Kids Water Bottle Review

Kids Water Bottle Review

I feel like I’ve been on this search for the last 4 years, finding a kids water bottle that wasn’t made of plastic. My Mama instinct was never comfortable with their drinking water sitting in plastic all day, even if it was BPA free. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint when it comes to “clean living” but this particular thing has always been important to me. That thought was reinforced even more after reading Green Enough – it’s a great book regardless of your feelings on plastic. Highly recommend it.

kids water bottle review collection.jpg

This is our current arsenal of kids water bottles. There are pros and cons to each but let me just tell you know, I have yet to find the holy grail of the kid friendly water bottle.

This post contains some affiliate links – meaning if you click through the links and buy anything, the retailer will pay me a small commission at no additional cost to you! I never link to anything that I haven’t actually used. 

Kids Water Bottle Name Tags

Before I get into the water bottles, I have to talk about the best custom labels I’ve ever used. They are from Mabel’s Labels and are beyond adorable. Not only do they work great on these water bottles but I have used them on all of Big Nugget’s school sweaters, dance clothes and hockey equipment. Fully water proof and customizable. Completely adorable.

Kids Water Bottle Review

kids water bottle review green sprouts

Green Sprouts – as you can see, this cup has been very well loved. It’s been a fantastic “first cup” and quite honestly my favorite of all of them, I just wish it was bigger. Now that the little one is 15 months old, she guzzles this down in one sitting which is why we only use it now for her nightly cup of milk. The outside of the cup is plastic but the inside is glass and silicone which allows for this thing to survive multiple falls from the highchair without the water sitting in plastic all day.

kids water bottle review thermos

Thermos Funtainer – this has been our go-to since Big Nugget started at preschool. It’s the most kid friendly water bottle that we have except they leak like crazy. I think the leaking is from wear and tear and it’s not every time. It’s easy for the kids to open and close it themselves. It keeps the water cold and my Big Nugget loves that her cups have her favorite characters. We have the Beat Bugs, Olaf, and multiple Paw Patrol cups. Another reason why those name tags come in handy? This is a VERY popular cup with the preschoolers.

kids water bottle review munchkin

Munchkin Miracle Stainless Steel – this might have been our favorite but Little Nugget can’t figure out how to work it. She doesn’t see a straw so she doesn’t get the concept of still having to suck to get water out. She expects it to work like an open cup. I would recommend starting this cup before you introduce a regular open cup. It doesn’t leak at all (yay!) and keeps water pretty cold.

kids water bottle review contigo

Contigo Kids – So far so good on this one but other Mom’s have told me they don’t hold up as well. I’ve had some issues with the straw not staying in place inside the cup. It keeps water cold and Little Nugget can hold it easily. So far, it doesn’t leak when she leaves it open and it falls over.

kids water bottle review hydro flask

HydroFlask Kids – this one keeps the water super cold for quite awhile but for the 15 month old, it’s really difficult to close. If it’s not closed, it leaks. It’s taken a few falls off the highchair and is already dented but that doesn’t seem to affect it’s functionality. It’s heavier than the other cups but doesn’t give your water a metallic taste.

plastic free kids water bottle

Kids Water Bottle Conclusion

So here is the bottom line, there are pros and cons to each of these kids water bottles. Not what you wanted to hear I’m sure. I’m keeping them all in our rotation. When it comes time to order a new kids water bottle though, I might go back to the drawing board.

Looking for more product recommendations? Check out my favorites page for all of my go-to products.

Laundry Room Update – The Reveal

Laundry Room Update – The Reveal

The laundry room is finally done and you guys, I am so beyond thrilled with how it turned out. Is it possible that the smallest room in our house is now my favorite space to be in?

It all started with a post on Nesting with Grace about a $20 light she found. I literally looked up from reading that and looked right at my laundry room light. From there, the laundry room plan  came together pretty quick, I just needed that one little bit of inspiration. Funny how those things work.

This post contains some affiliate links – meaning if you click through the links and buy anything, the retailer will pay me a small commission at no additional cost to you! I never link to anything that I haven’t actually used. 

Laundry Room Before

This is where we started. A small space that can barely be considered a room but with high traffic and high visibility. My plan was fairly simple – paint the cabinets, change out the lighting and hooks and build a shelf. Easy peasy right?

