This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BigLotsHoliday#CollectiveBias

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I’m hosting my first holiday event tomorrow and couldn’t be more excited. I’m having a simple night in with the ladies! Decorating my home for the holidays is my favorite thing and the boys were helpful this year. Can you believe it?

Family holiday traditions are a big deal to me. I grew up with a few simple ones, but I always knew I wanted to have some really special ones for our family. From decorating our trees (yes, plural. ;)) together, building a snowman and sledding in our back yard to hot cocoa by the fire and cookie decorating, our crew has such a great time in this season. And this year we’re hosting my family so we’re going all out on decorating.


Our Holiday traditions

  • Visit a Christmas Tree farm (just did this weekend! So fun! Post coming soon)
  • Decorate for Christmas—a kid tree and adult tree
  • Hot cocoa and candy canes with a holiday movie
  • Build a snowman
  • Sled and play in the snow
  • Gingerbread men cookie decorating
  • Gingerbread house building/decorating
  • Visit Santa and our local holiday display
  • Do good. Volunteer. Shop for others. Donate time or money.

Holiday family traditions

Big Lots is your go-to retailer for all your holiday shopping needs! The holiday section is loaded with everything from beautiful decor to amazing gingerbread house kits. I picked up some fun icing for the kids to decorate little cakes. They also LOVED the candy spoons we used in their hot cocoa. So fun.

Holiday traditions

We decorated our tree with the most beautiful white star ornaments and I filled our hurricane vase with buffalo snow and a white led candle for decor. It was such an easy and beautiful addition to our holiday decor.

Holiday traditions

If you haven’t started prepping for the holidays, it’s no problem. Big Lots has everything you need to prepare your home for the season! Big Lots is loaded with fun and affordable home decor items to deck the halls.

Holiday traditionsFrom small scale items to large scale items, Big Lots carries a wonderful assortment of high quality holiday items that are perfect for the season! We already owned Christmas trees, but I stocked up on Christmas lights, Christmas decor and a few fun Christmas presents too.

I loved spending an hour walking through Big Lots gathering inspiration and ideas. Employees were incredibly helpful. At least three people asked me if they could help me in any way and they said it in the most genuine way.

Holiday fun biglots1

 I’m so excited that I’m already done decorating and shopping for the most part. I’m looking forward to all of our fun family traditions this December.

Holiday traditions

What are your favorite family traditions?


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CreateWithCommand #CollectiveBias

Easy DIY Christmas tree wreath

Tis the season for decking the halls! This year, I put together a fun DIY Christmas tree wreath and wanted to share the easy tutorial. I knew I wanted to do a project with my older son and I wanted a playful addition to our decor. I’ve been drawn to fun bright colors this year and love having decor that is appealing to my kiddos. I also wanted to revive an old wreath that I haven’t used in years. I’m sharing the easiest way for you to create the perfect wreath that is all you today! 

Easy DIY Christmas tree bottle brush tree wreath Read More »


Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Hallmark Signature through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about Hallmark Signature, all opinions are my own.

Gratitude during the holidays

Sometimes we take those we love most for granted, don’t we? I love taking time during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to think about those I love most and let them know how much they mean to me. My grandma is someone who took a little girl (me) and little boy (my brother) and gave us the life we needed when we needed it most.
Gratitude during the holidays
While I’m not going to tell the entire story of our childhood here today, I will share that my grandma has made my life extraordinary. She’s given me the opportunities I’ve needed to have the life I want. Besides all of these opportunities, she’s also become one of my best friends in the world.
Gratitude during the holidays

We talk daily, she visits often and I think about her on the hour! And even with that connection, it’s good to take the time to tell someone what they truly mean to you. My grandma is my confidant, the one who listens to me in all of my trials and all of my joys, laughs with me when my children do the most unbelievable things and more.
Showing Gratitude during the holiday season with Hallmark
She encourages me to take breaks and make my marriage a priority. She reminds me that time goes very quickly and my problems today may not feel like it tomorrow. She pushes me through when I think I can’t possibly do something one more time or one more day and reminds me that I have, in fact, made it through many challenges far worse than the one I face today. Read More »


peaceI don’t want to discuss politics. I don’t want to hear your opinions on politics. I’ve had the opportunity to hear nearly every argument on every side of every issue via our good friend Facebook. I was deeply saddened by the outcome of the election. My reasons are many. After a day of letting it all sink in, I’m beginning to find some peace.

