Gift Ideas for the Mom Brain // $20 or less

LRG_DSC01667‘Tis the season to buy gifts for your people! And then sometimes they ask you what you want for Christmas and you’re like…. money? A nap? A few extra hours in the day? I can tell you a few big ticket items that I’d like (hello, Sony a7iii + some lenses) but the $30 or less range for family secret Santa that’s not a giftcard? So hard for me since most jewelry, make-up, lotions and soaps are out.  Here are a few of my favorite gifts that helped me live with my mom brain — practical and fun. Thoughtful and helpful. Not a spatula, dishtowel or a book about disciplining your toddler. Win win win!

Tile // starting at $14.99 // Amazon

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Marshall gave this to me for Christmas last year and I literally use it every day. I have a Tile on my keys and one in my wallet. I can ring my keys from my phone OR my wallet, and all the vice versas. The app on my phone also shows me the last place my wallet and/or keys was seen. I literally tracked them through church one time using the app.  I was bad at keeping up with things pre-kids, so I can’t blame mom brain entirely on this, but it has helped me get out the door so much faster with all three of my things: keys, wallet, phone. If I’m missing one I can find it within seconds. Highly recommend for anyone who has ever lost their keys ever. Also, the song your keys sing when you “find” them is really loud and can be heard if you’re unsure if your keys are locked in the car or not. I have experienced this three times this year. Excellent quality product.

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Coffee Warmer // starting at $16.99 // Amazon

I literally got this as a gift for my birthday this year, so I’ve only had it a few days but it is a GAMECHANGER. Raise your hand if you’ve ever reheated coffee in the microwave during the day? More than once? More than three times? Given up and stuck it in the fridge and used the next day for iced coffee? I AM RAISING MY HANDS. It turns on automatically when you put your coffee cup on it and off when you remove it, which means you don’t have to remember to turn it off, and it keeps your cup and it’s contents piping hot. Tea, coffee… hot all day. It’s a dream come true.

Capello Alarm Clock // $14.99 // Target

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This was a gift to myself a few months ago. I had a lofty goal of sleeping with my phone downstairs and using a legit alarm clock. I am so distracted by my phone, so I’d pick it up to turn the alarm off (after snoozing it like 100 times) and start the day mindlessly scrolling and forgetting why I even picked it up in the first place (to turn the alarm off). It’s super pretty, and I love the soft glow of the numerals and it gets me out of bed to turn the beep off in the mornings.

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Emelyn at Home | Newborn

They are teeny tiny and squishy. For like five minutes! Five minutes! A few weeks after Emelyn was born and they were all settled in their new home (oh yeah, they had a baby and moved like in the same week like total rockstars) I got to stop by and see the new digs and take some sweet family photos in their new space. It was so sweet seeing them in their element, and when your clients are also photographers they make sure to set up the best light for “baby in a basket” photos. Emelyn totally nailed it, and slept like the beautiful floral baby burrito she is.

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Emelyn + Cayden // Fresh 48

This sweet little fresh 48 brings me to tears every time. Every dang time. I met sweet Cayden not long after he acquired the greatest bonus mom ever– my friend Katie that I grew up with. She is just golden, inside and out. An incredible friend, wife, mom, photographer… and it was so special watching her step into the role as his stepmom years ago, so watching her introduce him to his baby sister was so sweet, I was pretty weepy. I am constantly overwhelmed and honored and humbled that I get invited to these moments.

Originally the plan was for me to document Emelyn’s birth, but as we know, births RARELY go according to plan, so I came the next morning as soon as I could to snap a few fresh photos. We were able to time it perfectly to when Cayden came to meet her and his reaction is just one of my favorites ever. His whole face just lit up as soon as he walked into the room. The age difference makes it so sweet. Toddler siblings don’t usually grasp the weight of what this little person means, but Cayden teared up a little when he saw her… he knew exactly that everything changed and his world was about get a little louder and so much sweeter.

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Jamison | Senior

One of my dear, sweetest mentors and friends invited me to Indiana this summer for the opportunity to take senior photos for Jamison– a little stunner that I babysat when he was my son’s age. How is this real life?! Just like I did last summer, I flew out for the day and we got to do some midday portraits somewhere in Indianapolis and then I had the best street tacos of my life that drastically altered the trajectory of my tastebuds and that have added “Taco Tuesday” to our meal plan indefinitely. It was a blast — I am a sucker for adventure and loved the opportunity to fly, and read for fun, and be alone and shoot midday in a brand new place I’d never been. I left feeling so filled up creatively, and reminded so clearly of God’s hand in my life over the last 30 years. I am so thankful for relationships that stretch back into my teenage years, God has moved so mightily in my life through them. Congrats Jamison — the best is yet to come!

