Why I Bow Hunt

I’m venturing a bit with this blog post. It’s that time of year… the chill in the air, the leaves on the ground, harvest time, giving thanks… and hunting season! I love fall for all the same reasons most people do, but most of my weekends, starting October 1st, are spent in a tree in the middle of the woods in southwest Iowa.

It’s about this time of the season, after over a month of hunting that I start to wonder, myself, why I’m even doing this. Weekend after weekend, I sit freezing my buns off, waiting… waiting… and getting nothing. This year, especially, has been tough since I’m over 6 months pregnant. So, honestly, I’m writing this blog to remind myself why I do this to myself every fall. But, maybe, for those of you that actually read this, you’ll understand and learn my reasoning as well.

How it all began…

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Growing up, hunting was not something I ever even thought about doing. I really knew very little about it… rifle hunting was fairly common where I lived, but bow hunting was definitely not something I had been exposed to.

That was, until I met my husband, Alex, 8 years ago while working at Scheels. He worked in the hunting and fishing department, and even though I had been working there for a year, ringing people’s hunting equipment up, I still had zero interest or knowledge of the sport.

But… you know how dating goes… you’re always trying to impress, right? And I like to think of myself as a person who’s always open to try new things. So, after a few months of dating, when he asked if I wanted to go turkey hunting with him, I figured, why not?

I don’t remember this experience very well, and neither does he, but I don’t think it was the best first impression of hunting. All I remember is sitting in little chairs under a tree for what felt like way too long and literally nothing happened. Like, so… this is hunting? I remember he felt pretty bad about it, but I didn’t try going turkey hunting again that spring.

However, when fall came around, and he asked me if I’d like to join him in a tree stand while he bow hunted for deer, I gave him another chance. I think I bought a couple super inexpensive pieces of camouflage clothing, including a youth size jacket, woke up with him at God-knows-what-time in the morning, and snuck behind him as he lead me to a tree stand in the middle of some timber.

Again, the memories are foggy, but I remember watching several does and a few small bucks come right underneath the stand. We were so close to them, and they had absolutely no idea we were sitting right above them. And when I joined him a second time in a different stand… it happened again. The second time, I got more of an idea of the challenges of bow hunting, since the does actually smelled us, stomped their feet, blew at us, and ran off.

These experiences he shared with me, along with some influential women bow hunters like Eva Shockey and Taylor Drury, inspired me to take more interest in the sport for myself. Not to mention, I was pretty excited to shoot a bow for the first time.

So, I purchased my first compound bow… a pink PSE Chaos, complete with pink accessories and pink arrows. It was a youth bow, nice and light weight, with a whopping 30 pound draw-weight. I was looking pretty-darn lethal.

Having hardly shot a weapon in my life (except a BB gun and a 22 rifle), shooting a bow and arrow gave me all of the thrills. I loved it. It didn’t take me long, and I really had the hang of it. Not to mention, going to the range to shoot with Alex was a fun activity to do together. I was able to perfect my shooting all summer long. Then, I added some more camo clothing to my collection and got my first pair of hunting boots. It was time for the real thing.

My first hunt…

My first hunt was September of 2013 in some timber near my childhood home. We had set up a tree stand just for me a couple weeks prior. You see… I was a Nebraska resident, Alex was an Iowa resident. I couldn’t hunt with him in Iowa unless I drew a tag and paid way too much for a license/tag. So, this is how awesome my future husband was… he got me all set up with a tree stand, woke up bright and early with me, and took the time to sit with me and teach me everything he knows. You guys… I’m not the easiest person to deal with in these situations… let’s just say, Alex is a saint.

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I will never forget my first chance at a buck. It happened so quickly (probably because I wasn’t paying attention) but this 6-point buck pops out at about 20 yards away from us. I was so caught off guard, I was so nervous, I was so excited. Alex whispered for me to slowly stand up and draw. I stood up… the buck was there… not moving… a perfect shot. “OMG… OMG…” I was freaking out!

I drew back…. I drew back…. ummm… still trying to draw back… I was freaking out so much, I straight up couldn’t pull my bow back. Alex was literally pulling my elbow back for me while I’m shaking and losing my mind. This whole time, the silly buck is still right there, like he was waiting for me to get ready.

I finally get drawn back and put my 20 yard pin on him, I shoot… and I miss. My first fail at hunting. People, I wish I could tell you that this was my only fail and that my next shot at a deer was perfect. But, that is not the case. This is now my 6th year of hunting (the year we lived in Minnesota, I didn’t get to hunt at all), and I have yet to shoot my first buck. I have, however, been successful at getting a late-season doe in my 3rd year of hunting but, that’s a long story, maybe for another blog.

What I’m trying to say is… even after 6 years without a buck, a slightly traumatic experience shooting a doe (again, long story), 5 separate misses, and way too many days of sitting and seeing zero deer… I keep doing it. Now, let me explain why and remind myself in the meantime.

Reasons why I bow hunt…

1 – The nature.

As much as I despise sitting in the freezing cold woods for hours at a time, I think a tree stand is actually one of my favorite places to be. You’re sitting 15 feet up in a tree completely incognito. I mean… some birds and squirrels will usually detect your presence, but you really are one with nature for the time being. I’ve watched turkeys strutting, quail scattering about, raccoons waddling (including some babies that melted my heart), coyotes sneaking, opossums being their gross selves, a badger wondering, squirrels fighting, woodpeckers doing their thing, owls hooting, fawns playing, does frolicking, and a some bucks cruising for some doe tail.

Just sitting there completely still and watching nature happen around you is an amazing thing. I have to remind myself of this when there isn’t a deer in sight and I’m bored to heck waiting.

2 – The anticipation.

And as I wait in my tree for a buck that I’m not even sure exists, I can’t help but just get excited about the idea of a monster showing up. Every squirrel that suddenly moves in the distance, every leaf that falls to the ground, every bird that shakes a branch… I freeze, hoping it’s a deer. Usually it’s not… and just when I let my guard down, that’s when a deer actually shows up (in my last case, I had just put a Nilla Wafer in my mouth).

