Cookbook Review – The Whole Smiths Good Food

Cookbook Review – The Whole Smiths Good Food

I have a bit of a cookbook addition. So when my girlfriends were raving about The Whole Smiths Good Food cookbook, I had high expectations. I spent a week cooking lots of different recipes from it, I wanted to be sure that I could give my authentic opinion on it based on all the content, not just the pretty pictures.

I related to a lot of things in this book. I feel like the author Michelle and I could be best friends (except for the Dave Matthews thing). We share the same food philosophies and I love her approach to social media. Girl keeps it real but still produces great content. (See, it can be done!)

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! `

Full Cookbook Review

Check out my full review of the cookbook here and make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

I tried to vary all of the dishes that I tried, I even branched out and made pork loin. I’m really not a fan of pork loin but this one was pretty good. I smothered mine in the caramelized onion. I’ll eat basically anything with caramelized onion on it. The sweet potato hash, ranch chicken potatoes and sweet potato hash were all winners in our house.

Cookbook Review Sweet Potato HashCookbook Review Pork Loin

This is a great cookbook if you are interested or doing or have done a Whole 30 round. I loved my experience with Whole 30 and have a lot of resources on this site if you need motivation, meal plans or a list of all the must have gadgets to be successful with the program. That’s not to say that this is a Whole 30 only cookbook because there are a lot of non-compliant recipes in here and ones that you can adapt either way.

Bottom line – this cookbook is worth every penny. It’s beautiful and has great content. What more can you ask for?

Cookbook Review The Whole Smiths Good Food Nuggetlands

Cash Back Christmas – How I Make Money Shopping

Cash Back Christmas – How I Make Money Shopping

Last year I MADE money while doing my Christmas shopping. How is that possible? Ebates.

Have you heard of it? It’s a website that gives you a percentage of cash back on your purchase at select retailers. The selection of retailers changes, the percentage of money back changes but if you are smart about it, you can really make a good amount of cash back on your purchases. And not just at Christmas time, I use the plugin every time I shop.

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! `

Ebates Website

You can visit the Ebates website and see the selection of retailers and the cash back percentages they are currently offering. And it’s not just obscure retailers offering cash back, there are tons and tons of my favorite stores that regularly offer great deals like Gap, Lululemon, Pier 1, Best Buy, Carter’s and so many more. Even Amazon is often listed but the categories and percentages change.

There are also daily deals and special offers – like double cash back.

Ebates Homepage

Click through to the retailers website and make a purchase, the cash back will appear in your account within a few days (if not sooner). It’s that easy and completely free to you, the consumer.

Ebates Plugin

My favorite way to use Ebates is using the Chrome plugin. Not only does it show me a pop up when I get to a site that has a cash back offer through Ebates, but it will also show me in my search results if there is a retailer offering something. It’s a great way to comparison shop. If, for example, I’m searching for a photo book vendor and I see a list of companies that make them, I’m most likely going to buy from someplace that is offering the best percentage cash back.

Ebates Chrome Plugin

Maximize Your Cash Back

I did a lot of shopping on Black Friday, and I didn’t leave my couch. It was amazing and I still scored a TON of great deals. Ebates and it’s partner retailers offered so many cash back deals that I saved over $250 on my purchases – and I didn’t just limit it to our kids Christmas Lists. I saved on a new laptop, double BOB stroller, everyday essentials and even furniture.

Head over to Ebates and sign up using this link and you will receive $10 after you make your first purchase. Free $10 for doing shopping that you’d normally do at places you normally shop. Seriously, it’s a no brainer.

Cash Back Christmas


How to paint a front door

How to paint a front door

If you are a design junkie like me, then you see people paint a front door all the time and poof, the space is transformed. They make it all look so easy.

It’s not, especially when you have two young kids and two dogs, but I did it and want to share what I learned.

I love doing DIY projects around the house. I love to improve my home. I love to transform spaces. I’m not afraid to make mistakes and get a little dirty. But let me tell you what I don’t love….not being able to devote the time and attention it takes to get a job done well and quickly.

So I’ve learned to maximize the kid free time I do have and embrace the chaos when they are around. I remember “helping” paint the columns on our front porch when I was little and I want my kids to have those same memories. So when it was time to tackle that front door paint job, I mustered up all the patience I could and made it a family affair.

