An Uncomplicated Life Blog: January 2017

Monday, January 30, 2017

10 Little Known Facts About Me

Funny and random facts about the blogger behind the blog

It's been a good while since I've written a post like this. If you follow me on Instagram, I partake in "Friday Introductions" every so often, and try to make it as amusing as possible. So I thought, hey, I might as well make a full on blog post! Don't worry, this isn't full of boring things like, "I sleep on the right side of the bed" or "my favorite food is chips and queso" (although those are both true things). No no. Prepared to be entertained with these 10 little known facts about me.

1) I still wear my retainer at night three to four nights a week. You know, the old school one that I got when I got my braces off. Metal bar across the front of my teeth, flesh colored plastic that "clicks in" to the roof of your mouth. Yeah, that one. I don't even know if they make retainers like that anymore. But I do know that my teeth are still straight!

Not, you're not getting a pic of that.

2) I haven't cleaned a toilet in over four years. When hubs and I moved in together, he was adamant about getting a housekeeper. I thought it was creepy to have someone you don't know come clean your house for you. And then, I realized that means that I don't have to do the cleaning, and I got over that perceived creepiness reeeeeeeeal quick.

3) My pajamas are all Victoria's Secret PINK and I'm not ashamed. Ok, I'm a little ashamed because I am 32 years old, but hey! They make pants long enough for me, so until more "mature" brands get on board with long inseams, I'm PINKing on.

4) I have super bad vision, but I can only pluck my eyebrows without glasses/contacts in. This means my face is about three inches from the mirror. I don't know why this is the only way I can properly pluck my eyebrows, so lets just not ask questions. I look so ridiculous, I lock the bathroom door when it's eyebrow plucking day.

5) I love driving my car, but I never really leave a 5 mile radius of my home. Benefits of living in a major city I guess? Everything is within a few miles of me - literally, everything. But I'd never want to live in a city like NYC where you have to walk everywhere. Especially with kids! That sounds awful. Give me my car, kthanks. 'Muricka!

I can't image wrangling these two in a city that wasn't driveable. Nope.

6) Speaking of cars, I haven't parallel parked a car in about five years. I was SO good at it when I lived in Minneapolis and had on-street parking. But now, everywhere in Dallas is lot parking or valet. Lots of valet here, it's actually kinda weird and obnoxious. You have to make sure you have cash on you for tips all the time and I'm like cash?! What is this, 1952? Anyway... I wonder if I CAN still parallel park like a boss. Probably not.

7) My new favorite thing is when I open our back door to let the dog outside, Henry says/screams, "That doggie is going POOP. He going POOP outside!" It makes me laugh. every. time. And there the boys' obsession with bodily functions begins, right? Le sigh.

He's THIS expressive and passionate, always.

8) I have an iPhone, because it's 2017, but I use about 10% of it's capabilities. I'm just not that into technology. Yup, I still use a paper planner. And better believe it's color coded! But schedule a meeting in my phone's calendar? Heck no, I don't understand such nonsense.

9) I'm NOT a shopper. I was looking in my closet for something cute to wear for date night and realized I've purchased four shirts in the last 18 months. FOUR. Yoga clothes on the other hand... Let's just say my yoga attire is on point where my normal clothes are lacking. Anyone else feel weird spending money on themselves? I always think about how I don't NEED anything, I just WANT it. And so it goes back on the rack.

One of the four shirts I bought this year:

10) I love to cook. I really do! And when I cook, everything is from scratch - gravy, sauces (no canned "cream of" soups for me!), I made my own veggie burgers in a food processor, and on and on. Yet, hubs and I still order take out at least three days a week. Because have you tried to cook while two little people tear apart your house?! Yeah. No. We discovered Snap Kitchen in the Whole Foods on Park Lane and y'all - it's SO convenient! There are tons of choices of what to eat, the nutrition information is clearly labeled and the part I like best is that they have sizes of each meal (S, M, L) so I can buy lunch or dinner portions. And I can pick it up on my weekly grocery store runs. Voila! Dinner is served.

This meal service makes weeknight meals a snap - to food preparation required!

