Red, White and Blue Summer Spritz Cocktail Recipe

Cooking, Holidays, Lifestyle

The 4th of July, my favorite holiday, is just around the corner and I’m prepping and planning what to serve our party guests! When it comes to making cocktails for a large group, I prefer easy batch cocktails that look pretty in a pitcher on your table but also are so simple to serve! No one has to play bartender making individual cocktails when you have a ready-to-serve pitcher filled with a yummy libation!

Feeling festive with my Red, White and Blue Summer Spritz!

This year, we’ll have this Red, White and Blue Summer Spritz available for our guests. The red strawberries, blue blueberries and white wine make this drink perfect for a July 4th party. I love sticking to a theme when hosting guests, so I’m going all out with red, white and blue everything!

The best part about this cocktail — it’s SO EASY! You don’t have to be a master bartender to pull this off! Plus, it’s affordable! Don’t worry about impressing guests with expensive white wine in this drink. The wine will be mixed with simple syrup, club soda, and berries, so your guests will have no idea you used bottom-shelf wine! Garnish the cocktail with a sprig of fresh rosemary or mint to add some flare and make it look fancy! I like savory cocktails, so I prefer rosemary, but mint is perfect for summer! I promise you’ll like this cocktail so much, you’ll be sipping it all summer!

Below is my recipe for Red, White and Blue Summer Spritz!

Red, White and Blue Summer Spritz Cocktail!

Red, White and Blue Summer Spritz Cocktail

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Fill a pitcher with ice
  2. Add 1/2 cup each of sliced strawberries and blueberries into the pitcher
  3. Pour simple syrup and bottle of wine until pitcher is 3/4 full
  4. Pour club soda to fill remaining 1/4 of pitcher and stir to combine
  5. To serve, fill glass with ice and pour in spritz. Garnish cocktail with additional berries and a sprig of fresh rosemary or mint to your taste

If you’re looking for more July 4th party ideas, check out my other posts, linked below!

What do you like to serve your July 4th party guests? Let me know in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram and 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.

Help Your Child Learn to Swim!

Lifestyle

Summer is officially in full swing, which means it’s time for pool parties, beach visits, and water play! If you have a little one in your house, you’re probably concerned about whether your child is water safe… Good for you, mama and dada! It’s so important to get our children comfortable around water at a young age! After all, the CDC reports that drowning is the #1 cause of accidental death for children ages 1-4, and no parent wants to experience the nightmare of an accidental drowning.

At the beginning of this summer, I made a concerted effort to get my kids swimming on their own. We recently remodeled our backyard with a new pool, and it was very important to my husband and me that our children would be safe in and around the water. I’m so proud to say that at 3.5 years old and 19 months old, both kiddos are swimming! Currently, the oldest one can swim to the bottom of the shallow end and pick up diving toys. He also can take a breath on his own while swimming across the pool and he’s working on developing his freestyle stroke. The youngest one can swim about 14 feet across the pool. She hasn’t mastered taking a breath while swimming yet, but I think she might before summer ends! Both children know how to find the edge of the pool when in trouble, which is a relief to mama. But, my favorite part about their swimming is that they LOVE it! They love feeling their weightless body in the water and exploring new ways to play in the pool. It’s so rewarding for me as a mama to see my kids safely love and play in the water!

Playing in the pool with my youngest child

I’ve been so happy with my kids’ progress this summer that I’ve been sharing videos of them swimming on my Instagram and TikTok. Every time I post a video, I get so many DM’s from parents asking for tips on how to get their children to swim, too. As a former swim instructor, I wish I could take all the credit, but my kids aren’t always fond of following my swim guidance – haha! But, because there’s been so much interest from other parents, I wanted to share a post about what’s worked for our family to get our kids swimming! Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this page to check out some of my favorite kid-friendly pool products, too!

Watch our 19-month-old swim!

6 Tips to Help Your Child Learn to Swim

  1. Exposure, Exposure, Exposure!

This is listed as the first tip because it’s the most important! The more your child is in the water, the more comfortable they will get with how their body feels in the water and more likely they are to easily learn to swim. Please don’t consider swim lessons the same as practice for another sport or activity. Unlike going to their once-a-week dance class or twice-a-week basketball practice, little kids need to be in the water almost daily to learn to swim. When I was a lifeguard and swim instructor (almost 15 years ago – yikes!), I’d teach morning swim lessons on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. There were some kids whose parents only brought them to the swim lessons and I never saw them at the pool any other time. Then, there were the parents who let their kids stay after swim lessons to play. Even better, there were a couple parents who brought their child every day to the pool to play. Guess who learned to swim that summer? The kids who came to the pool every day were little fish by time the summer was over! The ones who only showed up to the lessons knew the basics but ultimately weren’t very comfortable in the water. I know this can be a challenge for families who don’t have regular access to a pool. If you take lessons at a public pool, ask the instructor if it’s okay for your child to play on the steps for 10 minutes when the lessons are over. Even a baby pool or smaller inflatable pool at home is a great way to get your child exposed to water play. Let them play longer in the bathtub, too! Scroll to the bottom of this post to see some of my favorite baby pool products!

