Sneaky ways to get kids to eat vegetables

Sneaky ways to get kids to eat vegetables

As a kid, the only vegetables I would eat were potatoes, corn and tomatoes (in the form of ketchup or ‘spaghetti’ sauce, not actual tomatoes). Even as a teenager, I was made fun of by friends and family for eating my sandwiches and burgers sans veggies. I’ve come to love some vegetables and tolerate most but they’re definitely an acquired taste.

My girls are pretty much following in my footsteps as not being part of the veggie fan club. I’m not one to force feed them anything so until they make the conscious decision to eat vegetables on their own, I sneak them into some of their favorite foods.

Pureed pumpkin is an easy one to sneak into Pumpkin muffins, pancakes or even Pumpkin macaroni and cheese. I’ve tricked the girls into eating these delish pumpkin pancakes from How To Simplify. Throw a little maple syrup or peanut butter on top and they eat them right up without even a second thought that there may be veggies hidden in their beloved pancakes.

My girls really dig smoothies (this May or may not be because mom occasionally refers to them as milkshakes – don’t judge). Smoothies are a great way to sneak in veggies but don’t go overboard or the kids will sniff them out. I’ll throw a few spinach leaves into berry based smoothies, cucumber slices with pineapple smoothies and shredded carrot or carrot juice in with citrus based smoothies. We don’t really do recipes when it comes to smoothies, I just throw some frozen fruit (bananas are great for added sweetness), a complementary veggie, some Greek yogurt for protein and milk or coconut water and blend into a drinkable consistency. You can also make extra and throw it in some Popsicle mold for a tasty frozen treat later.

My favorite way to sneak veggies into my kids food is through marinara sauce. Granted, marinara is tomatoes but I like to add extra vegetables on top if that. This is my favorite clean marinara sauce recipe from Skinny Ms.

Sneaky ways to get kids to eat vegetables

I actually just whipped up a batch yesterday. I throw about half a cup of shredded carrots and half a cup of fresh spinach (you could totally use frozen) in with the tomatoes for extra veggie power.

Sneaky ways to get kids to eat vegetables

After it cooks and cools a bit, I put it in the blender to get a smooth consistency and to erase the evidence of the carrots and spinach. I divide the sauce up into the small snack sized ziplock bags and then throw them in the freezer. I like the small snack size bags because you can always defrost more than one.

I use this sauce over pasta, with meatballs and on pizza and the girls love it.

I also find that cooking with my kids makes them more willing to try new foods, including veggies.

What are your secrets to getting your kids to eat vegetables and other healthy foods?

{happy veggie hiding}

Balancing house and home: 40 bags in 40 days

Balancing house & home: 40 bags in 40 days My house used to be (somewhat) organized and pretty free of clutter. Now, with a full time job, two kids and an overwhelming amount of stuff, my house is a complete disaster zone most of the time. It takes a pretty significant amount of effort to whip it into shape suitable for anyone outside our family to visit. There is ridiculous amount of clutter and toys everywhere and no on can ever find anything in a reasonable amount of time. As one of my New Years resolutions, I’ve decided to take part in a 40 bags in 40 days challenge. I, along with 7 other bloggers, will be whipping our homes into shape by identifying 40 areas that need a little (or a lot) of help. The goal is to eliminate one bag (large or small) of stuff from each problem area per day to be donated or thrown away. At first this sounded kind of like a daunting task (especially considering I have to find time each day to do this for 40 days). I feel good about having something that forces me to do this and gives me a pretty specific timeline (and blogging about it keeps me accountable). I’m also going to enlist the help of my family (since a lot of this stuff is theirs too), which I think we make it slightly less overwhelming. I’ve taken a good look at the stuff in my house that drives me nuts and come up with these areas as my main problems:

  • Paper – important paperwork, bills, magazines/catalogs, kids artwork/school papers
  • Toys – everywhere
  • Clothes – kids, mom and dad
  • Laundry and linens – no real functional storage space
  • Kitchen – gadgets, cleaning supplies, utensils, pantry

I started an organization Pinterest board to get some ideas for how to get my mess under control without having to spend a ton of money (cuz Mama would rather spend money on shoes than fancy storage containers). I’ll be documenting my progress with blog posts every Friday over the next 6 weeks. Next week I’ll tell you a bit about my overall strategy and how I’m prioritizing my problem areas (and my time).

