My (super secret) Sanity Savers

When I first started staying home, I was 4 months pregnant with my second and had no idea what I was getting myself into. Within two weeks, I was bored. My two year old was bored and there were only so many parks in the state of Oregon. I knew I had to get some sort of routine in place and figure out what my purpose was (and how to survive) at home.

I turned to Pinterest and found an unbelievable amount of inspiration. I started with activities that were easy, fun and educational. This has since turned into what we refer to as “Tot School” but these are still my go to tricks to do whatever I need to do….you know…take a shower, do some laundry or just drink a hot cup of coffee.

Pom Poms

I don’t know what it is about Pom Pom’s but they have some sort of toddler magic woven throughout….whatever they are made of (I literally have no idea) but I pull these out for so many different activities. You can buy them here. When I bought these, I don’t even think I knew why but here are just a few of the things I have used them for:

  • Pom Pom Drop: Take empty toilet paper and paper towel roll tubes and adhere (I don’t care how…I used Zots) to Kraft paper or directly to wall (DON’T use Zots on your wall)! Give child pom poms. Let them drop them through the tubes with their hands….tongs…whatever they want. If you really want to make it interesting….give them a few containers to move around to catch the pom poms.
  • Pom Pom Sort: I’ve used muffin tins, shape sorters & egg cartons. We sorted by size & color. We counted. We scooped and poured and transferred to our hearts content.
  • Pom Pom Launchers: my husband and I may or may not have played with these after the kids went to bed.

Continue reading “My (super secret) Sanity Savers”


Mickey Mouse Safari Birthday Party – Printables & Source List

Header Safari Party 1

Not only are my children born two days apart but they are also born during the busiest time of the year – December. Yes, apparently I am only fertile during the month of March so I just recently took my chastity belt off. Phew!

I love birthdays and I love parties so I vowed that I would make my children feel special by honoring their own day. No joint birthday parties in this house! Well the first time my pledge was challenged it was knocked down by a little voice in my head saying Ronen is only 1! He doesn’t have an opinion!! Take advantage of this time!

So I had this idea of a modern safari-themed birthday party but our 4 year-old daughter had plans of her own. She kept asking to have a Mickey Mouse Safari. I was hesitant since we had a Minnie Mouse themed party for her second birthday. But I gave in because (sigh) she is right. Mickey makes everything better and after all it is her party too, I guess.

As usual my Pinterest search yielded great inspiration and pictures. The Mickey Mouse Safari theme is very popular in Brazil. The sites that I came across offered the printables for free! I love, love free stuff! I was getting confused between the different websites I was visiting, especially since it was in Portuguese. I found myself thinking that I wished these sites were all on one list. Thus this blog post was born. So here is all you need to know to throw a DIY Mickey Mouse (and friends) themed Safari party.


I loved this safari themed invitation because the girl and boy reminded me of Auburn and Ronen. I was so happy that Misty from Gracie Girl Designs was able to add Mickey Mouse to the mix!
Safari Invitation
Backdrop & Photo booth Area: 

This jungle tree backdrop  from Amazon really added to the atmosphere of the party. The backdrop is huge. It is 4′ x 30′. Yes 30 feet. I used it to cover the whole back wall and the photoshoot corner. It is a great buy at only $15.79.

The jeep photo prop was a hit. The kids loved it! It was $8 well spent. I also bought these Giant 11 piece Safari Balloon Bouquet through Amazon. The foil animal shape balloons were awesome! had the best prices for the safari party hats, wild animal masks and wild animal noses.

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 11.00.54 PM

I used this free printable banner from for the ‘Roar for 4’ banner, safari hats and the sour belt sticks. I love the colors in this printable package! This print kit offers everything from cupcake wrappers and invitations to tea bag labels (you read that right) and thank you cards. I printed these at home with card stock paper. Brochure paper works well too and can be purchased on Amazon.

I mixed this printable in since it featured a Minnie Mouse graphic. I used it for the sour belts and the water bottle labels. The sour belts on sticks were Auburn’s favorite item from the party!

MM Safari 2
I had to find these files individually so I attached them here to download directly. Just click on the image.
For Ronen’s birthday banner I used this printable to mix it up. I think the baby safari animals are so cute. There are a total of 7 different animals in this package.

Dessert Table


The closest I got to having a ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ party for Ronen’s first birthday was this shirt. I purchased it from the Ollie&Penny Etsy shop.

