New Month, Fresh Start

It’s a brand new month and even though the temps are still chilly in MN, April means its officially spring and warmer temps are on the way. After a long, Minnesota winter there is nothing I crave more than opening up all the windows and tackling our spring cleaning checklist. But dusting out the cobwebs and shaking out the rugs aren’t the only things on my list.. April is a great time to clean out your pantry cupboard, your closet (your child’s closet) and even your makeup bag.

Cleaning Product Roundup

It’s probably been a hot minute since you’ve inventoried your cleaning supplies under the kitchen or bathroom sink.. Out with the old, in with the new! I will be sharing what cleaning products I use for all of my spring cleaning and where you can find them. But let’s be honest, Target. It’s always Target..

Pantry Re-stock

Time to simplify dinner time by cleaning up your pantry. I will walk you through what you should probably toss, what you should donate to your local food shelf and what you should realistically keep on hand to keep your cupboards clean and make meal time a breeze.

Makeup Bag Clear-out

It’s that time of year to start thinking about BB creams and waterproof mascara! I will be sharing some of my favorite brands and clean beauty products for summer.

De-cluttering with a toddler

Guys, this is a tough one but I promise it’s easier than you think. I’m going to walk you through how we organize our sons toys, how we get him to join in on cleanup time and what to do about the clutter.

It’s going to be an awesome month, you guys! And if you’re feeling inspired to get started early on your spring re-fresh, keep an eye on Emily’s Instagram for some fresh paint inspiration! She’s redecorating her bedroom and it’s going to be a springtime DREAM! @emilygomezwellness

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Simplifying Your Skin Care

As a mom of a very active infant who is currently refusing to sleep in her own bed, I need simple routines in my life. Complicated regimens with too many steps, to-dos or requirements don’t work for my current lifestyle, so when I decided to really focus on cleaning up my skincare products, I knew I needed less products that gave me the most bang for my buck. Here are four items that I’ve found to be “must-haves” for anyone who needs a simple and effective skincare routine.

I’ve written about collagen peptides before in our Collagen Smoothie Bowl Recipe and they have been a total game changer. I started adding them to my morning routine a couple month ago and I will be the first to admit I was skeptical. I wondered if I was just getting sucked into a fad supplement routine but I’m here to tell you this stuff works. I originally wanted to take them as a joint support supplement but the benefits I’ve seen go FAR beyond that. Hair and nails that grow like weeds are an added bonus but skin elasticity and overall complexion improvements are the real winners here. I put one scoop of beef collagen peptides in my morning coffee and I have seen a world of difference with my overall texture of my skin. Improving your skin from the inside out will make a huge difference in how you absorb topical products as well.

When it comes to cleansing and moisturizing your girl has tried everything. Drugstore brands, Proactive, Dermalogica, natural remedies and I’ve always had some form of a breakout every few weeks. After having a baby, my skin went from oily to dry and everything I thought I had learned about my skin was useless. I knew I wanted to try Beauty Counter for a long time but the prices made me shy away, hoping I would find a cheaper option that would be my magic acne cure. I decided as a gift to myself for the holidays I would go all in and purchase the Countermatch Regimen to try out the entire line and see what products worked.  If you have the funds to purchase the whole kit, girlfriend DO IT! But if you’re looking for the essential must haves, the cleansing balm and Countermatch moisturizer are it. The cleansing balm is my all time favorite and they have a travel size for $40 that has lasted forever! It’s a mask, a cleanser, a moisturizer and heaven all in one little jar. I was super skeptical about cleansing with such a thick and “greasy” balm but it’s so soothing on your skin and leaves you dewey, not oily. I would 1000% buy it again.

My daily moisturizer for the past few months has been the Countermatch Adaptive Moisture lotion by Beauty Counter. I love their products because I can feel good knowing there are no harsh chemicals or additives that wreak havoc on your body over time. It’s perfectly lightweight and is designed to match the moisture needs of your skin which literally can change from day to day. I put this on my wet skin and allow it to fully absorb before putting on my makeup for the day. A little goes a long way and I love how lightweight it is. Perfect for any season too which I love because that means I’m not having to switch out products for the summer. 10/10 would recommend.