November Goals | 2018

  • Monthly Goals:
    • Finish all Christmas shopping by November 30
    • Plan December Meals
    • Date Night Swap with friends
    • turn 31!
    • December goal party with Sarah
    • finish How to Break Up With Your Phone 
    • make book list for 2019
  • Weekly Goals:
    • Write the Word 2x a week
    • Weekly budget meeting with Marshall
    • Get to yoga 1x a week at the Y
    • Instagram only on Wednesdays and Sundays
  • Daily Goals:
    • up at 5am
    • drink 2 liters of water (via Camelbak or Smart Water liters)
    • write one blog post a day
    • go outside, breathe and look at the sun
    • look at Everydollar budget every day (set an alarm reminder)

Our Skincare Favorites for the Littlest Ones

Just an FYI if you decide to buy, this post contains affiliate links and I will get a small percentage from your purchase.
Your shopping helps keep my little blog afloat and I’m so thankful! 
  1. Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Creme // Target // Amazon
  2. Honest Company Organic Healing Balm // Target // Amazon
  3. Beautycounter Countermatch Adaptive Skin Lotion // Beautycounter
  4. Beautycounter Baby Daily Protective Balm // Beautycounter
  5. Beautycounter Calming Diaper Rash Cream // Beautycounter
  6. Honest Company Diaper Rash Cream // Target // Amazon

Four years and lots of trial and error later, we’ve got a great arsenal of products that we love for our littles and love to recommend! We probably have about a year left of diaper life (seriously, that went by fast) so the diaper cream won’t hang with us much longer, but the others are here to stay. Both of my kids have eczema like me, but have been totally clear for about a year with a few small patches here or there. It is a lot easier to maintain a healthy skin barrier than treat an already broken one with eczema, so I always recommend keeping that in mind when developing your kids’ skincare rhythm. Maintaining skin barrier is the goal!

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  1. Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Creme // Target // Amazon This creme is super thick, goes on easily and doesn’t leave a greasy feel. We use it all over on the kiddos after bath time and twice a day in the winter when the temps are cold and cheeks are chapped, or after pool days when skin is dry after being in the pool water. This creme gets a 5 on the Think Dirty scale, 3/21 ingredients are considered “half n’ half” which show up in studies from 1999 has having potential “toxicity” or are known to be potential eye irritants.
  2. Honest Company Organic Healing Balm // Target // Amazon I got this when Lincoln was a newborn and had a really terrible diaper rash from Pampers diapers. I tried all the regular zinc creams and even a prescription cream from our ped, and this cleared it up within 24 hours. I was a believer immediately! We actually ended up switching to Honest diapers after that for a long time to keep his bottom clear, but this place earned a permanent place in my diaper bag (purse) and in each kid’s room. Cuts, scrapes, hangnails, pimples, etc. — it’s basically the Greek Man’s Windex. Some people have told me they had success with it treating their eczema but I did not have that luck, sadly. I still love it anyway. IMG_0040
  3. Beautycounter Countermatch Adaptive Skin Lotion // Beautycounter Once you’ve tried something from the Countermatch line you just keep trying more from the Countermatch line. When I became a consultant I got a free giant bottle of this moisturizer that I love, so I just stuck it in the kids’ bathroom for hands before bedtime, etc. It became our go to for warmer weather moisturizer. It’s lightweight, not greasy, and totally smells delicious. I’m always very cautious when introducing a new product, even a “safe” one, to my kids and their skin love this. Definitely keeping it on the kids’ shelf! Their hands are little so it’ll last forever. My eczema is significantly better on my hands since being on Dupixent, but this stuff brings life back to my hands within minutes if I’ve overdone water exposure. You can read about the Countermatch technology above– it’s truly amazing. LRG_DSC09840
  4. Beautycounter Baby Daily Protective Balm // Beautycounter // This balm is everything that loves my skin rolled into one. After doing a pretty intense “elimination diet” so to speak for my skin, I found that my skin loves jojoba oil, shea butter and sunflower seed oil. This balm contains all of these things and other great things! We use it for extra diaper help, chapped lips, dry patches, inside my nose (TMI?), an extra boost for eczema hands, etc. It’s truly a wonder. I got it at the tail end of my breastfeeding journey with Em and it was a lifesaver for chapped nips and TOTALLY safe for baby mouths. Recommend 10 out of 10!
  5. Beautycounter Calming Diaper Rash Cream // Beautycounter //  This is new to my arsenal, but it worked literally overnight. We tried a new “clean” brand of diapers and my daughter’s bum did not like them. This cream + the daily balm above cleared it up literally overnight. IMG_0049
  6. Honest Company Diaper Rash Cream // Target // Amazon // This has been my go to diaper rash cream (think zinc) for years. I also think it smells like Fruit Loops and I love that about it. Weird? Probably. Pleasant? Definitely. We keep one of these in the diaper bag and one of the BC tubes upstairs. A great, clean, safe choice if you’re at the store and need something for your baby’s bum.

