're making), we're a part of The Makers Mercantile, and we're featured in some really fantastic stores:  Ramble Supply Co., Stitch by Holly Aiken, and West Elm (coming very very soon in the Local section at Southpoint in Durham!). None of these things would be happening without the risks that we've taken over the past few months. 

The best part though? Knowing that we've done this on our own, survived, and feeling that the risk is worth the ongoing reward. So if you're on the fence about a risk, think about what it might be like on the other side, and don't be afraid to go for it.

Raleigh A-Z July 21, 2016 09:08

UPstudio is based out of Raleigh, North Carolina. To share more about our hometown we decided to challenge ourselves to think of a list that followed the alphabet, A-Z. (So limiting ourselves to only 26!) To meet the challenge we had to think outside of the box a bit. Fun facts, amazing people, and places all made the cut.

 Raleigh A-Z, An introduction to our city. - UPstudio

A Ashley Christensen: An award winning chef who now has 6 restaurants downtown that are all amazing!
B Breweries: Raleigh is home to more than 12 breweries.
C Capital Area Greenway Trail System: A network of public open spaces and recreational trails connecting the city.
D Development Beat: Learn about all of the development going on in Raleigh via this blog (yea, we know we are nerds, and we own it!).
E Education: Raleigh is home to 11 traditional universities and colleges and numerous satellite campuses for higher education.
F Farmers Market30,000 square feet for North Carolina farmers to sell fresh produce, plants, and other specialty items produced on local farms. Open 7 days a week.
G Goodnight Raleigh: A blog/online magazine that shares awesome fun facts and pictures about the history of Raleigh.
H Hall, Michael C: Most commonly known as Dexter Morgan was born and grew up right here in Raleigh, attending Ravenscroft High School.
I Ira David Wood III: A local actor that has raised the bar for theatrical excellence in Raleigh. Many know him as Scrooge. He is also the founder and executive director of the Theater in the Park.
J J.S. Dorton Arena: This 1952 iconic structure associated with the state fair is actually a National Historic Monument and boasts the world's first cable supported roof system.
K Kingston Upon Hull, England: Is one of our sister cities, the mission: “To promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation - one individual, one community at a time.”
L Libraries: Wake County Public Libraries have come a long way since we were kids. Example: I now check out new releases via my kindle. Our system has over 21 locations, 10 of which are in Raleigh.
M Mordecai Historic Park: One of the historic outbuildings includes the birthplace of the 17th president, Andrew Johnson.
N North Carolina Museum of ArtIt was the first art museum in the country to be established using state funds.
O Oak View: Where the typical 4th grader goes to pick cotton and learn about about North Carolina's agricultural development from colonial times to the present. (Also just learned that Gregory Poole owned and lived at the estate for 3 years.)
P Parks: Our city park system boasts over 200 parks total over 9,000 acres of parkland.
Q Quality of Life: Raleigh consistently ranks in the top 20 best US cities in regards to overall quality of life.
R Red Hat Amphitheater: "Bringin' the get down to downtown"
S Sir Walter Raleigh: Our namesake.
T Triangle Glides Segway Tours: The best part is that the tours are narrated, so you learn tons of cool facts about the city as you ride around. 
U Umstead State Park: In 1934 the state purchased the roughly 5,000 acres that we now call William B. Umstead State Park for $1.
V Vance Sykes: Class of 1907 alumni of North Carolina State University credited with the idea of constructing the iconic Belltower, a 115 ft granite monument to honor NC State alumni killed in WWI.
W Walter Magazine: "Raleigh's Life and Soul" (We highly recommend the in-depth profiles.)
X X-Files: The thirteenth episode of the first season, "Beyond the Sea" was set in Raleigh, NC. 
Y YMCA: The first permanent building was erected in 1913 on the corner of Wilmington and Edenton Streets. The downtown location moved to it's current home on Hillsborough Street in 1959. The YMCA used to have living quarters where Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show once stayed.
Z Zip Codes: Per USPS, Raleigh touches 44 zip codes. #cray


 (Photo Credits: A: ac-restaurants, B: Big Boss Brewing, C: City of Raleigh, D: Development Beat, E: NCpedia, F: State Farmers Market G: Ian F. G. Dunn, H: IMDb, I: Nick Pironio, J: NCDA&CS, K: Wikitravel, L: The News & Observer, M: STRAYTHERE, N: NCSU Libraries, O: Historic Oak View County Park, P: City of Raleigh, Q: A Breath of Fresh Air, R: Jason Moore Photography, S: 919Raleigh, T: ME!, U:, V: NCSU Libraries, W: Walter Magazine, X: Den of Geek, Y: State Archives of North Carolina, Z: Popular Raleigh Neighborhoods)

Summertime Essentials June 30, 2016 08:00

Summertime and the livin's easy... But maybe just a little bit easier with these summertime essentials. Whether you're headed on vacation, in town for a staycation, or simply enjoying your nights and weekends away from work, the following list of items can help make your summer a little sweeter.