Even if it’s not a shooter, the excitement when a deer is in your presence is so exhilarating. I sit completely still, hand on my bow, heart racing… I even start breathing funny, afraid they’ll hear me. Even when a doe is spooked by my scent, I can’t help but get excited. The surge of adrenaline that I get is all worth the wait in the end.

3 – The challenge.

Could I stay in my warm bed in the early weekend mornings? Could I partake in the same fall activities that you and your family might do? Could I just grab a shot gun in late November, go out to a field, and shoot a buck from 200 yards? Yep… I could do all of these things, but there is just something about the challenge and the sport of bow hunting.

There is waaaay more to it than just shooting a buck from a tree stand. And to be honest, I only have to do a fraction of the work it involves. You have to find the land to hunt on, you have to buy and set up tree stands, you have to purchase the equipment/gear (so very much), you have to practice your shooting, and on top of it all, you need a decent knowledge of what your doing out there. I am blessed beyond measure to have a husband and father-in-law that take care of a lot of this and devote their time and effort not only to their own hunt but to mine.

But those challenges that I am left with for myself, make this hobby more rewarding. The long waits, the cold temperatures, the not-close-enough encounters, and the missed shots are what is going to make my first buck one of the best things that will happen to me (and I only have hope that it eventually does).

4 – The eating.

Hunting is not just about the trophy. It’s also about harvesting your own source of food the way our ancestors had done it. I was so proud when we made the first meal with the meat from my first doe. I literally brought home the “bacon” for our family. And I absolutely love when Alex straight up provides us a freezer full of meat when he has success.

Not to mention, I think venison is delicious and we have so many great recipes! And after Alex brought home his elk meat, we might be extra spoiled… perhaps we should just elk hunt from now on.

5 – The conservation.

I have had 5 unfilled tags throughout my years of hunting. That’s about $300 in licenses/tags that seem like they went to waste. But nope… that’s $300 that goes to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to help with wild life conservation. Not to mention there’s the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, where about 11% of the hundreds of dollars that we’ve spent on gear goes to conservation as well. It feels good knowing that even when I fail, I’m still making a difference for wildlife.

So, there you have it! This is why I bow hunt. There is little success and reward, but sometimes just the adventure of it all is what it’s all about. As one of my favorite hunter’s, Steve Rinella, says, “a true hunter recognizes that experiences are the ultimate hunting trophies; he takes pride in walking the ancient and noble pathway that was laid down by his forebearers; and even when he returns from a hunt cold, wet, and empty-handed, he does so with a full heart.”

And this is absolutely true. Even though I’m done for this season (hunting while pregnant is not easy), and I was once again unsuccessful, I can’t wait to get back out there. The plan is a Western Nebraska hunt in 2020!

Gift Ideas – for Babies (or most Kids)

Similar to my list with gift ideas for moms, my ideas for the littles in your life are about being smarter with gifting. It’s about not just buying the first toy you see on the end cap. Think outside the box, and try to put yourself in the parent’s shoes. Does the child really need more legos? Try giving something different or simply ask the parents what they really need!

1 – Clothes

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Babies grow… like really fast. And they go through clothes like crazy. They also don’t really care what they get for gifts yet. So, why not help the parents out and get some clothes? But, be sure to ask them what the little one might need the most and the best size to get!

2 – Books

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You can never go wrong with books for any age child. I mean, really, there’s not much more to say. Although, I will point out that the book in this picture, The Pout Pout Fish, is one of my family’s favorite, and I love to give it as a baby shower gift!

3 – Movies

Toy Story 4 (Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital) - image 1 of 2

With all of the streaming services these days, movies aren’t quite as popular anymore. However, if a family is anything like us, we love the classic Disney and kids movies and they are hard to find online. Although… from what I’m hearing about Disney Plus, some of these problems might be solved!

Still, a good ol’ DVD/Blu-Ray is always fun for a kid to open. I do recommend making sure that it comes with a Digital Code, though. We download all of our digital copies onto an iPad for Lily to watch in the car.

4 – Memberships

Image result for omaha zoo logo

I mentioned this in my gift ideas for moms… a membership to a place like the zoo, children’s museum, activity center, etc. is a great gift that keeps on giving! We have a zoo membership, and it is so great to be able to go there whenever we want for as long (but usually short) as we want.

5 – Subscriptions

Hello Magazine Cover

Another one that keeps on giving! There are several subscription boxes and such that you can get for a little one. One that I’ve heard of is Kiwi Co, which are monthly educational boxes for all ages. There’s also the classic Highlights Magazines. They have little books for babies now… Lily’s great grandma subscribes her to them and she LOVES them!

6 – Experiences

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Give the gift of great memories – or if it’s a baby… just a fun time to spend together! Take them for a day out, even if it’s just the park and ice cream. Take lots of pictures to remember the fun times together! Weekend getaways, full-on trips… it’s all a great gift that’s a win for everyone.

6 – Ask the Parents

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Chances are, the parents have a good idea of the items/toys that the child would like. It’s always a good idea to ask first. The last thing you want to do is get the little tike more cars when he already has a big collection… or more clothes if they have a closet full.

And don’t be afraid to think practically. Babies, especially, need lots of gear. Things like strollers, high chairs, etc. can get pricey. And don’t be afraid to throw small things like sippy cups, bibs, pacifiers, socks and such in… because you really can’t have enough of those.

Hopefully this blog post gives you some great ideas for gifts as we approach the holidays. Remember, it’s not always the material things, and it’s definitely not always about the toys!

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Gift Ideas – For the Mom (or really anyone) on your list!

Holiday shopping is right around the corner, or if you’re one of those crazies, you’ve already started. I thought I’d write a few blogs with gift ideas for the different people on your list.

I’ll start with a list of great ideas for all of the moms in your life. Honestly, though, most of these gifts could be for anyone. The theme here… gift ideas that make you think outside of the box a bit.

1 – Mani/Pedi Gift Certificates

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If the women in your life are anything like me, they hate spending $80+ on something like their nails. But, almost all of us love it, and we appreciate being pampered from time to time.

