Primal Vegan All Natural Loaded Dark Chocolate Bark Recipe

Primal Chocolate Bark-2 It turns out that one of my favorite parts of trying a new diet is figuring out all of the ways I can sort of cheat without really cheating. It tests my creativity and keeps me thinking outside the box how I can load the most flavor and satisfaction onto the darkest, thinnest layer of all natural chocolate, and have it come together quickly enough to enjoy while I watch the next episode of Stranger Things on Netflix in twenty minutes. Primal Chocolate Bark-4 This primal, vegan, all natural, organic, free-range, grass fed, raw, loaded dark chocolate bark was my solution. I mashed up a few different recipes for vegan dark chocolate then added almond butter and freshly ground sea salt to the mix, then topped it off with handfuls of nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and coconut. When the whole thing is layered onto half a cookie sheet and set in the freezer for a few minutes, it comes out hard but with the most whispy, wonderful layer of super dark chocolate suspending the crowd of raw toppings.

I mean, another night when I’m off the Primal thing I may be eating an Oreo, but this loaded dark chocolate bark is so much better. Not low fat, mind you, but low in processed sugar, in fiber and protein, and high in deliciousness.
Primal Chocolate Bark-3 Primal Chocolate Bark-7 Primal Chocolate Bark-1 Primal Vegan Dark Chocolate Bark

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup natural almond butter

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp ground sea salt

nuts, dried fruit, pepitas, unsweetened coconut to top

Prepare a cookie sheet by  folding a piece of foil into a barrier to half the sheet, then lining it with a piece of waxed paper covering at least an inch up each side. Place all ingredients together in a bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Mix well until chocolate is thin and smooth. It will be liquid like water. Pour the chocolate mixture onto the waxed paper and told the pan to cover the whole rectangle. Top with nuts, dried fruit, coconut, seeds, to your liking. Place pan in freezer for 15-20 minutes until loaded chocolate bark has hardened. Break into pieces and enjoy. Store in freezer until ready to eat.  Primal Chocolate Bark-5 As a warning, this stuff is quite addicting, and you might not be able to stop once you make batch and find out how delicious and simple it is. I’m on my third pan in three days. (And I wonder why these diets don’t work for me. Haha!)

More than losing weight, I love the challenge to reset my habits and try to eat a little healthier, and more creatively.

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3 Tips for Better Driving

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nationwide. I purchased my own insurance at normal prices. All opinions are 100% mine.

Nationwide provided me with information regarding its SmartRide program.

Road Trips with Kids- One Little Minute Blog-51-2

I’m a good driver. But it wasn’t always that way. On my sixteenth birthday I failed my driving test because I backed into a cone while parallel parking. I was in my first accident just weeks after passing my test and actually receiving my license. It was raining hard and I hydroplaned into the car ahead of me, stopped at a red light. My driving history went about like that for many years after. Several tickets, minor fender benders, and defensive driving courses later, I went abroad and my driving record slowly cleared as the months passed by.

When Dave and I were married, I remember my dad joking about being even more excited to get me off of his car insurance policy than my marriage! Needless to say, I went into getting my own coverage with some trepidation. Dave added me to his existing Nationwide plan, which was the lowest rate he had found (plus we got our multi-driver discount when I signed on) and we’ve been customers ever since.

Luckily, my driving has improved radically since my younger years. In fact, I haven’t had a moving violation since I returned to the states over ten years ago. In a lot of ways, my driving improvements are due to being more mature and less reckless. I think becoming a mom has also changed my ideas about driving. I care more about safety than speed, and since I’m always late everywhere anyway (dang kids’ shoes!) a few extra minutes don’t hurt.
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I’ve learned a lot about driving carefully, and want to share my top 3 tips for better driving, whether you’re young or old:

  1. Put Down Your Phone: This should go without saying, but as I look around it seems like most drivers have their phone in their hands at some point during a trip, whether to look at directions on a map or to answer that urgent text. I have a habit on road trips of pulling over to take pictures of pretty scenery, and think that taking the time to pause, and practicing pulling over to look at our phones when absolutely necessary is a good idea.  Staying focused on driving gives us the advantage of being aware of unexpected changes on the roads, and shows our kids a good example of paying attention to the task at hand.
  2. Drive During Daylight: There are so many reasons daytime driving is safer than nighttime driving, most obvious being that you can see! Along with becoming more cautious with age and motherhood, I’ve also started to be aware that my sight is strained when it gets dark. If it happens to also be raining or wet out, the headlight reflections add another dangerous dimension. Not only can you see better with sunlight, but your body naturally is more awake and alert. Also, other drivers are more likely to be sober and safe when the night is young.
  3. Plan Ahead: A few extra minutes ahead of the trip to leave on time, so you’re not in a hurry on the road, can make a huge difference. I learned in one of my many defensive driving courses that when you’re traveling for around 30 miles, speeding up from 65 to 75 saves you less than 4 minutes! And ironically the faster you go, the less the speeding helps. In addition to obeying the speed limit, planning ahead on the road means changing lanes in advance of our immediate need to turn, slowing down when we spot that yellow light ahead, and looking at the map ahead of time to have an idea where we’re headed before we leave.