Playing in a baby pool to help with exposure to water

2. Take Swim Lessons

As a former swim instructor, I honestly never thought I’d need to sign my children up for swim lessons. I thought that water exposure and my own instruction would be good enough. Well, just like almost every parent-child relationship that’s come before us, my firstborn child was not interested in my instruction. As he was getting older and still not swimming on his own, I decided it was time to bring in assistance. We did an 8-day intensive private swim lesson that was 30 minutes a day for our oldest and 15 minutes a day for our youngest. The oldest was in a class with two other kids his age. My youngest did her class alone. I was thrilled with the results of our lessons! After 8 days, both kids were swimming to the wall on their own! Lessons with an instructor other than myself forced my children to learn the skills they needed to get comfortable in the water. The lessons helped my kids develop a respect and love for the water, because they were doing it on their own. They felt proud that they could swim without mommy! It also was fun my for my oldest to swim with other kids his age. While the 8-day private swim lessons are a phenomenal way to get your kid swimming, I believe that any swim instruction is beneficial. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see recommended swim lessons in Pasadena, Calif. and surrounding areas!

Our son Landon, age 3, at semi-private swim practice

3. Allow for Free Play

It’s just as important to give your child the opportunity for free play in the water as it is to give them swim lessons! This way, your child associates the pool with fun rather than only strict instruction. If getting in the pool is fun, they’re more likely to swim! This is especially great for the kids that are scared of water or nervous about lessons with a new teacher. To incorporate more free play, I recommend getting to your swim lessons 15 minutes early and sitting on the steps with your kids with a water safe toy of their choice — maybe a plastic car, boat, or doll from home, for example. You can also bring water toys or diving toys, but if they’ve never played with a diving stick before, it may add to the uncomfortable nature of the pool. Bringing something they’re familiar with makes it safe. Allow your child to go at their pace to get in the pool and get used to the water. After swim lessons, ask the instructor if you can stick around for a few minutes to play more. If the facility has a baby pool, that’s a fun place to let your child free play, too. As I mentioned before, the more exposure they have to water – no matter where it is – the better. Encourage other children from swim lessons to join in. If you have easy access to a pool, schedule pool play dates so your kids learn how much fun it is to swim with friends! Even playing with kids in mini plastic or blow-up pools at home is helpful. I included a few options for baby pools at the bottom of this page, along with some toys that are great for free play.

Our daughter enjoying unstructured free play in the water

4. Play With Them

Let your kids see how much fun swimming can be by playing with them in the water! Not only do little kids love the opportunity to play with their parents, but they’re also the best mimickers at this young age. I promise that if your child sees you enjoying the water, they’ll have more interest in playing in the water, too! Imagine being forced to do swim lessons in a big scary pool with a stranger while your parents sit off to the side and watch. That’s not always a fun situation for a little one, especially if their personality is more on the sensitive side. But, if you got in the water to play with your kids in between lessons, I’m certain they’d start feeling more comfortable with a little bit of time. When I get in the water with my kids, I try to show them what fun things they can learn by blowing bubbles, floating on my back, swimming to the bottom of the pool, doing handstands and front flips, etc. They love watching mommy be playful! Be sure to make it pressure-free playtime. Ask if they want to try to blow bubbles with you, and if they say no, respect it. Eventually, they come around and want to play, too!