So, either figure out which salon is their favorite and get a gift certificate from them, or go ahead and pick a really nice one somewhere nearby. Make sure the amount you give covers at least one service, so it’s worth it!

2 – Spa Gift Cards

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Another way to pamper… a spa or massage gift card! One of my favorite gifts from my husband was a spa package that included a massage and a facial from a nice salon and spa in Omaha… Gloss Salon and Day Spa. This spa (along with others) is always running holiday specials too!

Really, a gift card to a woman’s favorite salon, spa, nail salon, massage spa, etc. is always a win, since it says “You deserve some you-time.”

3 – Subscriptions

Amazon Prime

Almost everyone these days has subscriptions for different services. There’s the ones with streaming: Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu… and the list goes on. Pay for a whole year or some of them even sell gift cards in various amounts.

There’s also subscription boxes and such. This list is also never-ending, but some examples are: Ipsy, Dollar Shave Club, Home Chef, FabFitFun, Birchbox, StitchFix, Wine of the Month, etc.

Subscriptions are like a gift that keeps on giving. If you buy them several months worth, they’ll think of you every time they use it or a new box arrives!

4 – Memberships

Costco US homepage

Another gift that keeps on giving! There are also many examples of different memberships you can purchase for a loved one. A Costco membership is an obvious win for literally anyone on your list. They sell gift cards that you can either use on merchandise at the store without having a membership or you can use it towards your membership fee.

But, there’s memberships to other places as well. Like a gym… although I don’t recommend this as a gift if the person doesn’t already workout… that might be too forward. But for example, if a mom/woman in your life loves to do yoga or barre classes at home, maybe see if she’d like a membership to a nice yoga/barre studio.

And on a more “mom” specific note there’s memberships to places like the zoo, children’s museum, etc. that’s more like a gift for the whole family!

5 – Gift Cards

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I know, I know… nobody likes to give gift cards. They’re not very personal. But, let me ask you, have you ever really been upset when you received a gift card to a place you like to shop? Probably not. So, don’t be afraid to give them, because it gives the person an excuse to shop for themselves. And if it’s a mom you’re buying for… she probably doesn’t do that enough.

If the special person you’re buying for is anything like me, they can find tons of stuff to spend money on at Target. But, if you want to make it a bit more personal, there’s places that might be more of a treat, like: Starbucks, Sephora, Ulta, The Container Store, Hobby Lobby… okay, I’m really just naming stores that I’d take a gift card to, but you get my point! Make it about HER buying things for HER.

6 – Events

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This is a good one for husbands… treat her to a night out! Maybe just a fancy dinner and a movie, or go above and beyond and get concert tickets. There’s tons of great experiences that you can give as a gift. It doesn’t have to be material.

And if this is for a mother, grandmother, or any woman really… there’s a lot of great places you can take her. Again, there’s concerts, shows, sporting events, comedy clubs, theaters, dinner+movie theaters, etc. Or think outside the box and take her on a little winery/brewery tour. Or maybe you have the budget to take her on a legit trip! Even if it’s just a gift card to a restaurant, it’s a great gift that gives her some time to have fun (hopefully away from her children for a night).

7 – Cleaning Services

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Who really likes to clean their house? No one I know! Give her a break from it all and find a cleaning service to come clean the whole house. Unless she already has a cleaning service, this is such a great gift. You can get a one-time cleaning, or go above and beyond and order her monthly cleanings! Just make sure it comes with the certain chore that she dreads the most (like cleaning the tubs for me).

8 – Don’t be Afraid to Ask or Think Outside the Box

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She might say “nothing,” or she might say a trip to Hawaii, but it never hurts to ask what she really wants. What I’m trying to get across is… don’t just go buy the first pretty necklace you see, or a pair of pajamas you saw at Victoria’s Secret. Most of us don’t need or want those things. If we do, hopefully we’ll hint at it.

Maybe, all she really wants is a whole day without anyone in the house to just binge watch her favorite show and eat/drink whatever she wants. Or send the kids away, get a bottle of wine (or 2), pick up her favorite take-out, grab her favorite dessert, pick the most cheesy chick-flick, and shut the blinds… And have a very merry Christmas!

I don’t think most women would argue with me on these. Again, the key is to think about more than just the typical gifts and think about experiences and things that will treat her.

And, if you have any other great gift ideas, leave them in the comments!

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Organization – My More Practical Way

In my recent blog post, How to Keep a Relatively Tidy Home, I talked about everything having a “place” and that sometimes you have to create that place. There’s several ways you can do this. And if you happen to follow The Home Edit or just stroll through The Container Store, you’ll realize how incredibly expensive it can get to have a beautifully organized home.

Believe me, if I could do what The Home Edit does to my own house, I would, but I’d rather not spend a ridiculous amount of money on clear plastic containers. And to be honest, I think all of the color coding and excessive labeling is a little unnecessary.

So, I’m here to let you know how I organize and declutter in a more practical way.

First of all, let me tell you the main places to find some inexpensive organization tools…

  • Target – I had to say it. Yes, I’m a typical millennial mom who loves Target. They have some really great looking totes, baskets, etc., but they can be a bit more pricey than other places. My tip – try to wait for the sales. Sometimes they will run a 10% or more sale. And if you don’t already… get a Target Red Card – 5% off everything always.
  • Walmart – Good ol’ Wally World! Obviously, they have great prices. And the quality of their items isn’t bad. I’ve actually found some pretty cute cubes there. It’s also a good place to find kitchen containers and such.
  • Menards – This is definitely not the place to buy the decorative stuff, because the few nice looking things they have seem over-priced. But it’s a great place to get things like hooks and shelves.
  • Dollar Tree – I love getting my drawer dividers and cheap plastic baskets here! Everything is $1, so if it breaks, who cares!
  • T.J.Maxx/Homegoods – This is one of those where you don’t know what you’re going to get, but I always like to pop in and check what they have. It’s hit and miss, but I have found some good stuff for a good price.
  • Amazon – Of course, there’s always Amazon where you can find everything! Just be careful, because it’s not always the best deal.
  • The Container Store – It’s usually over-priced, but I have gotten some coupons that help, and sometimes they just have things you can’t find anywhere else.