You can also check out the progress of the other 7 amazing bloggers that are part of this challenge at the InLinkz link below. Be sure to check us out with the hashtag #40bags40days on social media or visit our group board on Pinterest.

Want to take the challenge yourself? Here is a printable list to use to help choose and prioritize your problem areas.


An InLinkz Link-up

A New Year means time for a change

A New Year is time for a changeEvery year I make the same resolutions for the new year (lose weight, get organized, save money, blah blah blah). And some years I accomplish some of these things, and some years I don’t. I was leaning towards ba hum bugging the resolution thing this year since I feel like it’s never really that much of a motivator and then I just feel like a failure (and that’s just dumb).

But in favor of making good small changes this  year, I decided to do something a little different, and a little more detailed, to change things up a bit. I’m making 5 resolutions, one for each area of my life. I’m also getting a little more specific than usual as I think vague resolutions are harder to keep. I’ve included a plan (yeah some of the plans are a little vague but just work with me here).

Resolution: I will make more of an effort to show my husband he is loved. Ok he knows I love him but I often get wrapped up in the kids and life and forget to really express to him how much I love him.
Plan: Do one thing every day to make him feel special and add a daily reminder to my phone calendar. Yeah this sounds dumb but I seriously need a daily reminder to keep myself accountable and make sure I don’t start slacking. Thinking around 7:30 pm right before kids go to bed so that if I haven’t already done something that day I can be sure to do so in the few hours we have alone together.

Resolution: I will work on being more patient with my kids. This I can be really bad with, especially during hectic moments like trying to get out the door in the morning.
Plan: Planning extra time for hectic activities so we’re not so rushed. Also taking time to slow down and enjoying moments instead of just worrying about checking things off my list.

Resolution: I will get (and keep) my home more organized. No more searching for things because I can’t remember where I put them or because they’re lost under a pile of crap.
Plan: I’m taking a 40 bags in 40 days challenge starting January 2nd that will help me get rid of a lot if the stuff I’ve been hoarding over the last couple years (come back Jan 2nd to learn more).

Resolution: I will continue to try to be the healthiest version of myself. Not only do I want to feel confident in my own skin and be healthy, but I want my girls to see that being strong and healthy are an important part of life. And that obsessing about being healthy is different than obsessing about being skinny.
Plan: I’m planning to eliminate most processed crap, dairy and gluten from my diet (not because I think everyone should but because I simply feel better when I eat whole, natural foods). I also plan to continue running, completing two relays and another half marathon this year.

Resolution: I will take better care of myself (including making time for myself). It’s so easy to get caught up in the needs of everyone else in my life and forget about taking care of myself (like forgetting to eat dinner) or not taking a few minutes to myself each day to decompress (so I don’t want to punch people).
Plan: Build in time each day into my personal routines. Maybe this means 15 minutes less of nighttime TV or using my lunch hours to do something for me.

I’m looking forward to the new year and what it has in store. Oh and I’ll also be redesigning my blog and moving my domain in the next week so stay tuned!!!

{Happy New Year}

Christmas with kids: Our DIY ornaments

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about our holiday tradition of creating holiday ornaments as gifts for the girls’ grandparents (cheap and they’re guaranteed to love them). I linked to 5 different DIY ornament tutorials and told ya I’d be back to let you know which one we ended up doing.

Here are our finished ornaments. (Drumroll please)Pom Pom Wreath Ornaments

OK so these don’t look exactly like the lovely original version but they’re handmade with love by my little ones so I think they’re great. The original pom pom wreath ornament tutorial seemed pretty simple, which is why I chose it. I also liked that it incorporated photos, which meant that I could make use of a few of the hundreds of wallet sized prints we had from Lucy’s school photos.

I tweaked the above tutorial a bit (and listed my instructions below) based on the materials I was able to find.