A Good Book (or magazine)

A few weeks back we gave recommendations on our favorite books, but we love a good magazine too.  Shorter articles and the ability to recycle when you're done is great when you're in vacation mode.

A New Swimsuit

Let's face it ladies, as we get older, our bodies change.  MB and I have both embraced the one-piece since joining the motherhood club, and good news - there are some totally cute one pieces out there!  I love this  macrame one-piece from Victoria's Secret.

The Right Sunscreen

If you're going to be showing more skin this summer, whether with a swimsuit, shorts, or a sundress, sunscreen is essential.  Follow these guidelines from the Environmental Working Group about the best sunscreens out there.  I like Alba Very Emollient Sunscreen.

A Grill

The easiest way to complete any summer day is to grill out your dinner.  I don't know anyone who doesn't love grilled meat, veggies, or even fruit.  Grilling works for a quick meal for one, or a summertime party (and if you throw one, we recommend inviting guests with this free BBQ Card download!)

Rainy Day Activities

With summer comes the occasional thunderstorm, so be prepared with some fun indoor activities.  Watch your favorite movie, have an indoor picnic, visit a local museum, or pull out a board game (for those who like board games, I recommend trying Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride!)

A Good Pair of Sunglasses

If you're anything like me, then sunglasses are necessary when you're outside.  They also tend to grow legs and walk away, so I tend to purchase inexpensive pairs.  Bonus - when you forget to take them off before diving into a wave at the beach, no biggie!

A Go-To Cocktail Recipe

Alcoholic or virgin, a fun drink makes for a fun day.  My husband and I practice Frozen Drink Friday as a way to welcome in the weekend.  This one's not a frozen drink, but I recommend trying out a Hotel Nacional sometime this summer: equal parts dark rum and pineapple juice, half part apricot brandy, a squeeze of lime juice and a dash of simple syrup.

A Fun Way to Record Memories

We live in the age of the iPhone, so if you're carrying your phone, you also have a camera and a video camera, so you're probably set.  If you're looking for something a little different, try the Fujifilm Instax Camera for a modern twist on polaroids.  Stick this business-card sized photo in your wallet or on your refrigerator for a fun way to reminisce all your summer memories.

Maternity vs. 'Meternity' June 16, 2016 08:00

Recently an article was published proposing the idea that people who do not have children should have the equivalent of maternity leave, a twelve week 'vacation' of introspective opportunities. The author cleverly called this 'meternity'. I'm all about this idea, with a catch: this should be offered to everyone regardless of if they have children and take maternity leave or not, because the idea that this could in any way relate to what maternity leave is, or that a woman taking maternity leave really has a 3 month vacation, is laughable. 

Now, I really don't blame her for having this thought. She hasn't experienced maternity leave, and she must not know anyone who has taken it, or else she would never be able to compare the two. From an outsiders perspective, it does seem like a vacation - 12 weeks away from work is a good break. In the article she notes that some of her friends made life changes such as ending or switching their careers after taking maternity leave, but this could be for any number of reasons, money being a huge factor.  In all honesty - kids are expensive!  Newborns go through approximately 47 diapers a day, and don't even get me started on the cost of daycare.  I thought college tuition prices were supposed to wait until college!  No wonder some of these women made changes... maybe they had to!  Back on track, let's talk about what the differences between a vacation and maternity leave actually are. We're all familiar with a vacation, but what is maternity leave? 

First, let's clear up a discrepancy. We all call the time taken after giving birth maternity leave, when the fact is that most companies don't offer a true maternity leave... In reality what most new mothers take is FMLA or short term disability, and the terms of these vary. Pay varies as well, but there is only a certain amount of time that pay is accrued, and only at a percentage of full pay. Some people do not have the opportunity to take 12 weeks, and have to go back to work much earlier, while they are still recovering, and while their baby is still very young. And, there is often no leave offered for fathers, who are usually just as sleep deprived as the mother.