So, those are the places you can shop to find your equipment to get your home more organized and give each item a “place.” Now, my home is far from perfect and I am no organization expert, but here are some ways that I have organized my own space. And please remember, that this all came with time, and I am constantly adding or redoing.

1 – Cubbies

I love me some cubby shelves. They are so versatile. The shelf in my picture came from Target. It’s one of their less expensive options, but they have lots to choose from. I bought this for our old living room several years ago. I used to keep a couple storage cubes with random stuff in them and the rest of it was photo albums and decor.

Now, it’s in Lily’s room with toys in the cubes. The cubes came from Walmart, they were on clearance after back-to-school season. They’re actually fuzzy, which is perfect for Lily since she loves all things fuzzy! Walmart has lots of other styles of storage cubes at a good price!

2 – Drawer Dividers

Image result for dollar tree small baskets

Nothing is worse than a drawer with a bunch of stuff floating around that you have to dig through. The very obvious place to use a drawer divider is your silverware drawer. Start by getting a silverware tray like this one…

madesmart Classic Large Silverware Tray - White | CLASSIC COLLECTION | 6-Compartments |  Soft-grip Lining and Non-slip Feet |BPA-Free

They are pretty inexpensive almost everywhere. This one from Amazon is only $8.00. Then, if you have more room on the sides of your drawer… get some of these longer baskets to keep extra utensils in.

Image result for Long Slotted Multi-Purpose Plastic Baskets dollar tree

I put extra knives, serving utensils, and baby silverware in these. If you get them from Dollar Tree, they come in a pack of 3 for $1. They’re not the best quality, but they work perfectly for just sitting in a drawer.

I also use these same baskets, plus the rectangular ones they sell in places like bathroom drawers, nursery drawers, and junk drawers. The long ones work great for tooth brushes and pens!

I have also found some better quality drawer organizers at T.J. Maxx and Walmart.

3 – Decorative Containers

Aseana Small Tapered Bin Natural 4.75"x8" Khaki - Threshold™ - image 1 of 1

Sometimes, there just isn’t enough room in your drawers and cabinets for all of your stuff. You can create places for your things in ways that fit in with your home decor. You might have to pay a bit more for pretty baskets, but you can usually find some good deals at places like Target, Walmart, and T.J.Maxx/Homegoods.

In my living room, I have some built-in shelves with a couple of tin buckets, a wooden box, a wicker basket, and some pottery pieces. Nobody would even know that I keep extension cords in one of the buckets, charging cords in another bucket, loose change in the pottery pieces, and various junk in the basket and box.

You can do this anywhere in your house and it doesn’t have to be just nice looking baskets. There’s a ton of ways to organize in a decorative way… you can always use some good ol’ Pinterest inspiration!

4 – Toy Storage

Speaking of decorative storage… you definitely do not have to get super cutesy kid-like toy boxes for places like your living room. I purchased this storage ottoman from Amazon when Lily’s toys started to venture further than her bedroom. It’s a great way to hide her toys!

We also have various nice looking totes/baskets for her toys that can be easily carried from room to room. It keeps her toys contained and makes it easier for cleanup. There’s lots of great ways to hide toys in a way that doesn’t scream, “We have kids!” when people come to visit.

5 – Hooks

Franklin Brass FBKEYT7-BSE-R Key Rail with 7 Hooks, 14" Rack, Black & Satin Nickel

Hooks are a super easy way to minimize clutter without breaking the budget. You can put hooks almost everywhere, and a single hook in a tight space can go a long way.

A key rail like this one by the door is a perfect place to keep keys so they can never get lost. We also have a rail of hooks in our garage for dog leashes and jackets. We have hooks on the backs of doors and in closets for hanging towels, bags, jackets, robes, etc. We even put a couple hooks in the laundry room for hanging clothes that can’t go in the dryer.

Then there’s hooks for various equipment. We have a garden tool holder like this one…

Berry Ave Broom Holder and Garden Tool Organizer Rake or Mop Handles Up to 1.25-Inches, Small, Black

It’s perfect for holding all of the outdoor tools in our garage. Then, we have hooks like these…

Everbilt 8-3/4 in Zinc-Plated Steel Wall Mount Utility Brackets (2-Pack) 20lbs

These are also great for the garage to hold hoses, strollers, and other yard equipment. Along with these, we use simple nails and screws to hold lighter items up off the ground. All of these, plus some shelves has kept our garage organized and clutter-free.

6 – Shelves

Plano® 34-1/4" W x 56-1/4" H x 14-1/4" D 4-Shelf Plastic Shelving Unit

Shelving is great for storage… everyone knows that. The obvious place for storage shelves like the ones above is a storage room or garage. These particular ones are great if you don’t want to spend too much, plus they simply snap together. Menards is always a good place for inexpensive storage solutions.

Along with a whole shelving unit, you can also get a simple shelf board like this…

Dakota™ 3/4" x 11-3/4" W x 4' L Ponderosa Prefinished Square Edge Shelf

Which come in all different sizes and colors at Menards. Then, pick some brackets like these…

John Sterling™ 8" Black Scroll Decorative Shelf Bracket

These shelves are great because they’re cheap, easy to install, customizable, and look pretty good! We’ve used them in the office, bedroom, and laundry room. Add a basket or something to store smaller items in. It’s such an easy way to get things up and decluttered.

7 – Plastic Drawers

Plastic drawers like these are great for all sorts of things and they can go anywhere. They don’t look the best, so I usually try to hide them within closets/cabinets, but it’s a fairly inexpensive way to organize things in a convenient way.

We use a smaller one to organize medicines and such. Then, I used a smaller one to keep all of my nursing/other baby equipment in when Lily was a newborn. I even have a really small one for some of my cosmetics.

We have some larger plastic drawers in our closet for seasonal clothing. We also have a couple medium sized ones for tools, etc. in our garage and storage room.