MM Safari 3

Header Safari
The cakes were a steal. I bought both cakes from Albertsons and my friend made the cake toppers with her cricut and glitter card stock. The giraffe themed smash cake was only $12.
As party favors I created a coloring/activity book and bought twig colored pencils from World Market and safari themed temporary tattoos.
Coloring Book
 Twig Pencils
Here is a link to Mickey Mouse Safari Coloring pages in case you want to create your own coloring/activity book. I added personalized pages in the activity book like the one below. There are so many different ways you put your own personal touch on it.
Activity Book
So there you have it! You can do any of the above or you can just have a party at the park with some push pops and party supplies from Party City. That’s what I’m doing next year. But where’s the stress in that?!

Happy partying!
Health + Fitness · Motherhood

Week 5 Meal Plan

Weekly Meal Plan 5

When I got pregnant with Lucy, I never imagined being a Stay at Home Mom. I loved my job. I was good at my job. I was having the time of my life. After she was born, my priorities shifted….but not how you might think. I absolutely do not think that our children are better off if their mom is at home and I absolutely do not think that the quality of life of a child is better because they have a Stay at Home Mom. In fact, the hardest part of deciding to leave the work force to stay home was removing Lucy from her school. Lucy’s caretakers were/are the most amazing people I know….still to this day they love my daughter like their own. They build me up, encourage me and cheer me on in anything I decide to do (like this blog). When I have a question, they are only a phone call (let’s be honest….text) away. They taught my daughter sign language, they taught her to crawl…to walk….they loved her and they loved our family and our life would not be the same without them.  They are the best.

My priorities shifted in that I could not stop thinking about the future. What she would need from me. Materialistically. Everything from diapers to college to her future wedding and all I saw were dollar signs. So, I left a job I loved for one that paid more putting aside passion for money and boy was I disappointed. More money didn’t change the way we lived. I was more distracted, more stressed and less fulfilled. I will cut myself a little slack in that I was travelling 3-4 times a week with my previous job while pumping in airport bathrooms (sobbing I might add) and construction trailers while my husband held down the fort at home…so that too played into my decision but still…I did it for the money. Anyway, when we found out we were pregnant with Eli…we both knew that if there was ever a time….it was then and I would take that opportunity to spend the summer with Lucy…just her and I and then stay home after Eli was born. Again, this wasn’t our plan.

Fast forward to just a few weeks ago. I was chatting with a woman who I look up to in every way. A wife…a mother…a boss….a mentor. A beautiful, brilliant, strong, gentle woman who I simply adore. She casually mentioned how impressed she was with the way I had taken on my new role at home and I was awe struck. I of course thanked her and said it “was nothing” or some other garbage but it meant the absolute world to me. It is not easy….I am working my ass off. She still to this day has no idea the impact her words had on me. I wanted to kiss her (did I mention she is beautiful too?)! So, as we sat there while our kids were in swim lessons, we chatted about the challenges of balancing life…work…play…love, etc. We talked about meal planning and as we talked I started to think about it….how did I do it? How could I have done it better? How can a working parent get dinner on the table without a service like Hello Fresh, Plated or something of that nature? Which by the way are really great options too. No, seriously….if I could afford it…you bet your bottom dollar this would be part of my arsenal. My point is, cooking for my family every night is “easy” compared to how it was when I was working full time….rushing home from work…scrambling to get something on the table….while trying to give my undivided attention to my child….while stressing about the email I received before leaving the office (that I knew I would need to respond to after Lucy went to bed). So, I started thinking about recipes that would allow you to prep the night before. How can you still cook your family dinner, eat it together and get the kids to bed at a decent hour? How could one make this work? Unfortunately, I haven’t solved this conundrum….BUT I do have a couple tools that I think might help.

  1. I would say a meal plan is the first place to start. If you know what you’re making, you’re already ahead of the game. Hopefully I can help you out here but if not, just make anything Skinnytaste. Damn Gina….for real though.
  2. Meal prep is next. If you can prep it the night before, you’re bound for success. Chop the veggies, make the sauce, marinate the meat, shred the cheese, etc.
  3. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. Seriously, I was killing myself and at the end of the day….the meal I put on the table literally means nothing. I could serve toast and everyone would love me just the same. BUT…..if you’re local (where are all my Portland, Oregon peeps at???) I have a much better option than toast!! That break I mentioned? You can find it by exploring the healthy and delicious meal plan offered by PDX Meal Prep! Trust me! You won’t be disappointed, you will feel good about what you’re feeding your family and you will have all the time in the world to read that extra book or finish that puzzle that you would otherwise miss out on….seriously…what more could you ask for? And because PDX Meal Prep is not only an awesome product/service….they are also AWESOME people….they are offering M&M readers a pretty sweet deal!


