15 Crowd-Pleasing Thanksgiving Salad Recipes

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Somehow, in all the years of Thanksgiving feasts, I’ve never been tasked with bringing a salad for the holiday! So naturally, when this was our assignment for our upcoming Friendsgiving next weekend, I turned to my trusty Instagram followers to find a winning recipe to bring with us. And they did not disappoint! I was overwhelmed with responses and also many requests to share the love, so here they are! 15 mouth-watering options for Thanksgiving salads.

Shredded Brussel Sprout Salad with Hazelnut Crunch by Martha Stewartshredded-brussels-sprout-salad-with-hazelnut-crunch-103107138_horiz

Thanksgiving Lentil Salad by The Kitchn174e4fcac666f93884127056deb4f8da6b4dff56

Butternut Squash Salad with Pomegranates and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds by Pamela Salzmanbutternut squash salad

Shredded Brussel Sprout Salad by What’s Gaby CookingWGC-Shredded-Brussels-Salad-copy-3

The Fall Salad You Won’t Be Able To Quit by Simple Real HealthProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

Winter Burrata Salad by Camille Stylescamillestyleswinterburratasalads

Roquefort Pear Salad by The Girl Who Ate Everythingroquefortpearsalad.jpg

Fresh Citrus and Cranberry Salad by Better Homes and Gardensfreshcitrusandcranberrysalad

Lemon-Garlic Kale Salad by The New York Times07COOKING-GARLICKALESALAD2-articleLarge

Roasted Squash Salad with Crispy Shallot and Balsamic Reduction by Minimalist BakerAMAZING-Roasted-Squash-Salad-with-Nut-Cheese-and-Balsamic-Reduction-30-minutes-10-ingredients-BIG-flavor-squash-glutenfree-dinner-vegan-salad-minimalistbaker-recipe-6.jpg

Autumn Chopped Salad by Espresso and Creamautumnchoppedsalad-1-1.jpg

Fall Harvest Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette by With Whit & SaltFall-Harvest-Salad.jpg

Roasted Cauliflower, Feta and Orzo Salad by Chrissy Teigen {photo by Savor Chic}1466611117102.jpg

Feel-Good Fall Salad by Gimme Some OvenAutumn-Harvest-Salad-Recipe-with-Sweet-Potatoes-Avocado-Cranberries-and-Pecans-1-1

Kale and Brussels Slaw by Sprouted Kitchen1448295911394

 

How We Quit Screen Time

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Photo: Brittany Rossman Photography

Yesterday in my Instagram stories I mentioned in passing that four months ago we cut out screen time pretty much completely and the response was OVERWHELMING. I was immediately flooded with questions wanting to know how we did it and if I had any tips to help others achieve the same. I decided the best way to answer the questions was through a blog post that can easily be referenced in the future, too. 

First, it’s worth mentioning where we started. I would say that the kids got on average around one hour of screen time/day, give or take. Some days it was more if we watched a movie, some days it was less if we were out of the house most of the day. I mostly used screen time when I needed to get something done like cook or clean. It was the easiest way for me to preoccupy the kids so I could get stuff done. There was also a period of time we used it during dinner time because James seriously would not eat if he wasn’t distracted by the TV. This is something I would have TOTALLY judged someone for prior to being in the situation myself … But alas, that is what worked for us and I decided it was more important to me to have a peaceful mealtime where my baby’s belly got full instead of a nightly battle where he ended up not eating much at all.

Elodie got virtually no screen time until age two. She would watch the occasional Elmo video here and there but nothing crazy. Then James came along… And we had two kids two years apart … And lets just say that TV came in handy! Haha! This is where our perceived dependency on screen-time started. And because Elodie was getting more screen time so we could survive life with a newborn and a toddler, eventually this meant James was watching TV at a much younger age and frequency than Elodie ever did. Honestly, looking back I have no regrets. We did what we had to do and felt was right for our family at the time to get through a really freaking hard period in our lives. The TV served its purpose and I am grateful for that. I wish I could say I did it without guilt, but that would be a lie. I wish I had given myself more grace and not judged myself so hard for it, but that’s just who I am. If you are in this situation.. If you are pregnant or have a tiny baby or are home full-time with your kids and need screens for sanity and to just get s#&% done. DO IT. And don’t feel bad about it. Own it!

So, all that said, lets fast forward to this past June. James was 26 months and Elodie had turned 4 a few months prior. Seemingly out of nowhere I decided I wanted to do a screen-free day with James (Elodie was in preschool three days a week). I had gotten to a point where I just felt like I was using it as a crutch. If I needed to get something done, I turned on the TV. If I needed them to stop fighting, I turned on the TV. At the end of that first day without screens I felt so accomplished and happy, and I found that it was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. So the next day when Elodie was home I decided to try for another day without screens. And that is where our journey began. 

There are a few things that I believe have made these screen-free months possible. 

>For one, I started a week before Corey went on sabbatical and was home with us for six weeks. I had an extra set of hands to help entertain the kids and we had tons of fun plans while he was off work, so that kept us super busy. 

>It was summertime, which meant we got outside a TON.

>The kids’ ages. They were both now old enough to truly play together and their attention spans were longer than 5-10 minutes. 

>We only had three weeks between the end of Corey’s sabbatical and James starting in school three days a week. So these days I am only on my own with the kids two full days. The fact that I am able to get most chores and cooking/shopping/errands/meal prepping done on the days I don’t have the kids makes it a LOT more manageable to go without screens while they are with me. 

Now on to the frequently asked questions I got from followers on Instagram:

Did you go cold turkey? Yep. 

How did you explain the change to Elodie? This is probably going to sound bad, but this whole idea kinda came out of nowhere so I didn’t exactly have a grand plan. So I just told the kids the TV was broken. It worked! Even now when we watch something it is a movie and we make it into a super special thing and set up our projector in the playroom, so they never see the TV on.