Some Other Organizing Tips…

  • Reuse the bags that sheets, blankets, etc. come in to store your bedding and keep everything fresh.
  • Then use bins/baskets (I use these from Target) to separate and organize items in your linen closet/cabinets.
  • Use wall mounted baskets like these from Target in smaller spaces like bathrooms, pantries, and laundry rooms to store small items that you don’t have room for.
  • Get an awesome spice rack like this one.. we love ours!
  • Fold clothing/other items smaller or roll them then put them in your drawers/shelves in a way that you can better see them all. (This is something I learned from Marie Kondo, although I don’t fold things exactly like her.)
  • Hangers can be used for more than just clothes… use them to hang up bags, scarves, belts, ties, etc. in your closets.
  • Use fishing tackle boxes like these to store smaller items. We use one for all the miscellaneous cords we have.

Once again, I’m definitely not the queen of organization and my house is nowhere near most of the super tidy homes you see on Pinterest and such. But, I like to keep everything relatively tidy and I hope this more practical approach can assist you in making your home slightly more organized without going crazy and buying every expensive container and color coding everything.

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Easy “Sushi” Bowls

Here’s another one of our favorite dishes in our house! It all started when I had the Spicy Tuna Bowl at Bonefish Grill. I’m not a huge fan of eating just fish by itself, but I love sushi, so I thought this was a great way to eat fish without having to actually make a sushi roll.

Bonefish Grill uses rare seared tuna, so when we first made this dish, we used ahi tuna steaks. We just seared them for about a minute on each side with soy sauce and sesame seeds.

But, the great thing about this dish, is you can use any fish you’d like. Lately, since I’m pregnant and can’t have tuna, we’ve been using salmon. I am not a fan of salmon usually, but I know that it’s really good for me, so this is a perfect way to get my omega-3’s!

Here’s how we make our salmon for the bowls…

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Put Salmon on a baking sheet.
  • Cover salmon with a layer of soy sauce, red pepper flakes, ginger, & sesame seeds.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes or until flakey.

This is just one way we like to prepare the salmon, but you can cook it however you like. In the past, we’ve even simply spread an asian sauce on it and baked it.

So, once you have your fish ready to eat, you can make your bowl.

There’s really no specific measurements and ingredients to these. You can make them however you want. However, this is what we use…

And that’s it! Just put as much of each ingredient in your bowl as you want and eat up. So delicious and not too bad for you either!

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12 Items to Help you Get through Pregnancy

As I pass the halfway mark of my second pregnancy, I’m grateful to have all of my experience from my first. And luckily, the things I had to purchase the first time are still good for this time around. So, I decided to write a blog with a list of the items that have helped me get through both pregnancies.

1 – “Yeah BABY!” Book

I talk about this book a lot. For real, though, if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, this is such a great book. It’s written by fitness expert, Jillian Michaels… who has never been pregnant herself but she was beside her wife while she was pregnant and decided to write a book about it. She gathered all of the top experts in each subject that she writes about.

It’s three years old now, but I feel like the research all still seems very relevant. It discusses diet, exercise, and just general pregnancy information for each trimester. I read it front to back when I first got pregnant with Lily and now I use it for the workouts, which I love!

2 – Pregnancy Apps

Image result for babycenter app

With my first pregnancy, I had several pregnancy apps on my phone to keep track of baby’s development. It’s pretty fun to see how big baby is at each week. Not to mention, all of the apps give great information about what mama’s body is going through as well. Here are some of the apps that you can get…

3 – Maternity Clothes

This is an obvious item for pregnancy. But if I have to give some advice… get the basics and add accessories and such to change them up. Motherhood Maternity has a ton of options for pregnant women and if you use coupons and look for sales, the prices are reasonable.

They have these “BumpStart” sets where they sell two basic items together. I bought a long-sleeve shirt set and a leggings one. Then I bought a few pairs of jeans. After that, I added a couple more pieces for dressier occasions. I really only bought about 10 pieces total. After that, I had some larger tops that still fit throughout.

I’m also super lucky that my second pregnancy is only 2 months different from my first, so I have all of the right clothing for the seasons!

4 – Larger Bras

Full Coverage Maternity And Nursing Bra, Black

Unfortunately, things other than your belly grow during pregnancy. You might find yourself not fitting in your regular bras. The best recommendation I got during my first pregnancy was to buy nursing bras in your new size. Then you’re not buying new bras for pregnancy and then new bras for nursing.

Again, I went to Motherhood Maternity where they have a great selection of nursing bras. I also had the associate there measure me for my new size. They worked great for pregnancy and nursing. One more tip… underwires can get really uncomfortable during pregnancy, so try to stick to those without.

5 – Good Shoes

Jade Oil

If you know me, you know I used to sell shoes, and you know that I preach about wearing good quality shoes. When you’re pregnant, you gain weight… that’s just what happens. That extra weight can take a toll on your feet. They just aren’t used to it, and it can actually start to flatten your arch, especially if you’re on your feet a lot. Which is the reason why some women’s shoe size goes up after pregnancy.

I know that slip-ons and flip flops are really comfy, especially when your feet are swollen. But it’s so important to get some arch support for those puppies. You don’t necessarily have to wear running shoes all of the time, but you should invest in a good arch-supportive pair.

Yes, they can be a bit pricier than most shoes, but it’s so worth it. If anything, at least, get a pair of good arch support inserts for your current pair of shoes. I wore both… supportive shoes and shoes that weren’t as good with an insert.

There’s lots of great brands that have good support. And, of course, I have to say it… go see my friends at Scheels and they can help you find the right pair for you. But here are some of my favorite brands that will give you what you need…

  • Vionic – I have flip flops and slippers in the brand. Yes… I even wear slippers with arch support.
  • Birkenstock – These are not only good for your feet, but in style!
  • Dansko – These aren’t just for nurses anymore… they have a bunch of cute styles now.

The first three brands – basically every style within the brand has support. The other brands I mention, you’ll want to be cautious because each shoe doesn’t always have arch support.

6 – Socks with Compression

Women's Stance Uncommon Run Tab  Socks

Let me just continue my rant about footwear… throughout my whole first pregnancy I always wore socks with compression along with supportive shoes. I did not go up in shoe size even a little bit. All of my shoes still fit.

