An Uncomplicated Life Blog: 2017

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.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

When You Just Need A Break

Parents regularly need breaks they can't get. Here's how to sneak in a little you time!


This post is sponsored by Cafe Breaks. All opinions are my own.

I can't tell you how many times I just needed a few moments to myself. Maybe the kids were fighting over the same toy for a bit too long and had me playing referee for an hour too many; maybe my husband was on night three of his business trip and I was desperate to go to the bathroom alone for once; or maybe we were having a great day and I was just worn out from playing nonstop. The thing about being a mom is you don't get to run your own schedule. You get up when your kids are up and you come running when you're needed. But sometimes, you just need a little break!


Now that Otto is a little bit older, I feel comfortable leaving him in one room while I go to another. He usually follows me immediately (remember back in the first paragraph about how I often wish I could go to the bathroom alone? Yeah, that's a real thing. A thing that never happens... Oh, to be alone in the bathroom for once! But I digress...) Like I said, he usually follows me, as does Henry, but every so often they're so engrossed in whatever they're doing that I can catch a moment to myself. Those are always great moments for a breather.

But sometimes, I need a breather when nobody is giving me any space! Moms, I know you all know what I'm talking about. Heck, even if you're not a mom but have a clingy and/or particularly needy dog, you know what I'm talking about. What I do in those moments is escape to my closet. Nope, not even kidding a little bit. It's a large walk in, and wouldn't you know, there's a lock on the inside. Why there's a lock on the inside I'll never know, but I thank the person who put it there! Because I can go and sit amongst my clothes for a few seconds of peace.



If I'm feeling particularly fancy/desperate, I acknowledge that it's time not only for a quick breather, but a fast treat, too. Treat yo'self, right? I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I've always loved a little chocolate (it's built into the female chromosomes, I swear) and anything with caramel. Cafe Breaks is the perfect fast break treat. It's small enough to consume in a short amount of time (hey, this referee has to get back to her job before all hell breaks loose!) and just the right amount of sweet for a quick treat.

Wanna treat yo self? Check out this awesome sweepstakes!

Smiling in glee because I'm eating pudding by myself in my closet? Oh heck yes.
Being a mom is tough work. It's relentless. And sometimes, you just need a little break! A breather. Some fresh air. Some you time. Whether you lock yourself in a closet like me (there's absolutely no shame in it, I promise you!), you go for a quick walk or you treat yourself to a little something sweet, remember to take time out for yourself. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Weekend Update

It's been well over a year since I posted a weekend update! I've been sucked down the rabbit hole of SEO, creating pinnable images, improving photography, affiliates, etc etc blogging money making nonsense. I thought it'd be fun for just a good old fashioned, what-we've-been-up-to post. And low and behold, it was Easter this past weekend so I remembered to take some pictures!

Otto and Henry had their Easter egg hunt at school on Wednesday, since there was no school on Good Friday. As it would turn out, Henry is absolutely obsessed (using this word appropriately here) with Easter eggs. He wanted nothing to do with the candy inside (mega eye roll emoji) but his inner hoarder came out big time, and he loves to collect and attempt to carry as many of these pieces of plastic as possible.


He's on-trend for toddlerhood: The cheapest toy is always the best.

Otto was more relaxed about the whole egg thing, and was content to play with a random plastic egg whenever one would escape his brother's hands. I waved my long-hair-don't-care flag in the face of dental hygiene and allowed him to try some candy from one of the eggs, and he promptly spit it out and looked at me like I attempted to poison him.


We gave the boys their Easter baskets on Saturday because if you think for one moment that we could give them all that goodness on Sunday morning and expect to tear those toys from the death-grasp of their tiny hands to go to church, you'd be mistaken. This ain't my first rodeo; give those baskets the day before!

Except, we didn't make it to church. Otto woke up Sunday morning and was ON ONE, so we had to put him down for a nap right about the time we should have left. Oh well, there's always next year. Instead, I dyed eggs with Henry. He continued his egg obsession with pure fascination at the egg dying process. That egg dying kit set me back a whole $1.50, and you better believe I'm going to head there today to get all the leftover kits on sale for half off! Those will come in handy... Oh I don't know, ANYTIME I need him to entertain himself.


