Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kid Friendly Recipes

sRaise your hand if your kids are picky eaters?  I'm guessing most hands are raised...mine included.  To be frank, I don't get it.  I'm eating the same foods they are and I think they're delish.  Ok, yes there is sciene behind it so I DO get it but it's annoying.  No one likes to spend a good hour on getting a meal on the table only to have their kids refuse to eat it.  With that said, I'm sharing some recipes with you that are tried and true in our house and the kids devour these recipes.  In fact, they ask for them!  What's better...they're easy for baby to eat too and only require a bit of cutting up. Genius!!!
First up is MY all time favorite food and my kids are obsessed! Not only that but it's a quick 30 minutes and dinner is on the table.  I like to pair it with a salad or garlic bread.  This also serves a small army so lots of leftovers...and it tastes better and better as it sits.  


SLUMGULION

1 lb. ground beef
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. chopped green pepper
15 oz. can tomato sauce
14.5 oz can Hunt's stewed tomatoes
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 lb. elbow noodles
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta to box instructions draining pasta when it's al dente (you do not want to overcook the noodles or they will become mush later on). While the pasta cooks, sauté onions and peppers until tender and translucent.  Add ground beef and brown.  Season with salt, pepper, and chili powder.  Once combined add the tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Break apart the stewed tomatoes if they're not in bite size pieces.  Combine sauce and noodles and add cheese.  Stir to combine and pour into 9x13 oven safe dish.  Sprinkles with extra cheese to your liking.  Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until bubbly.



This next recipe is a go to because it's easy to assemble and is a crowd pleaser.  In fact, this is one I love to make for friends after they have their babies.  I get it all ready to go and all they have to do is pop it in the oven til bubbly.  I haven't met a person who doesn't like this.  Serve with rice and guacamole.

SALSA VERDE ENCHILADAS

1 rotisserie chicken (meat taken off and shredded)
16 oz. jar mild salsa verde
3 scallions
1/2 c. lime juice
1/2 c. cilantro chopped
10 flour tortillas
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. chicken broth
shredded mexican blend cheese

Shred chicken in a large bowl and add 1/2 jar of salsa.  In a medium pan combine the rest of the salsa, scallions, and lime juice.  Simmer 2 minutes.  Stir in 2 T. cilantro.  Lower heat to keep warm and place one flour tortilla at a time into the sauce coating both sides.  Place tortilla in greased 9x13 oven safe dish and add chicken to each tortilla (about 1/3 c.). Sprinkle chicken with small amount of cheese.  Roll up and place seam side down on dish.  Continue until all tortillas are rolled.  With remaining sauce from pan add chicken broth and sour cream and cook over medium heat until heated through.  Pour over tortillas and sprinkle with cheese and remaining cilantro.  Bake for 30 minutes.


Lastly is one that takes no time at all to fix.  It's quick and fills the belly.  Serve with salad, roasted potatoes, rice...you name it.  That's why I love it...it's versatile.

LEMON GARLIC SALMON

1 salmon fillet cut into 4 inch sections (you'll get about 5-6 if you use the salmon from Costco)
1/2 c. mayo
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. lemon zest or 1 drop lemon essential oil
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
s&p

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Season salmon with salt and pepper and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Combine other ingredients in a bowl until combined.  Spoon a heaping tablespoon of sauce on each salmon fillet and spread to cover.  Continue until all fillets are covered.  Bake for 13-14 minutes.  Do not overcook the salmon.  It will become dry very quickly.  Allow to rest on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before serving. This will help it stay together when you removed it from the cookie sheet.


I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as my family does.  You'll see more pictures on the IG feed soon.  Check out more recipes by searching #allielovestocook on IG.  Click link below to check out the awesome counter high chair from Regalo.  It's easy to install, only $35 and FREE shipping! You need one!  I'm obsessed with mine and Daisy can't crawl out of this one...unlike her actual high chair.  Sneaky baby.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Every Step is an Heirloom


Maybe I'm the only one that stashes away clothes here and there that my kids wore when they were tiny so that when they're older and having their own babies they can pull those clothes out and reminisce on the days of yore.  Just me?  Can't be true.  I know you do it.

When I first had Remee I was actually kinda bummed that my parents didn't keep a single item of clothing that I wore when I was a baby as to pass it down to my own kids.  Then I remembered I was born in the late 80's...not great in the fashion department if you know what I mean.  Still, I thought about that a lot as Remee grew.  What would I keep for her so that she could dress her own babies in the same thing.  Now I'm more like a packrat and keep things here and there that are in good shape that have been favorites for each of the girls.  One child has a ton of swimsuits, another might have more onsies and hats.  But Daisy...she has moccs.



Daisy is my last little baby.  So naturally I've spoiled her silly in every shape and form.  I've nursed her the longest...ok that was Daisy's fault though.  I buy her more expensive clothes, she got a top of the line car seat, and lastly she's been the only babe of mine to sport Freshly Picked moccasins.  I just can't help myself.  Her tiny little feet in those adorable shoes...I mean can you blame me? NO!! There's no doubt that they'll stand the test of time.  They'll hold up even after she's run them to the ground.  When she grows out of them they'll hold tiny imprints of her feet...and ,aybe a tiny piece pf my heart. Awwww.

