An Uncomplicated Life Blog: 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

Weekend Getaway In Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a wonderful city for a weekend getaway, but you'll need to stay longer to see everything


We took off for a long weekend in Santa Fe a few weekends ago. Hubs was turning 40 on Mother's Day, and we hadn't taken a kid-free trip in over two years (!!!) so my mom flew into town to watch the kiddos and we escaped. It turns out, it's a WONDERFUL place to go for a weekend getaway! If we'd have had more kid free time, I'd have loved to stay longer. For a town of about 65,000 people, there's a ton to do.


Let me preface this by saying I've never been to a desert before. You have to fly into Albuquerque (which I still can't spell - thank goodness for autocorrect and spell check!) and I have to say... I was entirely underwhelmed with that city. There's sand everywhere and it's so monochromatic. The weather was nice but that's about the only kind thing I can say about Albuquerque. Santa Fe is about an hour into the mountains, and the further you got from Albuquerque, the prettier it got!

We stayed at the Inn of the Turquoise Bear and I absolutely recommend it! The two innkeepers are fantastic and cater to any need you may have. There's gourmet breakfasts every morning and a wine happy hour at 5. All the guests hang out together for breakfast and happy hour and genuinely love chatting and hearing about everyone's day. Seriously, don't look at any other lodging, just stay here. (I'm not being paid to say this and I paid full price for my room - it's just THAT good!)




We took a trip out to Bandelier which was a perfect half day event. It's about an hour out of Santa Fe and we hiked for about an hour and a half. It's a historic site where you can see (and actually go into) caves that the natives used to live in in the Frijoles canyon. Pro tip: Remember that you're 7,000 feet up and need to wear sunscreen even when it's 65 degrees.



On Mother's Day (and hubs' actual birthday) we got massages at 10,000 Waves Spa and I have to say, it's one of the most beautiful spas I've ever seen. It's built into the mountain side and so tranquil! Beware though; there are TONS of stairs. You basically have to earn your spa stay with a good hike first!

Santa Fe is built around a town square. In the square, independent artists and merchants set up their wares and crafts for sale. Bands play music and people hang out. Then surrounding the square, there are tons of shops, galleries and restaurants. We were there for four days and never went to the same place twice, nor did we get to see everything! Everything is walkable, and the town is historic (it's the first settlement in the U.S - even before Plymouth - settled by the Spanish in the 1600s).



If you're looking for sunshine, mild temperatures, art, good food,  and friendly people I highly suggest taking a weekend getaway to Santa Fe! Stay longer if you can, because you won't run out of things to do or good restaurants to check out. There are day hikes to go on, shops and endless galleries. It's the perfect getaway location.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Teaching Kids To Love Water

National Learn to Swim day is the third Saturday in May! Teach your kids to love the water by learning to swim early

This post was sponsored by SwimWays as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.


I'm pretty sure Henry was born with a love for water. All things water. I remember the first time I took him to a friend's pool, he jumped in fearlessly and I had to jump in after him because he was only 6 months old and couldn't swim! He just went for it, and came up laughing. Otto, on the other hand, is more reserved about water. He hangs back when we turn the sprinkler on, and clings to me when we do play dates at pools. Whether your kid is a natural like Henry or more timid like Otto, Swim Ways promotes water safety and even founded National Learn to Swim Day in 2012.


Clearly, Dallas isn't near a body of water. Heck, I don't even think there's a natural lake here! But pools are abundant. Most people have in ground pools; while we don't, we do have a huge blow up pool with waist deep water for the kids to play in. With the heat we get here, it's the only way to enjoy being outside from late May through September. Because of the "pool scene", water safety is SO important to me. Even more so with my fearless Henry! And I want Otto to become comfortable in a pool, too.

SwimWays has this cool baby float for kiddos 9-24 months. It folds easily into a small carry case, and then pops open. You blow up the two floats and there's a seat for your babe to hang out in. It also comes with a canopy that has a 50SPF factor, which is awesome to shield Otto from the harsh Texas heat. And the best part? Target has them fully stocked both in store and online, so no need to go to a specialty store to find it.


Speaking of Texas heat, we haven't had any this year. It's so strange to be in pants and long sleeves in mid May! One day it got to the mid 80's and Henry was gun-ho to get the pool out. I thought it'd be warm enough, but as we started to fill it with (freezing) hose water, the sun went away and the kids started to shiver with blue lips! So they got to splash in ankle deep water, but by the time the pool was filled we had to go in and take a hot bath to warm up. Of course, Henry was willing to stay in the pool indefinitely but Otto? He was ready to get the heck outta dodge.