Yeah so those are some of the top 10 little known facts about me! Hope that brightened your day. Now get back to work.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Playroom Organization Tips & Tricks

Get your playroom organized with these helpful tips

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not necessarily the cleanest person in the world. My husband is far tidier than I am. But what I do excel at is organization! If you ask me where any one random item is in my home, I can tell you in great detail exactly where. I have the kids' schedule outlined in my paper planner, and we have never been late to anything. Nothing. So while I may need to take a shower and do a load of laundry, I'm on top of the organization game in both my home and in my life. I'm going to lend a helping hand and share with you some of my best playroom organization tips and tricks.

Playrooms are notorious for being a big hot mess, and with good reason. My kids tear this room up! Every. Single. Day. But, there's an order to their madness because there is an order to the room. When there's an order to the madness, it makes the room much easier to clean up at night. Every toy has it's place and gets returned to that place. Then the boys know where to find that toy the next day. It can still be chaotic much it's more of an ordered chaos, if you will.

Before we jump in, I'd note that part of my organizational strategy is to keep the number of toys to a minimum. Our playroom is a good size, but excessive stuff no matter how much space you have adds to a larger mess to clean and organize daily. I keep toys down by asking friends NOT to bring gifts at the kids birthday parties and I've even been known to take Christmas presents and hide them in my craft closet to gift them to the boys at a later date. There's just no reason for 25+ presents at Christmas! Minimalism with the toys is key to more easy organizing.

Playroom organization tips and tricks: The big picture
Basically, the room is categorized into four stations. The four stations correlate with the four major storage units we have in the room. Both boys can access all four stations and gain access to the toys that are stored in them.
Station 1 - floor toys
Station 2 - plush floor toys
Station 3 - books, blocks and sound-making toys
Station 4 - table toys

Playroom organization tips and tricks: The details
Station 1 - floor toys: We have one large racetrack that always sits out, and one wooden box that houses several games. Then I have two portable containers so that the boys can play with those toys in the living room while I watch the news, in the bathroom while I get ready, or in the kitchen while I cook. Other than these few portable containers of toys, everything else stays in the playroom.

Station 2
Station 2 - plush floor toys: This was used a lot more when Otto was younger because it houses a Bobby pillow, a tummy time mat, baby carriers (which we still use) and a few other infant-oriented, larger items. The top of this chest is where we store the boys' outdoor items. This is Texas, so they have baseball hats and sweatshirts! This makes it easy for a quick grab if we're going in the backyard, or if we're getting ready to walk the dog, in which case the baby carrier located in the same location makes that transition even easier.

Station 3 - books, blocks and sound-making toys: These are held in four wicker baskets that are light enough for Henry to pull off the shelves. One has blocks, one has a wooden train set, one has musical toys and toys that make noises, and the last has balls and stuffed animals. Each basket goes into the same slot so the kids always know where to find which toys. The top shelves have the books. We're starting to get so many of those, we'll need another bookshelf soon but I'm ok with them having as many books as they want! The lower drawers are filled with large plastic blocks that Otto can access.

Pro tip: These shelves are bolted into the wall so that they don't ever fall onto a child.

Station 3 - there's two of these, one on either side of the table
Station 4 - table toys: This looks a bit chaotic but the toys on the table are always the same. They're mostly cars and trucks, or other toys with wheels, because the kids like to roll them off the table. There's a few other baby toys on it so that Otto can have access to them since he can't quite yet pull the baskets off the shelves. Under the table are a few puzzles and larger race car tracks for all those cars.

Station 4
Like these organizational hacks? Pin it!

I've found this "station method" of playroom organization tips and tricks to really facilitate keeping our playroom in order! And having the toys branched out into these categories makes clean up so much faster and easier. We're just starting to have Henry (who's 2 and a half) help clean up this room before bedtime, and because of the consistent organization, he knows where each toy goes and is able to be helpful. Even Otto, who is just 13 months, watches and is learning where everything's place is. I can't wait for them to be able to clean the room without me before bedtime! With these organizational tips, I bet it won't be too long.