So, if you’re still reading this and haven’t forgotten why you started reading in the first place….here are a handful of recipes to help you get dinner on the table. This week is dedicated to all of the amazing working moms out there who manage to do all the things. I found 5 recipes that I think can reasonably be prepared on a weeknight after work….all of which would be awesome leftovers for lunch the next day!

Week 5_V2


  1. Ravioli with Sauteed Asparagus & Walnuts via Green Valley Kitchen
  2. Honey Chipotle Chicken Bowls with Lime Quinoa via How Sweet Eats
  3. Turkey Taco Quinoa Skillet via Spoonful of Flavor
  4. Chinese Green Beans via The Weary Chef
  5. Thai Red Curry Chicken via Carlsbad Cravings


Week 5 Grocery List (Download here if that’s easier)*: 

*Originally I was listing all ingredients including olive oil, salt & pepper but if you don’t have these ingredients….just order take out. 

  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 packs of ground turkey
  • 1 package of ravioli – I used the four cheese ravioli from Costco
  • uncooked Quinoa
  • medium grain rice (or whatever rice you want)
  • shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • grated parmesan
  • Asian/Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
  • sesame oil
  • chili garlic sauce
  • hoisin sauce
  • soy sauce
  • fish sauce
  • seasoned rice vinegar
  • red curry paste
  • sriracha (optional)
  • honey mustard
  • dijon mustard
  • honey
  • adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • dried basil
  • brown sugar
  • coconut oil
  • butter
  • cornstarch
  • walnut pieces
  • ½ pound of asparagus
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 limes
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • parsley
  • cilantro
  • green onions
  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 small zucchini
  • spring greens
  • cherry tomatoes
  • green onions
  • fresh ginger
  • avocado
  • 2 yellow onions
  • low-sodium chicken stock
  • 4 ounce can diced green chiles
  • 5 ounce can black beans
  • 1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • 14.5 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • frozen corn
  • jarred salsa


Lucy Logue by Annie Helen-4352


Week 4 Meal Plan

Weekly Meal Plan 4

Are blog crushes a thing? Like a girl crush? I’m new to this blogging thing so I’m not sure but I know I have many girl crushes….I’m looking at you @shortlistmeals but I’m starting to have some serious blog crushes too. Two of which are included in this week’s meal plan. Iowa Girl Eats & Carlsbad Cravings….you cannot go wrong. Their blogs are aesthetically clean and easy to navigate and their food is DELISH. Play recipe roulette….you can’t lose.


  1. Sausage & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
  2. Easy Apricot Chicken & Broccoli
  3. Baked Tacos
  4. BBQ Chicken Sliders & Carrot Fries
  5. Sweet Chili Coconut Lime Chicken & Cauliflower Rice
  6. Asian Sweet Chili Sesame Chicken

Week 4_V3


Recipe 1: Sausage & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash via BuzzFeed Tasty

Recipe 2: Easy Apricot Chicken & Broccoli via Lauren Conrad* (over rice)

*This recipe doesn’t include how to prepare the broccoli so if you don’t have a preference, here is my absolutely favorite way to serve it up at our house!!!

Recipe 3: Baked Tacos AGAIN* & my favorite refried beans EVER (that I literally eat with a spoon)

*I use ground turkey instead of beef and you can put whatever toppings you want on your tacos. Duh. 

