Mainly Marta :: A Motherhood + Lifestyle Blog



What started as a digital diary to document a newfound journey as a stay at home mom / wife has quickly evolved into my own little corner on the internet where I share all that life brings my way -- the good, the bad, and those "aha!" moments. All with a hint of sarcasm, a dash of truth and bold European wit. Thanks for following along!



DIY + Reveal | Repurposed Old Dresser

Today I'm sharing a really fun project -- how to DIY and repurpose an old dresser! This was a project I've been wanting to do for the last four years and I finally convinced my husband to get it done. I mean, honestly you guys, there is nothing like a grumpy nagging pregnant wife to get a husband into gear. I think the only reason he even attempted to do this was because I would not stop talking about how ugly this dresser was. When he finally agreed to tackle it and I was ecstatic! We had a few mishaps along the way (I'll be sharing those, so y'all can learn from our mistakes), but it turned out amazing and I'm so excited to share what it looks like now, I can hardly wait.

Before The Project Began

You see what I'm saying? This dresser was just awful looking. I mean, it had character, but it was a worn out, historical figure type of character. I didn't have the heart to throw it out because this dresser was my childhood dresser and I grew attached to its sturdiness and reliability -- what can I say, it became a sentimental piece. It's been through some stuff though, so the first step we took was to sand all that history away.

Sanded & Looking Fresh

It's already looking like a whole new dresser, am I right? To achieve this step, we took all the handles off the dresser and then borrowed my dad's orbital sanding tool. We went to Home Depot and bought very fine sanding paper to get all that gunk off the dresser and after we sanded it, we went to find the paint color -- and here is where we had allllllll our mishaps.

Mishap No. One :: Not Standing Our Ground

I went to Home Depot to find the paint color I was envisioning -- a green with some blue hints to it. This being the first time I've ever bought paint to paint something other than on a canvas, I was a bit lost and had no idea what to do. Naturally, I went and asked a person who worked in the paint aisle for assistance after I got the color card I was going for. 

I probably stumbled on some workers that were either bothered that I was interrupting them or were having a bad day because when I showed them my paint card, they angrily told me they'd have to tint that. 

I had no idea what that meant, but before I could even ask, a worker grabbed an oil based can of hunter green and stuffed it in front of my face and told me this was the closest color they had to what I was looking for. 

Me, being oblivious and slightly embarrassed that I put them in such a foul mood, thanked them and bought what they gave me because I thought they were actually helping. Buuuuuuuut, then I got home and my husband put on the first coat of paint. We were both silently shocked with the result -- we had just painted our dresser the ugliest Christmas green I had ever seen. I hated it so much, I couldn't even document it in picture form, it was that bad.

While I do get that Hunter Green is typically super green, the band on the paper of the can was much greener looking than what was now on my dresser. After paying 60$ on a can of paint, I silently grumbled to myself and mourned my vision until my husband asked if I liked it -- to which I couldn't lie and admitted it's not what I was picturing in my mind. 

He graciously called Home Depot and asked if they could still tint a can we recently bought and they said yes, so we took it back hoping that things were gonna work out. Welllllll, hopes dashed because get this -- you can't tint pre-made colors. The good news was that we could paint over the oil-based paint, so we didn't have to resand the dresser. If the first can would have been water based, we would have been in trouble. 

Anyways, we ended up buying another can of paint -- this time tinted and the color I actually wanted. 

Mishap No. Two :: Buying To Much Paint 

Again, totally oblivious here -- we bought a gallon of paint each time. We would have been okay with just a quart, but now we have 120$ worth of paint in our garage. I'm pretty mad about the christmas green color, but I feel like the second can of paint will come in handy. I'm thinking about going to thrift / secondhand stores to find mini side table drawers that I can repurpose to match the dresser.

Mishap No. Three :: Painting Outside 

Because I was pregnant, I decided that I didn't want paint fumes in the house. Painting in the garage wasn't an option either as we have a bunch of boxes down there with no space to spare, so we had to paint outside. It was funny that the moment we started to get this project going, the weather decided that it wasn't going to agree with us.