If your candidate didn’t win, I know you are likely a bit angry (or possibly very angry). If your candidate did win, you might be happy, relieved or even gloating. Admit it. Come on.

While we are clearly a very divided nation at this time, we have choices to make every day and in every interaction we face with other humans. After finding myself feeling hopeless, I realized that I could take a different approach to my struggle with all of this. Please know that I don’t have any belief that my ideas on this page are going to change the world in some big way. I don’t believe these things will fix so much of the hurt, the hate, the fear and the division. But, I do think that small actions can make small amounts of change. And we start right now friends.

Can we approach every single interaction with kindness and compassion? From driving in traffic to waiting in line at the store, we have the opportunity to smile, greet people, be kind and patient. Will you join me?

Anger can certainly lead to powerful action for some but anger comes rather easily. I’d love to see us all focus on inspiring ourselves and others to be kind, make change supporting all humans, adding joy and comfort to all people in our beautiful country.

Here are a few ideas of how you can spread kindness today.

  1. Write a note to local law enforcement thanking them for treating all people equally and keeping your community safe for ALL people. Assume they are doing that well and make it clear with your words that you assume and expect that they are protecting all races, religions, socioeconomic statuses and our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Drop off treats if you wish, but simply writing notes will suffice.
  2. Leave notes of love, kindness and peace in random places. Counteract some of the hate we are seeing in schools and other parts of our country today. I’ll be sharing a free printable here soon that you can use to help spread love in your communities.
  3. Have your child hand out notes at school with words of kindness.
  4. Thank your kids’ teachers often. Encourage them to spread kindness, compassion, love and light in the work they do each day.
  5. Carry care package bags for those in need. Hands Free Mama suggested this in her book. We’ve been doing it ever since I read it last year. We have ziplock bags filled with a few items-a snack, toothbrush and mini toothpaste, gift card, a small bottle of water, a few dollars and socks when possible. Sometimes the bags have less and other times they have more, but having them with allows us to give to those in need whenever we come across someone. I rarely carry cash so this has been a good option. You can keep one in your purse and a few in your car. They don’t even need to have much, but give what you can give.
  6. Spread messages of love and kindness on Facebook often. Include your good energy and light when you come across those you disagree with. You can do it! Facebook has become incredibly gross. I’m so disappointed in many people. The messages can change there. Encourage all others to spread love and goodness on Facebook too! And thank those who share positive, uplifting, loving messages.
  7. Send messages of gratitude to people working hard for causes that help others, especially those doing the hard work. My dear friend works for the ACLU. Her work is not always appreciated, but I feel safer knowing she (and her colleagues) will protect the civil rights of all Americans.
  8. Consider donating time and money to nonprofit organizations doing good work. Let me know if you’d like me to share a list.
  9. Ask people who supported a candidate different from you to join you in spreading love and kindness. Ask them to fight against hatred with you.
  10. Write to our leaders and lawmakers. Encourage them. Ask them to make change. Thank them.
  11. Pray for our leaders if you pray. Meditate on loving kindness for all if that’s your thing. Send love and light to our leaders regularly. They will all need our positive energy. Please send these things to those you disagree with too. Our new president is going to need all of our love and light to attempt to run this divided country.
  12. Say “hello” with a smile and “thank you” with true gratitude. Use your voice for good with all you come across. This can be a vulnerable act, but do it and let’s not stop ever!
  13. Help the mother with three kids struggling at the grocery store. Offer to carry bags for the elderly person walking to her car. Make sure your LGBTQ neighbors know you love and support them always. Make sure your Muslim neighbors feel welcome and cared for. Make sure all you come across know that you have love in your heart for them as a member of the human race.
  14. Love all of the children. Give that extra underdog. Offer snacks to all of the kids playing in your backyard (with their parents’ permission, of course). Invite people to play, to laugh, to eat, to drink, to celebrate, to mourn. Create community even with those you don’t yet know well. Introduce everyone whenever you can.
  15. Include everyone as often as possible. Do your best. You can’t always do it perfectly, but try.
  16. See the beauty in everyone and say it out loud to someone. Take a moment to think of something beautiful or wonderful about someone you might feel angry at following the election outcome. You might be surprised how much better you feel after writing down the good traits in people. Then, take it a step further and share it with them.

