Friday, January 17, 2020

Fiddle Leaf Figs 101

I've owned a Fiddle Leaf Fig plant for almost a year now.  It's one of my favorite statement pieces in our family room.  People often remark that they are surprised it is real.  It was a major deal from Walmart last March for $17.  I'm going to try to pick up another one this Spring since mine has done so well this year.  You can't

Many people comment to me that they wish they could have house plants.  They just aren't sure how to care for them.  I'm here to ENCOURAGE you to give indoor gardening a try!  It's not that complicated and just really takes trial and error to figure out what plants will do best at your house.

 Fiddle Leaf Fig Tips:
1. Fiddle Leaf Figs like sunny spots.  I try to rotate mine around when I vacuum that area so it grows straight.

2. They like to be watered more than once a week.  Mine will only produce new leaves if I water it twice a week.  I don't set reminders or have a specific schedule.  I'll just water it when I think about it.

3. The leaves are sturdy so my cats don't bother it.  They tend to play with or eat ferns which is why I currently have zero ferns.  We had to teach the kids how to be gentle with it after they broke off new leaf buds or poked their finger through an existing leaf.  They have learned to help water it and be careful with it over time.

4. I've heard of people having great success repotting their Fiddle Leaf Figs.  I have yet to do that, but it's on my radar now that it's been growing bigger for a year.

That's it!!

 Yay for new growth!!

The newer leaves are bright green.  With green being my favorite color, I just love the variety of greens in this plant.

If you're wanting a house plant that is a little smaller, but totally easy to grow, I can't recommend the pothos plant enough.  It's such an easy plant to grow.  I have two big ones in my family room.  They add such a pretty pop of color and are very low maintenance.  I have a neon green one and a variegated green one.  They were around $15 at Meijer a couple of years ago.  I only water them about once a month or when they start to look wilty.  They have tendrils that grow down.  They make a great house warming gift or a great plant to buy to build your indoor gardening confidence.

My kitchen window has several succulents in it.  Most are from the grocery store or farmer's market.  Three of them were decorations at Fletcher's dinosaur 2nd birthday party.  He'll be four this year so they're still going strong.  Succulents are a fun way to start an indoor garden.  They mostly like to be ignored.  Watering them only 1-2 times a month and giving them sun. 

I have not had great luck with longevity of my Aldi plant buys.  They offer a great variety of plants for very cheap, but they do not last as long as ones I've purchased at other stores.  I still buy them, but go into it knowing that they may not be the most hearty plants.

One last tip, don't be scared of plants.

Google best care tips for the plant you want.  Check if they're pet friendly if you have pets.  And then think of it as a fun new hobby to learn in the new year!!  You can do it!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Day in the Life (School Day Edition)

It's time for a day in the life post.

I always enjoy looking back at these to see how our routines change as the kids are getting older.

I didn't take pictures every hour.  Instead I just tried to snap pictures of our regular routine throughout the week.  I'll pop them in where they belong in our days.

January 2020 family facts:
Olive is 6 1/2 in first grade.
Fletcher is 3 1/2 and home with me 24/7.
Kevin is busy kicking off a new semester at ISU
Whitney is 27 weeks pregnant with baby #3

2020 Day in the Life (School Day Edition)

6:55am My alarm goes off.  I get up and start getting ready for the day.  I wake up the house (turn on the lights, open curtains, feed the cats, etc.)

7:10 Wake up Olive.  Get her breakfast - cinnamon toast and milk is her usual request.  She watches a show, eats breakfast, I assemble her lunch box and then get her ready for the school day.  If Fletcher is up, he gets dressed, too.

8:00 Leave for school.  I drive the kids to drop off Olive.  If Fletcher isn't awake, I leave him home sleeping while Kevin gets ready for the day.

8:15 Once a week we swing by Walmart for grocery pick up at this time.  This service is LIFE CHANGING.  Grocery shopping at home in my pjs late at night and never having to leave my car to get them.  It the very best mom/adult hack that I've added to my routine.

8:30 Back home.  I take care of unloading dishes, checking social media and posting, Fletcher and I eat breakfast (peanut butter & jelly toast is our current favorite) and make a game plan for the day.  Kevin is heading out the door around this time.

9:30 If we have plans for the day, we gear up to leave the house.  Our usual activities - story time, science class, playgroups, etc. - happen around 10:00.  We head there to meet up with friends.

10:00 Mom & Me Activities.  I try to balance out staying home 1-2 days a week to get stuff done and then putting activities on our calendar the other days.  We will also run errands during this time or attend meetings for my mom's group.  It's also our go to doctor appointment time.

12:00-1 We shoot for having lunch around this time each day.  We almost always eat lunch together at home.