October Eczema Awareness month. Read more about it on the National Eczema Association website here: https://nationaleczema.org/eczema-awareness-month/.

Comment below with any questions, shoot me an email or message me on Insta!

What We Ate Wednesday: October 3 – 9

In case you missed it, I posted the first of these bad boys last Wednesday and it was AWESOME. This week’s is not so exciting as I was gone for dinner several nights, which is not the norm. When I have been home though I’m getting back into the groove of cooking which I really really love. I also planned out meals for the whole month for the first time in my life and it’s been SO great! At the end of the month I’ll share the whole list.

Whatever Wednesday: 

Last week I went to Charleston with my friend Jonelle for a Beautycounter workshop (and other general fun having shenanigans) and I’m not sure what exactly Marshall and the kids had for dinner on Wednesday but I think it was Five Guys. Lincoln gets a little cheeseburger from there with just cheese and a side of pickles. When I go, Em and I share the burger in the form of a bowl. She loves the ground beef, tomato and mushrooms. Also: FRIES.

We had the most amazing grits in Charleston… twice. I had the pork belly grit bowl from Hominy Grill and then later that night I had pimento cheese grits from Fleet Landing. 

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Three Piece Thursday: 

I really hate how lame the name of this is, but basically the goal is to just cook a meat and two sides. We had shredded chicken from the instant pot, broccoli and rice I think. I did not take a picture. It was not super interesting, but it did sustain us long enough to live another day. So, a win.

Fun Friday:

I got called into a birth! I was lucky enough to meet up with one of my best friends in Winston Salem and her daughter at PDQ before baby was born. I have no idea what my family ate for dinner. I had 5 grilled tenders, fries and honey mustard because they have the best honey mustard in the world.

Pizza Saturday:

Normal gluten free cheese pizza for the kiddos, 4 Meat Aldi pizza for the husband and I tried a GF cauliflower crust from Trader Joes and it was pretty awesome. I’ve never had cauliflower crust before and I loved it. I added some basil pesto sauce from Aldi, grass fed cheddar from Aldi, and pineapple (from, you guessed it…) and it was SO good. Would eat again. Many times. Over and over.

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Snacky Dinner Sunday: 

I missed this too! I normally don’t plan anything for Sunday evenings but I had the opportunity to do a brand shoot for a friend and I ended up having a bowl of Multigrain Cheerios with almond milk for dinner. It was not very exciting but I just wanted to go to bed and I can’t fall asleep if my belly is hungry.

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Salad and Smoothie Monday:

Asian salad night! Normally we add the salad mix to a bed of greens but the greens had gone bad and I didn’t know until I opened the box! Salads were a little slim but we compensated with our green smoothies (check out The Lazy Genius’ guide to smoothie making– changed everything for me). Shredded pork was a pork butt in the instant pot. Part of my flow is to cook several pounds of meat on Monday that is not seasoned to reuse throughout the week for many meals. If it is shredded chicken or pork, I’ll use my kitchen aid mixer to shred and add whatever seasoning after the fact. This pork got doused with some yummy ginger salad dressing (from Aldi… do you sense a pattern here?) and salt. I added some chopped apples and I would give it an A+. IMG_8938

Taco Tuesday Pot Roast Tuesday: 

I rescheduled tacos for Thursday to accommodate some friends that are coming over for dinner, and cooked my favorite Instant Pot meal ever. Wellness Mama’s Pot Roast is my JAM. We started out following the recipe to a T, but now we do the really lazy delicious version:  cube the meat, over season with Italian seasoning,  sauté for a few minutes until brown, add 1 cup of broth to the pot and push the meat/poultry button. I think it cooked for 45 minutes + pressurizing times. I roasted baby carrots in avocado oil in the oven at 425 the whole time the roast cooked and made  cauliflower mash (faux mashed potatoes) and my favorite shortcut baked apples in the microwave. I actually made the mash differently than I ever had and it turned out really good! I am trying to stop using the steam-in bag veggies in the microwave (suddenly I’m freaked about chemicals in those… long story) so I cooked two bags of frozen cauliflower in a stock pot on the stove. I added avocado oil and probably 1 cup of bone broth (Trader Joe’s version!) to the pot of cauliflower with a lid and let it steam them, I added salt, garlic salt and two tablespoons of Kerrygold butter once they were cooked and broke them apart with a wooden spoon. I got out the immersion blender and blended them until they were the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Seriously, pot roast + mashed potatoes + carrots is my ultimate favorite meal of all life. Can’t wait for leftovers.

