mindful living, effortless style

Something I’m always on the lookout for are healthy new snack ideas that I can whip up in a snap.

My kids (and I’ve heard they’re not alone in this) are very cyclical when it comes to food. They’ll absolutely love something – it’s all carrots and hummus, all the time – and then, BAM!, they’re over it. Couldn’t entice them to eat another carrot stick or a dollop of hummus for anything.

Which is why I often find that one day I’ll be humming along, feeling good about the things I’m feeding them, and the next it feels like the only thing they’ll eat is cheese.

Today, my favorite nutritionists – the ladies from Prescribe Nutrition – are here to help.  They’ve kindly rounded up no less than twenty of their go-to healthy snacks for kids. (Hooray!)

If there’s anyone that can do it, it’s these guys. They are both wonderfully knowledgable in the field of diet and nutrition and they have kids of their own to feed so they feel our pain.

Now, on to the snacks! Read More

One of my number one priorities as a mom is to do my best to stay in the moment and enjoy my three young kids as much as I can.

As they say, though, “The days are long but the years are short”. Which, in my case, means that’s sometimes that’s easier said than done.

That is exactly why I truly love my Keurig (like I’d be kind of lost without it) and why I think it would make such a wonderful Mother’s Day gift for anyone who doesn’t have one this year. I seriously don’t think I know a mom who wouldn’t be thrilled to have one of these beauties.

And to make it an even more perfect gift – today we’ve got three new must-try recipes to go with it PLUS a special discount for MPMK readers.

Now through May 30th the first 200 readers who use the code MODPARENTS will get 30% off your Mother’s Day Keurig 2.0 Brewing System Purchase!


Read on for those recipes from our contributor Kristin…

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Ever since becoming a mother, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my blessings. I am so humbled to be called “Mom” by happy, curious, loving and healthy kiddos (aged 6, 4 and just barely 1).  I often wonder how did I get so lucky? Lucky in more ways than I can even count.

Lucky that they are healthy. Lucky that I don’t have to worry about how to feed them or how to afford gifts on their birthday. Lucky that I have this incredible job that helps me provide for them while allowing me to take the baby to “Mommy and Me” class or volunteer at the big kids’ field trips. Lucky that I’ve been able to find high quality childcare for them for the hours I do have to work. Lucky that I have an amazing partner to help me in the never-ending work that is parenthood. Lucky that they get the chance to play outside every day. Lucky that they go to a great school surrounded by caring teachers and bus drivers.

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky.

And when I start thinking about why are we so lucky, I naturally start to think about those that are not. And that’s what I want to talk to you about today.

Parenting is a busy and overwhelming task, often not leaving room for a whole lot else. Maybe you’ve thought about ways to volunteer or give back to your community but have gotten stuck trying to find the time or the momentum to get started.

I’m so proud to be a part of this wonderful project with Huggies. It’s such an easy way to take a step back from ourselves and give back to others with just a single click.

And here’s another great thing – there is so much inspiration to be found there. Maybe you want to give but just don’t know where to start. Take 20 seconds and check out the page and then the hashtag #ultrahug on Twitter. The ideas of ways you can contribute will come flooding in – I promise.

Personally, I’ve been thinking a whole, whole lot about foster children lately.

All those kids out there who haven’t been as lucky as mine. Who have found themselves in the home of a stranger with nothing but a small bag containing all that they hold dear in the world.

I want to gather each of them up in my arms, I want to hug them and tell them they are safe, that they are special, that things will get better.

Of course I can’t do that – but I’ve been wondering what I actually can do to help the children in the foster care system in my community. A little digging and I came across a truly inspiring organization called Treehouse.

This is their mission statement…

Every Child Deserves a Childhood

With fierce optimism, Treehouse invests in the lives of young people who have faced the deep wounds from a crisis of parenting. In helping them to secure the essential education, basic material needs, and social experiences they equally deserve, we help kids in foster care discover their own resilience and strength. Treehouse is committed to leveling the playing field for youth in foster care, so that each is included, may prosper in, and contribute to society.

What I find most impressive about this organization is how they strive to stand beside foster children in every facet of life. From basic needs like clothing, toys and school supplies to enriching experiences such as summer camps and Driver’s Ed – they are continually providing for kids in the foster system.