  • 1-2 sheets of craft foam in desired color
  • 3 packages of pom poms in desired color(s) (you might need more or less depending on how many you are making)
  • photos (I used wallet size prints)
  • ornament hook or ribbon
  • craft glue


  1. Trace and cut circles on a sheet of green craft foam (I know this is real scientific but I used a the outer rim of a cup). You could use whatever round object you have or just draw a circle freehand if you’re talented (which I’m not).
  2. Trace and cut circles out of the photos (I used a shot glass and wallet size prints – classy I know).Pom Pom Wreath Ornaments
  3. Glue the photo to the center of the foam circles with craft glue. (Note: this is where the kids started helping me, but if your kids are older, they could help with the tracing and cutting in steps 1 and 2)
  4. Apply glue to pom poms and arrange around photo as pictured. You can put some glue on a plate and let the kids dip the poms in glue or apply glue directly to craft foam and arrange poms on glue. (Note: if you’re OCD like me and your kids are helping, look away or leave the room as you may be tempted to rearrange the pom poms in an orderly fashion so they look more like the original tutorial photos.) Let glue dry.
  5. Flip ornaments over and glue ribbon or ornament hanger to back of ornament.

Ta-da! Easily done in an afternoon (on Christmas Eve in our case). Sorry for the lack of photos, I was preoccupied making Christmas Eve dinner while working on these with the girls and forgot to take in progress photos.

The grandparents loved them and I had the girls make a 3rd set for our tree. They’re not perfect but perfect to me because they’re handmade by my babes. I can’t wait for next Christmas when we can enjoy them on our tree.

{Until next year}

My favorite things: Cozy pajamas

My favorite things: Cozy pajamas

I love being in my pajamas! If it were socially acceptable, I would wear them 24/7. The second I get home, it’s comfy clothes on. Lately, I’ve noticed that my current selection of pajamas is pretty weak. It pretty much consists of old black yoga pants (all of which are a size or two too big and have a hole somewhere in them) and old shelf bra tanks with baggy hoodies. Not cute at all.

I decided that for Christmas this year, I’m going to give myself some cute new (holiday and non-holiday) pajamas so I don’t feel quite so frumpy while lounging around at home (and so I’m not terrified of answering my door while in said pajamas). I’ll also be adding a few pajama options that I think my husband will appreciate, but we don’t need to talk about those.

Here are the pajamas I’m loving right now:

The Fireside Long Jane Pajamas, Victoria’s Secret – these are seriously adorable (and they’re from VS so they qualify as a little sexy, too). The winter fair isle print is cute enough for Christmas but the pink and grey keep them from being Christmas-y so they can be worn all winter long. Plus, the sleep mask makes daytime napping easier (who am I kidding, I don’t have time for daytime naps).

My favorite things: Cozy pajamas

Polka-Dot Flannel Pajamas, JCrew – these flannel pjs are grown up without being boring. Perfect for Christmas and cold winter nights.

Graphic Jersey Sleep Shirt, Old Navy – This sleep shirt is cute and the graphic text adds a sparkly touch any girl would love. If you’re not a bare leg kind of girl (or you haven’t shaved lately because, you know, it’s winter), throw on some comfy leggings.My favorite things: Cozy pajamas

Lights Out Pajamas, Nordstrom –  how can you resist a dog wearing ear muffs, I mean really!?! These playful pjs are fun without being too juvenile (no sponge bob character pjs please).

My favorite things: Cozy pajamasEberjey Sadie Leggings and Pullover, Anthropologie –  these grown up pajamas won’t leave you embarrassed when an unexpected visitor drops by. You could probably even get away with running a quick errand (like the Starbucks drive thru) in these babies without looking completely ridiculous.My favorite things: Cozy pajamas

I’m all about comfort but that doesn’t mean I have to look like a slob. Can’t wait to snuggle up with my man in my cozy new pajamas.

What’s your pajama style?

{Sweet dreams}

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Christmas with kids: 5 DIY ornaments kids can make

Christmas with kids: 5 DIY ornaments kids can makeEvery year, the girls and I make some kind of gift to give their grandparents (because homemade gifts are like crack to grandparents). The past two years, we’ve made ornaments (and I always have them make an extra set of ornaments for our tree too).

  • In 2012, we did footprint/handprint salt dough ornaments that Lucy and I painted red.
  • In 2013, Lucy and Olivia made popsicle stick frames that we added our Santa pictures to.

