10 Things I Love Sunday

Hello friends! I had a wonderful maternity leave and I am so happy to be back part time for January. I really missed blogging, but having 24/7 to spend with Nova in our first weeks together was such a gift! Anyway, don’t let me do that thing where I make every conversation about Nova (haha), as I’m here to share 10 things I am loving on this first week in January.

1. A ritual I started more than five years ago is to plan some type of warm weather trip in the middle of winter. Then, after the holidays are over, I spend time planning outfits for the trip. It’s a small thing, but it helps me to get through the winter months when I tend to get a little bummed. Having something to look forward to is a powerful thing.

On that note: I’m eyeing this top and these sneakers for our trip to California in a couple months. And I’m obviously going to need this tee.

2. Since we got home with Nova we’ve been eating at home much more often. It’s been great and I feel like we all eat a lot healthier at home—especially Nova. She’ll eat a full plate of raw fruits and veggies for lunch at home, but when we eat out it always seems to be french fries … haha.

I’ve been thinking about doing some mini upgrades to our kitchen—simple things like purchasing better knives, reorganizing our fridge and finding more ways to prep Nova’s meals in advance. If you have any tips for updating a kitchen for a toddler-friendly lifestyle, I’d love to hear them. I’d love some links to anything you use, love and recommend. Our pantry needs a little TLC as well!

3. Rainbow dominoes.

4. We got this Pony Tails book for Nova and she loves playing with it. It has the crinkly sounding pages and all the different fabrics for the pony’s tails really keep her attention.

5. Snagged this art print for my bnb house. Huge photo prints are my go-to wall art.

6. Nova got one of these in her stocking (annoying how the listing says it’s for boys—haha)

7. I got some of these leggings and they completely live up to the hype. Best ever. Plus they are made from recycled water bottles, which is so inspiring!

8. I’m getting ready to attempt a punch needle embroidery for Nova’s bedroom. So excited!

9. We are all stardust.

10. I’m participating in the Weekday Weekend Challenge this month! You can grab a cookbook here (they have Kindle edition too). I have been making a homemade latte every morning, a bowl of fruit and a huge kale salad for lunch with spicy honey mustard dressing. For those of you who are doing the challenge, what have you been eating and are you planning to do your weekend days on Fri-Sat or Sat-Sun?

Sending big hugs to everyone. I love you! Elsie




  • My husband and I are doing the challenge, too! So far we’ve made the broccoli pasta salad from the cookbook and we will be making the sweet potato soup next! My husband also made a huge batch of his split pea soup which has been great!

    One question for you—how do you make a good latte without real milk? I just can’t get almond milk to froth well. I do have a frother on my Ninja coffee maker. Thanks!

    • Hey, I know some people are anti-soy but I use bonsoy soy milk (not sure if it’s available where you are) You can get a really nice micro-foam with it 🙂

    • We have a ninja too! I notice if I froth more than 1/2 cup of a time of anything it’s a bust. And almond milk never gets as fluffy, but it aerates it enough for me to deal. 🙂

    • Hi, I use Soy-milk and Oat-milk for cappucino or latte. They do foam (is that the right word?). Almond and coconut milk are not the best options if you want thick foam (in my experience). Good luck!

  • Welcome back Elsie!! One thing that has helped me a lot with kiddo meals is we have a cupboard just for them with all of their dishes and cups and stuff and we store their snacks in there too. I struggle hard with breakfast in the morning when they demand food and we are still trying to wake up 😂 I typed up a list of all of our go to meals and have it in our pantry so that has helped a lot because for me thinking of options is the hardest part so that way we aren’t eating the same thing everyday. I try to make easy stuff ahead of time and freeze it. We make the muffin cups a lot with eggs and French toast and that kind of thing and spend more time cooking slower meals on the weekend. We like going out with the kiddos but that’s a lot of work too 🙃

  • Ha, it’s currently 6 degrees Fahrenheit in my corner of Pennsylvania, so I can definitely see the appeal of planning a warm weather trip! Ha, dreaming of sandy beaches and swaying palm trees. 🙂 My friend posted an insta of her daughter reading the Little Feminist books, think you might like them. (Not an affiliate link) https://goo.gl/yVwRxQ (Not an affiliate link)
    Nicolette | http://nicolette.co

  • We’ve been loving these for a year now, so they have held up! Buying them premade is so expensive, and I love sneaking veggies and good fats or vitamins in them on days when our diet isn’t as good as I’d like. http://amzn.to/2D5g8JP We only have the pouches, but the filler they have looks like it could be helpful. The biggest issue I have with them is they are bit of a pain to clean, but if they are rinsed out right away that helps a lot.

      • I’ve seen this hack and even have a friend who pulled it off successfully! Looks like it’s totally doable and cute. 🙂 We are a military family so I decided to go w/ the one I linked bc it folds down flat, which has been a lifesaver! We currently have the majority of our stuff in storage for a year while we move and move and move for my husband’s training schedule and the folding flat feature allowed me to bring it along! If we didn’t move all the time, I would definitely opt for the cheaper diy.

  • Quick toddler kitchen tip: I’d highly recommend a cabinet or pantry space on the bottom where you can store Nova’s personal dishes, cups, etc. We have always done this and our kids can practice emptying their own safe things out of the dishwasher or get out a plate/bowl for a snack. I don’t give them access to food though or they will eat all the things (we have four kids 7,5,3, and 1).