IMG_8967IMG_7071IMG_4716IMG_7440

Laundry Room Makeover After

Let me preface all of this with this – I love doing DIY projects but honestly, I’m not that good at it. So tackling this kind of project was a bit daunting. But I did it. It’s not perfect, but I did it. My husband helped with the shelf a little bit but really, this was all done during my kid’s nap times.

And I have all the heart eyes for this room.

Laundry Room Makeover DIY

The light that inspired it all.

Laundry Room Makeover DIY

I painted the cabinets and added some new hardware – I’ll have a post soon about all the things I learned with that little project. Sign up for my email updates on the side of the page so you don’t miss a post (promise, it’s just for new posts).

These are the puck lights that I used – another inspiration from Nesting with Grace. (Search her site for her magic light trick – mind blowing). They are stick on and battery operated. Amazing. Affordable. And I’ll be putting them all over the house.

I used this temporary wallpaper from Target and the corresponding color for the cabinets. While I LOVE how it turned out, you can read my full review of the experience here.

Laundry Room Makeover DIY

Laundry Room Makeover DIY

The clothesline adds a bit more functionality to the space. I bought it from Amazon and spray painted it gold to match the pulls on the cabinets.

Laundry Room Makeover DIY

The shelf was a labor of love deserving of it’s own how-to blog post but aside from a few minor hiccups, it was fairly easy to build and install. It would have gone in a lot faster but I obsessively measured. All the DIY details coming soon.

Laundry Room Makeover DIY

Another functional part of the space were the hooks behind the garage door. These alphabet hooks worked perfectly and I hung the kids lower so they were easy to reach. Sure, I wanted a beautiful space but it has to be functional for our everyday life or else it’s just a waste of time and money.

Laundry Room Makeover DIY

The rest of the accessories are from Home Goods and Target. I love the candles from Hearth and Hand, they smell so good.

Laundry Room Makeover DIY

There are a lot of imperfections but I did it. There just isn’t anything like that feeling of doing a big project like this for yourself. Which makes this beautiful space, even more special.

Laundry Room Makeover DIY

The Cinco de Mayo that changed my life

The Cinco de Mayo that changed my life

3 a day. 

Every day in this country, 3 women die as a result of domestic violence. (According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.)

I’ve always thought of myself as a strong person but it was on Cinco de Mayo nearly 10 years ago that I realized that I was about to become one of those statistics.

It started innocently enough, we met on an airplane coming back to Charlotte from a NASCAR race that we were both working. I had just gotten out of a serious relationship and moved across the country for what I thought was my dream job. That job ended faster than it took me to drive across country for it so I was left in a strange city trying to figure out what was next for me.

He was charismatic. He was athletic and handsome. He was TOTALLY into me. After leaving my previous relationship after repeated infidelity, that last quality felt really good.

I don’t remember the first incident but I do remember feeling increasingly unsafe when there was drinking involved. I chalked it up to the booze, never once categorizing it as domestic violence. Then the need to control me and the suspicions about my integrity started to be more and more frequent, even without booze. There were threats to my own safety and to his own.

The actual physical abuse didn’t start until a few months into the relationship and got worse and worse each time. And still, I never once categorized what I was living through as domestic violence.

He would get mad at me and keep me prisoner. He would destroy my phone so I couldn’t call for help. He would destroy my things to make me feel bad or “teach me” to respect him and him alone.

There would be incredible outbursts. Followed by extreme regret and remorse. Assurances that I was loved. That I was respected. That it wouldn’t happen again.

I felt trapped. I felt conflicted. I felt alone.

I felt shame and I isolated myself.

[videopress 6MbvaGMC]

Then that Cinco de Mayo, when he punched me in the face, choked me to the point of passing out and popping the blood vessels in both my eyes, I woke up. Thankfully. I went to work the next day and made up some crazy story about how paint cans fell on me and did the damage to my face. The manager at the restaurant I was working at pulled me into the office and told me that if something else was going on, she was there for me. No questions asked.

She didn’t ask what really happened. She knew. She didn’t reprimand me. She knew I was doing a good enough job of that on my own. She knew that I needed to feel like I wasn’t alone and it wasn’t my fault and she was right.

I opened up to a few of my girlfriends about what was going on. I reached out to my ex. I started to feel stronger, more like myself, and a plan came into shape. I just needed to endure until he was gone at a race – I picked the race that was the farthest distance the crew would drive to, assuring that he couldn’t get back to town quickly if someone told him what was going down.

