Tips for Work-At-Home Success

February 9, 2016


In August (when Joe and I moved from Minneapolis to Iowa) I decided to make a big career change and transition from working in the corporate world to working at home in a couple different capacities. The biggest question I get these days is “What do you do?” and it’s always a tough question to answer because I’m doing quite a few different things!

Working multiple creative jobs is a little nutty at times, but it’s also been the biggest blessing to our family. I’ve had the joy of spending more time with Ainsley than I did previously, but I’m still exercising my creative talents and passions while bringing in an income.

Currently, I see my jobs falling into the following categories:

1. FLYJOY // As most of you know, I work for FLYJOY Ancient Grain Energy Bars part-time managing their social media, marketing and blogger outreach. My cousin founded the company a few years ago and our move coincided with the company’s need to expand the team.

2. Espresso & Cream // I have been blogging 6 years (?!) but it hasn’t been until the last year that this blog has become a legitimate source of income. I’ve mentioned before how I make money blogging, but I’ve also expanded that to include recipe development for various brands and companies now that I have more free time. I take on a few recipe development projects each month, depending on my schedule.

3. Beautycounter // I joined Beautycounter four months ago on a bit of whim. I was using their products religiously and loving them, so I figured I would join as a consultant to get the discount. What transpired really surprised me! I developed a huge passion not only for the products but for sharing the products with others and have had such a great time building a business and team of consultants. I’m now to the point where I consider Beautycounter a legitimate money-making income source that contributes to our family’s financial situation. Interested in their products or becoming a consultant? E-mail me! (

As you can see, that’s a lot of irons in the fire. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s made scheduling and managing my time important. Here’s what works best for our family!

1. Childcare // I can’t begin to express how important this one is! When Ainsley was smaller/slept more it would have been more realistic to think that I could get work done with her around, but as she is getting older and more mobile/sleeping less, childcare is a necessity. I get childcare for Ainsley 20 hours a week, usually on Monday-Wednesday. When work gets really busy or I pick up another project, we have a college girl come to our house on Thursday or Friday for a handful of additional hours as needed.

When it’s all said and done, I work more than 20 hours on my various jobs, but being able to count on that 20 hours is so helpful, especially for tasks like conference calls, trips to the post office, writing, packing up samples, etc. Could I have Ainsley at home more hours? Probably, but I think it’s better for me to be fully invested in my work for a set period of time rather than being distracted around her, trying to get work done while she is awake at home.

2. Scheduling // I started waking up early, around 5 am, to get work done each weekday morning. It’s been a necessity for me to settle into my day and get off to a good start before anyone else in the house wakes up. I get about 1 1/2 hours of work in first thing in the morning, along with my quiet time and a slow breakfast with Joe before he leaves for work. It’s wonderful! It’s always difficult to get out of bed first thing, but I’m always happy that I did so. Morning time is when I work on my blog and Beautycounter business.

3. Nap Time // On the days when Ainsley is home with me I totally maximize nap time. I’ll photograph recipes for my personal blog projects, respond to Beautycounter e-mails, share a beauty tip on Periscope or manage my blog or business social media pages. Of course, sometimes nap time turns into cleaning the house time, exercising time, paying bills time, etc. I try my best to create structure in our days while also enjoying the freedom of having a flexible work schedule and having additional time to spend with Ainsley.

4. Night Time // More often than not, I try my best to avoid using the time after Ainsley’s bed time to work. I’ll occasionally respond to a handful of e-mails or blog comments, but I really try to limit that. My time with Joe is valuable and we don’t stay up super late, so it’s precious and protected time for us as a couple. We have, however, started using the time after Ainsley goes to bed as workout time! Sometimes Joe heads to the gym for a quick workout or outside for a run while I do my video at home. It’s hard to squeeze in exercise with all the other responsibilities we have, but it’s important to both of us so we make the time.

I think that covers it! If you’re still with me through this post, kudos! It was really wordy, I know, but I wanted to make sure there was enough background and substance for it to be worth reading. I’m still learning how best to manage my schedule now that it looks so different than it once did, but it’s been a fun challenge and I’m always left feeling creatively inspired and filled up!


Fashion, Family

Mom Bods + Bikinis

February 7, 2016


This summer I’m taking my mom bod to the pool in a bikini. Let me back up and say that because of my very long torso I’ve always been a big fan of the two-piece swimsuit out of necessity. But I sort of assumed that after having a baby you were bound to a life of one-piece swimsuits forever and ever, either out of a duty to modesty or a desire to hide things that had stretched and expanded or contracted in funny ways.

Let me take a quick detour to say that I’m incredibly excited that in recent years there has been a resurgence of the one-piece, and I sincerely hope I can find one that works with my body type because there are so many pretty options. I actually have this one on order right now because it’s beautiful and the reviews say it runs long. Fingers crossed!

But after having a baby, I wasn’t quite ready to give up two pieces forever. I’ve always loved wearing a bikini, not because I have the most amazing body (I don’t) or because I look like a supermodel when I wear one (spoiler: not true!) but because I’ve always enjoyed wearing them. I think back to summers spent on the beach in Florida, two summer trips with my family to the Bahamas, endless vacations to warm-weather locals where beach-lounging, swimming and reading was always on the list.

I wore a bikini on every one of those trips and felt so free doing so. While I was never one of those stick-thin high schoolers, putting a bikini on always gave me a sense of carefree confidence. So you can see why the idea of hanging the two piece up forever made me incredibly sad.

A few weeks back it was determined that if I was going to wear a two piece suit post-baby, then it was sure as heck going to be a high quality suit that fit well. I’ve been eyeing the Mara Hoffman bikinis for years, so this January I bit the bullet and ordered 10 different suits online so I could try them all on at home. Ladies? Let me tell you that there is no other way to go swimsuit shopping. It’s much less painful to try them on in the comfort of your own home.