How long did it take for them to stop asking for screens? Hmmm I wish I could remember exactly. It was probably in the vicinity of 1-2 weeks. Because I told them the TV was broken I think they had the notion that at some point it would be fixed and at that time they would be watching shows again. So it wasn’t a huge deal to them. There weren’t any epic tantrums. There was some whining but I just would distract them with an activity and they would forget about it. After two weeks for sure they just stopped asking altogether. I’m not sure if they got tired of asking, didn’t care about the TV or just knew that it wasn’t going to happen, but either way after a couple weeks it became a total non-issue.

What do you do with them when you need to get something done? At this point I really don’t need to do much, they have learned to just play together and mostly preoccupy themselves with our toy baskets or a game of cat family. That said, if they are having an off day I will often sit them down with a healthy afternoon snack like fruit or nuts that will take them a little while to eat while I prep dinner or tidy up. I won’t lie and say I don’t get interrupted my arguing or someone needing help with something while I am cooking or cleaning, but I am fine with it, it’s rarely so much that I feel like I need to give up on what I am working on.

Does no screens mean no iPads or iPhones at restaurants or on car rides? Yes, these were the two I wast MOST skeptical we could do without screens. We would always start meals out or car rides with no screens, but inevitably as soon as one of them got antsy we took our phones out at dinner or gave them an iPad on a car ride. 

It has taken more preparedness on my part to make sure I have activities for them to do while we’re out to dinner or going on a car ride (love the Target $ spot or $ store for these) but honestly they are just so much more focused on whatever activity we give them now it has been a non-issue. A coloring activity used to keep James’ attention span for three minutes, now he stays focused for MUCH longer. That said, if we were doing a longer road trip — say, more than three hours — we would absolutely be fine bringing the iPads along. And for us, anything goes on airplanes, so we’ll see if we can make it through our 2.5 hour flight to Southern California in a couple weeks without screens. I’ll report back!

What about apps? We really didn’t use any apps to begin with, it’s just not something we ever got into. We were recently starting to work on sight words with Elodie and did find an app that could help her learn letter sounds and practice them (Montessori Crosswords). We let her do that for 15 minutes at a time a couple days a week if we think of it, but we just don’t even have the iPad around so often forget!

Do you feel like you need to come up with more “stuff” to keep them busy?100% yes. There is no way to get around the fact that no screens means more work and focus for mom and dad. As I mentioned earlier, this is okay for me because I only have two full days on my own with the kids and the two weekend days with Corey so this feels manageable. I honestly don’t know if I could do this if they were both home with me full-time. So give yourself grace and if you use screens to keep your sanity and run your house, don’t feel bad about that for a second!!

What are your favorite screen-free activities? Where do you get ideas for things to do with the kids? I love following my friend Meghan @craftandboogie for fun and easy crafting ideas for young kids. She sells the most amazing craft kits that Elodie LOVES (James is still a little young for them). I also love following @busytoddler for activity ideas — she has great ideas for kids in that really trick age between 12-24 months where they need constant entertainment, but a low attention span. We do a lot of magnatiles (amazing Christmas gift!), legos, puzzles, we have a train table the kids love as well as a little play kitchen that they love.

We have so many toys and activities and before being screen-free they would play with their toys for ten minutes and then get bored or antsy. It drove me nuts! All these toys and all they wanted to do was watch TV. But I realized it had become THEIR crutch too. It was easier to just sit and veg in front of the TV than get imaginative and creative, so their attention spans and ability to focus were shorter. It’s so different now. We can sit and play in our playroom for easily over an hour, then we’ll read books together, then we’ll bring out some play-doh or rainbow rice or something else. It is totally manageable.

Another thing that is a MUST is getting out of the house. This makes the time go by so much faster and takes the pressure of needing to find things to do around the house. We go to parks, to the library, have play dates with friends, visit family, take rec center classes (they are cheap!), run errands together, etc etc. 

How do you handle it when your kids go to someone else’s house and the TV is on?Honestly this hasn’t been a huge issue for us. When we go to friend’s houses we are getting the kids together to play so nobody really turns the TV on. Both sets of our parents know that we have cut out screen time so they know not to turn the TV on at their houses. That said, if we walked into a friend’s house and a TV was on we would just let it go. We’re not going to be that crazy strict about it! 

What motivates you to keep it up? Is it worth the extra work? We are 100% motivated by their behavior and improved attention span and increased imaginative play. I thought I was just imagining it myself and mentioned it on my Instagram stories a couple weeks into being screen-free and I had near FIFTY messages saying that no, it is actually a studied and proven fact that screen time affects behavior and later in life even depression and suicide rates.

I don’t think an hour of TV a day means your kids are doomed for life. I think finding a balance is what is important. This is what is working for us right now. Do I think we will be screen-free forever? Heck no. Do I think we will always be making conscious choices to limit screen-time in favor of sports, reading, time with friends and more? Absolutely. I think you need to do what feels right for you and your family!

How do you manage your own screen-time when your job involves a lot of phone use? How do you model good behavior for your kids?

This is such a great question and something I am always working on improving. I will admit I am far from perfect here. I try really hard to have my phone in a place that is away from the kids so if/when I am checking it and posting to Instagram or answering DMs, emails, etc. they don’t see me on it. This means I do most of my posting in the morning before they are awake, during naps and on occasion in the evening. I also try to protect my time with Corey and at least a couple days a week I like to turn my phone off around 8PM and not look at it again until the morning. Do I fail at this a lot? Yes. But when they see me on my phone I try to verbalize what I’m doing: “I am responding to a text from grammy, can you be patient with me for a minute?”, “Mommy is answering a work email, I will be able to give you my full attention in five minutes”, etc. I think it helps them understand how and why I am using my phone. 