I quickly whipped together mine this morning and I had a huge smile on my face. I felt so grateful for so many wonderful people and my list could’ve went on and on. Here’s mine just so you can see how simple this could be.

  • Ezra is feisty, yet has the most compassionate spirit. He knows when someone is sad and tries to help often.
  • Bodhi has energy and excitement unlike anyone I’ve ever known. He’s also incredibly determined.
  • My husband can see the positive in any situation and calmly helps me to find my way when sadness and sorrow take over.
  • Alyssa is passionate and unrelenting in her beliefs. She loves deeply.
  • My aunt Janny is a peacemaker. Oh how we need more like her!
  • My friend Megan has an incredible spirit. She instantly makes everything more fun.
  • My sweet Surbhi adds joy and sunshine to every moment. Her existence is a huge comfort for me.
  • Sejal‘s laugh gives me instant joy. I can’t help but hug her (asking first, of course) after seeing her belly laugh.
  • My dear friend Jana works harder than anyone I know to fight for equality for all. She hasn’t stopped in all the years I’ve known her and I know she won’t stop until the fight for equality for all is complete.
  • Leah always does the right thing and encourages others to do the same. She assumes positive intent from everyone.
  • Kari, oh Kari! I love my Kari! She adds humor to every situation. Her friendship is something I’ll never take for granted.
  • My other Kari (pronounced Car-EE) adds joy to my Fridays, is my best playdate friend ever and is often my confidant about all the things.
  • Tiffany helps me see different perspectives and allows me to be vulnerable in a safe place. She helps me to stay grounded. LOVE!
  • My mama takes action to help others with her talents. She cleans my uncle’s home so he can come to a clean house after hospital stays and cooks comfort food for others.

The list could truly go on and on. Try it. It’s such a simple thing and for me, had incredible healing power. You can choose to only focus on those you are feeling at peace with right now as it will remind you of the good in the world. You can tackle the harder ones later, but I promise you one thing. There is beauty in everyone. EVERYONE.

Will you join me friends? Can you share any other ideas below or on our Facebook page please? I’d be so grateful for any help making this list longer.


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Alone time: Victoria Book Review

Mamas! Do you get time to yourself much? Do you remember the days when you could spend a Saturday afternoon or Tuesday evening deep in a novel? Pre-kids, I was a big reader. Hours spent reading a good book were my favorite! Sometimes, I’d spend a Friday night at home alone with a decaf coffee or hot cup of tea, our fireplace and a good book. Perfection!

Alone time: Victoria Book Review

Reading a full novel is a rarity for me these days. I recently read Victoria by Daisy Goodwin. This novel is based on the life of Queen Victoria, specifically her late teen years. Honestly, I haven’t read a lot of historical fiction (or nonfiction, for that matter), so I knew very little about Queen Victoria before reading this book.

Alone time: Victoria Book Review

Victoria, A Novel of a Young Queen, covers her young life beginning in her late teens when she first took the throne and goes until she fell in love with Albert, her long time love. The story is based on the Queen’s diaries, which I love. Overall, I found this book to be an easy read which is just what I needed coming off of a novel reading hiatus of several years (Thanks boys!). I enjoyed so many of the sweet stories and especially loved her relationship with her dog Dash.