I started to organize my things, under the pretense of spring cleaning when in actuality, I was getting them into bins that I could clear out quickly and easily. I rented a Uhaul. I rented a storage unit.  And that morning that I dropped him off to his ride to the race, I felt free and ready. And out of my mind scared.

It’s ironic that at that point in my life when I’ve never felt so alone, is when I quickly realized I wasn’t. There were so many people who rushed to my side to help. Even flew across the country to help me escape. Friends who opened their doors to me despite the valid threat of me being found and what that would mean. Friends who loved me back to life and for that, I will be forever indebted to them.

I’m the classic case of “it will never happen to me” but it did. I am a survivor of domestic violence. There is still a part of me that feels shame in getting myself into that situation but there is a bigger part of me that is proud of finding the strength to survive and find a way out.

If you are reading this and you think that you might be in that same situation, you are not alone. There is a way out and there is no one more worthy of that than you.

Domestic Violence Resources

Read this 11 Step Guide to Leaving Your Abuser from another domestic violence survivor.

Call 800-799-7233 (National Domestic Violence Hotline) or visit their website http://www.thehotline.org/ if you feel like you need help.

Spaces

The Only Guacamole Recipe You Need

The Only Guacamole Recipe You Need

This post contains some affiliate links – meaning if you click through and purchase, I receive a small commission from the retailer at no additional cost to you. I would never link to anything I don’t actually use. 

I have a giant love affair with avocados so it’s only natural that I have an easy, go-to recipe for guacamole. Having lived in Arizona and Southern California for 20 years, I’ve had my fair share of really great guacamole, and it’s surprisingly so simple to make if you have fresh ingredients.

easyguacamole_ingredients

Guacamole Secret

The secret to great guacamole is in the avocados and it all starts at your grocery store. There are lots of theories about how to pick out a great avocado but it depends on when you are going to use them. Need them for dinner tonight? Pick one that is dark and consistently soft all around. Avoid avocados that have large spots of softness. Have time to let them ripen? Then get avocados that are greener and firm without any noticeable bruising. If your avocados start to ripen faster than you can use them, store them in the refrigerator. It slows down the ripening process and they last a little longer. Those suckers can be expensive, you don’t want to waste any of your investment.

easyguacamole_wholeavocados

When a recipe calls for avocado’s, I always get at least two more than I really need.  As careful as I am when choosing my avocado’s, sometimes you just get a few duds.

Guac Mash

Everyone has an opinion on whether they like a chucky guacamole or a more pureed kind. I prefer mine somewhere in the middle. It achieve this magical consistency, I dice up the avocado using this tool then I use a potato masher to partially break it up.

easyguacamole_avocadosmash

Storing Guacamole

Avocado will turn brown if it’s left out in the air for too long. It doesn’t affect the taste but let’s face it, no one wants to dig into a bowl of brown guac. There are two ways that I store it to make sure that it’s nice and green when it’s time to dig in. First is simple, get some cling wrap and cut a piece larger than the top of your bowl. Starting in the middle, place it on the top of the guacamole and cover to the edges. Make sure that there are no air pockets and that the cling wrap covers every bit to the edges. The second way is also simple but a little strange. Put a layer of water on the top of your guacamole. It also acts as a barrier to the oxygenation but since avocados are oily, it doesn’t affect the taste.

easyguacamole_storage

Guacamole is so versatile. You can keep it as is in the recipe or add in some red onion or hot pepper of your choice. I developed this recipe while I was breastfeeding Big Nugget so I omitted the onion and just never put it back in. It’s a great condiment or appetizer for a party, potluck or simple BBQ.

I may or may not have eaten just chips and guacamole for lunch the day I photographed this…

easyguacamoleoverview

These are my absolute favorite chips….trust me, you’ll want that many.

easyguacamole_sidechips

The only homemade guacamole recipe that you will need. Simple, easy, versatile and kid friendly. This authentic Mexican recipe makes a great dip, appetizer, condiment or side dish for any dinner, potluck or party. Perfect for Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July or summer BBQ. Easy storing instructions and tips on how to shop for avocados. #recipe #guacamole #entertaining #avocado #appetizer

Guacamole

Course Appetizer, condiment, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 3 Large Avocados
  • 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp cilantro finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp red onion finely diced, optional
  • 1 pepper (jalapeno or serrano) finely diced, optional
  • pinch ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Peal and dice avocados combine with cilantro, minced garlic, juice of one lime and salt. If using, add onion and pepper.

