An Uncomplicated Life Blog: 2019


Monday, August 19, 2019

How To Meal Plan Strategically

Most people know the basics of meal planning, but if you do it strategically, it's even easier to cook throughout the week and even more cost effective 

This post wasn't planned, but after having a conversation with people via Instagram Stories DM's and texting with a girlfriend, it's clear this is a hot topic amongst moms, wives or anyone doing the cooking and grocery shopping at your home. See, I posted a few videos of what I was cooking for a Sunday dinner and I got tons of the same comment: with four very young kids, how do you have the time to cook from scratch like that?! I was baking a chicken, made mashed potatoes and gravy and a steamed veggie, all from scratch. I followed the stories with a narrative on how I've been cooking my whole life, so I'm fairly efficient in the kitchen. It's also a hobby of mine, so I enjoy it and make time for it. But the third piece that enables me to have time to prepare my meals from scratch many days of the week is I meal plan strategically. That's not just picking some meals to make and doing my grocery list according to those meals (although it does involve that). This is how to meal plan strategically, so you maximize your time and dollars spent on food.

Typical meal planning is a great concept. Whenever you have a spare 5 minutes, you brainstorm what you'd like to make for meals for the upcoming week, make a grocery list based of the ingredients you'll need for those recipes, and shop according to that list. That way, you only need to grocery shop once for a week of meals because everything, in theory, should be on the list. It also cuts down on the amount of food you waste because you're not buying random things at the store; everything you get is accounted for in those meals/recipes. I typically use one or two recipes that I regularly make and then search Pinterest for some new recipe inspiration. That's meal planning 101.

Meal planning strategically goes a step further. After you've brainstormed your list of recipes, take a look at what you're planning and organize it based on 1) the amount of time it takes to cook it 2) the ability of the meal to provide left overs 3) the spoilage rate of the ingredients in the meal. Let's take my Instagram story meal of baked chicken for an example. I baked that on a Sunday for several reasons: first, because I could prepare the chicken for baking in the afternoon, and have my husband throw it in the oven while I went to a yoga class. Our kids eat dinner at 5pm, and this way it'd be ready for their early dinner time. Secondly, I planned on using the chicken to make my own bone broth, resulting in a chicken soup. So I only had to bake the chicken once and got multiple meals out of it! The time consuming meal got done on a Sunday, when I had more time. Then I made the bone broth (which is super easy - I tell how I make it in this post - but it does take time) overnight and had chicken noodle soup to eat mid-week. Once the bone broth is made, the soup takes about 30 minutes to put together, so that's a super easy weeknight meal.
You can make your own beverages too with this sangria recipe!

See how that works? Plan a large, time consuming meal on the day that you have time to cook it. Usually these meals result in either leftovers or the ability to take part of it and turn it into another meal, like I did the baked chicken. Another great example would be lasagna. Homemade lasagna is too time consuming for, say, a Monday night meal. But if I prepared and baked it on a Sunday, we could eat the leftovers again on Tuesday or Wednesday. Cook once, eat twice! Add a bagged salad or throw together some garlic bread to "freshen" it up and make a meal of the leftovers.

Meal planning strategically includes planning meals around:
  • The length of time it takes to prepare the meal vs. your time capacity on any given day
  • The ability of the meal to provide leftovers or doubling a recipe that provides easy to reheat leftovers
  • The ingredients in the dish and how quickly they spoil; make those meals first

Another big thing to consider for meal planning strategically is food spoilage. I used to only go to the grocery store once a week, but since having four kids I find myself there twice a week (sometimes more!) If you're making a meal with fresh basil that you bought on a Saturday, it's not going to keep until Thursday. So that meal would get bumped up to a Monday night. Fresh herbs and leafy veggies spoil the fastest, so anything involving those ingredients should be made first. Anything with "pantry" ingredients, like jarred spaghetti sauce or marinated artichoke hearts, can be made last since those won't go bad on you. 

Here's an example of how I'd meal plan strategically, with my own recipes you can use for your own planning if you'd like!

Recipes for the week:
Wednesday - leftover German lentil stew
Friday - take out for hubs and me, "kid food" for the boys (mac n cheese, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, etc)
Saturday - go out to eat with the family

The German lentil stew is the biggest time commitment as it takes about 8 hours in a slow cooker. it also makes a ton of food! So I'd throw that together on a Sunday morning and we'd eat it twice in a week. I'd make the Greek chicken burgers next because I'd want to use the ground chicken before it sat in the fridge too long. It also uses fresh mint and parsley in the sauce, so I'd want to use that before it went soggy. The Thai coconut curry soup is planned for a Tuesday because there's fresh cilantro in it. It also makes a good bit of food that I could put in the freezer, or we could eat for lunches over the weekend. Repeat Sunday's meal on Wednesday and then my roasted root veggie pasta is on Thursday because the root veggies will keep for a good while. So, if I bought those ingredients on a Saturday, they'd still be good to use on a Thursday.

On weeks that I know we have a lot going on, I try to plan using up meals from my freezer, too. Taking something out to thaw in the morning and then heating it up is perfect when fast meals are needed! I try to keep at least three meals in my freezer for this purpose. They're always a leftover of something; I don't make specific "freezer meals" although you sure could! Usually, when I make a large meal on the weekend, I'll portion out enough for us to use as a weeknight meal that I can defrost at a later date. This works really well when you might get tired of something you've made and don't want to eat it twice that week. Or if you double a recipe so that you can get 3+ meals out of it. That way you can freeze one meal still eat it twice the week you make it. This is a really good "bang for your buck" since you're cooking something once but eating it three times.

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Meal planning strategically is a great tool for busy families. It goes beyond selecting recipes to make and grocery shopping off that list to include other factors that save you time and money. It considers what days you'll have time to cook, making multiple meals out of one item (like the baked chicken which was turned into chicken noodle soup), and what food will spoil first so that you reduce food waste. Even with four kids age 5 and under I'm able to regularly cook homemade meals because I meal plan strategically to maximize my time and energy.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Getting Back To School Ready

Tips and tricks for when your very first child heads off to school for the first time and how to be a Classroom Hero for your child's classroom.

This post is sponsored by Kleenex® Facial Tissue. All opinions are my own.

The day has arrived. It's here. This week! Henry is off to kindergarten. When I first had him and was struggling as a stay at home mom, trying to adapt to life at home with a new baby, I remember thinking about this day and how far away it was. I wondered how I'd ever make it to the day I *could* drop my child off at kindergarten. Now that the day is here, I wonder where the heck the time went. How could five years have flown by so fast when those first few months were so painfully slow?! Now I think about how I *have* to drop him off, not that I *get* to. Starting a new school is scary for both Henry and me, so I figured we needed to start the process early and get him pumped up for his new school with longer days. Here's how we are getting back to school ready - BOTH of us!