1:00 Time to check in on blog work, getting computer stuff done, pay bills, etc.  Fletcher will watch shows or play on his sister's tablet during this time.  We'll read books, play games together, snuggle or plow through the rest of my to do list during this time.  Being 27 weeks pregnant, this might be the time where I squeeze in a power nap while Fletcher watches a show.

3:00 Meet Olive at the bus stop.  She wants a snack right away.  So the kids snack and watch a show or two.  Then it's time to PLAY.  Some days we'll go outside, make plans with friends or just stay home and play.  I go through her folder for the day, unpack her lunch stuff and feed her all the snacks.

4:00 I start prepping dinner.  I'll chop veggies, lay out ingredients and think through dinner.  The kids just want to play.

5:00 Olive often does her homework while I cook.  If the weather is nice, we try to head outside to get some fresh air and play.  We'll go on walks, too.

5:30/6 Kevin gets home!  His schedule varies every day, but we can usually count on him to be home between 5-6.  He relaxes for a bit while I finish up dinner.

6:15 We sit down to have dinner together.

6:45 We clear the table together.  I do the dishes and Kevin plays with the kids.  It's wonderful to divide and conquer.  He'll start bath time or do homework if we didn't get to it earlier.  I pack Olive's lunch and Kevin's lunch right after I get the kitchen cleaned up from dinner.  It feels so good to do now vs leaving it to do at the end of the night.

7:15 The adults will take turn taking showers, we'll play games with the kids, change into pjs, they'll play with their toys together and then the kids have a little snack before bed.

8:00 Book club - we pick out 2-4 books to read together before bed.  Kevin reads a devotional for us around 8:15 and then we do the whole teeth brushing/bedtime routine.

9:00 If all goes well, both kids are asleep by now.  Fletcher almost always falls asleep first because "My talker just won't quit talking" -Olive.  If I ask her to quiet down, she'll say funny things like "My battery is still at 10%.  I'm just not done for the day." or "I'm a night owl just like you, Mom.  That's how God made me." ha!

9:15 Kevin and I catch up on our days, watch shows together and always have a treat.

10:30 Kevin heads to bed

11:00 I head to bed.  I shoot for being asleep around 11:30.  If you've been around here for very long then you'll appreciate that my bedtime is hours early than it used to be - ha!  I used to shoot for heading to bed by 1 so this change has been good for all of us.

That's a wrap!! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Heart Waffles

I got a heart shaped waffle maker for Christmas and I'm in LOVE!

It makes two separate heart waffles at a time.

They're the perfect size.

It has been such a fun, festive way to spice up our breakfast for dinner routine just in time for Valentine's Day.  V-Day is just one month away from today!  I've seen a variety of heart waffle makers, but I'm partial to the two heart one.  Waffle making go a little faster two at a time and then everyone gets to eat their own heart waffle.

Our favorite pancake mix:
Light & Fluffy pancakes (just add water)

light maple syrup
chocolate chips
powdered sugar
*Tip: Add the chocolate chips or sprinkles to the batter before you cook the waffle.  That way they'll cook inside of the waffle not just on top.

I always make scrambled eggs, bacon and serve these yummy waffles for dinner.  They even reheat well leftover.

I own a few different waffle makers and this heart one is the best out of the bunch.  It cleans up so easily, fills perfectly without spilling over (you just fill the bottom heart full of pancake batter and close the lid) and the waffles are such a great size.

Close up for my Holstein Heart Waffle Maker:

You just fill up the bottom heart and it makes a no mess waffle.  The batter doesn't run over or spill into the other heart.  It's wonderful!

My (affiliate) links to heart waffle makers:
Mine is the first red, double heart waffle maker for $24,99 that we LOVE.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Simple Family Dinner Ideas

Happy Monday!  Hope you had a great weekend.  Things look a little different around here.  I've been wanting to give my blog a makeover for a while now.  I had a little pep talk with myself (ha!) and figured out how to update things.  I'm excited for the fresh look in 2020!

I told you'd I would be sharing more content on the blog this year about family and how to establish routines, traditions and family norms.  Today I'm excited to talk to you about

Simple Family Dinners.

We make family dinners top priority and eat together 99% of the time.  It's a constant in our family.

I have come to realize that there are lots of short cuts I can take to get a delicious dinner on the table in 20-30 minutes.  When I hear women talking about spending hours in kitchen just to prep one dinner I am not interested in that strategy.  I have 20-30 minutes (+ a little afternoon prep time if needed), but have no interest cooking for hours every evening.

These meals are ones that my family enjoyed.  My vision for these monthly dinner inspiration posts is to share real meals that we are eating.  The lighting will be whatever I can work with in the moment and these are my real dinner plates.  I cook 5-6 nights a week and I'll plan on sharing our favorite 5-6 each month.

