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How I’m Finding Mom Balance in a Crazy Season

October 11, 2018

The last couple months have been really crazy for our family. I try not to allow our schedule to get too packed during the weeks and weekends – particularly trying to avoid back-to-back weekends when we are away from the kids or traveling for work, or any number of things. And yet somehow our fall ended up much more chaotic than I had hoped or planned.

It started with me traveling to Nantucket for work for five days, followed by a weekend trip up to Minneapolis for myself and Joe, my birthday weekend, and another trip up north for a wedding. Add in Joe’s busy schedule with work and football coaching, the beginning of my busy season with Beautycounter (holiday collections and events!), Ainsley starting preschool and dance, Collins starting music class and trying to have any semblance of a social life. Well, you get the idea. It’s been busy. And I don’t, in any way, like to glorify the pursuit of busy. Because I think our culture’s obsession with being busy is gross. But somehow we’ve found ourselves in a little bit of an unusually fast-paced schedule as we’ve navigated these new roles, responsibilities, and activities.

During the first 2 years I was with Beautycounter and running my freelance business, I didn’t have many reasons to travel outside of the home. My work could nearly all be done from the computer and comfort of my home office or kitchen. But as my team and business has grown, and other opportunities have come my way through blogging and freelancing, I’ve found there are more and more occasions calling me outside of the home and on the road.

I shared about the tension of work and mom life briefly on Instagram stories the other day, and so many of you expressed that you had similar feelings of push and pull, of loving your babies more than life itself and yet feeling called to embrace and pursue opportunities outside of the home, too. I’m SO thankful that my work is so flexible and allows me to be around for preschool drop-off and pick-up most days and putting dinner on the table at 5:30 most evenings for my crew, but I’m also stepping into different roles. The opportunities that sometimes mean I’m not at preschool drop-off and that take-out pizza is the most viable dinner option. Sometimes it means dad puts the girls to bed while I work or travel occasionally.

While I’m certainly still learning the balance for our family and figuring out how to make it all work, there are a few things that I’ve found which seem to ease the crazy seasons and travel for everyone in our family. Here’s what we’re finding works for our family:

  1. Make the Plan Clear
    Since Ainsley was really little she has always felt more secure knowing what the plan is for our day or days to come. We frequently talk about “the plan” for our days together, and it’s especially important when I’m going to be away for any period of time longer than usual. She always does SO well while I’m gone, but I want to make sure that I do my part to make my travels easier on her.

    We talk about who will drop her off and pick her up from preschool, who will be with her at night (dad!) and who will take care of her during the day. Joe usually tells Ainsley how many sleeps it will be until mommy gets back which also seems to help her get a feel for the length of a trip and when she can anticipate mom being gone.

  2. Anticipate Challenges
    It’s always hard for me to leave my crew! Although I’ve found it’s gotten a little easier with more practice and reminding myself why I’m doing what I’m doing. That said, it’s inevitable that there will be challenges, such as lots of tears from Ainsley or that feeling of guilt when I leave or ask Joe to take vacation time for me to be gone. I’m not the type of person who likes to burden others with my needs or ask for special schedules or allowances, so it’s hard for me when I have to do any of those things. But I’m thankful for those around me that push and encourage me when they know how hard it is for me to leave.
  3. Be Intentional
    This is something that I’ve been working on doing a better job of even when I’m not traveling. I’ve realized that it’s so easy to be “with” your kids without really being present, meaning that I’ve found plenty of times when I’m physically around my kids but mentally absent – thinking about my to-do list or checking my phone or just up in my own head. So especially when I have a crazy week or limited time with the girls, I’ve been laser focused on spending time with them in a very intentional and focused way. More play time together, a few extra books at bed, really looking at them and listening to what they are saying, doing less multi-tasking. It helps me to really focus on deep connection when I’m with them and not feel guilty when I’m away or even just off at a coffee shop to work.

This certainly isn’t a comprehensive list, just a few of the big things that come to mind. Of course, I should also add that PLANNING and COMMUNICATING as a family and as a couple is crucial. I’m not necessarily the most organized individual (ha!) but it’s an area I’m working on improving upon out of necessity.

That means very clearly noting who will have the kids when, putting out clothing for school and what Ainsley will bring to show-and-tell while I’m away, and making sure the house is stocked with easy meals, snacks, prepped lunches, etc. While Joe is an exceptionally (emphasis added) capable parent and navigates my absence with such grace, I try my best to make my leave as smooth as possible by being prepared and helping the day-to-day to run well while I’m gone.



