Getting Back to Nature

It’s funny how life can just find a way to keep you busy for such a long time. This year I had to consciously decide that I was going to slow things down a bit and get back to the things that are most important.

Those things, at least for me, are family and nature.

There is something about nature that simply puts me, and my family at ease. We love camping and being outside, even if it’s just in our backyard.


Recently I have been trying to bring a bit of nature inside in the form of houseplants. Succulents are easy to care for and they brighten up any space.


These plants have helped brighten up the inside of my house but there still seemed to be something missing.

I wanted to be able to grow our own food. To plan our meals based on what we had grown.

To help with this feat we purchased a greenhouse. Our goal is to eventually be able to grow our own produce year- round. Everything just tastes better right out of the garden and there is just something so satisfying about growing your own food.

This is a skill I really want to instill in my girls like my grandmother instilled in me!


I remember when growing up my Vo (grandmother in Portuguese) would grow beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes! I would look forward to the summer each year because nothing tasted better than those cucumbers!

So, this year we are going to have a few gardens. Yes, a few because each girl wants her own! Emma decided that hers will be a pumpkin patch and Lilly doesn’t really care as long as she has plants to water. I love that she never wants to leave our little greenhouse.


I am really happy with the results.

This year I started the plants inside. Our basement mudroom was turned into a make shift potting shed/ greenhouse for a bit.  I started in February to make sure I had bigger plants to plant in the spring. Now like many gardeners I had some mishaps and lost a bunch of my plants to over watering.

Luckily, I started early enough where I could plant more.




DIY Stain Fighter

In my quest to simplify my cleaning products, I came across a magic combination to fight stains on clothes. The beauty of this little recipe is that you probably already have the items at home.


Here is what you will need to make this stain fighter.

1 spray bottle (at least 16 oz.)

1-part Dawn Dish Soap (the original blue one)

2 parts Hydrogen Peroxide

Now that you have the ingredients it’s time to begin to mix the ingredients together. You can make whatever size batch you want but I made a 15oz batch.

First I added 5oz of Dawn, and then I filled the bottle up to the 15oz mark with Hydrogen Peroxide.

Don’t forget to shake up your ingredients! I did that once and nothing came out because the sprayer was only picking up the dish soap! 

Spray the shirt with the mixture and then wash as usual, you may need to leave it over night for tough stains. If the stain is really bad you will need to respray the stain and then let it sit for a day or two. This mixture worked when my old go- to stain remover (Oxy Max Stain Remover) wouldn’t.

I would recommend testing the combo on a small spot (on the inside of the clothes you are washing) to make sure it doesn’t damage the shirt. I haven’t had any issues with my clothes, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

DIY Dishwashing Detergent

A few weeks ago, I was unloading the dishwasher and realized that all of the dishes (including the girls sippy cups) smelled like the detergent I was using. Warning sirens began to sound.

This could not be good!!!

I began to do research on how to make my own dishwasher detergent. The recipes varied, some called for Borax,  some had you cooking ingredients down and then letting them sit on the counter for a bit to create some sort of goop, others had Kool Aid (yes, that Kool Aid we drank at ever kid party we went to in the 90’s).

Simplicity works best for me and my busy schedule so I kept looking. Then I came across a few recipes that called for using a tiny amount of dish soap and baking soda. Intrigued, I decided to try it out, well it was a game changer!

My dishes were clean, and my dishwasher looked cleaner too! I know it sounds weird, but it is true! I will never use regular detergent again!!!

For a family size load in the dishwasher you will need 1-2 drops of blue Dawn dish soap (I haven’t tried others because this worked so well) and 2 Tbsp. of baking soda.


Just a quick note: DO NOT USE MORE THAN 2 LITTLE DROPS OF DAWN or your house will be consumed by bubbles… I read this online and did not find out from personal experience… seriously… I know it sounds like something I would do, but I swear I didn’t.


DIY Laundry Soap

This is hands down the best laundry soap I have tried!

