These Days

These days are good days. Some are slow, some are busy, some are super busy! I love the variety and rely upon it for both productivity and respite. Since Kya and I have 12 hours per weekday at home just the two of us, I have recently been trying to incorporate more structure into our days.


A few weeks ago, I purchased a physical day planner. I was a religious day-planner-user in college but haven’t given them much thought since. With the addition of a child and scheduling more and more household, church, and social events, I liked the idea of something I could actually write in. I do use a large calendar on the fridge, but I wanted something with room for more details. I picked up a basic $10 planner from Target (I’m not fancy when it comes to stuff like this) and it’s been very helpful in keeping me organized. For a long time I’ve relied on the Wunderlist app + iCal on my phone to keep me organized but I’ve felt glued to my phone recently. I still use those apps, but I write down a lot more in my day planner.

Each week is different, but some of the structure stays the same. We usually take it easy on Mondays. I use it for cleaning, laundry, and meal-planning and we try to stay put at home for the most part. If I’ve done a photoshoot over the weekend, I’ll often work on editing and sending off the photos to my clients. Tuesdays are grocery shopping days. I am not a regular at any one particular store since moving to SLC. I rotate between three or four stores depending on what I need and what sales are going on. I’m definitely not one to traipse around town to all the stores in one day to find the best deals. I used to do that before becoming a mom. Now getting through ONE grocery store as fast as possible is my goal.🙂 Wednesdays are up-in-the-air days, depending on what I feel like doing or need to get done. Sometimes that means working on home projects, sometimes spending time at the park, and sometimes running errands. We host community group at our home on Wednesday evenings, so I often spend a little time in the late afternoon cleaning and tidying up for that. Thursdays are library day! We have a fantastic local library that offers quite a few programs for kids, specifically toddlers. Thursday is “play date at the library.” They set up stations (ball pit, blocks, play dough, etc.) in a large room and invite young kids to play with parental supervision. It’s a little over an hour’s worth of time and is so fun! It allows Kya to have interaction with other children her age and participate in new activities. It’s also been a great way for me to meet others moms in the area. A few of us even exchanged numbers last week so we can get together! Fridays are also flexible and different each week. Sometimes we head out on errands in the afternoon to make the time go faster. We just get plain excited that it’s almost the weekend and we’ll get daddy back soon!

We love the park and have gone several times a week since living here. There is a really nice one five minutes from our home so it’s an easy jaunt over there when we get to feeling cooped up. The weather is still mild most of the time, so that makes park time even more appealing as we wait for the impending snow! As the winter approaches, we’re going to have to get more creative with our days. There will be more limited outside time. I plan to get more brave with toddler arts and crafts. Up to this point, Kya has colored a few times but that’s about the extent of it. I’m currently putting together her Amazon Christmas wish list and I’ve added quite a few arts and crafts items to it this year (play dough, finger paint set, table top paper roll).

The adjustment to Daniel’s work schedule has been easier than I first thought it would be. Because we have less time together than we’ve had in the past, we find ourselves being more conscious and purposeful about how we plan our weekends. We like to discuss our plans for the weekend on Friday so we can be more in control of our time, get things done, and make room for some fun! We’re getting better at balancing housework, projects, errands, family time, church, and hospitality over the weekends. We have consistently had people in our home for meals over the last month and it has enriched our lives immensely. We thought our weekends would fly but they’ve actually felt perfect and we’ve been able to fill them with a variety of activities as well as rest.

Our New Normal

We’ve been adjusting to a completely new life in Utah: new state, new home, new job, new schedule, new church, new stores, new doctors, new friends, and the list goes on. But after only three weeks here, we truly feel like this is home. The list of things we love about Salt Lake City is a mile long! The beauty of the (already snow-capped) mountains, our wonderful church family, our community group, reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones, and the close proximity of TONS of stores and restaurants are a few of our favorite things about living here.

It’s been getting chilly already! This week’s lows are in the 30s and snow is already falling over the mountains where my husband works. The consistent snow will be a huge thing for us to get used to. I grew up in the south where we had the occasional ice + freezing rain + snow shower but nothing like here. I’m going to have to learn how to use a snowblower! I’m also going to have to learn how to dress my family in appropriate cold-weather attire. Any tips from you cold-weather folks would be appreciated!

Another thing I’m getting used to is all the crazy-busy city highways. Zippy, somewhat reckless, 70-mile-an-hour city traffic is not something I’m used to. My husband made me drive a 25-minute stretch the first week we were here and I was kind of scared out of my mind. That might sound silly, but these drivers are much more aggressive than I’m used to! I am trying to muster up the bravery to get back on those roads but for now I’m thankful I can get where I need to go on easy roads. Whew!

