Ventura At A Glance

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Ventura has been called home since my husband and I moved here in September almost two years ago. It’s a small beach town on the rise, but otherwise an unknown destination that sits between the more popular Malibu to the south and Santa Barbara to the north. I had no idea where Ventura was located when my husband told me we’d be moving, but I was looking forward to venturing out of the east coast and making a life in California.

This little town of ours didn’t immediately impress me as it is shadowed by the amusements such as the Santa Monica & Malibu Pier, State Street in Santa Barbara, and the trendy shopping district of Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. However, over time this place has grown on me and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. The seemingly small town feel and laid back lifestyle of its residents keep the authentic value in tact, which is enough for me. There’s something special about being a little bit off the radar.

Nonetheless, here’s a peek at this little town we call home.

The Ventura Promenade
The morning fog beginning to burn off into the afternoon.

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The Ventura Pier and the beaches that lay beneath it are typically enjoyed by surfers and locals walking up and down the promenade. As early as the sun rising can you find the surfers strewn about the water and riding waves throughout the day. Don’t ask me what they do for a living because I swear I see them out literally all day long. Tourists take advantage of the beachfront views at the local hotels, mainly the Crowne Plaza, which sits right on the promenade. Summers and holidays we find an influx in visitors as Ventura hosts entertainment such as Warped Tour, various concerts, the annual county fair, and various music, food & drink, cultural, and other festivals throughout the year.

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Ventura Coast Brew Co. is the newest craft brewery to pop up!

Our town is beginning to shift and grow as new businesses are making Ventura home here as well. My husband and I love a good craft beer and it’s exciting to see two to three new breweries moving in within the year. Don’t get me wrong, an 805 is delicious, but there’s pride in supporting smaller local businesses such as these which offer rotating brews and food trucks right outside. Ventura Coast Brew Co. is the newest addition and joining Topa Topa Brewing Co. who just celebrated their first year anniversary.

One aspect to our town the you won’t see on any visitor website are the vacant lots and homelessness. As mentioned above, our downtown is beginning to regentrify its neighborhoods with trendy local businesses, restaurants, and bars. Unfortunately though many lots remain unclaimed and sit often times overrun with shrubs (the city does come around every so often to cut it down). I’m hopeful nonetheless that new businesses or even upscale rentals or condos will take their place.

Iron & Resin Garage on Main St.

Made in the U.S.A...better yet, right here in California.

Speaking of supporting local shops, Iron & Resin is located here in downtown Ventura and even have a flagship store in San Francisco. They sell collections of apparel and other fun goods (camping or surfing anyone?) that are made right here in California. I bought my first pair of Rainbows here (in order to officially be accepted in Cali culture) and have been back many times as it’s one of my husband’s favorite stores. We love checking out the vintage motorcycles that adorn their shop as it reflects their own story.

…however, we do have one Urban Outfitters in town, but that will be the only major chain you’ll find.

A view of Main St. in downtown Ventura.
Wall art at Bonzai Marina Sushi

Bonzai Marina will always hold a special place in my heart due to the hospitality and conversation we enjoyed when dining here for lunch upon the first few days living in Ventura. Yuji is the owner and master sushi chef behind the bar who creates delicate and delicious pieces of sushi that just flood your tastebuds with flavor – no soy sauce necessary! He was so welcoming to us and even told us about popular spots in town we’d have to visit. I always recommend this place to any one of our friends, family, or tourists when looking for an authentic and fresh sushi house. You’re going to end up paying a bill that is quite possibly in the triple digits, but it is always so worth it. Always sit at the bar and eat whatever the man puts in front of you because he’s a magical sushi genius.

Freemason Chapter

And you know I can’t end a post without sharing a photo of your Ventura guide, my beach baby. Sometimes I really feel he’s way cooler than me…

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VISIT VENTURA

If you’re planning a visit to the California coast be sure to make a stop and enjoy all the views and fun this little beach town has to offer! Check out the city website here for more things to do around town.