My husband playing in the pool with our toddlers

5. Bring Positive, Patient Energy

Your children match your attitude towards the water. If you act fearful of the pool, so will they. If you love the water, your children will, too. Be really conscious of your reactions when they’re around the water. Don’t panic or overreact when they get splashed or accidentally go under water. That will immediately teach them that the pool is not a safe place. If they accidentally go under water, calmly pick them up, look at them in the eyes, and say something caring but relaxed like, “Whoa! You went under! Was that fun?” It also helps to give them a positive pep talk before swimming so they enter the situation confidently. For example, when we’re driving to swim lessons, I like to positively narrate to my children what they can expect from the day. I’ll usually say something like this: “We’re on our way to swim lessons. It’s going to be fun so fun! Coach Tim (or enter the name of your swim instructor here) is so nice and wants to help you be a great swimmer. There will be other kids there to play with, too! It’s a big pool, but you’ll only swim in a small area. Mommy is so excited to watch you swim with everyone. We’ll all be watching you and close by, so you’ll be very safe. You should be so proud of yourself for trying something new today!” Setting up positive expectations for your child helps reduce the fear around learning to swim! Lastly, please be patient with your little one. I know it can get frustrating to see your child sitting on the edge of the pool while the other kids happily play in the water, but allowing your child to go at their own pace will help them develop trust with the water and you. As long as you keep exposing your child to the fun of the pool, I promise they’ll eventually learn to swim!

Don’t be concerned if your child is like mine — desperately holding on to the side instead of playing with the other kids. This is the same child that is swimming freestyle in the video I shared earlier in my post! This picture and that video were taken one week apart! All kids come around with time!

6. Don’t Introduce Floaties

Okay, this is a tough one. I know those baby and toddler floaties can be so tempting to put on your children to ensure they’re safe in the water. But, if you really want your kid to start swimming at a young age, don’t even bother. The floaties are a signal to children that they’re not safe in the water without them. Floaties quickly become a crutch and a very tough item to transition away from. Because I used to be a lifeguard and swim instructor, I swore to myself that I wouldn’t introduce floaties to my kids. While I was working at the pool everyday, I saw firsthand how the kids who became attached to their floaties took longer to swim on their own. Flash forward to a decade later when we were at a pool party with our 2 year old and 7 month old, and to be honest, my husband and I were TIRED of holding and entertaining our children in the water. As exhausted new parents, we craved a moment to chill by the pool and talk to adults while our kids played safely in the water. We saw this swim vest on another child and liked it because it didn’t have big tubes around the arms like other traditional swim floaties. I thought it could be a good floaty that would still encourage our children to learn to use their arms in the water. We got one for our oldest child, and while it did give mom and dad a few breaks by the pool, he got addicted to the swim vest. He knew he was safe in it because mom and dad acted more relaxed when he was wearing it. Before we knew it, he wouldn’t take off the swim vest even if we offered to hold him in the water. He finally broke the swim vest habit once we put him in the 8-day intensive private swim lessons, but looking back, I really wish I would have kept him out of it from the beginning. With that said, if you are a parent that just never wants to get in the water or can’t keep a close eye on your child, buy the floaties. It’s better to be safe above everything else. But, if you want your child to be a confident swimmer at a young age, don’t do floaties. Our youngest, who is 20 months old, has never worn floaties and she can swim about 14 feet across the pool by herself. She can swim out, turn around, and swim back to the edge. It’s amazing to me!

Those are my six tips to help encourage your child to learn to swim! I’d love to hear your tips on how you taught your child learned to swim, too! Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on my Instagram and TikTok!

My happy swimmers!

Best Products for Early Swimmers:

Mini Pools for Home:

If you don’t have a pool in your backyard and rarely have access to a big pool, it’s great to keep up exposure in a mini pool at home! Even if you do have a big pool in your backyard, our kids still love playing with their toys in a baby pool!

Mellow Yellow Kiddie Pool – A more aesthetically pleasing pool that adults may like to wade in, too.

Tropical Palm Splash Pool – Another more “adult” looking pool that you wouldn’t mind having in your backyard for a party.

Venezia Luxe Inflatable Pool – A luxury mini pool for your bougie baby.

Play Day Round Kiddie Pool – A cheapy but a goodie

Inflatable Ocean Scene Sun Shade Kids Swimming Pool – The canopy makes this a perfect first pool for your tiniest swimmers.

Swim Toys and Tools:

Chuchik Diving Toys: All the diving toys you need in a convenient mesh carrying bag.

Junior Kick Board – Our son fell in love with kick boards after a swim lesson and its been fun for him to practice his kicks.

Splash Swim Goggles – These goggles won’t get tangled in your child’s hair!

Kids Speedo Goggles – Trusted brand Speedo makes great kids goggles.

