Best Banana Zucchini Bread Muffins Recipe!

Cooking, Health & Wellness, Home, Kitchen, Lifestyle

Hey Mamas! If you’re like me and have picky eaters in your house, it can be a struggle to get kids to eat green vegetables! My solution: Sneak veggies into their favorite foods!

Great for picky eaters: I have THE BEST banana bread recipe (originally adapted from Delish.com) that I’ve converted into muffins with hidden zucchini! My kids have never once said, “Ewe,” “What’s the green stuff?” or “I can taste vegetables!” when I serve them these muffins! SCORE!

Why this is the best Banana Zucchini Bread Muffin recipe: When I say this is the best banana bread recipe, I truly mean it! During the pandemic, I made one banana bread loaf for every month we were locked down in LA County. I tried six variations of banana bread, so I can attest that this is the very best recipe! Utilizing three bananas is the perfect amount of flavor and sweetness, and the full fat sour cream makes the bread so moist! You will never need to try another banana bread recipe again… This is IT! You’re welcome.

Original recipe swaps: I make a couple swaps for these Banana Zucchini Bread Muffins from the original Banana Bread Recipe from Delish.com to make them kid-friendly and mom-approved. First, I add half of a grated zucchini. Secondly, I add mini semi-sweet chocolate chips! My kids go nuts over chocolate anything, so this is a special treat. In my opinion, regular sized chocolate chips overpower the the banana flavor, so I prefer to use mini sized chips. I haven’t tried the muffin recipe without the mini semi-sweet chocolate chips yet, but I have made the original loaf recipe without them, and it was still soooo gooood!

Mix-ins and Frosting Ideas: If you want to add some more oomph to this recipe, add 1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans and walnuts are my favorite) or coconut! Or, add a cream cheese frosting for a real decadent treat that’s totally approved by the health food gods because we’re already eating zucchini – LOL! My favorite is a vegan cream cheese frosting recipe from Peanut Butter & Jilly found here.

I prefer using mini chocolate chips in this banana zucchini bread recipe!

Tips for the best Banana Zucchini Bread Muffins:

  • You can’t have bananas that are too ripe for this recipe. The more ripe, the better!
  • Shred the zucchini with a VERY fine grater. You don’t want chunky zucchini in your muffins!
  • Be sure to drain and soak the moisture from the grated zucchini with a paper or cloth towel. Do not skip this step of the recipe or else you’ll have watery batter!
  • This recipe makes about 18 muffins, so I always give a few to our neighbors and teachers. Everyone will love these muffins!

BANANA ZUCCHINI BREAD MUFFINS

Yields: 18 Muffins | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375º. Line two muffin pans with 18 baking cups.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In another large bowl, mix together melted butter, sugar, egg and egg yolk, sour cream, and vanilla. Add mashed bananas and grated zucchini and stir until combined. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until just combined. 
  4. Fold in mini chocolate chips and transfer to prepared muffin pan cups.
  5. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes in pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

I’d love to hear what you think of this recipe! I’ve had so much fun making (and eating!) these Banana Zucchini Bread Muffins that I’m determined to add zucchini to other favorite recipes! What should I try next: a chocolate-zucchini cake, blueberry-zucchini muffins or chocolate chip-zucchini cookies?! Let me know in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram or TikTok!

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

10 Self-Care Tips for New Moms

Health & Wellness, Mom & Baby

Finding self-care as a new mom is REALLY hard!

The day after my firstborn joined our family, I remember thinking to myself, “I’ll never be alone again!” Suddenly, finding time for myself felt almost impossible, and if I did find a moment alone, I felt guilty. As an anxious new mom, my thoughts revolved around the baby while also trying to maintain my pre-baby relationship with my husband. Self-care swiftly moved to the bottom of my priority list, and it became even more challenging to find “me” time once I started working again. So much of my life changed so quickly that I felt like I lost myself overnight! I was three months into life with a new baby, and I broke down… I realized this was my new life, and the excitement of it being new had worn off. I was exhausted and desperately craved some self-care time!

If any of this sounds familiar, I hope it’s brought you some assurance that you’re not alone! I also hope it inspires you not to let yourself get to a breaking point like I did!

Soon after my breakdown, I realized that I had to make a plan to take care of myself or else I’d end up angry and depressed. I loved our newborn and I loved my husband, and I didn’t want to start resenting them. It was up to me to make the changes in my new life to ensure I got the self-care that I needed to be a happy mommy.

Below are my best tips for finding self-care as a new mama. I’m so happy I put these tips into practice a couple months after having my first baby. They became routine habits for me with baby #1 and then made the adjustment to baby #2 (when time is even more limited!) so much easier! With that said, these tips aren’t just for NEW moms… All busy mamas can utilize these tips!

Sometimes, we need some retail inspiration to motivate a new self-care journey! To shop some of my favorite self-care items on Amazon click here!

Getting my hair done with a baby on my lap… Just an example of how finding “self-care” with a new baby can be challenging!

10 Self-Care Tips for New Moms:

  1. Take Advantage of Early Mornings

If you’ve never been a morning person, having children will change that. If your kids are anything like mine, you’ll never sleep past 7 a.m. again! My tip: Wake up before your children! While getting up even earlier than your kids may sound miserable to an exhausted new parent, hear me out… Those early morning hours can be PRECIOUS “ME” TIME. If you can take 10-15 minutes to yourself in the morning before your day with the baby starts, I promise you’ll already feel more in control of your life. The days where my children dictate when I start my mornings are always harder than the days I choose when to get up. I personally prefer to wake up 30 minutes to 1 hour before my children to drink coffee, write in my journal, and read the newspaper (yes, I read the good old fashioned newspaper!). But, even if you only woke up 10 minutes before the baby, that’s 10 golden peaceful minutes to be with your own adult thoughts before the chaotic day with kids begins. Who knows, maybe you’ll love it so much that you’ll become a morning workout person! You could also meditate, read a book, do yoga… make those mornings for YOU!

2. Find Joy in Micro Moments

When there’s a new baby in the house, it may seem impossible to take an hour-long bubble bath whenever you wish. Instead of seeking those big self-care moments, try to find joy in micro moments throughout your day. When I started feeling trapped by my babies, I made a promise to myself that I’d do one small thing every single day that was just for me — for ONLY ME and nobody else! Every morning when I’d make my to-do list, at the very top I’d write one small feasible thing I could do that would bring me joy – a walk in nature, a phone call to my mom, 10 minutes alone to write in my journal, etc. At the end of a day revolved around needy little people, I always felt relief that I was able to do at least one thing for ME. And, as my babies grew and got more self-sufficient, these small things became bigger and longer: an hour-long hike by myself, a day at the spa, brunch out with girlfriends, etc. I believe this practice also taught me to find joy in the simple, which has been such a blessing.

3. Sneak in Exercise

So many moms complain that they can’t exercise because they don’t have TIME. I get it… adjusting to life with a new baby is hard! If you’re used to going to a pilates studio every day after work, but now have to come home to relieve the nanny, it can certainly feel like your exercise routine is a forever goner. This is my tip: JUST MOVE! Movement is exercise! Sneak in all the movement where ever and whenever you can! Take the baby on a stroller walk as soon as you get home from work, run up and down your stairs while the baby is napping, do a yoga video first thing in the morning before the kids wake up… And, don’t forget to plan a time that you can go back to your old pilates class, too! Because feeling like yourself and enjoying your favorite workouts is important, too! You may not be able to do everything like you did before baby, but you shouldn’t have to give it up completely. Personally, I found that I enjoyed working out so much at home that I never rejoined our expensive fancy gym after having a baby. Here on the blog, I’ve shared all my fave home gym equipment from Amazon, as well as my best tips for how to work out when you have young kids!

I go on a run while pushing the babies at least once a week, but I also make it a priority to do a solo run sometimes to feel like myself pre-baby

4. Prioritize Your Health

We mamas get so wrapped up in taking care of our family’s health that we often end up completely neglecting our own! This is your sign to drop everything you’re doing and take inventory of your health! When was the last time you went to your primary care physician? Have you been to the dentist in the last year? Is it time for a dermatologist visit? Put aside 15 minutes, call all your health providers and make those appointments! Your kids cannot be healthy without a healthy mommy!

5. Go to Sleep Early

If you’re not getting adequate sleep, you’ll never feel (or look!) your best — enough said! The best way for me to get enough sleep to is go to bed shortly after I put the children to sleep. I’m often in bed at 8:30 p.m.! I know it’s tempting to stay up late to find more “me” time, but I’ve discovered that limiting my nighttime sleep ultimately makes me feel like crap the next day. Recently, I’ve optimized my nighttime sleep with the help of Juna Nightcap Sleep Drops and Juna Nightcap Sleep Roller, which assist in getting me into a deeper sleep date — and it’s way healthier and more effective than melatonin or any other sleep aid! I’ve explained how Juna works for me in more detail in this blog post.