Kya and I checked out a local historic farm yesterday and thankfully we finished right before a thunderstorm blew through! It was a cold, wet day but we still had a blast wandering around looking at the animals, gardens, and barns.








Fall Reading List

I feel a little bit late putting this list together, but hey, we just moved two weeks ago so I’ll give myself a break! I haven’t read much in the last month or so because life has been CRAZY. I miss reading! Every minute and spare minute has been filled with packing, cleaning, moving, unpacking, and running errands. But we’re feeling mostly settled in our rental at this point and I’m ready to commit some time each day to reading! Most books I read come as recommendations from others. I keep an ever-growing list on Amazon and when it’s time for some new books I hop over there to check out what I’ve saved. Here are my choices this time around!

The Whole-Brained Child by Daniel J. Siegel

Remarkably Average Parenting by Ilana Wiles

None Like Him by Jen Wilkin

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst

Just Show Up by Kara Tippets + Jill Lynn Buteyn

Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson

I’m throwing in a few photos I took of my daughter this week. We’re loving our huge yard and this perfect weather!




Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins


I was introduced to these muffins a few years ago while visiting some sweet friends in Atlanta. I recently remembered them and tracked down the recipe! While I was unpacking yesterday, my mother-in-law whipped up a batch! The house smelled amazing! I was in denial about the outside temperature (88 degrees) and just pretended it was fall. I’m not a pumpkin-a-holic (no PSL for me) but I sure do love pumpkin-based baked goods! These came out of the oven just as my husband was returning home from work! Kya greeted him in the backyard with a warm muffin of his own while she devoured hers, covering herself in chocolate! Do yourself a favor and bake up a batch of these delicious muffins! I hope your weather is more fall-like than ours!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins


3 cups granulated sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin

2/3 cup water

3 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. cinnamon


Mix together the sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin, and water. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Combine the wet and dry mixtures. Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips (regular or mini). Pour batter into greased muffin tins filling each section 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, checking with a toothpick for doneness.

You can also make these into mini muffins, mini loaves, or regular loaves. Adjust bake time accordingly. I kept some out for this week and threw the rest in the freezer for later! This recipe makes a bunch!

How to Dress a Toddler on the Cheap


Clothing a child feels like a full-time job sometimes. The minute you think her wardrobe is set, she grows some more! This is why I can’t bring myself to pay high prices for what my toddler wears, knowing that in a few short months the clothes will find their home in a clear plastic bin, awaiting future children. Also, I simply can’t afford high-priced clothing! But I don’t want my tight budget to keep me from dressing my child well. I value quality, comfort, and simple, timeless styles. And who doesn’t love dressing and accessorizing an adorable mini-human?!?!

I don’t think there will be anything revolutionary or earth-shattering about this post, but I’m asked a lot about how I save on children’s clothes so I’m here to tell you! I’m talking today about children’s clothes specifically, but many of these principles apply to shopping for adult clothes too. As I think about my methods for finding good deals, these eight things come to mind.

1. Frequently check clearance racks.

Before having my child, I had a rule for myself: “Don’t check clothing racks unless you’re looking for a specific item.” I used to get sucked into clothes shopping and would often end up buying things I didn’t truly need. This rule does help me as an individual, but I have found that it’s not practical when trying to clothe a child (who’s constantly growing) on a budget. You know how you always find things when you’re not looking for them and you can’t find what you need when you’re purposefully on the lookout (did that make sense)? I make a habit of checking clearance racks every single time I’m in or near my favorite stores. For example, I’m in Target weekly. As I’m doing my regular shopping, I quickly pop over to the baby/toddler clearance and take a peak. I have scored many deals (often on the next season’s items) by faithfully checking these racks. I consistently come away with items for between $2.00-$5.00 each. Our Old Navy is across town, so anytime I’m in that area, I try to make time to stop in and browse the racks. I purposefully don’t look through the entire store. Just the clearance. Old Navy has the best clearance racks out there in my experience. I rarely pay over $5 for an item of baby clothing there and often I pay less. Just a couple weeks ago, I stopped in at Old Navy and took 10 minutes to comb through the kids clearance rack and found a skirt and a pair of shoes for $3.44 total. Yes, you read that right! Those kind of deals aren’t a rarity if I’m faithful about checking.