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Up next: 
Sweet Potato Hash
Taco Bar Thursday
Tilapia Nachos
Breakfast for Dinner Saturday
Dinner at my in laws on Sunday

Giveaway: Financial Peace University

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On June 16, 2017 we made my last student loan payment EVER and became DEBT FREE (except for the house)! It was crazy. It still feels kinda crazy. Some things have MAJORLY changed, a lot of things haven’t, but the fact that we paid off $96k of debt, including my seemingly insurmountable mountain of private school loan debt kind of blows my mind.

It took us six years to do it, we both worked several jobs simultaneously, we cash flowed a lot of house projects and births of babies, but we did it. And we are totally normal people with normal people jobs!

The whole thing was Dave Ramsey’s idea. His Financial Peace University course changed everything for us. We were given the class as a gift when we got married and one week into our marriage we were sitting in class, making our budget together. It truly completely changed the trajectory of our lives. I am so thankful we had the opportunity to do the course and I am so excited to give the opportunity away to somebody else!

Here’s all the details from Uncle Dave’s website:

Your Financial Peace University membership includes:

  • Access to nine online video lessons, plus online tools, community and financial coaches
  • Subscription to EveryDollar Plus, our premium budgeting tool
  • Member workbook for all nine lessons
  • NEW! Dave Ramsey’s 6-lesson course, The Legacy Journey 
  • NEW! Smart Money Smart Kids 6-lesson course 

Take the course with a local group near you or online at home!

What is Financial Peace University?

Financial Peace University is a proven program that will show you how to master budgeting, save for emergencies, pay off debt, plan and invest for the future, and live and give like no one else. Start your membership and get everything you need to work the program: 

  • Transform how you handle money with courses taught by Dave Ramsey and his team of financial experts. 
  • Watch your progress skyrocket with our suite of digital tools and EveryDollar Plus.
  • Get answers to your specific money questions by one of our trusted financial coaches.
  • Stay motivated from others walking the same journey by joining a local, in-person group. 

Okay, so the giveaway!

TWO WAYS TO ENTER! 

  1. Share this blog post with a friend or family member. Comment on this post and tell me what you would do with your life if you were debt free and who you shared the post with! 

  2. Tag a friend on the Instagram post and in your comment tell me what you would do with your life if you were debt free! 

OFFICIAL RULES: Each individual can enter up to five times on each platform (a total of 10 entries). This giveaway is open worldwide and ends Tuesday, October 9th at 12:00PM Eastern Time. Giveaway is in no way affiliated with Instagram, WordPress or Dave Ramsey. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Wednesday, October 10th, 2018. 

Let the debt free times roll!

What We Ate Wednesday: The First One!

 

It’s possible I hyped up this blog post a little too much, my pictures aren’t quite as exciting as I remember them being when I took them BUT. What we ate Wednesdays. It’s a thing. It’s happening! This is the first one and the bar is set low my friends, so come back in one week.

I’m not a full week in yet because we’ve spent the last week or so traveling (and a hurricane before that) but next week. It’s on! Eating Paleoish at home! It really is possible.

A little food background for me and why we eat like we do: I don’t have any diagnosed food allergies. I’ve done the testing and I’m not allergic to anything food wise. I have not done a food sensitivity blood panel though, but based on my elimination dieting in the past few years I have a good idea of what is good for me and what isn’t. 

I’ve always had eczema but it got really awful (Topical Steroid Withdrawal style) in 2014 so in 2015 I went paleo and did autoimmune paleo and figured out what foods work well for me and what don’t. Outside of the paleo framework I haven’t done an extensive reintroduction with different grains, but in general I tolerate most gluten free grains, goat’s milk products, and occasional conventional cow dairy. For the past year I’ve been living ON THE EDGE out of pure exhaustion and laziness but I’m slowly coming out of it. Meal prepping healthy meals just wasn’t realistic for me in the season of new motherhood of two and now that I’m totally done breastfeeding (and not as hungry ha!) and am in a little bit more control over my schedule/sleep I’m getting back into it! And honestly feeling so great. I literally feel well, and I feel GOOD about eating better and serving healthier meals to my family. A win win!

