10 Instant Pot Recipes for the Fall

Just in time for fall and back to school, it’s ten Instant Pot meals that our family loves!

If you don't have an Instant Pot, it's a kitchen workhorse. I like that I can make dinner at 3 or 4pm - it's easier than trying to make it around 5:00 when we're in full on witching hour - and it will stay nice and hot without over cooking. I also love that with an Instant Pot you do the prep work, but don't have to stay by the stove for the cooking. And finally, I love that many IP recipes tend to make a decent amount of food, because leftovers are life.

1. Kalua Pork from Nom Nom Paleo I make the pork and the cabbage that are in her recipe, add them to a bowl with white rice, and top with guacamole. Delicious.

2. Easy & Spicy Jambalaya from my friend Lindsey at All The Nourishing Things This one is so tasty and makes a HUGE pot (like 3 meals worth for our family). It takes some time to make (I give it 90 minutes versus the 26 the recipes lists, though most is hands off), so it's not necessarily a quick meal, but 100% worth it. I also love that it's a full meal. If I'm really feeling fancy I might add a salad, but not really.

3. Chicken Tikka Masala with Peas and Cauliflower by Skinny Taste This is a family favorite when Greg and I want take out but need to make a quick meal at home instead. If the kids are eating with us, I leave out the cayenne. We serve with rice and a sprinkling of cilantro on top.

4. Butter Chicken from Two Sleeves We actually like everything that we've tried so far from her cookbook, Indian Instant Pot, but this is probably the kids' favorite. And like I serve everything, we eat it with rice (or cauliflower rice since it's nice and saucy) and cilantro.

5. Curried Beef and Sweet Potato Stew from my friend Emily at My Everyday Table Love this take on chili! Just a little something different to make it not feel like we're eating the same chili again. Which happens a lot in fall and winter around here. I cut back on the honey a bit because I don't have much of a sweet tooth. And yes, I serve it with rice and cilantro. Maybe I should change up my sides?

6. Sesame-Orange Chicken from Against All Grain This is my current favorite. I love it so much, both kids will eat it, it takes MAYBE five minutes to prep… I mean what’s not to love. Love it with rice and roasted broccoli. It makes extra sauce to drizzle, so cauli rice works well, too.

7. Creamy Southwest Chicken from Wholesomelicious Super tasty and different than the usual curry flavors I tend to go with in the Instant Pot. I've been serving this one over zoodles as suggested in the recipe and it's tasty! I sometimes make the kids rice if I have a feeling it's going to be one of those nights when the only thing my three year old will eat is rice.

8. Stuffed Pepper Soup from me I made this up one day when we had a ton of bell peppers that needed to be used and have made it purposely several times since then. It's a one dish meal, which is my favorite because thinking of sides suck the life out of me.

9. Shredded Salsa Verde Chicken This isn't really a full recipe, but this chicken is great for salads, soup, tacos, enchiladas, etc. Toss chicken thighs (1-2 pounds), one cup salsa verde, and a teaspoon of cumin per pound, and cook for 10-15 minutes. If you want to be fancy you can sauté onions and garlic before adding the chicken. Frozen chicken? set it for 20 minutes instead - love that you can pull this together from the freezer and pantry.

10. Hard Boiled Eggs Again, not really a recipe, but this is the only way I've made hard boiled eggs over the last two years. They come out perfectly cooked every time and with the easiest shells to peel. I don't know why, but I don't question when things work. Place six eggs on top of the steam rack and add one cup water. Cook on high pressure for 4-5 minutes for soft boiled and 6 minutes for hard boiled. Quick release and immediately put eggs in an ice bath.


Strong at 40: The First Six Weeks

six weeks of movement

A few months ago, I was getting ready one morning and for some reason started thinking about how I was 22 months from turning 40. That lead to thinking about big goals - and with about two years to go, what sort of huge things could I accomplish if I doubled down on them.

I came up with two - one is business related and the other is that I want to be as strong as I’ve ever been on my 40th birthday. The last few years have left me feeling more depleted than strong, both physically and mentally. And that’s fine - I was simultaneously growing and nurturing babies and a business. Both are still growing and require nurturing, but I’m a little out of the thick of things.

When I say strong, the image I see is having a body and mind that are resilient, tough, ready to go and do what I need them to. Right now my body is a little tired and sprinting up the stairs leaves me breathless. My anxiety seems to creep up when I least expect it. What if I could really give it my all to build them both up?

I’m not sure this will be interesting to anyone but me, but I wanted somewhere to check in with myself and document the journey. So here I go, a recap of the first six weeks.

Six Weeks of Movement

When I decided to “get strong”, I knew I would need to do something different than I’ve done in the past. Typically, I jump 150% in to something, but burn out a few weeks or months in. So I decided rather than declaring myself a runner or a yogi, I would set a goal to move four times a week, in whatever way felt good that day.

In the end I needed a bit more structure to make sure it happened, so a routine of Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday started. I tend to do the same workouts on the same days, but I also check in with myself and see how I’m feeling. I might skip a lifting class and walk on the treadmill if that’s what my current level of energy and sleep calls for. I’ve been keeping busy with the following - I’m curious to see what this list might look like six months down the road!

  • Personal Training: I started working with a trainer once a week and it’s been awesome. He’s already fixed my posture so that my lower back is not hurting all the time from exercise and I love having that one hard workout a week where I feel like I really give it my all. Plus, Greg and I are doing this together so it’s extra fun - a little date on Saturday mornings while the kids are in the gym childcare. He’s currently on paternity leave but we will pick back up in July.

  • Body Pump: Originally I thought I’d work out with a trainer several days a week, but that is a scheduling nightmare and expensive. So I started looking at what the gym offers and tried Body Pump. I love it! It’s a lot of the exercises I loved from CrossFit but at a slower pace and lower weight - I’m not trying to keep up with any 20 year olds (I’m by far one of the youngest in the class) and therefore I’m not hurting myself. I tend to go on Wednesday mornings. C loves the gym childcare so he’s happy to be dropped off while I go.

  • Pilates: I’ve been enjoying a Pilates mat class once a week as well at the gym. It’s a little slower than I prefer my exercise but I love that I can practice using my core versus my pelvic floor in the class - something I’ve had trouble with post kids. I also get a complimentary 30 min session on the reformer that I’m looking forward to trying soon!

  • Walking: Walking will always be one of my favorite ways to get exercise. Whether it’s outside with the dog or pushing a stroller, around the lake, or on a treadmill, I can’t get enough. It’s my go to when I’m feeling run down but still want to get some movement.

  • Running: As a former runner (fun fact: I’ve run two full marathons), I have to say that running just doesn’t do it for me these days. But, I wanted some measurements that were not size related, so every four weeks I’ve been running one mile for time. I can handle one mile.

  • 10 Minute Mamas: I am so grateful to have access to the 10 Minute Mamas workouts. These come in handy when it’s already 7pm on one of my move days and I haven’t moved yet. I’ve been known to just do one in the bathroom while the kids take a bath. Movement does not have to be fancy.

First Six Weeks Victories

I purposely did not weigh myself when I started because I didn’t want to fixate on numbers. There are a lot of things I’d love to see come out of this, but I’m also really open to what happens, what I take on, etc. I feel like focusing on the scale might at worse make me feel like I’m failing and at best I might miss out on new ways I can find physical and mental strength because if the scale is going down, it’s “working”.

So I’m looking for other types of victories, non-scale victories as they call them. And here is my first set:

  • My favorite from this six weeks is that I stuck with it! I moved every single M, W, T, S. I made the time, set the priorities, and showed up.

  • I’ve noticed that I can sometimes run up the stairs and not be winded!

  • I felt that my movement had become routine enough that I decided to add another layer on and began to use the 10% Happier app to meditate in the last week. Excited to see where this first step towards mental strength takes me.

  • My first mile was 12:04. My second mile was 12:06… but I accidentally ran a little farther. So I’m considering it a win - and I have straightened out my actual course for the next mile check in!

This next six weeks will bring it’s first movement challenge (a week of traveling), I’m considering a Whole 30 (my tummy has been so upset the last few months and I feel like a total reset might be called for), and I can’t wait to see what happens as I really dive into daily mediation. But, I’m also open to whatever, so who knows what I’ll be reporting back in early August.

Tips for Online Bra Shopping

Online Bra Shopping Tips

A few months ago, I decided to finally do something about my sad bra situation. I had two bras, one was five years old (from before I was ever pregnant the first time) and the other was a nursing bra. I stopped nursing in February 2018. I write this in June 2019. At some point I also bought a few bralettes that I loved for a short time, then just found them a pain to get in and out of.