Swim Lessons Recommendations in Pasadena, Calif. and Surrounding Areas:

  • Rose Bowl Aquatics Center: The Rose Bowl Aquatic Center has long been recognized for its great swim lessons with experienced instructors. They have options for group, private, and semi-private lessons. If your child is under 3 years old, one parent has to be with the child in the water during lessons. The Rose Bowl Aquatic Center’s pool is outdoors, so I know it’s been a popular option for families in the summer or for people who don’t love indoor pools. I personally love that the Aquatics Center is right next to Brookside Park and Kidspace Children’s Museum. You can make a fun family day out of swim lessons by visiting Kidspace or hitting up the playground before or after the Aquatic Center. Learn more at https://www.rosebowlaquatics.org/.
  • Waterworks Aquatics Pasadena: Waterworks is dedicated to teaching children and adults the lifelong skills they need to feel comfortable and confident in the water. The pool is indoors and heated year-round, so its always comfortable for lessons. Waterworks has private lessons, semi-private lessons, and parent-and-me lessons. For kids 5 and older, Waterworks offers stroke clinics for kids to develop their technique. Learn more at https://www.waterworksswim.com/locations/pasadena
  • YMCA of the Foothills: You don’t have to be a member of the YMCA to take advantage of their phenomenal swim programs. The YMCA of the Foothills has three campuses, and two of them have indoor pools available for swim lessons: CCY (Crescenta-Canada) and VHY (Verdugo Hills). The YMCA offers parent-child lessons, group preschool lessons, youth lessons (ages 6-12), adult lessons, and private lessons. The group preschool lessons are especially attractive for parents who aren’t interested in getting in the water with their child. Learn more at https://www.ymcafoothills.org/aquatics.

What products have you loved for your little swimmer? Do you have any great recommendations on where to take swim lessons in the Pasadena or LA area? Let me know in the comments below, or connect with me on my Instagram and 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.

Easy July 4th Dessert: Red, White and Blue Fruit Skewers!

Cooking, Holidays, Kitchen, Lifestyle
Festive in Red, White and Blue!

The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday! It’s the best of summer all rolled into one day — family, friends, BBQ, parties, yummy treats, fun drinks, great music, and fireworks!

We’re hosting our first big Fourth of July party at our house this year, and it’s a party I’ve been dreaming of hosting ever since we bought this home almost five years ago! We finally finished our backyard remodel last fall, and I can’t wait for everyone to enjoy our pool and great view of fireworks from our balcony this year!

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I love cooking and hosting parties. But, when it comes to hosting a really big party, like we are this year for July 4th, I’m all about making dishes that are simple, quick, and festive! That’s why I look for easy recipes that can feed a crowd but look fun to eat, too!

Enter: Red, White and Blue Fruit Skewers!

Easy Red, White and Blue Fruit Skewers

Because beautiful red strawberries and sweet blueberries are in season, it’s easy to add patriotic color to your July 4th party table. I love these Red, White and Blue Fruit because they’re fun to make AND eat! Your kids will love helping you assemble them! Just make sure they’re old enough to handle a wooden skewer without poking themselves! I love the mini marshmallows in this recipe because they instantly upgrade your treat from a simple fruit skewer to a dessert!

Ingredients for Red, White and Blue Fruit Skewers: Strawberries, Blueberries, Mini Marshmallows and Wooden Skewers

Here’s how to make Red, White and Blue Fruit Skewers!

Red, White and Blue Fruit Skewers Recipe:

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Wash and dry strawberries and blueberries
  • Cut strawberries to match the size of blueberries and mini marshmallows
  • Thread berries and marshmallows onto skewer in red, white and blue pattern
  • Cover and store in fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy within 24 hours.
Red, White and Blue Fruit Skewers for the Fourth of July!

Other Ideas for July 4th Fruit Skewers:

  • Swap out mini marshmallows for bananas or angel food cake
  • Try other blackberries or raspberries instead of blueberries and strawberries
  • Use mini star shaped cookie cutters to make festive shapes out of the strawberries or angel food cake

Let me know if you try these skewers, and please share other fun July 4th dessert recipes with me! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and TikTok for more ideas!

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.

Kid-Friendly West Hollywood: The Best Dining, Hotels and Activities for Families in WeHo!

Lifestyle, Travel

I had so much fun speaking with Tracy Paaso and Felicia Terwilliger, hosts of the “We Know WeHo” podcast, about all things family related in West Hollywood! One of my biggest hopes in using this platform is to be a helpful resource to parents with young children. As a mommy with two little ones, I know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging it can be to make the transition from being young, fun and childless to a responsible new parent. I was one of the first of my friends to have kids and had no idea what to expect from parenthood, in addition to having no clue where to take my children in L.A.! Now, after a few years of experience, I’m here to help you find the best for families in Los Angeles – and, in this case, West Hollywood! Read on to learn more about my history with West Hollywood, and I’ll also recap all the kid-friendly restaurants, shops, hotels and activities that I mentioned in my interview on the “We Know WeHo” podcast! Read more about this podcast episode on Wehoville.com!