6. Make a Date with Friends

There’s almost nothing better than a good laugh with girlfriends. But, I know firsthand that friendships can easily take a backseat when you have a new baby in the house. Sometimes, around months 2 to 4 with a new baby, your friends may stop calling or checking in on you. Don’t take this personally, especially if none of your friends have had babies yet. Most likely, they’re assuming your new life with baby is consuming all your time, so they’re giving you space. It’s up to YOU to reach out to friends to fill your social cup. One of my favorite sayings is, “To have a friend, you have to BE a friend!” Make the effort to schedule a time to meet up with friends, and I’m certain they’d love to see you — with or without baby in tow! If you’re struggling getting out of the house, invite them over. Be vulnerable. Tell them you’re covered in breastmilk, haven’t made your bed in weeks, but really just need a gal pal to vent to. A REAL friend loves nothing more than being there for you. I recommend scheduling something with girlfriends at least once a month. If you can, try allowing your partner or caregiver to look after the baby when you meet with friends to really connect without distractions. Quality time with girlfriends is so good for the soul!

7. Join a Mommy-and-Me Class

Joining a mommy-and-me baby class was probably the very best thing I did after my first baby was born! Because we recently moved to the area and knew no one our age, in addition to being one of the very first of my friends to have a baby, joining the mommy-and-me class was the best way for me to connect with other local moms going through exactly what I was currently experiencing! I developed several good friendships from that first class, and now its fun watching our kids go to preschool together! Those ladies were the best sounding board, too, for when we were going through sleep regressions or I needed to vent about anything!! Our teacher was absolutely fabulous and taught me so much about conscious parenting and establishing solid family values, too. I liked the class so much that I signed up for a mommy-and-me class for toddlers! If you want more info about the local class I took, please feel free to contact me!

8. Communicate to Your Partner What You Need

Based on conversations with my other mom friends, I’d guess that maintaining a cordial relationship with our partners is probably one of the most stressful parts of having a newborn in the house. As mamas, we’re going through so much emotionally and physically during this time, and it can be infuriating watching our husbands continue about their lives as if nothing has changed… Must be nice to have adult conversations at work every day… Wow, you can play golf for 5 hours without having leaky breasts?… Why didn’t you know we needed more diapers?… How can you sleep?!… But, here’s the deal… Our spouses cannot read our minds! It would be amazing if they could, but men weren’t granted that superpower, unfortunately. I’m no marriage counselor, but my best advice is to effectively COMMUNICATE to your partner what you need. Tell them when you’re calm and there’s no other distractions. Clearly explain why you need 15 minutes every morning alone or why you want them to start helping with bath time or whatever it is you need! And in turn, ask them what they need! While it may not seem like it on the outside, it’s very likely they’re going through some hard changes, too… They now worry more about providing for the family, they fear they don’t know how to take care of the baby as well as you, they’re embarrassed to admit that they don’t know how to help, so sometimes they do nothing! Empathize with your partner and create a game plan to help each other through this life transition.

9. Start a Gratitude Practice

I believe it’s almost impossible to be depressed when you’re grateful. Instead of wasting energy wishing you could get your old pre-baby life back or grumbling to your partner that they don’t help enough, make a list of things you are grateful for and you’ll instantly feel better. I like to start my day with writing down three things I’m grateful for in my journal, because it sets the tone for a positive day. When times are hard, sometimes I’m simply grateful for a cup of coffee and not much else! But, since I begin my day in gratitude, I find myself adding things to the list in my mind as I go about my day! Look around… What are you grateful for that’s right in front of you?

10. Reconnect With Yourself Doing Something You Loved

If you haven’t experienced it yet, there will probably be a moment when you see an old picture of yourself from pre-baby days and think, “I miss you…” LOL! I promise your old self is still there! Make it a priority to reconnect with what makes you, YOU! Even if you haven’t taken dance since high school, join an adults’ hip hop class or take a virtual class on YouTube! Did you love traveling? Here’s your sign to go ahead and plan your first international trip with baby! Maybe you always loved and appreciated handwritten notes… Try taking up calligraphy! Love yourself by doing something you love!

My self-care time: Writing down what I’m grateful for while enjoying the sunshine. OH! And you can copy my cheapy sunglasses here!

If you need some additional inspiration, below is a list of 20 simple self-care activities! Copy and save this list in the notes section of your phone so you can always reference it when you need some T.L.C.!

  1. Take a walk outside
  2. Read a book or magazine
  3. Take a nap
  4. Meditate
  5. Pray
  6. Call a good friend or relative
  7. Start a gratitude list
  8. Write a bucket list
  9. Watch funny videos
  10. Stretch or do yoga
  11. Pour a special coffee, tea or beverage and drink it slowly
  12. Light a candle
  13. Listen to music
  14. Exercise
  15. Paint, draw or color
  16. Write down 5 things you like about yourself
  17. Give yourself a massage
  18. Paint your nails
  19. Take a bath
  20. Do a breathing exercise, like this one

Do you have any tips for finding self-care that I missed? I’d love to hear what you do to take care of yourself as a mama! Comment below or connect with me on Instagram or TikTok!

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Kids!

Holidays, Lifestyle, Mom & Baby

Hey Busy Moms! Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and I want to share two absolutely FABULOUS online marketplaces that are making it so easy to celebrate LOVE with your family – Maisonette and Goldbelly!

If you don’t yet know about Maisonette, you need to log on their website to check out all their adorable clothes, accessories, toys and gear for kids and families. There’s even some fun things for mom, too, plus home decor! The company was founded by two moms in 2017 with the goal of helping modern families navigate the adventure of raising the next generation. The have the most high quality kids products, partnering with the best brands to curate a shopping destination that all moms love! Maisonette is my go-to site when looking for unique specialty gifts for baby, kids and mama!

The next online marketplace that you must know about is Goldbelly! This online marketplace is where you go to find the best regional and artisanal foods crafted by top local food purveyors throughout the United States, like celebrity chefs, restaurants, bakeries, delis, etc. Have you ever wanted to try one of Duff Goldman’s famous cakes but don’t live near one of his cake studios in Baltimore or LA? Well, now you can with Goldbelly, which ships to all 50 states! Goldbelly is great if you need impressive food for a special occasion or want to gift someone an extraordinary treat. For example, through Goldbelly you can recreate Wolfgang Puck’s legendary smoked salmon pizza at home, or gift your friend, boss, mom, client (anyone!) the famous macarons from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, Calif. There are so many outstanding culinary experiences for purchase in one place!

I turn to both of these sites when I’m looking for something special for holidays and Valentine’s is no different! Below are some great products from Maisonette and Goldbelly to help you celebrate with your kids this Valentine’s Day!

  1. Mommy-and-Me Matching Pajamas and Sweaters

I’m a sucker for matching with my mini, so I love that Maisonette is offering a variety of mommy-and-me styles for Valentine’s Day!

Fun products and treats to celebrate Valentine's Day with your littlest loves!
Maison Me Valentine’s Pajamas for Women and Pajamas for Baby and Toddler

Wake up in comfy yet chic mommy-and-me matching pajamas by Maison Me featuring a mini heart print and shades of pink for Valentine’s Day. These special holiday pajamas, featured in the Ditsy Heart print, come in adult women’s sizes, as well as footies for babies sized 0-24 months and kids sized 2 years to 12 years. Their lightweight 100% cotton rib is super comfortable for sleep or play and cute enough to lounge in all day!

When it’s time to change out of your PJs, the Love Sweater by GiGi Knitwear is the perfect top for Valentine’s Day and chilly February days! Rendered in a sift and breathable light weight knit, the Love Sweater is perfect for layering and playtime. GiGi Knitwear’s one-of-a-kind sweaters are handmade by a family-owned factory in Bulgaria with super soft fine merino wool to keep you and your mini extra cozy. Find the women’s sweater here and the little girls’ sweater here.

Love Sweater Mini

2. Valentine’s Day Mini Fashion Accessories

Maisonette features some of the chicest kids’ accessories from independent brands, including adorable Valentine’s Day themed jewelry, sunglasses and purses, for your little one to wear throughout the whole month of love!

Children will feel sophisticated and special with the Risa’s Pieces Noa Valentine’s Day Monogram Bracelet Set, which you can personalize with your child’s name. It comes as a fashionable stacking set of three red, white, and pink bracelets.

Perfect for sunny SoCal, GlamBaby Priscilla Heart Shaped Sunglasses are made of durable acetate and offer 100% UVA/UVB protection. They come in the option of red or white for your littlest fashionista.

Complete your sweetheart’s outfit with a Ce Ce Co. Velvet Purse with Heart Patches! The upscale Ce Ce Co. also has this Tweed Purse with Furry Heart for your sophisticated bebe. Is it me or is there nothing cuter than a little girl adorned in mini versions of grown-up accessories!