Practically everything we do is on our phones these days. It’s where I meal plan, communicate with friends and family, it’s how I make a small income for our family…. so my kids not seeing me on my phone is completely unrealistic. I think being open and communicating about its uses helps a ton and it also keeps me in check so I am not just sitting on my phone scrolling aimlessly while my kids are with me!

———–

I think that covers the vast majority of the questions. Trust me when I say the fact that my kids are mostly screen-free does not make me better than any other parent and certainly doesn’t mean I have my ish together. Yesterday I had the kids home with me and Corey walked in the door at 5:30 to me still in my pajamas and robe, James with no pants on and a really wet diaper that needed to be changed and Elodie in her halloween costume … Toys strewn all over the place, dinner not started … I am far from perfect so don’t you dare put me on a pedestal 🙂

This felt SO IMPOSSIBLE when I started back in June. I am honestly shocked we’re here. And I have no idea how long it will last. We will continue to reevaluate and fine-tune as time goes on! Hope this was helpful! Feel free to leave additional questions in the comment section and I’ll make sure to answer!

Tips For Stress-Free Family Photos with Young Children

Tips for Stress-FreeFamily Photos withYoung ChildrenA few months ago I wrote a heartfelt Instagram post all about why I prioritize getting professional family photos at least once a year. Especially at these ages they are truly growing so fast and they are such different little people each six months. The thing about family photos is we do them for the end result, but it is certainly a big financial investment, and aside from that, we know that it can be a somewhat stressful experience. From trying to find the perfect outfits for the whole family, to worrying how the kids will behave for the session, it’s not exactly anyone’s preferred way to spend an afternoon. BUT, it’s ALWAYS WORTH IT.

Since we’ve done this a time or seven and I take family photos myself, I thought I’d give you my expert opinion on how you can temper the sting of family photos and give you my best tips for stress-free family photos with young children.

Let go of the “perfect” smiling photo: If you have ever tried taking photos with young kids you know it’s nearly impossible to get a photo of everyone looking in the same direction at the same time, let alone have everyone giving their best/cute smiles all at the same time. A photographer can work some magic, but they can’t turn young kids into obedient robots, so don’t go into the shoot thinking about just getting that ONE GOOD smiling shot. Not only is it far fetched, but to be honest, those photos are boring. Who wants everyone smiling perfectly at the camera when you can have this: 9982

Let them be little: The best photos are the ones that capture the spirit of your family. The only way you are going to get these shots is by letting your kids run wild and free, be themselves, play, giggle and smile. The less direction you give them the better, because the more direction you give them the more they really don’t want to follow those directions anyways 😉

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Don’t be above bribery: There will be times where you need your kids to cooperate to a certain extent (come sit on mommy’s lap, give your brother a big hug, etc), for those times, don’t be above a mess-free bribe like a jelly bean or a smarty (don’t use chocolate or anything else that has the potential to get their clothes and hands super messy). You can also plan to go do something fun after, like get ice cream, as a reminder to be on their best behavior during the photo session. Bribery is not my typical go-to parenting strategy, but I have no problem using it in desperate times!

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Stress less: Kids can FEEL your energy. If you are stressed and frazzled and clearly not enjoying yourself because all you’re worrying about is your kids listening or looking a certain way or doing a certain thing, they will pick up on that and all of a sudden taking family photos is going to turn into a really NOT FUN experience. Seriously, just take a deep breath and trust your photographer to capture your family in all their crazy glory. You don’t need to worry about your kids being super well-behaved or perfect listeners, they’re kids, they’re not going to be perfect sweet angels! Your photographer doesn’t expect that and neither should you. Just go with the flow!

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HAVE FUN! Truly, genuinely have fun! Go into it telling your kids they just get to play and have fun, and then follow suit yourself. Family photos don’t need to be stressful. Find a photographer who is good with kids and families, who will set the vibe for a fun session and bring out the best in your kiddos 🙂

{All photos by Fiona Margo Photography, who is based out of Bainbridge/Seattle and truly could not recommend enough. She blew us away with the photos she got, the process was painless and fun and our kids — and us parents! — had a blast with her!}

 

Five Go-To Meals in the Denfeld House // Part II

We’ve all hit those meal planning lulls where you just feel like you can’t think of ANYTHING to make for dinner that week and if you have to look at one more Pinterest food board your eyes might start bleeding. I love hearing what other people are cooking up for dinner and this post has been one of my most popular, so I thought I’d do another installment with the dinners we’ve been loving lately. These are all recipes we’ve made at least twice and are a hit with the whole family. Hope you love them as much as we do!

Brown Butter Brussels Sprout Pasta with Hazelnuts: Admittedly this isn’t the healthiest dish on the list, but let me assure you it is worth every single calorie. YUM. My kids happen to LOVE Brussels sprouts, so this recipe really works in our house! You could easily add some grilled chicken to it to get some protein in there!Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts Pasta with Hazelnuts Recipe on twopeasandtheirpod.com This pasta dish is amazing!

Creamy Chicken and Buttermilk Dumplings: This recipe is so comforting and if you get the Mirepoix from Trader Joe’s already chopped up it is crazyyyy easy and quick to make! This is definitely a fan favorite for the kiddos and perfect for the fall weather upon us.chicken + dumplings I howsweeteats.com

Creamy Polenta Bowl with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Zucchini: My kids happen to be obsessed with polenta so this dish is a hit in our house! I either half the butter/Parmesan or omit completely and just sprinkle Parmesan on top at the end. The addition of the pesto really takes this recipe to the next level. It’s a winner!

