A Little About Sponsored Posts

November 6, 2017

Hi friends! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and are feeling ready to tackle whatever your week has in store. I wanted to hop on today and talk with you all about sponsored posts. In the coming weeks/months, the way the editorial calendar and brand calendars aligned, you’ll be seeing a handful of sponsored posts and I wanted to take a minute to talk through my sponsored post selection process.

First, sponsored content is what keeps the lights on over here. Blogging is part of my “wears many hats” career, and while it’s certainly not going to make me rich any time soon, I continue to blog because I LOVE writing, sharing, and being creative. That said, as my blog has grown it costs money to house the site on an adequate server, buy equipment for taking photos, props for recipes, etc. There are a lot of hidden costs that go into blogging and sponsored posts cover that for me throughout the year.

I think there is an assumption that sponsored posts require the blogger to “sell out” and compromise themselves, watering down their opinions and voice in the process. And I understand that! Opportunities pop into my inbox frequently – I work with various influencer marketing agencies who send opportunities my way, brands sometimes reach out directly, and other times I reach out to the brand myself if I really love and use a product and think it would make sense to work together.

Sometimes the opportunities that are presented to me are financially lucrative but I say yes to very few projects in the name of being authentic to the way my family lives, the products we actually use, and what I think you, my readers, would be interested in hearing about. Just recently a clothing company reached out and offered to pay me in $750 worth of high-end clothing in exchange for a shout-out. But when I looked at their website most of the blouses were more than $250, a price I knew most of you wouldn’t or couldn’t afford, so I declined the offer. Sometimes it’s hard to say no to opportunities like that, because who doesn’t want expensive clothes for free? But ultimately accepting sponsored posts that aren’t a good fit for Espresso and Cream would undercut my credibility with YOU. And you all are the most important part of this whole thing.

I tend to gravitate toward sponsored posts that incorporate places I regularly grocery shop (Walmart, in our area) or that allow me to use my expertise and experience as a recipe developer by giving you a new recipe to try. I try to always ask myself, “Would I buy this product in my daily life outside of this sponsored post?” or “Would I normally shop at this retailer?” If the answer is “no” then I pass every. single. time.

So, with that said, I just wanted to lay the groundwork for the upcoming sponsored posts that you’ll be seeing on Espresso and Cream!


Family, Infertility and Miscarriage

Losing Them, Loving You

October 30, 2017

screen-shot-2017-10-29-at-6-21-15-amPhoto: Jessica Bonestroo Photography

I’ve been thinking all month about what (if anything) to write this month, seeing that it’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Sometimes, in the thick of parenting two little kids, our losses seem to fade into the background, a sad and heartbreaking circumstance that paved the way for both our girls. Sometimes, when cleaning up messes and disciplining toddlers and trying to grocery shop with both and maintain my sanity it’s hard to think about much else besides just getting through the day alive with everyone fed and unscathed.

But because of our losses, I’ve “met” so many of you I know your stories through emails, blog and Instagram comments and real-life coffee dates. Some of you have found my posts about miscarriage years later and are still writing me to share your stories – a fact that humbles me and makes me so very aware of the three babies we ourselves lost in the process of growing our family.

Sometimes I don’t think about our losses, until I do. When Ainsley puts together a puzzle in the blink of an eye or plays make believe with her Paw Patrol figurines. When Collins looks at me with her big, sparkly eyes and giggles the sweetest, softest giggle. When I notice that our girls both have the same set of amazing eyelashes or when Collins looks at her sister like she hung the moon, it hits me.

I wonder what their brother would have been like.

I wonder if their other siblings were boys or girls. I so wish I knew.

Like any (most?) types of loss, it never gets totally easy, life just continues on and time eases some of the raw edges. Losing three babies and now having two little ones makes me so aware of who they could or would have been. Joe is quick to remind me that the timing of our losses makes it such that we couldn’t have had the babies we lost AND our girls, and I wouldn’t trade our girls for the world. But when I look at Ainsley and Collins, a part of me will always wonder what our babies would have looked like. It shapes how you parent your earthly children, the thankfulness you have for the more mundane and challenging parts of parenting, the everyday moments that are somehow a little more special.