And let’s not talk about my sports bras. They are from Old Navy (totally fine), but I’m pretty sure I purchased them in 2012 when I started at a new Crossfit box. They have very little elastic left, and what is left is all mangled and doesn’t sit flat.

So, being the good introvert that I am, I took to the internet for new bras. I figured I’d give it a try and if it was unsuccessful, I could always go to Nordstrom and have someone professionally measure me. But using child free time (or taking both children with me) to be fondled (professionally, of course) is sort of at the bottom of my list of things I want to do.

Lucky for me, it was actually quite successful. I’m now the proud owner of three bras, one sort of bralette (that isn’t as much of a struggle to get in and out of), a tank with a built in bra, and four new sports bras.

Tips for Online Bra Shopping

1. Use sites that have an online quiz to help you narrow down styles and choose the right size. I’m sure nothing matches the skills of a professional, but I found bras I love and that fit well using the quizzes on both Third Love and True & Co. I wanted to check out Soma as well, but their bra finder involves ordering something you wear on your back to collect data and that just wasn’t going to happen.

2. Shop sites with free returns. Third Love, True & Co and Pact all have free returns. I only ended up needing to return to Third Love, and it was a painless process. My refund came through a few weeks after I sent the bra back, which is pretty average for online returns. They also all had free shipping with a certain amount of product purchased.

3. Buy more than just the styles recommended and buy a variety of styles. The bra that Third Love recommended as the best choice for me was the most uncomfortable bra I tried on, left a big red welt on my left side, and the one item I returned. The other two bras I purchased from them are the same size, so I don’t think it was a sizing issue.

My Favorite Picks

I’m not sure how helpful sharing my actual purchases is because we are all so different, but here we go! For reference… I’m not well-endowed.

Third Love

I started with Third Love because I loved their open letter response to Victoria’s Secret. They also have the more comprehensive quiz of the few I took. You can use this link to save $15 on your first purchase.

24/7 Lace Contour Plunge Bra - I can tell you that in the last four years of babies and nursing and all that fun stuff, I have never once put on an article of clothing and felt sexy. Until I put on this bra. I don’t wear it a ton (it works best for me under thicker shirts and darker colors - I got Earl Grey because they didn’t have a neutral available in my size), but when I do I just love it and feel like tiny humans don’t touch me all day.

24/7 Seamless Stripe Wireless Bra - I really wanted a comfy wireless bra and this one is perfect. Side note: It was really hard to find a non-bralette wireless bra. Maybe other retailers I didn’t look at have more, but definitely opportunity here. I feel like it’s not quite as perky as the others, but it’s so comfortable. I wouldn’t say I want to wear it 24/7, but I do enjoy wearing it while it’s on.

True & Co

I ordered from True & Co just to make sure the customer experience was good - I actually ordered two bras with the intent of returning one to try out returns. But I loved them both and kept them. You can save $25 on your first purchase using this link.

True Lingerie Madison Lace Plunge Bra - I didn’t really need another regular everyday bra, but this one is super comfy and sits really well under t-shirts and thin cotton, which is what I wear most of the time.

True Body Triangle Convertible Strap Bra - This is the bra I thought I would return, but I’m in love. It’s the perfect cross between a regular bra and a bralette. It offers a little more shape than a bralette (has thin removable pads), and it’s more bra material (all my bralettes are a thicker lace material), so I feel like it’s much easier to get on and off.

Pact

I’ve been wanting to order from Pact for a while based on their mission and I’m so happy I did. As I need to replace basics, I’ll definitely be switching over to Pact where I can. You can save 20% on your first purchase with this link. I’m just highlighting the bras here but also love the underwear I picked up and while the yoga pants don’t quite meet Athleta level love, I do like them.

Black Strappy Sports Bra - I ordered one to begin with (when you are used to spending $5 on a sports bra, $30 is steep), but after wearing it twice I grabbed three more the next time I saw they had a sale. The strappy is cute but not difficult to get into and I really like the fit. Again, not well endowed, so I’m not going to offer my thoughts on support here.

Shelf Bra Camisole - I have been looking for a good shelf bra camisole since they went out of style in like 2004. So comfy to throw on under another shirt and not have to worry about a bra. Loving this one and sad I forgot to grab another in my last order.

I’m well stocked on bras now but if you have other online favorites please share in the comments for others!

Online bra shopping tips.

Why I'm Loving Cook Once, Eat All Week



The best guide I've seen to easy weekly meal planning and prep!

In all my years of blogging (this is actually my third blog), I don’t think I’ve ever dedicated an entire post to just one cookbook. But Cassy Joy Garcia’s new book Cook Once, Eat All Week has blown my mind.

I’ve come up with solutions to meal planning and prep so many times I can’t even count. But they all last a few weeks and then they are just like the others - a time suck. And often expensive as well, but mostly a time suck. Cassy’s new book - and I waited a full six weeks in before posting this to make sure it was the real deal - is the furthest thing from a time or money suck.

For a quick description, in case you haven’t heard me fangirl about it all over Instagram, Cook Once, Eat All Week is 26 weeks worth of meals where Cassy and team have done the meal planning (three meals per week, see more below), the grocery list making, and planned the prep. I didn’t realize how much of a time suck planning the prep was, in addition to the actual prep, until I started using this book.

Each week is organized around one protein, one vegetable, and one starch or starchy veg. This reduces prep time and costs, but I promise the three meals are so varied in their flavor profiles (does saying that make me a food blogger now?) you won’t even really notice you’re eating many of the same foods.

What I love about Cook Once, Eat All Week

If you want more than just “I love this book, everyone needs a copy”, here you go!

  • The mental part of planning and prepping is done for me. I used to dread writing out our menu each week because it would take forever to come up with the meals and find/write the groceries. I tried making lists of our favorite 20 meals, doing a month long menu, having repeating weekly menus, everying. But nothing really made this task easier. Now, I hand P the book and tell her to pick a week that looks good. It takes me about 20 minutes to add our breakfast, lunch, and snack items to the shopping list from the book and input the order on Instacart. Such a time saver and I look forward to doing it on Friday afternoons instead of dreading it.

  • The physical part of prep, the actual doing it, has never taken more than 90 minutes. I am someone who spent years spending HOURS on Sunday prepping food, then got so burned out I have basically refused weekend food prep for the last few years. I love that I can do it one shot, knowing I’ll be done in less than 90, sometimes right around one hour (you may have to plan ahead to cook protein overnight in a crockpot or something, but not hands on). Or, I can piecemail it throughout the weekend as I’m doing other work in the kitchen.

  • The ingredients and cooking are simple. The fanciest thing you’re going to have to buy is a bottle of coconut aminos. There is nothing crazy expensive in this book, or something that you’ll use one tablespoon of and find it again in five years. Some weeks I’m really surprised

  • The portion sizes are generous. The meals are designed for four adults and I’d say they still verge on large for that. Which is great, because leftovers! I find that if Greg is out of town a few nights, the three meals are all we need for the week. Sometimes they even cover my lunches, too. At most I add one additional dinner meal to our menu, though we do have a standing takeout date night on Fridays and sometimes grab lunch out on the weekend as well.

  • The recipes are flexible. While taco casserole sounds delicious, I know what is going to happen when I put it on my kids’ plates. A whole lot of nothing. So instead, I work with the recipes to use them in a way my family will eat them, and the recipes are flexible enough to support that. Which means a lot of times a dish that is meant to be a one pan meal becomes a bowl for Greg and I and the separate ingredients for the kids.

  • You learn as you go. I learn Cassy’s style the more I cook and I also know what works for us and what doesn’t. For example, we always have rice leftover and I find the rice based dishes a little rice heavy. So now I know to just make less rice these weeks and use less in the recipes.

And a Few Things I Don’t Love

It wouldn’t be an honest review if I didn’t share a few things that I don’t love.

  • Fewer veggies than we are used to eating. In general, the recipes include one veggie and sometimes one of the three recipes includes only protein and a starch. To supplement, I usually add plain greens (like arugula) and some salad fixings (romaine and some easy salad veggies - or just leftover veggies in the fridge) to my shopping list and if a meal feels like it needs more veggies I have something ready in the fridge.

Well, I’ve been sitting here for a few minutes and can’t come up with another. So there you go.

Who It’s For, and Who It’s Maybe Not For

So not every book is for everyone and that’s definitely true for cookbooks.

  • If you are a large family or good with leftovers, I recommend. I love leftovers (like LOVE love), so even though our family can’t eat every meal in full, I see this is a plus. But I know some people don’t care for leftovers. If that’s the case, and your family can’t eat 4 (large) adult sized portions per meal, then you likely will end up wasting some food.

  • If you are omnivores, I think this book does a great job of mixing up meats, veggies, and starches (though as I said above a few recipes can be low on the veg). I would not recommend this book to a vegetarian or vegan family - I just don’t think you’d be able to swap out the animal proteins that easily.