  • Yes, welcome back! I always love these posts Elsie, it’s always fun to see what you’ve discovered, loved, and want to share. I think we’re all suffering from the post-Christmas-blues a little. I don’t like to wish time away but roll on spring! Hang in there everybody 🙂

  • I can not recommend a helper stand for the kitchen enough! The best one is The Original Learning Tower. My husband ended up copying the design on our beloved one, but changing it to build one wide enough to accommodate both of our daughters at once. This would be a great diy project for you!

  • I always love what you post about, your wiritng adds so much fun and it makes me smile and laugh reading your little excerts on your posts such as this one xx

  • I agree with the others who have mentioned having drawers for their toddlers with their own cups, plates, etc. I have two sterilite 3 drawer units in my pantry just for that. My little is 18 months and he loves getting out a cup when he wants a drink or helping put things away from the dishwasher. I also store some snacks in there too – non-messy individual packs of things.

  • My toddler breakfast routine – soaking rolled oats in the pan on the kitchen side over night (not in the fridge!) in water and a splash of apple cider vinegar to reduce phytic acid and makes them quicker to cook in the morning! I usually switch out water to cook and add grated zucchini (sub any veg/fruit) and an egg. So at least when he only eats toast for the rest of the day I don’t feel so bad haha.

  • I’m doing the weekday/weekend challenge too! My weekend will be Saturday/Sunday (although I might start it on Friday nights, depending on if I have fun plans :D) Just finished my first week, and I love that I got so much more nutritious food into my body. My usual go to junk food like cookies, chocolate were out of the running with the weekday rules obviously so the calories I would usually spend on those went to fruits or other whole foods instead! Loving this. I made the zoodles stir fry from the book

  • So happy to see you here again Elsie! I’ve been following along your adoption story and it always brings such a smile to my, and so many others, face <3

  • I’m located in the midwest and I do the exact same thing every year with the warm winter trip + outfit planning! I have no idea why it’s so satisfying, but it sure pulls me out of the winter blues!

  • Welcome back! And congrats on your beautiful girl.

    My process with a toddler is to cook big (like enough for 8) Andy then portion and freeze. And also double cooking, so while I’ve got pasta on for tonight, I’ll have the chilli for tomorrow going as well. Saves on prep time. I also have all our toddler snacks in the pantry at his eye level, so when he’s hungry he can help himself to a healthy snack. 😁

  • You and Nova look adorable together! I can’t even see her face in that picture, but the cuteness just shines through!

  • Congrats! There’s no right way for each kiddo. For toddlers I love them “helping” in the kitchen….I chop veggies (separately/out of reach) & little ones can put onto the sheetpan to roast, or getting a bowl & spoon to play with at the counter, etc. I let mine access & choose what bowl/plate/etc. In our house parents choose what’s served & when meal time is and kids choose which/how much they eat & what plate/bowl they want. They don’t have to eat any of it, but I don’t offer substitutions and generally don’t cook different things for kids vs adults. Balancing new and tried & true favs at the same time has made it less stressful. I’m constantly surprised by what’s a hit. I feel like I needed more cutting boards than before! I try to keep a few random ingredients to keep a plate varied (I mean, plan white beans are always a hit, who knew?). I write a food blog and now I’m thinking I should write a toddler food post! Don’t stress in the kitchen. You’ve got this.

  • I think these are my favorite posts you do! I’d love if the photos were in the post though so I didn’t have to click every single link to see what you’re talking about!

  • My hubby makes custom knives @alfaknife maybe for your kitchen knives upgrade 🙂

  • Those Montessori stool / or regular stool so that she can join in & things at her height that foster independence – eg. water glass or plates bowl etc. so she can set her own place help – my twins loved being able to do things themselves!

  • Elsie! Welcome back. I’m so happy for your guys with gorgeous little Nova. I have a toddler around the same age, so I totally understand your food prep endeavors. I always make a big batch of homemade hummus (my son’s favorite is sundried tomato) at the beginning of the week for him, and he loves it as a snack with veggies or in a hummus and cheese sandwich on multigrain bread. Keeping organic pouches of pureed veggies and fruits are also a time-crunch life saver. We read the labels to make sure the ones we buy are low in sugar. I usually get mine at Target or I try to make some (but he’s never as big of a fan of my homemade ones). Ha! Good luck, Mama! xo

  • I too highly recommend getting some sort of kitchen stool/stand/helper so Nova can help in the kitchen. It makes a fun mess when toddlers help, but its worth it! We also gave our daughter her own cabinet with cups and plates and whatever else she wants to keep in there really (sometimes toys). In the silverware drawer we have a large plastic bin for her silverware as well so she can get all these things herself (she is 4 now) and help set the table. As for eating out vs. at home don’t forget you could always pack Novas lunch and take it with you. We did that a bunch, and still do at times depending on where we are going to be. One recommendation on knives, not sure if you meant chopping knives or steak knifes, but we have these and LOVE them. https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/zwilling-j-a-henckels-8-piece-stainless-steel-steak-knife-set-in-presentation-box/1042853916?Keyword=steak+knifes
    Glad you had a good break and happy you are back!