Then after Otto got up from a nap/mommy and daddy sanity time, we had an egg hunt in the backyard. We missed our neighborhood egg hunt by 30 minutes the weekend before, so we recreated our own. Again, the kids had no interest in eating the contents of said eggs, but the whopping $3 I spent on the plastic containers entertained for HOURS. Otto could have cared less about the whole thing, while (unsurprisingly) Henry went for the gold in egg hunting skills. I'm so glad he was into it, because otherwise I'd have had to get all the eggs I spread all over the yard. Otto just wanted to dig in the plants we recently planted. So, next year, I'll just get that kid some dirt, and he'll be happy as a clam in sand.



Hey, one kid wants a $1.50 dye kit and the other wants dirt. I think I'm winning at frugal parenting here.

I made a sun dried tomato-basil-mozzarella quiche that nobody ate (except hubs and myself) with a side salad. By 5pm, we were so sick of Otto's bad 'tude we cracked beers and wine, stared at each other with wide eyes remembering the awesomeness of our lives before we had kids and just called it a day. Jesus made wine right? So basically we were right on track with celebrating the season; one misbehaved toddler and one egg-obsessed one at a time. Cheers to a more conventional Easter next year!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

DIY Sleep Roller

Have a great night of rest by making this DIY roller that promotes sleep


If you've ever struggled to get a good night's sleep, you know how miserable it is. Tossing and turning, trying to finally find the most comfortable position. Mind wandering or racing. Trying not to look at the time to see the hours of sleep you could have gotten slip away. Ahhh, I know this feeling well! Turns out, I had some pretty bad sleep issues after Otto was born. I tried just about everything - Eastern and Western medicines. This DIY sleep roller was (ok, still is) my favorite, nonprescription way to help induce a sleep-filled night.


Yes, there are two essential oils known for assisting a good night's rest in the sleep roller, but in my opinion the magic ingredient is the magnesium. I wrote this blog post a while back on why mineral bath soaks are important for self care and the effects on sleep. The same principle applies here: Modern bodies are deficient in magnesium. This is for many reasons, but perhaps the largest of which is diet. A magnesium deficiency has a few major impacts on the body, and poor sleep is one of (in my opinion) the worst of them.


Sure, you can take a magnesium supplement (these are the ones I take and recommend them!) but your body never fully absorbs any vitamin supplement taken orally. That's where this sleep roller comes in! Magnesium in liquid form is added to the roller blend to deliver it to your body's biggest organ: The skin. It gets absorbed via the skin, enters the blood stream and helps you have a better night's rest. Yay right? Yup, so let's get to making this thing:

DIY Sleep Roller

- 1 glass roller ball applicator (these are my absolute favorite! You can reuse them again and again. Here's a 6 pack of them and 3 pack of similar bottles)
- 5 drops cedarwood essential oil (check out my recommendations on EO's here)
- 5 drops lavender essential oil
- pinch of salt
- distilled or purified water





Pop off the roller ball applicator on your glass bottle. Add a the salt (a small pinch will do) and the essential oils. Shake well to distribute the oils on the salt. Then add 2ml of the liquid magnesium. Handily enough, it comes with a measured dropper so it's easy to get just the right amount into the roller ball. Top off the rest of the bottle with water. You'll want to give it a good shake before you use it each time to distribute the oils throughout the water.

DIY sleep roller with magnesium and essential oils to help you sleep better
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I like to roll it on the back of my neck and massage it in. If you have sensitive skin, start by applying it on your feet at night before you get into bed. The skin on the bottom of your feet is thicker and tougher than anywhere else on the body and is a great place for starting with topical essential oil application! I've heard other people like it on their wrists and forearms. Find what works for you and start enjoying better sleep!

Monday, April 10, 2017

3 Biggest Blogging Lessons

Happy three years to this blog! Here are some of my favorite posts from over the years and three biggest lessons I've learned


I've been blogging here now for a full three years. The time has FLOWN by. I started it as a hobby to have while I stayed home to have babies, and it's turning into my legit part time job. I actually earn a decent living. I've had to learn how to take photos in manual setting on a fancy camera, had to learn about HTML coding, and how to pitch myself and my brand to other brands. I've had to thicken my skin from random negative comments some posts have garnered and also made some really amazing friendships. I've put together my three biggest lessons I've learned in three years, and also dug in the vaults to round up some of my favorite posts. I went WAY back for some of these!