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! `

Must Haves to Paint a Front Door

  1. Baby Gate
  2. Good paint scraper like this one
  3. Stripping Gel
  4. Sander
  5. Old towel
  6. Some good podcasts – I binged Armchair Expert and Slow Burn during this DIY
  7. Patience

Here is where we started. Lovely color but a little dated, starting to chip and the handle was somewhat broken.

front door before wide shot

Strip Before You Paint

I knew that there were LAYERS of paint on this door so it had to be stripped. I used the CitriStrip gel based on the recommendation from the guy at the paint counter. The smell wasn’t bad but did give me a headache after awhile.

front door paint stripping gel

I got a little excited and slathered the gel all over the front door. What I should have done, is do a small area at a time so that the gel wouldn’t full dry. You want it to soak in but still be a little gooey so it peels off. It says it stays wet for 24 hours, maybe in some other climates that’s true, but not in coastal San Diego.

front door paint stripping

My kids wanted to get involved and I tried to let them scrape off paint when the gel was removed or completely dry.

Sand That Door Down

Once you have the door stripped as much as possible and fill in any cracks and dings with wood putty, make sure it’s exterior and stainable/paintable, it’s time to get the sander out. I used both the power sander and the hand held sanding block to get all the nooks and crannies of the door and frame. Surprisingly, my girls slept through this.

front door sander

Prime it

I used two coats of Killz Primer on the door and I let it sit for a few days in between so that the primer could cure on the front door. Logistically, it made sense for me to change the door hardware at this step.

front door primed

Paint It

With two dogs and two small kids, I can’t just paint a front door without some sort of barricade and this baby gate worked perfectly. I also couldn’t stand the big thin plastic tarp on my floor so I opt’d for an old towel. This was the perfect size and weight to protect my floors without annoying the crap out of me or creating a giant tripping hazard.

front door paint set up

It took three coats to get the door the color I wanted and, once again, I waited a day between coats two and three. I also switched out the porch light to something a little more modern and scored some new pots in the Target clearance section so I added some new plants to make the space a little more fresh. Boxwood Wreath is on Amazon for way cheaper than I bought it on Wayfair (sigh) and the welcome mat is from Target last spring.

Finished Product

front door after little nugget

It was a LOT of work and took WAY longer than I had anticipated but I couldn’t be happier with the results. Would I paint a front door again? Absolutely. See more images for the transformation here.

Paint a Front Door 2

3 Questions That Are Essential to our Bedtime Routine

3 Questions That Are Essential to our Bedtime Routine

I’ve had the same bedtime routine with our oldest since she was old enough to talk. Tub, brush teeth, read a book, sing a song and “talk about my day”. Sure we switch up what books we read, she’s really into our back to school book list right now, and what songs we sing but one thing that doesn’t change are the 3 questions that I ask her before she goes to sleep. It’s how we talk about our day.

It started when I was working full time, as a way for her and I to connect after being apart all day. It was a chance for us to share parts of our day that we didn’t usually talk about. Something that the nanny wouldn’t have written down in the log book or we didn’t really talk about over dinner. Even now that I spend all day with her, when I do her bedtime, we still do our 3 questions.

Bedtime Routine Questions

They aren’t complicated questions. They were concepts that she could understand even as young as 2 years old. The great thing about it is that they are questions that even make me examine my day. It’s a great practice in vulnerability, for both of us.

  1. Tell me a time today when you were brave.
  2. Tell me a time today when you were kind.
  3. Tell me something that you are grateful for today.

I don’t expect her to go out of her way to make sure she checks off all of these items. And sometimes, I don’t have an answer for when I was brave or kind (don’t judge) but that pushes me to make sure that I am kind the next day. That I am brave in some way so that I can model that behavior for her.

As she’s gotten older, I really look forward to this part of our bedtime routine. I can see how insightful her answers have become and I hope that this practice will help instill bravery, kindness and gratefulness in her already huge heart.

Bedtime Routine

Unique DIY Halloween Costumes

Unique DIY Halloween Costumes

Remember the days when our DIY Halloween costumes consisted of something super cheap from the thrift store and we just said we were random characters from a 70’s tv show? Now as a parent, things are a bit different. There is so much pressure to figure out what costume everyone is going to wear.