2. Take advantage of extra-percent-off clearance.

Old Navy, Baby Gap, Carter’s and even Target occasionally offer extra discounts on top of their already reduced clearance. I am unsure of their schedules but I know that places like the Krazy Coupon Lady share all kinds of sale schedules. I’m not into intense couponing or heavily researching sales, but there is a lot of info out there if you’re interested. I find that being a consistent shopper is easier and more beneficial than tracking all the coupons and deals specifically. All of that makes my head spin! Target’s extra discounts usually come through their Cartwheel app. It seems like every couple of months they offer an extra 20% off clearance prices to clean out the previous season’s merchandise. Combine the already low prices with an extra amount off, and you can snag clothing items for a few dollars each! Old Navy and Baby Gap also occasionally offer an extra 30-40% off their clearance prices. In addition, Old Navy and Baby Gap (and maybe others) allow you to earn “cash” (depending on how much you spend) to use on future purchases (during specified dates). I recently spent $40 on baby clothes at Old Navy (all clearance of course) and I earned $10 in cash to use on a $25 purchase this week!

3. Buy a season ahead.

This probably goes without saying. I think every mama reading my post does this to some extent. It can be tricky to gauge what size your child might be by the time the next season hits. Sometimes it’s a guessing game. If you’re really unsure about whether or not a very summery item (such as a swimsuit) or very wintery item (such as a snow coat or boots) will fit your child during the next season, opt out. You’re not saving money if your child can’t wear it. But if it’s super, super cheap, it might be worth the risk! Especially if you can re-sell it to a friend or at a consignment sale in the event it doesn’t work. When buying a season ahead, I like to stick to multi-seasonal items. Three-quarter length shirts, lightweight sweaters, leggings, basics, and non-season-specific shoes are great things to stock up on for the next size because your child can get use out of them for at least 3/4 of a year (depending on your location’s climate). That way you’re not locked into guessing sizes for very season-specific items.

4. Be patient.

I often want to snag that adorable, must-have piece of clothing the moment it hits the clearance rack. But I know (especially with Target) that the item will likely be discounted further before too long. So sit it out. Especially if you frequent the store (aka Target – because I know you mamas live there just like I do)! At the end of the spring, I purchased a ton of toddler leggings at Old Navy for $0.47 or $0.97 each! I was at Old Navy two weeks ago and saw some toddler leggings on the clearance rack for about $3.00/pair. Now that’s still a great deal, but because of my past experience I’m going to wait it out and see if those prices drop this week! Being patient comes with the risk that the items you’re waiting for might sell before they hit the price you’re looking for. So if you find something you “can’t live without” go ahead and snag it before someone else does! Paying a few extra dollars is often worth it if you love it.

5. Stick to (mainly) versatile and classic pieces.

About 80% of my clothing purchases for my daughter would fit under the “versatile” umbrella. Neutrals, solids, stripes, cardigans, basic white onesies or shirts, a myriad of leggings and jeans, neutral outerwear, and items that can be mixed and matched really stretch the budget. But I do love to throw in an occasional less practical, less versatile piece just for the fun of it. There are so many cute prints out there! But I make them the exception rather than the rule. Accessorizing is the best (and often cheapest) way to incorporate spunk, color, and personality into your child’s wardrobe. Headbands, hair clips, tights, socks, and hats are generally cheaper than actual clothing pieces and they pack a punch!

6. Buy cheap on the whole and spend in the gaps.

I make it a point to start gathering the next season’s clothing by shopping strictly clearance at first. Once the season comes and you have stocked up on quite a few pieces on the cheap, go through what you have and write down a list of things you need to make the wardrobe complete. I have gathered a good portion of my daughter’s fall and winter wardrobe over the last 4-ish months. I have purchased a lot of leggings, jeans, a few sweaters, a jacket, some shoes, and some headbands. I am getting ready to write out a list of the items I need to fill in her wardrobe and make it complete. When I specifically write down these filler items I can be sure I’m spending my bigger (non-clearance) dollars on just what I need. I went online this past weekend and was able to fill in the gaps a bit while Old Navy was running their Labor Day sale. I scored 11 items for $60. Not dirt cheap (in my book) but it came out to $5.45/item and included a bunch of long-sleeved tees, a couple of fall dresses, a tunic sweater, and some dresses and play clothes for next summer.