But, let's not get caught up in the weeds of how things could be better, let's shift gears to the highlights of a day in the life of a mom home with her new baby (as experienced by me, on any given day these past 4 weeks):

  • Wake up at 6:00am after an interrupted night of sleep between hour-long feedings every 3 hours, which means 2 hours of sleep at a time.
  • Think about what is going on that day and determine which level of black leggings I should put on (level 1: fresh and clean, level 2: worn for a couple of days, or level 3: worn for several days and nights with several milk stains).  Locate a maternity size shirt to wear with black leggings (don't even think about trying to wear your pre-pregnancy clothes again yet, trust me)
  • Relocate everything that lives on my nightstand at night (pump and pump supplies, bottle, giant water bottle, phone, diapers, wipes, etc) to set up in the living room for the day. Who would've thought this much stuff would be required to get through one night?
  •  (unedited photo of my disaster of a nightstand)
  • Clean up 2 dog accidents within 15 minutes of each other (Ok not everyday, but this is just to say that regular life still happens with things to be dealt with!)
  • Clean up and redress an explosive diaper (Again not everyday, but more often than anyone should have to deal with)
  • Help my toddler get ready for school while nursing the newborn (Epitomizing the generation of multitasking!  I've learned to hold a nursing baby with one hand while dressing my daughter with the other.)
  • Kiss my husband and toddler goodbye for the day.
  • (7:00am) Settle in on the couch after another diaper change for an endless nursing session... eat breakfast, and binge watch tv shows that my husband would hate (but that I love!!! Recommendations: Grey's Anatomy, Hart of Dixie, UnREAL, Jane the Virgin) After the baby nurses, I pump breastmilk to make sure she has a good supplement of hind milk if she falls asleep too fast. Sometimes these milk cannons are more than she can handle (Sidebar: breastfeeding is not easy!  The first few weeks are especially hard as you and your baby are both learning how to work with each other.  Again, I won't go into detail with this, but just think about the sacrifices that moms make next time you see someone nursing their child.  My first was a hybrid with breastmilk and formula which worked great for us, and so far we're exclusively nursing with this one, but may have to use formula in the future.  There are drawbacks and benefits to each, but bottom line, here's the thing - sometimes one just works better than the other, and that is perfectly fine. In other words, don't judge a fellow mama, she's making her choice for a reason!)
  • Do an insane amount of laundry every day.  How does one baby go through so many outfits in one day?!  (answer: see note above about diapers)
  •  (the never-ending circle of laundry)
  • Lather, rinse, repeat with the possibility of a nap thrown in there. Eat lunch (time varies, but lunch is typically dry Honey Nut Cheerios that I have to fend my dogs off of) then repeat diaper, nurse and if I'm lucky, a nap.

Some days we do get out of the house - the older that she gets (and the more I recover), the more we can handle. We go to Costco (my favorite place ever, but that's another blog post!), Trader Joes, out for long walks, but not all in the same day and not without frequent breaks and sometimes, a lot of tears (from both of us).  

And, let's not get too into this, but recovery is hard. I can't be too far from the house for too long until my body can get itself together and stop leaking from every single orifice. Milk, sweat, tears, etc. The female body after giving birth is a hot mess for quite a while.  A new mom's center of gravity has changed so quickly that she is often left with extreme back pain from essentially re-learning how to walk.  And, sleep.  Precious, fleeting sleep.  It's amazing how a person can function on so little sleep.  I can do the basics - take care of the baby, shower, get groceries, etc.  But ask me to have an adult conversation and I'm a fumbling idiot.  I can't think of words, can't get sentences out, hear things incorrectly, and sometimes just don't even know what to say.  My daily conversations are with a baby, my TV, and in the evenings my husband and my 2 year old.  My husband struggles with the same problem and we often laugh about attempted conversations with others.  So, that leaves my 2 year old leaving the most impression on my daily speech, so please excuse me if in a conversation I manage to slip in a change of topic to 'talk about snowmans'.

You know though, the author of that article isn't entirely wrong... In the past 4 weeks I have had time to think more, and grow.  Even with all of the above wreaking havoc on my ability to be a 'normal' person, I'm evolving to love another human being more than I ever thought I could, with my love increasing for my toddler and husband as well as we spend time together as a family of 4.  And that is better than any true vacation.


(Disclaimer - I wrote this post several weeks ago, so now with my youngest at 8 weeks old, things are getting much easier.  For all those mama's out there struggling in your first few weeks of having a newborn - and especially if it's your first - just hold on.  I promise it gets better!  It's a tough journey, but the reward is worth it.)

Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner (A Nursery Reveal) May 5, 2016 08:00 1 Comment

Alternate blog post title: Baby Baby (as in the amazing song by Amy Grant, which I just learned has been remade by Tori Kelly in honor of the song's 25th anniversary. 2 things: 1) I don't know who Tori Kelly is, but if Amy Grant is ok with her, she's cool in my book, and 2) 25 years??? Way to make a girl feel old... This song was my jam, and the remake is great, check it out here.)

