mindful living, effortless style

We’ve got a new Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life installment today. This time we’re tackling just what to do with all those old (and sometimes broken) smart phones, tablets and MP3 players with the help of our newest sponsor, EcoATM.

Have you heard of them? I hadn’t but I was quite pleasantly surprised to hear I could make money AND safely recycle my old tech with a simple trip to the mall. (I was also pleasantly surprised by the amount of money I could make!)

Here’s Kristen with her experience and how she used it to teach her kids about recycling, thrifty living, and helping others with what we have (did I mention, you can donate all or some of the proceeds to charity?!)

Did you know that 9 out of 10 Americans have a cell phone or tablet at home that we don’t use?

It’s so easy to upgrade and the next thing we know, we have extra devices laying around.  These tend to clutter up junk drawers or hide in the back of the closet.  Selling an old device on Ebay or Craigslist is an intimidating process.  Throwing them in the trash just adds toxic e-waste to landfills. So, in the junk drawer they go.

What most people don’t know is that ecoATM has over 900 kiosks in malls across the nation, ready to pay cash (between $1 and $300)  for unused cell phones, tablets and MP3 players.  The process is so easy and so safe (no selling of stolen devices), there’s no reason not to try it! Read More

The hubby and I have been on a serious DIY kick around here lately and today I’m excited to share with you guys our latest home project.

True to form, it’s yet another way to promote open-ended creativity in the kids. (This time, outdoors – double score!)

Head over to eHow’s Mom channel to get the full DIY on how to make your own outdoor easel. Then stock up on squirt bottles, sponges, squegees, shaving cream, and pretty much anything else you can think of to let the kids have at it!


P.S. Did you know that facebook has recently drastically changed the way pages like MPMK can share with their followers? Even if you’re a fan of the MPMK facebook page, only a portion of our posts and updates are showing up in your feed these days.

So how do you continue to get all of our parenting, playtime, organization, and recipe ideas?  Sign up for the MPMK newsletter!

You’ll get all of our best stuff plus exclusive content just for our subscribers, including a Free 6 week meal plan.

It is better to give than to receive.  And there’s no time like the present!  Even young children can learn the joy of giving.  Why is this important?

It’s important because we are raising our kids in a me-me-me culture.  Kids are bombarded with messages about satisfying our own needs and getting what we want.  Immediately.

Slowing down to focus on others balances all of the ‘me’ messages.  Sometimes, we put off the idea of service or giving because it just seems so overwhelming.  I don’t have time to go to a soup kitchen this afternoon and I have a feeling you don’t either.

Instead of thinking about grandiose ideas of giving, start small.  Start with ideas that even a two year old can do.  We like to think about it as an acronym, SALT Read More

We’ve got yet another resource for you to use with our free B.O.R.E.D. printable today. Our children’s librarian, Janssen, has rounded up the best audiobooks for calming active (aka hyper) kids. Read on for her picture book, easy reader and early chapter book recommendations!

I’ve long been a big fan of audiobooks, so it’s no surprise that they’ve become an integral part of my parenting too.

My four-year-old daughter has caught the bug too, and she listens to lots of audiobooks during her quiet time each afternoon or when we’re in the car.

I’ve discovered that I can’t let her listen to them when she’s in bed – she’ll keep herself awake for HOURS listening, no matter how exhausted she is. I love that it keeps her entertained, helps develop her listening skills, and improves her literacy and vocabulary. Read More

Nearly a year later, and my family is still FROZEN obsessed. It’s pretty ridiculous, actually.

I’ll take it, though. With a family of boys, after all, this may be the the closest to a “princess movie” I’ll ever get.

My boys adore Olaf. So I decided to put together a “Do You Want to Build a Snowman Busy Box” to set aside for rainy days. Read More

The kids and I take the summer sun as a direct challenge to come up with new and innovative ways to play outside and today I’m sharing one of our absolute favorites.

Try this colorful car wash idea once and you’ll be hooked – I swear. My kids really do engage in this one for hours at a time and yours just might too!

P.S. Did you know that facebook has recently drastically changed the way pages like MPMK can share with their followers? Even if you’re a fan of the MPMK facebook page, only a portion of our posts and updates are showing up in your feed these days.

So how do you continue to get all of our parenting, playtime, organization, and recipe ideas?  Sign up for the MPMK newsletter!

You’ll get all of our best stuff plus exclusive content just for our subscribers, including a Free 6 week meal plan.