7. Don’t forget online shopping.

Online shopping has become a life-saver in the recent past, especially since becoming a mom. We all love how easy it is to hop online during nap time and find and order what we need without loading up a child or children in the car and spending unnecessary hours hauling them around to various stores. I love a good, in-person shopping experience and being able to personally handle items before purchasing. But companies make it so easy to buy online and return (either online or in person) that the risk attached to online shopping is little to none. Old Navy, Baby Gap, Carter’s, etc. often run really great online sales, sometimes even offering free shipping! I think the best time for online sales are around holidays. Last spring, I stocked up for Kya’s current fall wardrobe during an online sale that Carter’s/Oshkosh was having. They offered an extra 40% off clearance items plus free shipping if you bought something from each store. I ended up scoring eight fall items (jeans, sweaters, shirts) for under $30! I’m also a huge fan of the Target Redcard which allows you free shipping on any amount. So it’s no big deal for me to order a bunch of clothes online and return what doesn’t work in-store!

8. Stick to your style.

 In clearance shopping, just like all shopping, I need to love the item I’m purchasing. It’s easy to throw an item in your basket just because it’s dirt cheap.  That’s always been a temptation for me. But if you don’t love it and you won’t use it, don’t buy it. Buy items that coordinate with things you already own. I’ve shopped for my 15-month old enough to know what stores I like and don’t like. I stick to these five main stores – Old Navy, Target, H&M, Carter’s, and Baby Gap. Target is the most convenient brick and mortar store for me. I’m there weekly (sometimes bi-weekly, ya hear me?!). They’ve just launched a new line of kids clothes called Cat and Jack. You guys, the pieces are ADORABLE. They’re the perfect blend of classic and hip. And the prices are really affordable, even at full price (but I still wait for sales). Our Old Navy is about a 20-minute drive but I’m in that area enough to stop in quite frequently. It’s probably my #1 store for kids clothes. Their style correlates with Baby Gap but the prices fit my budget! I also adore H&M’s style but I find that their retail prices are generally a bit more than I’m willing to pay (except for their basics). But they regularly fill their clearance racks and mark down most items to $3, $5, or $7 dollars. I have found many super-stylish clothing items there for mere dollars if I’m patient enough! I have a love-hate relationship with Carter’s. We don’t have one nearby but of course, many stores carry their brand. In recent months, I’ve noticed that they’ve been offering more classic-looking pieces than years ago. I pick and choose through Carter’s selection, gravitating toward items that emulate Old Navy or Gap’s style. They do offer a lot of great staple pieces, specifically onesies. Sticking to your style saves time because you won’t waste it at stores you don’t love. But sticking to your style also saves money because you’ll get the most use out of items you love!

Speaking of items I love, I wanted to finish up this post with links to a few of my current favorite shops!

Over the last few months, I’ve started purchasing bows from Zozu Baby. I have tried to stick to the most basic of their pieces and have found that they coordinate with my daughter’s outfits across the board. They aren’t cheap, so my first purchase was made with some of Kya’s birthday money. Then Zozu Baby ran an end-of-season sale and I was able to get bows for at least 50% off! Worth the wait. I’m in love with their products!

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve shared The Little Doe products quite a few times. We LOVE their moccasins. They retail for $15/pair (which is a great deal already) but often run $12.50/pair! My daughter was a very early walker and these moccasins were some of the first shoes she wore. They fit well and stayed on her tiny little feet. I just snagged a couple more pairs for the fall/winter over the Labor Day weekend. Follow “thelittledoebaby” on Instagram or “The Little Doe” on Facebook to stayed updated on deals!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. It was fun to write! I welcome your tips and tricks for getting great deals on stylish baby/toddler clothes. Please share! I don’t claim to be an expert or to totally have my act together in this area! I honestly just have so much fun dressing my little girl so I’ve adopted a budget-friendly way to do so!

Wednesday Afternoon Ramblings

We purchased our first home in July of 2012 after renting a home for the first 1.5 years of our marriage. It was one of the first homes we looked at and I knew it was THE ONE the moment I walked inside. Love at first sight. It was a tiny bit above our budget, but adding $50/month to our mortgage seemed doable for this absolutely adorable little home. It was brand new and the perfect size for us – 3 bed/2 bath and 1,234 square feet (what a nice, sequential set of numbers). The small, manicured lawn was ideal. It gave us enough space but required little maintenance. The spring after we moved in Daniel built me a 4×10 raised bed for gardening. I would not consider myself a green thumb, but with some good soil and a little care, we have grown some delicious vegetables each year!