It was not Otto's first day of school... But that wasn't going to stop him from taking a photo with Henry, like he's done every year for the past 3 years!

Tips for your child:

We got Henry's school supply list in July. That's when it really hit me that I'd have a child in kindergarten! At his former preschool we just paid a fee and they ordered and managed all the supplies, so getting that official list really hit me with a dose of reality! It was a simple list. He is, after all, just in kindergarten. The first thing on it though? Two boxes of Kleenex® Facial Tissue. It's funny how that's likely overlooked as a classroom supply but it's SO important! Two boxes of Kleenex® Facial Tissue per child for the whole school year just doesn't seem like enough for 23 running noses. I love that Costco has a Kleenex® bundle of 10-12 boxes (depending on the bundle) and they're big boxes too - 43% more tissues than the best-selling Kleenex tissue box in the rest of the market. That's already a great value for our classroom, but what's even better? You can get $4.50 off per bundle between Aug 7 and Sept 1, just in time for your back to school shopping! You'll see the discount on the price tag and it will be applied at the register. If you're an online shopping fan, you'll get the discount there too.

I want to ensure Henry feels as much autonomy as possible for his transition. No, he didn't get to decide on his own that he wouldn't be going to the same preschool he's been going to for several years. All his brothers will be going there this fall - he's the only child going to a different school (although they'll all end up where he is eventually). Because he's leading the change, I want to make sure he feels loved and special. A great way to do that is to allow him to pick out his own school supplies. Now he's only five years old, so he needed help picking everything out to ensure he got the right stuff! But a great way to do that is to say, "Ok Henry, you need 10 folders. Here's the bin you can choose from. Pick out 10 folders you'd like to take to school with you." Then allow him to pick out the colors or prints he likes, and make him count out 10 of them and put them in the cart. Repeat this for all the supplies on the list so your child gets excited about the school year!

Tips for parents:

We bought our home in Dallas because it's located in the 7th best school district in the entire state, and our elementary is highly ranked even within the district. I'm a huge supporter of public schools and wanted to make sure my kids would go to a good one. I've been to several tours, met the principal and all the kindergarten teachers and got linked in to both the PTA group and other kindergarten moms. I'm so thrilled with the school! He couldn't be going to a better place. Parents, that's a huge tip for you as you move through your own transition of having a school-aged child; plug yourself in to the school community! See the place, learn about the programs, and get to know the teachers and staff. All of this information will make you more comfortable as you drop your child off there for full days of learning.

My second tip for parents is to set up any systems, accounts, and/or procedures ahead of time, and practice them with your child. For example, I created Henry's lunch account online and added money to it. Henry will get to wear his PIN for the first week of school, but I'll practice how he will move through the lunch line and enter his code for lunch. The kid hasn't ever had hot lunch before, so practicing this is important! Another procedure that comes to mind is carpool drop off and pick up. I'm going to take Henry to the school and show him where I'll drop him off and pick him up, and walk him through the process. If your child will be riding the bus, you could walk him or her to the bus stop, talk about how to sit on the bus, and where it will drop your child off and pick him or her back up again.

Being a Classroom Hero:

I mentioned earlier that I'm a huge supporter of public schools. In my mid 20's, I was a fundraiser for one of the largest public school districts in Minnesota and it was, to this day, one of my favorite jobs! Through that role, I know that supplies and resources are scarce in schools. Teachers aren't millionaires, but are often left to buy supplies for the students in their rooms who can't afford them. We can complain about the politics of that all day, but I'd rather do something about it and become a Classroom Hero for my son's teacher. That's why I took him back to school shopping at Costco. He could pick out his supplies to use his power of choice and feel good about his new transition to kindergarten, and I could pick up extra supplies to gift to his teacher throughout the upcoming school year so that she doesn't have to buy them herself.

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This post is sponsored by Kleenex® Facial Tissue at Costco. All opinions are my own.

Monday, August 12, 2019

5 Road Trip Hacks For Traveling With Infants and Toddlers

Traveling with young kids? Use these 5 road tip hacks to make your next road trip easier!

I'll be honest: I'm not a big fan of road trips. I remember taking them as a kid. We'd drive to the Black Hills of South Dakota, which is a 13+ hour drive from Minneapolis. We drove to Yellowstone National Park. We even went all the way to the Grand Tetons in a Honda Civic! Perhaps it was being a tall family cramped into a little car but I tell you what - if it's over 4 hours of driving, I'm going to go ahead and just fly. Which is great... Except when you have four kids. All in car seats. I now understand why my parents did road trips, because for airfare, we're looking at $3,000. Plus an upgraded car rental that will fit all of us. Plus lugging all those car seats... Yes, I now definitely understand why my parents did road trips! I'm still not a huge fan of them, but we're taking the kids down to Galveston for a summer beach vacation. Here are my best road trip hacks for when you're traveling with infants and toddlers for an extended period of time. *Affiliate links used*

My first hack is to go BIG. If you don't have a large car/SUV, rent one. I happen to drive the largest SUV you can get (because four tall boys, all in car seats...) so we were set there. Even so, we bought a roof rack attachment (we got these roof rack crossbars and this carrier and it worked out really well - highly recommend, especially if you have a large SUV!) so that we'd have extra space for luggage and all the inevitable gear that comes with having four kids under the age of five. My sister, her husband and their 14 month old were also joining us from Boston, so we packed extra gear for them since they flew, like people with a reasonable number of children do for long distances. You'll never regret the extra space and you won't miss the gas money, but you will hate the trip if you're crammed and you will miss the gear you weren't able to pack in a smaller car. Just go big. Trust me.

Two blonde boys in car seats smiling while they listen to headphones in a three row SUV on a road trip

In car entertainment: Plan for regular changes to keep things interesting. I have an entertainment system in my car, which means drop down TVs and ear phones to contain noise. We can do DVD's in the center console or we can stream our Apple TV/iTunes purchases through a phone. That's pretty bad on data (although I do have a wifi hotspot in my car too... fancy!) so we decided the boys could each pick out a DVD to bring for each leg of the trip; we brought five or six DVDs total for them to watch there and back. If you don't have an entertainment system installed like mine, I highly recommend this portable DVD player. It has a remote so that you can control it from the front seat! You don't want to have to pull over every time your kids push a button or need tech help so that's a great feature, especially if you have young children like mine. The screen swivels to it's easier for more than one kid to watch, too.