Monday, January 23, 2017

An Interview With The Hubs

On our third wedding anniversary, I asked my husband some questions on then and now

I see other bloggers have their husband's write posts, and I think it's really fun to see the "other side." I'm not sure where my hubs would start with the written word, provided he ever had enough time to sit down and pen a post. Also, who knows what would spew out of his fingertips! In light of his wildcard status and my lack of ability to give up control, I asked him a few questions about me and our relationship when we went out celebrating our third wedding anniversary last Wednesday. This is how the interview with the hubs played out - I didn't edit his responses, for realsies. 

The questions are in bold, his answers are in normal font and my thoughts on his response are in italics. Ready, go:

Think back to when we first started dating. What about me attracted you, way back then?
You're beautiful, and you looked good in a skirt!
Notice how one is present tense and the other past tense? Hmpff!

What attracts you now, after three years of marriage and two kids?
You're still beautiful! And you made me some beautiful babies, too. In terms of personality, you challenge me - you're not the typical passive aggressive Midwestern gal, you say what you mean and you say what you think. Even if it's not what I think, or we disagree, I know what's on your mind.
Well, at least it wasn't all physical.

Way back when we first started dating. Had to dig this one up from an old Facebook album

What's my best quality?
[Thinks for a long time] You're passionate. And you bring that passion to our family and our relationship.
This is true.

What's my worst quality?
[Doesn't take any time to answer] You're stubborn! If I really want you to do something but you don't want to do it, you just won't do it. Not even for me.
Nope, sorry buddy, do it yourself.

Quick, don't overthink it! Which kid is your favorite?
Henry. He's currently easier. But a month or two ago I'd have said Otto, and I'm sure it will be Otto again soon.
That's right guys, parents have favorites. They never stay the same kid for too long, but there's always a fave.

Mr Personality has favorite child status... For now

What's your favorite memory of us?
There's probably two, one before kids and one after kids. Before kids it was our first trip together to Carmel, CA. It was our first time traveling together as a couple and we had such a good time driving up and down the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible. Post kids, it's probably just our daily life and routine. On Sunday afternoons we go to yoga together and then come home and play outside or if it's summer we swim in the pool and hang out with music on the outdoor speakers. It's nice to have the hour alone with you and then spend the rest of the afternoon together as a family.
The trip to Carmel is my favorite, too. 

Backyard swimmin' this past summer. I think hubs was trying to get Henry to keep water IN the pool

If you could do anything with me for a day, what would we do?
Get a sitter for the kids and go out in Dallas as tourists. We'd get brunch like we used to do every weekend and take a nap in the afternoon. Then probably have dinner in our courtyard and just hang out.
We're such homebodies! Seriously, we both love being at home. I know it's cool to travel and to be a travel blogger, but traveling stresses me out. Give me my family and my home, any day of the week. I traveled enough in my 20's to last me a loooooooong time.

Have you ever asked your spouse some funny (or even meaningful) questions while on a date? It was kinda fun to hear what he had to say, even if I did cringe a little in the beginning. The last responses to the questions in my interview with the hubs didn't surprise me at all. Maybe next time I'll do a reverse interview, and have him think of some questions to ask me. That could be an interesting post!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf

This healthier take on an old classic is also gluten free

My sister and her husband flew into town for Otto's birthday back in December. They're also his godparents and considering his birthday's proximity to Christmas, those two birds met their one stone when they came out for a visit. My sister is gluten free though, so I had to get creative for my meal planning. I remembered my stepdad making me a recipe similar to this a year earlier, when my parents were staying with us just after Otto's birth. I've put my own spin on it (because I can't follow a recipe to save my life) and ended up creating a great tasting and much healthier take on the old classic meatloaf! It's got far less fat, higher protein and hey, it's gluten free to boot.

One thing I'm not a fan of are "skinny" recipes, or recipes that are indeed healthier but lose all their flavor in the process. I'd personally rather eat the full fat, full calorie version then a "healthy" or "skinny" recipe that tastes like the cardboard version of a classic. This is NOT one of those recipes! The quinoa adds a chewy texture to the poultry, the onion and garlic deepen the flavor and the sauce is the kicker.

Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf 
- 1lbs ground turkey (or chicken)
- 3/4 C uncooked quinoa
- 1 small white onion
- 2 T chopped garlic
- 1 egg
- 1 or 2 T olive oil
- 4 T Worcestershire Sauce, divided
- 4 T tomato paste, divided
- 2 T honey
- 1 t salt
- 1/2 t onion flakes
- 1 C water

In a small sauce pan, bring the cup of water plus the onion flakes and a sprinkle of salt to boil. Cook the quinoa covered on low until the water is gone, then leave it sitting on the stove covered for about a half hour. I've learned that if you cook quinoa according to the directions, it comes out soggy and this method leaves it perfectly cooked. The onion flakes make it taste great, too - I prepare all my quinoa this way! It tastes far better than when it's cooked in broth.

Chop the onion into small pieces and saute in a pan. Once translucent, add the garlic. Simmer for another minute and turn off the heat. In a large bowl, combine the ground poultry, egg, salt, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, cooked onion and garlic and about half of the quinoa. The mixture should be very wet, but stick together. Add more quinoa if necessary, or if you like a chewier meatloaf (it really does add great texture!)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form the meat mixture into a loaf on the lined pan. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining tomato paste, honey, Worcestershire Sauce and about 2 tablespoons of water. Cover the meatloaf with the sauce, and reserve the remaining sauce to serve after  cooking. Just make sure you don't "double dip" the spoon you use to apply the sauce to the raw meatloaf! You don't want to contaminate your sauce with raw poultry.

Bake at 350 for about an hour. After baking, let the meatloaf rest for about 10 minutes to cool and to seal in the juices. Slice and serve with the remaining sauce. Enjoy this healthier and gluten free take on an old classic - turkey quinoa meatloaf.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Favorite Moments In Motherhood

Motherhood has it's challenging moments, but it's also full of joyful times

There are TONS of articles and blog posts on how "hard" motherhood is. And they're warranted; motherhood is the toughest job I've ever done. It's relentless. But if you read this post, you know that my "word" for 2017 is joy. As such, I thought it'd be fun to talk about some of my favorite, joyful moments in motherhood. You know, put the challenges and excessive poopy diapers on the back burner for a moment, and focus on the fun stuff!

Throwing acorns with a frontal diaper wedgie

Henry and Otto have two very different personalities. Henry is a goof; he's always making faces and marching around the house in a weird way, dancing, and talking to himself and/or Otto nonstop. Otto is my "all in" child. He's either laughing with gusto, screaming like his life is ending, or intensely watching what his brother is doing. Let that set the stage for some of my favorite moments in being each boy's mommy.

When Henry was about 15 months old, he started walking. With walking came his ability to dance. Now, I always have music on in the car when we drive places, and I refuse to listen to anything specifically for kids. Usually, it's hip hop on up in my ride. So Henry REALLY got into The Weekend. One of my favorite things to do is turn on music around 4-5pm (right as our witching hour hits) and have a dance party. Wouldn't you know, I was pregnant with Otto when I turned on The Weekend for Henry to dance some of his sillies out and the boy starts to twerk. I'm talking hands on the floor, butt up in the air with a rump shake that would make any club goer proud. I promise I didn't teach him this (I was too pregnant!) but my jaw dropped and I started laughing hysterically at his dance moves.

Which, of course, made him shake it more.

He was singing a song with vigor to his two bubble sticks

For Henry's second birthday, I got him a mini basketball and hoop to shoot. He had been dribbling a ball since he could walk and was better at it than I am. I no sooner set the hoop up before he was shooting the ball and was making every single shot. It was amazing! He could dunk it, he could do a layup, he could shoot it. And he was only two! It's still one of my favorite things to do with him because he's so proud when he gets the ball in the hoop and his gleeful, "I got it!" never gets old to my ears.

He's always having a good time, this kid

Otto was breastfed for seven months. As I mentioned, he's my "all in" kid. He'd absolutely scream when he was hungry, but as soon as I'd sit down and pull a boob out, he'd get this wide-eyed grin and he'd frantically move his head around, trying to latch on to anything that came near his mouth. If a knuckle of mine came near his mouth as I fumbled with nursing top clips and straps, he'd latch on to my knuckle and suck frantically. It was so funny! The kid still loves a good boob grab and always has his hand on one of mine, or the nanny's or the girls who run the daycare at the gym. No seriously, this kid is grabby. But if one of his hand's is on a boob, he's calm and happy. At some point I'm going to have to break him of this grabby habit before it becomes creepy...