Don't make these mistakes! One blogger tells all


3 biggest lessons learned in 3 years of blogging:

1) Do not respond to the negative comments cowards post "anonymously." Just don't do it. It's a waste of time. Whenever someone posts something nasty, it's all about them and their inner demons that they're taking out on you, not about you or your content. Think about it: normal and mentally healthy people scroll on or leave your site if they're reading something they don't like. Disturbed people want a fight. Cowards don't leave their name so that you can't properly reply to them. And trolls come back and stalk your blog to see if you've deleted their nasty comments. So, just don't engage. You can't fix crazy.

2) You're never going to make decent money from ads. When I installed adsense on my blog, I was like, whoohoo! I'm a monetized blogger, here comes the paychecks! But the truth is, ads yield me the smallest percentage of my income. Yes, some bloggers say they make thousands a month with ads, and good for them. They also slow down the load time for your site and annoy the hell out of people, so consider that when adding pop ups and video ad plugins/widgets. For me, I'd rather not annoy people and make less. Trust me, there's plenty of opportunities to make money blogging elsewhere!

3) Yes, you will make REAL friends blogging. One of my dearest friends was met via blogging. We talk nearly everyday. I'm also in a small group of bloggers from all over the country and the U.K. that's actually going to get together in real life, and I'm SO excited for that trip. If you're a SAHM or working from home, it's a really great way to have a social outlet, meet similar people and build some great bonds.

Favorite posts from over the years:
This is my most viewed post
This one was one of the hardest posts I've ever written 
This one has the most viral pins
This was my very first sponsored post
This was my first ever post to get a comment!

If you're new here, welcome! If you've been with me for a while, thanks for sticking with me and for reading! This has been such a fun adventure and I can't wait to see what the future has in store.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

What It's Like To Buy A New Car

Thoughts on the new car buying experience when you have two young children


I'm one of the most decisive people I know. I know what I want and I make it happen. I don't have to weigh decisions for weeks because my mind is made up about something within about three seconds. So when it took me months to pick out my next car (the lease on my old one was up), it was the most confusing thing! I didn't recognize myself. I was so indecisive. Nothing was just quite right, and when you're spending that much money, it better be right. I thought I'd tell y'all the tale of my car buying experience, and what it was like being do dang indecisive for over a month.

We knew we were going to get me something larger than I previously had. We're on the fence about adding a third kid to the mix (although as I write this, Otto is throwing a fit and I'm ready to call it a day on having anymore kids...), and even if we don't have more kids, the Volvo XC60 I had was just too small for a {very tall} family of four. Henry constantly kicked my seat and Otto's rear facing seat made any passengers ride with their knees in their ears - or in the dash, passengers choice!

Volvo XC90. Cute, right?
Logically, since I had a Volvo, I started my search at Volvo. They just re-did the XC90, and it was a really pretty car. I thought I'd walk in, love it and lease it. Except... I didn't. Everything on the car is electric and operated from basically an iPad in the center dash. If you want to change the radio station, you have to scroll over to that screen. If you want to change the climate, you have to scroll to that screen. There were literally no buttons in that car! Let me tell you about one of my most annoying qualities: I LOVE to change the radio about 30 times a minute when I'm driving. I nearly never listen to a song in full. Like, ever.

I also change the climate constantly. In the morning, I have my seat warmer on and by 10am the AC is blasting. I've been this way since I started driving; I'm not really sure what my problem is. Anyway, with no buttons to push in the Volvo, I could see myself crashing. Can you imagine, having to operate an iPad every time you want to change the radio or up the AC? No. While I liked the drive of the car, I just had a feeling I'd go crazy with it. The search continued.

Infiniti QX80. A tank.
My husband has driven Infiniti's for a while and made me an appointment to check out their largest SUV, the QX80. That thing was a beast! While I drove it, the dash told me I was getting 7 miles to the gallon. Now, while I did want a larger car, I didn't feel the need to totally crush the environment just so Henry wouldn't kick my seat while I drove. We don't have anything to tow or haul, so the large engine was a waste. I didn't love it. Next.

We headed over to GMC to check out the Yukon Denali. I loved the captains chairs and how easy that made accessing the third row. But when the salesman showed me the trunk space, I shuddered! I'm not exaggerating when I say that maybe four bags of groceries would fit back there. I couldn't believe that a car of that size had literally no trunk space! I didn't even drive the Yukon - I ended the salesman's pitch immediately upon seeing that nonexistent trunk. Can you imagine spending nearly $80k on a car without any room in the back?!

Buick Enclave. The ugly stepsister to the others.