Christmas with kids: DIY Ornaments kids can make

With 8 days left until Christmas, I just realized I hadn’t thought about what their gift would be this year. The girls decided they wanted to make ornaments as their gifts again this year, so like any Pinterest addict, I started searching for easy ornaments that the girls could make (with a little help from Mom). There are so many cute options out there but some of them require more talent than this mom has.

I’m leaning towards doing one of these 5 choices, which seem pretty simple and easy for the kids to do/help with. I’m under no illusion that our ornaments will look as ‘fancy’ as some of these but they’re special because they’re made with love (if I wanted fancy I would go to the store and buy fancy ornaments). I’ll post a quick tutorial and pics of our final ornaments after Christmas (so as not to spoil the surprise).

5 DIY ornaments for kids to make

1. Glitter Cookie Cutter Ornaments, Centsational Girl


2. Pom Pom Wreath Photo Ornaments, Sheknows
pom pom wreath


3. Scrabble Christmas Ornaments, Mom 4 Real


4. Popsicle Stick Ornaments, Hands on as we grow
Christmas ornaments kids can make


5. Block Photo Ornaments, Crafting Chicks
ornament 2

Head on over to my gifts kids can make Pinterest board for more ornament and gift ideas that kids can make (with a little help from Mom or Dad).

{Merry crafting}

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Quick workouts to beat the holiday bulge

Quick workouts to beat the holiday bulge | Macaroni & Mascara

With all the family and social gatherings, holiday shopping and kids programs/parties, it’s not easy to carve out time to fit in a run or a trip to the gym. But with 10 days until Christmas, I feel like I’ve already overindulged on holiday cheer (ie sweets, carbs and wine). So, in an effort to not be completely terrified of stepping on the scale post-holidays (and just feeling generally crappy), I’m trying to squeeze in quick workouts when I can.

Here are some of the quick and uncomplicated workout videos I like to do at home (no crazy equipment required).

5 minutes

5 minutes to Slim HIIT Cardio (Fitness Blender) – try this right before you hop in the shower in the morning or while the kiddos are eating lunch/dinner. You’ll increase your heart rate and work your entire body.

10 minutes

Kitchen Cardio (Barre3) – this is one of my favorite quick workouts. Do it first thing in the morning or while you’re cooking in the kitchen. It’s low impact (and won’t leave you a sweaty mess) but gets your heart pumping.

15 minutes

Hump Day HIIT (Tone It Up) – this high intensity interval training workout really works your whole body with a combination of toning and cardio intervals. Got 30 minutes? Do this workout twice in a row! Or do it once in the morning and once in the evening for twice the calorie torching benefits.

The holidays come but once a year so I allow myself to enjoy a little treat here and there (and anything goes on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day). Trying to squeeze in quick workouts helps combat my eating guilt and some of the extra calories I consume. Also, I try to make sure to drink LOTS of water (like 8 glasses or more) to combat dehydration, which can lead to more munching. It also keeps my skin from going all oily/dry/flaky/gross.

For more quick workouts (and other good stuff), head on over to Macaroni and Mascara on Pinterest.

{Work it out}

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My baby isn’t a baby anymore

My baby isn't a baby anymore

This past weekend, my sweet baby Olivia turned 2. She has officially entered into toddlerhood (thought she’s been acting like a toddler for a couple of months now). She’s talking up a storm, running, climbing, throwing and doing everything she can to drive mom and dad crazy. And it makes me really a little sad.

With my first child, Lucy, I looked forward to every milestone. I couldn’t wait for her to roll over, take her first steps or look at me and say ‘mama’. Every milestone meant I was that much closer to seeing her real personality (and getting her potty trained). The more she grew, the more I saw a funny, independent girl with an infectious giggle who is a little shy until you get to know her.