So… you’ll also want to make sure you have socks with compression. I’m not saying you need to get a knee-high compression sock (unless you want the extra help with swelling and you’re on your feet a lot). No, just go get some good socks that have a compression band around the arch. Here are some of my favorites..

So, again, if you don’t want to up in shoe size and if you want your feet to feel good during pregnancy… go invest in a good pair of supportive shoes and some socks with compression. Go to Scheels or your nearest shoe store where they know their stuff.

7 – Snoogle Pillow

Leachco Snoogle Original Maternity/Pregnancy Total Body Pillow, Ivory

In the second trimester of my first pregnancy, I broke down and bought one of these. It definitely helped on some restless nights, but I wouldn’t say that it was 100% necessary. I still haven’t had to get it out yet for my second pregnancy… but I’m only halfway through.

However, if you have any issues with your hips, back, knees… I definitely recommend this. It’s also very helpful in keeping you on your side if you’re anything like me and keep rolling to your back. (If you don’t already know… they recommend not sleeping on your back during pregnancy).

8 – Exercise Ball

GoFit Balance and Stability Ball - 55cm, 65cm, 75cm

If you’re doing workouts at home, you should already have one of these, because they are great for all sorts of exercises. But, if not, I highly recommend using one in your 3rd trimester. As your belly gets bigger and it seems like everything hurts, sitting on one of these, for some reason, is very relieving.

During the last month or so of my first pregnancy, I was constantly getting lightning crotch (see the link if you don’t know what it is) and sitting on a stability ball, like this one would help a bit. Not to mention, it’s good for your body. It helps strengthen and open up your lower back and hips. They say it’s great for getting ready for labor, so why not?

9 – Prenatal Yoga/Workout Videos

So, as you already know, I love the workouts in my Yeah Baby! book. However, if you’ve read my blog, Exercise (My In-the-Middle Approach), you know that I like to change up my workouts. I love doing yoga and barre videos.

There are a ton of great videos on YouTube, but I personally love Fit by Larie. She has several different workouts including prenatal and regular. I haven’t found one that I didn’t like! I highly recommend giving one of them a try.

10 – Belly Band

You can definitely hold off on getting one of these until the third trimester. But, let me tell you… a belly band like this Gabrialla one sure does help if you have to be on your feet for a while and your belly is ginormous. I actually didn’t use mine a ton, but when I did, I was grateful I had it.

I used mine for walking and sometimes for working out. There were also a couple occasions when we were doing some extra walking, like shopping or something, when I wore it as well.

Regardless, I was afraid that it might not be worth $38, but I’m glad I spent it for some extra support in times of need.

11 – Stainless Steal Tumbler

Rambler 30 oz Tumbler

Okay, so this isn’t like a do or die item, but it is a pregnancy life saver, especially in the summer. When you’re pregnant, you need to drink lots of water. And your body tells you this (for me, constantly), and you feel the need to sip water all day long.

My 30 oz Yeti Rambler Tumbler is my best friend. It’s really no lie that it keeps ice for days. I fill it up with ice water and take it with me everywhere and my water stays cold, even if it sits in a 100 degree car. Of course, a ton of brands make similar tumblers now, so you don’t have to get a Yeti. Just make sure it’s stainless steal with a double wall vacuum insulation.

12 – Sleep

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you’re already pregnant, you’ve probably already heard someone say to “sleep while you can.” But, for real… pregnant women need extra sleep, and you will feel this especially in the first trimester. And, yes, you will get less sleep when that baby comes, so enjoy your rest while it lasts.

Take naps when you can. Sleep in when you can. And if you want to go to bed at 8:00 PM on Friday, don’t let anyone give you hard time!

So, there you have it! These are the 12 items that have helped me get through my first pregnancy and will continue to help me get through my second. I hope they are just as helpful for you!

And if you have been pregnant and don’t see an item that you thought was a necessity while pregnant, let me know!

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How to Keep a Relatively Tidy Home

Now, I am definitely no Marie Kondo, and I’m not even close to the same level as The Home Edit. But, I do take inspiration from them, and I would consider myself to be a fairly tidy person. I believe everything has it’s place, I hate clutter, and I love organization.

Unfortunately, I can’t afford to buy plastic containers for every single ingredient, snack, hair product, and art supply. Believe me, if I could, I would. And if that’s the level of organization your looking for, this isn’t the blog post for you.

No, I consider my home to just be “relatively tidy.” (Remember… I’m the In-the-Middle Mom!) As in, there’s very little clutter, cupboards/drawers are fairly organized, and the house is usually pretty clean. So, if you need a little guidance on how to keep your home at my level of tidy… then please do read!

1 – Everything Needs a Place

This one probably seems pretty obvious, but I believe it is the single most important step to keeping your house tidy. If something doesn’t have a place… it becomes clutter. And you might think all of the items in your home do have a place. But, make sure you think about how specific that place is.

Saying a spatula goes in the kitchen doesn’t really work. Okay, so the spatula goes in a drawer. Which specific drawer? And is it with all of the other spatulas/utensils? Having a very specific place for each item in your home not only helps you find it every time, but keeps it from becoming clutter on the counters, floors, beds, etc.

**NOTE: Being organized and specific about where things go is important, but there’s also nothing wrong with a “junk drawer.” I have a few different junk spots throughout my house. It’s for those miscellaneous items that you need relatively often. Just make sure you keep the “junk” in the same “junk spot” each time you put them away.

2 – Creating More Specific Places for Items

Sometimes the spaces within your home aren’t really meant for storing your items well. This is when you do have to invest in some products to help you better organize and keep things uncluttered. I’ll write a more detailed blog about ways to organize without breaking the budget in the future.

Just for an idea… try to use totes, baskets, shelves, drawer dividers, hooks, cubes, and other containers around your home to create those places for your items. And there’s no need to spend hundreds at The Container Store. Most of my organization products come from Target, Wal-mart, and dollar stores.

3 – Have a Schedule

Nobody likes cleaning or doing house work, but you have to do it to maintain a tidy home. The best thing to do is create a schedule for everyday, every week, every month, every year. I’ll admit that this isn’t my strong point either. But I do try to stick to the same day-to-day chores and a weekly schedule.