Food & Recipes

Greek Chickpea Salad with Pita

October 17, 2017


We don’t eat many vegetarian meals as a family, but once or twice per week I like to serve up something that is vegetarian both as a cost saving measure and for the health benefits. The only requirements I have for vegetarian meals is that they are filling and contain a good amount of vegetarian protein from beans, lentils, etc.

This recipe is ultra easy to throw together. All you have to do is chop a few tomatoes and cucumbers, then toss everything together and serve! Seriously, I think it took a total of 5 minutes to make this dinner, which is the ultimate win in my book. As an added bonus, this makes great leftovers the next day for lunch.

Greek Chickpea Salad with Pita
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • ½ of a medium English cucumber, chopped
  • 6 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice from ½ of a lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
  • 4 whole wheat pita bread rounds (I like Joseph's brand)
  • Mixed greens (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber and feta. Drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with the salt, pepper and oregano. Stir gently to evenly combine. Spoon mixture into bowls. Top each bowl with some of the olives. Serve with whole wheat pita bread rounds and mixed greens, if desired.
  2. *This recipe can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


Food & Recipes

BLT Chopped Salad + Homemade Bread

October 12, 2017



Hi everyone! So sorry for the delay in posting my next recipe on the Week of Recipes. I got a little sidetracked by turning 30, but I’m excited to be posting this recipe today and wrapping up the week of recipes tomorrow with the fifth and final recipe!

When time is really crunched but I’m looking for a healthy meal for our family I typically reach for a big salad and toss a bunch of different fun ingredients in for variety. This BLT salad is on pretty heavy rotation at our house in some form or another.

Also: I used to think I wasn’t a bread baker. Until I discovered Pinch of Yum’s Miracle No Knead Bread and it changed everything. It’s so incredibly easy, cheap and fun to make. Yes, fun! I mean, when you bake bread that looks and tastes as good as a bakery, you start to really get excited about the whole thing.

BLT Chopped Salad
  • 2 hearts of Romaine lettuce
  • 12 oz. bacon, crisp cooked and chopped
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes (1 used grape tomatoes because we had some from the garden)
  • 2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • Dressing of choice (Joe and I like to mix Balsamic Vinaigrette and Poppyseed 50/50)
  1. Chop Romaine lettuce into bite-size pieces. In a large bow, toss together the lettuce, bacon, tomatoes and feta. Drizzle lightly with salad dressing of choice and toss to coat. Spoon mixture into bowls. Serve with homemade bread.
  2. *Vegetarian Option: Add bacon at the end. Serve the veg option with chickpeas or black beans instead of the bacon.



The Things I Don’t Do

October 5, 2017


Today I turned 30. Truthfully, I’m not one to get too worked up over a specific age or date on the calendar, but something about 30 – a new decade – makes me a little sentimental and reflective. Joe tells me I need to stop listening to sappy, serious podcasts because my deep-thinking, Enneagram 4 self is already prone to feeling all the feelings. It’s true. But today I’m affording myself a little time of self-reflection as I prepare to embark on a new decade. I’ve heard great things about 30 and I firmly believe that I would rather be 30 than 20 any and all days of the week.

I got a question from a blog reader/Instagram follower the other day asking if I would share how I “do it all” or, if I don’t do it all, what I don’t do. I mulled the question over for a week or so and thought about how I would (honestly) answer that question. I’ll be the first to admit that I feel like I’m just doing my best to juggle it all, but I’ve been surprised at how much I LOVE this stage of life with very little kids. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of days when I just want a nap and a solo vacation, but I have also never felt more alive, more challenged, more fulfilled than I do right now. My mom is a really high-energy individual, about twice as much as I am, so I think I do come by my energy honestly.