But if I'm being honest, yes their cute, but these little moccasins hold so much more than that for me. These little shoes are what I'm choosing to pass down to my grandkids when Daisy has her own babes.  They're what I'll gift her when she's pregnant and I'll hold those little moccasins in my hands and shed tears remembering so many beautiful and precious moments that I hold so dear of my Daisy.  I'll remember they were the first shoes she ever wore just months after being born.  They're the shoes she wore in our first family pictures.  She sported them in so many of her monthly picture updates and I'm sure they'll be the shoes she's wearing when she takes her first few steps.

Kids get older so fast.  It's like lightening speed fast.  So holding on to things here and there that bring back fond memories of younger years is a must.  Within months Daisy will grow out of her clothes and shoes and I'll pack away a few of them with tears in my eyes knowing there's nothing I can do to slow time down.  All I can do is hold on to the items that give me a glimpse back into the years when she was small, always wanted momma, and got into everything and anything...including her moccs.



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Inexpensive Beauty Products that Work


There's no question we all want perfect skin.  For one person that means no blemishes and for another it means no wrinkles.  For me it means even skin tone, and while I still haven't found something that completely gets rid of the dreaded Melasma that resides on my face, I have found a few products that have made my skin so much more supple and brighter that I almost don't care.  Wait what?  Ya I know.  Healthy skin is way more important than freakin melasma.  I decided to get on Amazon one night and buy up a few things that had great reviews but also that were inexpensive.  Cause who has the money to spend on a million products without the knowledge of if they actually work.  Two of these goodies are Korean Beauty products which means their ingredients are so much better than most things you can get here in the USA.  The last product is all natural and can be used internally and externally.  WHAAAAAAT?  Let's get into it shall we?

MIZON Snail Wrinkle Care Sleeping Pack

Sounds gross right?  Snail cream?  But for real this stuff is insanely good.  It's super hydrating and you only need the tiniest bit to cover your entire face and neck...which means more bang for your buck! After I've done my entire nightly skin routine including washing, toning, and moisturizing, I rub a pea size amount of the sleeping pack all over my face and down my neck and then go to bed.  I'll admit, the texture of this is weird but I'm like, who cares as long as it works? I use this about 2-3 times a week depending on how dry my skin is.  It doesn't have a scent which is a huge added bonus cause no way can I sleep if my face smells like some stinky or highly perfumed product!  You'll totally love this stuff.  Don't believe me...just read the reviews.



Milky Dress Wrinkle and Whitening Eye Cream

Again, because of my melasma, anything whitening is welcome.  This eye cream has been wonderful at helping to lighten up that under eye circle problem that all of us mommas have cause we never get enough sleep.  I take a small pea size amount on my ring finger and dab it around the eye area closer to the cheekbone than the eye itself.  Product travels so even though you're not dabbing it right next to your eye the product will travel there as you sleep and you'll still see the benefits.  Also, yes this is me whiteout makeup...you're welcome. 

Colloidal Silver

A friend of mine actually gave me the recommendation to try this spray for overall health.  You can actually take this stuff internally for immune support.  But what I love about it is that it can help to calm down breakouts.  Colloidal silver is antibacterial and helps to stimulate healing in the skin and other soft tissues.  After I tone my skin I spray 2 mists on my face and let it air dry.  If I have a break out I concentrate the spray to that area and again, let it air dry.  I've seen my breakouts heal so much faster.  and a few times I've felt one doing on and I'll concentrate a spray on that area and it never developes.  Pretty crazy right?  I've a huge fan.  So much so that I've used this on Daisy when she got pink eye.  I just put a drop in each eye three times a day and it helped her to fight if off without needing antibiotic drops.  Happy days for me.

Sometimes it takes a bit of searching the internet for things that work for you.  There's no promise that you'll see the same results as me or that this will be something you love but what I can say is that I have loved using these products so much that I felt the need to share.  Click the links to buy some for yourself!


Monday, May 1, 2017

Baby Wearing 101

This journey of having three kids has been just that, a journey.  Lots of roadblocks and speed bumps and stop signs and falling rocks ahead.  I've learned a few things here and there and have made a long list of products I hate.  But, instead of dwelling on the bad I thought I'd share a few things I've learned to love and deeply appreciate.  In all actuality I don't think I could live without these things. They've kept me sane on days when my screaming baby wanted my attention and I had dinner to make.  Or when Daisy was teething and wouldn't let me put her down. I kept my cool, put on a wrap, and went about my day as normal. Here are two carriers that are my favorite.  Before I get started I'll share this first.  I suffer from migraines. Horrible migraines that stem from a previously injured back and neck.  These carriers have NEVER caused a migraine.  They help evenly support my baby so that I'm comfortable and so is she.

Structured Carrier
Years ago I bought a structured carrier and HATED it.  I literally could only wear it for maybe 20 minutes before my back started to ache and I could feel a slight headache rearing it's ugly face. So I gave it away...or maybe I burned it...I can't remember.

It wasn't until I saw this carrier and tried it on that I realized my hatred towards structured carriers was really only towards a brand that really didn't create a comfortable one.  This Jublii carrier has been such a fun way to carry miss Daisy.  She sits comfortably, rests her head on my chest and enjoys our close time together.  She is definitely my most snuggly little baby so it was no surprise that she loves to be carried...in any form. 