The last thing I’ve implemented is DIY Dermaplaning- basically shaving my face. Ya’ll this one is key because if your skin is covered in hair, dead skin cells and remnants of your makeup, those amazing (expensive) products you’re putting on top are not getting the chance to soak in to the deeper layers of tissue. I am NOT trained to do this but I watched a few YouTube videos and feel confident doing this for me, and only me. I use an eyebrow razor that I get in the makeup section at Target, my cleansing balm and warm water to give myself a little mini facial about once a month. After cleansing, I keep my skin moist and carefully shave away the top layer of gunk going both directions. It takes 10 minutes and my skin is left feeling amazing. I then apply a good layer of my balm to soak in for the evening.

Ya’ll I am by no means a beauty guru but I have a fine appreciation for taking good care of the only skin I’ve been given. As I get older, safer yet effective products that are not a massive waste of money are super important to me so I’m happy to share these picks with you in the hopes that you find them useful!

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An easy one pan meal

If you follow my Instagram, you probably saw my favorite one pan meal last week. It’s super easy and makes for an awesome weeknight meal. My husband and I have been super busy at work and we had a sick little boy last week so I prepped this bad boy the night before and popped it in the oven when I got home from work on Thursday and it did not disappoint.

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@oakesmama

I’m pretty loosey-goosey with this “recipe” because it’s one of those meals you make when you need to use up a little bit of this-and-that. Which is pretty often in our house. So here it is!

1 package of whole grain spaghetti or fettucine noodles (doesn’t have to be a full package, I use about half a box or whatever is left)

1 can of low sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons (approx) of olive oil or avocado oil

Minced garlic & fresh herbs (if you don’t have fresh, garlic powder and some italian seasoning or a few dollops of pesto works great)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Whatever you have for fresh veggies (I typically throw in whatever I have left for tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach… feel free to experiment!)

Chicken (I usually reach for chicken breast or maybe you have some leftover chicken you can toss in from earlier in the week. I also like to keep Italian chicken sausage in the freezer which makes for a super easy addition to this meal, just chop it up and toss it in!)

Cheese (this can seriously be any kind of cheese.. I have used fresh mozzarella, provolone, havarti, parmesan and sometimes a combination if I’m trying to use something up)

The process: Put your dry pasta (I like whole grain fettuccine) in a glass 9×13 baking dish. Add your oil, minced garlic, fresh herbs and seasoning. Give it a toss with your hands so you can evenly distribute the oil on the pasta. Toss in your chopped vegetables and give it another little toss. Now you can add your chicken however you like. In my last run of this, I placed one big chicken breast right on top and seasoned it just like my pasta. Next, take your chicken broth and pour it over the whole dish, this is what will cook your pasta to perfection. I then place 4-5 slices of cheese over the dish (shredded works great if you have it but I used sliced havarti last time and sprinkled parmesan over top). Place foil over the top and pop it in the fridge to sit overnight. You don’t have to let it sit overnight but I recommend it if you plan on using fettuccine. When you get home from work, pop this in the oven with the foil on at 375 degrees for about an hour, it just depends on if you are using fully cooked meat or not. If you are, you can pull that bad boy out of the oven as soon as it’s bubbly and the pasta is tender.

 

If you are the type that likes to follow recipes word-for-word, maybe this isn’t the recipe for you.. But if you are like me and often fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to dinner time, give this a try!  Feel free to be creative and incorporate things you know your family likes! My husband loves pesto so this is an easy one to turn into a delicious pesto chicken bake and I never have to boil any pasta!

I hope you try out this fun recipe this week and if you do, please share your masterpiece!

Enjoy

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How to Create & Stick to a Morning Routine

I think everyone can relate to the chaos that comes immediately after the first alarm bell rings. If you don’t press snooze, you’re already ahead of the game. But if you’re a new mom who’s little one still isn’t sleeping through the night consistently, then my guess is you’ve hit that sweet sweet snooze button 3-4 times before finally dragging your butt out of bed. You take a couple sips of coffee before changing the first dirty diaper of the morning, let the dog out, feed the baby and change their clothes before you’re even fully awake. You make sure everyone else (but you) are fed & pop that cold cup of coffee into the microwave for the 2nd time. Before long, you’re running late and you haven’t even washed your hair. Dry shampoo it is! You shove something that looks like an adult lunchable into a plastic bag for the husband, jump in the car and head to daycare drop off looking like a hot mess.