People involved in Treehouse also give a great deal of their time. The organization is always looking to grow their network of mentors and volunteers involved in all aspects of the children’s education. This might mean assistance with changing schools, tutoring, providing summer learning activities, and even setting up college scholarship funds.

I really can’t say enough about this incredible organization and I truly hope you’ll take the time to check them out, and also to check out the Spread the Love campaign and find a super simple way to give back to your community!

 I’m pretty excited to introduce a new feature we’re staring on MPMK today.

As a busy mom of three little ones, I find anything that can help me keep our home clean and healthy in an easy and efficient way is pretty much invaluable. So how bunch a whole collections of somethings that do just that?

“Project Green Clean Your ENTIRE House” is a series that is not only going to show you how to clean everything in your home using non-toxic, green methods – it’s also going to tell you how often to do it.

I know it’s just cleaning that we’re talking about here but I’m kind of geeking out over creating an extensive resource like this!

Here’s Kaley with our inaugural post in the series addressing something I think we can all collectively groan about, cleaning the windows…

Spring is here. The sun is shining, the days are getting longer, and things around the house are looking a little, well, dirty. It’s definitely spring cleaning time!

And what better place to start your spring cleaning than with the windows? After a long, cold winter of rain, snow, wind and mud, the outsides of your windows are probably looking pretty cloudy and spotted. And if your kids are anything like mine, the insides of your windows are covered with fingerprints and goodness knows what else.

We have french doors leading into our dining room that are constantly covered in food and splatter of milk since my daughter’s high chair sits right next to the doors most of the time. Not exactly the view I like when I’m sitting down to breakfast on a beautiful spring day.

Luckily, windows are super easy to clean using just a few ingredients you are sure to have in your cupboards right now. Read More

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your attention that Mother’s Day is just around the bend.

Whether you’re planning to spend it being pampered or going on family adventures, you’re likely in need of a good gift or two for your own Mother and Mother-in-Law. (Not to mention any other special Moms that may be in your life.)

This year there are two ideas I’m totally excited about.

The first is the above vase of tulips. What makes this particular arrangement so special, aside from how stunning the tulips look fully submerged in the glass vase, is that the flowers are not cut.

Instead, they retain their bulbs and roots which means that, when done properly, they will continue to flourish for so much longer than traditional cut stems. Get my full tutorial here.

Second, I’m still completely smitten with these engravable necklaces. I wear my signature engravable bar necklace nearly everyday. I don’t know a mom who wouldn’t just love one personalized with the initials of the special people in her life.

More MPMK Mother’s Day Ideas

Handmade Gift Idea: Framed Heirloom Recipe & Photo of Grandma

DIY “Queen Bee Mug”

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas: Bring the Spa to Mom

Kids’ Thumbprint Jewelry Dishes


Some big news today guys – I’m so happy to announce that the Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life ebook AND the 2015 POYEL printables are a part of this year’s Ultimate Home Making Bundle!

Here at MPMK, we’ve been proud affiliates of several Ultimate Bundles in the past but this is our first time being included as an author!

Never heard of the The Ultimate Bundle before? Read More

Are you guys’ big planters? I have to admit, I never really thought about planting until we moved into our forever home. Now when spring rolls around, I just can’t wait to start adding bold, beautiful colors to the yard via a few artfully designed pots.

In the past my mother-in-law has graciously done my pots for me as an anniversary present to my husband and I. This year, though, my kindergartner’s elementary school was having a massive plant sale so he and I are going to attempt the task together.

I’ll soon be up to my neck in coleus, potato vines, petunias, and snap dragons! Keep an eye on our instagram account for updates and read on for more info. from our contributor Kristin on the method we’re using to ensure big and beautiful plant pots this year!

P.S. Along with getting excited about flowers – I also can’t wait to dig into projects from this book with the kids this summer!

The weather’s getting warm and I’m starting to focus my attention to my yard.  Winter months are great for inside paint jobs and organizing shelves, but spring is a perfect time to spice up the yard!

I used to be a little intimidated by gardening, especially mixing different types of plants AND making them look beautiful.  My thumb tends to be more black than green.

But after looking at this Patio Perk-Ups article on Better Homes and Gardens, I got inspired and turned to the internet and a few friends that love to garden to find out if there was a method to the madness.

A beautiful potted plant looks organic. It looks as though the different types of plants were found like that in nature.