So, back on topic, I (Becky) am going to talk about something that MB and I both enjoy doing, as it's an extension of our everyday jobs: space planning and decorating. I had my second daughter, a beautiful little girl Nora, just over 2 weeks ago, and had so much fun putting her nursery together in the months before her birth. Creating nurseries when you're in a major nesting stage is so satisfying as you're working to design the perfect space for your newest family member, and I want to share her nursery today.

Nora's room started as a guest room when we first moved in, with all tan walls. (Sidebar: almost every wall in our house was originally the same tan color, we felt like we were living in a hay bale... We've since painted most walls grey, and my husband has nicknamed our house 50 Shades of Grey). So, when we updated the guest room (before we were pregnant with our second daughter), it got 3 grey walls with an accent wall in sage-y green (that's totally a color, right?). When we designed Claire's nursery (our first daughter), there was an intense amount of painting, so this time around we decided to work with the paint colors that were already in the room.  (Here is the mood board we used for Claire's room so you get an idea of the paint job we didn't want to tackle this time around):

Since we already had wall colors established in our then-guest room but they didn't scream 'baby girl' to me, I knew I wanted to incorporate colors in other elements, the biggest being the rug. I felt that the rug would hold everything together in the room. I narrowed it down to 3 choices that I loved and that had lots of colors, from West Elm, Anthropologie, and Ikea. Two of the rugs were pricey and I couldn't get my husband on board, but I just wasn't sold on the third, so we waited. MB and I happened to have a pop up show at West Elm RDU and were set up right next to the rug up for debate.  Seeing it in person helped me decide that it would be perfect for the nursery. My husband and Claire came up, saw the rug, and we ended up getting a great deal on the floor model (thanks to MB's suggestion of asking if that was an option for purchase - this is a great way to save some money if it works out.)

After the perfect rug, we found a dresser from a local mid century resale store, Gremlina Vintage, after searching at least 5 other stores. We found some more great options at other locations but again, it came down to price in the end. The crib and changing table were already waiting to be set up as we could use the same ones we had for Claire (both of these were Craig's list finds - Pottery Barn furniture still in the box). So as for putting Baby in a corner, I'm actually totally ok with it, because that's where the crib made sense, at least in this room.

Usually I like to start a project with a mood board but in this case I didn't make one until after we had purchased the rug and dresser; the major components in the room. This is what it looked like at that point:

The rest of the room was pulled together with details and smaller pieces of furniture: a patterned but monochromatic light fixture (Allen + Roth lampshade that my husband rigged up as a pendant), an Eames rocker, neutral bedding (again used from Claire's nursery), art for the walls (to go in frames we already had), a DIY mobile, additional wall hangings (aren't these little house frames from the Target Pillowfort line adorable?), and some sweet toys and gifts displayed from friends. The dress hanging at the closet is very special, made by Jessica of Little Grey Line. She works to create one of a kind garments from men's shirts, so one of my husbands old shirts was converted into a beautiful dress for both of our girls - Claire wore it to the hospital to meet Nora, and will enjoy wearing it until it's passed down to her sister, and maybe one day to a daughter of their own.

The art was homemade by yours truly, inspired by Scandinavian flower designs,  modern icons in an eye chart style, and modified modern font for the alphabet.

The DIY Himmeli mobile was another personal touch for the room.  I followed this blog post tutorial from The Design Confidential to create different shapes.  A word to the wise - the more pieces and intricate the shape, the more frustrating it can become to create, so be patient, and start small.  In the end it gets easier!

We were very happy with how the room turned out and had a lot of fun taking elements from Claire's nursery and pairing them with new ideas for Nora - now if we could only get her to actually sleep in there and appreciate all our hard work (babies... so ungrateful :) )

How do you start a space planning project?  Do you dive right in with purchases, or weigh all your options?  Create a mood board or let your shopping do the work for you as you go?  We'd love to hear from you!

Just Breathe April 28, 2016 08:00

Mary Beth here... 

The season of life I'm in right now = "chaos". I have so many mixed emotions right now regarding how my time is spent. It is hard to find time to be a full-time believer, full-time wife, full-time mom, full-time career woman, full-time entrepreneur, full-time everything else. I feel like everyday I'm just checking things off my list that need to get done, just rushing around to accomplish everything. Going to work, making baby food, vacuuming up after the dog, washing bottles, washing clothes, vacuuming, putting away clothes, vacuuming, writing this blog post, going to the grocery store, vacuuming, all things essential to our family making it through everyday (minus the blog post).  Living each day as a means to get to the next. I struggle with this, because I feel like I'm not completely "living". I'm not enjoying every precious moment with my son as he is learning and figuring things out. But the torn side of me knows myself well enough to know that if I'm not constantly checking off my to-do list everything will pile up and I'll have a mini melt-down and be frustrated with myself and probably end up taking it out on the people I love most. So, I struggle with finding a balance. A balance where I am enjoying and living life, but also getting the essentials done. I have found a better balance over the last 8 months by learning to let some things go. I know that my family and my faith are my top priorities, everything else has to take a back seat. So our floors aren't always clean, our baby doesn't always eat homemade organic baby food, and clean clothes pile up before getting put away (and I end up writing blog posts at the last minute). I am still working on the perfect balance, it is a daily struggle. It is all a mindset, but that's a hard thing to retrain. The clean, put together, organized, on top of everything person I've been the past 29 years is hard to turn off. But I'm prayerfully searching and working on it. Please share with me what works for you!