Desperate not to lose a potential client, he showed me the Buick Enclave. From the inside, this one had everything I was looking for. Captains chairs, buttons for the climate and the radio, heated and air conditioned seats (which is totally necessary in Texas, btw), trunk space. I said, sure, let's test drive this one instead! He pulled one around and handed me a key. A key. Not a keyfab, not a remote, a legit key to start the engine. I haven't seen that in about 10 years! In fact, my last car with a key was a 1998 Mazda Protege that I drove in high school and college. I wasn't even sure I remembered how to start a real ignition! I mean, how dumb am I?

The car drove fine. But when we got back to the dealership, there were two old men waiting in the lobby. They had fedoras and canes, and the salesman knew both of them by name. Call me crazy, call me vain, call me stupid, but I just couldn't get into the Buick with the old men in fedoras and the key ignition! I'm 32 not 72. While I liked the inside of the Enclave, something just didn't sit right with me about it. 

I thought about my options for a month, polling people on Instagram, asking friends what they drove and what they liked about their cars. I wanted to create my own Frankenstein SUV, taking the style of one with the safety of another with the functionality of a third. Nothing was quite right with any of my options! One night after a few glasses of wine, I turn to my husband and say, "I think I'm just going to get the Infiniti because I'm vain!" He was pulling for the Buick, but said, "Honey, as long as you stay in budget, you can get whatever you want. It's your car." What a champ, that man.

Infiniti QX60. Hashtag winning.
One of my good yoga friends kept advocating for what she drove, an Infiniti QX60. I didn't think I'd be big enough and I thought the third row would be too hard to access should we need it in the future, but I made an appointment to test drive it. I also made an appointment to check out the Enclave again. I mean, Reese Witherspoon drove the Enclave in Big Little Lies so if it's nice enough for her, it's probably nice enough for me, right? Yes, that was literally a contributing factor for me making that second Buick appointment. Judge if you will. 

I didn't end up making it to that Buick appointment because I loved the QX60! It had a touchscreen but also buttons and dials for vital controls. It had a ton of space, but got far better gas mileage than the larger Infiniti I drove earlier. While there weren't captains chairs, it has a feature that enables third row access even when a car seat is in the second row. Winner winner chicken dinner!

I didn't think I'd buy a car that day, since I still had some time left on my lease, but I loved it so much I walked away with it the same day. It took all damn day (why does buying/leasing a car take SO LONG?) but at about 5:30 I pulled into the drive with my new car that had almost everything I wanted. Remember how I said I was decisive? Well I just had to find the right fit. Turns out when you're buying a new car and you have kids, there's a lot to consider. An annoying amount to consider, in fact. But I have it, I came in way under budget, and I don't need to buy a new car for another 39 months, when this lease is up.

Monday, April 3, 2017

5 Best Water Bottles On Amazon

These water bottles keep your water cold while you work out or run errands and are easily purchased on Amazon


Ahhhh, summer is approaching! And it has a whole new meaning since we moved to Texas. Here, if you put a cold bottle of water in your car in the morning, leave it in your car to run one quick errand, it will be too hot to drink by the time you come back out. Not even kidding. I can't tell you how many bottles of water I've dumped because I don't care to drink bath water for a refreshment. Even if you don't live in {close to} the hottest state in the nation, with summer coming, I thought I'd round up the best water bottles on Amazon to keep your drink cold.

The best water bottles on Amazon that will keep your water cold in the heat


Whether you're looking for a water bottle that will keep your water cool throughout an outdoor run, a hot yoga class, or something to put (and keep!) in your car that won't turn into bath water while you run errands, these water bottles on Amazon are what you need:

Hydro Flask Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle
This large water bottle will keep you hydrated! It also has a wide mouth, which I've found to be helpful if you're running or trying to grab a drink while remaining active. Bonus: it comes in a wide variety of colors to choose from!


MIRA Vacuum Insulated Travel Water Bottle
This one is my favorite for a yoga class. It holds 17oz of water, which is perfect for grabbing sips from in between poses and the best part is that it's sweat-proof, so it won't leave a puddle on your studio's floor! The colors and patterns it comes in reflect a zen mode, too.


Swig Savvy'Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle
The Swig Savvy has two big selling points, in my opinion: It's a 32oz bottle, so not as big and bulky as the Hydro Flask and not as small as the MIRA, and it comes in at under $20, so it's affordable. Small enough to fit in your car's cup holder and large enough to keep you hydrated for a more intense workout or a long day of errand running.