  • If you want quick meals that require almost zero brain power and minimal prep, this is for you. If you want gourmet meals with tons of variety, you may find that the recipes are a little basic (a huge plus in my book, but again I know not everyone is looking for the same thing I am), and that the same protein could feel repetitive.

How I Make Time for Reading

Before I get started, this IS NOT a post about why you should read more. Reading is my thing - I have been a bookworm since I first learned to read. I really missed having time for reading in the first few years of motherhood, so I’ve been working towards more reading this year. Don’t like to read? Maybe this will apply to YOUR favorite hobby.

This year I set an intention to read more. I really missed getting lost in books, but I also wanted to see if being intentional with my reading would curb some of my excessive scrolling habits. We’re not quite halfway through the year and I’m just about half way to my goal, so I’d say so far it’s working! I haven’t done anything earth shattering to read more, but here are the ways I’ve been more intentional.

fullsizeoutput_589f.jpeg

How I Make Time for Reading as a Busy Mom

1. I set a monthly book goal. In the past, I’ve had years where I wanted to read 52 books, or another arbitrary number, but I never hit that. Mostly because I looked at it as a full year project, which means I could never catch up with what was left by the last quarter of the year. This year I set a monthly goal of four books instead. I thought it might be a little too lofty and that I would not hit it most months, but as of now (May), I’ve hit it every month and even read six in March. It’s crazy to me that this is on track to be my most books read year - the monthly goal (and the next tip) have really helped.

2. I started listening to audio books. For a long while, I was a big snob and didn’t consider audio books “reading”. But when I realized that I can’t actually do ten things while I listen to a book, so I’m still diving into a story and paying attention to it, I decided my rule was dumb. I now “read” one to two books a month using Audible. After some trial and error, I have found that memoirs work best for me - I am not a very auditory person and I can’t seem to stay involved with fiction or business/personal development books.

3. I only read books I like. Again, the “reading purist” in me for years forced myself to finish all books I started. Which means I could go forever not reading because I had something I just didn’t want to finish in my queue. So now if I truly have zero interest in the book, I return it. This is a good place to note that almost all of my physical books are from the library - I rarely buy a book these days unless I really think it’s something I am going to want to keep.

4. I have many books going at a time. I like to have three to four different books going so I can choose what sounds good to read. I usually have one to two fiction books, some sort of personal development or business book, and a memoir going on. And I rarely stray from these genres because these are what I enjoy reading.

5. I have books all over the house. I keep books all over so that when I find a down few minutes, I’m more likely to pick one up and read a few pages verus scroll for five minutes. It may not sound like much, but picking up a book once or twice a day and reading five or ten pages is both a great break and adds up quickly to reading more.

6. I have dedicated reading time every day. I read before bed for anywhere between an hour (rare) and 15 minutes (the usual) before I fall asleep. This helps me turn my brain off and fall asleep much faster. I try to keep a fun, engaging, light hearted “beach read” sort of book on my nightstand. This ensures I want to wrap up my computer or whatever work and get in to bed so I can read the book, plus it’s nothing that is going to make my mind spin. Even if I only read for 15 minutes a night, throughout the course of a month that is over seven hours and easily one book.

Have any tips that help you read more? I would love to hear them!

Want to check out what I’ve read this year? I’ve done a mini book review each month, or follow me on Goodreads!

make time to read.png



May 2019 Book Review

May was a fun month for reading! Every book was a random selection, whether from the library or Audible - nothing came from a list or a recommendation. I got lucky, because usually my random library selections end up going back after a chapter or two.

I’m still really amazed I’m keeping up with my intention of four books a month. I have a few more right now that are more than half way, so I’m starting to wonder if this might be the year I finally read 52 books? But I also know there are still 7 months that can totally get away from me, so I’ll just stick with being happy I’m currently on track and have made good on my intention to scroll less in the evenings and during downtime.

Book Review May.png


May Books

The Last Romantics - A random library selection that I really enjoyed. It’s one of those novels that follows a family over years, lots of characters, but when done well it’s easy to keep track of everyone and their stories. This follows four siblings who lose their father early in childhood through adulthood. Some of it is a bit far fetched but overall I enjoyed the characters and

The Bride Test - Pretty much all my fiction lately has been random grabs from the library and I’m on a roll with good ones. Loved this book, especially once I found out more about the author and read her acknowledgements at the end of the book. A mom worried her autistic son might never marry brings home a trial bride from her recent trip to Vietnam. It sounds cheesy, but I really enjoyed it.

When the Air Hits Your Brain - Another random memoir selection from Audible and I loved it. Just enough medial speak to keep me interested without boring me (think Grey’s Anatomy level), but mostly heartfelt stories from a man looking back on his years as a neurosurgeon resident. It’s a job where you know you are going to lose people - I can’t even imagine. From babies, to pregnant mamas, to veterans, and everything in between. I cried, I laughed, like I said it was a random pick but I really loved it.

Normal People - I grabbed this from the library’s Peak Rewards when I saw the author was born in 1991 - I’m doing the summer reading bingo challenge and one of the squares is “published when author was under 35”. There is really no telling how I select books these days. Anyway, it was okay. A tale of the relationship, a messy mix of friendship and romance between two high schoolers who become university students. As I’ve mentioned and am no longer ashamed of, I tend to prefer my fiction be more “beach read”, so while I did enjoy the story it just wasn’t my favorite book.

Looking for more book recommendations? Check out:

April 2019 reads
March 2019 reads
February 2019 reads
January 2019 reads

I would love to know what you are reading in the comments - some of my favorite books have been recommendations from friends!

April 2019 Book Review

It’s May 19th and I’m finally updating my April books, but better late than never?

We had a lot of plane time last month, and a lot of sickness, so there was a lot of time to read.

april book reads.png

April Books

Love Warrior - I love a good memoir and this didn’t disappoint. I’ve followed Glennon Doyle for quite some time on Instagram and learning a bit about her personal life and how her family evolved to where it is today was interesting and at time inspiring, watching her learn to heal herself before working on relationships with others.

Shoe Dog - This is Phil Knight’s memoir, but I’d definitely rate it in top three business books I’ve read, if not the top. It starts a little slow (I actually bought it on Audible in mid 2018 and stopped listening at some point) but about 1/3 of the way in it became an incredibly motivating and inspiring story. Basically, show up and work really hard without making excuses, and good things might happen.

Maid - When I get a new Audible credit I often scan the memoirs section until something catches me eye, and that’s how I found Maid. The story itself was captivating, about a young mom trying to survive as a house cleaner, but it also left me thinking about how I view the cost of labor. Cheap labor comes at the expense of some of the most vulnerable humans.

Nine Perfect Strangers - Loved this one! It was a great pre-bedtime fiction read. Kept me entertained - it follows several couples/singletons during a week at a health spa . Usually I don’t love books with a big cast of characters, but in this one it was easy to keep track of everyone and just enjoyable.

Looking for more book recommendations? Check out:

March 2019 reads
February 2019 reads
January 2019 reads

I would love to know what you are reading in the comments - some of my favorite books have been recommendations from friends!

Easy and Cheap Safer Hand Soap

IMG_5234.JPG

Before my kids were old enough to use hand soap, I stocked our bathrooms with the Beautycounter hand soap pump.

Then my daughter started wanting to wash her hands and I watched tablespoons of my soap go down the drain each wash. I still love this soap and have it next to my bathroom sink, but I needed a cheaper option for around the house. And I wanted it to have clean ingredients for their little hands, especially since they are so often in their mouths (whyyyy?).

Here's the deal with regular old hand soap - it can include a bunch of things I don't want on my kids' hands or my own, and definitely not in their mouths. Common ingredients include:

  1. Fragrance is something I talk about all the time on Instagram, but the quick story is that "it" is protected by IP law, so companies don't have to disclose the ingredients that are in it. The simple word "fragrance" on a label (or "pafrum") is rarely just one ingredient. It's often tens or hundreds of ingredients. Often times, harmful ingredients like phthalates (see below) hide undetected in fragrance.

  2. Phthalates are a class of plasticizers that are often used in personal care products to make fragrance stick to skin. Unfortunately, they are known endocrine disruptors (studies have shown a link to early breast development, which is a risk factor for breast cancer) and have been tied to birth defects.

  3. Sulfates are what is used to make soap lather or bubble. They aren't necessary in terms of cleaning, but over time advertising has equated lather with cleanliness and here we are. SLS (sodium laurel sulfate) and SLES (sodium laureth sulfate) are two of the most common that you will see. The problem with sulfates is that they strip our skin of natural oils, which means our skin is more penetrable and they are a known allergen/skin irritant. Together that is a crappy combo.