5 Road trip hacks for traveling with infants and toddlers:

  • Go BIG. Rent a larger SUV if you don't have one. You'll welcome the space!
  • In-car entertainment: bring DVDs with headphones so your kids can watch movies and leave you in peace.
  • Pack a variety of activity bags. Stickers, coloring books, dry erase boards, and magnetic drawing boards are all great options. 
  • Get a set of infant toys and put 2-3 in your baby's car seat, then change them out every so often for a "new" toy for them.
  • If you can, limit the hours you drive each day to what your children can tolerate before meltdowns happen. If you can't, plan long breaks to get your kids out of the car.

Activity bags for toddlers full of stickers, magnets, a firehouse themed dry erase board all in ziplock bags to hand them on long road trips

I'm not a big fan of letting my kids zone out all day in front of a screen, so in addition to their special movies, I packed several "to do" bags in large Ziplock bags. One included an activity book with stickers and markers that only show the color on the page your child is coloring on. I have leather so the stickers would be easy to peel off my seats and the marker wouldn't show on any hands or leather. I got several options, so as they got bored with what they were playing with, I could consistently present them with new options.

Baby in a car seat with toys for a long road trip

My infant twins didn't have access to a TV screen because they're rear facing and... They're nine months old and don't watch movies. For them, we put 2-3 toys in the car seat with them. When those got old, we gave them empty water bottles with a few pennies in them to crinkle and shake. Yes, it was loud, but screaming infants is louder and you'd be shocked at just how entertaining empty water bottles are! If you're road tripping with babies, I recommend putting a few toys in their seat with them and having some spare toys to change out to when the first set get old. This is a pretty solid, well rounded set with a ton of options at a great price point. The good news is, with babies, they tend to sleep a lot with the road noise and movement of the car. Our twins slept a solid half to two thirds of the trip!

My final hack that made the trip bearable, dare I say fun even, is capping out the travel time each day. GPS told us it was 4 hours and 47 minutes from our home in Dallas to Galveston Island, our vacation destination. With kids, that meant about 6 hours with a stop for lunch and a bathroom break or two. My kids are five, three and a half and nine months old, and I'll tell you what, 6 hours of drive time in the car was about the absolute max before everyone was melting down. It is NOT fun to drive with kids who are melting down! So given your children's ages, I'd plan your driving distance over the number of days you need so everyone stays sane. My nine month old twins really maxed out at about 5 hours. The older boys could have probably gone 7, but that would have been stretching it! Plan to either stop for the day or have a nice long break BEFORE the kids max out. We took 45 minutes for lunch at Chick Fil A for them to get squiggles and wiggles out (and they still maxed out at the 6 hour mark for the day).

GMC Yukon Denali XL backing out of a driveway for a road trip
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Traveling with young kids IS manageable! But it takes plenty of planning in advance, a large vehicle for adequate personal and luggage space, and perhaps most importantly, it takes TIME. Properly planning the length of your travel days to suit the needs of your kids will result in a happier time for everyone! Use the rest of these road trip hacks if you're traveling with an infant or toddler (or both!) and you'll have as smooth a trip as you possibly can.

Monday, July 29, 2019

How To Make A Quick Pickle

Summertime is full of fresh veggies! Use this method to quickly pickle them to enjoy at cookouts or with cheese plates.

I love vegetables. Steamed, sauteed or even roasted in the oven. Sometimes, though, the traditional ways of making veggies gets old. Sometimes I have more green beans than I can stomach to eat steamed - again. A great way to use up all those summer veggies is with a quick pickle. It's a different flavor dynamic, and with the "quick" part, the vegetable retains some of it's crunch and freshness, but takes on some of the tang of the vinegar you soak it in. These are also called "refrigerator pickles" depending on where you're from, but I take that concept and expand it to ALL vegetables, not just cucumbers. They're so easy to make and go great with just about anything grilled. And... they require zero heat, so it's the perfect way to fix your vegetables in the summer. This is how easy it is to make a quick pickle.

The thing I love best about this method is how versatile it is. There's a basic "recipe" or method to follow, then you can switch up the details for whatever your main dish is, or for whatever occasion you're pickling the veggies for. For example, when I make these Greek chicken burgers, I use apple cider vinegar and dill. When I make Asian dishes, I add a little sugar and soy to the vinegar. It's really easy to adapt this recipe to whatever you're making so that the flavors work!

You can see in this recipe, I made a pickled onion to top off my Greek chicken burgers and quite frankly, it's what makes the dish.

What you need for a quick pickle:
- large mason jar (or container with a lid)
- raw, fresh cucumbers for traditional pickles or a mix of fresh, uncooked veggies (like carrot sticks, bell peppers, cauliflower, etc. for a variety of pickled vegetables)
- enough vinegar to fill your container half of the way full. My favorite vinegar is apple cider vinegar, but you could also use white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
- 1 to two tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon dried herbs. I like to do:

  • dill with cucumbers
  • oregano for a mixed veggie pickle perfect for Italian sliders
  • cilantro for a mixed veggie pickle perfect for Thai dishes
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce for Asian dishes

How to make a quick pickle:
Slice your fresh veggies into thin slices. The thinner they are, the faster the pickling effect will take place and the shorter their fridge life; the thicker you cut them, the pickling effect will take longer but they'll also hold up in the fridge for longer. If you want to make and eat them same day, I'd recommend cutting them super thin; if you have 24 hours to let them sit or want to keep them for a week or more in the fridge, cut them thicker. Pour the vinegar in your container and add your herbs/flavor elements. Stir or shake to distribute in the vinegar. Then add your veggies, cover, and let it sit on the counter for two hours, shaking or stirring occasionally. After two hours, they'll be lightly pickled and ready to eat! Move them to the fridge if you want them cold or to serve them later.

Thinly pickled veggies will last for a few days in the fridge. Thicker cut veggies will last for nearly two weeks. Although, I've never had them last longer than a few days because they're so good, we eat them all right away! You could use fresh dill, but I don't recommend leafy fresh herbs like basil or cilantro because they get really slimy. It's one instance when dried herbs are better than fresh.

How to make homemade pickled vegetables in less than 2 hours in your fridge
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That's how you make a quick pickle! Also called refrigerator pickles depending on what part of the country you're in. I love how easy it is - you literally throw things into a mason jar and let it sit on the counter and let the vinegar work it's magic for you. It really brightens the flavor of whatever dish you're making, especially grilled food and sandwiches. The perfect way to enjoy veggies this summer!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Why I Allow My Son To Do Feminine Things

I not only allow, I encourage my son to wear dresses for playtime, paint his nails and do other "feminine" activities. Here's why.