Let me also say that while I might seem like I’m “doing it all” sometimes, I have the advantage of the fact that my work is flexible and can be very accommodating to life with little kids. I have 16 hours of childcare each week and if I want to work at 5 am or early Sunday morning I can because I’m the boss. Working part-time affords me more time to do housework, spend quality time with the girls, dinner prep, etc. It’s a gift and opportunity that isn’t lost on me and my hat goes off to all the full-time working mommas trying to juggle it all.

THINGS I DON’T DO (in no particular order)

  1. Workouts longer than 30 minutes. It’s just not worth it to me. I want to be fit and fit into my jeans, and that can be done in 30 minutes, 5 to 6 days per week. Anything more feels, for me, like a vanity project and asking my kids to tolerate more than 30 minutes tends to result in more stress than benefit.
  2. Fancy Dinners. I DO make dinner for my family most nights of the week, but let me tell you that if you learn how to cook meat well, roast veggies and cook some type of grain you really are set.
  3. Over-Commitment. Life is crazy enough without me adding too many things to our plate as a family. I’m an introvert at heart, so when our family runs ragged I start to get snappy. I don’t parent well, I’m not a good spouse or friend. We have a few standing commitments right now (Wednesday night youth group, Sunday night church life group, and Joe helps with the high school football team on Friday nights) so I’ve intentionally avoided adding any other standing commitments to our calendar for the time being.
  4. Deep Cleaning My House. Before Collins arrived, one of my good mom friends suggested that I hire someone to clean my house to take something off my plate. We now have someone come for two hours every other week. It’s not enough help that I can completely abandon cleaning on a daily basis, but I don’t have to worry about keeping the water spots off our fixtures or scrubbing our tub and shower, etc.
  5. Spending more than 10 minutes getting ready. I DO get ready almost every day, but it doesn’t take much time. I intentionally keep my hair long because of this reason. It’s easier for me to get ready for my day and look/feel put together when my hair is long. It takes me about 10 minutes to do something with my hair and swipe on a little minimalist makeup. Shameless plug: When your skin and hair feels great using high-quality products, you don’t really need much makeup.
  6. Playing the social media comparison game. This isn’t a particular sticking point for me, but I do try to keep in mind that I’m the owner of my social media feed. I decide who shows up in my feed and who doesn’t. If there is someone who is rubbing me the wrong way or making me feel less than, it’s probably my own heart issue more than anything, but it’s my responsibility to follow judiciously. If someone or something makes you feel less than? Unfollow.
  7. Allow my mornings to be frazzled. I’m fully aware that my work at home schedule puts me at a distinct advantage because I don’t have to hustle to get the girls dropped off at daycare or be at the office at a certain time. But I do wake up at the crack of dawn each day to get some time to myself and set our family up for a smooth morning. Most mornings I’m awake at 5. I have coffee, read my Bible, do a little personal development or pleasure reading, and answer emails. Then I get Joe’s lunch packed, unload the dishwasher, run a load of laundry and fold a load if I’m on my game. Before the girls get up, I wash my face, get dressed and put on a little makeup and we start our mornings sometime between 6:30 and 7. Ainsley usually watches and episode of Curious George when she wakes up because she is slow to get going in the morning and if Collins is still sleeping I’ll do a little work on my computer sitting next to her.

Things I’m Learning to Do (key word, learning)

  1. Embracing the Chaos. I grew up in an only-child family most of my life where my house was quiet and I had plenty of time to myself. Admittedly, the transition to two kids was a little jarring to me because it’s just so loud and crazy all the time. But I’m learning to embrace the chaos, laugh about it, and even, dare I say, love it?
  2. Putting my phone down. This is an area I could still use some significant improvement on, but I’m working on being more conscious about my phone use around the girls. I don’t mind them seeing me work – I think it’s good they know what mom does and that I work hard – but I don’t want mindless scrolling of social media to distract me from what really matters.
  3. Being more organized. I’m about as far from Type-A as can be in many ways, so schedules and organization are a big area of improvement. I’m realizing that with two kids, my memory and head space just isn’t what it used to be, so writing all the things down is not just a nicety but a necessity.

Here’s to 30 being the best decade yet!