These simple tips can make a huge impact on our driving habits, and allow us to remain safely in control in the driver’s seat. In addition to being safe and happy, with the Nationwide SmartRide program, my good driving can also save us money! If you sign up for SmartRide, whether as an existing or new customer of Nationwide, a little device comes in the mail that will easily plug into your car and monitor four habits: miles traveled, minutes driven during nighttime, hard braking and fast acceleration. You can then monitor your own driving habits in these categories for a few months, with potential to earn a final discount based on your driving habits. When I called to enroll for SmartRide and get the device, the agent told me we would start enjoying a 10% discount just for signing up! The program can’t hurt your rates, as a result of participating in the program, and the final discount could be between 0%-40%, depending on my driving trends.

I can’t wait to try it out and see how we do! I signed Dave up for the program as well, and since he basically commutes to work, parks all day, then commutes home I’m guessing his discount will be great. I’m happy to save a little money wherever we can, and I can’t wait to get my SmartRide devices in the mail and get started!

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Nationwide asked that I include this information about the product:

Products underwritten by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Affiliates. Columbus, Ohio. Availability varies. Discounts do not apply to all coverage elements; actual savings vary by state, coverage selections, rating factors and policy changes. Enrollment discount applies during data collection; final discount is calculated on driving behavior and could be zero.  Final discount applies at the next policy renewal and remains until drivers or vehicles on the policy change.

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Globe Candy Jar

Globe Candy Jar - Miranda Anderson for World Market-3 School started this week and my boys are both settling in with their new classes and new teachers. I have such love and respect for the hard important work teachers do, it is fun to come up with neat ways to share my appreciation with a teacher gift, like this globe-topped candy jar. The globe is darling alone, but gets even better when it’s set atop a darling vintage-inspired candy jar filled with treats.
Globe Candy Jar - Miranda Anderson for World Market-2 I shared the full DIY over on the World Market Discover Blog, where I’ve loved contributing each month. Whether in the classroom, or on a desk at home, this candy jar will be a sweet reminder of how teachers open up the world for their students. Attach a sweet ” I can’t wait to explore with you this year” note, and you’re starting the year off just right. (Even if you forget to bring the teacher gift the first day of school and give one in the first couple weeks instead.)

I also talked to my mom this week who was excited about making one for my youngest sister who began college this week. A globe candy jar filled with study treats is such a fun idea for a student gift as well!
Globe Candy Jar - Miranda Anderson for World Market-5 (This was one of three fun Back to School crafts I shared this week on FOX 7 Good Day Austin this week, check out the clip HERE.)

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Garage Organization

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GarageCleanUp  #CollectiveBias

The kids went back to school this morning, it’s raining out, and I feel like the fall might actually be on the way. It’s time to pack up some of our favorite summer gear until next summer. With the goodbye to summer also comes some beautiful crisp autumn bike rides and weekend campouts. This transition of seasons and activities is a perfect time to get organized in the gear headquarters of the home: the garage.  Garage Organization 101 - One Little Minute Blog-12 Garage Organization 101 - One Little Minute Blog-5 I’m really excited to share some practical garage organization tips today. Mostly because getting ready for this post was the perfect excuse to clean up and organize our own garage that was a complete disaster area.  

The garage is such a bustling place, entry and exit point, as well as storage, wood shop, tool chest, and many other things, least of all might be a place to actually park and protect the cars! The garage is my entry point of our house all day long as I run kids to and from school and go on errands in the car, and I wanted it to feel clean, nice, and intentional.