Stuffed Cypriot Chicken from Jamie Oliver’s 30-Minute Meals: Our French friends in Amsterdam made this dish for us when they had us over for dinner one night and it made such an impression on us we looked up the recipe and have been making it ever since. It’s actually a pretty simple dish that seems impressive, so a great one to do when you have guests … But we make it all the time! I highly recommend watching the video if you’re a visual learner. The use of wet wax paper to help the chicken get crisp on the outside but stay soft and juicy on the inside is so easy and was new-to-me!

Perfect Herb-Grilled Chicken: This recipe is out of Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook (which I highly recommend!) and I love making the seasoning blend in bulk then freezing in individual baggies so we can whip it up easily anytime (and none of the herbs go to waste this way!). Everyone who has tried this when we make it is totally impressed and asks for the recipe. It’s not only easy and incredibly flavorful but also super healthy! Image result for gwyneth paltrow it's all good

Potsticker Stir-Fry: This is an amazing, simple weeknight meal to make! It comes together really quickly and our favorite potstickers to use are the cilantro chicken wontons from Trader Joe’s! Corey is especially a fan of this ones and the kids gobble it up. 

{Seven Podcasts for 30-Something Women}

98A4DA45-1ACF-4B9C-8E63-146406D70E7D.pngThis is going to sound dramatic, but it’s 100% honest: Podcasts have changed my life. They inspire me, motivate me, give me hope, enlighten me, teach me … They’re truly incredible. If you’re a friend of mine in real life you have probably heard me quote a podcast or reference a podcast at least once. I am sure it gets annoying, but they are really that great! 

I often get asked how I find the time to listen to all the podcasts I listen to … It’s easy! I listen to a podcast when I get ready in the morning, while I clean the kitchen during nap time, while I prep dinner, while I cook dinner, while I fold laundry, while I edit photos, while I’m driving alone … Pretty much any time I am doing something that doesn’t require my mental attention (and when the kids aren’t around), I’m listening to a podcast. 

The thing about podcasts is that there are SO many out there, it can feel overwhelming to figure out where to begin. That’s where I come in. Below I’ve outlined my absolute favorite podcasts, why I love them and pointed you to a few of my favorite episodes of those podcasts. If you’re a podcaster, I hope you find at least one new one to listen to! And if you’ve never dabbled in podcasts… Get ready for your life to be changed!

I’m also always in the market for new podcasts, so if you have one to recommend please leave it in the comments! I’d be forever grateful! 

Goop Podcast: This is a must listen, especially if you are a 30-something woman! 90% of the episodes completely blow my mind and make me think about life in a totally different way — whether that be how I eat, exercise, mother, work, etc. Pretty much every episode is my favorite episode, but if I had to pick my top three for you to start with it would be:

Postpartum Anxiety & The Motherhood Shift

Lessons From The Other Side

What Turns You On

Dear Sugars: This was one of the first podcasts I ever started listening to. It’s sort of like Dear Abbie. Listeners write letters to the hosts, Cheryl Strayed (author of the book Wild) and Steve Almond, and ask for their advice. I find Cheryl and Steve to be so open-minded, thoughtful and smart with their responses. One series that has stuck with me since I first listened to it over a year ago was their infidelity series (a topic I am really intrigued by because my dad cheated on my mom and left our family and I grew up to experience several romantic betrayals myself). The series gave me perspective on infidelity I would have never had and gave me a lot to think about. The Dear Sugars podcast also introduced me to Esther Perel who I now have a total girl-crush on. Literally every sentence that comes out of her mouth is crazy profound — I could listen to her forever!

A few other favorite Dear Sugar episodes:

Emotional Labor: The Invisible Work (Most) Women Do

The Power of No With Oprah Winfrey Part 1 and Part 2

Sibling Rivalry

The Inevitable Guilt of Motherhood

Coffee + Crumbs: This is a really easy listen each week on the topic of motherhood. It feels like you’re sitting with a group of friends chatting about the good and hard times that come with becoming a mother. The girls make me laugh, cry and nod my head in constant agreement. A few of my favorite episodes:

The One With All The Birth Stories

When Love Feels Heavy

The (Working) Girl Next Door Parts 1 and 2

Motherhood and Loneliness

The Lively Show: This is a relatively new-to-me podcast that I found through Sydney Poulton. I have really admired how she has grown and changed over the years and consider her very centered and wise. She recently recommended this podcast covering the basics on the Law of Attraction and I have been hooked ever since. This podcast is so inspiring and enlightening. After I listen to it I feel empowered to chase my dreams and goals and truly feel like I have the capability to achieve anything I put my soul and mind to. I highly recommend you start with this episode then go from there. I also found this episode on the science behind crystals SUPER fascinating — and of course ran out and bought my first five not long after!

Oprah’s Supersoul Conversations: Do I even need to provide a description here? It’s Oprah for crying out loud! In this podcast she sits down with notable authors, celebrities, artists and more and each time she speaks to someone she really pulls out some profound life lessons, as Oprah does. You can’t go wrong with any of the episodes but some of the most life-changing for me have been:

Dr. Shefali Tsabary: Conscious Parenting Can Change The World

Sheryl Sandberg How to Build Resilience and Find Joy After Loss

Maya Angelou: Part 1 and Part 2

The Longest Shortest Time: This is another parenthood podcast that I really enjoy. I would say it’s less touchy-feely-mushy than Coffee and Crumbs. There’s a huge range of topics and I love the host Hillary Frank. They say it’s the “parenting show for everyone” and I would totally agree — no matter your parenting style/beliefs/preferences there is an episode you will love and relate to. A few of my favorites: 