I'm super excited to use this baby spring float canopy when/if (!!!) summer ever arrives here. Henry will play endlessly in water, but Otto will be able to relax in it. The water is too deep for him to sit on the bottom of our pool, and this will enable him to relax and start to get more comfortable in water. And when we go to our friend's with in-ground pools, it will give me more confidence as I attempt to manage two boys in deep water!

Water safety is important where ever you live and however old your children are. Want to learn more about SwimWays Teach Me to Swim initiative? Check this out, and make sure you keep your family safe with proper water safety knowledge this summer pool (or lake) season.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Be Back Thursday!

Hey y'all, I'm likely in the air coming back from a mini-vacay as you read this, so no post today! I'll see you Thursday with some fresh content and some cute pics of baby belly's (not mine; baby belly meaning of my kids!) in swim suits, mmmmk?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Time Saving App For Busy Parents

The Sam's Club app saves you time and money!


Thanks to Sam's Club for sponsoring this post. All opinions and images are my own.

Ever feel like there is just not enough time in the day? You run from place to place, checking items off your to-do list but it never seems to get smaller. Things come up that throw off your schedule, a kid gets sick or has a melt-down and you have to carry over various errands to the next day. And on and on, right? One of the best things about being a 21st century mom is the access to technology to help us. More specifically, time saving apps for busy parents that give you back precious hours to your day.

Check out this app that can save you tons of time shopping and deliver goods to your home

I know most women love to shop. I kinda wish I were one of them, but I'm pretty sure my husband is glad I'm not. Either way, shopping still takes up the bulk of my "errand running" time. I go to an all organic store for my fruits, veggies and meats but I can't get my diapers there. I go to another store for laundry detergent and toothpaste. And I go to Sam's Club for diapers, crackers and other large items we use a lot of regularly. I have a feeling when my boys are 8 and 9 years old, I'll do most of my grocery shopping there (they have so many organic options!) because my kids will eat me out of house and home otherwise, but for now, I have three stores to go to weekly and it feels like it takes forever.

Anyone else have the multiple stop shopping situation I have?



I just learned about the Sam's Club app. You download it (free!) and create your account. Then you can do all your shopping within the app. You can do it in bed before you go to sleep, you can do it at the park on a play date, whenever. You can get everything, from groceries to diapers to electronics - anything Sam's Club sells! Then schedule your pick up (or delivery - DELIVERY!) and they have your order waiting for you. Want to learn more? Check it out here! Want to sign up? Get a $10 credit here!

I scheduled a delivery right before I got the kids from preschool, since Sam's Club is on the way. I pulled up, and my cart of goods was ready for me! I threw it in my car and was on my way again in less than 5 minutes. That trip would have taken me a solid half hour, but I was able to narrow it down to about 3 minutes of pick up/load time and less than 5 minutes on the app.



This time saving app means I get to spend more free time with my kiddos! Instead of dragging them around on all the errands I typically have to run, we were able to hang out in our backyard and blow up our bounce house. Seriously, even if you just have a small yard, you should get one of these. (Pssst - you can get them at Sam's Club!) Our kids bounce out all their energy and fall asleep in minutes after playing in this thing. 

Fewer errands, happier kids and more playtime? Yup. Go download this time saving app, busy parents!

Monday, May 8, 2017

3 Misconceptions Of Viral Blog Posts

Viral blog posts are exciting, until they're not


I don't often blog about blogging anymore. Mostly, I feel like I've come to a place where I now know what I don't know, and don't really feel like I'm the person to share "blogging how to's" or any "wisdom." This post isn't so much a "how to make your blog post go viral" because honestly, a lot of that is luck and timing which can't be outlined in ten easy steps. More so, this post is about what it's like when it does happen. And about the three biggest misconceptions bloggers have about what it will be like to have viral content on the internet.

I feel like every blogger is chasing that dream; having a post get shared all over the internet. Tens of thousands of page views. Fame, fortune, and whatever else misguided perception the blogger has of going viral. But I assure you, that is NOT what it's like.

Every blogger dreams of a viral blog post. This blogger breaks down what it's ACTUALLY like!

I've had three posts go viral in my three years of blogging. All of them were written last year, but didn't gain traction for six to 12 months. That's the first misconception bloggers have - that it will instantly be the greatest blog post anyone has ever read, and immediately go viral. Nope! Sometimes, things take a while. Sometimes, they take a long while. All three times, I've looked at my page views on google analytics and thought, "when the heck did I write that again? Wait, why is it getting popular NOW? That crap is a year old! Why did it take so long for people to find it?"