3. Valentine’s Plant Based Playdough

Get creative with your little one on the Day of Love with The Dough Project’s ultimate box of Valentine’s Day goodies! The Dough Project Much Love Bundle comes complete with three jars of fresh, plant-based playdough, a box of “Make Your Own Playdough” mix and a mini rolling pin for unlimited play! The dough comes in red and pink Valentine’s colors for the celebration! The DIY playdough mix is an especially fun sensory project for kids. It’s a dry mix that you simply blend with water and oil to make your own dough – sort of like making pancakes or cookies! The Dough Project is a product parents can feel good about while being made from all natural, food-grade ingredients and colored from plants.

The Dough Project Much Love Bundle

4. Valentine’s Day Tea Set for Dolls by Sophia’s by Teamson

Make imaginary play fun for Valentine’s Day with the Sophia’s by Teamson Kids Valentine’s Day themed tea set. This Warm Your Heart Hot Cocoa & Sweets Set features all the desserts your little one’s doll could want with cake pops, sugar cookies and chocolate covered strawberries! Mugs of hot chocolate with whipped cream, plates and spoons complete this detailed set. Kids will have lots of fun celebrating Valentine’s Day with a special pretend tea party! The doll is sold separately, but you can use this tea set for any 18’ doll or with your stuffed animals!

Warm Your Heart Hot Cocoa & Sweets Set

5.    Heart Lunch Box by Dabbawalla Bags and Surprise Lunch Notes by Cheree Berry Paper

Be her Valentine all year long with this adorable pink and white heart lunch bag from Dabbawalla Bags. These quality bags are not only great for tots and teens, but moms and teachers would love to receive these sweet bags as a gift for Valentine’s Day, too! There’s also an option to personalize the lunch tote with an embroidered name! The insulating, eco-friendly material is machine washable and flexible enough to hold a wide range of lunch containers. All Dabbawalla Bags are crafted with TPE, a sustainable foam that is degradable, recyclable, and friendly to the environment. The production of these bags supports fair labor practices and is certified free of toxic chemicals.  

Surprise your little sweetie with a thoughtful love note in their lunch box with this set of 40 notes from Cheree Berry Paper that are playful, yet polished. Cheree Berry Paper is a custom graphic design and stationery company known for creating interactive and conceptual designs full of unexpected details and clever copywriting.  Your little one will love the surprise note that lets them know you’re thinking of them while at school on Valentine’s Day.

Cheree Berry Paper Surprise Lunch Box Notes

6.    Goldbelly Valentine’s Treats from Chefs Cat Cora and Duff Goldman

Goldbelly is known for offering the most unique and delicious food products from the nation’s top chefs, small businesses, and food purveyors, and the company is offering dozens of options of specialty Valentine’s treats to share with your kiddos, friends and family this year!

Drop one of popular Iron Chef Cat Cora’s bite-sized Heart Shaped Rainbow Cookies in your kiddos lunch box for a Valentine’s Day surprise at school or pass out to friends at a Valentine’s Day party! These classic Italian rainbow cookies will brighten anyone’s Valentine’s Day made with three layers of marzipan, apricot jam and a thin coating of chocolate topped with chocolate sprinkles. They come in a set of 18, so they’re perfect for sharing with your children and their friends!

If you’ve spent any time watching Food Network over the past decade, then you know Duff Goldman and his legendary cakes. This Red Velvet Heart Cake is a delicious four-layer red velvet cake with vanilla cream cheese filling, frosted with pink-tinted buttercream frosting and decorated with red fondant hearts – the perfect way to show your love with your little ones! The cake serves 8-10 people – great for a party! It also arrives in a decorative box, so it could make for a fun gift!

Duff Goldman’s Red Velvet Heart Cake

I hope you’ll take some time to check out Maisonette and Goldbelly for your Valentine’s Day celebration needs, in addition to other holidays! I plan to shop their sites in a couple months for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter!

I’d love to hear how you’re planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your kiddos! Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram @maggiehjackson!

XO Maggie

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

7 Ways to Workout When You Have Babies and Toddlers

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Mom & Baby
A typical setup of me trying to workout surrounded by toys

Hey mama, I hear you… Finding time to workout when you have a baby and/or toddler in the house is HARD! I think it can be especially challenging for new mamas who are so exhausted from newborn middle-of-the-night wakings or simply trying to adjust to their new normal of never being alone! Believe me, I’ve been there!

One morning when I was home with my 3-month-old firstborn (who was colicky and a horrible sleeper), I got fed up with my life feeling controlled by a tiny human. I missed my workouts and I missed feeling like myself. So, I decided right then and there that my new motto moving forward would be, “Something is better than nothing.” What started as a few minutes of movement during his first nap every day turned into me really getting into the swing of finding time to commit to my workouts with kids in the house. Here’s my tips on how to do it!

1. Allow them to join you

This isn’t always easy, but I promise that the more you do it, the easier it gets! Your children may not like it at first, but soon it becomes a routine and they come to expect (and respect!) mama’s workout time. At our home gym, our son likes to pretend to workout with us, and our daughter likes to play with her toys around us. Yes, we have to stop and start our workout a few times to attend to their needs, but it’s much better than not working out at all. And, we get the opportunity to model for our children what taking care of our body and minds looks like and help instill healthy habits for them early! If you want tips on how to build a good home gym, I linked all our Amazon home gym products here.

2. Provide kids rewards for being patient during your workouts

I know it can be a challenge for babies and toddlers to entertain themselves long enough for you to get a good workout in. Before I workout, I’ll tell my children what fun we’re going to have after the workout so that they behave and have something to look forward to. I try not to make it revolve around food because then that’s a weird habit to start with so early (We’re going to workout so we can have cookies later?? NO!!). The rewards are usually that we get to go to the playground, library or even Target! Or, we’ll play a game that they love or watch a movie together as a family.

3. Try shorter but more frequent workouts

If your kids simply can’t give you a solid 30 minutes to get a workout in, try breaking up your workouts into two 15-20-minute workouts throughout the day. For example, I’ll do a 20 minute walk in the morning and then a quick 15 minute HIIT in the afternoon.

4. Workout during their nap

This can be tough in the early infant stages when you’re so exhausted from night feedings and the adjustment to life with a newborn! Even though you’re tired, I recommend working out during the baby’s very first nap of the day. It’s usually their most routine and longest nap of the day (so you could potentially workout AND nap!), so it will give you a guaranteed workout time every day. I know all you want to do is nap when they nap, but if you move a little bit first thing in the morning during that first nap around 9am, I promise it will make you feel better and give you more energy for the rest of your day! Even if it’s only a quick 20-minute workout!

5. Take turns with your partner

My husband is great about this! On the weekends, one of us stays with the kids while the other gets to have their own solo workout time. It’s typically when we do our most intense workouts of the week, because we’re able to focus without child distractions. We take turns. Afterward, we usually do something active as a family, and it’s a really rewarding day!

6. Add more movement throughout your day

If you’re really struggling to find time to workout while caring for your children, try to find all the small opportunities to move more. Take the stairs, play “tag” with your kids, have a dance party with your kids, park far away so you have to walk further to get to the store or work, stand when you’d normally sit… anything!

7. Stay up late or get up early

I’m only mentioning this because I know so many have had success with working out before their kids wake up or going to the gym after kids’ bedtimes. This isn’t for me now, but I hope it will be in the future. I used to always workout at 6am but that changed when I had kids, because I have early rising babies. My husband has a very demanding job, so I remain the kiddos #1 caretaker while he gets ready and leaves for work super early. I go to bed at 8:30 so the idea of squeezing in a sweaty workout at 8 p.m. sounds dreadful – LOL!

I hope these tips are helpful! You can do it mama! If you’re looking for more ways to optimize your health and wellness as a parent, check out my post on small changes that make a big difference here.

Let me know what you do for your workouts in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram @maggiehjackson!

XO Maggie

Valentine’s Cake Mix Cookie Lollipops!

Holidays, Kitchen, Lifestyle

Happy almost Valentine’s Day!

Watch us make Valentine’s Cake Mix Cookie Lollipops!

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I love cooking and baking. But, do you know what I really love? Recipes that are fast, easy, and taste great! Emphasis on the TASTE GREAT!

So, here you have it – Cake Mix Cookie Lollipops! They’re so easy – only 3 ingredients plus sprinkles! They’re fast – only took me around 20-25 minutes to make and 5-10 minutes to decorate! And, they taste AMAZING!! Nice and crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside! And oh so sweet!!

First things first… This recipe starts with a boxed cake mix… How easy is that?! We’re making our cookies for Valentine’s Day, so we used Pillsbury Valentine’s Funfetti Cake Mix. Then, you add some fun holiday themed icing and sprinkles. We used the Pillsbury Valentine’s Funfetti Frosting and Wilton Valentine’s Sprinkles.