To start, it was humid day and right after we finished painting, clouds rolled in.... and it started to rain! Luckily we were outside when it did, so we managed to move all the drawers before they got soaked and stopped the water from ruining the paint. Because of the humidity, it also took a few extra hours to dry, so if you're ever painting outside, make sure it's on a sunny with now rainy suprises.

Painting & Getting New Handles

Regardless of the weather being ridiculous, we got the dresser painted and I loved the turnout. It was the perfect shade of green and it looked gorgeous! I was so ready to spray paint the handles, buuuuut I ran into another mishap.

Mishap No. Three & Four :: The Actual Handles

I bought some gold spray paint and just went to town on the painting. The mishap came when I realized that the handles were covering the plate, so I went in to spray them again and the coating ended up being way too thick and the paint started to peel and look clunky. I tried to scrape and wash off the paint to start again, but I epically failed.

So, I went to Amazon to find new handles for my repurposed dresser. If you end up getting new handles for an old dresser -- make sure to measure the distance between the holes of the handles if there is more than one screw hole. That's super important when ordering them online. 

Since I was going to get new handles, I decided to put a modern twist to it and brass gold handles. I got these handles off of Amazon and I love them. They're sturdy and heavy, but I landed in my fourth mishap with these online handles.

The screws were not long enough for my dresser, so we took another trip to Home Depot, only to realize that these handles were made with European metrics and there wasn't any size at the store that would match up with our metrics 100%. We ended up asking a Home Depot associate and bought new screws that were as close as possible to the handles I had from Amazon. 

The Finished Product 

We went home, installed the handles and people... we have a dresser and I am so excited about it! It's everything that I wanted it to be. The handles, the look of the matte color, the way it came together -- I am just sooooo happy with the finished product! It's the perfect addition to our bedroom. We're using it as a changing table for baby and storing all the newborn / breastfeeding supplies I need throughout the day in it. 

Even though this project is completed, I have a basket and the empty wall above the dresser that I still need to decorate. In addition to the decorating, I am looking for a rug and a rocking chair to place in the room next to Alex's crib since our bedroom is also a mini nursery for the time being. The dresser is the piece that will bring the room together and I can't wait to share that with you guys as well when it's all come together! 

⇓ PIN IT ⇓

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Review | Baby Tula Baby Carrier

Hey guys, today I wanted to brag on our new Baby Tula carrier a bit because I am really loving it! I have the mint chip design and I think it's just the perfect gender neutral pattern that both mom and dad can wear without feeling like the print is too much. If the carrier was full of flowers, my husband would not want to be seen with it on -- so this mint green is perfect. I also feel like the mint green color is amazing for when we're outdoors and it's super sunny. We have another carrier from a different brand that is a navy color and both Marcus and Felix would get super hot / sweaty since it's well known that darker colors attract the sun!

In addition to the design, the lightweight breathable cotton material of this carrier is both soft and sturdy making it comfortable for mom and baby. In comparison to all the other carriers I've tried with the boys, this one is truly my favorite when it comes to comfort.

Another thing I love about this carrier is that grows with baby -- from the newborn stages to toddlerhood. It has an adjustable neck support pillow for newborns that I find so helpful when I need to have my hands free. I don't have to worry about baby hurting his neck. I love that there are multiple ways to carry the baby as he grows. It's a product that is going to grow with us and I just love that about Baby Tula.

image taken from Baby Tula's website 

I recommend this carrier to all my friends because it's such a great product! I love using this product when I'm running errands, shopping, or when I need my hands free to pass out snacks and clean. It's become a staple in our lives and functionality when it comes to dealing with three under three.

Sounds awesome, right? Well, I've got good news! Baby Tula and I have teamed up to give one mom / mom to be this mint chip carrier, so she can conquer motherhood with her hands free! 