I was looking through our archives recently and realized we have a whole bunch of really awesome recipes for homemade healthy kid snacks.

And what do we do when we have a plethora of something wonderful? We make a super helpful roundup so that you can access them all in one place (of course).

Today I present to you no less than 23 of our all-time favorite healthy snack ideas for kids. Enjoy!

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Scavenger hunts and reading make the perfect pair. Discovering new stories, interesting characters, or a great series builds your child’s love for literature as well as her motivation to become an independent reader. As parents we want to grow our children’s interest in reading but sometimes feel like we’ve run out of ideas on how to do just that.

To help, we’ve created a fun and simple way to challenge your child to read and discover outside of their comfort zone.

It’s a free printable treasure map that’s sure to pique your child’s curiosity and love for reading! Read More

Did you guys know we’ve got a whole new category on MPMK this year? It’s called Photography & Memory Keeping and we’re stuffing it with tips busy parents can use to take great photos AND get those shots off our tech and into our lives.

Here’s Julee with our latest summer-themed post…

We just returned from our first family beach vacation. Our children absolutely loved the beach and haven’t stopped asking to go back.

For me, photography has become my way of remembering places I visit, experiences I have and sights I see. But my children enjoy much more tangible things. Everywhere we go they are collecting, touching and exploring – and this trip was no exception. We returned home with a large stash of seashells they collected throughout the trip.

As a more tangible reminder of the awesome time we had together at the beach – and as a way to store all of the seashells we accumulated – I decided to let Jason and Jenna make vacation memory jars. Read More

You know what one of my favorite parts of my job is? Getting to work with new-to-me shops and finding cool new stuff I love.

As simple as that may sound, it’s actually kind of a big thing for me. You see, I’m one of those people that loves unique stuff that will make people come over to my house and squeal, “Where did you get that?!”

Unfortunately, I’m not one of those hip souls that seems to just innately know where to unearth these treasures (basically if you can’t find it at a big box store, then it’s not usually going to end up in my house).



CaliseaBut every once in a while a sponsor comes along and a whole new world is opened up to me (and my home). That’s exactly what happened with Calisea.

I kid you not, I think I lost nearly an entire work day scrolling through their lovely site after they emailed me. There’s just so much cool stuff!

MPMK Special: Use Code “Bloglove” for 10% off all Luca & Company products at checkout until 7/18/14.

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Are you spending most of your summer days at the park or the pool this summer?

Instead of picking up pricey lunches on the go, try packing up something quick and healthy at home before you go!

Here are ten ideas for park lunches to get you through the long summer days.

  1. Sandwiches with a Twist. Leave the peanut butter and jelly behind and try something new, like these Roasted Zucchini and Ricotta Sandwiches (pictured above).
  2. Less Mess Chicken Salad. Pack your favorite chicken salad recipe into a pita pocket for easy eating. We like this Honey Barbecue Chicken Salad.
  3. Cold Noodle Salads. Make a big batch of noodles ahead, then just grab your chopsticks and go! Try this Chinese Noodle Salad with Citrus, Snow Peas and Spicy Cashews.
  4. Lunch on A Stick. Putting food on a stick makes it easily portable for kids to run around the park with just make sure they don’t poke anyone in the eye when they’re through eating! These Sandwich Skewers look perfect.
  5. Hand Pies and Empanadas. These will take a little prep up front, but you can make a large batch, freeze and then pull them out as needed. Give these basic Chicken Empanadas a try.
  6. Quiche and Tarts. These are great options for the park because they can be served warm or cold and you can pack them with lots of protein to keep you going until nap time. I’m drooling over these Quick and Easy Tomato Basil Tarts!
  7. Non-Sushi Sushi Rolls. You could bring along some real sushi, of course, but if you’ve got picky little people, try rolling up something a little more kid-friendly. Try these Carrot Cake and Zucchini Bread Sushi Rolls.
  8. Protein Box. This is the perfect option if you’re running late or didn’t think about lunch ahead of time. Chop up some fruit and veggies, add some cheese, crackers, nuts/nut butter, hard-boiled eggs if you’ve got them and you’re set. Check out this Skinny Starbucks Protein Bistro Box for inspiration. (Pictured above.)
  9. Spring Rolls. You can wrap up anything in rice paper and call it lunch. I love the idea of these BLT Spring Rolls, yum! (Pictured above.)
  10. Fruity Salads. Fresh fruit is a must for your picnic lunch. Add it to a green salad for an extra nutritional boost. I think this Mango, Strawberry and Avocado Salad would be perfect with a little grilled chicken on top. (Pictured above).

