In the scope of my role as a week day solo parent, weeknight dinner ideas can be a massive stumbling block for me. Even with Em having started pre-school this year, I manage to have it together when it comes to laying out the next day’s outfit and packing lunches in advance but dinner is where it tends to fall apart. With my schedule I need something quick and easy, but we’re pretty passionate about serving our toddler healthful, nutrition-packed meals. Because of that I was really excited to team up with my friends at Walmart and Yummy Spoonfuls to whip up three toddler proof weeknight dinner ideas you can make in advance or on the fly!
With a toddler in the house who now goes to pre-school every day, we had the fun opportunity to take a little extra family time over the long Columbus Day weekend and visit The Strong National Museum of Play in nearby Rochester. I lived in Rochester during my first couple of years out of graduate school and it’s probably my favorite city in Upstate New York because it is bustling with culture, food, music and art. At nearly three years old, Em was the perfect age for her first visit to The Strong where I can promise you we’ll be returning many times over!
We’re pretty crazy about where we live in New York. I’ve visited well over 30 states and a couple dozen countries, and I will confidently tell you that New York is one of the most stunning places in the world. We have rolling hills, the most incredible sunsets, huge apple orchards, majestic maple trees, and countless jewel-like lakes sprinkled throughout the state like confetti. We’re the home of two Great Lakes, the Adirondack mountains and the keeper of the Thousand Islands, one of the most astonishingly beautiful places you’ll find the world over.
Many years ago, I met a girl. She had this long brown hair and the cutest button nose and a fire in her soul that could light up the world. If you’ve spent any time with my family in the last couple of decades then you know her and how deeply important she is to me. She started as my sister’s best friend and quickly became my other little sister. Freakishly, when you look at photos of the three of us, most people actually assumes she’s our “real” sister. She is Aunt to my children, she is Sissy to me. She is my sister’s person and because of that I’ve been blessed to love her for all of these years. I couldn’t even say how many years it has been. There is no beginning nor end to our life with her fully entwined amongst the roots of our family tree. It simply feels like she has always been, like she was always meant to be.
My alarm went off for the first time at 4:30 this morning. The room was still dark, fans blowing every direction to keep the bedroom cool since our big old house is sadly want of central air. My husband slipped out of bed, reappearing briefly a bit later smelling of toothpaste and freshly applied deodorant to plant a kiss and whisper “I love you, baby” before he was off, still long before dawn. A couple of hours later I woke again to the sounds of a little voice calling for mommy through the baby monitor. I roused the dog who had climbed into her father’s spot on the bed shortly after he left it, and walked into the room next door to fetch a snuggly toddler still encased in blankets. And so, the day began.
Many of you have been following along with our boating adventures on Instagram this summer since we purchased our sweet old boat with the intention of living on it part-time a couple months ago. It has been a transformative experience for us since Bob and I both have a lot of wanderlust, but at this stage in our careers and with our kids being the ages that they are, extensive travel isn’t in the cards for us in this current season of life. Making the leap to live on a boat part-time in the summer months allows us to have some pretty incredible weekend adventures while feeding our souls and giving us a place to get away from the stress of daily life. We feel immensely fortunate to have made this huge longtime dream of ours come true, and over the last couple of months we’ve been working on figuring out little ways to make our life on the boat feel both simple and easy, but slightly luxurious, too. Today I’ve teamed up with my friends at Walmart to share how we’re living our best lives on our boat this summer! And if you’re wondering if I’m already dreading fall, that answer would be a resounding yes!
It’s been a minute since I last shared a baby update and somewhere along the way my baby morphed into a toddler without my ever slowing down to acknowledge that fact. Friends, this motherhood journey never fails to amaze me with how beautiful and hard it can be, all at the same time. Our little girl is now a little over two and half years old, and over the last six months she has grown and matured so much that it’s actually pretty emotional for me. I’m the mom who cries regularly (read: many times a week) over everything from how much I love my kid to how quickly she’s growing to how smart she is to how much of a pain in the ass she can be some days. (Let’s be honest with each other on that, ok?) At two and a half she still stays home with me full-time save for busy shoot or prep days when she’s generally with a sitter. This fall she’ll be starting pre-k (more on that later) so I am feeling really emotional now that we’re in the final stretch of this time where it’s just been Mommy and Bébé conquering the world. So here we are, at two and a half, full of spunk, melting down a few times a day and as obsessed as ever with her daddy, her big brothers and her puppy Harper.
