Flying with a Toddler // What’s in My Bag

May 6, 2016


*Edited to say: Ainsley and I were supposed to fly out to Idaho yesterday. We had a tight connection in Denver (a little under an hour) and our flight was so delayed leaving Sioux Falls that we would have missed the flight all together. We checked into our options to get to Boise if we made it to Denver but missed our connecting flight, and the choices were less than stellar. We would have been stuck in Denver until 7 pm Friday night! So we decided to scratch the trip and re-schedule asap. 

Ainsley and I are taking our first flight just the two of us later this week! We’re headed to Idaho to visit grandpa, grandma and auntie Taylor (my sister) while Joe holds down the fort at home. Ainsley has flown twice, once at four months and once at 10 months, but this is my first time flying solo with her. I’m a little nervous, but overall just really looking forward to getting my first solo flight with a toddler under my belt and enjoying the beautiful Idaho weather!

As with anything that involves little kids, being prepared is half the battle. So let’s take a look at what I’ve got in my diaper bag, shall we?

PS: I am still in love with my Lily Jade diaper bag (the Rosie in Camel) and am convinced that it’s the best diaper bag around!

1. Ziplock Bags // Because messes, poopy diapers and unexpected things happen and having air-tight bags to store and toss things is key!

2. Snacks // I’m planning on taking lots of snacks to keep Ainsley occupied, including a few less-healthy options for when things get really desperate! We always travel with these pouches from Plum Organics because they’re healthy, easy to eat and Ainsley loves them. I’ll also be taking along cereal in a snack cup, suckers and her sippy so she can drink milk and water on take-off and landing to protect her little ears.

3. Beautycounter Baby Balm // This is for Ainsley and me! It’s my do-it-all balm that works as a protective balm for baby, a lip balm for mom and even works for removing eye makeup and adding highlight to your cheekbones for a dewy glow. I love the stuff! Perfect for that dry airplane air, too.

4. Books // Ainsley loves to read books, so I’m planning on bringing a few with us for the plane! We’ve really been loving The Pout Pout Fish. What a colorful, fun and engaging book. A must-have for all you toddler moms.

5. Magic Colors + Paper // We purchased some markers that only color on the special paper, so I’ll be taking those along for entertainment and mess-free coloring!

6. Disposable Snack Cups // For $2.50 at Walmart I purchased a six pack of disposable snack cups with lids. I’m planning on packing Ainsley’s snacks in these cups, that way if I loose them on the trip, it’s no big deal.

7. Change of Clothes // Because messes happen, and having an extra set of clothes is a necessity!

Not pictured: Diapers, wipes, baby changing pad, iPhone loaded with apps to play with, and the Ergo, which I’m planning on using to carry Ainsley through the airport with so I have my hands free!



What needs to be said about social media

May 3, 2016


I posed a shorter version of this on Facebook last week, but I thought it was worth expanding on in a post. You can find the original post here. 

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about social media. You know, posts about how people are “too perfect” or there is a pressure to feel more put together, to curate and create beautiful content. And on the surface I totally understand. I was having a conversation with someone not long ago who told me they no longer follow such and such blogger because she makes her life seem too perfect and they just don’t like that.

The blogger in question was someone I follow, and from my perspective the content she creates is professional, magazine-quality and, yes, very beautiful and styled. Her content didn’t look like real life because that wasn’t the intent; she’s a blogger making a living producing helpful and beautiful tutorials and sharing select snippets of her life.

Social media poses certain unique challenges for us as consumers. We take in so much beauty on a platform like Instagram that if we aren’t careful, that beauty and endless stream of inspiring photos can start to seem like a new normal, a standard of perfection that just can’t be achieved while juggling babies and messes and jobs and dogs who run after the neighbor’s cat. If we aren’t careful, that beautiful and inspiring content can very quickly turn into comparison, stealing away our joy and causing us to become dissatisfied with our own lives.