My West Hollywood Story

I absolutely love West Hollywood. During my 13+ years in Los Angeles (over 10 years living here and 3 years visiting), I have spent lots of time in West Hollywood. When I was single, it was a hotspot for nightlife, dining, and parties. My girlfriends and I used to love going to Skybar at Mondrian Hotel, The Belmont, Rock & Reilly’s, Pink Taco and the now closed Hyde Lounge, Pearl’s Rooftop, Bagatelle, and The Hudson. Once I started dating my now husband, we loved date nights at Laurel Hardware, Eveleigh, Katana Robata & Sushi Bar, Ysabel, and STK Steakhouse (which has now relocated to STK Westwood). Even after kids, date nights and group dinners with friends are always memorable in WeHo, especially at Catch, Cecconi’s, Gracias Madre, Toca Madera, and E.P. & L.P.

Before Kids! My 30th Birthday in West Hollywood at Toca Madera

West Hollywood is a fun destination for live entertainment. The music scene is legendary on the iconic Sunset Strip, and my husband I have spent lots of time there before and after kids watching live music and even playing live music — my husband used to play bass guitar in a local band! I’ve watched my husband play at The Viper Room and The Roxy, and we’ve seen some phenomenal shows at The Troubadour and Whisky A Go-Go. Our favorite date nights involve a comedy show, and there’s always top talent at Laugh Factory and the Comedy Store!

West Hollywood is a fabulous destination for working professionals, too, with its multiple co-working spaces and walking accessibility to so many great restaurants and shops! In 2017, I started my own PR business and bought-in at a co-working space called The Wing, which is the perfect place for working moms. The Wing is dedicated to inclusivity and lifting up women in the workforce, and the West Hollywood location was a great place for me to network with other working mommies and attend inspirational events hosted by top women in their respective industries. I once attended a screening and Q&A with Maggie Gyllenhaal that discussed her show “The Deuce” and focused on women in film and media’s portrayal of women. It was really cool! The Wing also has beautiful pump rooms for breastfeeding moms, and I’ve often seen strollers and children wandering around the space while moms work. I gave up my membership during the pandemic to create my own work-from-home space, but prior to the pandemic, The Wing offered “The Little Wing” which was a playroom and babysitting service. I’m not sure if they still have that now, but it was such an outstanding perk for moms – and kids!

Kid-Friendly West Hollywood

When most people think of West Hollywood, they imagine the very adult version of the city with its sexy dining, nightlife and music scenes, but I’m here to tell you that West Hollywood can be a very fun destination for kids, too! Below are the best restaurants, hotels, parks and activities that I mentioned in my “We Know WeHo” podcast interview with Tracy Paaso and Felicia Terwilliger. For all the juicy details on each business, you’ll have to take a listen to the podcast! Since Felicia is currently pregnant, we also discussed some of the best places for moms for prenatal and postpartum self-care! Check out the best WeHo businesses for families listed below, and take a listen to the podcast here! The podcast is also on Apple, Spotify and Google podcasts. My interview starts around the 35-minute mark.  

Enjoying the patio at Hugo’s while we wait for our food

Restaurants:

  • Hugo’s – Expansive menu for adults and great menu for kids! They provide crayons for coloring while you wait for your food! My kids like the macaroni and cheese and sitting on the patio!
  • Mel’s Drive-In – Fun classic diner! Kids food comes in car boxes!
  • Bottega Louie – Kids love the pastries!
  • Justin Quesos – Not necessarily designed for kids, but Tex-Mex is my favorite and kids live the queso and quesadillas! Go early for a more family-friendly atmosphere.
  • Shake Shack – Kids love the fries and frozen custard! Mommy and daddy love the burgers!
  • Carney’s – Iconic LA restaurant in a train car – so fun for kids!
  • Urth Caffe – We enjoy sitting on the patio. Or, you could get the food to go and make the 10 minute walk to Hollywood Park for a picnic!

Shops:

  • Eggy – Not technically in WeHo city limits, but serves many WeHo families with fashionable kids clothes and accessories.
  • Sunset Kids – High-end kids hop – great for gifts and novelty items!

Hotels:

  • Le Parc Suite Hotel – Recently renovated with colorful, artistic decor. All guest rooms are expansive suites with kitchenettes, fireplaces and sleeper sofas, so it is easy for families to make the hotel feel like home. Rooftop pool and rooftop tennis court are nice places for fun and recreation! While most WeHo hotels aren’t necessarily geared toward younger children, Le Parc Suite Hotel and it’s sister properties, Chamberlain and Montrose, are great for kids with their large suites, rooftop pools, access to house bikes and walkability to some of the best restaurants and shops in the U.S.!
  • Ziggy – Not exactly kid-friendly, but an awesome newly renovated property on the Sunset Strip to have a couples staycation without the kids! 

