Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Deck Before and After

I bet you can't guess why we love our new deck so much. Ha Ha.  Obviously from this before picture it's pretty easy to guess why.  This house just called for a deck and what we had was a small landing held on by a few screws no less, and stairs down to nothing.  We wanted a place to relax, to socialize when we had company over, and a place our kids could play that still felt close by.  Well, the husband delivered.  After months and months of watching youtube videos and researching deck building he went to town and built our deck from the ground up. 

Rewind a few months since this project started we called upon some contractors for a quote to see what we needed to save up so we could make this deck dream come true.  Want to know the scary number they quoted us? Do ya? Really?  They gave us a quote of $25,000-$30,000 dollars.  Say what?  Mike and I both giggled when they told us.  I mean there's no way.  We might as well just buy a new house that already has a deck.  When the contractors left I turned to Mike and said, "You know what I think? I think YOU can build a deck for way cheaper." I was right, like usual, duh. We spent just under $5,000 to build our dream deck.  And I'm so proud to say that Mike built it.
Check out THAT before and after.  What a difference this has made in the appearance of our yard.  Yes, the plants are small now but you wait a few years and they'll be a few feet higher and our deck will look like it's just hovering next to our house. Also, I must say, I did my best to stage this so it looked perfect but honestly...our deck will never look perfect.  It's a place where the kids play.  It's where I hide underneath to escape the sun while the girls run through the sprinklers.  So, tidy is what I aimed for and that's what you'll find most of the time. 
Below you'll find me fake laughing and being an idiot because that's what I do when my sister is the one taking my photo. But in all seriousness she's an amazing photographer and I'm blessed I get to reap the benefits of her talent. Check her out here and give her some love.
I looked for a while to find the perfect outdoor seating that not only fit our budget ($1,000) but also fit our space and aesthetic.  It was a lot harder than I thought.  Unlike indoor furniture that comes in every shape and color under the sun...outdoor furniture basically comes in five colors and is either a million dollars and you'd have to sell your first born to afford it or it's really cheap and won't last under the extreme seasons of Utah.  I stumbled upon this sectional on the classifieds and luckily it was a brand new piece that a furniture business was selling. Plus it was under our budget ($895). WIN!! The rug was a steal on Rugs USA and it just made sense with the look and lines of the deck.
It warms my heart to look outside our back door and see our kids playing on this deck that my husband spent hours and hours building.  They love it so much and I love them so much so there's a lot of love happening here.  The girls have brought their doll house out on this deck and played for hours on it.  They set up bubbles for Daisy and jump around trying to pop them all.  They help me water my plants and gosh my heart could explode at how happy we all are out here.


These trays were a DIY must.  I could not for the life of me find an outdoor side table that I liked.  Maybe I'm picky...or maybe I'm just cheap and I can't spend over $50 on a side table.  So, these side tables are actually stools from IKEA for $5 and a tray from IKEA that I glued on top. They're amazing, stable, and can withstand the wear and tear from my destructive children.
Here are all the links to the items I could find online. Now, who wants to come party on my deck with me?

Rug isn't available anymore but just in case here is the item number XMP11468 in Silver