Hydrology Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle
What I like best about Hydrology's water bottle is that it comes with both a straw and a screw on lid, so you get to choose what fits your needs best for the activities you have planned for the day. I like a screw on lid for yoga and other slow activities where I want a big gulp of water quickly so I can get back into the flow, and the straw function when I'm running for short, quick bursts of hydration. This is the most versatile insulated water bottle!

YETI Rambler Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tumbler
Would any "keep your beverage cold (or hot!)" list be complete without a YETI cup on it? Nope. This cup will keep my water cold if I leave it in my 120 degree garage overnight. It's THAT good. The downside is it's a tumbler, so it's not ideal for running or activities where you don't have a place to set it. But if you want something to run errands with or take to the gym with you, this cup is it.



If you want to keep your beverage cold this hot summer season, try one of these water bottles that are easily bought on Amazon! All of them qualify for PRIME free shipping. I've rounded up a variety of styles and functionality to suit your needs, so if you want to keep water cold in your car, on your yoga mat or while you run outside, there's something here for you. Stay cool and not thirsty, my friends.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

DIY Spring Breeze Room Freshening Spray

Use this super simple DIY to freshen your room and linens for spring!


Whoohoo, we've officially made it to spring! All of our leaves are back on the trees and the flowers are blooming down here. So are my allergies. But a runny nose and itchy eyes aren't going to stop me from enjoying the the last few weeks before it's absolutely miserably hot here! I'm going to enjoy this season while I can. Hashtag Texasprobz, for real. Anyway, I've crafted up a really easy, really fresh smelling room spray for you so that you can enjoy your spring to the fullest, too.

This easy DIY room freshening spray smells just like spring!

The key to this spring breeze room spray is the lime, hands down. Yes, lemon is a fresh scent that reminds just about everyone of what "clean" smells like. Yes, the peppermint cools down the citrus tones. But the lime? That is what really makes it smell like spring! Which is funny because I don't associate limes with spring necessarily, but I'm telling you - it's spring in a dang bottle.

And it's strange because if you smell the lime essential oil right out of the bottle, you wont think spring immediately. It's when the oil is diffuesed or sprayed that makes me (and others who have walked into my home) go, "ohhhh, that smells so good, what is that?" It's lime, that's what it is. Who knew right?! Well, now you do, so that makes two of us.


Here's how you make this nifty room freshening spray. It literally (like literally, literally) takes less than a minute. You'll need:

- 2 or 3oz glass bottle. I really like these because the spray pump goes all the way to the bottom, so you don't waste a drop of anything you put in them!
- 5 drops lemon essential oil
- 10 drops lime essential oil (wondering what essential oils I recommend? Check out my products I love page where I go into detail about it, and you can order them too!)
- 2 drops of peppermint essential oil
- 1/4 tea spoon Himalayan salt or Epsom salts
- distilled or filtered water


Put the salt in the bottom of the glass bottle. Then add your essential oils. Put the lid on and give it a good shake, distributing the oils amongst the salts. This step is important because if you think back to grade school science class, you'll remember that water and oils don't mix. So you want to put the oil on the salt and let it absorb so that they'll be distributed in the water evenly, and the spray will smell the same each time you use it. 

This easy to make room spray smells so fresh!

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Ok, so after you've shaken the oils and salts together, fill the glass jar up with the water. Shake again and spray the spring breeze everywhere! Just remember to give it a little shake before you spray it each time so that the salts and oils get mixed back in with those water molecules. Your house, your linens, your towels - whatever you'd like will smell fresh and spring-y!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Lemon-Thyme Pasta Salad

This zesty and fresh pasta salad works as a side or a vegetarian main dish


You know those dishes that just get better and better the longer they sit in your fridge? This is definitely one of those dishes. The more time the marinate has to soak into the fresh veggies and pasta, the tastier it gets. The lemon and thyme are perfect for spring and summer; the veggies freshen the already bright flavor and whole wheat pasta adds texture to this lemon-thyme pasta salad.

This easy to make pasta salad gets better the longer it sits! Make ahead pasta salad

No need to cook the veggies - the acid in the lemon juice softens them. I did, however, blanch the asparagus because who wants to bite into raw asparagus, right? Another key to this really easy, highly versatile dish is to use al dente pasta. That means that you under cook it. Just like the acidity will soften your veggies, it will soften your pasta too. So to avoid a mushy pasta mess, take it out of the water while it still has a little bite to it.