Here's what I love about the Jublii carrier.  First off lets start with the design.  You can make this carrier custom, meaning you pick out the fabric, the colors, the size, everything.  I appreciate this more than maybe most people do but I think having something that you're wearing that reflects your own style means a lot. Along with the fabric you have the option to choose a mesh lining.  My carrier has a grey mesh lining that allows for a bit more breathable wear. Great for those hot summer hikes and long neighborhood walks.  Second, this carrier is so incredibly easy to put on.  There's a snap around the waist and a snap around the shoulders and that's it! If someone else wants to carry the baby around you just loosen a few straps and voila, perfect fit.  Third reason why this carrier is awesome...see the picture below.  Every strap (except for the shoulder straps) have a little elastic around the end.  This allows you to tighten or loosen as you need and then roll it up and keep it out of the way.  I can't tell you how many thing I own that have straps that look so dingy and mangled because they flap around everywhere and get destroyed.  This small feature is going to help keep my carrier looking like new for much longer.




Like most structured carriers you have a head hammock(as I like to call it) for when baby needs a little extra support but what you don't always find is one that's removable.  This carrier's head support is removable with snaps and can be washed or left behind when not needed.  Another great removable feature are the suck pads.  You can see an example of them in the first photo, above, wrapped around the shoulder pads. These are essential for those teething and drooling little babes.  The suck pads protect the wrap from snot and spit and are removable so you can wash them more frequently.  Cause who has time to wash and dry your carrier when you need it all the time?  Can you tell I'm obsessed? 

I'm so glad there are products out there that help to make our momma lives easier.  Check out more of the carriers here!




Wrap Carrier
Once again I made the mistake of buying the wrong wrap many years ago and really never used it.  There was literally like 500 feet of fabric and by the time I wrapped it around myself I felt like a clostrofobic mummy.  No bueno.  I was determined this time around to find one that I loved because I need to be hands free.  Three kids is no joke folks! 

The Solly Baby Wrap has been a favorite of ours for many reasons. It's small and compact which makes it a great option to shove into the diaper bag and it comes in a thousand different colors.  Ok maybe not a thousand.  It's also pretty reasonably priced.  This wrap was my favorite when Daisy was really small.  It kind of acts like a swaddle in a sense and keeps baby super close and snug.  Once you get the hang of how to wrap it, it's a quick tuck here and pull there and it's on for good.  In fact, sometimes before I leave the house I just put it on so I'm ready to go wherever we end up.  Now that Daisy's getting older and more mobile she likes to wiggle out of the wraps a bit so I'm constantly having to readjust her so I've been favoring my structured carrier more. There's a season for everything in life right?







 I've been able to wear Daisy through Disneyland, grocery shopping, family walks, and making dinner without an aching back or an arm that's fallen asleep from holding her. These carriers make my life a bit easier because I can still function and complete the tasks I need because I have both hands to use.


Three kids hit me like a whirlwind.  It's been the biggest learning experience of my life.  I have to cook dinner at a different time, I clean differently, I load the car full of people and buckle a thousand buckles. My diaper bag is full of diapers, wipes, kleenex, toys, random shoes someone refused to wear, underwear dribbled with pee, and more hair bows and clips than I can count.  It's a glamorous life I lead, but at least the life I lead can be one that allows me to be hands free thanks to my baby carriers. I'm thankful that someone out there didn't forget about the mom's that barely have their head on straight and need options for caring their kids around that won't kill their backs or rob the bank.

I also must give a shout out to my girl Catherine Callan who took all these photos and nailed it.  Her work is amazing!  If you're looking for a photographer, shoot her an email at catherinecallanphotography@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sharing Infertility

I am 1 in 8 women that struggle with infertility, and when I began my infertility journey I never would have admitted to the struggle.

As a young kid you're asked what you want to be when you grow up.  I heard from my classmates and friends things like rock star, millionaire, newscaster, pro football player, and teacher.  But when the question was returned to me my answer was always,"I want to be a mother." Plain and simple, my soul purpose and goal in life was to become a mom.  In fact, when my husband and I started talking marriage I really pressured him to know that once we had kids I was going to stay at home with the kids and he was going to have to make that possible.  Pushy much?  Maybe.  But the point was, my whole life that's all I ever wanted.  I would take my pillow and roll it up into a ball and shove it under my shirt and pretend it was my pregnant belly.  I'd carry around my dolls in blankets and rock them back and forth pretending I was rocking my own little baby to sleep.  It's easy to dream but my dream of becoming a mother was a whole lot harder than I ever expected.

After many months of trying to conceive, we finally decided it was time to talk to my doctor. And to be completely honest, all through our years of waiting to start our family I had this feeling deep down that it was going to be difficult.  My cycles were weird and had been since I was like 14, so when the doctor told me I'd need some blood work done and most likely be put on medication I wasn't shocked.  I was put on Clomid for three months with no success and then on our fourth month...that glorious pee stick read 'PREGNANT'!  I was so excited.  I fell into a million tears and laughter and happiness just spewed out of me.  Three days later I miscarried and once again fell into a million tears.  Since I was on fertility medication I was asked to keep my doctor in the loop whenever something happened.  I don't think there are any words that have ever been so hard to expel from my mouth than,"I think I'm having a miscarriage." All my hopes and dreams came crashing down around me.  I felt alone and broken and my heart ached to know that baby.  Was it a boy or a girl?  What would it have looked like?  A visit to the doctor was necessary and after a few more blood draws I was told that the reason I miscarried was that my progesterone levels were far too low.  Your body needs progesterone while pregnant.  It's the hormone that, during the first trimester, helps your baby to grow and helps to form your placenta.  Take progesterone away and your body just thinks it's another period and goes along with your cycle like always.