I'm a blogger. I make my living on the internet. That means I spend an unusually large amount of time on it, and also social media. Over the past few years, there's been a trend that, as a mom of boys, I simply can no longer ignore. Have you ever noticed how girls are encouraged to do anything - sports, typically masculine professions, dressing up like male superheros, etc (which I think we can all agree is GREAT!) - but boys are left out of being invited to join girls in "feminine" pursuits? Boys aren't encouraged to dress up like princesses when they go to Disney. They're not included in volleyball teams. Going with mom or dad to a nail salon to get their nails painted, too? No way. This trend of encouraging girls to expand their gender role that explicitly leaves out the same invitation for boys is NONSENSE. I'm here to tell you that it's absolutely ok for your sons to participate in traditionally feminine activities. Here's why I allow my son(s) to do feminine things and where I think society fails boys in a big, big way.

Getting his face painted so he could be a "witch cat" last Halloween

One of the most annoying things that's ever happened to me as a mom is my local early childhood education PTA group. Not the group itself, but rather an event they plan. See, I live in the South, which is still a tad decades behind the times in terms of being socially progressive. This group still plans a daddy-daughter dance. Both my older boys love to dance, and love to spend time with their daddy! So I asked if they'd be welcome to attend this dance, too. The group's answer? A resounding NO. I was pointed in the direction of the mother-son event, and to add insult to injury, was told I was, "welcome to plan the next mother-son event or volunteer at the daddy-daughter dance." If you think I want to volunteer at an event you outright told me my sons weren't welcome at, you're sitting first class on the stupid train!

Why does an event like this still exist? What about the girls who don't have daddies? Or the boys who love to dress up and dance? Why not make it inclusive and have it be a parent-child dance open to the whole community?

I'm also in a boymom group on Facebook. You can have daughters too, but you have to have at least one son to be a member. I can't tell you how many times I see moms post, asking if it's "ok" to let their sons play dress up with their sisters, or play with dolls, or dye their hair a certain color - all traditionally female activities. What's even sadder is how many moms will respond, "No, I wouldn't let my son do that."

You wouldn't "let" him?! What the heck does that mean? When we stifle our children's interests, we create an environment makes makes us as parents feel unsafe for them. They don't want to tell us what they're interested in, because they'll feel shamed for it. Then they bottle it up inside... They internalize that shame and guilt they feel for wanting to do "bad" or "wrong" things. Then they act on it, when they can't possibly take the pressure or the weight of that guilt and shame anymore. What does that look like? Have you ever noticed how all the mass shootings are done by males? Yup. Usually white males who have been suppressed in some way. Maybe they weren't allowed to take dance lessons, or maybe they got shamed for playing with barbies. Maybe they just never learned how to show or share emotions because they were too busy being told to "be strong" and "be a man" when they were too little to even know what that means.

Perhaps that's drastic. Not every little boy who is told he can't play with dolls will go on to shoot up a movie theater, or a school, or a concert. But it IS realistic to say that if a boy isn't allowed to explore his nurturing/artistic/empathetic/emotional side, odds are really good he'll be a terrible life partner. He'll fail his own kids. He might develop substance abuse issues as a coping mechanism. Worse yet, he might act out in anger towards his wife or partner, his kids, his pets or anyone else close to him.

Stifling traditionally feminine interests in boys doesn't do anyone any good. I don't understand why, in a day and age that we can all recognize girls can "do anything" and are encouraged to do so, boys are left out. In 2019, boys are still uninvited to daddy daughter dances and encouraged to play solely with trucks, wear blue, and play aggressive sports. Well, I call bullshit on that narrative. I'm flipping the script for my own sons - all four of them.

How happy is he to get his nails done?! He's loving life!

If you follow me on Instagram and watch my stories, you know that I support Otto getting his nails done with me. My MIL and I took him to the nail salon for the first time just a few weeks ago, and you should have seen him beaming! He loved every minute of it, and I loved getting to spend some one on one time with him. He also wanted to be a witch for Halloween. Now, my kids are old enough to tell me what they want to be. So late last fall, I asked them, then we scoured Amazon until I found costumes they both wanted to wear. Henry picked out a ghost costume, but Otto selected a witch costume, designed for a girl. I had no problem with it. My husband had not problem with it.

But the most shocking part? The preschool the boys went to is Baptist. Not crazy conservative Baptist, because I'd never subject my children to that, but Baptist nonetheless. They have Halloween parties. Dress up for them in their costumes. And the teachers pulled me aside and thanked me for supporting Otto's choice to dress up in a girls costume. They said they feared most families wouldn't allow their son's to pick out a costume like that, but they were so glad we let three year old Otto have his own autonomy and pick out what HE wanted to wear. Oh, and that he had the best costume in the class, and all the other kids loved it to boot.

The full witch costume (and his ghost brother Henry)

Look, I'm a mom of all boys. While I cried the day I learned I'd never have a daughter, slowly I'm learning that it's absolutely ok that I don't have a daughter; in fact, I'm getting to enjoy the very things I thought I'd never get to do with my sons: feminine things. In a world where it's completely ok for girls to do "anything" and they're constantly encouraged to do masculine things, why are we failing our boys? Why are we telling them to "man up" at young ages, and then wondering why we keep having national tragedies like mass shootings - or even personal tragedies, like men who beat up women, hurt their kids, have addictions or other mental health issues? I can tell you why. It's because we're neglecting them. We're shunning any interests they may have that we, as a society, have deemed "feminine." Well, I'm not going to fail my sons. They're entirely encouraged to pursue any interest they want! Dance lessons? Yup! Painting their nails? Yup! Baby dolls and barbies? You, got it son. My son's will always be allowed to do feminine things so they grow up to be well rounded, well adjusted men. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Two Minute Makeup Routine For Busy Mornings

I spend less than two minutes a day on my makeup and still look put together. Here's how!

In the past month or so, I've had so many women reach out via Instagram Stories on my makeup, asking me what I use and what I do, as they're interested in more natural products and an easy makeup routine. First, this is so flattering (thank you!) and second, I honest to Pete only wear about four products and my makeup routine is less than two minutes. The key is great skincare! If you've got that, making yourself look "pretty" in the morning is a breeze. I'm going to talk about all of it in this post so you can do just as I do, if you'd like, and completely overhaul and simplify your life. It's SO worth it and so freeing (and yes, you can still wear that lipstick!) *This post contains affiliate links*

Let's start at the beginning, shall we - your skincare. I love simple, nontoxic and extremely high quality products. I use the ART skincare line from Young Living (if you read this post, you know I don't use their oils anymore because I found a better oil company, but I do still use their skincare. I'm linking my new oil company's oils, and if you want to try them to see the difference, use code Paige10 for 10% off your first order!) I use the face wash, toner and heavy moisturizer year round. In addition, I add a drop of frankincense essential oil to the moisturizer at night and a drop of geranium essential oil to it in the morning. Those two oils are GREAT for skin! Frankincense is great for anti-aging and moisturizing and geranium is great for "plumping" and really making my skin have a pretty glow. It's honestly the ART skincare line and the oils that lay out a great foundation for me to have a super simple makeup routine. Pretty skin makes your job easier!