The second misconception on viral blog posts bloggers have is that it will go viral because people LIKE it. Because they think it's great. All of my posts that have garnered tens upon tens of thousands of views have gotten negative comments. People were confused by the title of this post, so most comments were supportive on the actual post after people read it. Well... Most. There were a few bizarre or nasty remarks. But as we all know, idiots people on social media comment without actually reading what they're commenting on, and man did I get some hateful things said to me!

The final misconception that bloggers have about viral blog posts is that they'll know what people are saying and thinking about the post. This last one is actually what inspired me to write this post. In the past two weeks, I've had people share my content on Facebook that drove about 30k hits to my site. I could tell what two posts they'd shared, and that it was coming from Facebook, but I couldn't tell who had shared it, I couldn't see the actual post that they had created on social media and I had no idea if what they were saying about me and my blog was favorable or not. It drove me nuts that I couldn't see that! I couldn't even detect WHO had shared it. That's the weird thing about being a blogger; once you hit publish, your content is out there. People can do with it as they please. It's really weird when you know that people are talking about you and your content - a LOT of people - but you have absolutely no idea what they're saying.

I'm not sure why bloggers are in love with the idea of viral posts. Perhaps because they sound good. A lot of people see your content, read your words. You assume it's because they love it or support it or support you. But that's not the case. Or, I should say, it's not likely the case. Even for my posts that are largely popular because people agree or support it, they're are tons of negative comments too. Sometimes, you legitimately have no clue if it's going viral out of love or hate! There's a lot of misconceptions of viral content in the blogging world. My best advice? Be careful what you wish for!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

An Alternative To Dryer Sheets

Check out this all natural and nontoxic alternative to traditional chemical-filled dryer sheets


Have you ever thrown a dryer sheet in the dryer and it left a greasy feeling on your finger tips, and you wondered, "what IS that?" Or you accidentally buy a new/different scent and all you do all day is smell that smell? You know, like ALL day? Well my friends, fabric softeners and fragrances that linger that long aren't normal things. Scientists have worked for years to develop formulas that "soften" your clothes the most, and to introduce scents that "last" the longest. And those formulas sit on your largest organ, all day long. And your largest organ (your skin, if you were curious) absorbs those formulas, all day long. So if you want an alternative to the dryer sheets a chemist has concocted, check out these alternative dryer sheets.


Yup, wool balls. Really scientifically advanced, right? The thing is, they WORK. And no scientist had to manipulate or create something that will sit on your skin all day. But how does something so simple work so well that you'll not only cut out the chemicals in dryer sheets, you'll be drying your clothes about 25-ish percent less?

The balls work to separate your clothes while they're in the dryer, allowing for more air and more heat to travel through the fabric. You use three of these XL-sized wool balls for each load. The weight of the wool works to pull apart the shirts, socks, towels and underwear that would otherwise clump together in wetness. Your laundry gets dryer faster that way, and you're able to save more energy with faster loads.


Still want your clothes to "smell good"? No problem, add some essential oils to the wool! Add a few drops of your favorite oil (I use lavender/pine and lavender/Citrus Fresh as my combination of choice, but you could use whatever combinations please you) and let it absorb into the wool for 10 minutes or so. The more it absorbs into the wool ball, the slower it's released to your clothes, and just like a Crockpot, low and slow is what you're going for here. Then dry as you normally would.


Like I mentioned, your clothes will get dryer faster, and you don't want to over dry your clothes because 1) why waste the energy? and 2) excessive heat and air degrades the quality of your fabrics faster, so it's best to pull them out of the dryer just when they're dry. I'm still working on this concept, because while I've gotten the timing down so that I don't roast my clothes, it's a whole different matter to actually get them out of the dryer and fold them before they wrinkle, amirite? Ugh, working on it!

Wool dryer balls dry your clothes faster and don't contain chemicals like dryer sheets

I think my favorite part of these alternative to dryer sheets is the price point. You get three reusable balls for less than $13. A box of Bounce dryer sheets, which clearly aren't reusable, is $10. So you nearly break even right off the bat! Wool dryer balls, especially scented with essential oils, is a great investment in the health of you, your skin, and the environment.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Best Athleisure Clothes On Amazon

This is the best collection of yoga apparel available on Amazon, with free two day shipping!