Nevertheless, it turns out that there IS a method!  Seasoned gardeners typically mix three different types of plants together in a pot and the result looks effortless.

Here’s how it works:  You start with a ‘thriller’, add a ‘filler’ and end with a ‘spiller.’  Easy to remember, right?

The Thriller

Thrillers are the divas of the plant world.  They are tall and the types of plants that people are drawn to in the rows at Home Depot.

A thriller might also be structurally impressive or just unique in color.  You’ll know when you see a thriller!  Some examples are Ornamental Grasses, Tall Growing Succulents and Cannas.  Start by planting the Thriller first – typically in the middle of the pot.

The Filler

Fillers tend to be billowy and lighter in texture.  They are there to Read More

Before I became a parent, I had no idea of the role knock-knock jokes, mad libs, and the like would one day play in my home. With a 6 year old and a 4 year old – these things are the stuff of magic around here. My kids think they are absolutely hilarious and just cannot get enough – ever.

Which is why I asked our contributor MJ to put together a colorful Mad Libs style card that can be used for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents’ Day, etc. Because I know the kids will want to fill them out over and over, for any and every occasion for which they might be even mildly appropriate.

These cards aren’t just fun, the large blank space left for your child to fill with their drawings makes them a great keepsake too!

Download the free printable below and enjoy!

Do you remember the afternoons of activity pads and Mad Libs? I adored the silly stories that came from putting together a random collection of parts of speech. And the fun of bringing in a friend who knew the really great adjectives and juicy verbs to include to make your story even more ridiculous.

Free Mad Libs Card printable - great for Mother's Day, Father's Day, Teacher Appreciation and anything else your kids want to celebrate in a silly and fun way!

I wanted to bring that same sense of fun to my kids. Because I love laughing with them and (bonus) using a structure like fill in the blank, allows children to explore vocabulary and express emotions that might not readily come into their writing.

Expressive writing is a skill that needs to be practiced and activities like this one sets kids up for success with it early on. Read More

It’s really too bad Earth Day doesn’t get the same fanfare as Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and the like.

The shape our environment’s in these days, we could certainly use a day where every family sits down and really talks to their children about the impact (both positive and negative) that they can have on the world they live in.

Here are 14 of our favorite ideas to help you hold an Earth Day celebration at your house.

Show Above

Clockwise from top right

Make a Plantable Paper Earth – This is the project that keeps giving. It starts as a hands-on art activity and morphs into a planting activity the kids can keep an eye on for the rest of the season.

How to Create an Upcycled Inventor’s Box for Hours of Open-Ended Play – The name just about says it all but it’s also good to note that there are handy free printable idea cards to help get the kids’ creative juices flowing.

Planting with Ice Cream Cones (via Design Mom) – This method of growing from seeds is one that is sure to excite your littles. They’ll be so intrigued by the image of dirt in an ice cream cone, they won’t be able to help but get involved.

Coffee Filter Stained Glass Earth (via I Can Teach My Child) – My favorite part about this art project is that it’s appropriate for a really wide range of ages.

The Kitchen Garden Experiment: Growing Plants from Food Scraps – This one is perfect for teaching littles about where food comes from and big kids can use the free printable observation chart to experiment with the Scientific Method.

Playdough Planet Earth (via Meet the Dubiens) – Your kids will be amazed how easy it is to make a 3D model of the Earth’s crust (and it just looks so darn cool).

DIY Veggie Garden Sensory Box – Whenever I post this, I get two distinct reactions. One camp loves it right away, and the other questions why you would do this with a child instead of planting actual plants.

My answer is that you don’t do it instead of planting, you do it along with planting. Young kids learn a lot through dramatic play and this is a great opportunity to utilize that while they’re waiting for their actual plants to grow. And they’ll love the sensory component too – spending lots and lots of time digging in! Read More

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life post around here… know why? 

You guessed it – life has gotten crazy lately. In the wake of a back injury, multiple cases of kid pneumonia, 1st birthday parties, Easter, Spring Break, etc. some of my routines have started to slip. I’m human, it happens, I try not to dwell.

One thing I’ve found super helpful when we start to descend into chaos around here is an easy new project that can get me back on track and excited about streamlining our routines at home again.

The key here is to pick something extremely do-able.