VOILA!!

But, wait… there’s more!!

Take some craft sticks and make these easy peasy cake mix cookies into LOLLIPOPS!! GENIUS! You will definitely the prized mama at the Valentine’s Day school party with these showstoppers! For a great gift idea, it’s so fun to individually wrap them in plastic and add a pink or red bow!

Valentine’s Cake Mix Cookie Lollipops

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, two eggs and vegetable oil in a large bowl until well combined.
  2. Onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, drop rounded tablespoons of dough 3 inches apart.
  3. Insert wooden craft stick in center of each cookie dough ball.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges are brown.
  5. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, then frost and decorate!

Pin the photo below to refer back to this recipe, and let me know if you try these yummy cake mix cookie lollipops!

XO Maggie

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

Small Ways I’m Optimizing My Health & Wellness This New Year

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle

Happy 2022! Here we go again… New Year, New Resolutions!

I love goal setting, visualizing, dreaming, manifesting, all things positive life improvement, you name it! For me, the New Year is the perfect time to revamp my goals around health and wellness, because it’s a fresh start after all the holiday indulging, in addition to starting a new year after my birthday (Dec. 23). I love that I get to enter a new calendar year at the same time as a new year in my life!

I haven’t always been successful with resolutions, though. I used to set these big, lofty and sometimes unspecific goals – often with no real reason behind them other than vanity or comparison. I have yet to run a marathon or get “super toned,” and the years that I made those resolutions were typically some of the hardest years for me. I always felt like I was failing and usually resorted to worse habits, like crash dieting, overexercising, or giving up completely. After some time, maturity and therapy (seriously!), I’ve learned that the best health and wellness resolutions are the ones that are realistic and easy to keep. I know that when you have a big goal, like losing 50 pounds or running a marathon, the idea of making only a small change can sound disappointing, but trust me… the smallest changes can lead to the biggest impact over time! I’m so proud to say that I’m the healthiest and happiest I’ve been in my life – all without running a marathon LOL!

So, this year for me is all about small changes that help me OPTIMIZE my health and wellness. I’m at a stage in my life where my health maintenance is pretty good. My diet consists of 80% healthy and 20% fun food. I prioritize finding time to move throughout the week. I get a lot of sleep. I take the time to journal and work on my mental health. These things are good, but I feel they can be taken to a higher level.

I don’t just want to move 30 minutes a day, I want to make sure I’m doing the right type of movements consistently and improve my resting heart rate. I don’t just want to sleep for 8 hours, I want to have the deepest, healthiest sleep without middle-of-the-night interruptions. I don’t want to simply journal every day, I want to continue taking a proactive approach toward enhancing my mental health.

With this in mind, below are the detailed ways I plan to OPTIMIZE my health and wellness in 2022. You also can check out my YouTube vlog where I share more details! Let’s get it!!

Better Workouts:

First, let me tell you a bit about my workouts… I workout about five days a week doing something active. That could be a HIIT workout, a 30 minute walk around our neighborhood, yoga, or a 5k run around the Rose Bowl. What I do for a workout usually depends on the time I have that day and how my body is feeling. Trying to squeeze in a 30 minute workout 5 days a week, plus adding movement where ever possible (taking the stairs, playing outside with my kids, etc.) has worked for me the last four years in maintaining my fitness. I don’t belong to a gym. We built a makeshift gym in our garage during the pandemic, and now I honestly wonder if I’ll ever join a gym again (you can read about our home gym here).

Apple Watch Series 7

As I started examining how I could optimize my fitness this year, I realized that I wasn’t doing any sort of tracking to truly understand how I could make it better. Enter the Apple Watch Series 7. Yes, I know I’m late to the Apple Watch game, but that’s because I never had a reason to have one… In fact, I didn’t want one, and I actually thought it would make my life worse! I’m too connected to my iPhone as it is – I don’t need another Apple device on my wrist!! But, here’s the truth: I’m less connected to my iPhone now because of my Apple Watch! When I’m with my children, I now leave my phone in the other room and can be PRESENT without the lure of opening a social media app or browsing the internet. If I receive an urgent call or text message, I’ll receive it on my wrist, but I often decide to respond to it later. I love the activity app on my Apple Watch that tracks my movement, exercise and standing. It’s my goal every day to close my “activity rings” by doing enough movement to burn 310 calories, exercise for at least 30 minutes, and stand for at least a minute each hour. It’s very motivating to see my daily progress and try to move more to close my rings. I also love that the Apple Watch tracks my heart rate. Heart disease runs in my family, so I believe it’s super important to be aware of your resting and active heart rates. I honestly like the band that my watch came with – I chose the Starlight color. But, when I don’t want it to look like I’m wearing a fitness tracker, I switch out my band for this pretty two-tone stainless steel band that’s super affordable on Amazon.

Brooks Women’s Adrenaline GTS 22 Running Shoe

Running is my preferred method of cardio, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m way behind on updating my running shoes! Experts recommend changing running shoes every 300-500 miles. Of all the running shoes I’ve tried, Brooks brand has consistently been the best running shoe for me and for many other runners. Brooks are like the Heinz Ketchup of distance running shoes. Every bada** long-distance runner loves them! For me, it’s the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 that does the job… WOW, they are comfortable and offer lots of support! I have thin feet and a high arch, and these shoes protect me from getting plantar fasciitis while also adding extra support for my knees and hips. Adding these new shoes will make my runs longer, more comfortable and injury-free. I recently purchased the shoes in the Grey/Rose/Black color combo (below). I like the neutral colors with the subtle girly nod with the pink accents!

Echelon Smart Connect Fitness Bike

I already mentioned that my preferred method of cardio is running outside, but my husband and I felt we needed a cardio machine to add to our home gym for when it’s raining or can’t leave the house with kids napping. Since my husband is a big mountain biker and cyclist, we considered getting a Peloton. Then, he discovered the Echelon Smart Connect Fitness Bike, which is basically like the Peloton but much more affordable! To be honest, I’m not a big cyclist and don’t necessarily love cycling classes. I prefer choosing my own music, pedaling to the beat and switching up my resistance based on whether the song is fast or slow. We didn’t really feel like we needed to pay for all the bells and whistles of Peloton’s fitness classes (especially the monthly fee!), and Echelon provides cheaper options to do without! We got the bike without the screen, because we can add our own. However, there are options to add a screen and Echelon also has plenty of live, on-demand rides and classes to choose from, including yoga! If you want something as similar to Peloton as possible without paying an arm and a leg, this is the bike to get! It’s quiet, sleek and works like a dream. But, if you’re rich and need Ally Love (or whatever instructor) to move your butt, go the Peloton route. I can’t wait to level up my cardio at home with this Echelon Smart Connect Fitness Bike!

New Workout Outfit

Sometimes you just need a new outfit to inspire you, right? I’ve been on the hunt for the cutest pink workout set, and these are so hot! Most of my workout gear is black, but I’m ready to switch it up this year with fun colors!

Better Sleep:

Some background on my current sleep: I feel really fortunate that I have pretty great sleep already and part of that is because I made a priority several years ago to develop good sleeping habits. Thankfully, both of our children sleep through the night. My children go to bed at 7-7:30 p.m., and we’re in bed by by 8:30-9 p.m. every night except for weekends. Despite having fairly good sleep, there are still some nights I have trouble falling sleep and some mornings where I wake up really groggy for no apparent reason. Because of this, I was curious if there were any ways I could optimize my sleep.

Juna Nightcap Sleep Drops and Juna Nightcap Sleep Roller

I used to be really resistant to wellness products that included CBD, and honestly, that’s only because I didn’t know enough about how beneficial they truly are! I used to think that CBD for sleep was like habit-forming melatonin, and I knew I didn’t want to be knocked out or have to take a pill every night. Also, because of the messaging around marijuana I’d heard my whole life, I had a weird subconscious voice telling me I’d get high or addicted… Even though the science around CBD told me otherwise! Then, my girlfriend told me about Juna, a botanical wellness company founded by two busy moms and career women who were looking to optimize their overall wellbeing with plant-based solutions, and the effectiveness of their Nightcap Sleep Drops. I was skeptical, but after I looked into it, I learned about the different stages of sleep and how Nightcap helps restore your natural sleep cycles and get your brain to Stage 3 Deep Sleep (when your cells and body repair themselves). I started incorporating Juna Nightcap Sleep Drops into my nightly routine by simply putting the drops under my tongue before bed. I did this regularly for two weeks, and I truly started noticing a difference in how well I slept and how refreshed and clear-headed I felt the next morning! If you have any interest in optimizing your sleep, you won’t regret trying these sleep drops! And, if you use code MAGGIEJACKSON at checkout, you get 15% off!