The giveaway is being hosted on Instagram and ends on June 19 at 8:59 PM / PST, so hurry and go enter!

⥥ Click This Photo + Enter Now ⥥

Special thank you to Baby Tula for making such amazing products and partnering with me to host this giveaway. 

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#HASHTAGS :: Why You Need To Use Them

Hashtags. They've taken the social media realm by storm and for good reason -- E X P O S U R E. They're a great way to get your posts / tweets seen by a larger audience than just your following. I read an article once that stated that the tweets that incorporate hashtags receive two times more engagement than the tweets that don't have them. If you care about numbers, this matters. If you're a blogger / influencer, you're essentially marketing for brands which means the more people see your content, the more successful you'll be.

So let's talk about hashtags -- here are a few tips on how to use them and when to use them.

The Dos & Don'ts of Using Hashtags

DO :: Be Relevant. 

Make sure that the hashtags you're using is relevant to the audience you'd like to reach, but also to the content you're posting. I can't tell you the countless times I've seen random posts in a hashtag. If it doesn't correlate with your post, find a new hashtag because people will pass right by it which is doing nothing for your numbers.

Make sure to research  and by that I mean start looking and using the hashtags that your fellow blogging / influencers are using and keep an eye on the tags brands are using in their captions and bios.

DON'T  :: Use The Same Hashtags Frequently. 

This is huge because if you use the same hashtags too frequently, it could result in Instagram detecting "spam" and IG will then go hide your posts from appearing under that hashtag. This will really hinder your engagement and growth.

I also want to mention that a lot of people claim that Instagram "shadow bans" them and then cue the freak out. Instagram is not out to get us bloggers and influencers, but they are looking for bots and spammy users. So take a deep breath, don't panic and just switch up your hashtags. 

DO :: Follow Hashtags On Instagram.

This is a great way to stumble upon great content and get inspiration from like minded people, but it's also a way for you to interact with people who you aren't following without having to stray away from your timeline every single time. Interaction is key when it comes to instagram growth that won't result in an unfollow later on.

DON'T :: Use Too Many Hashtags. 

Contrary to popular belief, using too many hashtags can hinder your numbers. I always see people talking about using all 30 hashtags on instagram and how they consider that to be utilizing every source, but I've done my research and that's simply not the case. 

From my understanding and research, multiple sources / studies have stated that the golden number for hashtags on Instagram is around 9 to 10 hashtags per post while for Facebook and twitter that number is one to two. 

DO :: Post To Hashtags That Have Less Than 1.5 M posts Under Them. 

This is a tip I've started utilizing lately and have seen it help my numbers and engagement. If a hashtag has a lot of posts tagged under it that means a lot of people are using the tag which at first may seem like a great thing, but this can also mean that your picture will get lost in the flood of pictures that are being tagged. Because of this, I look for and engage with tags that may not have millions of posts under it, but still have great content. 


*please note that most of these hashtags are ones that I use to reach my target audience. If you're not a motherhood + lifestyle blogger / influencer, then these tags probably won't help you since young moms, photographers, parents and women are the people I want to reach.









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Review | Cascade Pure Essentials ActionPacs

* this post is sponsored by Cascade, but all comments + opinions are my own. 

I wanted to talk to you guys about my new favorite dish detergent because I am so excited about them. I know, you're probably thinking I am lame -- I mean, it's stuff you put in your dishwasher, buuuuuut hear me out... it's a new product by Cascade with a simplifies formula that has essential oils in their perfumes. How neat is that?! 

I mean, it's no secret that I’ve always loved Cascade products, but this one has become one of my absolute favorites within the first week of using them. I really love that they're promoting offering a product that I can really feel good about, so I don't have to worry. I have been trying to reduce my overall exposure to certain ingredients in most of my home + cleaning products, so Cascade as really made this so much easier for me.

The fact that there is no chlorine bleach and no phosphates in these ActionPacs make my momma heart so incredibly happy. It’s so important to me that the things I am using in my home promote healthy living for my boys. Having these being infused with essential oils is another plus. 