Meal Prep //

I've been meal prepping once a week.  I like to shop and chop on the same day if I can.  However, it doesn't always work out for that to happen.  I sometimes shop one day and then prep fruits and veggies the following day.   My game plan is simple: Wash all fruit and put it in containers that are easy to grab in the fridge.  Everything in our fruit drawer is always washed and ready to eat.  The whole family knows that.  I'll pre chop veggies for salads, sides or dinners.  And hard boil eggs, boil pasta for quick lunches and make sure as many colorful foods are ready to go as possible. We all definitely eat better when I take the time to do this each week.

Mini Tacos //

Sams sells these two packs of chicken and cheese hard shell mini tacos.  They're around $8 for two VERY generous packages in the open refrigerated cases by the meat dept.  It's easily 2 dinners and 2 lunches worth of food for our family.  We all enjoy them.  They bake in 15-20 minutes.  They're the perfect dinner short cut.

I paired them with tons of taco toppings to make them seem a little extra special.  Taking the time to make homemade pico, chopping lettuce, jalapenos, black olives and gathering a buffet of toppings made our dinner feel so fancy.

Pot Roast //

We all love pot roast, but I don't always have time to make one in the crock pot.  I LOVE the Hormel packages of Pork Roast Au Jus.  They're around $5 a package and are very good.  I like to pair them with the Bob Evans Original Mashed Potatoes packages of premade mashed potatoes that sell for $4.50.   They're the perfect short cut to pair with lots of sides.

Pot roast, mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli, fresh fruit and homemade sour dough bread.

I've mentioned a few times that I am learning how to make bread this year and it was fun to add real bread as a side option to this dinner.  That was the time consuming part of this dinner.

Pizza Pasta //

I adapted a recipe that I grew up eating to get this.  I loved it, Kevin liked it and the kids were unsure about it.  They like all the ingredients separately, but weren't sure about them mixed.

Turkey pepperoni, black olives, pepperoncini slices, mini penne pasta and your favorite pasta sauce.  I prepared it all in my electric skillet and served it with a big Italian salad.

Sheet Pan Dinners //

I love these, but tend to forget about them.  We cleaned out all the veggies to come up with this dinner.  I roasted onion, tomatoes, egg plant (we didn't care for it), cauliflower, green peppers, broccoli and green beans.  They got a drizzle of olive oil and Montreal Steak Seasoning.  I paired it with chicken sausage from Aldi that I browned in a skillet on the stove top.  It was really tasty.  I also baked one of those loaves of crusty bread from Kroger.  It was an easy, healthy dinner.  I chopped all the veggies in the afternoon and just popped them into the oven about 30 minutes before dinner time.

My kids enjoyed the roasted green veggies only, a little sausage and the bread.  The adults liked it all.

Eggs //

Eggs are such an easy, filling meal option.  We like egg sandwiches, scrambled eggs and avocado toast.  I use plain guacamole on our favorite toast, add two fried eggs on top plus Aldi's version of the Everything But the Bagel seasoning.  We're also eating lots of clementines and mandarins since they're so affordable this time of year.  My kids really love scrambled eggs with ham and cheese and are learning to enjoy other types of eggs.

 What meals are you making for your family this week?

Friday, January 10, 2020

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  I'm ready for the weekend - how about you??

I have some fun favorites to share with you today.  It's a random mix, but lots of fun :)

We've had some unseasonably warm weather since Christmas.  This means we've been playing outside, riding bikes, doing some yard work and enjoying our backyard way more than we normally do in January.  My MIL picked up some bulbs for me.  I enlisted my favorite gardening helpers and we planted them one afternoon.  Double tulips are my favorite and hyacinths smell amazing.  Can't wait to see them pop up this Spring.

My first attempt at sour dough bread!  They tasted great, but I have a few things I need to adjust when I bake next week.  I'm really enjoying working on my bread making skills this year.  I think I am going to try a regular loaf of bread and some cinnamon rolls (Kevin's favorite) next.

Yesterday was National Law Enforcement Day so we had to celebrate our favorite policeman/Dad/Papaw.  The kids love when we we are visiting my parents on a week day.  That means that my dad goes to work and is all decked out in his uniform and patrol car.  Olive and Fletcher are always curious about the lights, sirens, supplies and gear my dad keeps in his car.  

Fletcher tells people he wants to be a policeman just like his Papaw.

Nerf Guns.  Fletcher asked Santa for some and was gifted a few more for Christmas.  We have quite the collection now.  Few things bring him as much joy as having his Nerf Gun "Locked and Loaded".  He's been pretty good about being careful and Olive likes to join in the fun.

 Backyard bonfire.  We burned all the branches on our fire pit and had some s[mores.