The Accidental Gay Parents series 

The Fun & the Chaos Part 1 and Part 2

Terry Gross on Not Having Kids

How I Built This: Not being an entrepreneur myself it might be surprising just how much I LOVE this podcast. It tells the stories of how companies like Warby Parker, Spanx, WeWork, Barre3, Lululemon, Starbucks and so many others were started. It is so fascinated to hear the twists and turns that eventually lead to these incredibly successful businesses. Listening to this podcast makes me feel like with enough hard work and persevere, passion and commitment, you can achieve the things you set out to. A few of my favorite episodes are:

Spanx: Sara Blakely

Barre3: Sadie Lincoln

Patagonia: Yvon Choinard

Warby Parker Dave Gilboa & Neil Blumenthal

Zumba: Beto Perez & Alberto Perlman

Airbnb: Joe Gebbia

Instagram: Kevin Systrom &. Mike Krieger

{Guide to Amsterdam}

guidetoamsterdam_2Corey and I lived in Amsterdam for two years from 2011-2013 and I have since returned twice since moving home — in the summer of 2015 and the fall of 2017. It is one of our absolute favorite cities in the world and certainly one of the most picturesque. It pains me that to some, the city is only known for it’s legal marijuana and prositutes because that is such a tiny part of this beautiful city. It has perhaps the most recognizable architecture in the world, is full of history and culture and is a must-visit in Europe.

Even though we haven’t lived in Amsterdam for five years I still often get emails and messages requesting recommendations for where to stay, what to do and where to eat, so I am finally putting all this information in one place so it can be easily accessed! As a bonus I have included recommendations from one of my very best friends who lived in Amsterdam with her husband more recently than us — from 2015 to 2017. She has amazing taste in food and drink and I was able to try many of her recommendations myself when visiting in 2017. They are winners!

STAY:

Hotels in Amsterdam are quite expensive. If you are on a honeymoon or special trip and can splurge I highly recommend The Dylan. It is a luxury boutique hotel in a beautiful area of the city.

We stayed at the Andaz Amsterdam on points and we loved it. The location is perfect right in the nine streets and the hotel design is modern and gorgeous.

If you’re looking for an Airbnb look for places in the Jordaan, Nine Streets, Centrum, Zuid, near Vondelpark or if you want a lively young atmosphere De Pijp is fun!

TO DO:
Anne Frank House (Open daily from 9:00 am – 7:00 pm, Saturdays from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm) – I’d recommend buying tickets ahead of time to avoid standing in line forever! 

Walk around the Nine Streets (one of the city’s most picturesque areas to explore, photo ops at every turn!) – very close to Anne Frank in the Jordaan District

Museumplein (this is where you can take a photo with the iAmsterdam sign if you’re interested) and right by the Van Gogh Museum.

Rent a bike and ride around the city (if you like bikes). It’s truly an experience! (To rent a local-style bike, try Het Zwarte Fietsenplan in the city center on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal http://www.hetzwartefietsenplan.nl/12___centrum-het-zwarte-fietsenplan)

Do a canal boat tour – they only take 1-1.5 hours usually and it’s a great way to see the city and hear some of the history. (I recommend the Canal Hopper for a smaller, more personal boating experience https://www.canal.nl/en/canal-hopper) My best friend lived in Amsterdam for two years and she highly recommended Those Dam Boat Guys!

Walk through the Red Light District. A quick walk, but I feel like everyone should see it as it is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. Don’t take photos – very against the rules. You won’t want to anyway…

Stroll (or ride a bike) through Vondelpark (huge and beautiful city park). Stop at one of the outdoor cafes there for a fresh mint tea and just people watch. You should also venture outside of the park, the neighborhoods around the park are beautiful!

Favorite Museums: Rijks, Stedelijk (modern art), Van Gogh & Hermitage

You should try out a “Dutch Brown Cafe” – they are typical, sometimes-divey bars where people gather after work for snack and beer. A big part of the dutch culture – you can read more about them here: . A good one to go to near the Jordaan is Cafe Van Zuylen

Skip the Heineken Experience (Heineken Museum) — it’s cheesy and touristy.  A more fun and authentic Dutch drinking experience can be found here at Wynand Fockink, where you can taste and drink the Dutch flavored liquer jenever!

If you want a fun activity for the day, love to ride bikes and want to see a bit more of the quaintness outside of the city I highly recommended biking out to Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. It’s about 14 miles round trip give/take and easy and flat (like all of Holland!). It’s quaint little village that sits right on the water and has beautiful architecture to take in. You can grab a nice waterside lunch at Loetje aan de Amstel and fuel up for your ride back to Amsterdam!

Easy day trips by train: Utrecht, Gouda, The Hague, Haarlem, Antwerp (via Thalys train) and Bruges (via Thalys train).

And a couple more recommendations from my friend Jenna who lived in Amsterdam the last two years and recently returned to Portland:

Albert Cuypmarkt – in de pijp area. Old school market with some occasional hidden gems.  Eat a fresh Stroopwafle ☺. 

Play old school arcade games at Ton Tonhttp://www.tontonclub.nl/

RESTAURANTS:

Dinner:

De Kaas: For a truly special dining experience. Set in a gorgeous greenhouse. Definitely a bit off the beaten path for tourists as it isn’t close to the center of the city, but worth the trek! I blogged about our experience here and you should visit their website, too! Make reservations!

Food Hallen [Indoor Food Market] – This is new since Corey and I returned to Portland, but we were able to visit when we returned. Super cool indoor food hall with lots of different food options: http://www.foodhallen.nl/

Pata Negra – Cash Only. Amazing Spanish Tapas – VERY busy on the weekends, reservations recommended! Fun place to go with a group, but also fun for just two for some sangria and yummy food!

Thai Bird or Thai Bird Snack Bar – Super yummy Thai in Chinatown, very well known. Be prepared to wait in line for the restaurant or just go across the street and get takeout.

Koh-i-Noor – Amazing Indian food! Best in the city that we found – there are two locations — one in the Jordaan and one in the city center.