I took better sleep a step further and started pairing the Nightcap Sleep Drops with the Juna Nightcap Sleep Roller before bed. The rollerball is a NON-CBD product, so it’s a great solution for pregnant or breastfeeding moms who want great sleep but are concerned about the effects of CBD prenatal or postpartum. I put the Nightcap Sleep Roller on my wrists and behind my ears before bed, I take a couple deep inhales, and it’s like a magical sensory experience that calms me for a deep sleep. Again, if you use code MAGGIEJACKSON at checkout, you get 15% off, which is awesome if you get more than one product!

My nighttime routine is now so peaceful and sets me up for a great sleep. One hour before bedtime, I drop the Juna Nightcap Sleep Drops under my tongue. Then, I take a warm shower or bath. I absolutely adore a warm bubble bath with Dr. Teal’s Foaming Bath Soothe & Sleep. I brush my teeth, put on body lotion, then put on silky PJ’s from Cleobella or Lunya (my favorites are here and here). Then, I put on my Juna Nightcap Sleep Roller on my wrists and behind my ears. Sometimes, I roll it on my chest, too! I take a deep breath or two into my wrists, then climb in bed. I read a calming book for the next 15-30 minutes, then turn out the light and Zzzzz! It’s important to mention that I have NO SCREENS during this nighttime routine, which I think is HUGE if you want to reach a better, deeper sleep!

Dr. Teal’s Foaming Bath Soothe & Sleep, Cleobella and Lunya pajamas

Better Mental Health:

I have done A LOT of work on myself the last 15 years, including therapy, reading tons self development books and listening to a multitude of self-improvement podcasts. Some of you may know that mental illness runs in my family, so I have made it a priority to work toward improving my mind the same way that I work out to improve my body. Here are the ways I’m optimizing my mental health this year:

Daily Gratitude, Love and Intention in my Moleskine Classic Notebook

I use my Moleskine Classic Notebook for almost everything, including to-do lists, brainstorms, and mapping out my three, five and 10 year goals. But, I use this notebook the most during my morning routine where I jot down my daily gratitude, love and intention. I got this idea from two great influencers I follow, Lauryn Bosstick and Rachel Hollis. First, I write down what I’m grateful for and make it specific. For example, I don’t simply say, “I’m grateful for time with my kids.” Instead, I’ll write, “I’m grateful for the time I got to spend present with my kids at the playground yesterday.” Next, I’ll write down who I’m sending love to. Sometimes, this is a list of people who I know are going through a rough time. It’s also people that are just on my heart. It’s like a little prayer for those I care about. Lastly, I’ll write down an intention for who I want to be that day by stating an affirmation, like “I am a fun, energetic mother. I am a loving, devoted wife. I am going to be a national TV host.” Stating these intentions stick with me throughout the day and help me live up to them! I highly recommend that you grab a Moleskine and start doing this first thing in the morning while you sip your coffee (or lemon water or protein shake or whatever your routine) to set your mind in a positive, grateful place for the rest of the day. I’ve used Moleskine notebooks for years, because they’re the highest quality, come in lots of color options, simple to write in, and last forever! It’s my goal for 2022 to do this practice at least 5 days a week, and I’d love for you to join me!

An example of my morning journal routine in the Moleskine Classic Notebook

Juna Balance Drops

Here I am talking about Juna, again, because the product is really that amazing! I started incorporating Juna Balance Drops in my morning routine and have sincerely seen a difference in my overall mood and daily productivity. After taking these drops consistently for two weeks, I noticed that I felt more clear, more relaxed, and more “on.” This may sound crazy, but I relate these drops to the pills that Bradley Cooper takes in the movie “Limitless.” Okay, I’m not some magical Wall Street master, but I do feel more like Super Mommy! I used to find my mood all over the place throughout the day where it was hard to stay focused and present. When using these drops, I feel a bit more even keeled, ready to bounce back and forth from cooking family breakfasts to answering emails to playground playdates to writing projects. According to Juna’s website, the Balance Drops are “a reliable dose of brain nourishing phyto-actives that centers the mind and balances the body… Balance truly helps us reduce daily stress and calm nerves.” It’s like vitamins for your brain! Use my code MAGGIEJACKSON to get 15% off at juna-world.com!

Juna Balance Roller

Similar to how I pair the Nightcap drops and roller together in the evening, I pair the Balance Drops with the Juna Balance Roller for a heightened mood lifting experience. As the last step of my get-ready routine, I put the rollerball on my wrists and take two deep inhales… AHHH! According to the website, “Juna’s nanoparticle mood-shifting Balance Halo is a complex essential oil rollerball that uses scientifically proven functional botanicals that will reset the mind and shift your mood.” For me, it’s like an instant mood boost with the relieving scents of cedarwood, peppermint, grapefruit and eucalyptus. And, you can keep a roller in your purse for instant relief on-the-go! Check it out and get 15% off with code MAGGIEJACKSON.

Toss Juna Essential Rollers in your bag for on-the-go wellness

Meditation

I love journaling and practicing mindfulness, but as a super busy mom who often feels pulled in 5 different directions at one time, it can sometimes be difficult to find my zen! I decided that 2022 is the year that I really make meditation a habit. It’s my goal to feel more centered and in-tune with my body, so when the stressful days and moments do arise, I’ll have a great foundation to stand on.

I learned the 4-7-8 breathing technique several years ago from a therapist when I was learning coping skills for anxiety. It’s an awesome way to just slow down and ground yourself for a minute. Some people claim that it puts them to sleep after several rounds! I’ve found that it’s also an awesome way to meditate or begin meditation. If you’re not familiar with the 4-7-8 breathing technique, let me explain: breathe in for 4 seconds; hold for 7 seconds; then breathe out for 8 seconds. Once I do a couple rounds of 4-7-8, I switch to 4-4-4 and keep my mind only on my breath. If my mind wanders, that’s okay. I just come back to the breath. It’s actually kinda cool to see what pops up! I’m, like, now why did my brain go there?! LOL! My favorite time to meditate is after a workout or while taking a warm bath before bedtime. I love the calming scents of lavender from the bubble bath while I slip into deep relaxation.

The next step for me will to start doing guided meditations, and I’m looking into which app, like Headspace or Calm, may be best for me. I’ve also heard great things about Deepak Chopra’s Meditation Experience! If you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

What do you think: Would you try any of these simple hacks to optimize your health and wellness this year? I’d love to hear ways you’re getting healthy in 2022! Drop me a comment below or connect with me on Instagram @maggiehjackson.

XO Maggie

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

6 Last-Minute Holiday Gift Ideas for Mom from Mom-Owned Businesses in the LA-OC Area

beauty, fashion, Holidays, Lifestyle, Mom & Baby, Travel

I’m so excited to share this list of great gift ideas for mom from some of my favorite mom-owned businesses in the LA-OC area! In addition to sharing the list below, I’m featuring these gifts LIVE on KTLA Morning News in Los Angeles today, Dec. 22, 2021 at around 11:45 a.m., and I’m so hopeful you’ll tune in! *UPDATE* If you missed the live TV segment, you can view the recorded version here.

Monogrammed Travel Bag from The Monogrammed Home in San Marino

Okay, so… You made your list, checked it twice, and… Oops! You STILL need a gift for mom!!

This is when some of you will quickly run to Target to find a mug that says “MOM” or grab whatever overpriced, picked-over item you can find at Tiffany’s or Nordstrom. Don’t be one of those people wandering blankly around the big chain store only to get mom ANOTHER robe or slippers. Didn’t you get her that last year? Crap, you can’t remember!

Y’all… Don’t do this to mom! Yes, those gifts mentioned above are nice… I have thoroughly enjoyed every robe I’ve been gifted… BUT!!! (This is an important “but,” thus needed additional emphasis) … I need y’all to think of what kind of gift mom really deserves after what she has been up to this holiday season…

Those holiday cards your friends and family received? She designed, signed, and addressed those… Not to mention she licked all 75 envelopes!

Your kids’ reindeer antler headband, the “holiday themed red sweater,” and new dress shoes (grew out of last year’s shoes) that their teacher required you to buy and have your child wear for their school holiday performance… MOM.

Who coordinated the family holiday outings? Photos with Santa, holiday lights show, kids’ museum holiday activities, etc., etc. … MOM.

Who made cookies for Santa? Sure, the kids helped… But, it was probably MOM who had to set it up and clean it up! ALL THOSE SPRINKLES AHHH!!!

Gifts for your neighbors, extended family, newspaper delivery person, mail carrier, kids’ teachers, etc… MOM!!

All the dang wrapping… MOM.

And who usually makes Christmas Eve dinner and/or Christmas Day brunch as everyone enjoys their new gifts or watches football… not always but usually MOM!!!

The exception to all these tasks listed above is a mom who has an incredibly helpful and/or available partner, a mom who has the financial means to outsource everything, or the mom who just stopped giving a F—! Nevertheless, the holiday hustle can get to any mom no matter the level of support she receives.