Now I feel like I’m back in the novel reading game. I made it happen in small chunks of time. I often read before bed and sometimes over lunch. I took the book with me in the car to read when I was waiting for appointments and preschool or kindergarten pick-up. I also snuck it in for short coffee breaks during the day in my favorite chair in our home which is in a room filled with sunlight.

After completing a novel, I now know I can get back to reading regularly. Hooray to that!

Victoria might be the perfect gift for a book lover in your life. Or why not fill a stocking with it?



Thanksgiving is right around the corner, friends! I love finding simple ways to make our Thanksgiving gatherings feel unique. I’m so excited to share my latest work with FedEx Office with you today!


We have some fabulous tools to help make planning your Thanksgiving celebration meaningful, fun and easy. We’re sharing a cute and simple Thanksgiving children’s table and a coordinating adult table set-up with all kinds of easy details you can pull together in minutes that will make your celebration extra special this year.


We’re also offering you some beautiful free printable napkin wraps, place cards, cupcake toppers and party favor tags plus a coloring sheet that doubles as a place mat for the little ones. Ready to get planning? We’ve got you covered.

Head over to FedEx Office Out of Office Blog for all of the details plus the free printable place setting pack.


There are so many ways you can use these printable Thanksgiving designs and we can’t wait to see what you do with them.


Your local FedEx Office can do all of the printing for you so you can focus on Thanksgiving dinner and enjoying your family and friends during this special time of year. Happy Thanksgiving!


Beautiful red foil holiday cards 2016

‘Tis the season for holiday cards, right?! Did you get family photos taken this fall? We didn’t get them done for the first time ever due to just feeling busy. And because I want to enjoy December this year, I chose to do a little photo shoot with the boys on my own instead. This allowed me to make our cards quickly and inexpensively. Today I’m sharing how I photographed the boys plus our sweet holiday cards that are perfect for putting a smile on Grandpa’s face!

Beautiful red foil holiday cards 2016

How to photograph your children for holiday cards:

  1. Create a simple backdrop. If your home is dark, stick with white or a light color. I love using bulletin board paper from your local craft store ($6-$8 for a huge roll). You can also put our kids a few feet in front of the Christmas tree or hang twinkle lights on your wall. Keep it super simple!
  2. Get proper lighting. I always have my boys face our huge south facing windows at a time of day when we don’t have direct sunlight. This allows us to get crisp, bright, fresh looking photos. Be sure to turn off all of your overhead lights and lamps.
  3. Add fun props. We used hot cocoa with whip cream and sprinkles plus some ornaments. You can use their favorite toy, blanket or book!
  4. Let them be silly. I often do photography for friends and clients. I know parents love the perfect smiling photo of their kids, but goodness gracious do I LOVE it when kids are just being themselves. I want to remember my boys just as they are/were. You’ll see several imperfect photos on our card that are exactly my boys’ personalities! I love that. Let your kids be themselves.
  5. Bribe if you have to! I bribed with the hot cocoa so we took those photos last. :)
  6. Make ’em laugh! My friend Gina Zeidler teaches a class on getting your photography subjects comfortable. I learned some fun tricks from her when she photographed our family years ago. I always jump up and down in the air and use hand puppets. :)
  7. Photograph every moment! You never know which photos will be your favorites. Don’t wait for that perfect moment. Just keep taking photos!

How to photograph your kids for Christmas cards.

For our holiday cards this year, I knew I wanted a bunch of images that capture my kids’ personalities. I LOVE this one from Tiny Prints as it allowed us to include silly faces, smiles and close up shots of their little hands. I know my grandpa, grandma, brother, mom and others will smile the moment they open their cards and honestly, I smile every time I look at it on our pin board in our kitchen. Read More »


This post was sponsored by Neutrogena as part of an Influencer Activation for SheSpeaks. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.