We are a finalist for BEST BEACH TOWN in Sunset Magazine’s Travel Awards 2016!

Image Source: Visit Ventura


 

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Real Talk: The Face of Addiction

Has anyone come across Leah Grey? I met her through a wonderful Christ-centered community for bloggers called The Peony Project. She had asked a few of us if we would be interested in being a guest blogger for her series about addictions since it’s a topic that hits so close for her at home. Although I don’t necessarily put this experience out there publicly, I felt driven to share my story in hopes that others can relate or it can connect those who are dealing, or have dealt, with addiction.

This space of mine is a safe place to discuss the inspirations of the heart and soul. Today I am revealing a more difficult and painful part of my past and how it has influenced the woman I am today. It’s not an easy topic to discuss openly, however I felt the need to shed light on an aspect of addiction that is rarely discussed: the siblings involved.

My story comes from being the sibling of addicts and is something, that although extremely frustrating at times, that has taken me many years to compartmentalize, grow, and move onward from. It doesn’t resolve itself overnight or heal wounds left from years past.

My story reflects my experiences and perceptions, but furthermore is a reminder and testament that even during the darkest season of my life through proxy, I have been truly transformed by His unwavering grace, love and guidance for my life – especially throughout such a difficult family hardship.

Read all about my experience here as I invite you to get real for a moment with me.

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Real Talk: Recovering From Birth

The thought of birth and the delivery process is a lot to take in. Your lady bits are going to do something pretty amazing, like pushing out a tiny human being, but in order to do that you’ll be pushing (quite literally) yourself with every fiber of your being leaving your body exhausted, swollen, and in pain. Luckily the care you’ll receive by your doctor(s) and nurses are on point and will make this transition from delivery to recovery much easier.

Me on day 2 after delivery. Exhausted and in pain – but so worth it.

I will preface this post with the fact that there will be pretty gnarly details of birth/recovery but in the efforts to shed light on the things no one told me or talked about in what to expect after you greet your little one.

I also would like to mention that every birthing and recovering experience is different and I am only sharing my own. I had a vaginal delivery, epidural, gave birth in a ‘baby friendly’ hospital, and had an episiotomy. My son had a vacuum assist (which failed) and my entire labor from start to finish was around the 15-16 hour mark with three of those hours just trying to get my large-headed baby to crown. However, despite how your labor and delivery goes, in most cases, women experience similar discomforts during their recovery.

Here are just a few things you may expect…

Right after my epidural kicked in and was able to rest a bit…

IN THE HOSPITAL

Right after delivery the nurses did their tests and footprints and such with Greyson and were eager to get us wheeled up to our room and for us to get settled in. Since I had an epidural walking was going to take some time to regain control of so they kept me in a wheelchair and placed me in my bed. I continued to be hooked up to Pitocin for a few hours (you can see the IV in my arm still) so that my uterus stayed contracted, which helped keep me from hemorrhaging (it’s routine). The nurses would also check on me regularly and push on my stomach to ensure everything was normal and looking/feeling good (even though the last thing I wanted was someone pushing down on me).

Holding my baby mere minutes after birth and settled into our private room.

I was required to have a nurse assist me in using the restroom the first three times before I was allowed to go on my own. Sitting up was painful, trying to get to my feet was painful, walking was difficult, and attempting to sit down on the toilet just to stand back up and make that march back to my bed was daunting. However, over time it got easier – just keep drinking the hospital Big Gulp sized water cup and peeing won’t be as scary.

Your nurses will also show you how to care for the lady bits that just got hit by a Mack truck so don’t hesitate to ask questions. There were a lot of “is this normal?” or “what should I do when…”. Each time they were happy to assist me and walk me through what I would soon be doing on my own in a few days time. My hospital provided ice packs for the first few days then recommended warmth for the rest of my recovery. Be sure to ask your nurse for anything else you may think will help you feel comfortable while at home.