I’ll work on another blog post with my particular cleaning schedule. However, everyones schedule is going to be different, so you have to cater it around your own life. As a stay-at-home-mom, I have the luxury of getting things done throughout the day. You may have to plan things for your mornings or nights or weekends. The key is to stick to it so you don’t get behind.

4 – Clean Up as You Go

I know, I know… this one is no fun. But, this is the key to keeping my house tidy. My goal is to leave a room the way I would want to reenter it. Nobody wants to walk into their bedroom and see an unmade bed and clothes on the floor. And I really hate seeing dirty dishes as I walk into the kitchen.

So, I try (and sometimes fail) to clean up immediately. It may not be perfect… I rarely actually make our bed with the sham pillows and all. Sometimes the dishwasher is full and I have to leave dishes in the sink (because I hate hand washing). And there’s times when I’m in a hurry and can’t get the laundry folded.

However, I do my best to clean up everything right after we eat. I flip up the covers right away in the morning. I put all of my makeup/hair products back in the cabinet when I’m done. And I set a good example by having Lily pick up her toys before her bath at night.

5 – Divide and Conquer

Since I’m home during the day, it’s easy for me to take care of most of the housework. But, there are a couple of “chores” I’ve assigned to my husband. And if you live in a household where everyone is busy, it’s definitely necessary to split responsibilities.

So, it may not be easy, and it may cause an argument, but it’s so important to discuss who does what when it comes to taking care of your home. Once you have a plan set in place, it should make it all much easier for the whole family. And don’t be afraid to make to-do lists or chore charts. Involve everyone that is capable of helping.

6 – Involve your Kids at a Young Age

Since the day Lily was born, she’s been by my side as I do housework. And as she’s gotten older, I’ve tried to involve her as much as possible. I don’t remember the last time I’ve folded laundry without her. And I actually wait until she can help me unload the dishwasher because she loves to do it so much!

And ever since she’s been old enough, I’ve had her help me pick up her toys. We have several baskets, boxes, and bins for toys. I’m never picky about where certain toys actually go, just as long as she puts them into a container. The other day (at 17 months old) she surprised me and actually put her blocks away without me telling her. <Insert “mind blown” emoji here.>

It does take some patience, because believe me, laundry will get unfolded and dishes will be taken out one spoon at a time and distractions will happen as toys are picked up. But, I love that I’m teaching her the importance of being tidy, and I hope that it will stick with her.

I personally believe that if you try these 6 tips, you’ll have a less cluttered, more tidy home. Not to mention, you’ll set the bar for your family. I grew up in a tidy home and now I have a tidy home because my mom taught me the importance of it. I’ve already noticed how my husband has been influenced by my habits, and I definitely see how my daughter is beginning to follow in my footsteps.

And if any of these tips feel like a reach for you, just keep trying and eventually, hopefully, they’ll become habits for you too. I remember the days when my laundry sat for a week without getting folded and my dishes sat in the sink for 3 days. Trust me, you can change your ways and it’ll become second nature to you.

If you liked this blog post, press like below! And if you want to share it with others, click the social media links below. And I would love to hear back from you… feel free to leave a comment! 

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Unnecessary (to me) Baby Products

I’ve written a couple blogs about products that are “must-haves” for newborns and babies up to 12 months. For newborns, I have the 10 Must-Have Baby Products (0-6 months) and then there’s Must-Have Baby Products (6-12 months). But today, I thought I’d give you a list of baby products that I feel are, in my opinion, unnecessary.

Of course, some parents might find these products totally necessary and really like them. This is simply my own opinion and it’s merely here to help when you are making a baby registry or deciding what to buy. Every baby is different and every parent is different.

1 – Wipe Warmer

Munchkin Warm Glow Wipe Warmer

I’m sorry, but I think these are kind of ridiculous. I mean, maybe there’s babies out there that scream bloody murder when you wipe their butt, but I have never had an issue wiping Lily’s with an all natural room temperature one.

Now, granted, it looks like these aren’t too pricey, so if you want to get it, by all means, go ahead. But, I just feel it’s a bit silly and a waste of money.

2 – Diaper Pale

Here’s where a lot of moms will probably argue with me. I hardly know a mom who doesn’t have a Diaper Genie or something like it. I, personally, think having a special trash can for diapers is quite over-the-top. I bought a simple step-on trash can from Target. I put a grocery sack in it, and I change it when it’s smelly.

30 ltr Step-On Trash Can Stainless Steel - Room Essentials™ - image 1 of 1

For a larger trash can like this, it’s $40. You can get a smaller one for $15. Grocery sacks are free. It seems more cost effective to me than the refills for diaper pails, and it’s one less thing to add to my list of things to buy. Plus, I can reuse the trash can wherever I want when we’re done with diapers!

Again, this is my opinion, and my method works for me. A diaper pail might be the right choice for you and your stinky little one.

3 – Every Single Baby Holder on the Planet

4moms mamaRoo 4 baby swing, high-tech baby rocker, Bluetooth enabled – soft, plush fabric with 5 unique motions

There’s baby swings, bouncers, rockers, bassinets, slings, sleepers, seats, activity centers, walkers, Bumbos, playards, carriers, high chairs……… this list is ridiculous, people! And no, you don’t need one of each. Honestly, if you can, get the very essentials for a newborn like a bassinet and swing, and then go from there. You’ll learn over time what is important to you and your baby.

In our house, we ended up needing just a swing/rocker and a high chair. She was in her swing most of the time, and then we put her in the high chair when we wanted her close in the kitchen/dining room. When she wasn’t in one of those, we were holding her or it was tummy time on the floor.

Now, as they grow, you might decide to add more. We have a Chicco Playard for traveling. And we got the Joovy Spoon when she was ready for it. We also have a carrier for going out and about.

But, eventually, they just start crawling and walking and they no longer need any of it. Just take your time in deciding what’s best so you’re not stuck with a bunch of expensive things you don’t use.