I knew I couldn't give up trying.  We took a few months to heal emotionally and then it was back to the medications, only this time was with the help of progesterone and a Hysterosalpingogram...which is just a fancy word for uterus car wash.  A radiologist injects contrast solution into the uterus and fallopian tubes and examines on an live time x-ray to make sure there are no blockages.  I never thought I'd enjoy this procedure, and don't get me wrong it was uncomfortable and weird, but it was fascinating seeing the inside on my body on big screen.

Back to the story...my first month back on the meds was a no go.  BUT that second month of those precious meds worked like a charm and I was PREGNANT! Nine months later, Remee was born almost one year to the day of my miscarriage.  Her presence filled a void that was empty and ached to be completed.

When we wanted to have another baby we knew the drill.  Getting prevent with Jade proved to be even more difficult.  My hormones were all over the board.  I was put on so many different meds to try and combat the hysteria to only have another issue come up so I came to the realization that my body just needed a break.  After a few months of just letting things be I went back on Clomid, progesterone, and the Hysterosalpingogram. The next month I got pregnant with Jade.  After we had Jade we were done.  When I thought about having another child my mind immediately went to my infertility.  From all the info I just told you I'm sure it sounds exhausting...and that's because it was.  It was exhausting to keep track of my cycle, take medication when needed, take my temperature every morning, schedule sex, get blood work done, cry every month from a negative pee stick, bleed, and then start all over again the next month. No thank you. Never again.  So we were done.

I was always asked if we would have more kids or I'd hear,"your girls are so cute, you should have more." My reply was always no way and the only way we would ever have another kid is if a miracle happened. WELL, a miracle happened.  All it took was one time...ONE TIME of unprotected getting' it on and we made a baby.  No medication, no scheduling, no doctor visits. BOOM, just like that and there's a healthy baby in my belly.  So many emotions came from getting pregnant with Daisy.  I was scared out of my mind.  I felt unprepared and clueless.  And sadly I felt unconnected to her in some way.  I remember laying in the bath one night holding my belly and praying to feel close to her.  Praying to feel some kind of joyous excitement and sure enough when we found out we were having another girl I was hooked on her.  I look back at those feelings of hesitation and like to think that maybe they were there because we didn't spend months and months trying to get her here.  We didn't make trip after trip to a doctor or the lab or the pharmacy. She was just there, completely out of the blue and held on tight.  Daisy has been such a blessing in our lives.  She truly is a miracle in every sense of the word.  She brightens our days and comforts our hearts.

Infertility.  It's a word I hate and yet a word I feel so close to.  It's taught me to grow in ways I never thought I would have to.  It's taught me to have faith in my Heavenly Father and in science.  It's taught me to appreciate my body. But most of all it's taught me about miracles.  I have three beautiful miracles in my life all because I struggle with infertility.

Maybe your struggle with infertility looks different than mine, or your miracles aren't here yet. Infertility doesn't have to be a lonely road.  I am 1 in 8. I have many friends who have struggled with trying to conceive, and I have loved ones who still ache to hold a baby of their own in their arms.  We are all in this together.  The most powerful words to hear when we are struggling are,"me too".

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

DIY Chore Chart

The truth is, I'm so new to this whole "chore chart" phase in life.  I'm a clean freak so I just do all the things that need to be done in my house.  It wasn't until little miss Daisy joined our family that I realized I couldn't do it all...nor did I want to. So, the chore chart idea came about.  

As the kids get older it's just common sense that sooner rather than later they'll need to contribute to all that needs to be tended to within our house.  They make more of a mess than I do so why are they not getting the hint as to cleaning up after themselves?  Since implementing this chore chart, not only are the girls pulling their weight around here but they also do it more willingly than they did when we would just ask.

I searched and searched for a free printable to make into a chore chart and, wow, I was so bombarded with chart after chart after chart of printables and yet, none of them was really what I was looking for.  I've got one kid who's great at reading and following direction and the other is not at that point yet.  My oldest, Remee, is really helpful around the house.  She even makes her bed here and there without having to be asked...miracles right?  Jade, my 4 year old, is stubborn and unless it's her idea she's not going to budge when told what to do.  I knew whatever chart I decided on, needed to be easy for her to understand and also a bit fun so she would WANT to do her chores.  

I finally found THIS free printable on a homeschooling website and knew it was just what I was looking for. You do have to sign up for emails in order to get the printable but hey, it was totally worth it for me. I printed the pictures off on card stock(one for each child)and cut them all out individually.  It comes with quite a few pages of chores and I excluded a few of them that weren't going to be optimal for my kids' age.  They even come with a few empty squares so you can fill in here and there as to specific jobs within your family. 

I, then, took the cut out card stock squares to OfficeMax and had them laminated.  This way they were not only protected from dirty fingers but also a bit more stable as well. This was $5 and then again...cutting them all out. I bought memo sized wood clipboards as my chart and tiny extra strength magnets to hold the chores on. Glueing the magnets was the most time consuming part of this DIY Chore Chart.  I used hot glue...nothing special, but we all know there's a plus and a negative side to any magnet, and while I thought I had glued them all on the board and papers right...I thought wrong and had to pull a few off and re-glue.  Mom brain problems.  The clipboards hold 9 chores. I glued the magnets about one inch in from the side of the clipboard and then about two inches apart from each other.  I also glued magnets to the back of the clipboard so the charts could hang on the fridge for ease...or really so my kids would see them first thing in the morning when they beg for orange juice.