Not to mention that these ActionPacs smell heavenly -- they come in two scents: orange blossom and lemon essence and I love them equally as much. I'm having a hard time choosing which scent to use next. The scent lingers as I open my dishwasher, so putting away the dishes has become my new favorite chore! 

Another thing I love is the fact is that this formula leaves no residue on my dishes which makes me oh so very happy. My pet peeve is when you're unloading the dishwasher and you see spots and leftovers on the plate after you've taken them out. I love sparkling dishes with no spots / grime and these do the job so well. I honestly cannot rave enough about them!

& good news friends -- From now through May 25, save $1 off any Cascade pure essentials item (bag or tub) with this online coupon from  by clicking here.

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Living With A & A :: Ashamed + Amazed

The picture above was taken 7 years ago. although the pose is absolutely ridiculous, it was during a time when I was most confident with myself. Weighing in at around 115 to 120 pounds, I was 20 years old with not a care in the world except some looming 20 page college term paper. Life was different back then. 

Now looking at my body as it gears up to deliver a third baby, I am both amazed & ashamed. 

Amazed -- that for the third time, I have been blessed to have carried a child to full term. Amazed that even though my first pregnancy ended in a heart wrenching miscarriage, God’s grace allowed me to pull through the pain, hurt & worries and I have gotten to experience the fullness of all the pings, pangs and joys of motherhood.

But then, as I continue to stare at my body, shame creeps in. I used to be skinny, I think to myself. I used to fit in a size 4. I used to not worry about weight and look where I’ve ended up. Here I am, heavier than I’ve ever could imagine. 

Yes, I’m 35 weeks pregnant & Yes, I’ve had three kids rather quickly with barely time to lose the baby weight, but that isn’t an excuse — you’ve let yourself go, Marta. Boy, does self-doubt get louder & louder the moment after you let it slowly creep in. 

It’s days like these where I look at photos. I look at myself, I look at my boys & then I look around. I hear the commentary of others, those “oh, you used to be so tiny” remarks from people I respect and I can see the judgment of those “nice” strangers who won't say anything — to my face.

It’s hard, but I know that I am being taught something in this season. I took being skinny for granted and comparison is proving to be the thief of joy. I am fully aware of this. But, it's so easy to let that thief in.... I'm not writing this for pity, I am writing this because I sometimes struggle with body image and maybe there is someone out there that will read this and feel like they aren't alone. 

So, if you're a fellow mom wrangling thoughts of insecurity and struggling to look at yourself when you pass a mirror -- mama, I see you. I'm here to give you a virtual smile, nod and a bit of encouragement. You're not alone and I truly believe that one day... it. will. get. better. 

I know that I can and will get back to a size that will make me feel happy again. It may not be 120 pounds, but I've come to terms with that. I have two beautiful boys, I am about to welcome another wee little one to the world and couldn't be prouder of that. 

I am living with A & A and that's totally okay. 

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Spring Cleaning 101 [ + Checklist ]

+++ This post is sponsored by Opendoor. All opinions are my own +++

I'm 35 weeks pregnant, so nesting during spring has been more than ideal. It's made the act of spring cleaning a breeze -- and by that, I mean that I nagged my poor husband to death until he finally agreed to help with the process. Bless his heart, he spent most of his spring break off from nursing school doing all the tedious tasks I could think of!

I don't know how it happens, but every year during spring, I find myself having to declutter + rearrange furniture and closets. It's gotten so much worse as we've added more kids into the picture. Thankfully, we've nearly finished and I feel very satisfied with the fact that I've taken every inch of my home and disinfected it. 

While the spring cleaning indoors is done, I have quite a few things that I still have to do outside -- things like washing the windows, pulling weeds around the house, cleaning the gutters, etc. I am so pregnant and since my husband is in school again, we'll be tackling these tasks slowly on the weekends and in the spare time we can find in our hectic schedules. 