I thought the second child would be the same, everything would be just as exciting. Well it’s not. And not because I’m not excited to see Olivia’s personality develop (or because I’m sleep-deprived and really only excited by wine these days), but because she’s my last baby (no we’re not going to try for a boy). She is the last baby to kick in my stomach. The last sweet smelling baby to fall asleep on my chest. The last baby to say ‘mama’ for the first time and to take her first steps. She is the last baby to use the infant car seat, the bumbo, the walker, the jump jump and all the other baby crap stuff we so carefully selected after pouring over reviews and recall lists. When we move her into her big girl bed in the next week, I think I may lose it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to a future without diapers (and a diaper bag). I’m looking forward to 8 hours of sleep (and maybe even more on the weekends). I’m looking forward to eating a hot meal and being able to pee alone. But I never expected to be so sad about my baby growing out of being a baby.

I read an article on Scary Mom by Susie Johnson the other day that put this feeling so perfectly:

And all those fantasies I’d had in my head of uninterrupted showers and clean kitchen floors and a house that stayed neat for more than twelve minutes, well, they weren’t so appealing anymore.

All of a sudden the only things I could think about were blankies and feet pajamas and sucking thumbs and strollers and coveralls that look like little teddy bears.

There is an end.

You will find yourself on the other side.

And it may be sooner than you think.

So whatever stage you are in right now, choose a moment.

A moment that you love.

Whether it’s rocking in the chair, or breastfeeding, or reading a story, or watching a movie.

Whether it’s sledding or snuggling or whatever it is, be mindful of that moment.

Because they are finite.

I know it seems like those unbearable moments of motherhood have no end in sight.

But they do.

Unfortunately, when they disappear, some of the bearable moments that you really enjoy go right along with them.

As I sit here surrounded by tissues, I leave you with one piece of advice: Mamas (and dads), cherish every moment with your babies (even the moments that suck), because they won’t be babies forever (one day they’ll be teenagers saying ‘I hate you’ and telling you how you’re ruining their lives).

{Let your babies be babies}

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My guy’s gift guide for guys


My Guy's gift guide for guys

I started writing this post according to what I thought guys would want to see under the tree this year. I asked my husband to take a quick look to get his opinion. Next thing I know, he’s adding his own commentary and basically taking over my post (thanks dear). I guess who better to tell you what guys might actually want for Christmas than a guy, right?!

So, with that, here is my guy’s guide to gifts for the men in your life.

Fun dress socks – we’re not talking white athletic socks like his mom used to buy him. Think argyle, stripes, masculine patterns that fit his personality. These are also an easy gift for kids to pick out for dad that he might actually wear.

Stan: First of all I agree with the entire socks thing. However, funny how the picture my wife chose has basically zero of the features she describes as cool. This is basically the opposite of what to do. This pair of socks features zero argyle, more of a dot than a stripe and those are masculine patterns?! On a serious note, good idea. Go crazy. Most of what us men have to wear for work and social occasions is pretty conservative. We view you, our female campadres, as the “cool fashion gods” so show us what you got.

Fun dress socks | My guy's gift guide for guys


Tickets to his favorite event – tailor this gift to his interests. A sporting event, concert, comedy show, musical, whatever strikes his fancy. My guy is hoping for tickets to the NCAA National Championship Football Game or Mumford and Sons.

Stan: Or Matthew Kearney!!!! Do you not listen to me woman? I agree with this but here’s the thing, and this might hurt your feelings ladies, if it’s a sporting event –  you should not go. Let him take a fellow married-with-kids buddy. He’ll really appreciate you for allowing him a night out with another buddy who cant get out often to get away from it all.

Sports equipment or accessories – again, tailor this gift to his particular sports interests. Think lessons, apparel, gear, shoes or gadgets. My guy is a golf fantic so he’s hoping for this golf bag organizer for our unorganized garage.

Stan: This better come pre-assembled. If not it quickly becomes simply the next chore I have to do around the house. And guess who’s project chores come last? Yep…Enjoy staying in your comfy never opened box in the garage. But hey, has a pretty picture on the box right?

Golf Organizer | My guys gift guide for guys

Drinkware –  if your husband occasionally enjoys a good drink, get him a nice bottle of his favorite adult beverage and some nice glasses with some of these extra-large ice cube molds. The larger cubes melt slower and won’t water down his drink.