Today, I’ve got just such a project – a totally FREE mini-video course (affiliate link) on simplifying and organizing at home.

It covers four of the most challenging areas around the house: laundry, dishes, meal-planning, and night-time prep for the next day.

What I love most about it is how minimal the time investment is… Just 4 short videos (10 minutes or less), plus a free printable worksheet to go with each and you’re off and running.

What do you say – are you game to try it with me and get the homestead back on track?

Here’s some more info. from the producers of the mini-video series…

FREE Spring Cleaning, Organizing, and Homemaking video series - four quick 10 minute videos and 4 worksheets to go along with them. I am so doing this!!!

Tired of getting behind on laundry? Do you struggle to keep your kitchen clean? Does the dinner hour have you stressed out every night?

If so, you cannot miss a FREE 4-part mini eCourse that is available for a limited time:

4 Simple Steps to Stress-Free Homemaking

In this eCourse, you will learn:

Read More

Image Credit: © Dylan Parker |Very Serious – DSC_2926 (Text added) | CC by 2.0

Happy Monday guys, hope your weekend was a good one.

We spent ours trying out a new gymnastics class for the 4 year old (soon to be back-to-back with T-ball games for the 6 year old), new Sunday School classes for all three kids, and our first ever family bike ride with all five of us (including the newly 1-year-old in a trailer behind Dad).

These new activities mark more than just a change in season for our little family, they seem to me to mark a change in phase of life.

Where we once had a house full of chubby, wobbly toddlers and often seemed constrained by naptime and potty training, we still have all of that but also have sports teams, lost teeth, and some very big kid words, feelings, and conversations.

Today our parenting contributor, Jessica, is back with us exploring, as only she can, the often jolting experience of going from raising toddlers to parenting big kids…

It feels like I answer hundreds of questions every day. Silly questions from my three year old, lots and lots of “But why?” until my answers peter out to the inevitable, “Because that’s just how it works,” before I try to distract him with food or his baby sister.

My oldest, almost eight, stumps me all the time with questions about gravitational pull and Star Wars and football and meteorology. Turns out, I have very basic knowledge of many, many things.

But we jump onto Google or ask Siri and learn something new together, and I think it’s a good life lesson – we may not have all the answers, but we know where to find them.

Lately though, it’s my oldest daughter who asks the really hard questions. She’ll be six in two weeks, and during the day, she asks me how to spell words like “because” and “masterpiece.”

She wants to know which colors make orange, and when her little sister will start talking, and if I think she’ll marry Nico from school one day. But come bedtime she becomes quite grave. She sits in her bed and looks at me with big eyes, and then she asks me when I’m going to die.

Oof. Read More

I have been in the biggest lunch rut lately and I think a big part of it has been not being able to figure out a healthy, but still tasty, way to dress my salads.

Then a few days ago, out of the blue and like a message from above, my favorite nutritionist Katie emailed me to say that her nutrition site, Prescribe Nutrition, had just put out a FREE ebook full of clean eating recipes for marinades and dressings.

Whoo hoo! I’ve been chowing down on the 2-minute jar vinaigrette ever since – lunch is saved!

Get the free clean eating dressings & marinades ebook here!

Of course, that wasn’t the only reason Katie was reaching out. I have been a loyal affiliate for the Prescribe Nutrition programs for years now and she wanted to let me know that a new online nutrition course was about to begin and to once again offer a 20% discount to MPMK readers.

Get 20% Off the “Prescribe Balance” Online Course with the code: MPMK20

April 12th –  May 1st, 2015

Oh, and my FAVORITE PART, they’re adding a 20-day home de-cluttering course on top of all the great nutrition stuff. That means you can clean out your body AND clean out your house all in one fell swoop!!

If you aren’t familiar with Katie and the rest of the gang over at Prescribe Nutrition, I’ve written all about my experience with their program many times on the blog. Here’s a little snippet:

Do you ever think to yourself, “I am ALWAYS tired.”?

I went through a big slump after having my daughter S, in which I just couldn’t seem to find my energy anywhere. Plus, I had headaches for a lot of the day, every day.

All that exhaustion and pain meant I had no energy to play with the kids plus I was moody and crabby with a short fuse and very short on Mama patience.

At first I tried to figure it out on my own, then I sought help through my general physician, OBGYN, and even a naturopath. But I never found the solid answers I was looking for.