SO, LET’S HOOK MOM UP THIS YEAR, Y’ALL! Let’s get her something that’s truly unique and thoughtful while also supporting a local MOM-owned business!

REASONS TO BUY FROM A LOCAL MOM-OWNED BUSINESS:

  • Shopping local is a great way to give back to your community where you live and want to see prosper. Local stores tend to keep their profits local, hire local employees, and donate to local charities and organizations.
  • It’s the best shopping method to limit your environmental impact. There’s less shipping and typically more local products available, so less transportation needed.
  • The experience is unmatched! You’ll have the opportunity to personally connect with a member of your community who really cares about their customers! Also, the knowledge of their products is superior to some of the big box chains that hire seasonal employees. Because they’re passionate about their products and filling a need in their community, local business owners often go the extra mile to make sure you are a happy customer!
  • If you love your mom, you’ll also love supporting another local mom. Imagine your own mom putting her blood, sweat and tears into a business on top of all her mom-ing… That is one bad mother!
  • Interesting products! Local businesses sell products that fulfill the interests of the owner and the owner’s customers. They are not limited to some national chain store’s sales and marketing plan, so you’ll often get some really unique and special product options!
  • It’s hard to trust last-minute shipping these days with all the supply shortages and shipping delays we’re seeing on the news. When you shop local, you’re typically perusing all the products currently in stock, so you don’t have to worry about your gift not making it to mom before Christmas.

Now that I’ve convinced you that shopping at a local, mom-owned business is the way to go, below is a list of my favorite gift ideas from mom-owned businesses in Southern California. These business stretch from Sunset Beach to Montrose, and all have ways to secure gifts in these last couple days leading up to Christmas. I’ve included gift ideas for every type of mom – the new mom, the expecting mom, and moms who love wine, traveling, skincare and wellness.

6 Holiday Gift Ideas for Mom from Local Mom-Owned Businesses:

FOR THE EXPECTING MOM

Cleobella Taylor Mama Bag in Cognac

Cleobella Taylor Mama Bag

This leather bag is so chic and high-quality that you’d have no idea it’s actually a diaper bag! Perfect for the stylish new mom who doesn’t always want to look like she’s hauling around baby gear! The braided detailing on the handle and zipper pulls is gorgeous, and it comes in three different colors (black, moccasin and cognac) to fit any mom’s style. I personally love how this bag is well designed for versatility. You can wear it as a backpack, crossbody, or with your hands for style and convenience. Multiple pockets are large enough to hold all the essentials. I can even squeeze my laptop into it in case I need to mix work with mom life. I fully intend to carry this bag even when we’re out of the diaper phase! Cleobella was founded by a SoCal mom, along with her husband, who desired ethically handmade fashion inspired by her global travels. The brand is deeply rooted in its commitment to sustainability and employment that uplifts independent artisans around the world. One percent of every purchase goes back to charities that support our planet and people who need it most. 

How to Buy: The Taylor Mama Bag is available to purchase in-person at the Cleobella boutique in Sunset Beach located at 16792 14th St Sunset Beach, CA 90742. The boutique will be open from 10a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 22-23. The company website www.cleobella.com offers expedited shipping options from their local headquarters, in addition to e-gift cards for those extra last-minute shoppers. Be sure to use the code KTLA at checkout for 20% off your order! The code is good through December.

FOR THE NEW MOM

Saranoni Mommy-and-Me Matching Luxury Blankets at Babies, Bellies & Bosoms

Keep mama and baby cozy this winter with luxury matching blankets from Saranoni found at Bellies, Babies & Bosoms in Montrose. Saranoni’s Bamboni Collection is made from bamboo fibers that are converted to rayon, so the blanket’s cloud-like fabric is light, breathable, stretchy, and as soft as ever! When you’re snuggled up with this blanket, “you’ll feel like you’re wrapped in a cupcake!” said Laura, the owner of Bellies, Babies & Bosoms. The blankets will undoubtedly bring comfort and warmth to mommy and baby this holiday season, and I’m obsessed with the idea of giving a matching mommy-and-baby gift to a new mom! The blankets come in a variety of colors and patterns to match mom’s style and home. If you purchase the “Mudcloth” print, Saranoni will donate a portion of proceeds to Well-Africa, an organization that strives to end child slavery, build schools, and educate children in West Africa. Love a gift that gives back!

How to Buy: Saranoni’s Bamboni Collection of blankets are available to purchase at Bellies, Babies & Bosoms in Montrose, a quaint historic community just north of Glendale. I love this shop because it was founded by a mom in 2003 with the passion to promote breastfeeding, support new mothers and be a sanctuary for all motherhood needs. She carries so many special gifts for new parents and babies! Bellies is located at 2430 Honolulu Avenue, Montrose, CA 91020 and will be open from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. on Dec. 22-23 and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Dec. 24.

FOR THE BEAUTY LOVING MOM

Tinted Lip Jellies from Facile Dermatology and Boutique

Just in time for the holidays, Facile launched its fan-favorite lip moisturizer in a collection of brand-new Tinted Lip Jellies with a plumping complex that instantly boosts hydration and leaves lips looking fuller, firmer, and more defined with each wear. The Tinted Lip Jellies come in three effortless shades: Rose, Rouge, and Berry. I tried all three shades and each of them looked good on my skin tone, but my favorite is the Rose to wear every day for a very natural look. Glossy but never sticky, the Tinted Lip Jellies soften and condition lips with a long-lasting, hydrating blend of Peptides, Jojoba Oil, and Essential Fatty Acids, leaving lips with a wash of beautiful color. Not only are these lip jellies amazing for your lips, every purchase goes toward an amazing cause! Throughout the month of December, Facile will be donating 20% of all Lip Jelly sales to NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) which provides advocacy, education, support, and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives. Co-founded by skincare-obsessed entrepreneur and mom Danielle Nadick Levy and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Nancy Samolitis. Facile opened in 2016 and quickly garnered a celeb following from beauties like Mandy Moore, Lucy Hale and Dove Cameron. If you really want to win big with mom, accompany the Lip Jellies with a gift card for mom to get a personalized treatment at Facile. They do it all from mini facials to fillers to microneedling and PRP injections! Perfect for any beauty or skincare loving mama!

How to Buy: Facile has two locations in West Hollywood (8457 Melrose Place, Los Angeles, CA 90069) and Pasadena (140 S. Lake Ave., Suite 104, Pasadena, CA 91101) where the products can be purchased on Dec. 22 or 23.

FOR THE WINE ENTHUSIAST MOM

Aervana Travel Aerator from Emerald Forest Gifts

This brand-new Travel Wine Aerator from Aervana is perfect for any wine lover who loves to travel or simply save space at home (glass decanters don’t travel well and take up lots of space!). This aerator is small enough to fit in your purse or drawer, plus, it comes with a cute carrying case and corkscrew. At the touch of a button, it turns tannic wine into smooth-as-velvet liquid in seconds! Simply attach the single tube that accompanies the Aervana Travel to the body of the aerator, slip it over an open wine bottle, and press the button on top.  Perfect for travel, road trips, the beach, picnics – anywhere! To be honest, my husband and I love this aerator so much that we use it at home most of the time!

How to Buy: Get the Aervana Travel Aerator before Christmas at mom-owned Emerald Forest Gifts in the San Fernando Valley located at 12638 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604. The owner, Michelle, started Emerald Forest Gifts in 1987 and is celebrating the store’s 36th Christmas Season! Known for carrying unique, elegant gifts for all occasions, Emerald Forest will even gift wrap your gift to make it easy for you to give to mom! Her shop will be open from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 22-23 and from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 24.

FOR THE WELLNESS WARRIOR MOM

Juna Essential Roller Set

If mom is always looking to optimize her wellbeing (or if she simply needs some help chilling out this holiday season – LOL!), Juna’s new essential oil rollerballs offer a therapeutic mood lifting experience throughout the day. The Essential Roller Set from Juna includes three nanoparticle mood-shifting rollerballs – Balance, Nightcap and Ease – designed with a complex blend of scientifically proven functional botanicals that will reset the mind and shift mood. Roll on temples, behind the ears, wrists, breathe deep and experience the mood shifting benefits.  The Balance helps you feel awake and clear; the Nightcap helps ease you into a deep sleep; and the Ease can help you shift your mood from overwhelmed to calm and relaxed. They are great for daily use, for on-the-go, fast, effective relief. Based in Dana Point, Juna creates plant powered products with over 40+ active botanicals that solve the stress, anxiety, and sleep issues women are facing daily. The wellness company was founded by two busy career women and mothers seeking an effective solution to optimize their every day.