But I didn't always have pretty skin. In fact, I've suffered from acne most of my life. I wrote this post on a DIY face wash I you can make and this post on a DIY toner, both of which cleared my skin right up. Yes, there's before and after photos in the post, and if you watch my stories, you can see my "after" skin all the time, because I wear NO concealer and NO foundation! Now I no longer need acne skin products, and really love the ART line from Young Living. The smell is fantastic, my skin feels soft, and hey - I'm almost 35 and don't have crows feet and barely any wrinkles. Yes, that's genetics (if you have acne prone skin, bonus! Your oily skin isn't as likely to wrinkle. God thew us a bone like that) but it's also that I don't use excessive products on my skin. Did you know the chemicals in most American brand products actually AGE your skin? They're so harsh, they're aging you. Even though they're marketed to you as "anti-aging." If you want real anti-aging power, ditch the product lines, simplify, use a few oils on your skin, and wear suns screen & hats. That's the best anti-aging regimen you're going to get!

Ok, so you got your skincare down. Do it in the morning and the evening, without fail, every day. How about that two minute makeup routine that I get so many compliments on?

Here are the products I use daily:
- L'Oreal Paris Volumous black mascara (I dare you to find a better one, at any price point. It doesn't exist!)
- Bare Minerals blush  or Savvy Minerals from Young Living 
- Babo Botanicals lip gloss (honestly the best lip gloss I've ever tried, ever. Vegan and cruelty free!)

On days that I know I'm going to be out in the sun, I also put this on. Seriously, the best brand! I buy their mineral sunscreen for the kids too, and it's my absolute favorite.

Take the eye pencil and run it in the inner corners of your eye. Apply the blush on your cheekbones. Use the mascara wand to slowly apply mascara to your eyelashes, slowly wiggling the brush back and forth as you pull it through your lashes. Slap some lip gloss on and boom - that's what I do nearly every day! If I'm feeling extra fancy, I'll add some eyeliner. No crazy cat eye or application techniques - just a thin line of dark brown or black on my upper lid.

That's all I do! That's the person you see in IG Stories. I think it's just enough to look like a decent human and feel good about myself, but I don't waste any time "getting ready" in the morning. Frankly, I just don't have the time to give to put a whole face of makeup on. Not to mention all the crap in the products sold in the U.S. and what they do to your skin... I'm not interested in that! A legitimate two minute routine with mostly natural products (I'm looking to replace the eye pencil so if you have any recommendations, let me know!) is how I roll these days. 

Monday, July 8, 2019

Currently, July Edition

My kids have all of two weeks left of their summer camp and Henry starts school in less than a month. Didn't summer just start?! That's been one of the craziest things about moving to the South. Summer starts in May (literally - that's when summer break starts for schools) and school starts back in August, so by the time July rolls around, we're on the last legs of summer. In Minnesota, I always went to school through mid-June and didn't go back until after Labor Day, so this shift throws me off every year. All that to say, we're in the last weeks of full out summer mode and I aint mad at it! Here's what's going on, currently:

Prepping for either the best or dumbest thing we've ever done:
We're going on a family vacation to Galveston in a new weeks... And we're driving. Have I mentioned that I despise road trips before? Because I do. Longer than 2 hours in a car and I want to fly. But flying with four kids, two lap babies, four car seats and Lord knows how much luggage is NOT HAPPENING. I doubt we'd even be able to rent a car large enough for us! So we're packing up the Yukon XL and headed to the Texas coast for a week. It's a six hour drive. It *should be* four and a half, but it will take six hours with all these kiddos. It will either be amazing to spend some time at the beach or we'll vow to never travel again until our kids are all potty trained. Hoping for the former, preparing for the latter. Oy vey.

At least we have high speed limits in Texas, so the louder it gets from my two backseats, the harder I'm going to push on that accelerator. That's my plan, anyway, and it's always good to have a plan.

I've been in a funk, and am desperately trying to climb out of it:
June was a rough month personally. We had a EF0 tornado hit our house and cause a good amount of damage to our property. We were displaced to a hotel for a while. Then my husband took the longest business trip he's been on in over a year two days after we were able to get back in our home. My period came back after having the twins, so my hormones are all over the place and it's causing me to have terrible insomnia again. My kids gave me hand, foot and mouth disease which let me just tell you, is AWFUL. I mean, there were just no breaks to be had in June. So glad that month is done and looking forward to a better end to summer!

Have you made this ^^^ yet? Because you should!
I've been trying to expand my culinary horizons with new flavors and new recipes. Thai red curry paste and coconut milk being a few of them! I got inspired by a recipe I saw on Pinterest and came up with this soup. It. Is. Good! Soup isn't really a traditional "summer" food but this is nice and light. My husband loved it, my toddlers loved it, my two nannies ate it up and my mom, who is a big meat eater, loved the tofu. Winnner winner Thai coconut curry soup dinner.

Want some other fun summer recipes, activities and craft/decor ideas? Check out this blackberry sangria recipe that's perfect for the heat. Pregnant/not a drinker? I've got a great post full of mocktail recipes too! Maybe you're deep in the thick of summer break with all your kids at home - you need to read this post, full of great ideas of things to do on the cheap to beat the heat! Breastfeeding mamas, if you're struggling with what to wear in the summer beyond the ugly "nursing tank", I rounded up some great Amazon fashion finds that are nursing friendly. Finally, if you're sick of your ho-hum outdoor space, check out this post I did on how we decorate our outdoor space.

The babies are 9 months old:
Crazy right? I've already started to plan their first birthday party (I'm super excited about the theme! As a Halloween lover, having mid-October babies is ideal for party themes). Knox is a hilarious crawler. He biffs it on his face every so often and just starts barrel rolling, like he intended to fall (he didn't). Teddy, on the other hand, couldn't be lazier. He's the baby of four kids, and it just so happens his older brothers bring him ever toy he ever wanted, so he's entirely unmotivated to even try crawling. He literally sits like a king while his older brothers serve him. As the baby of the family myself, I feel this strategy. Both boys have yet to find food they don't love and we've basically skipped the puree stage. They'd much rather have exactly what their brothers are eating. I've never been into baby led weaning, and we've had a few gagging scares, but... When you have four kids, feeding everyone one meal is really the only way to go. Two more months until they start preschool! Oh my gosh, I'm going to have to buy them shoes. They've never worn a shoe in their life!