It wasn’t until I met the functional-nutritionists at Prescribe Nutrition, Katie and Megan, that everything changed for me

It’s hard to believe that I’ve known Katie and Megan for years now. They’ve played such an important role in helping to make me the mom I want to be and I’ve loved being an affiliate for their online programs because I believe in what they do so much.

And here’s the part where I “keep it real”.  The Prescribe Nutrition courses aren’t a cake walk (either literally or figuratively).  

It was hard – especially the first week when my body was craving all the processed foods and sugar I usually fed it. But I did it – what’s more I got my husband to do it too and we both felt SO MUCH better at the end.

When telling people about it I would say that I didn’t necessarily feel like I was ready to run a marathon but I generally felt happier and less tired. I also realized once I began the program that previously I’d been experiencing chronic stomach pains and bloating at night.

They’d become so commonplace that I didn’t even notice them, or think about doing anything to avoid them. Then I started my 15 days, those symptoms disappeared, and I felt amazing.

Finally, the most profound outcome of the experiment was how it affected me as a mother. Without the headaches and exhaustion, I became so much more fun!  And I started connecting with my kiddos in new ways – which was a huge gift and exactly what I was hoping to gain from the experience.

Read More

Every year I get a little blindsided by Easter.

Halloween I totally equate with lots of candy and general sugar overload, for sure. But when it comes to Easter, I think of dying boiled eggs and a big fancy brunch. What I always fail to remember, until it’s upon me, are the mass amounts of chocolate my littles collect over the holiday, mainly at the neighborhood Easter egg hunt.

Fortunately, my 6 and 4 year olds are slightly obsessed with experiments of all varieties right now and, it turns out, candy is a great medium for an afternoon of kitchen science fun.

So instead of eating all of those M&Ms and jelly beans this year, why not join us in cooking up a few colorful concoctions?

We put the scientific method to work with the following classic experiment. The only thing you need besides your candy for this one is water, but we used sparkling water because a) bubbles make everything more fun and b) extra fizz makes it Read More

DIY LEGO artwork for kids' rooms - such a cool way to feature what your child is excited about in their room and they can help with the whole process. Going to do this with my daughter's favorite dolls too!

DIY Lego Art

Have you guys noticed that decorating kids’ spaces can be one of the most interesting spots in the house to tackle?

I think it’s because I feel like I can go a little bolder, a little more creative, and a little more “outside the box” then I might in other rooms. Also, I’m not as afraid to DIY it – kids rooms are supposed to be about imagination and joy, not perfection, so it doesn’t matter if my projects don’t turn out professional grade.

That being said, this ridiculously cool artwork project form Alli does actually look like something you’d snag in a cool boutique (but for a fraction of the price). Plus, the possibilities for customization are endless

Because you can make this art with whatever toy your child is currently obsessed with, it’s great for all ages too. And I think the LEGO version highlighted here would look killer along side some actual LEGO mini-figures on the wall, displayed like this.

Here’s Alli with the details…

I’ve been spending the last few weeks updating my four-year-old’s room. Nothing too exciting, just a few changes here and there. Enough to transition the space from toddler to big boy.

Sigh. Big boy. I can’t believe I just typed those words! Where has my baby gone?!

But I digress.

One of the main things I wanted to focus on in his room was the artwork. I really wanted a special piece that he would LOVE. So when I couldn’t seem to find exactly what I was looking for, I went back to the ol’ standby, making it myself.

He’s been obsessed with Lego these days. So I decided to create some of our very own Lego Artwork using photography. Read More

I have a confession to make. Since discovering the absolute genius that is audiobooks (see here for a primer on how to get started if you’ve never read with your ears before), I’m rapidly reverting back to the bookworm I was a child.

It’s glorious.

This month alone I’ve read, and started a moms book club with my mom friends about, Little Girls Can Be Mean and also devoured this book which I attempted to read years ago but never made much progress with (and which I loved so much, I requested everything else by the author for my birthday).

Having started exploring the topic of parenting girls, I now want delve into the subject of sons (appropriate since I have two of them).

So, of course, I turned to our resident librarian, Janssen, and she didn’t disappoint. Here she is..

In January, I wrote a post about parenting books for raising girls. It was so popular, we decided we needed to do a boy version too!

So here are the ten books not to miss if you’re raising little men: Read More