Guess what? That has been nearly impossible before now (“before” photos just ahead, be prepared!) I had great aspirations to keep everything organized, but what we really lacked was the tools and accessories that would make a lasting organization system possible. I jumped at the chance to partner with Rubbermaid® FastTrack® Garage Organization System to create a useful and practical garage system for our active young family and share a couple tips for creating a garage activity station to make sure you send more time playing and less time searching for things.  Garage Organization 101 - One Little Minute Blog-3 Garage Organization 101 - One Little Minute Blog-9 After a long day of sorting, throwing away, organizing, separating, and installing, hanging, and blowing off the floor I can actually see what we own and grab at a glance. The kids have easy access to their toys and wheels, the lake and beach toys have a specific area for loading in and our of the car, and yard tools are right where we need them (in case we ever decide to actually do some yard work…)

It looks pretty amazing now, but get ready. Here are the before shots: Read More »

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Playroom to Kid’s Studio Transformation

School starts next week and we’ve been getting prepared with everything from new backpacks to early bedtimes in anticipation of the year ahead. With both boys headed to full-day elementary this year and Plum in preschool, I feel like our family is headed into a new transition. Along with the kids growing up, I decided it was time to transform the playroom into a more useful and creative space for all of them to spend time together. The result is what we’re calling the Kid’s Studio– a space for homework alongside crafting, dress-ups in one corner and dinosaurs in another, and all of us intentionally spending meaningful time together.   Kid's Studio - One Little Minute Blog-7 Kid's Studio - One Little Minute Blog-27 Kid's Studio - One Little Minute Blog-9 In my recent home tour post, I shared my feelings about how homes should be useful and purposeful. That means transformation as the needs of each family changes. The Kid’s Studio is a great example of that principle working in our home.

When we moved into this house, we created a dedicated playroom in what was the office on the plans. But even as we were building, we talked about how in several years the kids would grow out of a playroom, and we could change the space into a homework area, then even a little older add a couch and tv for a teenage hangout spot. With this in mind we wired the wall for a tv, and covered the opening with our map for now. 
Kid's Studio - One Little Minute Blog-10 Kid's Studio - One Little Minute Blog-12 For a couple years Milo has been doing homework all over the kitchen table, counter, and couch, being distracted by the tv, dinner preparation, and siblings running in and out the back door. I loved the idea of having somewhere specific to work on school projects. Setting aside a specific place for school work also decreases the chance we’ll forget about or lose something (which unfortunately isn’t uncommon!)

I came across these gorgeous desks at At Home when I was browsing for ideas for this month’s inspiration post. I was instantly in love with the modern design, clean lines, small size, and two-tone white and wood. After measuring my wall, I knew that I could put two together along this wall beneath the map, and they’d fit beautifully.
Kid's Studio - One Little Minute Blog-13 Kid's Studio - One Little Minute Blog-19 Wanting the boys to feel involved and invested in the process, I brought them along to choose chairs for the desks themselves. I gave them a couple choices and told them they had to agree so that they matched. After some serious in-store sit-testing they concluded the Clear Eiffel Chairs were just right.

After we brought them home I realized how incredible they looked! The chairs disappear leaving the beautiful desk design visible, and because they don’t take up any visual space, the room feels far less crowded than it might with solid chairs. Nice choice boys! Kid's Studio - One Little Minute Blog-21 Kid's Studio - One Little Minute Blog-28 Another fun discovery when I was putting the desks together at home was that they have usb ports included on the surface! Smart desks! With the included power cord attaching the bottom of the desktop to the outlet, a small flap opens on the top to reveal an on-off switch and four usb ports. There was even a multi-use usb charger included with an old and new apple charger and mini usb ends.The boys wasted no time hunting down the iPad and plugging it into it’s new home.

I am a huge fan of technology for teaching, and this setup makes me so excited to do some good research on some more effective learning apps and include them as part of the kid’s study and play time. (I had also lost a cable to charge my favorite mini bluetooth speaker and was finally able to charge it again with the mini usb! Ha! Such a win.) Kid's Studio - One Little Minute Blog-6 I adore well-designed desktop organization, and I expanded  these simple, modern pencil holders I created last year into a full school supply organizer.