The rule goes a bit like this...in the morning I put the chores on the fridge that need to be done before school.  This usually includes making the bad, getting dressed, brushing teeth, and feeding the dog.  Once they have finished their chore they can take it off the chart and put it on the fridge.  After school I put more chores on that need to be done before bedtime.  These include setting the table, doing homework, picking up toys, etc. 

This chart has been such a lifesaver for my sanity.  The girls willingly get things done and until certain things are done they know they aren't allowed to play with friends or watch shows or basically do anything fun at all. HAHA.  I've linked all the goods below for your shopping pleasure.  I hope some of you find this printable to be of help and really. more than anything, I hope your kids get to doing their chores more willingly and with a happy face.





Friday, February 10, 2017

No Spend January/ Updated Recap

January is the month!! As a family we have decided to have a no spend month.  Basically meaning we will only purchase food and gas...no eating out(unless we use a gift card), no going to do activities that cost money, and no buying stuff online...I know, how will we survive?  Funny thing is, I feel like not only will this be a HUGE challenge but I'm thinking by the end of the month I'm going to feel so liberated, in the social idea that is.  Because this era spends spends spends I think it's going to be so wonderful to teach our kids about savings.  I hope they learn to appreciate what we already have.  I hope they learn to love spending more time as a family and that not everything that's fun costs money.

When I sat down with my husband last night and talked about writing a list of things to do this month that are free and the whole family will enjoy, I was surprised at how many things we came up with.  Why have we not been doing this every month?  Yes there's so much freedom that comes with being able to SPEND our money but what powerful freedom comes from not having to! So here's our list of free activities to do as a family.  I'm sure it will continue to grow, and I'm even more positive that the kids will think of ideas to add to this list.

1. Go sledding
2. Make and deliver treats to friends or neighbors
3. Host a potluck dinner
4. Host a game night
5. Go to the library once a week
6. Visit the Bean Museum at BYU
7. Go to the mall play area
8. Attend the library's night time activities (magic show)
9. Put together a jigsaw puzzle
10. Build a snowman
11. Write letters to family
12. Build a fort
13. Tour a fire station
14. Make homemade ice cream in a bag
15. Go to the Rec Center (we already have a pass)
16. Visit the BYU museum of Paleontology
17. Visit Orem Heritage Museum
18. Visit the Springville Museum of Art
19. Visit Woodbury Art Museum at the mall
20. Go on a winter scavenger hunt
21. Have a family movie night


So we still have a long way to go on the activities but I'd say that's a pretty good way to start.  I'm amazed at how many local places have free admission so definitely check out your local area to see what's going on around you.

Now on to the nitty gritty.  THE RULES.  You, obviously can make your own rules if you're wanting to join in.  Maybe January isn't the best month for you...so pick a different one!  Anyway, these are our family's rules.

1. We can only spend our money on food and gas
2. Any automatic payment can still go through (like my DoTERRA order, or our Comcast TV and internet plan)
3. No eating out


That's it. Not too detailed.  We for sure will be putting our gift cards to good use this month.  We still have a date night planned that we aren't going to be spending any of our own money on...so we will see how that goes.  All in all I hope our family feels freedom in this challenge.  I hope we all come to realize just how much we are blessed and how much we have in abundance.  We live so very comfortably and for that I am so grateful for, but because we live so comfortably I tend to forget that our money is so sacred.  It could be taken from us at any time and though its a materialistic thing it's also what helps keep us living and enjoying life.  So here's to our no spend month!!  Hopefully we survive.  I'm sure it will be a struggle at first.  I may have to say no to outings with girlfriends, Mike might have to give up fountain Diet Dr Pepper for a month, but we will survive and in all reality...we will have saved SO MUCH in just one month of not spending.  Let me know if you're going to join the challenge.  You can check out my friend Cress Matthews (she came up with the idea) blog and follow along with her as well. Cheers to a new year and to saving our hard earned cash!




AND NOW THE RECAP!!!!


I would love to say that this past month was pure bliss and was easy as pie, but the honest truth is that no spend month is no joke.  It took a lot of planning to not eat out, it took a lot of patience to not want to indulge and do something spa like for myself, and it took some getting used to with avoiding stores like the plague.  With this being our first no spend month in the 9 years we've been married, it was eye opening to see what it was that we continually treat ourselves to and the types of things we buy to make our lives easier.  Here are a few things I learned this past month.

1. Spending money is a time filler.
Yup, I admit it...when I'm bored I spend money.  Usually it's in the form of aimlessly walking through every aisle of Target and convincing myself that the things in my cart will make my life happier.  If I learned anything this last month it's that I don't NEED half of thing I think I do.  That, and when I'm bored I need to be better about filling my time with activities instead of things.

2. Cooking brings me joy.
I've always known this.  I've loved cooking since I was young but this push to HAVE to cook every day was something I truly enjoyed.  Oh sure, 4:00 pm rolled around and I would drag my feet to start prepping for dinner, but once I got going I couldn't stop and I loved every minute.  Not only did I finally get around to trying the recipes I pinned on Pinterest, but I also discovered that the more I cook at home the more my kids eat the things they never wanted to before.  True story...my kids are way less picky than they used to be and I think it has something to do with not being asked what they want at a restaurant.  They get what they get. Right?


3. I like to spend money on others.
It's no secret that my "love language" is gift giving.  When I see something I think someone would really enjoy I usually try to get it for them as a gift.  With not spending money, this was impossible to do for my friends. Instead I baked cookies, delivered dinners, and had friends over for food and company.  Maybe I wasn't actually buying them things but the effort and sentiment was still present. Money doesn't buy love and this month, as much as I wanted to get my friends a few things here and there to brighten their day, I realized that my effort and smiling face would just have to do...and I think they still really enjoyed it.