Classes:

  • BOUNCE LA –  An outdoor soft play gym and obstacle course led by fun coaches! Classes are not currently held at any WeHo parks, but they cater to a lot of West Hollywood families at their Coldwater Canyon location. The amazing coaches also host kids birthday parties in local families’ backyards and offer programs for schools!
  • PLAY Music & Art – A great selection of classes for your little artist or musician. This is another business that’s located on the edge of WeHo but serves many WeHo families. They also offer online classes, so you can utilize their classes anywhere!
  • West Hollywood Library Smarty Pants Class – Wonderful music and storytime class that helps prepare little ones for preschool and kindergarten.

Parks:

  • West Hollywood Park – Undergoing a massive renovation that includes a brand-new playground and aquatics center. This will be a fabulous place to take kids once its complete later this year!
  • Kings Road – Quiet, shaded park with a small play structure. Best suited for toddlers.
  • Plummer Park – Nice, small park for a picnic or to play tennis.
Playtime at Kings Road Park

Estheticians for Prenatal and Postpartum Self-Care:

  • SkinLab – Owner Joshua Ross saved my skin from pregnancy’s hormonal acne! He used to be based in WeHo when I was pregnant, but he’s now is located in West LA and South Bay.
  • Dermalogica – This flagship location recently opened in WeHo and has been a great place for postpartum skincare.

Family-Friendly Day Trips From WeHo:

  • Kidspace Museum – An amazing place for children to play and explore in Pasadena!
  • Exposition Park – The California Science Center is a great place for kids to explore and learn!
  • Griffith Park’s Travel Town – If your children love trains, they’ll get a huge kick out of this museum with several old locomotives to explore! There’s also a mini train ride!

Not Mentioned in the Podcast:

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art – Just outside WeHo city limits, LACMA’s Boone Children’s Gallery hosts drop-in painting classes where their friendly staff provides tips on brush techniques. They even provide high chairs for our littlest artists! They also offer teen classes and camps that you can sign up for on the website. Kids under 17 can join their youth membership called NexGenLA where they can visit the museum anytime for free with a guest for free admission. Even babies can join!
  • The Grove – One of LA’s most beautiful outdoor shopping destinations, The Grove caters to many West Hollywood families (and all families across the LA!). It’s such a fun place for little ones with its trolley and fountains. My favorite restaurants at The Grove with kids are Blue Ribbon Sushi, Umami Burger and The Cheesecake Factory. Everyone loves a special treat from Sprinkles Cupcakes! The Grove has one of my most favorite children’s stores, Janie & Jack, along with a Nordstrom and Gap that offer clothing for kids of all ages.
  • Yardbird Restaurant – Located on the edge of WeHo at The Beverly Center, this is a tasty restaurant with a great kids menu! They serve elevated American classics like fried chicken, shrimp & grits, St. Louis style ribs and grilled blackened salmon. I love their brunch here!

What did I miss? Tell me your favorite family-friendly West Hollywood spots in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram at @maggiehjackson!

Our Favorite Children’s Spring Outfits from Janie and Jack

fashion, Holidays, Lifestyle

I have so many fond memories of springtime and the Easter season growing up in Texas and Tennessee. My mother always did an outstanding job creating holiday traditions for our family, and this time of year was especially fun! My mother encouraged us to help decorate, as she made an elaborate Easter dining table display, filled our fireplace’s mantel with porcelain bunnies, eggs and other fine collectables, and hung Easter eggs from our front yard tree branches. We made Easter bonnets, painted Easter eggs, and joined in on community festivities, like egg hunts, egg rolling races, egg-and-spoon races, Easter Bunny visits and more.

One tradition that I particularly loved was the importance of picking out our Easter clothes. If my mother didn’t hand-make our clothes (she once sewed the most darling pink smocked dress for me), we went to the department stores to select what would be the finest clothes in our closet to wear on Easter Sunday and throughout the remaining warmer months until we outgrew them. I remember how special it was to pick out a fancy dress with my mother, and I couldn’t wait to debut my new “big girl” dress on Easter Sunday. We’d celebrate the holiday with family, attend church and dine with a large Easter brunch afterward. Of course, there were Easter baskets, treats and egg hunts to make the day especially fun for young kids.