The last time our in-house librarian, Janssen, put together a recreational reading list it was a huge hit so I asked her to give us another one for the summer. I’m uploading all of her picks to my mobile kindle reader so I can fit in a little summer reading while the kids play at the park. (Don’t worry – I’ll take lots of breaks to push them on the swings too.)

Summer is here, and for me that means checking out giant stacks of books to read over the summer.

If you’re looking for something to pack along on a plane trip, for reading by the beach, or just sitting at the park while your children pay, these eight books are all winners. Whether you’re looking for non-fiction or chick lit, young adult fiction or a memoir, fantasy or a bestseller, Read More

I recently mentioned my newly rekindled desire to set up a tinkering/creation station in our new house for the kids. So – of course – I had to put our resident professional organizer on the job to make sure I had all the resources I needed to get it done right.

Here’s Annie with her ideas on how to create a beautifully functional and organized art space for your kiddos.

P.S. Creating a space like this is also IDEAL for using with our free summer B.O.R.E.D. printable.

School’s out for summer, which means generous doses of free time for children and the seemingly endless task on your part to help them fill it.

The best way to encourage continued creativity (and temporarily distract kids from the screens) is to ensure that the art supplies in your home are organized, accessible, and therefore, inviting. Kids crave order as much as they do self-expression. But the only way they’ll be putting crayon to paper is if they can locate the supplies first.

Establishing clearly defined art supplies storage also helps children learn to clean up after themselves. After all, they can only be expected to properly do so if it’s clear to them where things belong.

But where to start? How to set it all up? How to decide the best storage system for your space?

Fear not - I’ve rounded up 10 stellar examples of art supplies organization. Prepare to be inspired.

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This is an easy summer DIY that looks great, will bring a little order to your life, and is fun (and mess-free) to do with the kids. In other words, it’s a total winner in my book.

Hop on over to eHow’s Mom Channel for the simple tutorial.

And before you disappear for the holiday weekend, make sure you come back tomorrow to get in our special 4th of July weekend sale on Camp Mom!


We hit a couple of huge postpartum milestones around here recently. Not only did baby M turn 3 months (adios 4th trimester!), I also graduated from physical therapy for my back issues. (You may remember I was T-boned not once, but twice!, during the third trimester of my pregnancy).

That means we are doing a little happy dance for more sleep, a more engaged baby, and the go-ahead to start working out!

It also means it’s time to get serious about losing this baby weight… For some reason it’s just not coming off quite as quickly the 3rd time around, go figure.

I do have a 3-pronged pilates, cardio and ballet battle plan, though, and I’m excited to share it with you all to help keep me motivated and on track.

How I'm losing the baby weight with at-home pilates (love the barre attachment for doing The Barre Method workouts too).

Have you guys ever done pilates?

I did a set of at-home, equipment-free videos before I got married and loved the long and lean muscles they gave me. Plus it was great for my core which is exactly what I need to keep my back strong and deal with my less than toned middle section after baby #3.

What I didn’t love was the monotony of the same exercises every day.

How I'm losing the baby weight with at-home pilates (love the barre attachment for doing The Barre Method workouts too).

Plus, there’s just something about working out on a machine that makes me feel so powerful and buff… Suffice to say I’ve been dying to try a pilates machine workout routine for years.

The problem is as I keep adding kids, I find myself less and less able to make it to a pilates class (again, go figure).

How I'm losing the baby weight with at-home pilates (love the barre attachment for doing The Barre Method workouts too).

Which is why I am so excited about this AeroPilates® with Free-Form Cardio Rebounder I just got for my home workouts. Isn’t it pretty? Doesn’t it just scream, “Use me!”.

Not only can I build me some pretty muscles with this guy, I can also get my cardio on.  Here’s a blurb from the website on how it works (and why it’s perfect for me and my bad back):

Some Pilates machines feature a padded jumpboard made of solid wood which is used to improve explosive power, but the AeroPilates Free-Form Rebounder is like jumping on a trampoline to build cardiovascular fitness with minimal impact to joints.

In fact, with the AeroPilates reformer, you will reach and maintain your target heart rate as effectively as with a treadmill. But unlike the treadmill, the AeroPilates Free-Form Rebounder is low impact and gentle on your joints, and since you are lying on your back, there is no concussion on your legs, hips, or spine.

And it’s got a secret weapon too… Read More