I asked Milo what he wanted his to hold and he told me definitively it was to hold five pencils, scissors, a glue stick, and the 15 crayons he had picked out–one of every color. How could I resist such a darling custom order? I used the same method to make the crayon organizer for the craft table, and will whip a supply organizer up for Eliot too as soon as I get his specifics! Check out the full DIY at the end of the post!  Kid's Studio - One Little Minute Blog-26 Kid's Studio - One Little Minute Blog-14 Kid's Studio - One Little Minute Blog-30 Of course, Plum couldn’t be left out of the playroom updates. When we were at At Home picking up the desks and chairs she saw this kid’s size table and chair set and told me “It’s mine! It’s for me!” Read More »

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The Anderson Abode

When we moved to Texas, chose a big corner lot and built our first house, I had no idea how entirely in love with it I would fall. The process of turning it from walls and floors into a cozy, family-friendly home filled with love and inspiration has been a joy. Sometimes a really slow adventure, but always fulfilling. I adore collecting things, finding the just-right place for them, then smiling every time I catch them in the corner of my eye. Creating a home is a really beautiful experience.
Anderson Abode - One Little Minute Blog-35 Anderson Abode - One Little Minute Blog-5 I was flattered and excited when I was invited by Glitter Guide to share my home, along with some thoughts, on their site and with their readers. I quickly made mental note of a couple unfinished projects that I’d need to nail down before the photoshoot (basically the entire patio room that had sat empty as I worked slowly on skim-coating the walls for four months.) I also was excited to be able to capture a new phase of our home’s becoming–a little further along the process than this home tour I did for Design Mom last year.

Funny thing, looking back through those photos I did then, I remember feeling like things looked pretty finished, but this updated tour made me even more aware of the journey a home goes through on its way. I might venture to say that it never actually arrives at finished if you’re going about it correctly, because as the kids grow and change, and the family dynamic ebbs and flows, the way different spaces need to be used will also change. Putting together a home is probably a lifelong process of learning and adjusting and doing that some more.  Anderson Abode - One Little Minute Blog-1 Anderson Abode - One Little Minute Blog-8 Anderson Abode - One Little Minute Blog-2 One bit of advice, if I am to offer any specifically related to home decorating, is to choose things that you really love. Things you love that might be different from what seems on-trend, popular, or beloved by anyone else. That may take some initial work of figuring out what it is that you do love, but it will be worth it. What are you drawn to regularly, what feels like home when you see it in the store, or on pinterest?

Also, decide what the purpose of a room will be as you begin decorating. If it’s a room to relax and watch tv, you’ll need comfortable lounge furniture. If it’s a bedroom that will also serve as a study area, make sure there is room for a bed and desk. When you want your sewing room to double as a guest room, like we do, you might choose a fold-out sectional as the couch and make sure the desks and chairs are easily cleared off for company. Anderson Abode - One Little Minute Blog-3 Anderson Abode - One Little Minute Blog-4 Anderson Abode - One Little Minute Blog-6 Anderson Abode - One Little Minute Blog-7 Another piece of decorating advice I might offer is to start with the overall vision, but work through it in pieces.

I love collecting thing for my home in odd places, on vacation, at the thrift store, and browsing craigslist. It is so helpful if I have already decided on an overall plan for a space, because I will recognize the pieces I need when I see them!

The leather chesterfield in our living room was perhaps my greatest craigslist find of all time, and it came after having decided months before I wanted a brown leather chesterfield in that room. Every time I hopped on to search I knew exactly what I was looking for and when it popped up I wasted no time claiming it, then borrowing a truck and racing downtown to collect it.
Anderson Abode - One Little Minute Blog-32 Anderson Abode - One Little Minute Blog-22 Anderson Abode - One Little Minute Blog-9

In some of my recent redecorating projects, like the indoor patio room and my master bedroom, the companies I was working with required an overall vision board of what the finished looks would be. That forced me to think about the whole picture as I chose which pieces I already owned would work and what items, colors, and feeling I was looking to add. It was immensely helpful. When I designed the boy’s outdoor inspired bedroom, I already had a pinterest board dedicated to it, so I could choose things that fit right in.

Because I never expected to put together a home or even a room in one shopping trip, having a general master plan for each area helps a lot to make the collecting feel purposeful and meaningful.  Read More »