4 – Diaper Bum Brush

This one just makes me giggle. Okay, it’s only 10 bucks, so go for it if you think it’s necessary. But around here, we use Aquaphor, which works like a charm on diaper rashes and you simply wipe your finger on the diaper when you’re done.

I guess, if you need a super strong diaper rash medication that’s really sticky, this might come in handy. But I feel like it’s a silly extra step to take for no reason.

5 – Baby Food Maker

This is one that you, as a parent, might get some use out of. But, personally, I’m glad I didn’t buy this or put it on my registry. I always thought I would be the mom that made homemade baby food purees. And I was for like a week… then I discovered Baby-Led Weaning.

No purees, whatsoever. No blending, no freezing in cubes, no spoons, no bowls, no tired arm from spoon feeding. I’m telling you, at least look into Baby-Led Weaning, because it’s worth it. Oh, and read my blog about it, Baby-Led Weaning… it’s worth it!

6 – Owlet Baby Monitor

When I was pregnant with Lily, I was convinced that this was the greatest product ever. I thought for sure it was worth all $350. Complete peace of mind, right? But alas, we never did spend the money on one, and believe me, I still slept when she slept.

I do think that these are really neat. There’s a lot of super expensive baby products that would probably be great to have, but they really aren’t 100% necessary. This is one of those that if you have the luxury of purchasing one or receive it as a gift, you’ll probably love it. But, parents have gone without them for forever, and so did we. Just practice safe sleeping and use a simple sound or video baby monitor.

7 – Bath Kneeler

I am cracking up right now. Like, really? This thing is $30 on Amazon. I’m sorry but… use the rug or fold a dang towel and quit your whining. And apologies if you have one…

8 – Fancy Baby Utensils

GRABEASE First Self Feed Baby Utensils - Anti-Choke, BPA-Free Baby Spoon and Fork Toddler Utensils with Pouch Set - Toddler Silverware for Baby Led Weaning Ages 6 Months+, Orange

Okay, so this is probably different for every parent/kid, but I bought several different sets of learning utensils for Lily. These particular Grabease ones are $15 for the set. Come to find out… she does best with just a regular salad fork. So, my recommendation… start with an inexpensive set of utensils (obviously, you still need little spoons) and go from there. Perhaps your baby will really get the hang of it with the fancy ones, though!

Once again, these are all from my personal experience, and are my personal opinions. You might not agree with any of them and will buy all of these anyway. Like I said… every parent and baby are different and these products might be perfect for you and your little one.

Have you had any other bad experiences with baby products that I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to get the word out to other parents.

If you liked this blog post, press like below! And if you want to share it with others, click the social media links below. And I would love to hear back from you… feel free to leave a comment! 

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Easy Healthy(ish)Shrimp Pasta

My husband and I (mostly, my husband) concocted this recipe, and the whole family loves it! We usually don’t leave any leftovers.

We recently came across this Banza Chickpea Pasta. It’s not necessarily low carb, but it’s definitely better for you than regular pasta. It’s super high in protein and fiber and it does have a few less carbs, but still tastes delicious!

The pasta is super quick to prepare. Directions are very clear on the back of the box. Basically, just cook it like regular pasta but it doesn’t take as long.

Everything else is very simple, as well. Cook everything all in one large skillet and add your pasta at the end. The whole recipe only takes 30 minutes or less!


  • 1 package Banza chickpea noodles (we use Rotini, but any is fine)
  • 1 lb Shrimp – cooked, deveined, tail-off
  • 1/2 Onion – chopped
  • 4 cloves Garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 cup Grape/Cherry Tomatoes – halved
  • 1/2 cup Salted Butter
  • 2 tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Red Pepper flakes (use more or less for spice level)
  • 1/2 tsp. Hımılayan Pink Salt (or table salt if you don’t have)
  • 1/2 tsp. Basil – finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 cup White Wine (we use a cheap $3 Chardonnay, but any white wine would work)
  • Optional: Parmesan Cheese for topping


  1. Cook the Banza noodles as instructed on the box.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter and olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add onion and tomatoes to melted butter and sauté until softened.
  4. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.
  5. Increase heat to medium-high, add wine, stir until reduced.
  6. When sauce sticks to back of spoon, add red pepper, salt, basil, and pepper, stir.
  7. Add shrimp and turn to medium heat.
  8. Cook & stir until shrimp is nice and hot.
  9. Add cooked pasta to the skillet, stir, and serve.
  10. Top with parmesan cheese if you want!

If you liked this blog post, press like below! And if you want to share it with others, click the social media links below. And I would love to hear back from you… feel free to leave a comment! 

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It’s a BOY!!

We are so incredibly excited that our little family of four will have even “teams!” We’d be lying if we said we weren’t hoping for a little man when we went in for our ultrasound.

When I was pregnant with Lily, we decided to skip the big gender reveal party. We wanted it to be more intimate. We waited until the 20 week appointment and had the ultrasound tech put the gender in an envelope for us.

Then we went to our favorite restaurant, The Drover, which happens to be a few blocks from the doctors office. We ordered our delicious steaks, then opened the envelope to find out that it was going to be a girl!

We had pink flowers delivered to our parents, then we just let word of mouth take over from there. No social media posts or anything. We kept it pretty low key… and then I went shopping!

This time, we decided to pay the extra $$ for an ultrasound at 17 weeks to find the gender. We made it even more simple. We brought Lily to the ultrasound and just let the tech tell us in the room. I mean, it was pretty obvious on the screen that it was a boy anyway.

We still went to The Drover for lunch (which happened to be the first day they were open since their fire several months ago). However, this time wasn’t as intimate… going out to eat with a 1.5 year old is never ever intimate. But, Lily got her french fries and we got our beef and it was a fun little celebration.

I made a poll on Facebook to see what friends and family thought we were having. (Majority was for a boy.) Then, we had Lily eat a blue lollipop and took pictures of her to send to the family and post on social media.

And then, I went shopping of course! I had to get the little dude his first outfit… urban camo, obviously!

Apologies for my lack of blog posts… the move has taken up a lot of my time. Stay tuned for a pasta recipe that I’m working on. And please shoot me some ideas for more future blogs!!