It does take a bit of elbow grease to make, but you will have a bunch of detergent for 10 minutes of work. I don’t know about you, but if it saves me time on a shopping trip than it is totally worth it. This recipe is safe for an HE machine, I use it in mine all of the time.  I just put it in the machine with the clothes instead of putting it in the dispenser.

Here is what you will need to make this DIY detergent.


2 Gallon Glass Jar with a cover

1/3 C measuring

Cheese Grater

2 Zote Bars (Yes, you will need two bars even though there is only one in the picture.)

1 package of Borax

1 package Arm and Hammer Washing Soda

Grate the Zote Bars and place them in a bowl. Then  layer the ingredients (Washing Soda, Zote shavings, and Borax) until there is nothing left.

Feel free to shake the jar if you want.

You can use a 1/3 measuring cup to measure out the detergent for each load.  I use a full 1/3 C because I have two toddlers that are queens of making messes. If your kids are older and less messy you probably only need to fill the 1/3 cup about half way (about 2 Tbsp.) You can play around with the amount to fit the needs of your family.

Feel free to share the wealth and divide the recipe into mason jars. I dressed this one up for my sister because I like things to look pretty! LOL





Emma’s (Healthier) Chocolate Milk

Emma loves chocolate milk! I mean who doesn’t, right!

Lately, I began thinking about all of the ingredients listed on the bottle of Emma’s current chocolate milk powder; sugar, caramel coloring, Carrageenan, soy, and salt just to name a few.

There had to be a better and a healthier way for Emma to enjoy her favorite treat.

After doing some research I found that all the recipes were pretty simple. 1-part cocoa,   2 -parts sugar, and a pinch of salt was all that you needed. Seeing how easy it was I decided to give it a whirl.

I used Stevia instead of sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder that I bought at Trader Joe’s. We left out the salt, but you could always add it if you like.  I measured out 2 TBSP of Cocoa Powder and 1/4 C of Stevia and then I placed the ingredients in a mason jar and let Emma shake the jar.

Once everything looks like it is mixed, grab a cup of milk and put 1 tsp of the mixture in the cup of milk and stir.

If you like your milk super chocolatey then you just add a bit more. You can really play around with this to fit your taste.



Kiddo Survival Bag

Let’s face it running errands with kids can be…. umm… an experience. I make sure that my bag is filled with things to keep the girls happy and the meltdowns at bay.

I had always been a tote girl for as long as I can remember. I had various  large tote bags and I would cram all sorts of goodies in them. Then one day I started thinking about how that bag (because trust me they were the largest tote bags Vera Bradley made) didn’t allow me to really move around with ease, and let’s face it, it took up so much room in the shopping cart as I scrambled to purchase everything on the list, keep the girls content, and my sanity intact. There had to be something to make this a bit easier.

So, one day as I was looking at the big sale Vera Bradley was having (don’t worry Carlos, this was a while ago… trust me… I haven’t bought anything new…. 🤥) I saw a back pack that was super cute, had pockets for water bottles (or in my life, sippy cups), it was washable (insert happy dance), and it had lots of different mini pockets for the little things you need. This would have been an awesome backpack when I was in school (sigh).

After looking at the bag for a while I settled on the Ziggy Zinnia pattern. It was fun and had some dark colors in it to help hide the wear that I am sure it will go through. The backpack really makes life easier and what Mama isn’t looking for that! It leaves both hands ready to grab a toddler when they are trying to escape and it is compact enough that I can’t over fill, but large enough where I can definitely keep everything I need.

Of course, we have the necessities like diapers, wipes, toddler utensils, hand sanitizer, diaper bags, tissues, a first aid kit, and these gems!


They are disposable toilet seat covers.  I just found them on Amazon and thought they would make a good addition to the bag. #parentlife #photobomb


To keep meltdowns at bay I love to have a variety of things for the kids to do. I change it up on a regular basis by adding a few novelty items like Seek and Find books or figurines. I always keep color books and crayons on hand for obvious reasons. The girls also love these doodle pads. I picked up the Frozen version at Toys R Us 😢.