I talk about this balance with my husband a lot (my struggles = his struggles, because he is an amazing compassionate man). One morning after one of these conversations as I was really down on the way to work thinking about the rushed life we live, I heard a new song on the radio, Breathe, by Jonny Diaz. It was one of those moments that really put everything in perspective. 1. I'm not the only one struggling with this, and 2. All I really need to do is breathe, and rest at His feet... lay down what's good and find what's best...

(For those of you who receive out blog via e-mail, click over to our blog or click on the link below to listen.)

Alarm clock screaming bare feet hit the floor
It’s off to the races everybody out the door
I’m feeling like I’m falling behind, it’s a crazy life
Ninety miles an hour going fast as I can
Trying to push a little harder trying to get the upper hand
So much to do in so little time, it’s a crazy life
It’s ready, set, go it’s another wild day
When the stress is on the rise in my heart I feel you say just

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe

Third cup of joe just to get me through the day
Want to make the most of time but I feel it slip away
I wonder if there’s something more to this crazy life
I’m busy, busy, busy, and it’s no surprise to see
That I only have time for me, me, me
There’s gotta be something more to this crazy life
I’m hanging on tight to another wild day
When it starts to fall apart in my heart I hear you say just

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need

Is to take it in fill your lungs
The peace of God that overcomes
Just breathe
So let your weary spirit rest
Lay down what’s good and find what’s best
Just breathe

Just breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe
Just breathe

Apps we can't LIVE without! March 31, 2016 08:00

Everyone has those apps on their phone (or other device) that they just can't live without. The ones that when you stumble upon them, you can't imagine going back to doing things the hard way!

To aid you in stumbling across that perfect app, we've included our "made our life so much easier" app list below. We are both cheap people, so all of these are FREE!

Just a forewarning, we are both iPhone users, so for you Android and Window's phone users out there, we aren't sure if all of these are offered (but we hope they are for your sake).

Repost App for Instagram - UPstudio  Repost for Instagram App- UPstudio

Repost for Instagram
Prior to starting UPstudio we didn't really have too many instances where we needed to repost pictures on instagram from other's accounts. But now, we run into that need pretty frequently. We have found that Repost is the best free app to handle this. You can move the source banner and change its color to not interfere with aesthetics of the picture. It also opens the image in instagram automatically and it generates automatic text you can copy and paste if you so desire. 

 Wunderlist App - UPstudio Wunderlist App has Sublists - UPstudio Wunderlist App - UPstudio  

We've mentioned on multiple occasions how much we love lists! List of all kinds. I use my planner for most of my lists but I also use Wunderlist. There are times that I don't have my planner with me, or I'm out on the go and I have a great idea I want to jot down. I find inspiration everywhere and if I don't write it down in the moment, it will escape me. Within Wunderlist you can categorize your lists, you can make sub-lists, and you can even share your lists with other users. I find new amazing features everyday. 

Gmail App can use alias e-mails - UPstudio  Gmail App uses your signatures - UPstudio  Gmail app can log into multiple accounts - UPstudio

Most phones have their own interface where you can set up your e-mail. For my personal Gmail I typically use the default iPhone e-mail app, but for UPstudio the Gmail app is clutch, we can still look professional on the go. Google Domains hosts our domain for our website, through that we can have alias e-mail address. So our is just a cover that really sends e-mails to our account. (Makes us look more professional though, right?) From the iPhone default e-mail app we can only send e-mails from our actual e-mail account whereas through the Gmail app we can send an e-mail directly from or any other alias we have set up. Another great benefit is that our signature comes through when using the app (note you can't see it when transcribing an e-mail, but it is there, see image above). Also, not sure if you all are as folder crazy as we are, but sometimes you label an e-mail multiple things, so you can find it in multiple folders, well you can do this with the "label" feature in the app. Lastly, you can be logged into multiple accounts at the same time.

