An Uncomplicated Life Blog: April 2017

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.

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!

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.