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Hi friends – just a post to let you know that I dropped the “wordpress” and am now blogging at margeauxvittoria.com! Yippee! All my old posts will remain here and if you were already following me you have been transferred to the new blog.


THM Meal Guidelines Reference Sheet

While Trim Healthy Mama (the diet I’m currently trying) isn’t about numbers, it’s helpful to have a reference if you’re wondering if something fits with a certain meal type or not. Here’s a handy reference sheet I made!

THM reference sheet

How to Create an Etsy Banner for Free Using PicMonkey.com


If you have an Etsy shop, you’ve probably tried making your own banner or purchased one from a graphic designer. With my Etsy shops (Mux Originals and Sweet Yogi Headbands), I’ve experimented with both methods and struggled with wanting to regularly give my storefront a fresh look without spending too much time or money. This is the easiest method I’ve found after much trial-and-error.

I hope this tutorial is helpful to you in your Etsy journey – if you have any questions, let me know!

How to Create an Etsy Banner for Free Using PicMonkey.com

PicMonkey.com is an awesome free photo editing website. You can pay for upgraded features but it’s really not necessary unless you plan to use it all the time.

Step 1: Open a photo in PicMonkey. You can use a photo of one of your products, but if you want a solid-colored banner, like the one shown above, any photo will work.

Screenshot 2015-01-01 11.03.22

Step 2: Resize your photo. Select the “Resize” option in the bottom left-hand corner, and enter the number 760 into the first box. Don’t worry about the number in the second box. Hit “Apply”.

Screenshot 2015-01-01 11.04.57

Step 3: Crop your photo. Select the “Crop” option in the upper left-hand corner, and enter the number 760 into the first box and the number 100 into the second box. Hit “apply”.  If you are using the photo you selected as the actual banner background (as opposed to a solid color) move the crop box around until it covers the portion of the photo you want in your banner. 

Screenshot 2015-01-01 11.05.15

Screenshot 2015-01-01 11.05.26

Step 4: Add a solid background (optional). To add a solid background, Select the butterfly icon on the left menu and open the “Geometric” option. Select a rectangle and it will be added to your picture. Using the pop-up Overlay box, change the colors to your liking and then resize the rectangle (using the handles on the corners of the shape) so that it completely covers your cropped photo. It’s okay if it’s bigger than your cropped photo.

Screenshot 2015-01-01 11.05.47

Screenshot 2015-01-01 11.06.11

Step 5: Make it pretty! At this point, you can do whatever you want. You can add and customize different shapes from the butterfly menu options and you can also use geometric shapes to create borders and lines. I plan on creating further tutorials on more advanced ways to customize your banner. For now, I’m going to add a simple heart. Use the pop-up “Overlay” box to edit the shape.

Screenshot 2015-01-01 11.06.55

Step 6: Add your shop name. This is the most important part – putting your awesome shop name on your banner! Select the Tt option on the left menu to open the text options. Click “Add Text” at the top of the menu and play around with font, size, placement, and color (using the pop-up Text box) until you’re happy with the results.

Screenshot 2015-01-01 11.08.16

Trouble-shooting: Difficulty selecting the text box or overlay box? 

This will make more sense when you’re trying it, but if you use a big rectangle as a solid background (like my coral background above) you might struggle with being able to select the items “stacked” on top of it (like the heart or text) since the program will simply select the giant coral box. To solve this problem, simply move the background box out of the way temporarily, reposition/edit your overlays and text to your liking, and then return the background box to its original position.

Screenshot 2015-01-01 11.08.34

Step 7: Save your banner! When you’re happy with your banner, select the “Save” option right above the photo and save your banner with the “Sean” photo quality option. You are now ready to upload your finished banner to your Etsy shop! Well done.

To inspire you, here’s a few more banners I created using this simple method:

banner 3

banner 2

banner 4

I plan on making more tutorials on this topic, including how to add a pre-existing logo to a PicMonkey.com banner, like the one for my Sweet Yogi shop. I love finding easy hacks to get around learning more about programs like PhotoShop. As much as I would like to do that eventually, I don’t currently have the time or money to invest in that skill – but I still need Etsy banners! If you’re in the same place, I hope you’ve benefited from this tutorial. Let me know if you have any questions.

PicMonkey Collage 1

Diet Reality Check + Trim Healthy Mama


I have a very American disease. I am addicted to diets. There are few things I love more than reading new diet books, creating meal plans and grocery lists, researching the most effective weight loss methods, and cyber-stalking fit people. The stupidity enters, however, when I realize a few days into any given eating plan that it’s hard. Normal life gets in the way and I give up, I return to my eating MO – which isn’t terrible thanks to a healthy upbringing, but tends to rely too heavily on carbs, sugar, and emotional eating – until I begin to feel dissatisfied with myself again or I hear of some exciting new diet, and the cycle repeats.

As we all often are with our less-than-admirable behaviors, I’ve been blind to this truth about myself. I somehow fall for the same ploys over and over, somehow get the same enjoyment out of the “research” aspect every time, somehow am blindsided by how tough healthy living truly is and exhibit the same surprised disappointment again and again.

You can see this reflected in my blog (though this represents only a small slice of the many diets I’ve attempted). There was my attempt to lose ten pounds last December (I stuck with it for a little bit); my low-carb breakfasts initiative during pregnancy; and, most recently, two successful weeks of healthier eating in an attempt to lose those same freaking ten pounds (the weight I gained during pregnancy came off pretty easily).