I've talked about my love for athleisure more than a few times. I also love a good yoga or barre workout. Whether you're wearing these items for an actual workout, for a workout followed by some errands, or you have no intention of working out but want to be comfortable all day, these are some of the most fashionable athleisure trends on Amazon! Free two day shipping for Prime members. If you're in Dallas or another major city, you can even have it on your door step in a few hours. Oh, and these are name brands - not one off brands you've never heard of! The quality is superior, and you'll have it for years. Yes, even if you never go to a yoga class in them!

Amazon has brand name athleisure workout clothes with free 2 day shipping
Now if you are into actually working out, you gotta check out my roundup of best water bottles to keep your water (or other beverages) cold this summer! It has all price points. And if you want a cup to keep your rose cold while on a picnic, I don't judge. Ok, back to athleisure:

Leggings:

Lucy Women's Hatha Capri Legging - The shorter length of this capris is perfect for spring and summer. But the best part? The stitching on this pant is so flattering! Lucy exaggerated the seams going up and down the length of the capris to make your legs look longer and added some diagonal stitching around the mid section to make your waist look smaller, which is especially great if you're pairing these with the trendier crop tops.

Lululemon Align Pant 7/8 Yoga Pant - I've talked about this one on my social media before. It's HANDS DOWN my favorite yoga pant on the planet. The high waist tucks everything in and smooths it out, the length is perfect (no matter your height) to wear any shoe with it and the fabric is light and breathable enough to wear in the summer, even with the longer length. 


Tanks:

Lorna Jane Pursuit Excel Tank Top - besides the obvious (that this tank is super cute!) I'm loving the mesh detail at the collar bone. It's longer, so if you want to keep that tummy covered you're in good shape, but it doesn't compromise style with the draping in the back.

Lululemon Cardio Squad Tank II - if you know me in real life, you've seen me in this tank because I wear it all. the. time. It's loose enough to be comfortable, short enough to be trendy, and the extra large arm holes serve two purposes: a) it makes the tank more breathable and airy and b) you can show off the cute sports bra you have under it! Need cute(r) options? I got you:

Sports bras:

Lucy Women's Om Bra - I love the double strap detail, and all the crisscrossing in the back not only looks good with open backed shirts, it helps distribute the weight of your chest if you happen to be larger chested.

Lorna Jane Skye Sports Bra - this one is just plain cute! I'd wear only it to a barre class or running outside in the summer heat... You know, on a "skinny day." Don't judge. The neck detail makes your shoulders look broader and it carries around to the back, making it a cute, sturdy piece.

Shirts:

Lucy Long Sleeve Workout Tee - this one is just a great, basic staple that's available in any color. The scoop neck is flattering yet still modest enough to wear with kids (maybe it's just my boys, but they tug down my shirts on the daily) and the biggest bonus? The sleeves are long enough!

Athleisure is big right now. But if you're a mom, it's been big and will stay big! If you're into working out, it's been big and will stay big. If you like being comfortable, same thing. Amazon carries some of the best brands in athleisure, so I created this one stop shop for you to get your fitness/comfy/spandex on.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Only Chicken Marinade You'll Need All Summer

This ultra simple marinade makes the BEST grilled chicken and works in any dish!


You're probably not going to believe me. I'm not sure if I'd believe it either, had I not tried it first. But this is, hands down no questions, the BEST marinade for grilled chicken on the face of the planet. What I like best about it is that is just makes the chicken taste GOOD. Not like anything in particular, just really flavorful. You could make this and add it to just about anything - top off a Greek salad with this grilled chicken, make it the main dish with a veggie side, or add it to this lemon-thyme pasta salad recipe I created a few weeks ago. It's so simple with only three ingredients, and just makes a great, flavorful chicken breast! (Or thigh or whatever piece of poultry you might have.)


What I like best about this marinade is it's simplicity. It's literally three ingredients. I think the simplicity is what makes it so good, and clearly what makes it so versatile. There's enough acidity in it to soften the meat, enough fat to add flavor and enough garlic to add taste, while none of these three things overpowers the other. My mom is the one who taught me this recipe. She said, "Oh, I have the best recipe for grilling chicken!" When she showed me what was in it, I was doubtful. And then I tried it.

One of the biggest things with this recipe is a charcoal grill. Now, of course you can make it on a gas grill, but why for the love of anything holy anyone uses a gas grill is beyond me! Unless you're using a gas grill with wood chips for smoke flavor. Then, ok, I get it. But other than that, I'll just cook the chicken on my fancy gas range and save me the trouble! Gas grills offer no flavor! This is the one we have. It's under $100 and holds more than enough meat and veggies for our family of four, and even for our family of 6 when our parents are in town. You just can't beat that price point and the flavor the charcoal adds to your food!