Olive had two weeks off for Christmas break this year.  Fletcher was thrilled to have her around so much.  I walked into the playroom to see them snuggling like this.

Crafts!  My kids love them.  They're always asking to do them.  These glitter capsules were a fun change of pace and really were almost no mess like they claimed.

More backyard fun!

We've also been going on family walks.  Our walks look different than they used to now that the kids are getting bigger.  Both kids want to walk, run, ride and hop in and out of the double stroller.  It's a nice way to give them a break when their legs get tired.  We also spotted a rainbow in the middle of the blue sky!

One of Olive's Christmas gifts was back ordered, cancelled, reordered and then finally arrived this week.  She's thrilled to have an official pilot for her Barbie jet.

My sister introduced me to this new Essie strengthening polish.  The color is Mauve-tivation.  I've been wearing it all week.  It's really pretty.  My childhood bedroom was mauve so it reminds me of the floral wallpaper covered walls.

Hope you have a great weekend!  We have a lot of rain in the forecast so I think we'll be sticking close to home.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Every Day I Will...

I'm setting goals a little differently this year.

I have come up with a list of things that I want to shoot for doing every day.

It's a mix of things to do for me and for my family that I have on my radar for 2020.  I'm going to post these ten words/phrases by my desk and keep them fresh in my mind.  I won't be making a daily checklist for myself with them.  I'll just reference them regularly until they become routine.

Everyday I will...

1. Eat colorfully
Meal prep, plan and enjoy colorful foods this year.

2. Read
I hope to read books for pleasure, read my Bible, read to my kids and talk about books.

3. Clean
Keep a tidy house with a little cleaning every day.

4. Create
Give myself opportunities to do the hobbies I enjoy - crafting, blogging, gardening, decorating, etc.

5. Connect with people
We are all super connected online, but I want to focus on connecting face to face or sending personal messages this year.  I read something recently about how so many people report feeling lonely despite being connected on social media.  My goal is to do more connecting in real life.

6. Play
I'm a pretty serious, task oriented person.  I have to remind myself to joke around and play.  This year I'd like to play more and worry less about the to dos.

7. Exercise
Being able to exercise and being healthy is such a privilege.  I really want to change my mind set and view exercise as ADDING something to my day (as my instagram friend @karaswanson talks about).

8. Save
Be mindful of spending and look for ways to save money.  Limit mindless shopping.  Really look at the supplies and things I have in my home before buying new.  Less shopping.

9. Relax
This goes along with #6.  I find relaxing to be very hard.  I'm always on.  So this year I'd like to unplug and enjoy some relaxing time maybe watching a show, having a date night at home or doing something to unwind at the end of the day.

10. Love
Only add things I love to my calendar, only buy things I love, encourage the people that I love and do things out of love.

Can you relate to any of my 10 goals for the new year?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

2019 Family Photo Shoot

We started a tradition with my side of the family many years ago to gift my mom a photo session gift card every other year for Mother's Day.  Then we coordinate all 18 of our schedules to make a photo shoot happen.  My cousin is our photographer and is so sweet to manage our big crew.  It's so fun to get updated pictures regularly and then we all have pictures to use for Christmas cards that year.  Win-win!

Does your family get professional pictures taken regularly??

Big Family Photo Shoot Tips:

1. Pick 3-4 colors for your outfits
We have my mom select 3 colors for our outfits and then each mom is in charge of selecting outfits for their own families.  I usually try to find a pinterest image with all the colors in it and then we all get busy shopping.

2. Avoid the hottest time of the year and aim for good lighting in the late afternoon/early evening.  
We have done pictures in August, October and maybe even November.  October usually works out best for us.  We broke our own rules and took these pictures around noon.  It was very cloudy and it looked like our 5pm photo shoot time was going to get rained out!  We really lucked out!

3. Scout out your picture taking locations ahead of time.  
My mom and I usually walk through their yard to pick out a couple different spots that would make good backgrounds for pictures.

4. Work fast with a game plan for shooting the whole family!  
We usually start with small family pictures, whole groups, head shots, grandparents, siblings, boys, girls and then some more small family pictures in a different location.  Believe it or not, these shoots have only lasted 30-45 minutes the past couple of years.  It's been great!

5. Have dinner together afterwards with the promise of a fun treat for the kids!

Now on to some of my favorites from our 2019 shoot:

We decided this was our favorite for our Christmas card this year, but we ended up with several great family picture options.

I really loved all of our pictures this year!

The whole Heilman crew!

Mimi & Papaw with all the grandkids.

9 in a row lined up from oldest to youngest.  What a fun crew of cousins!

I hopped in with baby #10.

Olive: Age 6.

Fletcher: Age 3

If you haven't had family pictures taken in a while, I'd highly encourage you to make it happen in 2020!