Recipe 4: BBQ Pulled Chicken Sliders & Carrot Fries*

* No recipe…sorry!! Using Costco Rotisserie Chicken Breast Meat, I just throw it in the crock-pot with your favorite bbq sauce (we keep it simple with Sweet Baby Ray’s Original – also available at Costco) and warm it up. Throw it on MY FAVORITE slider buns which is no surprise to anyone: Original Hawaiian Sweet Rolls  with some coleslaw and its an easy dinner that we like to throw together over the weekend.I serve this up with carrot fries which I also don’t have a recipe for so I just picked the first one that showed up on Pinterest —> Carrot Fries

Recipe 5: Sweet Chili Coconut-Lime Chicken with Cauliflower Rice via Iowa Girl Eats

Recipe 6: Asian Sweet Chili Sesame Chicken via Carlsbad Cravings with sliced cucumbers over rice

Week 4 Grocery List*: 

*Originally I was listing all ingredients including olive oil, salt & pepper but if you don’t have these ingredients….just order take out. 

  • 1/2 lb sausage
  • 9-12 chicken breasts
  • 2 lbs ground beef, lean (I use ground turkey)
  • rotisserie chicken breast meat
  • 2 small/medium acorn squash (or one large)
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 apple
  • 2 heads – broccoli crowns
  • 1 medium-sized head cauliflower or cauliflower pearls
  • about 10-12 medium pound carrots
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 lime
  • onion
  • jalapeño
  • 9 garlic cloves
  • cole slaw
  • cilantro
  • green onions
  • taco toppings
  • 2 cups pinto beans dry, rinsed
  • 6 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 Lipton Onion Soup packet
  • 1 jar or apricot preserves (about 1 cup)
  • 1 bottle of Russian Dressing
  • your fave bbq sauce
  • unsweetened light coconut milk
  • sweet chili sauce
  • cornstarch
  • sriracha (optional)
  • low sodium soy sauce
  • ketchup
  • brown sugar
  • hoisin sauce
  • rice wine vinegar
  • sesame oil
  • dried red pepper flakes
  • cumin
  • taco seasoning
  • thyme
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • ginger powder
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • sliced almonds
  • slider buns
  • 12 small flour tortillas
  • panko breadcrumbs
  • brown rice
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • pecorino cheese
  • shredded cheddar cheese


Lucy Logue by Annie Helen-4352


Week 3 Meal Plan

Week 3

Next week, I will start posting our meal plans on Sunday mornings because no one meal plans on Monday right? That’s what I’ve heard but I wasn’t ready yesterday and I had a doozy of a day so next week it is!


Week 3_V3

Recipe 1: Chicken Parm Lasagna Roll-Ups

Recipe 2: Baked Verde Chicken Roll-Ups

Recipe 3: Chicken Apple Sausage & Sweet Potato “salad”* 

Recipe 4: Asian Turkey Meatballs & Carrot Rice

Recipe 5: Curry Mini Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries (I use ground turkey)

*I don’t have a recipe for the Chicken Apple Sausage & Sweet Potato “Salad”. My friend Maria introduced me to this deliciousness and I love it because it is ridiculously easy to throw together. I just slice the Chicken Apple Sausage (I get mine from Costco) and pan fry it. Do the same with a sweet potato until soft (to your preference). Throw the sausage/sweet potato mixture over greens of your choice. Maria uses Kale…we used spinach…both are delicious. Sprinkle feta on top and that is about it.

Grocery list can be found here: Week 3 Grocery List or listed below.

Continue reading “Week 3 Meal Plan”

Health + Fitness · Motherhood



Toddler Muffins

Are you making breakfast right now? Does your child eat eggs? Seriously…how and why does mine NOT eat eggs? As you have probably noticed by now….my 2.5 year old has become the pickiest of eaters. I know what you’re thinking…its normal…I know. I’m actually okay with it. After many discussions with our pediatrician and scouring of the internet, I am at peace with it and no longer engage in the power struggle of force feeding my toddler. I offer her whatever it is we’re eating and if she chooses to eat it…great and if not, that’s okay too. We do not praise nor condemn either. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t drive me absolutely CRAZY!!! “Deep breath” is my dinner time chant these days. While I try not to show my frustration (key word here being try)…I am not above secretly adding veggies to anything and everything I possibly can. Pancakes, cookies, muffins, grilled cheese, mac and cheese (speaking of…have you seen this: you name it…if I can sneak a carrot or zucchini in it…I’m doing it. When I found this recipe, I made it as is and it’s delicious. Then I started playing around with it. I added chocolate chips, carrots, zucchini and all variations were just as good.  She loves them. My husband loves them. I love them. They’re delicious and fairly easy to throw together. I usually double the recipe and freeze half. These are great to have on hand. Also, I cut the sugar in half. They are plenty sweet.