Bring this lemon-thyme pasta salad to cook outs. Add chicken to make it a main dish. Or keep it vegetarian with the chick peas. It can sit out since there's no mayo, and it you keep it vegetarian, there's no meat to spoil (ughhhh, just writing that grossed me out. Spoiled meat. Yuuuuuuuuck!)

Lemon-Thyme Pasta Salad
- 3/4 box of whole wheat pasta, cooked al dente
- 1 small summer squash, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 zucchini, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 bunch of asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 container of grape tomatoes, cut into halves
- 1/4 red onion, finely diced 
- 1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
- 1 can artichoke hearts
- 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- freshly grates Parmesan cheese to garnish

Bring a large pasta pot of water to boil; salt the water. Blanch the asparagus in the water for about 3 minutes. Drain the asparagus, set aside and cook the pasta in the same salted water, making sure to drain the pasta before it's fully cooked.


In a large bowl, add the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, zest of one lemon and juice of two lemons and whisk together. Add the vegetables and chick peas. Once the asparagus and pasta have cooled to room temperature, add to the bowl and fold together. 


You can enjoy the lemon-thyme pasta salad immediately, but it's better if it has a few hours to sit so that the lemon juice can soften the veggies and adsorb into the pasta. Better yet, make it the night before you want to serve it and let it rest overnight in the fridge! It will get better with age, and keep for several days in a sealed container refrigerated. 


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This lemon-thyme pasta salad basically tastes like summer in a bowl. It's so fresh! If you have an herb garden, it'd probably also be great with a little fresh parsley. Happy cooking!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Making Sweet Memories

Pilsbury products help make sweet family memories easy and delicious


This post is sponsored by Pillsbury on behalf of Acorn Influence. All words and pictures are my own.

Growing up, holidays were some of my favorite memories. There was always a big meal that was served around 2pm. To tide us all over, my dad would make Pillsbury cinnamon rolls in the morning. I remember my sister and I taking turns licking the excess icing out of the little round container after my dad would frost the warm rolls. We'd then be on a crazed sugar high as we put on our Easter dresses and hats (and, winter coats because I grew up in Minnesota and let's get real, most the time there was still snow on the ground for Easter). Now that I have my own family, I'm excited to share the tradition of making sweet memories with my boys.

These prepackaged Easter sugar cookies are mess free and easy to make!

I've told it to y'all once and I'll say it again: I'm a terrible baker. I hate how I have to measure everything, and if you don't get it just so, it won't turn out. I'm more of a throw everything into the pot, season it, taste it, season it again and voila! It turned out kinda cook. But you can't really taste things as you're baking them. Or errrrr, you're not supposed to after that raw egg goes in. So I'm taking a page out of my father's book (see what I did there?!) and letting Pillsbury help me make these sweet memories much easier with their Easter Bunny sugar cookies.

My kids LOVE sugar cookies. Neither one is a fan of chocolate, so chocolate chip cookies are a no go here. But sweet butter and sugar and vanilla? Oh yes! Cookies in fun shapes? Yes please!

Henry is getting really interested in what I do in the kitchen, and I hope he remains interested in learning how to cook. He pulls his stool up next to me so he can see over the counter and watches intently, asking what I'm doing, repeating what I say, and helping out on tasks he can manage. Otto, in true younger sibling fashion, doesn't want to be excluded and tries to scale the cabinets or hangs from the oven door handle in attempts to get in on the action. Can't leave that one alone for a second. He'd probably climb into the oven to get after one of these baking cookies! He's a little too short to see, so daddy had to help hold him to get in on the cookie action.




I love that the cookies are already made for us, so all we had to do was get them situated on the cookie sheet and bake them. No mess to clean up after, FTW! Don't worry, Henry still managed to sneak a few bites off a few of the cookies while my back was turned dealing with a feisty Otto.


Honestly, the hardest part of these adorable bunny sugar cookies was waiting for them to cool. The kids circled the kitchen like vultures, waiting to get their mitts on the amazing smelling baked goods. Finally, they were cool enough for the kids to shove them in their faces right by the stove. Who needs to sit down to enjoy a warm cookie?!



If you're like me and don't enjoy baking from scratch, these Pillsbury cookies are perfect. Walmart has them fully stocked in all sorts of adorable spring or Easter varieties. Get a batch and make some sweet memories with your kiddos!