My babies in their Janie and Jack spring outfits | Photo credit: @hye.img

What I love about this “Easter clothes tradition” is that it taught me the importance of dressing up and how to wear and care for special, formal clothing. Growing up, we believed that how you dress shows respect for others around you, in addition to being a reflection of how you feel about yourself. We did not grow up rich – we were very much a middle class family – but my parents knew the value in looking nice, dressing for the occasion, and caring for the way we presented ourselves. My parents ALWAYS look nice: My mother has been known for wearing heels on her grocery store runs, and my father almost always dons a suit and tie to church. Back when I was growing up, our Easter clothes may have only cost a few dollars at JCPenny, but we treated them like gold cloaks. This approach to appearance and clothing may be an unpopular opinion these days, but I firmly believe this attitude has been an important factor in any of my business and life success. It’s always been important to our family to show up appropriately for the occasion and feel our best in our clothes, so I love passing down this Easter clothes tradition to my children.

This year, when it came to picking out our Easter clothes, I took my 3- and 1-year-old children to Janie and Jack, because their classic styles and high-quality materials remind me of the beautiful clothes I wore on Easter Sunday growing up. This was the first time I’ve taken both children to a store to actually try on clothes in a dressing room, and we had tons of fun! I let both kids pick out three outfits each to try on in the dressing room, and they loved standing on the stool in front of the mirror to see how beautiful the clothes made them look and feel. The best part of the day was when my 3-year-old son tried on his spring-colored seersucker button-down shirt, looked in the mirror, gave a big smile and said, “I look handsome.” Be still my heart!

We left Janie and Jack with two outfits for each child, but I really wish I could have purchased the whole store! Below are our favorite pieces, which could be perfect for Easter Sunday, spring school recitals, spring weddings, a nice dinner on Spring Break vacation, or a dressy brunch!

Janie and Jack Spring Favorites for Girls:

I’m obsessed with Janie and Jack‘s color palette of pale pink, mint, and baby blue for little girls spring clothes! The bubble sleeves and smocked dresses are to die for! The shoes have so much beautiful detailing! Complete your little lady’s outfit with a quilted purse, beautiful sun hat, or pink floral barrettes! Every little girl should also have a classic white cardigan in her closet for those chilly spring mornings. Links to all the products are below!

Janie and Jack Spring Favorites for Little Girls

Top Row, Left to Right:

Bottom Row, Left to Right:

Janie and Jack Spring Favorites for Boys:

Classics never die, and that’s why I absolutely love Janie and Jack‘s styles for little boys. I was giddy picking out the blue oxford shorts, seersucker shirt and boat shoes for my little man. Plus, so many of these styles coordinate with the little girls’ outfits for a picture-perfect sibling ensemble! The sweater is so sweet if you live in a place where the winter chill can linger into spring, and your little guy will love accessorizing with these wayfarer style sunglasses! Links to all the products are below.

Janie and Jack Spring Favorites for Little Boys

Top Row, Left to Right:

Bottom Row, Left to Right:

What does your family do to celebrate spring and Easter? I’d love to hear about your family’s traditions in the comments below! Connect with me on Instagram and TikTok for more on modern motherhood, fashion, recipes and lifestyle!

Our spring family portrait | Photo credit: @hye.img

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.

How To Make A Holiday Treat Board

Cooking, Holidays, Kitchen, Lifestyle

I love hosting a good themed party, so a holiday themed treat board is right up my alley! I’ve recently created two treat boards for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, and I’m having so much fun that I can’t wait to make more for future holidays, birthdays and other celebrations! The best part? They’re SO EASY! Much easier than intricate charcuterie boards!

St. Patrick’s Day Charcu-TREAT Board!

To Love or Hate Charcuterie Boards? Beautiful charcuterie boards have been trending for a couple years now, and as someone who loves entertaining, I couldn’t help but jump on the charcuterie board bandwagon! Who can resist a decadent board of fine cheeses, quality meats, and all the yummiest snack pairings and accompaniments?! Plus, these boards are gorgeous to admire and make for the perfect photo-worthy party centerpiece!

I’ve loved putting together charcuterie boards for gatherings, but during our last family-friendly party at our house, I realized that the process can often be more time consuming than I’d like. Slicing the cheeses, arranging the board, thoughtfully considering the correct salty-to-savory-to-sweet pairings… I was getting a little bogged down by the process. Plus, if you choose high-quality meats and cheeses, a charcuterie board, which is often viewed as an appetizer, can cost as much as cooking a group dinner! During our party, guests hovered around the charcuterie board (score!), took photos of it, and snagged bites in between socializing and chasing their kiddos in and out of our backyard. At the end of the party, I noticed that no one hardly touched the honeycomb, dried fruit or olives, and what was left of the cheeses and meats had been sitting out for hours and not worth saving. Only a few of the children ate some cheese and crackers, but most of them didn’t have a palette for bold Roquefort yet. My charcuterie board was beautiful for the adults… but was it worth it?