Because our home was brand new, it was (and still is) mostly neutral. The walls (and ceilings – why???) are a warm tan color and the cabinets are a dark, oak stain throughout. The carpet, tile, and linoleum are also neutral. It has been nice in some ways, because I have been able to add various colors through decor without changing the paint. But I’m also really looking forward to choosing paint colors for our next home. The only room we painted in this house was Kya’s nursery. We used a light, cool gray on her walls and painted the ceiling a bright, flat white. You can see her nursery here.

Our current place is definitely not my dream home, but it’s been a fantastic first home for us. Our dream home would be a craftsman bungalow with four bedrooms, two baths, hardwood floors, a fireplace, chunky white moldings, a custom kitchen (built by my husband, of course), adequate garden space, and a charming front porch. Oh and a bonus would be a basement playroom. I grew up with one and it was AH-MAZING! I have never wanted a huge home because we like to live on the minimalistic side. Something around 2,000 square feet sounds perfect to us. We’ll see what the future holds, but for now we dream.

When we move, we will be temporarily renting and hopefully buying again in the spring. We’re thankful to be making a good amount of equity off our current home (thanks to the amazing seller’s market) but we’re scared at the prospect of a more expensive housing market in SLC. Our goal is to buy a fixer upper. It’s always been a dream of ours to personalize a space through renovation. My husband is a master woodworker and I love design (I actually studied it in college). Having such a neutral pallet in our current home and knowing we would be moving forced me to not put too much time, effort, and money into it. We can’t wait to put our own stamp on our next home! For now, I’m keeping those Pinterest boards full of fresh inspiration.

Over the last month, I’ve been slowing taking things off my plate to allow myself time to pack and prepare to move. It has been a really good thing because I haven’t yet felt stressed about packing! My goal has been to pack a few boxes each day during the week. With a toddler in the house, sometimes all I have is 15 minutes here and there. But it all adds up! We have made LOTS of headway and I feel ahead of the game. This past weekend, Daniel and I worked together and got a lot more done. We took everything off the walls, removed screws and nails, cleaned out the attic, and arranged the garage. I am NOT looking forward to patching all the holes in the walls. Anyone want to volunteer??? I am the kind of person who regularly cleans things out. That practice has definitely paid off because I don’t feel overwhelmed with the amount of stuff we’re having to pack. I do still have a giant pile of items to get rid of or sell. Moving really makes you double-think-through what’s vital and what’s not.

I haven’t been as faithful as I should have been about pulling out my big girl camera this summer. I actually got a new camera (Canon 6D) and a new lens (Tamron AF 28-75 mm f/2.8)! I have done quite a few photoshoots for other families and in turn haven’t always had my camera out for day-to-day happenings at home. But here are a few photos I took over the last few months. They are reminders of precious moments spent at home during our last summer in Oregon.






Oven-Baked Caramel Corn


I’m sick and can’t do much by way of packing (hello, moving in 3 weeks!!!) so I’m finally getting around to blogging this favorite recipe of ours. On Sunday night, I came down with a fever, aches, headache, sore throat, and all that jazz. Bleh. I laid on the couch all day yesterday and watched show after show after show on HGTV and Food Network. I didn’t fix healthy meals (good thing Little Caesars is down the road), my daughter ate the whatever took the least effort, and I sent my husband to the grocery store for sickness essentials like orange juice and frozen yogurt bars. I absolutely crashed on the couch after Daniel came home from work with the worst body aches and headache. I felt like I got hit by a truck. Today is a tiny bit better. I have some energy but still have a fever, sore throat, and clogged head. I’m hoping this passes quickly! There is SOOOOO much to do around here!

I was introduced to this recipe shortly after we were married (almost six years ago). A lady in our church made this caramel corn and my husband raved about it so we asked for the recipe. I have never been a huge popcorn or caramel corn fan, though I eat it on occasion. But I have to say that this stuff is really good. Give it a shot! It’s easy, very inexpensive, and a crowd pleaser. It would be a great addition to any backyard BBQ, labor day picnic, or late-night movie session. It would also make a great gift during the holidays!

Oven-Baked Caramel Corn


1 cup popcorn kernals (trust me, this will FILL your pan)

2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

½ cup light corn syrup

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla


Pop corn and put in large greased turkey roasting pan (I like to buy a disposable one with a lid). Melt butter over low heat in medium saucepan. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Turn heat up to medium and stir with wooden spoon until mixture comes to a boil. Set timer for 5 minutes and boil without stirring. Remove from heat and quickly add vanilla and baking soda. Stir well—mixture will turn a lighter color and start foaming. Pour over popcorn and toss well. Bake @ 250 for 1 hour—stir every 15 minutes. Pour out onto wax paper and spread to cool. Store in airtight container.