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DIY Green Dresser Refinish

Hunter Green Dresser Redo-4 Earlier this week I shared some tips for choosing the right paint, and shared the process of picking out the perfect green for Plum’s dresser. Today I am continuing the partnership with Sherwin-Williams to complete the story by sharing the DIY with a couple tricks for a great paint refinish. This project turned out just as planned, adding some depth to the design in the room, and tying in the green in the framed scarf behind the crib. Let’s take a closer look. Hunter Green Dresser Redo-2 Plum's Nursery-One Little Minute Blog-107 This dresser was given to us by my mom when we were first married. We didn’t have very much money or space, and our parents were generous to pass along things the were no longer using. I think my mom had found it at a thrift store herself, and at one point had re-stained the wood and changed the hardware to these cool hammered brass pulls. I loved the shape, size, and even the color of the warm wood, but when I was considering what projects might be fun for Plum’s room, I could immediately picture this dresser painted a solid, satin green.
Plum's Nursery-One Little Minute Blog-11 Plum's Nursery-One Little Minute Blog-3 This beautiful framed scarf hangs opposite the dresser, and is reflected in the mirror every time I stand grabbing clothing or socks from the drawers. It was really fun to choose hue of green directly from the scarf, using the ColorSnap app, and have the greens now mirror each other so perfectly. Sometime soon this crib will be replaced by a big girl bed, and I’ll paint the walls pale pink. It will be fun to see how the dresser and art still play off of each other in the room as it evolves.

Painting the dresser was a simple project, and was made even easier by using a couple simple tricks. Here they are: Read More »

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Five Tips for Choosing Paint

I’ve never been one to shy away from a painting project. Starting in our first apartment, a 500 square foot basement, I have painted at least some part of every space we’ve lived. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate the art of choosing the right paint colors for a room, the perfect sheen for a bookshelf, and which method (roller, brush, sprayer) will be the most effective for the project at hand. These last couple years since moving to Texas, I’ve also gained a huge appreciation for my one-stop-paint shop, the local Sherwin-Williams store. Sherwin-Williams-Dresser-Redo-11 I was originally introduced to Sherwin-Williams at Alt Summit back in 2013, around the same time we moved and started building our own house. When I walked into our local store I was immediately struck by the huge variety of options within the same brand! From concrete and deck stain, to antimicrobial interior paint, there was just the right product for every project. Not to mention all of the accessories, brushes, rollers, ladders, and everything else you may need for your painting project all in one place.

My favorite thing, and one that really set the experience apart from any I had before was the personal attention and advice that the employees gave. I explained my project, and was given specific recommendations about which paint type (there are a lot!) and which sheen would have all the properties I was looking for.  Sherwin Williams Dresser Redo-7 Sherwin Williams Dresser Redo-14 Today I’m partnering with Sherwin-Williams to share five tips for choosing the right paint as I get set up for my next painting project: refinishing a dresser for Plum’s room.

1. Consider The Colors You Love: the colors you wear, pin, and are naturally drawn to give good indication of what you love. If you don’t have a few that immediately come to mind, I recommend heading to Pinterest and creating a color love board. Pin away colors that inspire you. Then when you’re looking for the perfect color for a project, you’ll have a place to start. (Using the Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap app you will be able to to select photos you’ve pinned and pull them into the app for instant color matching. So cool!)

2. Decide on a Feeling: colors naturally elicit emotions, and there are some standard guidelines you can follow to determine what those are. In our first apartment we used orange for the tiny living room because we wanted it to be a lively space for great conversation, and it was! Now I lean more towards having my house be filled with calming colors because my kids have enough energy the walls don’t need it too!

3. See the Big Picture: designing as you go can be a fun process, and is usually how I create my rooms and spaces. There is some benefit to starting with an overall idea of the finished space, however, so that as you collect furniture, art, linens, and colors for each room you stay on track. Choose a theme that involves the purpose of the space, feelings you want to have there, and what you already have that you love, and then build from there. For example, I created this inspiration board when designing our patio room, and even though not everything is exactly the same as the vision board, the space feels just as I hoped.

4. Determine Scale and Impact: Do you want the item you’re painting to be the focal point of the room, or set the stage as a background? Are you painting four big walls, or one small chair? Scale definitely matters when it comes to painting, especially if you’re going bold. A side table in red will make an impact as an accent, where a wall in red will make an impact as the focus. In my boy’s room, the dark blue ceiling sets the outdoor theme, while also dropping the ceiling and making the room more cozy. Consider the impact you want to make, and choose color accordingly.

5. Paint for Practical Use: If you’re doing all the work to paint, make sure you choose the right sheen and quality for the job at hand. I didn’t realize how technological paint has become, and how truly specific it can be! When I painted the boys’ room I discovered that Sherwin-Williams Harmony paint had a zero VOC formula and would actually reduce the odors in the room over time! What? It was perfect for my little boys space (because boys are stinky!) In choosing paint for the patio room I learned of the new Sherwin-Williams Emerald Flat paint that is actually washable and durable unlike traditional flat paint! And when I got ready to paint the outdoor reading nook, I was directed to the Resilience exterior paint that resists moisture and repels dirt. Perfect for an outdoor project. Choosing the not only the right color, but the right type of paint for each project ensures it will last the test of time.