So now that we've established I'm anti-gas grilling, here's the super duper simple recipe:

The Only Chicken Marinade You'll Need All Summer

- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 lime, juiced (2 if it's not very juicy or if you're grilling more meat)
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

Peel the garlic by using the flat side of a large knife "smashing" it with your palm. Don't chop up the garlic any more; small garlic chunks burn on the grill and turn really bitter. Juice the lime(s) with a juicer (these things are so great! My mom brought me it and I thought I'd never use it. Wrong, I use it all the time). Add the olive oil.




Salt and pepper your chicken breasts (or other cut/poultry meat) and add to the marinade. Let sit for at least an hour. If marinading for longer, place back in the fridge. I personally like to let it sit for 2-3 hours so the acid from the limes can soften the meat. Grill until just done (length depends on climate and thickness of the chicken) and let rest for 5 minutes before serving or slicing.

This simple chicken marinade has only 3 ingredients and is so tasty!

Like it? Pin it!

Enjoy! This versatile marinade is the only one you'll need for any dish, all summer grilling season long. Add it to salads, pastas, quinoa dishes or grill up some veggies and have it as the main dish. Delicious.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Currently

I wrote this weekend update post on our Easter shenanigans, but it's been a hot minute since I just broke it down and told y'all the happenings and life stories around here, no restrictions to just a holiday weekend. So this is what's been going down lately. Actually, in all honesty, I wanted to have the world's BEST chicken marinade recipe for you today, but it's been nonstop storming, hailing, cold and generally terrible in Dallas and I wasn't able to grill outside to get it all photographed purty for you. Hopefully that will make it to the blog Thursday! Honestly, it's so good and goes with whatever you're making.

Watch for that post, but in the interim, here's life:

POTTY TRAINING:
Is a fu**ing nightmare. I think some kids just get it and others need to be asked if they want to sit on the potty 30 times a day. My child is the latter. Plus, he'll never actually go for me. We'll sit and hang out and nada. But he'll go for our nanny and he only uses the toilet at school. In fact, I'm going to buy him some underwear to wear to school, he's doing so well there! Which will likely mean he'll pee all over my car on the way there or home. Sigh. He's three next month y'all. And I get to do all of this again in 6-12 months with Otto. Oh, the joy.

Trying to potty train the one with the cowlick

WEARING:
Natural deodorant! Yes, I found one that works - this one! And not just the day you shower and apply it. This stuff works after 3+ days of no shower, 3+ days of hot yoga/barre workouts, and 3+ days of pushing a double stroller to a park 7 blocks away up some of the steepest hills in Texas in 90 degree heat. So, I'd say it's a complete winner! I got the lime and Bergamot scent because I was sold at the word "lime." I mean, have you seen this post, this post or this post? LEMONSSSS AND LIMESSSSSSSS.

Unsurprisingly, I'm also wearing nonstop "athleisure" attire. Even though I shouldn't be yoga pants clad, as you'll see in my next point. But y'all, these yoga pants are the BEST. High waisted to tuck everything in, the material breathes so they're not hot, and the length can be worn with literally any shoe. Amazing.

SLACKING:
On my workouts. I'm only doing yoga or barre and only 4 times a week. I'm just not feeling anything hardcore, which is perfect because it's already bikini season here *face palm*

WATCHING:
Nada. It's like everything is in between seasons right now. Little Big Lies was great, but ended a few weeks ago. House of Cards is coming out super late this year (May 17, FYI!) I haven't heard anything about OITNB coming back for another season. GoT usually comes out in April and nope, not this year. Home Town, on HGTV, is kinda cute but the wife also kinda really annoys me with the "trying to be cute" faces she makes, so I'm not 100% sold on that one. What are y'all watching that's good? I'm not super into TV, but I do like to have one show that I consistently watch and can get into weekly.

How we spent last summer. Awwww, baby Otto!

THINKING:
"Ohhhhh crap whyyyyyyyyyyy" because we only have three weeks until school is out for the summer. Three weeks until I have to get pretty creative on what we do all afternoon, because it's just too hot to walk to the park but the splash pad isn't open yet. Beeteedubs, why don't the pools and splash pads open up earlier here? They open up on the same dates as they do in Minnesota, and it's blazing hot here. C'mon Texas. Wadupwitdat?

I'm starting to make up words, so I better end this writing sesh while I'm ahead. That's what's going on currently over here! Hope y'all are Monday'ing hard and have wonderful weeks.