Our Spring Cleaning Routine [ + freebie printable ]

Here is a thorough list of things that we did to spruce and disinfect our home + some of the things we still need to do. 

Before we start I just want to issue a warning / mini disclaimer -- I grew up with a very Romanian mom & dad, both of whom were super particular when it came to cleaning, so if this list seems exaggerated, sorry not sorry. 

I do this regime at least twice a year and when we do it, it's intense. If my parents instilled one thing in me, it's that a clean organized house equates to a clean, organized life. I would always mumble and grumble during the boot camp type cleaning sessions when I was a kid, but now that I have my own home, nothing feels better than walking into a house that has been thoroughly scrubbed down from top to bottom. 

At the end of this novel of a post (hey now, it's a crash course, what did you expect?),  I've compiled all of these tasks on a sheet that you can print yourself and hang on your fridge just in case you want to tackle some spring cleaning on your own. Refer back to this post for more details, but hopefully, this mini checklist can get you in the spring cleaning spirit! 

So now, without further ado -- here are the tasks that I attempt to tackle during spring cleaning week!

Indoor Tasks

❏  Dusting + Wiping Down Shelves / Furniture :: this is one of the things that we do every week at our house, but I really love adding it to the spring cleaning list as well because dust settles faster than you can blink. 

❏  Dusting + Washing Walls, Ceilings & Moldings / Trims :: I feel like this should be done twice a year. Once in the late fall and then again in the spring. I dust all corners of the ceiling and near the light fixtures and then I wiped down the walls from top to bottom. 

❏  Clean All Windows :: both inside and outside.

❏  Vacuuming Behind & Under Furniture :: dust accumulates everywhere especially behind heavy furniture. Spring cleaning week is the perfect time to move all the heavy stuff and vacuum + wash behind and under things that usually don't get moved throughout the year.

❏  Organizing Every Closet in the House :: this was a big project. My closets were all over the place as we didn't have many dressers. I took our storage closets and organized each shelf and grouped products like cleaning supplies together as well as kitchen supplies, soaps, handwashes, etc. I bought cubicles for our closets and used baskets to group socks, hats, and all other small items of clothing. 

❏  Wash / Steam All Floors :: We recently bought a floor steamer to wash our floors and it's proving to be such a great tool -- especially during spring cleaning week! I love how clean all the floors look after using the steamer.

❏  Donating Clothes + Toys That We Don't Use :: this one is a chore that we have yet to finish because we haven't had the time to go through all our old clothes and toys, but I am slowly getting there. 

❏  Get Rid of Expired Products :: this includes cans and stale food from our pantry and old makeup from my office / closet. I just threw them away if they were old, expired and used up since some products you can never fully use up before the expiration date. 

❏  Disinfect Rugs :: I have shaggy rugs and don't have a carpet / rug cleaner, so I found a DIY recipe on Pinterest that was fairly quick and easy. All I had to do was sprinkle it on the rug and then vacuum it up in the morning before the boys woke up. 

❏  Wash + Wipe Couches & Recliners  :: If you have couches with material coverings, go ahead and pop them in the washer. If they are leather, it's time to wipe them down. 

❏  Change Air Filters + Clean Air Vents :: We do this every three months, but when you're getting the house all spruced up, it's always nice to have the old ones removed so the dust accumulated in the filter isn't being taken through the house.

❏  Wash Plush Toys + Sanitize Plastic Toys :: this is just to get the germs off toys as boys will be boys and my youngest likes to take everything to his mouth. Plus, clean toys give this mama piece of mind. After you've cleaned them, it's time to organize and sort them. 

❏  Replaced Light Bulbs :: it's the perfect time to go check the lightbulbs in the house and replace them with the energy saving ones because why not? 

Disinfect Sink :: I have an old white ceramic sink and if you don't disinfect that thing on a weekly basis, it gets gross, so I do this task quite often. However, for those of you who live in a newer home, I've heard that it's good to disinfect your sink -- wait for it... at least once a week, so let's get disinfecting. 