But friends, here’s what needs to be said: We need to take persona responsibility for how we feel when looking at social media. If seeing a photo of a beautifully styled coffee table with a hot cup of coffee makes you feel like your life is ugly and messy, then the fault doesn’t like with the producer of that content, the fault lies in our own hearts. It’s our job as responsible consumers of social media to keep tabs on our hearts, to make sure that we are approaching it with the correct mindset, and to know if, and when, we need to take a little break to get things set right again.

And there is nothing wrong with taking that break. It’s totally okay to say, “Hey, seeing photos of this design blogger’s beautiful home is exposing some heart issues I have to work out about my own life and home. I’m going to quit following her.” or “I’m going to step away from social media for a while while I figure those feelings out.” But to place the blame on the creator of the content seems both silly and wrong.

So ladies, let’s spend more time building one another up. Let’s cheer on the creators of beautiful content and styled photos and rocking bikini bods and well-dressed kiddos posing perfectly for pictures. Don’t follow people to snark about them. If you don’t like something in your Instagram feed you have the power to click that little “unfollow” button, should you so desire. Otherwise, let’s agree that we’ll work to be more supportive of one another and examine our own hearts before placing the blame on others.


Food & Recipes

My Top Tips for Stress-Free Entertaining

April 29, 2016


This is a sponsored post written on behalf of The Women Bloggers in association with @KendalKingGroup and #SoapboxInfluence; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.





1 // Stick with what you know
This isn’t the time to whip out a new recipe. Stick with recipes you’re comfortable and familiar with. And if you are going to try something new, make sure to give it a test run beforehand or pick a recipe that you know won’t fall flat or be overly complicated to make. Your job as the host is to be at east, which in turn puts your guests at ease. Stressing over a new recipe that’s gone up in flames in the kitchen is not what you’re going for.

2 // Pick One Hot Item
The most common mistake I see when people host is they try and do too much. If you’re new to the entertaining game, or just looking for ease, stick with one item that’s hot/prepared on the spot, and make the rest of the dishes things that you can prep in advance. Last night’s party menu included:

-Burgers on the grill
Hummus platter with veggies and pita (using Bush’s Hummus Made Easy)
-Fresh berries
-Beer, wine, iced tea to drink
-Someone else brought dessert!

It was easy to have everything ready to go. Burger patties ready for the grill, salad ready to be tossed with dressing, hummus platter prepared, and berries washed. The only thing left to do was fire up the grill and cook the burgers once everyone arrived.

3 // Play It Cool 
In the past I thought that I needed to have everything ready to go the instant guests arrived. But over time, I’ve realized that it’s best not to eat the second everyone gets to your house. Let people mingle, chat, grab a drink. And don’t be afraid to put someone to work in the kitchen if need be!

4 // Use Disposable Plates
For casual gatherings, don’t hesitate to reach for the disposable plates. Last night’s NFL Draft Party was the perfect reason to reach for disposable plates. No messy clean-up later, minimal dirty dishes and appropriate for the event. The same does not hold true for a more formal dinner party. 😉

5 // Say Yes to Help
If friends volunteer to bring something, take them up on the offer! It’s nice to share the responsibilities of making food and takes the pressure off you to do it all.


Food & Recipes

Morning Coffee

April 27, 2016




When designing our kitchen, one of my priorities was to have a little “coffee nook” where I could keep all my mugs, coffee machine and a few other decorative items. As you all already know, coffee is my life blood and my day couldn’t start without a steaming hot cup of joe every morning, and a cup in the mid afternoon, and some decaf in the evenings after dinner. I mean, this blog is called Espresso and Cream for a reason!

We have a lot of ways to make coffee at our house (espresso maker, single-cup brewer, French press) but nothing ever really replaces the drip coffee maker for me. Single-serve brewers never make coffee quite strong enough for my liking, and the espresso machine only makes one espresso at a time – not ideal for a large group.