Stan: You want to make this really cool? Get some initials on the glasses. And no. Not your initials or his or your children. The man wants some JR initials. As in JR Ewing people. The coolest man to ever lay foot on this planet. Not a second passes as I take a sip of some fine bourbon and not wish I was standing there in an awesome cowboy hat, cigar in the other hand and a Cheshire cat grin on my face. JR Freaking Ewing. Awesome.


Extra Large Ice Cube Molds | My Guy's gift guide for guys


Techie stuff – guys love gadgets and gizmos so things like a tablet, a Fitbit, GPS watch, GoPro camera or some Beats by Dre headphones can make great gifts for him.

Stan: Yep. Just wait for the Apple Watch. It. Will. Change. The. World.

Fitbit Charge | My Guy's gift guide for guys

Foodie stuff – while my husband would say this means ‘Get him a Traeger’ that may not be in everyone’s holiday budget. I mean actual food, like a Salami of the month membership from Olympic Provisions (what man doesn’t want a monthly delivery of meat) or the Sausage Sampler from New Braufels Smokehouse.

Stan: Let’s get straight to the point here ladies, this means less cooking for you.

Salami of the Month Club | My Guy's gift guide for guys


From the kids – my advice here is to go to Pinterest (follow us while you’re there), and search ‘kid gifts for dad’. Something they made (or you made and they basically scribbled on) will mean way more than an Mickey Mouse tie or something equally silly kids would pick out.

Stan: 100% true. We are secretly the same as you. Even though we did not bear these children, I have watched boys become men simply as a result of being a father. No greater honor. These kinds of gifts mean a lot to us.

There you have it. And my guy makes some very valid points (the food gift totally gets you off the hook for at least 1 or 2 meals). Hope this helps point you in the right direction for a gift your guy will actually be happy to receive this Christmas.

Need more holiday gift ideas? Check out our gift guides for kids and moms.

{Happy shopping}

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Christmas with kids: Our visit with Santa

Christmas with kids: Our visit with Santa

From the time you find out you’re going to be a parent (or want to be a parent), you have these visions of how picturesque certain moments with your children will be. You imagine all of these amazing Norman Rockwell-esque photos you’ll have to cherish for a lifetime (and brag about show to all of your friends).

And, then you get real and realize nothing ever goes as planned when kids are involved.

The ever popular visit with Santa is a great case in point. In my OCD, over-planning mom mind, I see my two well-dressed girls politely walking up to Santa and having a great little conversation about how good they’ve been and what they’d really like for Christmas. Then they hop up on his lap for a great photo op where they both smile their best toothy grin and look right at the camera. That’s Christmas card gold.

Now, let me tell you how this year’s visit with Santa really went down. Somehow on the ride to Macy’s, their hair and outfits became all kinds of disheveled and we got stuck in a torrential downpour (not a good start). Somehow, we managed to arrive at a time when there was no line (hallelujah). As we walked up to Santa, our oldest cowered behind me and refused to look at or talk to Santa (even though she happily sat on his lap last year). Our youngest ran up to the glitter covered faux presents that made up the Santa set and tried to walk off with one. I mean I get it, why talk to the guy in the big red suit when you can just grab a present and run right?

After 3 awkward attempts, this is the photo we ended up with. Now, other than the vacant look on my youngest’s face, there’s really nothing wrong with this photo. It’s a very respectable photo to send out as our family Christmas card. But it’s not quite what I had in my mind as a vision of our family. And I really let that get to me instead of really just laughing it off and being in the moment with my family (which I’m really kicking myself for now).

Christmas with kids: Visit with Santa

I guess the moral of the story is those Norman Rockwell moments just don’t exist in the real world so don’t set your family (and especially your kids) up for failure. I mean we all want the perfect photo with Santa, but can you blame your child for screaming their head off when you try to set them on the lap of a stranger in a weird red suit and a crazy beard (who probably smells a little funky).

And when you look back at the photo of said screaming toddler years from now, you’re going to laugh and treasure that moment. So just enjoy the experience of the Santa visit with your family, whether you get the perfect photo or the most perfectly awkward photo. Your family is perfect no matter what. Like I’ve said before, it takes being reminded what is important to forget what isn’t.

Want to hear more about adventures with kids at Christmas? Check out this post about decking the halls with kids.

{Ho ho ho}

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