Both my kids have sensitive skin and eczema (but are clear right now and have been for most of their lives!) so we avoid gluten totally for Emmeline (we’ve trial and errored and it gives her belly pain and unhappy poops) and most dairy. Lincoln tolerates a little gluten here and there but he has a patch of eczema on his face that pops up when he’s crossed the threshold of too much. End background, resume blog post. 

Our current meal rhythm is helping me so much. I hate being locked into a plan but I also NEED a plan or we throw it all away at Chick Fil A or Chipotle. Every time.

The rhythm right now is kind of boring, but we are loving the parameters. It is really fun deciding what kind of tacos to eat on a Tuesday instead of WHAT OF ALL THE MEALS WE’VE EVER EATEN SHOULD WE EAT ON TUESDAY? Ya feel me?

Mondays: salads + smoothies
Tuesdays: tacos
Wednesdays: whatever
Thursdays: three piece
Fridays: nachos or soup
Saturdays: pizza or brinner
Sundays: snacky dinner

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Pizza Saturday: Frozen pizzas, my friends! Usually with carrot sticks and/or cucumbers but this weekend we had apple slices because… we had apples slices. We’ve tried like all the different gluten free pizzas around, but the cheese pizza from Aldi is our jam. I buy two cheese pizzas for me and the kids and we usually have a few little pieces leftover, and the kids love it. Marshall likes the regular people four meat pizza that’s like a $1.99 at Aldi and ta-da! Saturday night. I love made up holidays and little family rituals and Saturday pizza nights feel SO weekend to me and give us a break from cooking. Also, once I get all the way back paleo it will be easy to swap out my cheese pizza for a paleo crust sans cheese, etc.

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Snacky Dinner Sunday: This is our favorite! We’ve done this for years, and it’s become so much fun now that both kids are eating real food. We usually buy some fun meats and cheeses from Aldi and then just throw out all the fruit, crackers and any other snacky things we have laying around. I was inspired by Jen Hatmaker’s book, Seven and Andy Crouch’s The Tech-Wise Family to light candles a few weeks ago and we had our own little special Sabbath. Again, I’m a sucker for family rituals and I love this Sunday one. We’ve usually been serving at church all day, and had weird naps and dinner on the living room floor is a great regrouping before heading upstairs for bath and bedtime. I think I like most that it will grow as the kids grow and turn into a family meeting. We try to talk about our week ahead but Lincoln and Emmeline just get louder when we try to talk to each other.

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Salad + Smoothie Monday: This week was the southwest salad mix + mixed greens and plain chicken meat from a whole chicken I cooked in the Instant Pot. Back in my best paleo days I made a weekly whole chicken for broth and used the meat for soup, nachos, lunches, etc. so I’m trying to get back into the habit of cooking a whole chicken on the reg. The kids don’t like salad so much so we throw their greens into the blender for green smoothies and we just started making ones for ourselves too. The salad comes with tortilla strips, cheese and buffalo ranch. I passed on the cheese and ranch and used our vegan ranch and added a little Sriracha on top! It was excellent. A little spicy but the smoothie (greens trio + mango + pineapple + coconut water + almond milk) was an excellent compliment.

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Taco Tuesday: Every Tuesday is taco Tuesday. And so it shall be forever! Last night we had ground beef tacos, which we almost NEVER do and I was ready to use a GF wrap from Aldi but then I ended up just eating the insides and it was amazing. I added avocado and goat cheese, diced tomatoes and greens and it was so filling and so flavorful, I could not stop talking about what a great job I did cooking. And by cooking, I mean remembering to thaw out the meat in an appropriate time and cooking it in the frying pan for like 10 minutes and throwing some spices on it. I ended up filling up my bowl twice and couldn’t quite get a photo of it full either time. Marshall ate his with cheddar cheese and regular flour tortillas, and we made the kids quesadillas with the ground beef and goat cheese. Lincoln requested a little cheddar be added to his and Emmeline ate all of hers without any complaint (she never really complains) and ate an entire avocado and a half because she is the best ever. Sidenote: my go to “taco seasoning” is some of the following: paprika, garlic salt, salt, oregano, onion powder.

Coming up!

Wednesday: I’m out of town, Lincoln picks! Most likely will be Five Guys.
Three Ingredient Thursday: Egg Roll in A Bowl
Fun Friday: Nachos
Saturday: Brinner