Google Drive App - UPstudio  Google Drive App - UPstudio

Google Drive
Not sure how many of you out there are Google Drive users but if you haven't gotten on the bandwagon you should. It is similar to Dropbox. Today we aren't focusing on all the #awesomeness of Google Drive, (we'll let you discover that on your own) but when you start using it, the app on your phone is pretty awesome. The app lets you view all of the documents in your drive. It allows you to have multiple accounts logged in as well, so I can view my personal documents and UPstudio documents without logging in and out. You can't edit your documents in this app, you will have to get the corresponding app based on your document type in order to do that (like Docs, Sheets, etc).

Goodreads App - UPstudio

Goodreads is one of the best ways to keep track of books you've read and books you want to read. It is also a great way to discover books because you can see what friends are reading. The app has all the functionalities as the website making it easy to quickly add a book to your "to-read" list that a friend tells you about over lunch. One other cool feature is that you can scan books to search for them. So if said friend had the book with them you could just swipe the barcode instead of typing it all in.

 Solid Joys Daily Devotional John Piper- UPstudio

Solid Joys
With our lives pretty hectic right now, it is hard to spend time in the word. Solid Joys is a daily devotional app from the ministry of John Piper. They are short but substantive.

Candy Crush App - UPstudio

Candy Crush
Don't judge me, I'm on level 508 and still haven't tired of this game.

Bloglovin App - UPstudio  Bloglovin App - UPstudio

If you're a blog reader, I recommend Bloglovin'. The app has almost all the same functionality as the website. I personally group blogs together so I can easily read in specific genres. You can create and edit groups from the app. In order to read full posts or to comment you will have to follow links to open the blog post in your internet browser, but that is pretty standard with mobile blog reading.

Dirty Dozen App - UPstudio   Dirty Dozen App - UPstudio

Dirty Dozen
This is the app version of the report and study done by the Environmental Working Group which talks about pesticides in foods. We're not afraid of a little bit of 'unclean' food in moderation, but we do like to be aware of what we're eating. This app is a quick reference guide to help you decide whether you need to buy organic or not (because let's face it: that can get expensive!)  The guide lists the 'dirty dozen', or the top 12 fruits and vegetables that commonly have the most pesticides found on them, and the 'clean fifteen', or the top fifteen cleanest (least pesticides) fruits and vegetables.

What apps do you use? We are always looking for new recommendations! 

Our Favorite (and not so favorite) Books March 24, 2016 08:00

I've recently seen a graphic which states that 'successful' people read every day, and 'unsuccessful' people watch TV everyday.  I must be somewhere in the middle because I love to read, but I also appreciate a good TV show (who doesn't need that mental break sometimes!).  But for today, we'll all pretend that we're on the 'successful' side of things (because, you're reading this right now so you fit right in!) and talk about books.  

At UPstudio we are avid readers... so much so that we have to limit what books we read and when so that we can focus on other things, because once you're in to a book, it's hard to take a break to get out - you have to finish!  MB is in a book club so she's in a slightly different boat, with deadlines for reading some books where as I read mainly for pleasure with no deadlines. We both are local library supporters, MB checking them out on her kindle and I go more old school and check out the real books. (Luckily we have an express library right across the street from our office, makes it super easy.)  These are just our personal preferences, but it boils down to the same thing:  we read a lot.  From guilty pleasures to chick lit, fiction and non fiction (and sometimes, science fiction), theory and silly, we love them all.  

There's just something beautiful about books and bindings and stacks in bookstores or libraries.  My husband will tell you that the first thing I did when we moved into our house 5 years ago was organize our books by color.  I would argue it wasn't the first thing I did, but it was done pretty quickly.  (worth it though, right?):

Especially as the weather is getting warmer, books seem to fit in to life a little more easily.  Who goes to the beach without a book to keep them company?  To help you prepare for your upcoming vacations, or maybe to add to your already established book list, here are a few of our favorites:

  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins / The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth - let's put it right out there.  Both of us are fans of a good teen fantasy series.  We read the Divergent series at the same time so could discuss all the good and bad (book 3, we're looking at you) together.  Confession: we were both known to stay in the parking garage an extra 5 minutes to finish a chapter before coming in to work.  Worth the read for both of them, but in my mind, The Hunger Games wins. (I also read The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld and would put this one nearer to the bottom of the list... still entertaining but written on a much younger level) (If you want to commit to a lengthier series and are okay with a little bit more sci-fi, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare was also a great read, but 6 books strong.)
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Such a classic that can either be read purely for pleasure or with a lot of insight of a failed American Dream.
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - Another classic about a man who goes against society with his stash of books in a time where books are outlawed.  Instead of reading, people watch television that they are so engrossed in, they forget to have actual relationships with people outside of television.  A tale of human errors on a large scale.
  • The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand - Give yourself some time with this one, but it's worth the long read.  The story of an individual who chooses not to compromise to fit into societal conformance, and stays true to himself.  (Plus, he's an architect, so, admittedly biased.)
  • Say Goodnight Gracie by Julie Reece Deaver - I've read this book more times than any other in my life, mostly in middle and high school, but it's one of those nostalgic books that really struck a chord.  A story of love and loss and life.  Bring your tissues.
  • Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster - I genuinely thought I was funnier after reading this book.  I LOVE Lancaster's point of view and her snarky comments in this autobiography of her life affected by the economic crash.  Her older autobiographies are all worth a read, while her newer ones are slightly less enjoyable (maybe it's the fact that you know she's doing things just to write another book?)  She's also recently written a few fiction novels which are fun and light reads.  
  • Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet - This book has everything from history to drama to romance, all in the setting of building a cathedral.  This is another long book, but definitely worth the time to read.
  • If you want to read some good historical fiction we would recommend All The Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Such a good book set in the WWII era. On that same note Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, another great book also during WWII. Both are beautifully written, but bring your tissues.
  • If you love a good thriller you should try Gillian Flynn's other books (because everyone has read Gone Girl already), Sharp Objects, and Dark Places. Where does Gillian come up with these stories? #crazy. They suck you in so quick and you're hooked. Personally I liked Dark Places the best.
  • A couple books we aren't huge fans of: Wild by Cheryl Strayed ended up being a great story, but not a lot of substance, she didn't really have a revelation on her journey, she didn't change. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver was written well (I had to look up words constantly) but lets be honest, its essentially all just a big global warming argument. Lastly, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes left us conflicted, it was a good story, but morally we are torn on the ending, wish we had avoided that one. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, loved the book, but it could of easily been 300 pages shorter, things just drug out.

(A quick sidenote:  some of the books listed above have since turned in to Hollywood productions.  We strongly recommend reading books before seeing movies or watching a TV series - this way your mind can explore and imagine characters as it wants to without having a preconceived notion.  Plus, the books are just usually better!)

We would love to hear what's on your list of favorites too! 

Here Comes the Bride February 25, 2016 08:00

Don't you guys love wedding season?  Once the weather starts to get warmer, the save the dates start rolling in for occasions to celebrate friends and family and make memories. My husband (Mike) and I (Becky) have been married for 8 years now, and we are well versed in weddings.  We've witnessed a countless number of nuptials, with our best summer topping out at a whopping 10 weddings in 3 states.  

Weddings are the type of event that you remember - even if you just remember one aspect of it.  One gem that we attended had some last minute changes, as the bachelor party held the night before the wedding (not recommended) led to shaved eyebrows, fights, and a B-team groomsmen party as members were replaced.  I went to a beautiful wedding this past fall celebrating a totally fun couple.  Tyler and Alyssa are fearless and choreographed their own dance which was performed at their reception.  This was no surprise as Tyler's proposal was a day long event including a video of friends and family also performing (another) choreographed dance and giving opinions on whether she should say yes or not (spoiler alert: she totally did). (Not posting the video because yes I did the dance and I am TERRIBLE!)

Tyler and Alyssa kept up with the launch of UPstudio and loved our Everyday Cards so much that they decided to use them as their thank you cards.  We were thrilled to help them out, to say the least, and were happy to offer an entire line of envelope colors for them to choose from, so that the cards would match their overall theme and colors.  (And we'll totally do the same for you!  Just email us!  If you're getting married in or have ties to Raleigh, the Raleigh Streets or Nolli Dots cards could be perfect.  The Arrows and Sunburst cards are also neutral and a good fit for any occasion.  We are currently working on new additions to the collection, so keep an eye out!

My own wedding had a lot of homemade aspects to it since my husband and I created and printed our own invitations and programs, designed and fabricated all our decorations, and even used a life-sized cut out of my husband that my dear friend Katie created for my bachelorette party (but that's a story for another blog post)! We got married in March with the reception planned outside.  We knew it was risky, but we decided to take our chances anyway.  A week out, things were looking great:  the weather was predicted to be 70 degrees and sunny and we couldn't be happier.  I bet you can guess where this is going.  Four days later the weather report changed drastically - to 40 degrees with 20MPH winds.  So, we changed our venue.  I've never freaked out so much in my life (debatable), but I wouldn't change a thing about the actual day.  Even the part where my husband shoved cake in my face (and up my nose, and down my dress, etc.  I know I know, and we're still married!) (Sidenote: this photo which pretty much sums up the last 8+ years of my life, doesn't show it, but he totally started it.)