AT HOME

Every labor, delivery, and recovery ranges from woman to woman. However, most women experience similar discomforts after childbirth and here are a few of my favorite items that helped me deal with the pain and soreness.

Stool Softeners: These are largely overlooked and will come in handy especially as your first official poop after baby will be the scariest thought ever and yes, it will be painful. These guys will help not only ease your mind, but you know, your poops too. I would highly recommend these especially if you had an episiotomy. Just breathe through it and I even found comfort in leaning to one side while trying to #2. Also, it will probably take you a few days before you even feel like pooping (ranks under the “it’s normal” since labor slows down your digestive tract).

*Keep in mind the foods you eat too when back at home. Think about eating and drinking foods/beverages that will be easy to digest and expel when the time comes. 

Dermoplast Spray: This was provided by my hospital or at the very least it was stolen from my hospital when I was discharged. Your nurses should help you that first day with your dressings and how to use the bathroom and this spray really helped calm the burning sensation I experienced down there. This also helped me for my perineum and the episiotomy stitches I had during delivery.

Peri Bottle: Again, this is amongst your care package when you leave the hospital and you will use it all the time at home. After birth and during recovery you will not be wiping when going to the bathroom. Instead you’ll fill this bottle with WARM (not hot) water and spray to clean yourself – and it will be the best feeling to hit your lady bits in a while.

*Plus, when you’re done with it – clean it thoroughly – and hold onto it as it can come in handy for pretty much anything you need a squirt bottle for. I use it to keep Greyson’s wipes moistened while in the wipe warmer since I noticed they would dry out if not used right away.

Preparation H Wipes: This may be an optional item, and I’ve seen a lot of people opt for witch hazel instead, but these were also provided for me at my hospital and these PH Wipes have witch hazel on them so win, win. My nurse showed me to use them by laying them on my pads so when I wore my fashionable dressings and sat down there was a cooling feeling and it helped ease the pain.

Always Maxi Pads (overnight w/ wings): My sister recommended these and I am thankful for it because the wings help keep the pads in place and the overnights were thicker so I felt protected. You’ll be bleeding for a fews days if not weeks so it’s important to have a pad that has complete protection against leaks.

*It is a general suggestion to hoard the pads the hospital gives you since they tend to be quite expensive on the outside. So, always assume to take whatever the hospital can give you plenty of and place them in your take-home bag. Nurses also change shift every 8-12 hours so as you get a new nurse ask for more stuff! They pretty much know you’re hoarding them anyways…

Mesh Underwear: These are amazing and there’s a reason they’ve been in use for recovering mothers for centuries. Okay, not centuries but for a pretty long time. You don’t have to worry about messing them (and you will those first few nights) because you can throw them away. You can buy these online but again, ask your nurses for plenty to take home.

*Once you graduate from the mesh underwear I suggest high brief cotton panties (I used Hanes) so that you can still wear your dressings and the feeling of anything high waisted at this point feels like you’re keeping everything tucked in, which is nice too.

Waterproof Pads: These bad boys are for your bed when you first come home. I had them in my hospital room and they came in handy to keep your bed clean from blood or other fluids. I just took mine from the hospital since they changed them out regularly.

Motrin: I took Motrin every 8 hours on the hour due to the soreness and pain I felt after delivery. They kicked in pretty quickly and allowed me to get comfortable enough to sit up, move around, and sleep a little. So, if your nurse asks you your pain level and it’s anything over a 5 I suggest Motrin. Besides, it’s also safe for breastfeeding.

Maternity Leggings: Ladies, don’t be quick to throw those out just yet. Not only do you have a significant bump still, you’ll love these for the first few weeks/months in recovery because they allow you to wear pants and keep everything snug. I lived in mine for many months after.

MORE TIPS

+ Where did I keep all this stuff? I took an old shoebox and filled them with all my necessary items and kept it on the back of the toilet tank. If you have a small table or ledge that is in front of your toilet or at sitting level I recommend putting your dressings there because you’ll be very sore and it’s much easier to reach in front of you versus behind.