But there are plenty of safer options out there! I recommend Seventh Generation or Everyone. You can easily find these at Target, Whole Foods, or on Amazon.

And while I really try to focus on the positive and share brands I love, I need to call out Method and Mrs. Meyers. Both brands definitely look cleaner (and may even charge a bit more for this) but almost always include fragrance. A quick look at the label will tell you if it does or not.

I am 99.9% DIY-free, it’s just not my thing. For a while I bought the brands above.

But I’ve found that if I grab a bottle of Dr. Bronner's concentrated castile soap and foaming soap dispensers, I can make really clean hand soap and the kids always think it’s a fun activity. Also, it’s super cheap so if they want to play with it in the bathroom for twenty minutes, I’m all for it.

A bottle of concentrate usually lasts us over a year and cuts down on waste because we are no longer no throwing out or recycling the soap dispenser every time we run out.

Foaming soap dispensers are really simple to use. Simply fill to the first line with the concentrated soap and then with water to the top line. We have them at every sink in our home with the exception of mine. Because a mama’s got to have a tiny bit of luxury, right?

For on-the-go hand washing, I try to keep two things in my bag. A mini bottle of Dr. Bronner's for use in public restrooms and a spray sanitizer from Honest Co or Everyone. The sprays are great when leaving the park, store, etc. I buy them at Target (in the travel toiletries section) or Whole Foods where the prices tend to be better.

PIN FOR LATER —>

Cheap and easy safer hand soap. Plus, a fun activity for kids!

Safer Makeup Options for Kids

safer makeup options for kids.jpg

Any one else’s kids love to do their makeup? I’m not even sure why we buy our kids toys, because they would much rather play alongside Greg and I, with the “real stuff” we use all day, cosmetics included.

Most days I keep my son entertained while I get ready with my blush and a brush - he even knows when I hand him a non-blush brush and demands the real thing. My daughter drew herself some amazing eyebrows a few days back while I got ready. And a little shout out to Beautycounter’s brow pencil - the double brow was still going strong a full 24 hours later (we did skip bath that night for whatever reason).

I love a made up kid as much as the next, but I do think that what we let little ones put on their skin matters. Sadly, most of the makeup marketed to kids is full of harmful ingredients. I reviewed several products on Amazon, as well as did a walk thru at Target and Ross to review makeup sets marketed to kids. Here are a handful of the ingredients that I found commonly used across the sets:

  • Fragrance - Fragrance is my biggest pet peeve - it can be made up of tens or hundreds of ingredients, including things like phthalates (which I also found as stand alone ingredients in some of these sets), a class of plastics used in cosmetics that are also endocrine disruptors. The last thing we want our kids using are products that have ingredients that may mess with their hormones - especially young girls with developing breast tissue.

  • BHT - I actually wasn’t sure what this was but saw it listed in the ingredients of many of the sets so looked it up. Turns out it is an antioxidant used to extend shelf life, but also likely carcinogenic, an endocrine disruptor, and may harm the liver.

  • PEGs - these are a compound used for various different functions in products, like softening or thickening, but depending on how they are manufactured can be contaminated with carcinogens.

  • Parabens - another endocrine disruptor, parabanes are used as preservatives. But there are other safer preservatives that don’t mess with our hormones.

Even more maddening than products made with crappy ingredients, is that some companies aren’t even willing to act when their products test positive for contaminants like asbestos. The FDA recently found through independent tests that products from both Justice and Claire’s were contaminated with asbestos. While Justice immediately recalled their products, Claire’s took quite some time to do so. Current legislation does not give the FDA power to make recalls in the personal care industry, they are only able to ask companies to voluntarily recall products.

Safer Makeup Options for Kids

Here are a few favorites I recommend regularly, a few I found online for this post that are safer options, and what my kids currently use. Note that I’m never looking for perfection - I’m always on the lookout for significantly safer without stressing about only using the best of the best.

Wooden Play Makeup - I did not realize this was a thing until an Instagram friend shared it with me. These would be great for toddlers who don’t need actual makeup. Keep a few pieces in your bathroom and make them a special toy they play with only when you get ready. Here are a few options: 1, 2.

Little Cosmetics Pretend Makeup - I’m intrigued by this pretend makeup - it’s fake (i.e. no color comes off) but it’s made to look and feel real. Since it’s not an actual cosmetic I can’t find ingredients for it. I’m assuming it’s plastic of some sort? This might be a great option for preschoolers, if you want something that does not transfer to the skin but need something that looks a bit more real than the wooden options.

Klee Kids and Klee Girls Natural Mineral Makeup - Klee is a great brand making clean makeup for kids. They exclude phthalates, parabens, and synthetic colorants. Because they use no preservatives, keep in mind that they recommend swapping out makeup after 6 months and to toss powders if they get wet. You can find several sets on Amazon or directly from their website. They have a line targeted to little ones (the play makeup) and to tweens (the mineral makeup).

Piggy Paint - We love Piggy Paint nail polish, it’s the only brand I use for my daughter, and it looks like Target now has a Piggy Paint Makeover set (I’m not seeing it available on Amazon or even on the Piggy Paint site). It’s free of parabens (big win!) and many other harsh chemicals. Does include synthetic dyes (which are not necessarily harmful, it really depends on which ones they are using), but overall this is much safer than most products marketed to kids.

Beautycounter - At this point, my kids just use whatever is in my makeup drawer, which means all Beautycounter. I am not suggesting you run out and buy your kids high performing safer makeup, definitely not necessary, but this is where I would start for a teenager who is starting to experiment with makeup outside of playing. Though if you’re already a Beautycounter makeup user, let your little ones use it! And if they want their own, from time to time there are deep discounts on holiday and seasonal palettes - it’s a great time to grab one for kids and add a small brush set from Amazon.

What I like about Beautycounter is you won’t find fragrance or flavors, so no hidden ingredients, there is a list of 1500 ingredients they will never use, and they are the only brand (I’m aware of) testing for heavy metals and contaminants. They do use synthetic dyes as this is high performing adult makeup.

I can’t control everything my kids come in contact with and I’d go crazy trying to. But where there is a safer option that is affordable and accessible, I’d much rather have them playing with that than the alternative.

How to Build a Kids Capsule Wardrobe

Back in early 2017 I was very pregnant with C (our now two year old son) and nesting like crazy.

Nothing was off limits, including my daughter’s drawers. They were jammed with clothes - we had been the very lucky recipient of hand me downs and gifts, and at almost two years old, had never really had to buy her anything.

But with all these clothes, we typically went for a few favorite outfits. It was overwhelming to weed through everything in order to find what we wanted. Prior to P (my daughter) coming along, I had been a big fan of a capsule wardrobe for myself (side note: I’m currently rebuilding mine!), so I figured why not try it for her.

kids capsule wardrobe.png

My main reason for creating and continuing with a capsule for two years is to spend less time dealing with her clothes. I only shop twice a year (I rarely buy anything outside of refreshes but it does happen occasionally), which saves me time. And she has way less clothing than she had before I did this so there is less time spent organizing / dealing with her drawers.

A side bonus is that my daughter also has been able to select her own clothes and dress herself since she was interested in doing so, starting around 2.5. This saves me time in the morning. After breakfast she usually heads upstairs and gets herself completely dressed, which allows me to finish whatever I need to in the kitchen. All I do is her hair (sometimes) and supervise her teeth brushing. Plus, I think kid picked outfits are the best and I love the autonomy this gives her. With the capsule she (mostly) looks coordinated and when she doesn’t, it’s fun.

My intention isn’t necessarily to spend less, but I’m guessing that I end up doing so because I’ve cut out almost all impulse and one-off purchases.

Six Steps to a Capsule Wardrobe

This is the process I used to create her capsule and how I go about twice yearly updates, typically March and September.

You can start this process at any time. I generally refresh for spring/summer and then fall/winter, but do what best fits your weather and lifestyle.

  1. Pile and sort. Take all your kids' clothes and dump them in a pile in the middle of a room. Make sure to grab everything - coats, swimwear, etc. I like to do this on the same day I do their laundry so that the only clothes that aren’t piled are the ones they are wearing. Now sort the clothes into smaller piles - the number of piles will depend on your situation, but here’s what my sorting looked like for my daughter’s refresh this month:

    • Still fits / good for next season

    • Still fits / store for next year

    • Pass on to friend

    • Save for little brother

    • Recycle with Goodwill (super stained/ripped clothes)

    • Not part of capsule (dress up clothes that had migrated upstairs, bathrobes, etc)

  2. Review future clothes. If you purchase and store clothes in larger sizes or receive hand me downs in larger sizes, review what you have and add in the pieces that fit and are seasonally appropriate. Pretty much the only shopping ahead I do now is when our favorite Hanna Andersson pajamas go on sale - I’ve bought too many things in the past that just don’t end up working out as I thought they would.