It's so crazy that they're nearly a year old already. I keep thinking about last summer when I was pregnant and it feels like it was ages ago, not just last summer. I remember July was the last real month I had to do as I wished because mid-August I was put on bed rest until I delivered them at 37 weeks. What an absolute blessing to make it to 37 weeks! We're also still exclusively breastfeeding, and I think I might actually make it to my year goal - finally! I mean, these are my last babies so it's my last shot. I'm determined! Also, they refuse formula. So there's that, too. They'll literally eat anything BUT formula, ha!

That's what's going on currently around here! Trying to use these last weeks of summer to get out of a funk, experiment in the kitchen, and plan my twins first birthday party. Do y'all already feel like summer is basically over? I really think it's because school starts Aug 15 here - although Henry is the only one who will be going. It's throwing me for a loop and I'm starting to mentally shift into fall mode... In July. So weird!

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Easiest Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Loaded with flavor and easy enough to throw together on a weeknight, this Thai Coconut Curry soup will become a staple in your home!

Several weeks ago, I posted about how my three year old, Otto, refused to eat the mac n' cheese I made the boys, but was all up in the Thai coconut curry soup I made. I had made them the mac n cheese because I figured there was no way in heck they'd eat the soup. This kid demolished the soup, as did my mom, who was staying with us at the time, and my husband asked I add it to my regular rotation of meal planning. Good thing it's SUPER easy to throw together and was such a massive crowd pleaser! If you subbed out veggie broth for the chicken broth I used, it's vegan too. I love it when I can make vegetarian meals my whole family will eat! Especially a soup like this that will feed us for more than one meal. Here's the easiest Thai coconut curry soup. Trust me when I say you'll want to add it to your weekly or bi-weekly recipe rotation, too!

If you're like me, you get stuck in flavor ruts. Italian always goes over well - I make spaghetti and lasagna roll ups all the time. Greek burgers and Greek salads are another favorite. Of course, "American" food, with a variety of pastas and quinoa with fresh herbs always go over well too. That's why I like this soup so much. I don't often cook with Thai chili paste or coconut milk, so it adds a totally new flavor to the mix of what we typically eat. And I honest to goodness couldn't tell you how shocked I was that my toddlers liked it! I think it's the sweetness of the coconut milk... But who knows.

Making this with tofu is my preferred way. My mom, who is a born and raised farm gal and rarely, if ever, eats vegetarian food, even said she loved it! My husband also loves him some meat, but has come around to more of my thinking on vegetarian food, probably because I make him watch food documentaries on what the meat industry does to our planet. I seriously hate all the low carb, Keto based diets that drive up meat consumption... Do y'all know what you're doing to the planet?! Do you care? Oh man, I could go on and on about that. But this is a recipe post, not an op-ed bashing eat meaters. So let's get on to the recipe!

The Easiest Thai Coconut Curry Soup
- 64oz container organic chicken or veggie stock (veggie will make this whole recipe vegan)
- 1 package extra firm tofu
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced into small bite sized pieces
- 1 bunch broccolini, cut into long stemmed but bite sized pieces
- 3 tablespoons red Thai curry paste
- 1 can whole fat coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
- half a package rice glass noodles 
- 2/3 cup flour (could sub in rice flour)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2/3 cup veggie oil
- generous salt and pepper
- chopped cilantro, for garnish
- lime wedges, for garnish

Heat the veggie oil over high heat in a large frying pan or dutch oven. Strain the tofu, then pat dry with a paper towel. Mix the flour with the garlic powder and salt and pepper. Coat the tofu in the seasoned flour, then slowly add to the hot oil. Fry to a golden brown, then set aside on paper towels to drain excess oil off.

Ready in 30 minutes, easy to make Thai coconut curry soup that's better than take out
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Heat the olive oil in a large soup pan. Add the red onion and sweet potato, and lightly brown. After about 3 minutes, add the red Thai curry paste and cook another two minutes. Then add the chicken (or veggie) stock, sriracha hot sauce and coconut milk. Bring to a low and slow boil. Cook for 15 minutes, then add the broccolini. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the rice glass noodles and slowly add the tofu into the pot. After another 5 minutes, the soup will be ready to serve; garnish with the fresh cilantro and a lime wedge. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Uses For Lesser Known Essential Oils

Everyone knows a good use for lavender or lemon essential oil, but what are some of the less common oils good for?

I've amassed quite an oil collection over the years, including getting oils as freebies from various reward programs and from oil companies looking to work with me on marketing initiatives. And while the freebies and rewards are awesome, it's left me with bottles of oils I have no idea what to do with. Some I only know one use for, but have multiple bottles of it and will never be able to use it all! I decided to do some research on lesser known oils that are still affordable and popular as freebies or that come in essential oil sets, but when you get them you're like, "Great - what the heck do I do with this?!" These are some great uses for lesser known essential oils. These claims have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

First, 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 hassle of "becoming a member."

I'm not sure why more of us aren't using this gem, given all it's amazing uses! I didn't have it in my stash, but it kept coming up in all my research and I promptly ordered it. It's probably one of my favorite smelling oils, too! This oil has a high mineral content, so it's fantastic for your overall health, but here are some specific uses:
- Add a drop to your skincare for anti-aging benefits
- Put a drop of indigestible grade cardamom under your tongue or add it to your mouthwash to help curb halitosis 
- Put a drop on your flex points to help balance hormones

We all know this one as the "active ingredient" in bug spray (check out my DIY bug spray to make your own!) turns out this oil is an antioxidant powerhouse. Here are some of the best non-bug-repellent uses of the oil:
- Use a carrier oil and several drops of citronella; rub on your lower abdomen to help relieve menstrual cramps
- Add a drop to your skincare regimen for anti-aging benefits

Clary Sage
This is one of my favorite smells in the world! I knew it was good for hormone balancing and supposedly helps induce labor (so if you're pregnant, stay away from this one until you're full term!) but I had no idea it has all these other great uses too:
- Rub one or two drops on your inner forearm to help balance hormones
- If you are prone to breakouts, you can add it to your skincare routine (you can also make your own skincare - check out this face wash and this toner - and add it to those recipes)
- Add a drop of indigestible grade clary sage to tea for immune system support during cold and flu season