❏  Wash All Bedding, Blankets & Pillows :: I love crawling into a fresh set of bedding. It's just so comforting, especially when the rest of your home is sparkling clean too.

❏  Clean Stove Top :: it's time for this gunky task. I'm not sure why, but I hate this task the most even though it's so simple. 

❏  Deep Clean The Bathroom :: oh boy, this one is where you place the mask on and get working! I feel like this job is probably the most tedious because even though the space is small, there is so always so much to clean -- the sink, the drawers + cabinets, the shower, and tub, etc. 

Wipe Down Refrigerator, Freezer & Microwave :: This is a great way to refresh the most used spaces in the kitchen. It's also a great time to go through the food you have and see if there is anything that needs to be thrown out. 

Outdoor Tasks

❏  Weeding + Gardening :: this is what spring is all about, am I right? no time like the present to plant some flowers or spruce up your garden by planting some fresh produce that you can reap in the coming months. Getting rid of pesky weeds is also ideal for this time of year as the soil is moist from some rainy days. 

❏  Clean Gutters :: fall and winter months are known to be gusty which means there are probably some leaves, twigs and other types of gunk stuck in your gutters -- now is time to clean those babies out. 

❏  Patching Up Holes Around The House + Wobbly Fences :: keeping pesky rodents, animals and bugs out of your home and garden is something that everyone wants and the first step to making that happen is making sure you have no open holes or gaps for them to enter through. 

❏  Pressure Wash Driveway, Patio, Etc :: mildew, moss, a bunch of unwanted dust and dirt have accumulated in the past months and now is the perfect time to get the job done.

❏  Clean Grill :: Every spring, we clean out the gunk on the grill and then pressure wash it after scrubbing the grill plates. 

❏  Clean Window + Door Screens :: this will get rid of gunk, dirt and unwanted dead bugs that have landed and gotten stuck on your windows + screens. 

❏  Wash Garbage & Compost / Yard Debris Cans :: this one is a task that I've always hated because it's gross, but after I finish, I am always relieved. 

Don't Forget To Clean The Car

❏  Get Rid Of Junk + Trash :: all those gum wrappers, empty water bottles, etc. 

❏  Wipe Everything Down :: steering wheel, leather seats, the dashboard, all the things! I have two little ones and there are milk splatters, footprints and all kinds of hand smudges on my seats and windows. 

❏  Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum :: getting rid of all the dust and crumbs that have accumulated over the past few months makes me one happy lady.

Change Air Filter & Oil :: and any other car tune up (alignment, change tires + timing belt, check brakes, etc)  that you can think of should be done because you don't want any surprises later on in the year. 

❏  Wash Exterior :: take your vehicle to a car wash or start scrubbing! nothing says put together more than a fresh, clean car. 

Why Is Spring Cleaning So Important?

So, besides feeling accomplished and renewed because your home looks and feels amazing -- it's a great way to make sure your home is still living up to its full potential. It's a nice way to keep your home neat and tidy + seeing if anything needs to be fixed around the house. Keeping your home up to par each season is also ideal just in case you ever decide that you want to move. When it's time to move, you can rest assured that all past spring cleaning sessions have helped keep your home in the best shape possible and your home is now ready to be listed on the market.

Did you know that spring is the number one season that people start to think about listing their home and moving? If moving crosses your mind and you live in the Portland Metro area, Opendoor is a great option + service that offers sellers an all cash, competitive offer on an eligible home in 24 hours -- no listing, no showings, no leaving for open houses!

If you're looking to buy a home, Opendoor has options for you too! They allow prospective buyers a home to access each home listed, 7 days a week from 6 am to 9 pm without having to make an appointment and waiting for someone to walk through the house -- you can do this by using their app as the key to the home and take a self-guided tour. It's a super convenient option for buyers who wrangle busy schedules. Such a great resource + tool for people contemplating a move -- go check it out! 

Now, That Printable Checklist I Promised [ Right Click To Download ]

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