  3. Take inventory of what you have. Make a list by clothing type and write down how many you have of each. Doesn’t need to be fancy, but I find writing it down helps me quickly see if I have a good mix of clothes based on the season (i.e. for spring/summer I may have plenty of leggings that still fit, but we’re also going to need a few pairs of shorts and a skirt or two).
    I had high hopes of creating a template for you to use, but if I did that who knows when this post might be published. So it may come at some point, but for now just make a list and next to each item type write how many you have.

  4. Decide how much you need. How much clothing you have is your preference. What really works for me is to have two weeks worth of clothes, or 14 outfits. I do laundry once per week, so with two weeks worth we have enough for accidents of all varieties, skipping laundry day here and there, clothes that get torn/stained, constant outfit changes, etc.

    In general (there is a lot of art in this process, don’t get caught up in the science), I consider a top/bottom combo one outfit. Dresses are one outfit in the spring/summer but need a pair of pants to be a full outfit in the fall/winter (my kid doesn’t love tights but if yours does dresses could probably be stand alone).

    For all the additional items, like sweaters, hoodies, shoes, underwear, etc., I started with my best judgement and have adjusted as we go. We typically have a hoodie or two and three cardigans (we do a lot of layering in the Pacific Northwest), four pairs of pajamas works great (we tend to wear one set two nights in a row), and for shoes we’ve stuck with rainboots, sneakers, sandals, and one pair of “fancy” shoes (100% not necessarily for our lifestyle, but my daughter enjoys them). Again, try something and then adjust the next season.

    If you have more clothing than you want to keep, before passing along keep a few outfits aside for things like extra outfits at school or in the car.

  5. Pick colors and strategically choose patterns. Having a color scheme is what allows all the clothes to mix and match with each other. The first time you do this, it’s not going to be perfect since you are working with what you already have and hopefully only needing to fill in a few missing pieces. But as you collect more over time, you can streamline to a color theme. I suggest picking a base (gray, black, brown, navy), two main colors, and a third accent color. My daughter’s capsule is gray, blue, pink, and has pops of yellow.

    While a completely solid wardrobe would make coordination super simple, it would be boring. Plus, I love stripes too much to give them up in my kids’ clothes. What I’ve done to make it easy for her to mix and match her clothes is leave patterns to pants and dresses only and then keep the patterns to stripes and small florals. When I haven’t been able to find small florals, I choose small prints that match our colors - right now she has a pair of leggings with fruit. Whatever works! Thinking ahead to my son and what I see in the stores, I will probably keep his bottoms mostly solid and look for print tops, favoring stripes and maybe small animals.

  6. Shop! I like to do this entire process, from organizing to shopping at one time and in about an hour. So I will immediately take my list, usually with my laptop right in my daughter’s room, and complete the shopping. Because I keep her wardrobe minimal and don’t shop often, I don’t worry too much about hitting sales. You could definitely keep your list on hand and wait for sales before filling in missing pieces.

    I start by shopping for solid color basics at Primary then I add on patterns from usually Hanna Andersson, Old Navy, and/or Target. I keep things very simple by not straying from these stores. I know how the clothes fit my kid and the return policies so it’s easier for me not to stray. But if you enjoy shopping, I can see this being a fun project that takes more time.

Want to receive fun monthly emails with a round up of blog posts plus musings on motherhood, small business life, and latest favorites? Get on the list!


PIN IT HERE FOR LATER!

build kids capsule.png

Here are a few of my favorite items that consistently make our capsule each season:

the dress

“The Dress” from Primary is probably our favorite item of clothing. We have it in sleeveless, short sleeves, and long sleeves depending on the season, but really they work year round with a cardigan.

Screen Shot 2019-05-01 at 7.09.53 PM.png

cat + jack leggings

These leggings are $5 each at Target, last through at least a season with kids, and come in great solid, stripe, and often small patterns that fit well with our capsule. My son is now wearing my daughter’s hand-me-downs so the price per wear can’t be beat. I find the selection is better in store than what I see online.

the-cardi_cobalt_P.png

the cardi sweater

We do a lot of layering in the PNW and these cardigans are perfect. We usually have pink, blue, yellow and gray (and they ALL get worn weekly). They are great as a light jacket in spring, to take a summer dress into fall, or to wear all day in winter.

hanna.jpg

short + long johns

When it comes to pajamas, my kids pretty much only wear the Hanna Andersson short johns and long johns. The quality is so great that a pair lasts both my kids wearing them every week for one to two years. I grab whatever I think I’ll need for the next year when they go on sale for $20.

If you use any of these tips to streamline your kid’s wardrobe, I would love to know!

March Favorites

I’ve only got love for March. We added a couch and a table to our new home, it did not snow, and I took a weekend away from the family for work. Things are very much looking up as spring arrives in Seattle. Here are a few of my favorites from the past month.

MARCH FAVORITES.png

BaBylissPRO Ceramix Xtreme Dryer - My blow dryer had been buzzing and making funny noises for months. Then it started to smell like smoke so I finally decided I should probably stop using it. Based on a recommendation from my hair stylist, I picked up a new one and I am actually excited about it. My hair feels more smooth and soft after a blow dry, but even better, this dryer only takes about the half the time that my old one did. I’ve already recommended to a few friends who are also loving it.

Weezer Teal Album - I am not a music person AT ALL. Typically, I prefer no background noise, including music. Greg introduced me to this album earlier in the month, which is all covers of popular 80s and 90s songs. And I’ve found myself asking Alexa to play it pretty much nightly as I make dinner and eat with the kids. Even the kids enjoy it and hearing them sing a few random words to songs like Africa is pretty hilarious.

Closet Staples Capsule Wardrobe Builder - Back in 2014, for the first time ever, I found a style that fit me well and I felt confident with getting dressed every day. Then I had two kids and I kept telling myself once I lose the weight I’ll dress cute again. Well sometime this month I said EFF THAT, I’m going to feel great now. So I went back to my old friend Alison with Get Your Pretty On to see what she had to offer. In 2014 I used her seasonal capsule wardrobe challenges to find my own sense of style. I was excited to see she had a full year staples challenge and grabbed it immediately. I’m still working on getting the pieces together, but I will for sure be sharing more. I’ve been sharing the process on Instagram.

Costco - We have never really been Costco people. I tried once right before C was born, but we didn’t go much so I never renewed. But now, now my kids eat SO MUCH FOOD. (Sometimes. Sometimes they eat nothing.) We just renewed our membership after two years and have been once. I excited about quite a few things we bought much cheaper than my normal store and I’m working on getting a trip into my rotation once a month. Check out my favorites from our first trip.

QuickBooks Self-Employed by Intuit - If you’re a small business owner, this is a necessary tool. For $5 per month ($10 after the first six months), you can organize all your expenses with zero hassle. For the last almost three years my inbox has filled up with receipt emails that I would eventually have to record and then save a PDF of into a folder for our accountant. Now, I just forward the email to my QuickBooks account and it’s all done for me. This is saving me an hour or two a month plus no more stress as my inbox fills up with receipts that need to be dealt with. This is one thing I really wish I knew about years ago.

March 2019 Book Review

Such a mix of books this month. And six of them! The power of being intentional about reading before bed, reading things I enjoy and skipping books that I just can’t get into, and a weekend away from the kids.

I bought a new business book that I just could not get into, so only read about two chapters of it and not sure I’ll ever finish it. This is why I usually check business type books out of the library first - I find I have a 50/50 chance of wanting to continue on after the first few chapters. But I did enjoy a handful of memoirs and fiction this month, so overall it was a win.

Book Review March.png

March Books

How to Walk Away - Love this one! The story of a woman who faces a crushing blow just when everything seems to be lining up perfectly. Loved the characters and the story kept me entertaining and going to bed on time so I could read, which is all I really want from a fiction book.

Boy Erased - My Audible selection this month and I really wanted to like it. It was a random find while searching through memoirs, and I purchased it because I can’t imagine trying to change something fundamental about one of my children. I thought I would get really wrapped up in the story, but I just didn’t. I think it was more about the way the book was written - it jumped around in time - that made it hard to listen to versus read. I couldn’t quite keep track of what was going on and if we were in pre-conversion time or post. I’ve never said this before, but I think I might watch the recent movie because I would love to understand the story more.

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love - I grabbed this off the Peak Perks shelf at the library (new books that you can’t put a hold on) and ended up really enjoying it. It’s the story of a writer who learns out in her early 50s that her father is not actually her bio father. I love how she jumped straight into the story; the memoir is one part exploring her biological family and one part her exploring what her life means if what she held true for 50+ years is not actually true.