4. The kids didn't notice.
You read correct.  The kids had NO IDEA that we weren't spending money.  It may have been their age...cause they're still tiny humans, but they really didn't notice that we stopped eating out.  They didn't realize that the stupid little craft items weren't sneaking their way into our cart at the store.  They were oblivious to it all and that made me so extremely happy.  I had this idea in my head that they would be disappointed when they couldn't have chicken nuggets and fries.  I thought they would be so sad that we weren't going out for ice cream.  But the truth of the matter is...they were just as happy when we made it at home.  They thought is was so fun when we made ice cream from scratch.  They love homemade chicken nuggets and fries.  They were thrilled when we sat down with scissors and pens and made our own crafts.  Kids are happy when we spend time with them, not money on them.

5. Essentials really are essential.
This last month put more perspective on my life.  I came to realize that the things I thought I couldn't live without I really could.  That the things that make my life easier are only convenient, they aren't essential.  I already have so many things in my life that bring me joy.  Money doesn't buy happiness, it buys freedom.  Freedom to come and go as you please.  Freedom to take a break from the HAVE TO's and freedom to fill our lives with things from here and now.

In the coming months I'm going to be building a capsule wardrobe to help myself from buying crappy clothes that only last a few washes.  I'll be making more dinners and lunches at home.  I'll be filling my time with books and the company of friends instead of shopping.  But most of all I'll be more in tune to what I NEED as apposed to what I WANT.  This summer I hope to do another no spend month and would love to have you join in.  Stay updated on what month by following along on my Instagram! Have a happy weekend, friends!

Friday, December 23, 2016

I'm Merrier Thanks To Merry Maids


I'm going to get REAL honest with ya'll.  I'm a control freak.  I like to have my house cleaned the way I like it and most of the time, no one does it the way I prefer.  I know, I'm the worst.  However, if I'm being even more brutally honest...I hardly ever have time to clean these days.  Between nursing Daisy, playing with the kids, getting all my errands run, and making dinner, the house is just a disaster. After the kids go to bed I tidy the house and put things away but the 'cleaning' isn't getting done.  My husband helps out here and there but when he comes home from work I hate to ask him to help clean when he has put in hours and hours of standing at work.  Basically what I'm saying is...it's become more and more obvious that in my life right now I NEED help.  Add on the fact that my mom was coming into town and you have yourself a wreck of a person who was trying to do it all and realizing I couldn't do it all.

When it came to finding someone to clean my house it was like breaking down a wall of feelings.  Feelings that I SHOULD be able to clean my house.  Feelings like I had failed at being a homemaker.  Not feeling confident in myself because I knew I needed help.  It's funny how much we doubt ourselves as mothers.  We do A LOT, you guys.  We are keeping tiny people alive and that takes a whole bunch of work.  This house cleaning was a way to give back to myself.  Time that I could give to my children instead of sitting them in front of the TV while I cleaned the house.  So the search went on in trying to find someone who could clean and meet my expectations.  

Many of my friends get their homes cleaned.  They found people they trust and they know they will do a great job.  But for me...again, control freak, I was looking for someone who was not only qualified but was also trained, insured, and had great reviews.  Who answered the call...Merry Maids. The company is trusted, insured, has great reviews, and all their happy cleaners are extensively trained and have a high expectation on how things should be cared for.  

Scheduling was easy and when they came to my house they had smiles on their faces and got right to work.  I'm not even exaggerating when I say that my house has never been cleaner.  When we moved in our house it was newly remodeled and still had dust floating around for weeks after.  It took forever to finally get things settled and wiped clean.  When the Merry Maids left my house after hours and hours of cleaning, my house looked, smelled, and shined better than it did when we moved in.  They scrubbed permanent marker off of the walls (Jade likes to color...anywhere she can).  They made my girls' beds.  The baseboards where clean, the walls had been washed.  They vacuumed my couch cushions and under the pillows.  Every frame on my wall had been dusted and wiped down.  I even came home from running errands to find them sitting on the floor cleaning the return air vents! My dining room chairs were scrubbed from the food and fingerprints my kids left behind.  And then my head blew up from amazement.   


After my brain matter was cleaned off the walls, I kid I kid, we went on a walk through the house and made sure every room, hallway, and corner was cleaned to my approval.  They pointed out areas that they spent extra time on.  They ultimately made sure I was 100% happy with the cleaning...and by golly I WAS!  I sat on my bed after they had left and felt such a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.  I didn't have to worry anymore about my mom coming into town knowing she wouldn't feel like she had to clean on her visit.  She would be able to just show up, relax, and enjoy time with my family instead of scrubbing the bathtub and toilet.

Now I understand if having your house cleaned isn't something you ever thought about.  I was that person too.  I never in a million years thought I would need it.  I mean, I'm the weirdo who LIKES to clean.  But I'm at a place in my life where I need the help.  I need that part of my life to just be done.  It may only be for a year, or the rest of my life, but for now it just feels great knowing I don't have to stress about it.  