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!



How to *authentically* monetize your blog

December 21, 2015


Monetizing your blog. Chances are if you have a blog, you’ve either thought about ways to make money on your site or you’re currently pursuing ways to make money. From the start I’ve been in favor of making money on my site; writing a blog and producing quality content is time consuming and sometimes expensive (especially when you’re developing recipes of posting photos of outfits, etc.) so it seems sensible to mitigate those expenses when possible.

Just because you make money on your blog doesn’t mean you need to “sell out” and promote services and products you don’t believe in. There are plenty of ways to authentically make money on your site while still staying true to yourself and your audience.

Here are a few of my favorite ways! I’m not a blogging expert, nor do I make a full-time living on my site, so take what I share with a grain of salt. Perhaps you’re further down the blogging road than I am. If so, please share your own tips below. If you’re somewhere in the new to intermediate blogging stages, then these tips are for you!

1. Advertising Networks
This was the first way I started making money on E&C way back in 2010. I joined a now-defunct advertising network and starting hosting ads on my site. My traffic was close to nothing, but over time I started to make enough money to buy a few extra groceries for recipe development and offset some of the hosting costs on my site.

Google Ads is one of the easiest advertising points of entry since they don’t have many prerequisites for putting ads on your site. A couple years ago I applied and started working with BlogHer, which has a little more of an application process for the blogs and sites they accept. Foodie Blogroll is another food-focused advertising network. In recent years banner ads have become less lucrative and don’t pay nearly what they once did. However, many networks that once were exclusive now let you have more than one ad network in rotation, making up for some of the loss in revenue. Generally, ads that are placed higher up on the page generate more revenue than those that are tucked down in the sidebar where fewer people will see them.

If you have more time on your hands and want to carefully curate the companies who host ads on your site you could also pursue your own advertisers. It will take a little more time and energy, but you’ll maintain complete control over the companies that host ads on your site.

2. Amazon Associates
This is my favorite revenue generator because it works naturally into the content I’m already creating. As you know, I like to do a lot of product recommendations and round-ups of products that we’re loving and using. I LOVE when other bloggers do this, too, because I frequently find new baby products from my friend Kelsey’s Blog (go check her out!) and always appreciate the personal recommendations.

Amazon Associates allows you to sign up for an account and post custom links to products on Amazon. So, if I’m going to mention a formula or baby product or hair product that I love and buy on Amazon (we buy a lot of things on Amazon these days #smalltownlife) then I use my custom link. If someone purchases the product from my link, I’ll get a small referral bonus from Amazon. It’s not a lot of money, but little bits add up!

3. Working Directly With Brands
Do you have a brand that you genuinely love? Then reach out directly to the brand about collaborating together! A few years ago I got really into Vega protein powder after finding it at Whole Foods. I was such a big fan that I reached out to the company directly asking if they ever worked with bloggers. The conversation started there and we’ve continued to work together on and off for a couple years now. Many times brands are very receptive to bloggers reaching out. Plus, I find it more authentic when I love a product and initiate the conversation rather than the other way around. If I’m already loving and buying it myself, why not share that with blog readers?

A tip when contacting brands: Keep it concise! Short, sweet and specific are good words to live by. Brands are busy and don’t have a lot of time to read through long e-mails. Have a specific idea of how you want to work together and clearly lay out the benefits to the brand by explaining your blog’s core demographic, pageviews, unique visitors and social reach. Side note: You do not need to have a fancy media kit to do this!

4. Join a Content Marketing Network
In the last year or so, I joined a couple content marketing networks, including Pollinate Media. Other companies include Silkworm Social, Linquia, Federated Media, the list could go on and on. These agencies work with brands who are looking for custom content for campaigns. They usually send out opportunities that you can apply for, meaning you get to pick and choose what campaigns and brands to work with that are a natural fit for your lifestyle and blog. Some of these companies also run Twitter, Facebook and Instagram campaigns.

5. Play to Your Strengths
If you have a specialized skill set, maximize it! I’m a recipe developer by trade, so I’ve worked with brands to develop recipes that are promoted both on my site and on their sites. If you’re a great photographer, reach out to up and coming companies to talk about ways that you can provide high quality photos and promotion on your site in exchange for payment and product. Maybe you’re a home designer by trade. Working with a brand that fits into that niche with custom content on your site is a great way to use your specialized skill set while making money on your blog. There are a lot of voices on the web these days and having some credentials really helps give your voice authenticity when working with companies and brands.