The Lost Husband - I reserved this from the library after enjoying How to Walk Away (same author). And I loved it, also. Simple story but with characters I wanted to see happy and again, nice basic fiction that I love reading before bed. I’ll definitely check out more Katherine Center books for enjoyable fiction reads.

A Woman in the Window - I grabbed this at the airport on my way to leadership meetings with Beautycounter and I have mixed feelings. I was entertained and it definitely wasn’t super predictable for me. BUT, I’ve been having some major anxiety issues lately and in hindsight I probably should not have picked up a thriller right now. If you enjoy this type of book, it was very much like The Girl on the Train.

This Will Only Hurt A Little - I’ve been listening to this book for a few months, because after buying it on Audible I quickly realized it was not safe for kids, so it took some time to finish as I’m usually in the car with the kids. I loved Busy Philipps’ take on pretty much everything from motherhood to marriage to work. There are some … mature … stories and she drops the f word basically every paragraph, so might be best to keep this one to yourself. I was highly entertained for most of the book.

Looking for more book recommendations? Check out:

February 2019 read
January 2019 reads

What have you read recently! I don’t have anything on hold at the library right now and would love a few suggestions. We have a flight to Boston later this month (with the kids) and I’m pretending I’m going to get a bunch of reading time. While walking the dog yesterday I found maybe my best Little Free Library find yet, a copy of Glennon Doyle’s Love Warrior, that I’m excited to start tonight.

Clean Beauty Spring Must Haves

Spring is here in Seattle and it came just when we needed it, which seems to always be the case.

It’s a funny season here, it lasts forever - like March to 4th of July - and we can start the day really cool but have incredibly pleasant weather in the afternoon. We still have rain and gray days, but it’s definitely the time of year where I always am surprised by how strong the sun is the first few times we go to the park and I forget sunscreen.

It is noticeably different out than it was say, two weeks ago, and the change leads me to try new products, switch out some of my heavy winter creams, and crave a little color. Here are a few clean beauty products that I’m loving and are perfect for spring.

SPRING CLEAN BEAUTY FAVORITES.png

Clean Beauty Spring Favorites

Beauty by Earth Self Tanner. I’m off to Phoenix later this week and my legs have not seen the sun in months. This is something I’m actually fine with, I’m never going to look like I have a tan, that’s just me. But I do get asked about safer sunless tanner options frequently this time of year and I’m certainly not opposed to losing a bit of my translusense, so I picked this up on the recommendation of a few friends. Overall, I’m impressed. I’ve only used it once and my legs do have a nice glow and are not quite at bright white. I have some streaking on my feet and my knees, but I think that’s on me, not the product. I never use an exfoliator and I’m not super into body products, but I think if I took a little bit more care of my skin in these areas it would have been a more even application. I’m going to try again when my knees are less scaly.

Beautycounter Countermatch Body Lotion and Lemongrass Sugar Body Scrub. Originally, I was only going to include the body lotion, but after seeing how I haven’t really been taking care of my knees/feet/ankles and they need some extra help, I’m committing to using the body scrub as well. Am I the only person that is sort of annoyed by having to use body products? I feel like they take up precious alone shower time, but I can totally see the difference after just one use of the body scrub. The scrub is perfect for exfoliating dry winter legs and the lotion is nice and light for this time of year, but still very hydrating.

Ella + Mila nail polish. Over on IG Stories I’ve been sharing all the clean beauty finds I’m discovering at Target. I’ve been really impressed lately with the brands they are bringing in, making safer products more accessible. At my store, there is a full display of safer nail polish options, and I recently picked up a my first Ella + Mila color and a top coat. I’ve been really impressed with the wear and the color, Pinktini, is perfect for spring. For little ones, they are now carrying Piggy Paint in stores, too. This is what I used on P as it’s water based, so no chemical fumes, which are in even the cleanest of brands.

Billie Razor. I only ever share products I use and like myself, but I’m taking sharing about Billie to the extreme. I already mentioned them in my February Favorites post and I did an IGTV episode about it. So it’s safe to say I’m a fan. Billie is a subscription razor made for women but without the upcharge that we often see on women’s products. I love the function first of all, if it didn’t work well I wouldn’t bother with it. But I also love the aesthetic, the price, and the fact that it automatically sends me new blades. If you’re into shaving legs and looking for something new for spring and summer, I highly recommend.

Beautycounter Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer. I deal with more red skin in winter due to my super dry skin (though this new routine is really helping) so I prefer the coverage in Tint Skin, but once the sun is out and the heater is not on as much, I am all about Dew Skin. The coverage is perfect for evening out skin tone, plus it has SPF which is nice for morning park trips. Remember that no matter what type of SPF you are using (chemical, mineral, in a moisturizer, tint, or on it’s own), it is only good for 90 min to two hours. A morning application does not protect you all day. I carry a small face stick with me if we end up outside in the afternoons.

That’s it for me! I’m not a huge product junkie and prefer to keep things minimal YET EFFECTIVE. I’ve learned the hard way that minimal just for the sake of minimal is not always best - hello, still trying to repair my skin’s moisture layer. It might be getting close to 40, but I’m learning that a few extra products can make a big difference!

Are there any clean beauty products you are loving right now? Share them in the comments so we can check them out!

Pin it here for later! ——->

spring clean beauty products.png




Super Simple Hummus

We love hummus around here.

My best trick for getting my kids to eat and enjoy veggies is to serve them with fun dips. I typically make one dip or sauce per week to put in their lunches with raw veggies, and hummus is definitely in the rotation.

You can easily buy it (I think the Whole Foods’ hummus is delicious and I’m not a fan at all of the Trader Joe’s one), but making it is really simple if you have a food processor.

Hummus Making Tips

  • Use canned beans or cook your own first. I’m mostly a can person at this point, but if I am making it from scratch I cook garbanzo beans / chick peas in the Instant Pot for 30 minutes (3 cups of water per 1 cup of dry bean). If I’ve soaked them overnight before cooking, I drop the cook time to 10 minutes.

  • Beans cause tummy trouble? Try soaking raw chickpeas for 24 hours before cooking. Or try the Eden Organic brand (I find these at Whole Foods), which have added kombu seaweed to the can that is supposed to help with digestion.

  • Want the smoothest hummus you’ve ever had? Remove the “skin” from each bean. Yes, this will take about 5-10 minutes per can, but I promise it is SO worth it. The consistency is so much smoother than when they are left on. I sort of wish I hadn’t learned this trick last year, because now I just can’t make it and leave them on.

  • Jazz it up by adding garlic (1 to 2 cloves minced), roasted red peppers, a jalapeño, or lemon peel / extra lemon juice. Right now my kids are pretty much into hummus as plain as it gets, so I haven’t been experimenting much, but I’d love to know what you put in yours!

Super Simple Hummus.jpg

Super Simple Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, or 2 cups cooked, “skins” removed if you choose!

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

  • 1 tbsp tahini

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 3/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Add chick peas, lemon juice, tahini and salt to the bowl of a food processor.

  2. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil.

  3. Process for about 15 seconds and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

  4. Turn processor back on and drizzle another 1/4 cup through the pusher, if yours has a hole. If not, slowly add while processor is running.

  5. Process for about 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again.

  6. Continue to run and add olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.

Ready to make lunches and snacks a no-brainer?

Get my list of 50+ foods for quick bento box lunches and snacks!

    I won't send you spam. EVER. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Powered By ConvertKit

    Mini Muffin Round Up

    We are big fans of mini muffins over here and have been for quite some time. Why mini?

    Mostly because my kids don’t need a full size muffin nor will they eat the whole thing most of the time. So rather than making a dozen full size muffins and composting half each time we eat them, I get 24-30 mini muffins that all get eaten.

    If they want more than one, great, I just give them two. Or three. I’m not cutting back on muffin eating, just on my baking efforts going to waste.

    We go through a lot of muffins. They are a great carb for breakfast (I’ll usually add eggs or sausage and a fresh fruit), a super portable snack, and only take a few seconds to go from freezer to eating, so work great in a Kid Needs Food Immediately emergency. I try to make one batch a week so that we always have a good selection in the freezer.

    Baking and Storage Tips

    • To make mini muffins, all you need is a mini muffin pan. There is nothing else different about minis than regular muffins. I currently have this silicon mold (it needs to be placed on a baking sheet - it’s not firm itself) and a non stick mini muffin pan I’ve been meaning to swap out for a while. I’m thinking about replacing it with this ceramic one. I suggest having two as most recipes will make more than 24 mini muffins, especially if the original recipe makes 18 regular sized muffins, like a few of our favorites do.