When Big Nugget was a baby, I wasn’t into Halloween, much less making a DIY Halloween costume. It was just too much effort for an hour (or less). Now that the kids are older, it feels way more festive. There is the costume day at dance class, Halloween party at preschool and then the actual holiday itself so I’m totally into it. It’s one of those holiday’s that I have such fond memories of as a kid, I want that same warm fuzzy feeling for my girls.

Last year Big Nugget wanted to be a pine cone for Halloween. And ya know what, we made that happen and she was the CUTEST pine cone you have ever seen. See a full tutorial on how I pulled it together rather easily here.

DIY Pine Cone Costume. Complete tutorial to make this unique Halloween costume. Perfect for a toddler, preschooler or teen, this custom craft project is easy and affordable. #DIY #Craft #Halloween #Costume #uniquecostume #pinecone #toddler #preschool #homemade

What was so wonderful about the pine cone idea was that it was just so unique and organic. So now the pressure is on and we are on the hunt for this year’s great Halloween idea. I am struggling to remake that magic and of course, took to Pinterest to hopefully inspire something in us. No luck yet but we had a great time pulling together this list of unique DIY Halloween costumes.

We are still narrowing down our list of ideas for this year and Big Nugget is wanting to incorporate her Little in some way. This should be interesting. Maybe I need to pull together a unique DIY Halloween costumes list, pairs edition next. In the meantime, check out these amazingly creative and unique DIY Halloween costumes.

Unique DIY Halloween Costumes




Nesting Doll

sister costume

rainbow bird

hot air balloon






DIY Halloween Costume Roundup


Looking for more costume ideas for kids? Check out these 11 DIY Halloween costume ideas!

The Backyard at The Nat – Perfect Exhibit for Young Explorers

The Backyard at The Nat – Perfect Exhibit for Young Explorers

We had an opportunity to go downtown San Diego to Balboa Park and visit the Natural History Museum. They invited us down to check out The Backyard, a brand new space specifically designed for kids up to 5 years old. Perfect for my Nuggets.

Natural History Museum The Backyard

Last year, I took the girls down to The Nat to see the special dinosaur exhibit they had. Big Nugget has always loved dinosaurs. We didn’t get much time in the rest of the museum that visit because Little Nugget was only a couple months old and had an EPIC meltdown at the end of the dinosaur exhibit…so we made a quick exit.

The Backyard @ The Nat

This time we had all day to explore and to say the girls loved The Backyard is an understatement. It’s not a huge room, it’s the perfect size and I was blown away by the attention to detail.

Natural History Museum Backyard Little Nugget

The play space is surrounded by a mural of San Diego with all the things that make our city so special, complete with sound effects and some critters that are beyond lifelike.

There are spaces for each age group to really enjoy, even for the little little’s. The cushy mats in the shoe free zone are perfect for crawlers or even smaller.

Natural History Museum Backyard Wide Shot

There are plenty of toys to spark the kid’s imaginations, building blocks and books. Big Nugget loved the light table that had various films and blocks that you could change with the light.

Natural History Museum Backyard Light Table

The Nat does everything with incredible attention to detail. Inside The Backyard, even the siding treatment on the walls was hand painted. As with any good kid space, the parents weren’t forgotten. The bench seating gives the adults a place to relax, if their kids will let them. There are even wipes and a phone charging station.

Natural History Museum Backyard SeatingNatural History Museum Backyard charging station

Check out our video from the day, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel too!!

There is plenty to see at The Nat outside of The Backyard, if you can get your kids to leave. I was a bit concerned that it wouldn’t be kid friendly for my preschooler and toddler but I was pleasantly surprised. Even my little one (who is 18 months old) wanted out of the stroller to get a closer look at the displays.

We loved taking the girls to The Henry Ford Museum on our last Michigan trip (and they LOVE watching the video of it over and over again). I think the measure of a good museum experience is how you feel when you leave. This time, Big Nugget declared at lunch after we left The Nat that she wants to be a dinosaur scientist and can’t wait to go back.

Natural History Museum Entrance

The Backyard at The Nat