6. Network Marketing
If you find a product or service that you love and you have an established online following, working with a network marketing company is a great way to bring the two together. About a year ago, a friend introduced me to Beautycounter, a line of safe and effective skincare and makeup products that are free of toxic chemicals and unhealthy ingredients. Not only are the products good for you, but they work SO well. Since I was already buying the products myself, I decided to start selling Beautycounter as a consultant. I get a consultant discount on the products I already know and love, and I get to share my love of BC with blog readers and friends. It’s a win-win. I’m guessing I’ll never sell BC full-time, but it’s a great way to make a little extra money each month to put toward savings goals we have as a family.

If you’re interested in Beautycounter or becoming a Beautycounter consultant, let me know! I would love to chat more about the products and company. ( That said, there are a lot of other great companies out there that use the network marketing structure. Finding one that is authentic to you is key to making it both fun for you and authentic for your readers!



:: My New Mom Style ::

October 18, 2015



StellaDot_4Today I’m launching the first in a series of posts on my new mom style. I’ve been slowly revising my wardrobe over the past few months to fit my new life as a mom, work-from-home freelancer and recipe developer and manager of a home remodel that’s still very much in progress.

Although I don’t have to report to an office every day, I do like to try and dress up a bit for the days that I’m working. Sometimes I’ll head to a coffee shop, sometimes I stay close to home, other times I’ll camp out at my mom’s house when she’s at work. There’s something about putting on a real outfit, makeup and doing your hair that helps to boost productivity.

One area of my mom-drobe that was seriously lacking? Jewelry. I’ve been putting more thought into my wardrobe without really focusing on accessorizing. Thankfully Kim came to my rescue and offered to style a couple outfits with beautiful jewelry from Stella & Dot.

Have you all heard of Stella & Dot? Their jewelry is beautiful, you guys! Heavy, high quality and durable. And I found the price point great – just nice enough to feel like you’re giving or receiving something speical without breaking the bank.

The earrings I’m wearing are reversible, with pearls on one side and gold studs on the other. And the necklace can be worn two ways as well, which, for a mom on a budget is a huge plus to be able to get two looks from one piece of jewelry. I’ll be doing a giveaway with Kim in the coming weeks, but I would highly suggest you check out the line for yourself in the meantime!

Outfit Details
:: Dress from Old Navy :: Boots from Frye :: Alexia Necklace from Stella & Dot :: Pave Wishing Bracelet from Stella & Dot :: Pearl Studs (they’re reversible!) from Stella & Dot



What’s In My Bag: Influence Conference Edition

September 16, 2015


Tomorrow I’m leaving my favorite people (and my baby for the very first time overnight!) and heading to Influence Conference for the second year in a row. Conferences? Gah, conferences. I have such a love-hate relationship with them because my secretly introverted self feels so. dang. uncomfortable. But once I just do the dang thing? It’s always worth it.

I’m working on going out of my comfort zone more and more these days, and I think it’s doing me a world of good.

So what’s in my bag? Here’s a look:

1. My MacBook Air
I’ll be doing a little work while I’m there and hoping to jot down some ideas for blog content while I’m listening to all the amazing speakers.

2. My iPhone
How else am I supposed to FaceTime my baby five times a day? Plus, what’s a blogging conference without social media?

3. FLYJOY Bars
Conferences are notorious for having bad food and lousy snacks, so I’ll be taking plenty of FLYJOY bars for myself and to hand out. If you’re hungry and attending the conference, come find me and I’ll hook you up!

4. Wet Wipes
I’m getting all fancy and taking the cute, scented wipes since I won’t have a baby in tow. I’m now realizing that #momlife means getting excited about taking fancy wipes in your purse.

5. Business Cards
Purchased on VistaPrint. I’m never really sure why everyone hands out cards. Does anyone go back and look at them after the conference? I’ll never know, but I can’t imagine going without a stack.

6. Lip Glosses
Both basic (EOS) and fun (Victoria’s Secret) because that’s about as close as you’ll ever get me to wearing lipstick.

7. Notebooks
For jotting down thoughts, ideas, prayers and dreams. A couple days away, without distractions, is always good for my heart and mind. It’s such a breath a fresh air to have room to dream and plan and hope for the future.

8. My Joby GripTight Gorillapod Phone Stand
I’m convinced this will make Periscoping and selfies about a thousand times better.

Is anyone else out there going to Influence? If you are, please come find me and say hello!