    • I use normal size muffin recipes and bake for just a few minutes less than the given baking time. I’ve been making them for so long I just eyeball doneness now, but when getting started maybe try 2 minutes less than the bake time, or start with the lower end if they give a range. The cook time is not all that different.

    • Once cooled, place muffins on a baking sheet and pop in the freezer for 30 minutes or so. Then store them in an airtight container for the freezer. The pre-freeze keeps them from sticking together. I have one large Stasher Bag that fits about 20 mini muffins and I also reuse ziplocks for muffin storage.

    • Muffins only last in our freezer for about a month at most with how fast we eat them, but I’ve never had issues with freezer burn using the method above.

    • To defrost, place in the microwave for 15-30 seconds. Or add them to a lunch bag frozen and they should be defrosted by lunch time.

    • Because the muffins end up in the freezer and I don’t want to keep track of exact ingredients, I never use nuts in our mini muffins. Our preschool is nut-free, as are many of the play spaces we frequent, so just not using nuts makes it much more simple when it comes to packing snacks and lunches.

    • To add protein, I’ll often add a few scoops of collagen peptides to the dry mix. I haven’t ever had it change the consistency of the muffin and anything to keep my kids full for just a few more minutes is worth it.

    • I make all of the recipes below gluten free by replacing with a one for one flour (our favorite is Namaste, which is also at Costco) and dairy free by subbing coconut milk, either from a can, homemade, or carton.

    MINI MUFFIN ROUND UP.png















    Favorite Recipes

    You’ll notice that most of these come from Super Healthy Kids. The site is a great place to find kid-friendly recipe ideas and so far we’ve yet to try a muffin we don’t like from them. Rather than finding more recipe sources, I just keep going back, because if it’s not broken…

    • Sweet Spinach Muffins - we call these “frog muffins” in our house and the kids love them. They won’t touch spinach on it’s own, but they know it’s in these muffins and still eat them. I’m sure the honey helps.

    • Whole Wheat Applesauce Muffins - we skip the nut crumble on top (see above) and the kids still love these. They are also super simple to make and my daughter can now do most of it herself, with some help on picking the right measuring spoons and cups. And obviously the oven.

    • Healthy Zucchini Oat Muffins - we just tried this one because I had a few zucchini that needed to be used. I wasn’t sure how it would go over - my kids are not big on oats. Which is why I also had oats that needed to be used. But they loved them! I do find that these need to be fulled cooled before you remove them from the pan. Maybe because the zucchini makes them extra moist?

    • Healthy Lemon Blueberry Muffins - I made these for the first time when I had extra blueberries that had to be frozen, now that my 4 year old is no longer willing to eat frozen blueberries. I mix a little lemon juice in with coconut milk for a buttermilk replacement. And I’ll probably try swapping the sugar for honey or maple syrup in the future.

    • Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins - these are really tasty, but I don’t make them often anymore as I’ve been trying to simplify and only keep one type of flour around. These call for cassava flour, but I think I’ll try them with our regular GF flour and see what happens. They are the most dessert-like of the muffins listed… so sweet and tasty.

    Ready to make lunches and snacks a no-brainer?

    Get my list of 50+ foods for quick bento box lunches and snacks!

      I won't send you spam. EVER. Unsubscribe at any time.

      Powered By ConvertKit




      February 2019 Book Review

      February was the month of… I don’t even know. Snowbound, sickness, living in a house with no furniture while snowbound and with sick kids. It wasn’t super fun, but I did stick with my reading intentions and finished a handful of books. Reading was the one thing that I felt like I had control over this month, so I hung on to it for dear life.

      Book Review (2).png

      FEBRUARY BOOKS

      The Water Cure - This was a random grab at the library and I don’t even know how to describe it. When I got it home and actually read the book jacket, I wasn’t super interested. It’s about three sisters living in a deserted area with their parents who are saving them from the degeneration of the world. I started it anyway and got pulled in. But it was so odd. Sort of dystopian, I guess? It was not my favorite, but I was intrigued enough to read the first 75% just to see what was going to happen. I ended up finishing the last 25% mostly by skimming just because I wanted a basic idea of how it wrapped up. Not on my recommended list.

      The Dinner List - I believe this was a recommendation from someone, and my favorite book of the year, so far. The book flips chapters between unfolding a couple’s relationship and the couple attending a dinner party with a few other guests. This book is exactly what I want in fiction - easy to read (I read before bed), but entertaining and a plot that has me looking forward to getting off my computer and going to bed.

      The Big Leap - I’ve had this book for years and I’ve started it many times but not been able to get into it. Lately I’ve seen a bunch of friends talk about it, so I forced myself to get a little farther in before quitting. I ended up finishing it, and I definitely took away a few solid personal development nuggets. But it was not the epiphany generating book for me that it has been for some friends. To quickly summarize, it’s about helping you determine ways you might unconsciously be holding yourself back from living your biggest life.

      My Story (by Elizabeth Smart) - My Audible selection this month and I loved it. I remember the story well from news coverage, so hearing her tell what went on with her captors for the nine months they held her was fascinating. I also just felt inspired by how resilient she is and how she’s made such a beautiful life for herself. Bonus is that it was read by her, which are my favorite Audible memoirs.

      Looking for more book recommendations? Check out my January 2019 reads.

      What did you read this month?!

      Four Things at Four

      Dear Peanut,

      Today, you turn four.

      Things are different this year. You are no longer a toddler, you are a little girl.

      Your independence has grown by leaps and bounds in the last twelve months.

      You go to a drop off dance class. You prefer people to call you by a name other than the one we gave you. You have interest in things you don’t learn about at home, but from friends and school.

      peanut four years.png

      If I stop right now and close my eyes, wanting to etch just a few things in to my memory about you right now, here is what I want to remember:

      You love connection. People are your thing. Physical, mental, all the connections. I’ll be honest and say that it’s not always easy for me. I am not touchy feely and I like my alone time. But when I hear your teachers talk about how you play with everyone and other kids gravitate towards you, I can only imagine how you might channel this gift as you grow older. Last weekend you and I went on a sushi date together and the joy in your face the entire time reminded me how much focused time means to you.

      You love imaginary play. The other day you dressed up as a firefighter chef doctor and that’s pretty normal for an afternoon around here. You have purple heels you wear when you are playing doctor and you can’t be in the role without them. You spend hours playing restaurant with your brother. Your made up name for a while was Koana but lately you want to be called Cleopatra.

      You desperately want to learn to read. You ask us to tell you all the words in books while pointing to them and there are a few books that you “read” to yourself or to C. You are starting to understand the basics of phonics and I don’t think it will be too long until you are able to read yourself.

      You have style. You pick out all your own clothes and try to match Penelope, your doll, as closely as possible most days. You love to accessorize and I know you think an outing is important if you bring your purse. Specially the “around the neck” (crossbody) bag you asked Santa for and talked about for MONTHS before Christmas. You love lipgloss. You don’t, however, like to have your hair brushed or wear anything in your hair.

      I hope you know how much you are loved. I can’t wait to see what the next four years with you look like.

      Love,

      Mom

      February Favorites

      February wasn’t my favorite month and I swear I’ll stop complaining about it soon. But there are some favorites from this month to share, so here we go!

      Madewill 10" High Rise Skinny Jean - I know these jeans are old news, but in case anyone else out there is living under a rock like I was, I finally got a pair and now I know why every single woman I know who has had a child recommends these jeans. I was sent a pair in my final StitchFix box and the second I pulled them on, I knew they were it for me. I’ve been trying to snag a second pair on thredUP but they go so fast it’s been impossible. Anyway, they do something with my body, the one that still doesn’t quite feel like mine nearly 2 years after my last baby was born, that makes me feel good.

      3 in 30 Podcast - My friend Alexis has been telling me for months that I would love this podcast. And she was right. The whole idea is to give moms three doable takeaways in each episode. And she keeps them to 30 minutes, which means if you listen to them at 1.5 speed like I do, you can actually finish a podcast during an errand drive! I wanted to recommend a few favorites, but I’ve loved all that I’ve listened to.

      FEBRUARY FAVORITES.png

      Billie Razor Subscription - After using the same disposable razor for a good six months, only throwing it out once I carved up my leg, I ordered the Billie based on a friend’s recommendation. I had to wait about three weeks due to moving and snow to get my razor, and let me tell you it handled my “winter legs” like a champ. I love that it’s aesthetically pleasing in the shower, how well the magnetic holder works - not gimmicky at all, and that I’m all set up to be sent new blades on a schedule. Which has been keeping me true to my shaving goals. Which are not stretch goals by any stretch of the imagination, but I am shaving more consistently and for whatever reason, that makes me feel good.