Sunday, July 30, 2017

A trip to the oregon coast

Every morning I woke up to the sound of the ocean waves crashing against the coastline, and every night I drifted into dreamland doing the same.  It may sound dramatic but this trip truly changed my life.  So much was put into perspective for me.  I was so much more aware of what's important, what brings me joy, and what fills me with peace.  
When Mike suggested we should have a reunion with his family and visit the Redwoods I was thrilled.  I'd never been and honestly, any excuse to visit the Pacific Northwest is fine by me.  I grew up loving the greenery, the water, the wild blackberries, and the wildlife as I lived in Washington State as a child.  It's where I feel most at peace and where I feel most at home.  The sometimes dreary weather never stops anyone from enjoying the outdoors and the fresh air fills your lungs and soul with clarity.  I miss the PNW everyday.
I'll be the first to praise my hubby in planning this trip.  He found the most amazing AirBnB right on the coast in a cute little town in Brookings Oregon.  It was minutes away from the most beautiful beaches and a quick 30 minute drive to the Redwoods.  The view from our room was breathtaking and the location was secluded yet close to the amenities and activities we were hoping to enjoy. Our first stop upon arriving was the beach.  The kids loved searching for shells and as the tide washed out we found jellyfish, starfish, a sea slug, crabs, and anemones.  No need to visit the aquarium!  Happiness really is sandy toes and a shell in your pocket.
Mike carried Daisy in the Jublii carrier through one of the hikes in the Redwoods and she left a sweet little sweaty profile for us to laugh at when we took her out.
The Redwoods were unreal.  In my mind I could image the magnitude of these trees but standing below them, looking up into the sky and not being able to see the tops was unimaginable.  Before we left on our trip someone told me to be still and quiet while in the Redwoods; to listen to the sounds.  There was a peace within the forest that I can't quite put into words.  There was no sound. Birds weren't chirping, the wind was stopped, and while I stood beneath the vastness of these trees I felt calm, relaxed, and serene. I wished I could have laid down on the forest floor and felt that peace for a while longer.  
Pictures truly don't do this place justice.  It is so incredibly beautiful and awesome. Here are a few places we visited and a few thoughts on what to expect.

Stout Grove: This is where parts of Star Wars Return of the Jedi was filmed. It's a really easy little loop stroll that the kids and adults enjoyed.  Along the trail are lots of areas to stop and places where the kids can crawl around on the logs and roots of the trees.  Nature's playground for sure.  Bug spray is a must...the mosquitoes were all over the place!

Simpson-Reed Trail: This is also a super easy loop trail.  Again, lots of places for the kids to enjoy and great photo opts.

Boy Scout Trail: While this trail was not difficult at all it was long.  We didn't even make it 1/3 of the way before the kids were over it and wanted to go back.  So I would advise to choose something else to hike if you're with kiddos.  Not worth the complaining.

I'd say it's pretty obvious that the kids loved the beach.  We made a stop there everyday.  And even though it was chilly it was still really fun to walk around and explore.  We went to quite a few beaches near Brookings and every single one was different and had new things to check out.
Mill Beach:  This beach was a quick walk away from our AirBnB.  It was easy to get to and had awesome tide pools during low tide.  Lots of shells for the kids to collect and really beautiful drift wood as well.  

Secret Beach: When we searched for beaches to visit, this one was a must.  It's a quiet little beach and it's only access is a bit of a steep hike through the trees and down a boulder.  We all made it there though so it's for sure not too difficult to get to.  It's serene and unpopulated.

Lone Ranch Beach: One of my favorites and I guess it was one of the kids favorites too.  We arrived in the morning around low tide and the rocks were covered in starfish, anemone, mussels, and barnacle.  The kids loved exploring and climbing on all the rocks. The waves brought in beautiful stones and shells as well.
Harris Beach State Park: Another favorite!  At high tide, the dips in the sand fill with water and then pools are left at low tide.  The kids played in the ocean water pools where it was warmer and shallow.  It was great for rinsing off all that sand too.  There was tons of room on the beach to fly kites and build sand castles, and the kids even got buried in the warm sand.  

One of my favorite activities was playing in the rivers.  Chetco River is right in Brookings and the water gets warmer the farther upstream you go.  We read about a swimming hole called Elephant Rock up the river and had to check it out.  The kids splashed around the rocky shores and the parents jumped off the big boulders into the river.  If you're into a thrill you'll have to check it out.  We found the easiest way to get there was driving up Chetco river about 13 miles and taking the Redwood Bar exit and then driving back down on the bar about a half a mile.  You'll stop at the end of the bar and see the big Elephant Rock.

Another river we visited was Smith River.  I have never seen such a gorgeous river in my life.  The water is turquoise blue and clear as clear can be.  The water is COLD but refreshing and it was such a thrill to jump in the frigid water.  

Can you even believe the view from our AirBnB?  It was dreamy.

I left a part of my heart on this trip.  I'll always look back on all we did with such fondness.  I hope to never loose that feeling of peace I experienced in the Redwoods and I hope to never loose fact that time with family is more important than anything in the world.  I'm so grateful the kids could see, feel, and experience all they did and I pray we will return again someday to enjoy it all again.

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