Over my last decade of blogging I have had the incredible privilege of making friends with loads of amazingly talented people. The camaraderie and the community in this wild little industry of ours is what made me fall in love with blogging from the very beginning, way back in 2008 when I took at stab at writing my very first post. Melissa Coleman of The Faux Martha is one of those people. She’s a tiny little whisp of a lady with an impeccable eye, a knack for making delicious food and a brand new cookbook, The Minimalist Kitchen, among her credits. A couple months ago I received an advance copy of her book, which is now available for sale, and I can’t get enough of it. It’s loaded with tips for how to stock your pantry and your kitchen so you can make really delicious, wholesome meals without having to run out to the store for a bunch of exotic ingredients every time you cook. If your kitchen is anything like mine, it can get overrun with containers of this and cans of that, too many of which go bad before they ever get used. I’m absolutely going to spend some time revisiting those sections of Melissa’s book and purging my kitchen of a lot of the nonsense, because I hate unruly cupboards and that’s precisely how mine are looking and feeling at the moment.
This post has been a long time in coming. I’ve talked about my lifelong weight struggles before, but not with any consistency. Last year, I shared a post about why I don’t share photos of myself online that resonated with so many of you. In all, there were hundreds of comments here, on social media and via email. It blew my mind. It humbled me. It made me realize that I am so far from being alone in my internal battle to feel “good enough” despite my weight. I committed then that we would talk about this more. I pledged to try and push myself a bit to step out in front of the camera and to open up a dialogue. I haven’t done an exceptional job of that as of yet, but it’s something I am still passionate about doing. (But ultimately afraid of, too.) So here we are! Today we’re talking plus size fashion. Someday soon I want to talk more about weight in general (and how we’re all so paralyzed by it), some changes I’m starting to make in my own life and generally just get into some of this more. In the meantime, it’s all about my favorite places to shop for plus size clothing! I am such a clothes horse and lover of fashion, and while it’s certainly more difficult as a woman of a particular size, I’m still committed to looking and feeling my best at my current weight. Over the years I’ve developed a list of go-to shopping destinations and since I tend to get a lot of compliments on my wardrobe from women of all sizes, I thought it might be helpful to share some of my favorites with you! Any other favorites of your own? Sharing is caring, friends, chime in below!
Once upon a time, too many years ago, I went to elementary and eventually high school with a boy named Nick. Some time later, Nick married a sweet girl named Michelle and now after many moves between cities and careers, it just so happens that we are nearly-neighbors with houses around the corner from one another. I recently stumbled upon photos of Michelle and Nick’s incredible kitchen makeover and was really thrilled when Michelle was on board with sharing photos of their revamped space. What I love about the chic, modern boho vibe of their kitchen is the incredible use they made of such a small space, without dramatically altering the footprint. They opened up just one wall to create better flow into the dining room, and paired white upper cabinets and a classic subway tile backsplash with dark grout with black lower cabinets, for a look that is light and bright and cozy. Click through for all the details of this sweet little boho kitchen and visit Michelle’s blog Dreaming Home to see the before photos!
Easter is tomorrow, which doesn’t hardly seem possible, so I’m coming in hot at the last second with some last minute inspiration for your Easter dinner table! (Or your Easter brunch table for that matter.) I teamed up with my friend Briana of Pretty Little Vintage Co. to blend pieces from her amazing collection of vintage finds with basics I already had to create a modern, elegant dinner table that feels really chic and celebratory, but didn’t take a huge budget to pull together. (Pro tip! Rentals aren’t just for weddings and formal events. You can and should absolutely consider rentals for things like holiday dinners and parties, too!) Pretty blue floral vintage dessert plates were paired with very inexpensive white dinnerware, layered with cloth napkins and gorgeous vintage gold flatware to create the sweetest mix. Crystal wine glasses (which my mom snagged me as a gift on super clearance a couple years ago) are matched with blue cut glass goblets, and a field of mismatched brass candlesticks serves as the simplest of centerpieces. All in all, it’s a look that skips Easter pastels in exchange for a touch of elegance that would also serve perfectly for any dinner party.