      Hot Yoga - For years I’ve been telling Greg that I think winter in Seattle would be easier for me if I went to hot yoga regularly and was warm from time to time. This year I felt like I finally had the space to make that happen (don’t underestimate postpartum, mamas, this took me 18+ months) and I am so happy I did. Between being warm, making taking care of myself a priority, and getting out of the house occasionally in the evening, it’s been such a winter game changer for me.

      Citrus Defender - Have you heard of this new tea from Starbucks? It is so tasty. Because it’s not really tea. It’s half steamed lemonade with hot water, a little honey, and two Defense tea bags. I recommended rerouting to the nearest drive thru.

      Favorite Kitchen Tools for Cooking with Kiddos

      This post was originally published on my old nutrition-based blog. A rough afternoon this week trying to bake with my kids reminded me of the post, and I thought I’d republish to share again.

      When I was pregnant with my now preschooler, I fantasized about the gourmet meals I’d make for dinner once I was no longer working full time in an office. My reality is pretty much the opposite of that, and I’m guessing I’m not alone. Dinnertime is chaos. But I’ve found that my best shot at succeeding is keeping things crazy simple and involving my kids in the process.

      (For the simple part, check out my Instagram account  where I’m always sharing what super easy meal we’re having.)

      Some of you may find that it’s easier to distract a little one for meal prep, which I support 100% and sometimes that’s exactly what we do. God bless Daniel Tiger. But my daughter is a people person and does not need any alone time. As an extroverted introvert, I don’t understand this AT ALL, but I’m learning to work with it. And my son is currently in a stage where he must be within 3/4” of my body between 4pm and bedtime.

      Including them in my dinner prep speaks my daughter’s love language, keeps my son close by, and is the best way for me to get dinner on the table without opening a can of Pinot Gris (yes, it’s a thing – you can find it at Trader Joe’s). Plus, they tend to eat more when they are involved in making a meal. And a full kid is a much better sleeper than a hungry one. #amen

      toddler-tools-for-cooking.jpg

      Favorite Kitchen Gadgets for Toddlers

      Over the last few year (my daughter is 4 and my son is almost 2), we’ve collected a few items that make our time together in the kitchen easier. The first two are specialty kid items, and I get if you don’t want that. The rest are normal kitchen tools that I find particularly useful when working with them in the kitchen.

      Learning Tower – A learning tower (or a kitchen helper) is an enclosed platform that raises a kiddo up to counter level. Also to fridge opening, sink turning on, etc level. You’ve been warned.

      Unlike a stool, kids can’t fall off this (or the chances are lower). It also helps as a place for wiggly toddlers to stand during meals as they can be active while still being contained and not tracking food everywhere. But most importantly, I think it’s the sense of ownership. It is THEIR tower, and they will (almost) always happily jump in for a kitchen activity. I’m not sure I’d get the same cooperation if we were just pulling out the old kitchen step stool.

      On the down side, a learning tower is large and takes up space. Even so, I recommend 100%. I’ve linked to the one we use above and this tower is the one I wanted but couldn’t justify the extra $50. There’s also a budget-friendly IKEA hack option that several friends use.

      Kid Safe Knives – My daughter was gifted these knives and we love them. She will happily work away at chopping long enough for me to get the basics of dinner ready. I set her up with a non-slip cutting board and a piece of produce that will go with our meal (or not if the fridge is slim pickings). The most usual suspects are carrots, celery, and fruit. The key is that I always incorporate her work in our meal somehow, which makes her task feel important. So long as you’re cool with serving mangled strawberries with your curry, it really doesn’t matter what your child is chopping as long as he is busy.

      The recommended age is 4+. We started using them around 2 and have had zero issues, but use your own discretion.

      Big Bowls – With little ones, the bigger the bowl the better and I love this 4 quart pyrex bowl. Some of the best times to include kids in the kitchen is when pouring ingredients and stirring. The larger the bowl they have to pour into, there’s a better chance most of the contents will make it in. And with stirring, I always use a bowl several times larger than needed. All that extra space is for when food goes flying around due to a vigorous toddler or preschooler stir.

      Spouted Measuring Cups – I have much better luck with ingredients landing in a bowl when the toddler uses a spouted measuring cup than when we use a regular set of measuring cups. I’m thinking it’s because with this sort of cup you’re not filling it all the way, so there’s a lot more room for error. I have two so we can do wet and dry ingredients without having to wash and dry.

      Spiralizer – My daughter loves to use the handle of our spiralizer when we’re making ‘noodles’. Of course, this requires that you are paying close attention until all sharp blades are out of reach. It’s a great way to get your kiddo to try more varieties of veggies, too. I’ve tried pretty much every spiralizer and this one is my favorite.

      Blender – Toddlers love buttons, and buttons on blenders are no exception. Blenders are great because they can first help put ingredients into the pitcher and then they can press the button(s) and watch the food become something. We currently have a Vitamix, though any blender will keep a toddler’s attention for a few minutes.

      Aside from other staples like wooden spoons and serving ware, I think that’s a wrap on what I use with my toddler in the kitchen.

      P.S. Grandparents, aunts and uncles: This makes a great gift list for little ones. But make sure to check with parents before purchasing a learning tower. Not everyone wants a castle in their kitchen.

      Any kitchen gadgets you love to have on hand when cooking with your little one?

      My 2019 Word of the Year

      I’ve been a fan of choosing a word for my year since 2012 or so. I love the idea of thinking about an area in which I want to grow, or maybe a way in which I want to experience my life more than I currently am, and being really intentional about calling it out with a single word.

      Some years, the word is with me all year and it drives where I go. Other years, by January 31st I’m not really feeling it and by June I have to think to remember what it is. I never force it, but the years when it clicks, they feel magical in the personal development / living how I want to live my life area.

      I know it’s only February, but that’s how I’m feeling about this year. My word is FOCUS. I spent most of November and December last year thinking my word would be ENOUGH, but it never felt quite right, always just a little off. Then in the span of a week, the word FOCUS popped up like three times. And that is exactly what I was feeling.

      Actually, what I was really feeling was very unfocused, in many ways. With my family, not feeling present. With my business, feeling like I had moved far from the basics to a point where I was making things more difficult than they need to be. With life in general, feeling stretched too thin and not giving attention to what is important to me.

      FOCUS so nicely wrapped up what I wanted for 2019. A year of being incredibly intentional about everything I do. This feels like a growth year for me - not the topic of this post, but my kids are getting a little bit older and we officially do not have a baby, we’re (sort of) settled into our forever house - and it feels like I have the chance to give a little more attention to life outside my family. But I want to be selective about what I’m choosing and being purposeful with my time.

      When I chose the word in late 2018, I thought it would be all about:

      1) Being present. Focusing on where I am at any given moment. I’m not striving to be perfect, but more time getting on the floor and playing with my kids during mom time, more time spent doing important work, the stuff that grows my business, during work time, etc. Less multi tasking and more jumping all in to whatever I’m doing.

      2) Choosing wisely. Focusing on the intentions and goals I set for the year when presented with opportunities or dreaming up new ideas. Not every single thing in my life needs to be aligned with a goal, but when it comes to things that are going to take up more than an hour or two of my time or use brain power, I want to make sure that they are worth the other opportunities that I’ll have to give up in order to commit.

      These have both been really helpful as the year has kicked off. I am still not great at turning on mom mode, but when I do find myself trying to rush something or being distracted during imaginary play, I am more able to remind myself to just be still and (try to) enjoy these days. They are going quickly. Likewise, I’m getting much better at filtering what I put on my plate and commit to. I am not good at saying no, but I’ve been practicing it a lot more the last two months and guess what… I’m getting better!

      And through the crazy February we had (moving, sickness, so much snow), I can up with a third area for FOCUS:

      3) Looking long term. Focusing on the big picture, not the minutiae of the day. Moving in February was not planned until the last week of December and it threw off a lot of plans. But the big picture is that we are going in to March almost wrapped up with moving, versus a 9-12 month remodel we had planned. So yeah, I’ve lost a ton of work time and the kids are out of sorts, but long term this is an amazing move for us. This mindset has triggered into my business as well - minor set backs are to be expected. Nothing great is built quickly and easily. So while some days I might feel defeated, I’ve been trying to journal a little bit to focus on the big picture and how I am making progress towards goals. Minor set backs don’t seem quite so big when I can look back to how far I’ve come in 2.5 years and see where I want to be in another two and a half.

      During a very stressful week in February, when my focus was no where to be found, I gifted myself this bracelet from MyIntent. No joke, I considered tattooing FOCUS on my arm when things felt really out of a control, but starting with a bracelet seemed like a wise first move. I’ve been wearing it for about a week and I love it. It really remind me to be mindful of where my focus is and course correct as needed.

      ruNzrEPaTcWJ8V%Fz1AudA.jpg

      I participate in the MyIntent referral program and the links above are affiliate links.