My drip coffee maker had been on the fritz for a while, leaking every time I used it and leaving a big puddle of water on the countertop. But I was so torn on what machine to buy that I just put a towel under the coffee pot each time I brewed coffee and called it a day. So when the Capresso team reached out last month asking if I would be interested in reviewing one of their coffee makers, I jumped at the opportunity.

I got the Capresso Coffee TEAM TS which has a built-in grinder so you always have freshly ground coffee for your morning cup of coffee. It’s also fairly compact so it doesn’t take up a large amount of space on the counter. This is by far the fanciest drip coffee maker I’ve ever owned, and I’m so in love. You can choose the strength of your coffee (anywhere between 1-10) and allows you to adjust the fineness of the brew based on the strength and type of coffee beans you use. To say my coffee game is much stronger these days would be an understatement.

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I’ve been thinking about products with mom in mind. I would highly recommend this coffee maker for any moms in your life. Because what mom doesn’t need more coffee in her life?


*Capresso provided me this coffee maker free of charge, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 


Slow down, momma!

April 26, 2016


Like many days before it, one day last week I was rushed. We had been stuck inside for a couple days because of endless rain and cold wind, and I was, admittedly, going a little stir crazy being cooped up inside with a teething toddler who wanted to climb on all the things and a to-do list a mile long. That say, like every other day, I was trying to strike a balance between getting things done and being a present parent, engaged in Ainsley and her activities while juggling laundry and freelance work during nap time and answering e-mails while she played on the floor.

In the quiet moments at the end of the day, when I’m giving Ainsley her last sippy of milk and rocking with her in the chair, my body finally slows. My mind rests. I realize that without realizing it, I’ve been “sprinting” through my day jumping from one task to another trying to do it all.

“Slow down!” I hear a voice in my head say. “Find time for what matters.”

Ainsley was having a little toddler meltdown. But this time, on this day, instead of brushing it off or trying to distract her with something new I simply sat down next to her and started watching her play, letting her hand me toy after toy. Her mood instantly mellowed. She become calm and content and played happily with me by her side.

How did I miss the fact that my “fussy toddler” really just wanted my undivided attention and time? All she desired was for me to stop, slow down and sit with her, to see the world through her eyes. The greatest gift we can give our children is the gift of ourselves, when we’re not distracted or multitasking, just present and fully engaged.

When Ainsley wakes up early in the morning or cuts a nap absurdly short or fights bed time and comes to sit with mom and dad on the couch, I tend to get a little agitated. It’s my first response because I’m human and “my time!” has been taken away. But I read somewhere on the internet this week that you can change the conversation. Instead of thinking about those moments as interruptions, think about them as “God appointments” with our children. Special, unexpected moments that we get with them while they may have otherwise been asleep or doing something that didn’t require our attention.

Last night we put Ainsley to bed at her usual 7:30. She feel right to sleep without a peep, but around 8:30 she woke up entirely distraught, which was unusual for her. We gave her milk and put her back down. Still upset. I rocked her and cuddled with her until her breathing slowed before I laid her back down. Still upset.

Finally, around 9, Joe scooped her up and brought her into the living room with us to watch Dancing With the Stars. Ainsley doesn’t watch much, if any, television and is obsessed with music, singing and dancing so it was a very special treat. She clapped her hands after the performers danced and bounced up and down as the music played. She was mesmerized and we had such fun watching her. The night got even better for Ainsley when she got to share a bowl of ice cream with daddy. The look of delight and satisfaction on her face was priceless.

I don’t know what it was last night, but Ainsley needed us. She needed cuddles, time, attention and love. What a joy it is to be able to be the ones that she wants.

So today, slow down, momma. Find the moments in your day to give to your time and attention to your little ones. Love them, cuddle them, play with them. Put your phone down (I’m speaking to myself, too!) and observe the way they process the world around them. What they need most is you.


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