The winner out of all 10? This suit, which fits so well and is so incredibly comfortable. Worth every penny!

As one of my amazing Instagram followers put it…

“Moms should totally rock bikinis! It’s the only time in my life I’ve been confident enough to wear one proudly!”

So, mommas, here’s to finding a bikini that makes you feel and look great and not hanging up our two-pieces quite yet.


Fashion, Food & Recipes

Friday Favorites

February 5, 2016

IMG_4907Madewell Jeans // Belong Magazine // Nine West Booties (similar)

Happy, happy Friday! We’re laying low this weekend with no real plans on the books, and I couldn’t be more excited. We have a handful of small house projects to work on, but other than that we’re laying low and taking it easy. Here are a few of my favorite finds from around the web this week!

Have you seen a dress this perfect before? I die.

A really amazing low-income housing project.

Practical advice on sharing the gospel with your littles.

The tinted moisturizer I can’t live without.

Why it’s okay to be uncomfortable sometimes.

Making THIS for dinner sometime very soon.

A good reminder on passing on Biblical womanhood to my daughter.

I think you need these booties in your life. Buy them for me?
Have a wonderful weekend, friends!



say what you mean to say

February 4, 2016


This week (and maybe last week, too) was a very average week. You know those weeks, right? The ones where you intend to do all the things and instead find yourself with a half-accomplished to-do list and a brain that feels all sorts of scattered? Yeah, I’m totally there. The kind of week where you have a little knot in your stomach for a reason you can’t identify. When you’re doing all the “right” things and yet everything seems to be a little off.

As Nancy Ray put it on Instagram, I’ve been feeling very “human” lately.

None of my mistakes this week have been very big, but they’ve bothered me deeply. What I rarely let on is that I hate making mistakes, letting people down, dropping the ball. And yet I’m so very aware when I do that it eats me up inside. Because it bothers me so much, I try and brush it off, move forward and do better next time. But inside? Well I feel those mistakes deeply.

Just the other week Joe and I got into an argument. It wasn’t big or about anything interesting – I think it was one of those late-night arguments that gets magnified when you’re tired. I had misplaced something of Joe’s and when he asked me about it, I brushed it off like it was no big deal because I was so embarrassed. I was careless and absent-minded and I lost what was important to Joe. Instead of just saying “I’m sorry” I decided to brush it off like it didn’t matter. Cue ensuing argument about why I didn’t care about losing said item…

This week I lost track of what day of the week it was because we’ve had two snow days and Joe was home from work on Tuesday and Wednesday. So when our friend and childcare provided texted me at 4:30 asking me if I was going to come pick up Ainsley, I was more than a little mortified that I had completely forgotten that pick-up was at 4 not 5. I swung the other way and apologized profusely, but it still left me with that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

A number of important e-mails went unanswered because I just didn’t have the time to get to them with all that I have going on.

More guilt. More “I’ve got to do better!” running through my head.

I met with a friend this week and felt like I rattled on about my life only to realize later that the questions I really wanted to ask her never got asked. I ran the conversation over and over in my head, wondering why I talked so much and whether or not I should have asked more questions.

“I’ll ask her next time!” I thought. “Make a mental note to be more intentional when we get together next week!” I scolded myself.

The truth is that saying “I’m sorry” takes a lot of vulnerability. It’s humbling, honest and real. Sometimes I’m more likely to try and work my way out of a situation by bringing a gift of apology or trying hard to win back the approval of others rather than simply looking them in the eyes and saying a few simple words.

Our world and our culture are so focused on teaching us to stand on our own two feet. That we should “make something happen” – whatever that means. And while I do believe we have a responsibility to use our God-given gifts in the best and most effective ways possible, I think there’s a lot of freedom to be gained when we stop trying to make something happen and leave room for God to do something great in our lives.

So today, and every day, I’m working on striving less and surrendering more. Giving more time and consideration to God’s will over my own. Accepting my very human-ness and tendency to fail time and time again.

Grace > Guilt.

Every. Single. Time.


Food & Recipes

Baby Breakfast :: Oatmeal Edition

February 3, 2016


Ainsley has been stuck with just two little teeth for close to five months now. Today I just saw a tooth starting to poke out on top (!!) but feeding a hungry baby who is very interested in food but only has two teeth is a challenge! She chokes on food all the time if I don’t mash it up enough or make the bites small, and I alway feel so bad.

The teeth situation has forced me to get creative with what I feed her outside of purees, smoothies and yogurt. Sometimes it’s a little more effort, but feeding her and introducing her to new foods is so fun and rewarding.

I’m starting to play around with the idea of doing an e-book in the future with all our favorite baby/toddler recipes, so I’ve been making an effort to capture the things Ainsley eats and take down measurements rather than just throwing it all together.

When possible, I feed Ainsley the same types of foods we are eating to make it less work or cook/bake in bulk to cut down on prep in the morning or evenings. Since I start out most days with oatmeal, chia seeds and nut/seed butter, so does Miss Ainsley! This oatmeal is always a big hit, although she rarely eats the whole bowl unless she is super hungry. I usually just save the leftovers and re-heat them with a little added milk the next day and it works just fine.

Baby Breakfast :: Oatmeal Edition
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 serving
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • ½ teaspoon chia seeds
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 3 to 4 fresh raspberries or other berry
  • 1 teaspoon nut or seed butter (I used Sunbutter)
  1. In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the oats and water. Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until oats are puffed up and cooked. Stir in the milk, chia seeds and cinnamon until well combined. Top with the berries and nut or seed butter and enjoy!


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