I have no fewer than three bottles of this in my collection. I had no idea what to do with it, other than it assists with breast milk production. It has such a strong scent, I don't like it in my diffuser, so I've just collected bottle after bottle of it. Turns out, this is a pretty great oil to have extra of:
- It's a bacteria killer, so it's great for things like homemade deodorant, cleaners (use it with vinegar and lemon essential oil) and adding it to mouthwash for bad breath/halitosis 
- Use it with eucalyptus/peppermint/menthol to help clear congestion (I told y'all, it's a STRONG smell!)
- With a carrier oil, rub several drops on lactating breasts to increase breast milk supply

I know a million ways to Sunday on how to use this herb in cooking, but when it comes to the essential oil, I was lost. Fair warning - it is a strong and "hot" oil, meaning one drop goes a long way and if not properly diluted, it will irritate your body whether you've applied it topically or ingested it. That said, because of it's strength, it's got some pretty fantastic uses:
- It's a strong antiseptic, so I add it to my diffusers with a thieves/on guard blend when someone is sick in the house
- Add one drop to a chest rub to assist in respiratory health and clearing
- Add one drop to a cup of hot water, lemon and honey to make a tea for intestinal health

Uses for lesser known essential oils
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It's been really fun to explore essential oils and see what they're good for. While I'll always stock oils like lavender, lemon, Thieves/On Guard/Immunity Boost, using the lesser known oils is beneficial too! Not only to use up some random freebies you were gifted, but also because many of these oils are low cost and have so many great uses.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

My Best Tips To Soothe Teething Infants

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Triple Paste - Diaper Rash Ointment. All opinions are 100% mine.

If your baby is having a rough go at teething, use these tips from a mom of four to help soothe him or her

We're officially "there" with the twins: the oh-so-fun, months (ok, years) long phase called TEETHING. If you've had a teething baby, you know just what I'm talking about. Nonstop drool, extra fussiness, occasional fevers, and best of all? Seemingly never ending diaper rash. All of my children have handled teething a little differently, which means I've had four kids and five years to craft up some of the best ways to soothe your poor teething baby. Here are my best tips to soothe teething infants.

The twins are partial to brightly colored wooden teethers... And Knox loves things he shouldn't teeth on, like Triple Paste!

1) Find them a teether they like
My oldest child, Henry, wouldn't take any teethers. He generally wasn't a fan of relentlessly chewing on toys. For him, I'd dampen a washcloth and put it in the freezer. Then when he was extra fussy, I'd let him gnaw on it. On the other end of the spectrum are the twins: they love to chew on everything. They'll take any teether. Literally, everything immediately goes straight into their mouths! Otto was somewhere in the middle. Whatever it is - a cold washcloth or a store bought teether - stock up on a few of them so your baby has something to comfort those irritated gums with.

2) Stock up on the best diaper rash cream
The one common factor in all four of my teething children has been occasional diaper rash. Otto was the KING of diaper rashes. That poor kid had one well over half the time while he was teething, and even to this day at three years old and wearing underwear, he'll still occasionally get one. It was with him that I discovered Triple Paste. When the standard diaper rash remedies didn't work for him, I asked his pediatrician what I could do for his poor, raw rump. She recommended Triple Paste. It's a game changer! One application and the rash is gone. You know, until the next round of teeth push through the gums anyway... Now with the twins, I don't even mess around with other options and go straight to this stuff so that the they don't have to deal with days of a bad diaper rash. One application and it's under control! Stock up on this stuff moms. Trust me and take it from poor Otto: teething diaper rashes can get ugly and last for days at a time. Nip them in the bud with Triple Paste. Get your Triple Paste Coupon here!

Flying Theodore, the more diaper rash prone twin

3) Incorporate bibs to your child's outfit
Henry was the king of drool. After having to change his outfit four or five times a day (because it was winter and his onesie would get so soaked, he'd freeze) I got smart and put a bib on him. For a whole year of his life, part of his daily outfit was a bib! Now they make much cuter options (especially those cute bandanna bibs!) but back then, Henry was rocking a full bib, all day, every day. It was so much easier to switch those out than do a full outfit change. Not to mention, a bib cut down on laundry. Otto wasn't a drooler, and while the twins do drool, they're not the waterfall that Henry was. They have some extra drooly days that require bibs, but not the full out five to six bibs a day Henry would go through. Just goes to show that even siblings react so differently to teething, and it's best to be prepared!

Teething Henry, always in a bib

4) Know that this too shall pass
I've had babies who are totally calm during teething and babies who are absolutely inconsolable. I've had babies who teethe quickly and babies who seem to take years and years to cut all those teeth. No matter if it's long and drawn out or fast and furious, know that whatever your baby's going through, and subsequently whatever YOU'RE going through, it will pass. It will. It doesn't feel like it will, but it will. Sometimes the best you can do is hunker down and ride it out, and trust that this will be a blink of an eye in your memory of raising your children. That's what I do, anyway, when things are entirely out of my control. Just take a breath and accept that this time won't last forever. Other moms are exactly where you are now, they have been there before and they will be there after you.

Teething can be a real bear for both mom and baby! The lucky ones don't experience much change. The hardest teethers suffer from sleep issues, drool issues and perhaps worst of all the terrible diaper rashes! I learned my lesson with my second child, who was a miserable teething baby, and had the WORST, most constant diaper rash - get Triple Paste! As moms, we want to soothe and comfort our babies as much as we possibly can. Using these tips to soothe teething infants and applying Triple Paste to those sore, raw teething bums will help. You've got this, mama!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Natural Stress Relievers

Summer for moms (or any work at home/stay at home parent!) is STRESSFUL. Here are some ways I'm managing the summer chaos…

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Stressballs at Walmart. This shop has been compensated by P&G and its advertiser. The opinions and text are all mine.

It's June so that means just about all of us are in full out summer mode! Sure, the weather is nicer. There are pool days. Cookouts in the backyard. But if you're a work at home, stay at home or just employed part time, you know that summer also means your kiddos are around a whole lot more... And that means added stress, less time for your to-do list, and a much bigger grocery bill! Even if you're not one of the parents I mentioned, you still have the stress of finding additional childcare in the summer. Prior to having kids, it was the most relaxing season to enjoy, but now that I'm a mom, it's hands-down the most stressful season because there's so much more on my plate to manage. Which is exactly why I want to share some natural stress reliever ideas with you.
Stressballs is an amazing new herbal supplement available only at Walmart and They're gummies in two different formulas to help you destress day or night. Best of all, they're drug free and non-habit forming*. Stressballs Day helps you focus to keep you on track to get that to-do list checked off. If you're one of those people whose mind loves to wander and you realize you've wasted hours without really accomplishing anything, this is for you! It's energizing without any caffeine because of the naturally energizing citrus flavor. They're so yummy, I have to make sure I just have two (am I the only one who LOVES gummies? Just give me all my vitamins in gummy form, please).