Photo by Hayne Photogrophers

Planning a wedding is straight up crazy.  There are a million things to coordinate, dresses to try on, cakes to taste (this was not a problem for me), flowers to choose, thank you cards to write.  Since we did so much on our own without a wedding planner, we had a dedicated notebook to record all our notes and decisions.  If I had the UPstudio Planner at the time, it would've been a lot easier to keep track of what was what, with the divisions in the weekly layout to divide tasks, and extra graph paper for ideas, sketches, and final decisions.  Even if you have a wedding planner, this could be helpful for your own sanity.  (Or, if you ARE a wedding planner - you can keep track of multiple weddings at a time with the divisions in the weekly layout!)

If you have an upcoming wedding - congratulations!  We are so excited for you!  Remember to take a deep breath, and try your hardest to enjoy everything you are doing for your special day.  It can be overwhelming beforehand, but it's over before you know it.  My best recommendation is to get a photographer that you're comfortable with and be open about what you want your photos to be.  Photos are the best way to reminisce, and your memories will last a lifetime and beyond.

If you're already married, congratulations to you too!  We think married life is pretty great, and we'd love to hear what your favorite memory of your wedding is, or any advice you may have for someone who is planning a wedding now.

Dress Your Tech December 3, 2015 08:00

You may not have ever heard of DESIGNLOVEFEST, but I follow her blog pretty religiously.  It is a great mix of just about everything. It inspires me to be more creative on a daily basis.

One highlight is the "Dress Your Tech" section where once a week or every other week she features amazing desktop backgrounds. Not sure if you're in the same boat as me, but I hate the standard backgrounds on my computer, and I feel like I can never find the perfect picture to use that I won't get tired of in about five minutes (sorry hubby and son). The collection on DESIGNLOVEFEST is perfect for me; simple and creative, with a ton to choose from so I can change it every day if I tire of it. Most of the images offered are designed by pretty famous people specifically for DESIGNLOVEFEST. The best part: they are all FREE!

Here is one of my favorites, it is vintage DESIGNLOVEFEST from 2013:

Desktop Wallpaper by Sugar Paper for DESIGNLOVEFEST

Link to Download

This is my current desktop background, in case you're wondering:

Desktop Background by Lindsay Gardner for DESIGNLOVEFEST

Link to Download

I might be moving on to this fun guy next:

 Desktop Wallpaper made by Silke Bonde for DESIGNLOVEFEST

Link to Download

Or maybe this one?

Desktop Wallpaper made by Coco Sato for DESIGNLOVEFEST

 Link to Download

For those of you who want something a little more colorful and fun, maybe this one?

 Desktop Wallpaper by Ali Macdonald for DESIGNLOVEFEST

Link to Download

There are tons of options, and your tastes might not line up exactly with mine, so go check it out for yourself.  You just might find something perfect! 

We hope to see you all this weekend (and next weekend, and the following weekend!)

--Mary Beth and Becky


Chicken Pot Pie October 22, 2015 07:58

Let's go on a tangent today... 1. to distract us from the fact that we still don't have our planners in hand, 2. we still don't have a final release date (things out of our control, sorry), and 3. we can't start using our beautiful planner until January, ugh! 

Our tangent... Chicken Pot Pie (and The Pioneer Woman)

Have any of you guys every heard of The Pioneer Woman, real name Ree Drummond? I won't lie, I started reading her blog forever ago and really love her recipes and cool stories about her life. She gives good recipe descriptions and pictures, makes things super easy. Her blog also makes me secretly wish I lived on a ranch sometimes, other times it makes me thankful that I can get to downtown Raleigh in less than 5 minutes and to enjoy some culture and amazing restaurants. About 5 years ago, I think, she started a cooking show, which I thought I was going to love, but I really didn't. I can't put a finger on what rubbed me the wrong way, but I decided I'd just stick to her blog and cookbooks. For Christmas last year I got her first cook book, The Pioneer Woman Cooks. It is pretty similar to reading her blog because the recipes are laid out the same way and she throws in a few pictures and  stories of her family. One reason I wanted it is because it includes my favorite recipe of hers, Lasagna. It is SO GOOD, starts on page 184.

To tie in The Pioneer Woman and our story... 

It is starting to get cooler outside, which means that colds and sicknesses are on their way. Nothing makes you feel better than some warm home cooked comfort food. We met the other day to discuss some UPstudio stuff, a little under the weather and enjoyed some chicken pot pie. It was pretty amazing and comforting. The recipe is in Ree's first cookbook, starting on page 126. Chicken Pot Pie recipe and the Perfect Pie Crust recipe for your viewing pleasure. (But seriously, who has time to make a pie crust, just buy one from the store, no judgement here.)

You should check out more of her recipes, everything I've tried making so far has been amazing.

Hope you have a great end of your week and a great weekend! (Crossing our fingers that none of you come down with one of those pesky colds going around!)