How to Buy: The rollers are available to purchase with expedited shipping for Christmas on juna-world.com. If you use code KTLA at checkout, you’ll get 20% off your order! The code is good through December. Perfect time to consider getting Juna’s bestselling Nightcap drops, too! Juna also sells several of its plant-powered solutions in Erewhon markets.

FOR THE WELL-TRAVELED MOM

Personalized Jewelry Round and 3-Piece Travel Set from The Monogrammed Home

Nothing is more thoughtful than a personalized gift, and The Monogrammed Home can help you secure these monogrammed travel cases just in time for Christmas! I love this adorable Seersucker Jewelry Round and 3-Piece Stacking Set that can be used for toiletries, makeup, hair accessories, and whatever you can fit, ready to be monogrammed with mom’s name or initials! I also love the idea of monogramming the 3-piece set to stay organized around the house with labels like, “cords,” “sunscreen,” “vitamins,” “safety pins,” etc. The stacking set is available for $78 and comes in 7 different colors. The jewelry rounds are available for $38 and come in four different colors. Pricing includes monogramming, and customers can choose from over 100 monogram and font options and over 50 thread colors! You’re sure to find a style that mom will love! The Monogrammed Home is one of my most favorite gift shops close to my home! The shop offers a variety of thoughtful, personalized home and lifestyle gifts for everyone in your life. I seriously get every special occasion gift from this shop! The shop was founded by two sisters in 2014, who are now mothers.

How to Buy: Available online at the-monogrammed-home.com, by phone (626) 405-1153, or at The Monogrammed Home located at 2556 Mission St., San Marino, CA 91108. KTLA viewers will not incur a rush charge for purchases of the Jewelry Round or Stacking Set. Purchases placed today (Dec. 22, 2021) by 3 p.m. will be ready for pick up tomorrow (Dec. 23, 2021) between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Gift cards also are available to purchase. 

The Taylor Mama Bag from Cleobella is a perfect gift for an expecting mom!

MOMS! Which of these gifts would you like to receive? Let me know in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram at @maggiehjackson!

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

A Few of My Favorite Things – Great Holiday Gift Ideas!

beauty, fashion, Health & Wellness, Holidays, Lifestyle, Mom & Baby

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens… These holiday gift ideas have me feeling so smitten!

Okay, okay… I’ll drop the cheesiness…

But, seriously, below is a list of a few of my favorite things divided in two categories: things in my vanity and things in my closet. I use many of these items daily! I wanted to share a list of my favorite things as an easy gift guide resource for those of you struggling to find a holiday present for a deserving lady in your life. I’ve tried, tested and approved all these items, so I know any smart, chic lady like myself (LOL) would love these!

When all your shopping is done, come back to this list and choose something for yourself, too! I’ve rounded up a wide range of affordable and luxe items that I feel are truly spectacular! After a long almost two years of pandemic craziness, we can all use a little holiday pick-me-up 🙂

One of my FAVORITE things: Coola Sunless Tan Firming Lotion

A Few of My Favorite Things:

In My Vanity:

Supergoop Glow Screen – A 40 SPF sunscreen that doubles as a primer while leaving your skin with a dewy and glowy finish… YES, PLEASE! I seriously think I look more awake, fresh, and youthful after putting this on! And, its so easy to apply makeup on top, too! *virtual high five*

Drunk Elephant The Littles Gift Set – I love ALL of Drunk Elephant’s products and these are my most favorite go-to’s! If you’re interested in trying Drunk Elephant but don’t know which product to start with, or if you love Drunk Elephant and need some travel size products, this gift set is PERFECT!

Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara – I love this mascara because not only does it make my lashes look long and full, it’s a nourishing product made with clean ingredients that doesn’t flake off — all while still being easy to remove at the end of the day! I have deep set eyes, so I always struggle with my mascara smudging, and this is one of the best mascaras I’ve found!

Aquis Hair Turban – This towel is amazing at absorbing water while limiting damage to your wet hair. I love how easy it is to tie up and wear around while I do my makeup and get dressed.

Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer – Worth the hype – and the price tag! Less noise, less damage to my hair, and dries my hair faster!

Coola Sunless Tan Firming Lotion – I’ve tried so many sunless tanners in my lifetime and this has been my favorite so far! It’s so easy to apply, and I never get fake looking streaks. The color is very natural. There is a slight hint of a smell that comes with most self tanning lotions, but I find it not as strong compared to others I’ve used. I love that it’s made with clean ingredients, too… Used it during my pregnancies!

Bond No. 9 Madison Avenue Perfume – I found this sexy scent when I was shopping in Vegas, and I love it, because I don’t have a single girlfriend who wears it… Bond No. 9 Madison Avenue is MY SCENT, ok?! But, now I’m sharing with you, because I know you’ll love it! It’s sexy, but not too skanky… It’s high energy but not too annoyingly happy… ya get me? It’s my favorite perfume to wear for special occasions.

Versace Bright Crystal Perfume – This perfume is so versatile, so I like to wear it daily. It’s fresh, floral and bright… the way I want to feel going throughout my day. Any lady will like Versace!

In My Closet:

Veja Sneakers – These are the best sneakers to go with EVERYTHING! I’ve worn them with dresses, jeans, shorts and joggers. They’re classic and felt like a good upgrade to my everyday casual mama wardrobe. I like the Veja Campo style in white leather and natural suede, but Veja has lots of styles and colors to choose from to fit your personality!

Schutz Ariella Mules – The heels that go with (almost) everything! They’re like Cinderella’s glass slipper emulating a “barely there” look. The plastic is flexible, so they’re really quite comfortable! I’ve worn these for hours at a time and can dance in them, too!

Levi Wedgie Straight Ankle Jeans – Since skinny jeans have been fading on the fashion circuit, I scoured the internet for a pair of new non-skinny jeans that didn’t make me look like I was a Gen Z-er (sorry Gen Z). I wanted jeans that were still a bit fitted but made me feel like a cool mom, ya know? Enter these Levi Wedgie Straight Ankle Jeans! They def give off some 90s vibes but with a much better fit. They don’t have a lot of stretch, so consider that when choosing sizes!

Madewell Cropped Sweatshirts – I am really digging copped sweatshirts lately to wear around the house, to mommy-and-baby play dates, running errands, etc. I love these from Madewell. They’re perfect for layering and look great with the Levi jeans and Veja sneakers listed above.

Reformation Dresses – Reformation knows how to make a flattering dress. I love all their dresses! I have a couple that are staples for winter and summer festivities. I absolutely love this cherry red one for the holidays!

Cleobella Taylor Mama Bag – My friend Taylor designed this diaper bag, and it’s been the perfect bag for Lucy and me. I love that it’s so chic and doesn’t look like a diaper bag! The leather is soft, and the braided detailing is beautiful! I can even fit my laptop in it when I need to balance work and mom-ing. It comes in three different colors, too!

Salvatore Ferragamo Chain Wallet – After carrying around a big diaper bag during the day, the last thing I want to do is carry a large purse with me for a night out. This little chain wallet is so chic and perfect for date night or mommy’s night out.

Lunya Pajamas Washable Silk Set – Never knew I could get this excited about PJs, but I need to share that these are the ULTIMATE pajamas! The silk is soft, cool, and machine washable (bonus!). Plus, they make me feel luxurious! I’ve never found a set of PJs where I felt both comfortable and sexy in front of my husband. These are it! They come in a few colors and styles, so pick your fave!

Beechwood Crew Pajamas – I’m a sucker for matching with my mini, and Beechwood Crew has launched several fun holiday prints for the whole family to coordinate! A former colleague of mine launched Beechwood Crew with her longtime BFF earlier this year. They wanted an alternative to cheap, fast fashion for their families with high-quality, small-batch pieces they will wear forever… And they did it! The quality is amazing, and the PJs are so soft, warm and comfy – perfect for the holidays! Make sure you order before December 15 to get your made-to-order PJs in time for Christmas! And don’t forget to use my code MAGGIE15 to get 15% off your order! YAY!

Stackers Jewelry Box Set – I love this convenient and space-saving way to store and organize jewelry. It also looks really sophisticated and modern in our home.

David Yurman Cable Classic Collection Bracelet – A timeless heirloom bracelet that you can make personal – how fabulous is that?! My husband gifted me this bracelet with the green gemstone to represent our first baby who was born in August (the August birthstone is green Peridot). I love that you can get different versions of the David Yurman Cable bracelets and create a beautiful stacking look that’s classy enough to wear to church, chic to wear to brunch, or fancy for a night out. This would definitely be a special gift!

Ladies, tell me which of these gifts you’d like to receive in the comments below! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and LTK for more fun shopping and gift guides like this one!

XO Maggie

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Cookies – My Favorite Easy Cookie Recipe With Only 5 Ingredients!

Holidays, Kitchen, Lifestyle

‘Tis the season for holiday baking!

Baking these easy cookies with my son!