These first word cards are geared for Lilly, but Emma likes to keep sharp by practicing these things too. They love to play with the clay too, it has really helped us out in a pinch when we have a wait at a restaurant.


Just like the games I also like to vary the snacks.

You know keep things fresh… literally! They love clementine and apples, but I can’t leave those in there because… well I’m sure you get the picture.  We try to keep the girls eating as healthy as possible so these apple sauce packets are great!


We keep this lovely lady packed and ready to go because you never know when adventure calls.


Easy Toddler Easter Egg Stuffers

One of my fondest memories from my childhood were the Easter egg hunts. My dad was notorious for putting them in crazy locations (that were super hard to find).

The difficulty of these Easter egg hunts increased with our age. I’m sure my family will tell you that I was not the best at finding the eggs…. okay, okay, I was the worst egg finder in the history of finding eggs. I once cried out I give up I just can’t find them, only to have my sister tell me that one was behind my head 😏.

Regardless of my short comings, I couldn’t wait to begin this tradition with the girls. This year we decided not to stuff the girls’ eggs with candy. They get so much of it from relatives that we decided to forego the sugar. Instead we opted for inexpensive treats the girls love like stickers and crayons.


I can’t wait to see what the girls think about their Easter egg hunt.


Say Aloe to My (Not so) Little Friend

Lately I have been reading up on the benefits of having house plants. Typically, any type of plant that enters my house ends up in the trash after it has wilted and died. Not this one though!


This Aloe plant began as a tiny seedling, and look at it now!

Trust me, this has more to do with the plant itself than with me! They are so easy to maintain!

You can get a plant at Lowes for less than 8 dollars. Once you get your plant water them like once a week, and keep them is a sunny spot. That is the recipe to Aloe success!

If you are feeling a bit adventurous, or if you are lucky enough to have a green thumb, then you can replant the Aloe into a larger pot. Just be sure to use Cactus and Succulent soil, because it helps with drainage.

I keep Aloe plants in all of the bedrooms because they omit oxygen at night and help you sleep better. They are also supposed to rid the air of toxins. The fact that they look so good is just a plus!

Magic Meatballs

It is getting increasingly more difficult to get the girls to eat their greens. I mean seriously, if any of you Mamas out there have any secrets please share!!! Emma love meatballs so I decided to try and sneak some veggies into her beloved dish… and it worked! (Insert cheering crowd noise here)

Here is what you will need to make my Magic Meatballs

2 lbs. 96% lean ground beef

1 lb. 99% lean ground turkey

3 eggs

1/2 onion

4 cloves of garlic

1/2 C bread crumbs

1 Huge (and I mean as much as you can stuff into both hands) handfuls of fresh Spinach

Tomato Sauce

Large Mixing Bowl

Cookie Sheets (lined with tinfoil)

Dutch Oven

Food Processor

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Chop up your onion into 4 chunks and place it into the food processor. Then add the peeled garlic cloves and your huge handful of spinach. Pulse until everything is combined and super fine… aka undetectable to the toddler eye. Grab a large bowl and combine the ground beef, turkey, eggs, bread crumbs, and green mixture. Let the mixture sit while you line your cookie sheets with tinfoil.


Once that is done, grab a tablespoon full of the mixture and roll it into balls. Repeat this step until there is nothing left in your bowl. The mixture should make about 50 meatballs, more if they are small, less if they are large.


Place the meatballs on the cookie sheet (lining it with tinfoil will help with the clean up) and put them in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. Once they are cooked, throw them all into a Dutch Oven with sauce… or you can split the batch in half and freeze some.


Either way, you can cook your meatballs in the Tomato sauce until the sauce comes to a boil. Serve them with pasta, in a sandwich, or eat them as is!

Emma couldn’t get enough of these! This recipe goes into my Mommy win pile!



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