Fill Her Up

November 22, 2014

fuel gauge oatmeal food art

There are a lot of times throughout the day–like when I’m scrubbing dried-up oatmeal off the floor, trying to keep myself calm through an epic toddler meltdown, seeing my kid-less friends’ accomplishments on Facebook–that I wonder, how’d I get here?

You know, the place where I’ve birthed three human beings out of my body and am in charge of them for a long, long time. Sometimes I still feel like a kid myself, trying to figure out who I am and what I want to be when I grow up. Other times I feel old, and tired. With a body and soul battered by the worry, fear, emotional roller coasters, marital ups and downs, and battles of wills that are part and parcel of being a parent.

Since I started having kids very young — mid-20′s– I think a lot of my parenting was driven, in part, by a need to prove myself. To prove that I could hack it, that I had it together, that I didn’t make rash choices in life. And, of course, the person I needed most desperately to convince was me. That kind of motivation may get a lot done in short spurts — the sleep-deprived adrenaline rush of being thrown into the mommy world — but after a while, it wears on you.

So three kids later, I’m at that place. Worn. Too many nights when I’m alone with the kids, I feel stripped down, thin, and threadbare.

Running on empty.

So these past few months, I’ve decided to make it a priority to feed myself. Fill up. To get myself that vanilla latte. To accept my husband’s offer to watch the kids while I go out and do nothing at all. To meet up with friends and laugh about stupid things. To tell my family I need some alone time (even if only for a few minutes) and to not feel guilty for asking. I don’t think this is the ultimate remedy, but it’s definitely part of it.

So to any of you reading this and feeling empty, I hope you give yourself permission to focus on yourself, to do things that inspire you and fill you. After all, we can’t give if we ourselves lack. We’ll be better mothers for it.



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Three kids and brains

November 9, 2014

Little miss has this ritual where she likes to peel hard-boiled eggs ALL BY HERSELF. All by herself means about two seconds of honest-to-goodness effort, then complete frustration that gets taken out on poor said egg. The result: lots of casualties.

So what’s a mom to do with too many egg smithereens? The only thing you can do. Laugh.

eggs three kids

I posted this on my Instagram last week and apparently it’s made the rounds on Facebook. So if you’ve seen it on your feed, now you know the true story behind it. I would comment on all the posts and claim credit, but that just sounds like too much work for me right now. Remember. Three kids. Brains.

Last-Minute Halloween Ideas

October 29, 2014

Every year, I tell myself I’ll be way ahead of the game with Halloween costumes. And every year, I’m scrambling at the last minute to put something together that’s acceptable for the kids. Not awesome, not pin-worthy, just good enough for them to feel not embarrassed of their mother when they go out trick-or-treating.

Halloween is the day after tomorrow, and I still have nothing in the costume department. Nothing.

Halloween-y food, though? That I can do!

last minute halloween food ideas

I’m not into gory and scary, so these tame food ideas are perfect for wee ones or any kid (or, ahem, mom) with a weak stomach. Here are the deets:

1. Ghostadilla

ghost quesadilla

I let this cookie cutter from The Land of Nod do all the hard work, but you can easily free-hand a ghost shape with kitchen scissors. Cut your shapes first, then sprinkle cheese and make the quesadilla on the stove; much easier than trying to cut after cooking. The eyes and mouth were made from purple cabbage using a small hole cutter, but you could easily use olives, blueberries, or even capers for the foodiest of foodie kids.

2. Monster Green Smoothie

monster smoothie with hand

This was a happy accident; my once green-smoothie-loving toddler suddenly said that they look scary, so I ran with it. A banana slice, blueberry, and apple mouth and teeth later, she couldn’t wait to get her hands on it (as you can see). Make sure the smoothie is super thick so that your toppings don’t sink! Here’s our all-time favorite recipe:

  • 2 cups liquid of choice (we use fresh-squeezed orange juice, but have used coconut water and almond milk and both are great)
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup pineapple
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1-2 frozen bananas
  • boosts of choice (we use hemp hearts and chia seeds)

3.  Pirate Oatmeal

pirate oatmeal

Dried apricots are humble little things. They don’t look like much, but they’re awesome in oatmeal, granola, sauces, and most importantly, pirate faces. Just slice one in half (or use two) to get the full mustache effect. A blueberry eye and plum-peel patch (or any fruit peel) cut with kitchen scissors make this a fun, five-minute breakfast.

4. Cat in the (witch) hat bento

cat witch hat bento

It’s been a while since I’ve used the cutezcute cutter (review and tutorial here), but the kitty face is perfect for a non-scary Halloween. This is a simple nutella sandwich with a purple cabbage and carrot hat cut with kitchen scissors (see a theme here? Go out and buy a pair if you don’t have one!), mixed berries, and snap peas. I served this at home, and the hat is probably too big and floppy to stay put on the go–but that’s easily remedied with a toothpick.

So there you have it. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of keeping it simple and letting the food shine through vs. constructing something elaborate.

After all, the clock is ticking and I’ve got three costumes to figure out!

Fall-inspired Bentos

October 17, 2014

Ah, fall. The changing colors inspire me to breathe more deeply and appreciate the beauty of the season. I’ve been taking it slow these days, trying to savor the cool weather before it changes all too quickly to winter.

fall collage

Bentos have been pretty autumnal, too, using simple cookie cutters or a quick jack-o-lantern using kitchen scissors and apple peels. Easy is the key word here. french toast bento


  • French toast and strawberry skewers
  • nitrate-free salami
  • pumpkin-shaped cheddar cheese
  • apple slices
  • tangerine with a bit of celery to make a “pumpkin”. Easiest bento trick!

jack o lantern bento

I’m not really big on doing scary/spooky/gory on Halloween, but simple and cute, I can do. I used pancakes here, but you could easily do this on a sandwich, or a slice of cheese, or a bed of rice… honestly, any flat food surface.


  • pancakes with apple peel jack-o-lantern face and celery stem
  • hard-boiled egg
  • apple and kiwi
  • yogurt tube

What have you been packing these days?

Taking Over

September 26, 2014

I’m SO EXCITED. Practically Jessie-Spano-on-caffeine-pills excited. Why? I’m taking over Munchkin’s Instagram account this weekend! I’ll be using Munchkin products to showcase food art and bentos. Did you know they made bentos? It’s adorable. Follow the Munchkin account to see what i come up with. Here’s a peek at my first photo: classic mommy and me bowls–nothing too fancy or crazy. Gotta ease them in! Plus, the suction bowl is perfect for this meal. Because toddlers. Because yogurt. I loved using these when each of my kids were little.


yogurt parfaits with munchkin bowl

Disclaimer: I received Munchkin products and compensation for this project, but all the ceative content is my own.