Protesting our Instagram photo shoot

Otto started crawling at eight months, but he'd still get so frustrated that he couldn't go as fast as big brother Henry. So we got him a walker with wheels on it that he can sit in and chase his brother around. We have a single story house so there's lots of room to run and gain speed! Otto's favorite thing to do, even to this day, is to get his little legs moving, pick up speed (this kid is fast!) and once he's hit his max, he lets his legs go limp, he throws his head back and laughs as he coasts along our hardwoods. He's so happy when he's cruising in that thing! And when Henry chases him he squeals and screams in delight. It's so fun to watch those two play together.

Happy boy learning to cruise along things

Yeah yeah yeah, motherhood is tough. But it's also full of some of the very best moments. Having two kids very close in age has been a blast. These two boys are best friends and I'm so excited to watch them grow up together, and develop more favorite moments in motherhood.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

DIY Valentine's Day Gift

Make your own massage oil blend for your Valentine!

From the earliest days of my husband and I dating, I've been big into making him gifts for "holidays" like Valentine's Day, Father's Day and any other day that might remotely be sentimental. For a while, I wasn't even sure if he liked such gifts! I just had fun making them. Then we moved into our current house, and he's decorated his office with every single gift I've ever made - so, win win for us! I can get crafty and he can decorate his office. One thing that won't be decking the halls, so to speak, is this DIY Valentine's Day gift. Nope. We'll be keeping this massage oil back in the bedroom.

A fun DIY to make your sweetheart a fun gift for Valentine's day

Now I realize Valentine's Day is a month away (from the date of publishing this) so hey honey, if you're reading this... This is what you're getting this year! Happy Valentine's Day a tad early :)

Ok, back to the massage oil DIY. Here's what you'll need:

- Bottle of carrier oil, such as grape seed oil or almond oil
- 5 drops Sensations essential oil
- 5 drops Northern Lights Black Spruce essential oil (or anything in the pine family)
- Mod Podge glue and a small paintbrush
- Scissors
- Pen
- Decorative paper; at least two sheets with one flexible and one thicker card stock

First, cut the flexible decorative paper in a strip long enough to just go around your bottle once. Use the paintbrush to coat the bottle in glue. Wrap the strip of decorative paper around the glued bottle and run your fingers over the paper to squeeze out any air bubbles. On the seam of the paper, paint another layer of Mod Podge over the decorative paper.

Next, use a piece of printer paper or junk mail to cut out heart templates for your card stock. On the back of the thicker decorative paper, trace the hearts. Use the scissors to cut them out. Once the glue on the bottle is dry, add hearts to further decorate your bottle of massage oil.

Let the bottle dry over night so that the glue is good and dry before you handle the bottle. Once it's set, pour your carrier oil of choice into your decorated bottle. Add the drops of essential oil. I chose Sensations because it's a Young Living blend formulated to stimulate women's senses and, ahem! Their sexuality. The Black Spruce is a masculine scent and balances the feminine scent of Sensations. It's a combo I would have never thought would go together, but I learned about it at an oil class and it's probably my favorite smell to date.

And there you have it! A fun, fairly easy DIY Valentine's Day gift that brings you and your partner together through massage. Happy Valentine's Day!

A quick note about the essential oils! Revive oils are my new go-to. Yup, I used to be with Young Living, but the expense of those oils were insane. I asked some of my oily gurus who they got their oils from and learned about Revive. They're therapeutic grade, indigestible essential oils that are NOT a multi-level-marketing structure. You can go on their website and buy them like you'd buy something on Amazon - no need to sign up for some membership! They have packages with diffusers and single essential oils, plus roller bottles and other lifestyle items. Use code Paige10 for 10% off your order and experience the same quality of Young Living or doTERRA without the obnoxious price (and minus the sales people always trying to get you to buy things...)