Casa di David – One of our fav italian spots in the city – small and cosy – our go-to date night spot 🙂

Burger Meester – Cute burger joint with gourmet options, also relatively affordable

Lunch/Brunch:

Café George – pretty affordable, good place for lunch (yummy sandwiches and fries) Also, brunch is fun here.

Buffet van Odette – Great cozy spot for brunch or lunch! Would be a nice place to sit and linger with some work or a book while drinking a cappuccino 🙂

De Laatste Kruimel – This is an unassuming but incredible little
bakery. Great place for pastries on a weekend morning, or we’d go here for cheap (but huge and delicious!) sandwiches on weeknights. The owners are a brother/sister pair who work their butts off and the space is super cute!

Cafe de Jaren – This is a popular spot in Amsterdam. Especially great during the summertime as they have an outdoor patio area that sits right on the Amstel. You can go for a coffee, soup, sandwiches, etc. We lived right around the corner so frequented this place often

Pancakes! Amsterdam – Yummy dutch pancakes in the Jordaan. I highly Recommend the smoked salmon, creme fraiche, guacamole, pine nuts one. To.die.for!

Two For Joy Coffee – DELICIOUS pancakes – almost like home – great place for a lazy weekend morning

Bar Moustache – Small and cute restaurant/bar, good place to grab a glass of wine and appetizers with friends or a nice (but spendy) meal

Greenwoods – One of our favorite spots for brunch/lunch. Affordable, yummy food! We never went for dinner, but they do serve it.

Droog: This is as much something to do as a place to eat and enjoy some coffee. If you are into design, this is a must-visit. Droog is an art gallery, hotel and cafe all fused in one. Definitely worth a walk-through and stop for a cup of coffee. And bonus that it is right off the street we used to live on in Amsterdam (Groenburgwal)!

Lastly, my favorite place for a quick and easy to-go coffee was Coffee Company – so delicious (way better than Starbucks) and all the locations are cute and different! You’ll see them everywhere!

A few more recent restaurant recommendations from my best friend Jenna (I wholly trust her taste in good food and was able to try a few of these, which I denoted with an asterisk, when I did my girls’ trip last fall and they were all amazing!) 

DINNER:

CANIBALE ROYAL: Amazing ribs and just a good food and drink spot.  Can be very busy on weekend but they take reservations.

LA PERLA: If you’re in the Tales and Spirits area, head over to La Perla for pizza. Best in the city, but keep in mind there isn’t great pizza here, they even do take away.

BLEU – Cute and cozy French restaurant in the Jordaan area (close to Ann Frank House and 9 streets shopping).

VAN ‘T SPIT – very simple rotisserie chicken and sides. Cozy, casual, and convenient.

THE DYLAN HOTEL* – nice for tea or wine in a very nice and cozy hotel in the 9 streets area. Have a quiet back garden to escape the chaos.

BRUNCH:

BAKERS AND ROASTERS*: Great brunch spot.

STARING AT JACOBS/KU KITCHEN: more brunch but also does Japanese food in the evenings. Chill neighborhood and vibe.

LITTLE COLLINS: and more brunch.

MOOK – more pancakes. Less traditional and more hipster.

DIGNITA* – great brunch in a cute restaurant.  Motto is eat good, do good. Highly recommend. They have multiple locations.

COFFEE:

LOT SIXTY ONE: Some of the best coffee located right by foodhallen.

COFFEE AND COCONUTS*: cool chill place to grab a coffee, cookie, light lunch and do a little work or browse IG.

CAFFENATION AMSTERDAM – Hipster coffee shop, locally roasted great coffee, cool kid vibes. A place to go to get coffee to stay and hang for a bit. Also their hot chocolate is a chocolate bar melted into steamy milk, looks yummy and cozy when you get caught in the rain.

TREATS:

FRIES: Vlaams Friethuis Vleminckx – Suppose to be the best in town and definitely a dutch must eat.

VAN STAPELE – COOKIES. YUM!

WINKEL 43* – Best Apple Pie around. A sugar cookie crust and fresh whip cream make it the perfect afternoon treat with a cup of mint tea (a dutch favorite made with fresh mint).

DRINKS:

TALES AND SPIRITS: Fun small cocktail shop that knows what it is doing when it comes to mixology.

WATERKANT: Great for a casual beer with a local crowd sitting by a canal.

WINDMILL BAR* (actually known as Brouwerij ‘t IJ if you can pronounce dutch). Note from Liz: We loved biking from our house in the city center to this cute windmill bar! Fun activity for a day!

OEDIPUS TAPROOM: Local beer that is far better than Heineken.

BAR CENTRAAL – perfect for a small bite and natural wines!

GLOU GLOU* – Natural wine bar. Same owners and concepts as Bar Centraal but in different neighborhood. 

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{The Ultimate Packing List for Traveling With Kids + Our Must-Have Travel Products}

packinglistYour first trip with a baby/kids is quite the eye-opener. You don’t really realize just how much stuff you use for you kids until you’re packing for a trip! Over the years of travel since Elodie was born I have been keeping a super detailed packing list in the notes on my iPhone. I have added on each trip as I remember things and at this point I am not sure there is much in my life that ISN’T on this list.

Do we pack every single thing on this list for every single trip? Heck no! Is it the place I start and determine what I want for whatever trip we’re taking? Yes. Since I have nearly everything on this master list it is easy to cull it down to match our destination (cold or hot) or our form of travel (car/airplane).

There are a few things that we’ve bought over the years that have made traveling with kids a lot more manageable, so I’ll outline those below. I’ve also hyperlinked anything in the travel list where we use a specific brand or product we love so you can see what we use! I hope this is helpful to share and if you would add anything to this list, please leave it in the comments below and I can update the post!