Sherwin Williams Dresser Redo-10

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Outdoor Reading Nook

Outdoor Reading Nook - One Little Minute Blog-3 Outdoor Reading Nook - One Little Minute Blog-1 As the summer winds down, it’s the perfect time to jump ready for back to school days with an outdoor reading nook. I dreamed up this space after being inspired a couple years ago by my friend Merilee. The weather in Texas lends itself to year-round outdoor enjoyment, and I thought it would be so fun for the kids to have a space just for them, dedicated to reading and play.  Outdoor Reading Nook - One Little Minute Blog-4 Outdoor Reading Nook - One Little Minute Blog-2 Outdoor Reading Nook - One Little Minute Blog-16 Outdoor Reading Nook - One Little Minute Blog-8 It only took a couple days (with several runs to the hardware store!) to pull together this simple frame. Then piled with cushions, pillows, rugs and of course baskets of books, it became the most wonderful, cozy spot to hang out.

I remember Milo’s teacher saying that kids usually lost two or three reading levels over the summer because they don’t keep up the habit. If I’m really honest, we haven’t been as good as I had hoped at keeping him reading out loud to us each night as we were during the school year, so I’m excited to get back on track and snuggle into some books with him and Eliot these next couple weeks before the summer is officially over.

Here are some if our favorites we’ve been enjoying:

I Want My Hat Back

The Seven Silly Eaters

Robo-Sauce

Dragons Love Tacos

 Blueberries For Sal

What are yours? Outdoor Reading Nook - One Little Minute Blog-9 Outdoor Reading Nook - One Little Minute Blog-10 Outdoor Reading Nook - One Little Minute Blog-12 Not only have my kids loved reading out there, but it’s been their own fun play space as well! We have a huge yard, but haven’t yet pulled it together to put up a play set or tree house, so this reading nook is serving double duty as a play house as well. It’s so cozy and comfy that I want to crawl in and hang out too! My book club joked that it can be the venue for our next meeting. 
Outdoor Reading Nook - One Little Minute Blog-17 Find the full instructions for building the outdoor reading nook are over on the World Market Explorer blog, where you’ll also find all sorts of inspiration for your home, yard, and meals. It has been really fun to share some creative ideas over there these last few months, and I have some more great ones coming up, too. Enjoy!

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Grocery Delivery and Simple Meal Planning

Monday morning I sat in my pajamas with my three-year-old on my lap and ordered our groceries online. Then we packed up and went to the pool where we swam, chatted, and played with friends for a few hours. Just after we arrived home our Shipt shopper knocked on the door and delivered the groceries onto my kitchen counter. In a total of four hours I was completely convinced that grocery delivery will be a game-changer in our life. Grocery Delivery and Making Live Easier-3 I actually love grocery shopping– when I can do it by myself. But solo errands don’t happen often these days with three little kids in the mix. If I have time alone I want to be using it for either working or doing something personally enriching–not running errands.  My time and energy are both precious resources, and when I have an opportunity to easily preserve one or both, I will.

Shipt grocery delivery is just one of those opportunities. The membership-based service sends personal shoppers into the store with the list of groceries selected either on the app or on the website on a computer, which was I did. They have contracted in the Austin area with H-E-B, which is a huge favorite store and added essentially the entire inventory onto the sites for shopping. (Find out if they are nearby where you live here.) I was able to order my full list of regular groceries, adding special requests for the items I knew I wanted but couldn’t find online (like the fresh bakery flour tortillas) and the shopper texted me to let me know he had found them.

The membership fee is $99 annually and includes free doorstep delivery on every order over $35. (New members in Austin also receive $25 credit for signing up before the end of the day today! So jump!) I’m a budget-friendly mama, and I break this down to less than $2/week for the delivery of my groceries to my front door. I mean. It’s a total no-brainer. Not to mention that I would make up that $2 +more by being physically in the store and impulse buying Oreos and new colors of nail polish on my way out.

The Shipt shopper won’t stray from the list like you might. In fact, as a nice feature, they contact you if something specific on your list isn’t available. For example, I ordered Fresh Texas Peaches, but there weren’t any in the store, so my shopper texted and asked if California Peaches would be an okay substitute. He picked some great ones, by the way.

