Pantry cleanup and re-stock

Spring is a great time to clean out the pantry cupboard. The weather is finally nice and we can officially say goodbye to the days of flocking to the grocery store before the next big snow storm.. It’s so easy for your pantry to become congested with miscellaneous grocery items. Before we know it, we’re buying extras of the things we already have and we have no idea what we have on hand at home and what we don’t. Here are my tips to keeping a clean and organized pantry:

Take Inventory

First things, first. Take inventory of what you have on hand, toss everything that is expired and organize the rest into categories. My rule of thumb is to keep 2 of each pantry item on hand. For our family, this looks like 2 canned corn, 2 canned green beans, 2 pasta sauce, etc. Once I use one or both of an item, it goes on the grocery list on the fridge.

Donate unused non-perishables

Have something in your cupboard your family wasn’t into? Grab the wrong item on accident and now it’s sitting in your cupboard? Gather up the items in your pantry that you know you probably won’t be eating and consider donating it to your local food shelf. I try to do this at least twice a year. It never fails that I have at least a couple items in my cupboard that I just haven’t used or maybe we just bought way too much of. Take this time to free up space in your cupboards and give back to your community.

Only buy what you need

Now that you have taken inventory and have cleared out some space, try to stick to the “two” rule. Stocking up may seem like it’s saving you money but I often find that we save way more by just buying what we need as we run out and by keeping two of each item on hand, you eliminate frequent trips to the grocery store. This also comes in handy when we are doing our monthly budget because we have a much better idea of what we actually spend on groceries every month. Figure out what your family eats the most of and decide what you plan on cooking for the next week before you stock up.

Organize your dry goods

As for your flour, sugars and dry goods, consider purchasing air tight containers like the Rubbermaid Brilliance or OXO containers and label them. These save you money by keeping your ingredients fresh so you don’t have to toss that unsealed flour or your brown sugar that has turned into a rock. They are also clear so you can see exactly what you have and know when to stock back up. I use these removable pantry labels to label all of my containers and they work great with dry erase or permanent marker. They stick great but remove without residue and can be used again. I use them everywhere in my house.

I hope these tips put you well on your way to an organized kitchen. I know that keeping an organized pantry makes meal planning for the week so much easier for me since I already know what we have. Good luck!

Laura_Signature


Cleaning Product Round-up

When was the last time you went through the cleaning supplies under your sink.. It’s probably been a hot minute. I feel you. Before we dive too deep into our spring cleaning, let’s take a look at the cleaning supplies you plan on using and decide whether or not they are the best option for cleaning your home.

With a toddler around, it’s important for us to make sure cleaning supplies aren’t accessible to our little rugrat but it’s also important for us to do our homework and make sure we’re using non-toxic cleaning supplies. Today I will cover common household cleaners and their “cleaner” dupe for making your household safer for your family.

Standard Glass Cleaner vs. 50/50 Vinegar Water 

This alternative to common window cleaners is safe and also CHEAP. Mix 50/50 distilled water and white distilled vinegar inside of a spray bottle and enjoy a non-toxic, streak free shine on all of your windows!

Common All Purpose Cleaner vs Thieves/On Guard

I recently made the switch to using Thieves/On Guard (whichever you prefer, I use both!) all purpose cleaner. I had been using Method brand all purpose sprays but still felt like the scents were a little too harsh. It’s still a “cleaner” option over Lysol or Clorox sprays as it is plant derived, but it still contains ingredients that you wouldn’t want your baby putting in their mouth.. With your homemade Thieves/On Guard spray, you can basically clean anything. I have used it to clean the upholstery on our couches, disinfect toys, spray carpets and rugs to deodorize, cleanup spills, wash the high chair.. The list goes on! And the best part is that it’s completely safe for your little one. No need to rinse.

Disinfecting Wipes vs Green Works Wipes

Being mindful of the amount of waste we produce is so important. Did you know that almost all disinfecting wipes are not biodegradable? That’s right folks. They are made of synthetic fibers that decompose slowly in our landfills. And most name brand wipes use a solution that is to be rinsed thoroughly with water, especially if you are cleaning an area that will be in contact with food. I used these bad boys for YEARS until I learned the truth.. A better solution is the Green Works Compostable Cleaning Wipes. These wipes are made of natural wood-based fibers and are made with 97% naturally derived ingredients. They make quick clean-ups a breeze, they’re safe for our little ones and they are better for our planet. Win, win, win.

As you begin your spring cleaning, I hope you keep these swaps in mind. In the end, you will have a clean home, more money in your pocket and our earth will thank you. Friends don’t let friends clean with chemicals. Happy Cleaning!

Laura_Signature


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!

Emily_Signature

 

 


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!

Laura_Signature