Have you ever laid awake, either thinking about what happened that day, or running through your to-do list for the next day - or maybe both?! Stressballs Night helps calm your mind so that you can SLEEP. It has melatonin in it to help you relax and your body-destress. Have you ever noticed when you don't sleep well, you're even more stressed just from the lack of sleep? That's how I work, anyway. It's like a compounding effect. Stressballs Night is great because it helps me relax and sleep without any next day grogginess. Interested in giving this new product a try? Click here to learn more and to purchase Stressballs.

One of my favorite ways to de-stress is yoga. Not only does it provide a physical outlet to "work off" some stressors, savasana at the end is a wonderful five minutes to have some quiet and refocus your mind. I've found that having just a few minutes of solitude (yes, even just a few minutes!) is crucial to being happier, more focused and less stressed overall. But what about those kids, you ask? Find a yoga studio with childcare and bring them! In my city, we have access to both full service gyms that offer yoga on their class schedule as well as smaller yoga studios, both of which offer childcare at a ridiculously low cost. Run a google search for your area and give it a try! You'll be amazed at what that hour will do for your stress levels.
Another big stress reliever? A hobby! Cooking and gardening are two of my favorites. I love making and trying new recipes. Now, I do this on the weekends when I have time to make a meal, and my husband is around to both a) help me eat it and b) can watch the kids so that I can cook in peace. Weeknight meals are never very elaborate and aren't the best time for me to try something new. The key is having the time (or, more accurately, MAKING the time) for me to spend some time trying new flavors or cooking methods and having fun. Gardening is my second, and fairly new, hobby. This one is fun to involve my kids in! We all love to spend time outside, getting our hands dirty and learning about how food grows in our vegetable garden. The kids love to look for worms and bugs (which I scream and run away from... And they find that hilarious) and I love to watch our produce grow, take note of things that work and make sure I don't do the things that don't work again.
Hobbies are great because they switch up your daily tasks and to do lists, making room for fun things. Yes, you usually have to MAKE time for them. But if you bump them up on the priority list as necessary to de-stress, even 15 minutes can make a big improvement in your happiness and overall stress levels. Not sure what you like to do? Give something new a try! Get a drawing pad and some new pencils and sit outside and draw what's around you; google wine tasting classes in your area to refine your wine palette; sign up for a 5k and begin training for it. The options are endless, so try different activities until you find something that really brings you joy and you find your mind more rested after doing it.
Stress is inevitable in life, and you have to focus on managing it so that it doesn't overwhelm you. I'm a big fan of natural stress relievers. I've found that taking time to practice yoga (or even just getting five minutes in a day to just sit quietly and BE), having time to play around with my personal hobbies and taking an herbal supplement formulated to help me be my best self and live my best life (thank you Stressballs!) have all contributed to me more effectively and naturally managing my stress.
Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Best Yoga Fashion Finds on Amazon

Amazon carries some AMAZING yoga clothes, most for less than $20 and with free try ons and shipping!

Amazon fashion is having it's moment, and I am HERE FOR IT. In Dallas, I get free same day shipping, next day max (if it's Prime eligible). If I don't like it, I simply send it back for free. And the styles that they now carry rival any Lululemon or Carbon38 piece but have a Walmart price tag. How great is that?! Yes, you have to do a little digging to find the really cute stuff but the good news is that I've done that for you in this post. I've rounded up the best yoga (or Pilates or Barre!) fashion finds on Amazon. And the best part? Most of these are under $20, and all of them are under $30. *Affiliate links used*

Long sleeve loose back
This is perfect to wear to the studio/gym when it's spring or fall, and perfect to throw on after a sweaty class if you need to run errands to overly-air-conditioned retailers all summer. Is that a thing in other cities? Because the air conditioning here in Tejas is NUTS. It will be 108 outside and 64 degrees in Target so no matter where you are, you're miserable. But I digress! This top is adorable for nearly every season.

Back tie tanks
Open backs with a tied waist are the thing right now, and I'm a fan. It allows you to show off the cute straps of your sports bra (two linked below!) but still cover your belly. It also allows a nice draft to flow during your heated flow so you don't get as hot. You get two in this order and there are a ton of color combos. Wining so hard.
Twisted strap sports bra
Many of the cutesy sports bras don't offer much support for larger chested gals, but this one does. It has wide straps (read: this one is comfortable) and a modest front (read: it will work for larger chests) yet still has style to it.

Back mesh tank
If you love back tie tanks but want a bit more coverage, this one is it. Instead of a totally open back, this tank has a mesh insert and a "muscle tee" cut that's more modest (but still cute!) than the tank listed above.

High waist capris
Who doesn't love a good high waist?! This one is listed as "control top" which is great if you're nearly anyone, but especially if you've ever had a baby. Or you want to pair it with a trending crop top without your belly hanging out.

High waist full length
I think I prefer full length pants over capris, even in the summer - as long as I'm going to a studio and then changing. If I have to be outside, I like capris better. Either way, these have flattering seams like one of my favorite high end brands (looking at you, Lululemon), but they're not $130 like those leggings!

Wrapped crop top
Perfect to pair with any high waist legging! It comes in long sleeves and short sleeves, both if which I find equally cute. The wrap makes it extra flattering. A lot of women at my studio will wear this to class over a sports bra, strip down to the sports bra for class, then put this on again afterwards.
There are SO many styles offered via that link! Mesh cutouts are surprisingly flattering. The angled cutouts and different fabric are slimming without being too revealing or losing the support of the legging. I have four or five pairs of mesh cutout leggings and they have yet to snag or lose their shape.

Keyhole back sports bra
This would be so cute under the back tie or the mesh cutout tank! It's a racer back style so there's still a good amount of support, but you get all the style of a skinny strap sports bra. I love all the colors it comes in, too.

Tell me these clothes don't rival Lululemon or Lorna Jane or any of the other high end workout clothes, right?! So great. And even greater with free Prime member shipping (same day, next day or two day, depending on your location), free try ons and free returns if you don't like it. 

Amazon fashion has affordable and cute yoga, barre, Pilates, workout and athleisure clothes for an affordable priceLike it? Pin it!

If you love the look of higher end yoga/barre/Pilates or athleisure clothes but don't want the high end price tag, you've got to get on board with Amazon Prime fashion! Free shipping. Free returns. And they have a try on period that's risk free, too. Not to mention, everything listed here is under $30 with most of it under $20! You can't even find that good of a deal in the sale section of Lululemon. Have you gotten on board with how awesome Amazon fashion is yet?! They've seriously up'd their game and I'm loving all the yoga fashion finds they now carry.