Because I work from home, I have the luxury of heading back to the comfort of the couch after morning drop off and obviously that means wearing yoga pants ( let’s be real, pajamas) most days of the week. But I’ll be the first to admit that if I don’t get to actually prepare for a day of work, it can do a number on my energy and productivity. So I’ve really begun to focus on a morning routine that will help me not only avoid the chaos and stress of a morning gone wrong, but bring more peace and fun to our morning routine. Here are few things I’ve employed this week to help shape up my mornings in a way that feels supportive to our goals rather than a failure when things don’t go according to plan.

Do as much as you can the night before.

This is the lamest but most essential tip for streamlining your morning. It’s not hard to understand why taking the time to prep the coffee pot, make lunches, and put out clothes for everyone will save you MUCHO time in the morning, so why do we never do this?! I’m totally guilty of not even wanting to peel myself out of bed to wash my face at night let alone prep for the next day but do yourself a favor and just do it.

Pick ONE activity you MUST do for yourself in the morning.

Let’s be honest, most of us start our days by scrolling our newsfeeds instead of putting ourselves first. Seeing endless photos of other people who having their act seemingly together will undoubtedly make you feel like crap and we don’t want to start the day off on that note. Let’s all agree to kick that habit and focus on starting our days with one habit that will center us and make our days brighter. Whether it’s 10 minutes of uninterrupted quite time, a 30 minute workout, reading your devotionals or personal development, meditation, or just taking the time to do your hair and make up, you deserve to start your morning off on the right foot. Don’t get hung up on trying to do everything your favorite Instagram influencer does that makes you feel terribly inadequate. Pick one thing and stick to it. Once you’ve made that a consistent habit, pick another and remember, you are human so don’t come down hard on yourself if doesn’t all come together.

Be a big girl and eat your breakfast.

I can already hear it. “I’m not hungry in the morning”, “I don’t like breakfast foods”, “I’d rather just drink my coffee”. Eating breakfast should be an essential and non-negotiable part of your morning. If that means you make an egg bake on Sunday and eat the same damn thing every day then so be it. But fueling your body with protein and healthy carbohydrates will give your blood sugar the natural, slow increase it needs to push your energy levels up in the morning and get your going faster. Plus, studies show that when you start your morning off with a healthy breakfast, you are far more likely to continue to make healthier choices throughout the day. Win-win.

Have an Accountability Partner

My sister and I check in with each other every morning. Having someone that knows your goals and will help keep you on track is crucial to maintaining any positive habits. Let your bff know what time you plan to get up, or invite them to your morning workout. Have them remind you to eat breakfast or encourage you to pack the day’s lunch. If it’s someone you love and trust, they’ll be first in line to help you reach your goals and give you that extra push you need to be successful.

Finding a morning routine is not about being perfect. It’s about identifying what habits make you feel most at ease and set you up for an awesome day ahead. If one day doesn’t pan out, don’t give up entirely, just take note of what could be improved and know that this is your life! It’s not meant to be perfect, it’s meant to be enjoyed. You are in charge here so take charge of your mornings- you got this!

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Saying “No” so you can put yourself first

I don’t like to say no… Now, I’m not talking about to my toddler because we all know he hears that word A LOT. But you get it, right? Can you get this finished by Friday? Yes. Can you do dinner on Wednesday? Yes. Can you bake something for the potluck tomorrow? Yes. Can you design my friends sister’s wedding invitations? Yes… It’s easy to get stuck in the perpetual trap of saying yes but before we know it, we are putting ourselves and our families aside to accommodate others.

I love helping others, I really really do. And surrounding yourself with good friends who are willing to return your favors is so important. But sometimes we have to say no and that’s okay. Especially when it’s unlikely that your back will be scratched in return. Entering toddlerhood with our son really put a spotlight on this for me.

A toddler needs so much of your attention that you probably don’t even give yourself everything you need. I’m talking about crawling into bed without a shower because you’re too freaking tired, skipping lunch so you can take your babe to their doctor appointment, or reheating the same crappy cup of coffee 3 times because you haven’t been able to sit down and drink it. Forget pedicures, uninterrupted meals and warm coffee. Who has time for those anymore?! Can you see how adding all of those extra things to your schedule on top of your already busy life can really take away from not only your babe but yourself? Honey, you already come in last most days. Give yourself a BREAK!