Then came Christmas, and homesickness, and a fussy stage for Miles, and my most recent plan went out the window. However, I’ve come to that same place of dissatisfaction again post-Christmas, and, instead of simply resuming what I was doing, am now attempting a brand new plan! Le sigh.

My mom does this, although she is at least much better than me at culling new ideas from each plan and incorporating them in her overall habits. In a way, I’m not sure it’s an entirely bad thing – after all, motivation wanes and experimenting is good and refreshing. However, the fact that I’ve been fighting with these same 10 lbs. for going on two years now tells me that something isn’t working. Obviously.

Maybe this is a ridiculous amount of navel-gazing, but I imagine that many people out there can relate to my process. It’s been freeing for me to make these realizations about myself – maybe introspection is narcissistic but I find that it often ultimately helps me think less about myself (i.e. by helping me spend less time developing and re-developing healthy eating plans).

This brings me to the present, in which I am attempting my mom’s latest favorite diet – Trim Healthy Mama. I’m hoping this will be a lifestyle I can stick with and end the cycle of diet and discouragement (that sounded like a blurb from the back of a diet book).

Despite my mom’s enthusiasm about this diet, I’ve resisted it as long as possible. I find the name really annoying, the two women who wrote it annoying, and when I actually got around to reading the book, I found the science, writing style, and textual organization obnoxious. Not only that, but the authors claim their diet is biblical, which I find….annoying. I’m a Christian, but I don’t think the Bible clearly specifies any one way of eating, no matter how you try to spin certain verses.

Also, the authors ascribe to a certain style of homeschool Christian-ness that I don’t find appealing. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve known people of this style who were great and whom I loved. However, objectively, I’m not a fan of the long curled hair, A-line skirt, tons of children, cutesy sayings, anti-alcohol lifestyle.

I know I sound like a hater. I don’t hate the people behind this book or this style, for that matter – in fact, we have more in common than not. For some reason, however, I’ve always been rankled by the particulars of this lifestyle. Maybe others who grew up Christian and homeschooled, like me, can relate. Fortunately I was never required to wear denim skirts and tennis shoes (except for one school year spent at a Baptist elementary school, but that’s another story). We all have our little preferences of what does and doesn’t appeal to us. I would never let it allow me to actually treat someone poorly (or not try a diet, for that matter).

The basic premise of the diet is cutting out sugar and eating meals that are either high-fat or high(ish)-carb, not both. It has similarities to many of the lower-carb, higher-fat eating plans that are becoming more and more popular these days. It relies heavily on stevia as well as a couple other hard-to-find products, but can mostly be followed by eating whole foods. The authors have developed many unique recipes and – one of my favorite things about the plan – it’s highly customizable and adaptable.

There are a few things about the plan that work well for Zach and me – it includes plenty of meat (a must for Zach), is relatively gluten-free (Zach is allergic to wheat), and includes plenty of healthified desserts (both Zach and I have ridiculous “sweet teeth”). This is our second day doing it and so far we both like it. My family, not just my mom, has had success with it. My grandpa even lost 25 lbs.! On a diet called Trim Healthy Mama, no less.

I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going. You can also follow me on the food journal app TwoGrand under username margeauxvittoria. I plan to publish some THM-friendly recipes I’ve been developing here. And maybe, just maybe, writing all this out will help me remember next time I mess up that the answer probably isn’t a whole new diet. Despite how fun it might sound.

Library Haul


I made it to the library today – the library provides a guilt-free “shopping” fix for me and has since I was a girl (I used to say that the library should have shopping carts; my enthusiasm has cooled slightly since the fines in WI are $.25 per day overdue instead of the $.10 they were in IA.)

These are the books I found today – all short and a little pop culture-y (good for my sleep-deprived brain) and inspiring for the new year to boot:

Motherhood Smotherhood: Fighting Back Against the Lactivists, Mompetitions, Germophobes, and So-Called Experts Who Are Driving Us Crazy

The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators

The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises: Four Weeks to a Leaner, Sexier, Healthier YOU!

Invent, Reinvent, Thrive: The Keys to Success for Any Start-Up, Entrepreneur, or Family Business

I must be shallow – all of these books have awesome covers (except, maybe, that constipated-looking blonde whose belly button or pubes really ought to be showing). Also, if there’s any uniting theme here, it’s “Books with Semi-Colons and Groupings of Three in the Title”.

Have you read any of them? I’ll keep you updated on what I think. I’m trying to read while breastfeeding instead of putzing around on social media or playing Candy Crush.

Four of My Favorite Free Fitness Apps

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Nike Training Club

This app has an incredible amount of free content – thank you, Nike! It features interval-style workouts for different fitness levels and goals. Each workout includes exercise instructions and how-to videos (extremely helpful), built-in interval timers, narration, and the option to play your own music. If you have this app it’s easy to perform high-intensity,challenging workouts at home with minimal equipment and little fitness experience.


The free version of this app performs the basic functions I’m looking for in a running app – it keeps track of my pace, route, and total distance run, as well as calories burnt. As much as I’d eventually like to buy a FitBit or GPS running watch, this does the trick in the meantime.


This app is a super simple timer perfect for interval/tabata workouts. What I like most about it is how loud the alarms are – easy to hear even over blasting music.


I really love this photo food journal app. As opposed to counting calories or macros, this app allows you to simply snap photos of what you eat, creating a visual sense of how much food you’re consuming. You can follow other users with similar goals/lifestyles and participate in challenges (“Drink x oz. of water per day”, “Workout abs everyday for a month”, etc.). You can follow me under username margeauxvittoria (as long as you promise not to judge me for my Christmas indulgences).