Travel blackout shades: Our kids need absolute darkness to sleep well, so we always travel with these blackout shades that suction to windows. One shade is huge and can cover a lot of space, but there is also velcro that makes it easy to adjust to use on smaller windows. These have been such lifesavers especially in rental homes where some came with literally NO windows treatments at all! If you’re in a bind, you can also tape up black garbage bags to a window!

Travel sound machine: Our entire family is addicted to the Marpac Dohm Sound Machines, so when we travel we bring three along — one for each kid and one for us! We love their travel size and if we had known about it could have just as easily used these from the beginning as they sound just like the original, just in a compact size. The travel size is also nice to have with you to pop into a stroller, or on the beach, etc.

Travel high chair: We obviously can’t really take this with us on a plane as easily (although if you have space in a suitcase it can get pretty small/flate, but if we’re driving we always bring our travel high chair. Even at just over two-years-old James really needs a high chair to keep him contained during mealtimes otherwise he’s running around all over the place and not eating much. We love this one and we keep it in our car at all times in case we come across a restaurant that doesn’t have high chairs! You can purchase a tray for it as well, but we never did and honestly didn’t miss it.

Clothes (summer/winter)

  • Tops
  • Bottoms
  • Dresses
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Bathing suits
  • Hats (summer/winter)
  • Gloves
  • Winter Jacket or Lightweight Jacket
  • Shoes/sandals
  • Water shoes
  • Snow boots

Bedtime

Bath time

Daily

Outside/Beach Destination

Kitchen/Laundry

Airplane/Car

BABY

Technology

  • iPhone charger
  • Speaker/speaker charger
  • Camera
  • Camera charger
  • Adapters (if traveling to foreign country)
  • Batteries

Medicine

  • Baby/children’s advil and/or tylenol
  • NoseFrida
  • Honest Chest Rub
  • Thermometer
  • Saline drops/spray
  • Adult pain reliever
  • Dramamine
  • Benadryl

Three Products That Have Improved My Sleep + Energy

IMG_0467For whatever reason I have always been skeptical of “things” to make me look younger, feel better, blah blah. I didn’t really ever do vitamins (unless I was pregnant), I never used any special skincare products and I just never really fussed with any special “stuff”! But, here I am at 32-years-old, a mother of a 2 and 4-year-old, and let me tell you… I was in need of STUFF. GIVE ME ALL THE STUFF to help me look more rested, feel more energetic and sleep better (when I actually found the time to sleep!).

The last year I really committed to doing things to benefit my body, and products are just one area of improvement. Other things I’ve done will have to be another post for another day (hint: I’m now a morning person and have become addicted to Barre). These are things you can BUY now, preferably on Amazon (hello Prime two-day shipping) and start seeing improvements with energy, sleep and just overall health ASAP!

A Daily Probiotic. My sister had been singing the praises of her probiotics long before I actually decided to dive in. It was an article I read, for which I can’t find the link anymore, that finally convinced me. I’m not a doctor so I can’t really recite all the benefits eloquently, but to me, a daily probiotic has basically been a magic lifesaver. No more bloating, less stress, better moods… The list goes on for the benefits I felt. I take this one and love that it’s just a once daily (and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated). It was recommended by my naturopath, so I think it’s a good one!

Chlorophyll Drops. My morning routine used to start with a cup of coffee. Yes, I had always heard and read that starting your day with a glass of water (especially with lemon) was really good for you, but I just really wanted to get straight to my coffee. Well, I kept seeing Sarah Adler of Simply Real Health boast the benefits of starting her day with a glass of water with chlorophyll drops and I finally picked some up and started this new routine and… well, like magic I truly feel more energized when I start my day with the chlorophyll water vs. a cup of coffee straight away. Maybe this would be the case with even just a big glass of regular water, but for now I am sticking with this! (the drops are dark green and it looks kind of scary, but the ones I get taste like peppermint, which is a lovely way to wake up in the morning!)

Natural Calm Magnesium Supplement. I have never been the best sleeper, but since becoming a parent and dealing with lots of broken sleep, added stress, busier schedulers, etc etc it seems I’ve become an even worse sleeper. A few months ago I had HAD IT with the length of time it was taking me to fall asleep every night and the restless sleep I was having once I finally did fall asleep. I kept hearing the praises of this magnesium supplement and it is remarkable how much better I sleep on the nights I remember to take it (especially when I drink it like a tea with hot water, it’s just so soothing!). I also stopped scrolling my phone before bed and reading a real book instead, which makes an enormous difference in the time it takes me to fall asleep and shut my brain off.

In addition to these three things I also have been loving drinking a matcha latte with collagen peptides as a naptime treat if I’m feeling particular sluggish that day. My favorite way to make it is to warm up some milk on the stove, then add it to my blender, add a little simple syrup and vanilla, two teaspoons of matcha and a scoop of collagen peptides and blend until frothy and all combined. I do this hot or cold and I personally love the taste and it is a much healthier alternative to coffee and doesn’t hinder my ability to fall asleep that night like a cup of coffee would!

So there you have it! A few things you can add to your daily routine that might just help give you that extra pep in your step you need. I’d love to hear if you have any vitamins/supplements/products that have been life-changers for you!

Kid-Approved Healthy Paleo Banana Muffins/Bread

Every time I post about these banana muffins/bread on my Instagram story I get lots of questions about the recipe, which gets a little tricky because I modify one I found online! Before I did Whole30 in January I would make this recipe from Cookie and Kate and it definitely felt healthy enough for us. But once I did Whole30 I wanted to experiment and see if I could make a few easy substitutions to make the recipe paleo and make me feel even better about giving these to the kids. Simply subbing almond flour and nut milk does the trick for the most part! The muffins are sweetened with maple syrup or honey, so they are refined-sugar free and made with coconut oil — a much healthier alternative to all the butter you usually find in banana bread!