By the time I finished unpacking and putting away my bags of groceries, I was giddy. I had been able to get everything I needed while staying on budget, and spending more time with my family. Win-win.
Grocery Delivery and Making Live Easier-6 If you’ve been reading this blog for over a year, you know that I adopted a minimal meal plan last spring.   That post resonated with so many people because meal planning, from the menu ideas to the shopping to the cooking and cleaning up is all a stressful, somewhat draining part of adulthood and especially motherhood.

My simple meal plan includes just seven favorite meals assigned to the days of the week and repeated over and over again. In the post I address some of the obstacles and concerns one might have when considering a minimal meal plan, but let me assure you it works! We’ve now been maintaining our baseline meal plan for over a year and everyone is healthy, happy, and feeling great about dinnertime. (Bedtime is another story, haha!)

Now that I had tackled the first piece of the mealtime struggle, deciding what to make, I’m so excited to have the second piece, buying the groceries, simplified as well. Having my grocery list set and saved onto the Shipt website and app allows me to re-order the same basics each week without having to look things up again! I talked a lot about automating routine tasks last year in the Energy Management series, and this feature does that literally.

With my baseline groceries figured out, I have brain space to consider what other special circumstances may be happening that I should buy things for. This week I added popsicles, gatorade, and jello for Eliot’s tonsillectomy recovery. I also remembered potty training treats for Plum, who I plan to work with while we’re home these next two weeks with Eliot recovering. That may be overly ambitious, but I’ll try!
Grocery Delivery and Making Live Easier-5 I am continually seeking out ways to simplify and streamline my life so that I have more time and energy for the things that matter the most. Taking grocery shopping off of my plate adds space for something else, like a pool day, and that feels amazing.

Here are some other ideas to simplify your meal times, even if you don’t have a grocery delivery option nearby:

  1. Create a Minimalist Meal Plan for your family (Always eat pizza on Friday and tacos on Tuesday…at the very least)
  2. Precut veggies and store them in bags or boxes for to easily add to meals
  3. Organize your fridge by food type, like in the store (dairy, produce, meats/cheeses, sauces) to easily find what you need
  4. Create a habit of packing lunches while you make breakfast and the food is already coming out of the fridge and pantry
  5. Organize your pantry with these practical tips
  6. Plan a freezer meal swap with a group of friends and easily stock your freezer with homemade heat-and-serve dinners
  7. When storing leftovers, pre-pack them into meal-sized portions to be able to easily grab for future lunches
  8. Buy precut, pre-skewered, and prewashed produce if you find yours sits unused in the drawers
  9. Get comfortable with buffet style Smorgasbord meals rather than a traditional entree and sides menu (these are some of my favorite meals!)
  10. Turn on music while you cook to keep kids entertained and instantly create positive energy in the kitchen

Even writing this post and revisiting some of my meal planning tips, I feel more enthusiastic about simplifying the process of planning, preparing, and enjoying meals together as family. I’d love to hear your meal planning tips or concerns in the comments so we can learn from each other!

This post shared in partnership with Shipt, all opinions and experiences are my own.

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Practical Pantry Organization

If your home is anything like ours, the kitchen is the center of activity. From breakfast first thing in the morning to dinner right before bed, and homework, art projects, snack time, endless glasses of water, and everything in between, we end up hanging out here a lot. The pantry, where most of the food and appliances are stored, is by far the most used closet-type space in our house. Last week as I was choosing a project for this month’s partnership with At Home, I decided to tackle practical pantry organization and transform ours from bottom to top. Pantry organization can be daunting, but with the right set of tools and some practical tips, it makes daily living much easier and more enjoyable. Let me share a few ideas I have after whipping ours into shape.
Practical Pantry Organization- One Little Minute Blog-2
Practical Pantry Organization-25 I began the day by heading to my local At Home store to collect organization supplies. I had spotted some when I was there a few weeks ago picking up these planters, and knew they would have everything I needed. And boy did they! I wandered the several pantry organization aisles, taking it all in. With a hand-drawn map of my pantry (made last-minute in the store) I started to think about how we use the space currently, what works, and what doesn’t. I knew it wouldn’t be realistic for me to have everything out of packages in rows and rows of labeled containers because I don’t always buy the exact same items, so I’m not always refilling staple dry goods that way. So, I filled my cart with a variety of bins, baskets, jars, and tiered can-organizers, and went home to figure it out.

These next couple shots show the before and after of our little pantry. In the organization process I did throw away a handful of items, but about 98% of what is in the first photos is also in the second. The only difference is the organization.
Practical Pantry Organization Before and After Before: I had things separated by type and somewhat organized along the shelves, but there were no clear divisions. The serving dishes were stacked in piles, the appliances in one general area but interspersed with “other”. The cans were all in a row on the bottom shelf so they were never seen. It was not terrible, but not pretty either.