So, lets talk about pricing shall we?  Cause I know you and I are both on a budget.  Between buying new clothes for the kids every new season and keeping the house stalked with food, how can one afford house cleaning?  When the kids are young and growing by the second, my time with them is priceless.  I would hate to look back on their growing years and feel like I've missed precious moments because I was too busy with a mop in my hand.  I would hate to have them look back on the memories they've made and I'm missing from them because I was vacuuming.  So how can you and I afford house cleaning?  Simple.  By understanding what's most important in our stage of life.  I want most to be making memories with my kids.  I want them to see that I don't just put in all my effort in cleaning the house but that I put a large amount of time and effort into showing them love in how they need love. I can not put a price on their time.  

Merry Maids has a $50 off deal right now for the holidays in Utah.  Just mention Holiday Clean Up.  Even better...if you sign up for their 24 cleaning agreement (that's a bi-weekly cleaning) they'll knock off $400 on your initial deep cleaning service.  HUGE DEAL!!  Maybe you're not looking for a bi-weekly cleaning?  Get in touch with them and discuss what it is you're needing or looking for and they'll get you what you need.  

I now have piece of mind this holiday season.  I don't have to scrub anything in my house.  I can just enjoy my family, make memories, and relax in my clean bathtub with an ice cold Diet Coke.  My mom dreams have come true.  Seriously friends, Keep Calm and Call Merry Maids.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Coping with Seasonal Depression

This time of year is usually about giving, joy, and warm fuzzies. But for me this time of year brings on a different effect.  I become burdened, I feel alone and isolated, and more often than not I don't take care of myself.  My hair hasn't been washed for more than a week and I'm pretty sure if I were to wring it out I could fill a small bottle with oil. I have not put on makeup or really gotten dressed, for that matter, for days and it's starting to settle in that the good old seasonal sadness, or depression if you will, has come to take it's course.

A few years ago I had my first experience with this inner demon.  It took me by surprise and buried me deep in my bed for days.  I didn't accomplish anything I needed to.  I sat and stared at my television for hours and hours and dreaded the undertakings of keeping up a household and caring for my kids.  What got me out of this horror was taking care of ME.  Something I wasn't doing in any sort of fashion.  I obviously wasn't bathing regularly, I was eating crap...or not eating at all, I stayed inside and neglected my physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Many would argue that mental health is something that can be controlled.  I used to think the same thing.  In fact I'm pretty sure I said "snap out of it" to my sister who's struggled with depression her entire life.  It's not a quick fix when it comes to finding light in a time of darkness.  It's not like one can just flip a switch and all is right in the world again.  The joy and happiness come back at a slow and steady pace as long as we are striving for it.  I'm not an expert in depression or treatments for it, but because of my seasonal struggle, I've found ways to bring me slowly back to that state of mind where I feel level and in control.

This week has been one where I've noticed that evil seasonal shadow hovering above me. It has me feeling tired, unmotivated, and dreading the care of my little ones.  With being a nursing momma it's been even harder to wrap my arms around  my baby to feed her.  Her cries are like knives to my ears because I know it means I'll have to crawl out of my cozy and darkened room to feed her and comfort her when I can't seem to feed and comfort myself.  Today I finally realized that while I can't just 'snap out of it' I know I can be in control of my life.  So I wanted to share a few things that help me during this difficult time of year.  Before I share I should state that, again, I'm not an expert, and if you feel like you need professional and medical help, that is where you should go.  But for me my heart and mind tell me that I can crawl out of this darkness on my own if I simply put some effort towards the cause.

I'm starting with placenta pills.  That's right people, I take pills filled with my dehydrated placenta from when I was pregnant with Daisy.  It sounds absolutely disgusting and, believe me, when I first heard about it I thought the same thing.  I'm happy to share the fact that I ingest these pills though because they have been my lifesavers in a time of sadness.  From what I've read, they're filled with your bodies hormones that are needed to help you recover during the postpartum months.  They help with hormone balance, milk production, mood swings, and that's just to name a few.  From  my own experience I can honestly say that they've made a HUGE difference in how I've felt after I take them. Still kinda gross, but if it works...I ain't complaining.

Essential oils are a major part in helping to brighten my darkest days.  I could go on and on about how great they are and the science behind their affects but for now I'll just say this.  What happens to you when you smell something you love?  Do you cry or grin?  I stick to a few oils that I love and smell them or diffuse them throughout the day.  Citrus oils are amazing during the dreary winter months because they're uplifting and warming.  I put a drop on my wrists and breathe in deep and sure enough, within a few moments I start to feel more level.

Self care is an obvious one.  This season has been especially hard because my self care is almost non existent.  All day I'm caring for three other humans...ok four if you count the hubby.  I'm giving giving giving all day long to others but I'm not giving back to myself.  I love the quote, "In order to take care of others you must first take care of yourself." Yes, I am a firm believer on service and giving to those around me, but when I'm on empty it becomes nearly impossible to have anything left to give.  This one is so hard for me to follow through on.  By the end of the day there aren't enough hours left before bed to really take care of myself.  So I simplify by doing small and simple things to help fill that emptiness.  I take a bath, paint my nails, wear a skin mask, watch my favorite movie, or indulge in my favorite dessert or snack.  Sometimes the simplest of things bring about the most joy.  And this rings so true in the self care department.

Lastly is the hardest one for me to complete and yet it's always the one that's most needed.  EXERCISE!  Remember how I suffered from seasonal depression a few years ago?  Well, the thing that got me through was exercise.  It always sounds more simple and easy than it really is.  But I didn't just buy a gym pass and drag myself to the treadmill everyday. No.  I enrolled in a class that I knew I would love and WANT to go to and sure enough I went.  I went three times a week for 2 months.  I pushed through the burn and the soreness and went back again and again.  Why?  Because those endorphins my brain was pumping was necessity and I could feel it after the first time I went.  I understand that not everyone can afford this type of thing so instead I say this.  Find a friend and go together.  You can walk around the mall or swim at the rec center near you.  While you workout, spill your hearts to one another.  Release the feelings of sadness and solitude you're experiencing and work together to feel uplifted.