Friends, like it or not, Winter is coming quickly. We’ve had the most mild Fall ever here in Minnesota and it’s been lovely! We’ve spent hours at the park in November. November! So good.

In Minnesota, accepting winter can be harsh. This year, my husband and I are embracing it all. We’ll begin decorating for the holiday season soon. We just bought used cross country skis for the boys and plan to get some for ourselves. We are ready to spend more time ice skating. As a former college hockey player, you’d think I would’ve taught my kids how to skate by now, but nope! Ezra was too young so we feel like this is the year for us.

With winter around the corner, we are getting our house, our yard, our wardrobes and yes, my beauty routine ready for the change in seasons.

Simple winter beauty

To avoid winter frizz, I often use a lot of products so having my once-a-week Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo to keep my hair in check is so nice. I love when I use it and my hair feels truly fresh and clean again. All of the dulling residue from excess products is gone. This shampoo instantly removes up to 90% of dulling residue caused by shampoos, conditioners and styling products. It cleans hair thoroughly and easily rinses away. I love that it’s safe for color-treated hair too. At just $6.49, it’s a great option.


Having fresh, healthy hair all winter long is lovely and I know I can count on this shampoo to help me out each week.  Read More »


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SameSilkySmoothTaste #CollectiveBias

The best vegan pumpkin bar recipeFall is in full swing and the holidays are right around the corner. I can’t believe we are here, yet I’m embracing this season fully. October and November are the months of pumpkin everything! For me, there is only one pumpkin recipe that has my whole heart and today, I’m sharing it with you. My college roommate’s mom used to make a very similar recipe for us all throughout the year. It was our favorite treat and it was such a comfort food when we were studying for finals.

The best vegan pumpkin bar recipeSince then, I’ve made her recipe with a few healthier tweaks every single Autumn for my family and it’s gradually changed more and more over the years. The substitutions I’ve made have actually made the bars even better in my opinion. I think you’ll love these vegan pumpkin bars.

The best vegan pumpkin bar recipeWe’re not vegan, but I find that changing things up can be a positive thing. I love using ground flax seed instead of eggs, apple sauce in place of half of the oil and Silk® Soymilk, Almondmilk or CoconutMilk in place of dairy in my holiday recipes.

Are you ready to bake this deliciousness, or at least pin it so you can bake them this weekend? Here goes!

The best vegan pumpkin bars ever

The Best Vegan Pumpkin Bar Recipe Read More »


Keeping our home clean and beautifulFriends, for a while now, I’ve started to finally let go a bit. I’m a lot less worried about all of the details in life and instead focus on joy. I’m simplifying in our home and in our daily lives as much as possible.

Keeping our home beautiful and pet hair freeAs the weather gets chilly and we begin to spend more time inside, I can’t help but be grateful for the roof over our heads and instead of wishing for newer, prettier, better, I’m just looking around and enjoying the reality of our home. Our home is our sanctuary. It’s imperfect, but it works for us. I recently took down a large piece of art that was lovely and replaced it with a command center which helps us to stay organized. It’s less beautiful but WAY more functional. Function is everything when it comes to a small young family with two active boys.

Keeping our home beautiful and pet hair freeWe have decorated it to be airy, bright and fresh. We have a white sofa and a soft ivory sofa. With two cats who shed a LOT and two young children, I often find myself frustrated with how quickly our floors, sofas and chairs get full of cat hair and crumbs. Over the years, we’ve tried so many things to clean up pet hair from our sofa and have no luck with anything until recently.

Keeping our home beautiful and pet hair freeOur white sofa and our hardwood floors and our rugs stay pet hair free and we can enjoy playing and living with our pets thanks to one amazing vacuum, the BISSELL® Pet Hair Eraser® which has changed the pet hair game for our sofas and chairs.

While it’s lovely to have our home clean and pet-hair free, cultivating joy in everyday life is where it’s at. Having a vacuum that works for us helps us to stress less and enjoy life, our pets and our home more. :)

Keeping our home beautiful and pet hair free Read More »