Gone are the days that you could still make a lunch date or a shopping trip work because your baby would snooze in their little infant carseat and only wake for a bottle or diaper. Now you have this little personality that runs, throws food and decides for the whole household if it’s going to be an eating day or a non-eating day.

It’s okay to say yes, too. It’s fun to grab the babysitter and go out for dinner with friends or brave the restaurant with your kids on a good day. But you also don’t have to feel guilty if you want to stay home to catch up on laundry and not totally F up your child’s bedtime in the middle of the week. To each their own.

Long story short, it’s okay to say no. Because now you have this awesome excuse we call “children” and anyone who has kids of their own will understand when you have to say no. Don’t apologize or feel bad for putting your child or yourself first.

Say no to one thing this week and take time for yourself, you deserve it.

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My Top 5 Tips for Traveling with a Toddler

Traveling with a toddler can be tough but we have greatly enjoyed bringing ours on our adventures! We have been lucky enough to travel with my parents to Mexico the last two years with our son Oakes and this year Emily and her family joined us so we had two babies with us and a whole tribe of adults to help out! Here is my top 5 tips for traveling with little ones and I hope it comes in handy for your next vacay!

 

1) Have a pacifier, bottle or sippy cup handy so your baby can pop their ears.

Our son has flown a total of 4 times and all-in-all, he does a pretty good job. Flying is noisy and my son has always slept with a white noise machine so he’s spent most of his flying time asleep. It’s a good, constant hum. Just make sure to pack something for your baby to suck on so they can pop their ears if needed with the pressure change, a couple of their favorite snacks, a book or two and a small toy to occupy them while they’re awake. And don’t forget to change their diaper right before you board so you can avoid the tiny airplane restrooms.

2) Choose your toiletries wisely. 

As for toiletries, each person gets 1 quart size bag with 3, 3 oz containers inside so as a mom packing for a little one, you need to be efficient. In Oakes bag, I packed baby sunscreen (we like Neutrogena), dish soap and infant acetaminophen. I would choose medicine or diaper rash cream over things like shampoo, lotion and bubble bath that are almost always supplied by your hotel or resort or anything that can be purchased once you get there. The first year we went, I didn’t pack dish soap (didn’t even think of it) and I ended up washing bottles with body wash. As far as diapers, plan for 5-7 diapers a day and at least 2 packs of wipes (you will use them for more than messy diapers). I believe we packed 40-50 diapers and 3 reusable swim diapers for an 8 day stay and that was the perfect amount for our son. Also keep in mind that powders are okay to carry and do not count against your 3 toiletries, so pack a non-aerosol dry shampoo like Primally Pure Dry Shampoo and throw a small container of baby powder in your bag for your babies bum and to dust onto your feet after the beach to get the sand off.

3) Don’t worry about purchasing your own milk.

If your baby drinks formula, yes you can pack it. Just make sure you put it somewhere accessible as you will need to take it out of your bag and place it in a bin for TSA to check it out. As far as white milk for toddlers, don’t worry about buying all you can carry before you get on your flight. In Mexico and many other countries, they drink irradiated cow’s milk which is simply a different pasteurization process that extends the shelf life of the milk and allows for it to be unrefrigerated prior to it being opened. It’s still the same, good ‘ole cows milk we drink at home, just on the warmer side. This didn’t bother our son at all and he had no issues, upset tummy or change in stools from it.

4) Ask your hotel or resort staff for a crib ahead of time

Don’t worry about having to pack and check a giant pack n’ play. Most hotels and resorts will provide you with one, you just have to ask!

5) Bring a stroller

An umbrella stroller is a great, inexpensive option for vacation that will make your life easier and won’t matter as much if it gets damaged on your trip or flight. Some people will question even bringing a stroller at all, my advice? Bring it.

 

As far as accommodations go, everyone we have met from taxi drivers, restaurant staff to hotel concierge have been above and beyond helpful with everything from high chairs, getting us extra milk for the baby to opening doors and loading up our stroller for us. Traveling with family is also a huge added bonus. Being able to take turns with the babies and having grandparents on stand-bye took a lot of the pressure off. I hope you found some of these tips helpful and you are already planning your next trip!

Good luck & enjoy!

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