After: Everything has a place. There is some room to breath between the baskets of items, and the space feels more light and airy. Everything can be seen at a glance, from the tiered cans and bottles to the items within wire baskets. The appliances are all on the same shelf. Serving plates, which aren’t visible here, are all upright and easy to get to.

I know even this “after” shot is not as glamorous as a subway-tiled, brass-fixtured, naturally-lit dreamy Pinterest pantry, filled with glass containers and perrier, but the difference some practical organization makes is striking none the less.
Practical Pantry Organization As I stood in the aisle of the store, I didn’t know exactly how I was going to organize everything, but I did know a couple plastic bins would be fun for things we use often enough, and to break up some of the basket-storage that I had planned for most of the other items.

I decided on some clear plastic containers with metal closing tabs because I love the look, and they felt sturdy and industrial. For small loose items I went with long, clear storage bins where I could still see everything that was inside easily. I reserved one for baking items, and another for cooking packages like small bags of pasta and breadcrumbs. For larger loose items I decided on some really cool metal baskets to serve as general containers separating items by class. I have a chip basket, a bread basket, a snack basket, a baking basket for larger baking items like flours and cornmeal, and a root vegetable basket.

Lets take a look at what I was starting with one more time.
Practical Pantry Organization-5 My favorite part of taking these “before” photos is that I felt like the pantry was relatively organized! I was using a general system and putting some things back where they went sometimes… I think the main problem was that nothing was clear. When I got hold of something that I wasn’t exactly sure about, I would just set it somewhere. That’s not really organization at it’s best.

After doing all of the work, here are my Ten Tips for Practical Pantry Organization:

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DIY Jenga Set

DIY Jenga - One Little Minute Blog-12 DIY Jenga - One Little Minute Blog-13 DIY Jenga - One Little Minute Blog-18 I love the slow days of summer, and have been enjoying these days home from vacation when the kids and I have been able to spend time together. And in order to stay sane and all feel happy and entertained, we have been coming up with some fun and simple summer activities to do. This easy DIY Jenga Set was inspired by a huge version that we’ve played at the children’s museum downtown. The total cost was around $3, and the once I cut and sanded the boards, the kids had a blast painting the ends before we set it up to play. It actually ended up being a great two-in-one because the painting was a fun activity, then once it was dry we played several rounds and had a blast.

Jenga turns out to be a perfect game for kids over about three years old who can understand how to grab and remover a board from the stack. My kids caught on really quickly, and we’ve been playing almost every day!

Here’s how to make one of your own: DIY Jenga - One Little Minute Blog-1 You’ll need:

2 1″x2″ boards, 8′ long, cut into 4.5″ pieces
sandpaper
acrylic paint in a variety of colors
sponge brushes

I already had a chop saw out on the patio because I was building an outdoor reading nook, so it was simple to chop up some extra pieces DIY Jenga - One Little Minute Blog-2 Sand all of the sharp edges and ends by rubbing them along sandpaper on a flat surface, then wipe down with a cloth to remove the sawdust DIY Jenga - One Little Minute Blog-3 Squirt little samples of each of your paint colors onto paper plates and let the kids paint the ends of the boards, then let dry.

If you have little ones like mine, some of the boards might get painted more than on the ends, and that’s alright. It adds that homemade charm.
DIY Jenga - One Little Minute Blog-4 DIY Jenga - One Little Minute Blog-5 DIY Jenga - One Little Minute Blog-6 You can see that my kids got really into it, and we had a fun (messy!) time from the get-go! DIY Jenga - One Little Minute Blog-7 DIY Jenga - One Little Minute Blog-8 I choose a few coordinating blues, green, and a fun purple for our blocks, and love the way it turned out. My more design-snob side was tempted to only use white paint, or leave them plain wood, but the kids had so much fun mixing colors! It was a good reminder to let them have fun with color! 
DIY Jenga - One Little Minute Blog-10 DIY Jenga - One Little Minute Blog-11 Once the pieces are all dry, you’re ready to play! Set them each row of three in opposite directions as you stack the tower. Then take turns removing one piece from the middle and setting it back onto the top of the tower. When the tower tumbles, the game is over! It can get pretty tricky to remove pieces after a while. I was always surprised by how little blocks remain when it all falls down. Read More »

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