Ok one more.  I always call upon my Heavenly Father for support.  It's not easy carrying around the burden of depression.  But I'm grateful I have the knowledge that my Father in Heaven knows my struggles.  He carries me when I can not carry myself.  Christ experienced all our trials, afflictions and pain so that we wouldn't feel alone in those times of need.  Pray for comfort, for support, and for guidance.

I hope this time of year, especially if you that struggle like I do, you won't feel alone.  I hope you know that this time of year is hard for a lot of us.  Don't be afraid to reach out for help or express what you feel to those you can confide in and love.  And please please please, if you need help you need to ask.  Don't be ashamed of your trial.  It's a trial many of us experience, and many of us are here for care and support.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Disneyland Travel Tips

I left my heart in Disneyland.  True story.  Since I was a little girl this place has been a happy escape for me.  The moment I walk through those gates and hear the chipper music and smell the scent of railroad ties I know it's going to be a good day.  We try and make it to our favorite place once a year, but as the kids get older and times become more hectic and stressful we've realized that once a year isn't cutting it. It needs to happen more often.  This year I turned 30 and wanted nothing more than to celebrate at my favorite place on Earth, but we also surprised the girls!  They had no idea where we were going or when we would arrive.  We just reassured them that they would love it and, sure enough, they did.

When Mike asked what it was I wanted for my birthday I literally couldn't think of a tangable item.  Sure gift cards are great and so is money...duh...but I knew deep down what I really wanted was a family vacation to Disneyland.  When I said it outloud to him I honestly laughed about it because I knew that was a lot to ask.  I mean, come on, we just had a baby and were still paying off bills to the hospital.  But little did I know that he would say yes and make it happen.  Gosh I love my man!!

When we plan our Disneyland vacations we always use Get Away Today.  They make it easy to plan and organize where you'll stay, how you'll get to the park everyday, if breakfast is included, and they make sure you'll be comfortable.  Sure it's easy to just hop online and figure it all out on your own but when I call into Get Away Today I know they'll have all the answers and will guide me to the right hotel and accomidations I need for my family and me.

Weeks before your trip they mail out your Disneyland tickets and all the info you'll need for your stay.  Seriously guys, I can't begin to explain how easy they make it to get your trip off to the right start.

We stayed at a beautiful hotel just a mile from the park and it not only included free parking, free breakfast, but also a free shuttle to and from the park that ran every half hour.  WINNING!!!  The hotel was so accomidating and brought us a crib for Daisy and truly made our stay so comfortable.

On with the birthday celebrations!  Right inside Disneyland on you left is City Hall.  It's a small quaint little building that has bathrooms attached...if ya need.  Inside City Hall is where you can request a free pin!  I, of course, got my birthday pin and a pin for Daisy's first time. It's necessity when you're celebrating your birthday. Why you ask? Because every cast member will celebrate right along with you.  Who doesn't want to be told Happy Birthday a million times a day?


I've written before about all my tips and tricks for a family fun trip to Disneyland you can read here.  But this time around we were with a tiny little baby who was still nursing and needing extra sleep and attention.  So here are a few extra tips for traveling with a baby. 

Disneyland and California Adventure both have Baby Care Buildings.  They're both great but I highly prefer Disneyland's for nursing!  They're nursing rooms are in a seperate area far away from the changing rooms so you're staying away from the smells. Catch my drift *wink wink*?  On top of the great nursing rooms, they also have tiny toilets for little kids who are potty training.  Jade got so excited to use them becuase they were "just her size". If the cast members aren't too busy they'll even congradulate the kids after they go with a sticker.  So cute right?  This is also a place you want to keep on your radar if you have a child in diapers.  They have a small shop inside where you can purchase anything from baby food to diapers and wipes.  Pretty much anything baby might need you can get it here if you're in a pinch.  Thank goodness for Disneyland's kind heart. 


If you're not near these buildings on your travels I've found so many hidden and quiet areas that are perfect for nursing or a small break where the kids can have a snack. Don't stress too much about finding places to 'hide' to nurse your little one.  As you walk around just make mental notes of places that might work and you'll be sure to have success. 

If your baby is asleep you can still go on many of the rides with them! Be advised that some of the rides do require your baby to be on your lap and facing forward, but if you've got them in a wrap, like I did with Daisy many times, they're just fine to be left alone sleeping. Another great way to ride the rides while baby sleeps is asking for a Stroller Pass from the cast member at the begining of the line of the ride you're wanting to go on.  That way one parent can take the kids on the ride while the other parent sits with the baby and then they can switch and the kids gets to ride all over again.  The Stroller Pass allows up to three people so our girls got to ride a lot of the rides twice without having to wait in the lines forever.

Disneyland will forever be my most favorite place on earth.  It holds dear memories for me. It reminds me of simpler times.  Time spent with family. Time spent laughing and acting ridiculous.  It's given me moments with my kids I never want to forget.  There's no doubt in my mind that my own children will find joy in this magical place throughout their lives as well.  They'll look back on these family vacations with a smile because family time is everything and nothing beats the magic of Disney.