Enter the charcu-TREAT board!! For St. Patrick’s Day this year, I decided to try something a little different… A dessert board! And, boy, did I have fun getting creative with this one! I went to my favorite spots for holiday treats – See’s Candies and Target – and pulled together a fruit and dessert board reminiscent of a rainbow and gold. Like a traditional charcuterie board, it was the center of the party, but this time it got eaten!! It cost me half the price of what it would to put together a fancy cheese board and was more festive for St. Paddy’s Day than charcuterie! Now, treat boards are a trend I can stand FIRMLY behind!

Easter Treat Board

Tips for Putting Together a Charcu-TREAT Board:

  1. Choose a large board – You can use a classic cheese board in a rectangle or round shape, or choose a tray to keep the treats from rolling off your board. Holiday themed serving platters, like this Easter platter, makes the treat board extra fun and festive!
  2. Pick a color scheme – This is easy for holidays, like St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween and Christmas. For other celebrations, have the treat board match your party decor colors. For example, if you’re hosting a Spiderman themed kids birthday, look for red, blue and black candies and sweet snacks.
  3. Incorporate party decor – To add some festive flair and help fill space on your board, incorporate leftover decor that you’re already using for the party. For example, I used Easter grass on my Easter board. You also could add a porcelain bunny!
  4. Choose a variety of candies, chocolate and sweet snacks – Candies could include jelly beans, sour straws, gummy bears; Chocolate could include M&Ms, wrapped chocolates, chocolate covered almonds; Sweet snacks can include fruit, cookies, rice crispy treats, or chocolate dipped pretzels, cookies.
  5. Have one or two homemade items – One of the benefits of a treat board is little to no prep work, but to make the boards special, I like to add one or two homemade items, like chocolate dipped rice crispy treats or cookies in cutout shapes that fit the theme of the party.
  6. Utilize small bowls – Make the board interesting by incorporating two or three bowls filled with candy. This also is a good way to corral smaller candies into one place.

Steps to Put Together a Treat Board:

  1. Gather a board and 2-3 small bowls, along with sweets, treats and decor you wish to use for your board.Ideas for boards, candy, chocolate and sweet snacks are listed at the bottom of this post!
  2. Place the small bowls and whatever else you want to be the centerpiece on your board. For example, on the Easter board, I put the small bowls and the chocolate Easter bunny on the board first. For the St. Patrick’s Day board, I made the fruit rainbow first.
  3. Add larger items, like cookies, brownies, rice crispy treats, etc. Arrange them in fun ways to add visual interest, like rows, fanned, or a pattern. These larger items are also great for creating barriers for the smaller items to stay in place on the board.
  4. Fill in the rest of the board with smaller treats, like jelly beans, marshmallows and M&Ms, and pay attention to color distribution.
  5. Add small spoons to bowls and offer small plates or cups next to the board for guests to take their favorite treats with them!

Voila! Kids and adults alike will go nuts over a fun themed treat board!

Board Ideas:

  1. West Elm Mixed Marble & Wood Preston Cheese Boards – Feel fancy with marble!

2. Williams Sonoma Boska Oak Rectangular Cheese Board Medium – A classic, gorgeous oak board!

3. Pottery Barn Connor Ash Wood Tray – I like to use trays with edges to keep all the treats in one place. This makes the board easier to move, if needed, without candies rolling off the sides.

4. Texas Shaped Catskill Craftsmen, Inc. Wood Cutting Board – A board in the shape of your state could be great for any gathering!

5. Threshold Wood Bunny Serving Board – How fun would this be for a special Easter treat board!

Board Accessories Ideas:

  1. West Elm Minimal White Ramekins – I love these ramekins to add a modern look to the treat board.

2. Pottery Barn Hammered Nut Bowl – A gorgeous bowl for smaller treats!

3. Libbey Small Glass Bowls with Lids – Corral smaller treats into these easy, inexpensive bowls!

4. CB2 Gold Cocktail Spoons – Gorgeous gold spoons really elevate the board. Use these for guests to scoop up little treats, like M&M’s and marshmallows.

5. Stainless Steel Mini Spoons – Add some drama with black stainless steel!

Homemade Treat Ideas:

Store Bought Treat Ideas:

I’d love to hear your ideas for future treat boards! Share your favorite treat board goodies or theme ideas in the comments below! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and TikTok for more fun family-friendly ideas!

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.

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.

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.