During the holidays when I was growing up, the kitchens of the women in my family were always filled with fresh baked goodies. I guess that’s why when Dec. 1 rolls around, I get an itch my bones to start baking! I especially love baking my grandmothers’ recipes to honor their tradition. After sharing a couple treats with our family, my favorite thing to do is box up the goodies to share with neighbors as a holiday gift. It’s been a great activity to do with my toddler, too! He loves helping me in the kitchen, and he also gets to experience the joy of giving a homemade gift to people we care about.

As I’ve chatted with a few of my mom friends the last couple of holiday seasons, it’s come to my attention that the tradition of holiday baking is slowly dying. We either don’t want easily accessible sugar tempting us in our kitchens, don’t have the time to bake, or simply don’t have the interest!

Then comes along that one person in your office or friend group who suggests a holiday cookie exchange… Or, your friend last-minute asks you to bring a homemade treat to share at her holiday party… Or, you need a quick thoughtful gift for a child’s teacher or a special person on your gift list you accidentally forgot to shop for…

Don’t worry, girl, I got you with this SUPER EASY Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Cookies recipe!! It’s made with only 5 ingredients and takes around 20 minutes to make! Yummy crunchy peanut butter, chocolate chips, chopped pecans, sugar and eggs are what it takes to make these gooey, loaded cookies! And, these cookies taste SO GOOD that people will think you’ve slaved in the kitchen for hours making them from scratch… But, only you and I know that it only took 20 minutes!

My Grandmother Holmes always had these at her house around Christmastime. Every year, the day after Christmas, we would drive from Texas to go visit her in Tennessee and stay with her for several days. Our family always enjoyed snacking on these cookies at her home, so my mother got her recipe and I’ve been baking them every holiday season since! I’ll also make them a couple other times throughout the year for quick “I’m thinking of you” gifts – great for new mamas (did anyone else get a sweet tooth right after giving birth?), get-well-soon gifts, and simple thank-you’s!

Another pro about these cookies – they’re gluten-free! I like to convince myself they’re healthier gluten-free, so I can have two instead of just one! ‘Tis the season, right?!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Cookies

RECIPE: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Cookies

These flavorful cookies are gooey and loaded with crunchy peanuts and pecans! The sweetness from the semi-sweet chocolate chips make them perfect for a holiday treat – or anytime!

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cooking Time: 12-15 minutes | Total Time: 20 minutes

Makes around 22-24 cookies

Ingredients:

-2 eggs blended

-1 cup sugar

-1 cup crunchy peanut butter

-1 cup chopped pecans

-1 cup chocolate chips (I like to use Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Premium Chips)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together eggs and sugar until combined.
  2. Stir in peanut butter, chips and nuts.
  3. Drop by tablespoon on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until edges are brown
  5. Cool and serve.

Put a few cookies in these festive treat bags with a Christmassy bow to share with neighbors, teachers, the mailman, friends, family, everybody!

Don’t forget to *kiss the cook!*

Let me know if you plan to make these cookies by commenting below or connecting with me on Instagram!

Happy Holidays!

XO Maggie

Yummy Gooey Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Cookies!

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

Non-Candy Halloween Treats

Health & Wellness, Home, Kitchen, Lifestyle, Mom & Baby

Blake’s Seed Based Rice Crispy Treats are a yummy (and healthy!) treat for the whole family!

First of all, I know many of you may have read the headline for this blog post and rolled your eyes… Look, I’m a kid who grew up in the late ’80s and ’90s (Gushers! Mountain Dew! Pop Tarts! Sugar on top of SUGAR!), and I promise you that I’m NOT ready to give up the tradition of genuine TREATS for Halloween! What is Halloween without candy, anyway?! But, as I review the holiday activities we have planned this month… WHOA… it’s major compared to when I was a kid! We don’t just have a class Halloween party and the classic trick-or-treating… We also have the pumpkin patch visit, the multi-family immersive Nights of the Jack experience, our local YMCA trunk-or-treat… and I’ve already said no to a few other local Halloween festivities that include kids getting treats! I realized that if we don’t take the time to be mindful of moderation, the candy exposure can get really out of hand!

So, here I am… being that annoying healthy mom that I used to roll my eyes at before I had kids. I assumed “her” kids drank kale smoothies for breakfast and their favorite treat was the olive bar at Whole Foods… Well, I’m here to tell you that my kids DO NOT drink kale smoothies for breakfast and my oldest wouldn’t touch an olive with a 9-foot pole. But, I do know that my kids can appreciate “treats” in forms other than candy, like nutrient-packed muffins, festive shaped foods and seasonal flavors!

I put together this list of non-candy Halloween treats for parents desiring to limit the candy craziness this year. Whether you want to create healthier habits for your family, dread the kids’ candy sugar high, or responsible for sending a non-candy treat to school for the class Halloween party, these non-candy Halloween treat ideas are great for parents who need an easy, individually wrapped goody this fall season! From pumpkin rice crispy treats to pumpkin dog treats, there’s something for the whole family to snack on and feel good about!

6 Non-Candy Halloween Treats for the Whole Family:

  1. Blake’s Seed Based Pumpkin Spice Rice Crispy Treats  

I have lots of memories around my mom making homemade rice crispy treats and purchasing the prepackaged cereal treats to put in my lunchbox as a kid. These are EVEN BETTER! Blake’s Seed Based Rice Crispy Treats come in many yummy flavors like strawberry, birthday cake, chocolate chips, and now PUMPKIN SPICE! Blake’s is the very first vegan rice crispy treat on the market, so it’s the perfect allergy-friendly trick-or-treat candy. They’re 90 calories, only have 7 grams of sugar, nut-free and gluten-free! If you live in Southern California like me, you can find Blake’s Seed Based Rice Crispy treats available in local Sprouts stores, or you can shop the snacks online at Amazon or on the company’s website.

Blake’s Seed Based Rice Crispy Treats are a perfect treat for Halloween!

2. Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips Ghosts & Bats   

We already eat Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips in our house as a better-for-you alternative to regular fried potato chips, so I was really excited that the brand came out with Halloween chips in spooktacular shapes! Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips Ghosts & Bats have the crispy crunch and flavor you want in a snack, but without all the artificial flavors and artificial preservatives that you don’t. The seasonal chips are packaged in individual-sized bags that are perfect for trick-or-treaters, classroom parties, or lunchbox treats. They are available in major retail stores across the nation, as well as online and Amazon, sold in individual bags or packs of 24.

My kids’ treat bags filled with Sensible Portions Veggie Chips Ghosts and Bats!

3. Bobo’s Pumpkin Spice Oat Bites  

I often get frustrated with store-bought muffins and snack bars, because the ingredients show that they may as well be cupcakes and candy bars! Not Bobo’s! The Bobo’s brand offers delicious, simple, handmade 100% whole grain oat bites and snacks and released a brand-new pumpkin spice flavor just in time for the holidays! The slow-burning oats give kids clean energy that won’t leave them with a crash, while satisfying their sweet tooth. Each bite is non-GMO, gluten-free and plant-based, and there’s a variety of flavors in addition to pumpkin spice, like apple pie, chocolate chip, coconut, lemon poppyseed and peanut butter & jelly! You can easily find them at your local Kroger flagship, Whole Foods Market, or Target and online at Amazon

4. Bare Baked Crunchy Apple Chips  

Nothing says fall like apple harvest season, which is the perfect reason to pass out Bare Baked Crunchy Apple Chips to trick-or-treaters!  Bare Baked Snacks are real apples baked into deliciously crunchy chips and never fried. The apple chips are non-GMO verified and have no added oils or preservatives. They’re sold at select retailers, or you can purchase in multi-packs online at Target and Amazon

5. Dole Mandarin Orange Jack-O-Lantern Fruit Cups  

Get a little crafty by turning Dole’s Mandarin Orange Fruit Cups into cute Jack-O-Lanterns! All you need is a black sharpie to draw a Jack-O-Lantern face on the cups! Bonus if you decide to add the green pipe cleaner for a stem! These are the perfect festive snack for a class party! Dole Fruit Bowls Mandarin Oranges in 100% Juice are made from the best sun-ripened fresh fruit that nature has to offer, and they’re non-GMO and naturally gluten free. Dole Fruit Bowls are available at all major grocery stores or you can get multipacks on Amazon.

6. Greenies Dental Treats, Pumpkin Spice Flavor  

If you want to share holiday treats with your furry family members or pass out treats to dogs trick-or-treating with kids, Greenies Dental Treats for dogs has launched a puppy-approved pumpkin spice flavor!  The unique texture of Greenies Dog Chews cleans down to the gumline to fight plaque and tartar and freshen breath. The treats are sold at Target, Amazon and Chewy.

Would you share these festive treats with your family? I’d love to hear what other better-for-you store-bought treats you pass out at Halloween! Please share with me in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram at @maggiehjackson!

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.