  2. Using a potato masher, smush avocado mixed to desired consistency. 

  3. Mix in tomatoes and adjust salt, lime and pepper to taste. Store with a layer of cling wrap or water on top. Serve with your favorite chips or veggies. 

3 tips to avoid distracted driving

3 tips to avoid distracted driving

It’s a habit. I get the kids in the car, get my stuff loaded in and get settled for our drive. Water comes out of my bag, cell phone located and placed in the other cup holder for easy access. Not that I’m expecting any important calls or need to be available for someone to reach immediately. My car is even pretty fancy and connects to my phone automatically so if anyone DOES call….I don’t even need to reach for it. So why do I have to have it there, in the cup holder, for easy access?

Because I think I can multitask. Cramming in one more email at a stop light. Checking to see if my Instagram post has comments so I don’t mess up my post’s place in the almighty algorithm. #bloggerlife It’s part of the digital dependency that I’m trying to break myself of and the very first place I need to do that is in my vehicle.

Distracted Driving

I’m guilty of it. More guilty than I’d like to admit. I’m fortunate though that I’ve never gotten myself or someone else injured.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month so I put together this list of things that I’ve been doing to help break myself of that digital dependency and become a less distracted driver. Let’s face it, my kids are distraction enough.

Distracted Driving

  1.  Hide your cell phone. I’ve been trying to put it in the back with my bag. If I can’t reach it, I won’t be tempted to glance at it while we are in traffic or stopped at a light.
  2. Turn off your smart watch. I love my Apple Watch but it’s just as distracting as my cell phone. I have been trying to remember to set it to do not disturb while I’m driving or better yet, practice my self control and not flip my wrist over to look at it every time it buzzes.
  3. Get setup before you leave. My car is fairly complicated and has lots of menu’s and buttons in the infotainment area. That can be just as distracting when you are driving than sending a text. Get your music cued up, your location loaded into your GPS and your seat warmer going (yes, even in San Diego) before you move your car out of park.

Simple steps can make a huge difference. No text or tweet is worth your life or the life of your precious cargo. #justdrive

For more resources on Distracted Driving Awareness Month, please visit http://www.nsc.org/justdrive

gross
gross

Checking In – Spring Break

This post contains some affiliate links. 

It’s been awhile since I did a post on my goals for this year. I promise that even though I let the check in’s slip, I have been actively working on my goals that I set in January. I feel like spring break is kicking my butt and it’s made me realize just how much I value school and nap times to get anything done. My to do list is growing but I’ve been enjoying time with family at the beach and taking advantage of all the things San Diego has to offer this time of year. We just got home from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the seasonal butterfly exhibit is a must see!

IMG_5080

Health/Reflection/Diet

Let’s not talk about the Easter candy…and ham…and raspberry rolls…and wine… and all the other indulgences that I had during the Easter holiday. BUT we did have family in town and instead of assuming that we were going to eat out every night, I meal planned for a crowd and it helped me keep my nutrition in line when I felt like I too was on vacation. Tacos, balsamic pork, salsa chicken and black beans in the crock pot and chicken noodle soup where easy and definite crowd pleasers.

I’ve been really good with my one line a day journal. Of all the changes that I set out to implement at the begining of the year, this one has been the easiest to incorporate.

Blog

I’m getting more and more excited about my next blog conference coming up at the beginning of May. I’m also excited about a few opportunities that have popped up for me to do some social media consulting. This is a product of me being open to any and all opportunities that may arise out of this venture and what my career may morph into. The possibilities are exciting.

Digital

I haven’t kicked this habit, I still spend way too much time on my phone than I should. I realize this though and I’m working on being intentional with my time. It’s a daily struggle. I’m trying to put the phone down and pick my book up more. I did finish The Alice Network (great read) and am now reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. It’s been the first time in a very long time that I’ve actually underlined passages and made notes to myself while reading. She was just announced as a keynote speaker at the conference I’m attending in May. I really hope that I get to meet her and thank her for this special book.

Clutter

Well since I’ve undertaken my laundry room makeover, it seems like there is 1000x’s more clutter around because I’m mid-project. So, once I get this little project done, I’m ready to tackle the garage. It’s become the dumping ground of baby toys that have been outgrown, a makeshift workshop, and all around catch all for junk. It’s time. I’m also feeling the need to do a big spring clean…