+ Also, make your new dressing before sitting down. That way it’s all ready to go when you’re done and you’re not left hovering in pain to set it up.

+ You’ll need privacy during your recovery so I recommend keeping visitors to a minimum and definitely don’t allow family to stay with you during this time. You’re in pain and feel like a stuffed animal for the first few weeks – and then there’s the whole breastfeeding and caring for your newborn thing going on too.

Top Picks: Surviving Newborns  What A Week of Motherhood Has Taught Me

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Making Your Own Baby Food

Making your own fresh baby food is inexpensive and super easy! Follow these easy steps and take the guessing out of what you’re feeding to your baby.

It’s easier than you’d think!

My husband and I both knew pretty early on that when Greyson was ready to begin discovering and eating solid foods we wanted to prepare them ourselves. With the food industry the way it is, leaving foods often unregulated in its preparation, it was important for us that he be introduced to wholesome healthy fruits and veggies versus the store-bought packets or jars.

Now, realistically speaking I was worried that our good intentions would be flanked by having little time to prepare our own baby food considering, you know, taking care of a baby – but thankfully that couldn’t have been further from the truth. All we needed was a few inexpensive materials such as Ziploc baggies, cheap ice cube trays, a blender, and some time carved out for steaming and puree the fruits and vegetables of our choosing.

Making your own fresh baby food is inexpensive and super easy! Follow these easy steps and take the guessing out of what you’re feeding to your baby.

To start making your own baby food, simply pick out your favorite fruits and veggies that you would like to introduce to your baby. Greyson is still in stage 1 of solid foods, which just means he’s limited to simple veggies (orange & green) and fruits that are puréed smooth.

Going to your local farmers market is also a guaranteed way to provide farm fresh produce and veggies for your family and there’s often a wide variety of what’s in season that you can’t find in stores. However, we always shop at Trader Joe’s and I’ve always been happy with their selection of fresh and seasonal produce/veggies.

OUR FAVORITE PUREES:

Peas – Broccoli – Sweet Potato – Butternut Squash – Carrot – Peach
Breakfast Medley: oats (made with breastmilk), blueberries, raspberries, & bananas puréed altogether.

Prepare your foods by steaming them or roasting in the oven. Then, using a blender (or a Nutri-Bullet like me) blend your fruits or veggies until smooth and there’s no chunks. Add water or even breastmilk as needed or until desired consistency is reached.

Using your cheap ice cub trays, spoon into molds until full. (We use these trays from Target for only $1.99). This is about one full serving for baby and is the perfect amount. Pop into the freezer for 2-3 hours so they firm up then place them in a Ziploc or other freezer-safe bags, label, and you’re good to go!

Making your own fresh baby food is inexpensive and super easy! Follow these easy steps and take the guessing out of what you’re feeding to your baby.

Making your own fresh baby food is inexpensive and super easy! Follow these easy steps and take the guessing out of what you’re feeding to your baby.

When you’re ready to serve simply take out a cube of whatever you’d like to feed to baby and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. I like freezing the foods separately then mix and match once thawed. That way you get more options out of each set of veggies/fruits and you can change it up as often as you’d like or as your baby’s tastes change.

Making your own fresh baby food is inexpensive and super easy! Follow these easy steps and take the guessing out of what you’re feeding to your baby.
Homemade carrot puree.

We’ve been making our own baby food this way for about two weeks now and it has made introducing new foods to our son so much easier and less of a hassle! I love being able to put just a little effort in the beginning and in the end having enough food to last us a few months by freezing them into the cubes. I also love mixing the different flavors and seeing what Greyson enjoys eating as well as changing it up when he doesn’t seem to like certain flavors (like peas!).

Making your own fresh baby food is inexpensive and super easy! Follow these easy steps and take the guessing out of what you’re feeding to your baby.

Do you have any other baby food suggestions for Greyson and I? What foods does your infant just love to gobble up?

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A Lifestyle Blog By Kelly Daniel