You can make this recipe into muffins or banana bread. The muffins tend to be my go-to, even though I’m not sure why because they become way too easy to just grab and scarf in no time at all! The kids are seriously obsessed with these and I end up having to hide the muffins after we make them (out of sight out of mind??) so they aren’t asking for literally seven a day HAHA! We love these as an afternoon snack or something easy to grab on our way out the door in the morning. They are SUPER moist and don’t taste “healthy” at all. Hope you enjoy them in your home as much as we do in ours!

KID-APPROVEDHEALTHY PALEOBANANA MUFFINS

Kid-Approved Healthy Paleo Banana Muffins/Bread
recipe adapted from Cookie and Kate healthy banana bread recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • ⅓ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup (we almost always use Trader Joe’s 100% Pure Maple Syrup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 ½ medium or 2 large bananas)
  • ¼ cup homemade almond milk (or any unsweetened almond milk or other nut milk) or water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to swirl on top
  • 2 cups almond flour (I use Trader Joe’s Blanched Almond Flour)
  • Totally optional: ½ cup mix-ins like chopped walnuts or pecans, chocolate chips, raisins, chopped dried fruit, fresh banana slices…

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius) Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan if baking bread or line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners
  2. In a large bowl, beat the oil and honey/maple syrup together together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well, then whisk in the mashed bananas and nut milk or water. (If your coconut oil solidifies on contact with cold ingredients, simply let the bowl rest in a warm place for a few minutes, like on top of your stove, or warm it for about 10 seconds in the microwave.)
  3. Add the baking soda, vanilla, salt and cinnamon, and whisk to blend. Lastly, switch to a big spoon and stir in the flour, just until combined. Some lumps are ok! If you’re adding any additional mix-ins, gently fold them in now.
  4. Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. If you’d like a pretty swirled effect, run the tip of a knife across the batter in a zig-zag pattern.
  5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes if baking bread and 22-25 minutes if baking cupcakes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean) Let the bread/muffins cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then transfer  to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

My Everyday Makeup: UPDATED

Since I put this post up last July I’ve continued to get questions about my makeup and I have actually made a few changes to the products I use, so I thought I would update this post! I’ve put the updated products in bold in the post below! **The only things I’ve changed are my powder and bronzer!**

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So, here’s the roundup. I’ve listed everything out in the order in which I put it on my face. Hope that helps!

Laura Mercier Mineral Pressed Powder: I’ve had people comment on how “flawless” my skin looks — well, as much as I hate to admit that it’s not my skin, I have to give credit to this mineral powder from Laura Mercier. It provides amazing coverage while not being cakey and it’s also luminous so it gives your skin great dimension. I love it!

Unfortunately Laure Mercier discontinued this powder, which made me SOOOO sad because I was so obsessed with it, but I have now switched to the same powder, just in loose form: Laura Mercier Mineral Powder. I still use the color real sand for the most part, except in the summer when I am one shade darker and use the Classic Beige color. This powder is very close to the pressed version, maybe ever so slight less coverage. Having said that, for a date night or special event that I want more coverage for I will first use It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in the color medium. 

IT Cosmetics Sunshine In a Compact Vitality Anti-Aging Matte Bronzer: This is one product in my makeup bag that I definitely love and have bought several times to replace, but I’m not obsessed with. I am sure there are other great bronzers out there that would work really well. I like this one because it doesn’t have a lot of orange or red tones in it and works well for giving a contouring type effect!

I ran out of the It Cosmetics Bronzer and wanted to try something new. I’m currently using the Too Faced Sun Bunny Natural Bronzer and really loving it! I’d say it is a bit darker than the It Cosmetics stuff and gives me more definition/contouring and has a slight glow to it. I highly recommend it!

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Concealer:  Listen up tired mamas, you NEED this concealer. This is another one I heard about from miss Lauren and I am so glad I gave it a try. This concealer hides the fact that I have an infant and toddler at home and don’t get nearly as much sleep as I would like. My sister (a total beauty junkie who also has her own infant and toddler at home) ended up buying this too after noticing that I never looked tired even though she knew that I most definitely was 🙂

**Still using and loving this concealer, but when I run out I want to try the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer because I have heard RAVE reviews. Anyone use it?!

Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips: I was, and still am, a huge fan of Bobbi Brown’s Shimmer Bricks, but my older sister uses the Physicians Formula version and recommended it, so I’ve been using that instead for the past year or so. I use it both to give my cheekbones a bit of shine as well as use it as eyeshadow when I am out of my regular Mac Woodwinked shadow (which I currently am!). Love!

IT Cosmetics Superhero Mascara: I used to be a strictly drugstore mascara gal, until I found the IT Cosmetics Superhero Maskcare (thanks to Lauren McBride!). This stuff is so good — it lengthens and thickens and makes my lashes almost look fake! I’m hooked.

Christian Dior Eyeliner Pencil: I’ve used this eyeliner since I was 14 and I just can’t quit it — it goes on super smooth, doesn’t smudge and lasts throughout the day.

Billion Dollar Brows Universal Brow Pencil: I know everyone is all about the Glossier Boy Brow right now, and I’ve given that a try and it wasn’t my jam, but this stuff has been for a couple years now. It’s honestly foolproof, which I need because I am not an expert when it comes to brows and filling them in. I never got complimented on my eyebrows until I started using this. Now it happens all the time!

Bobbi Brown Blush in the color Peony: I used to be a strictly bronzer girl and didn’t feel I had any need for blush. Boy was I wrong! This Bobby Brown blush in the color peony is the perfect shade of pink to give your cheeks that flush pink color that brightens up your entire face without looking too pink. I now consider this blush my secret weapon to my makeup and my face definitely doesn’t feel “done” without it.

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{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}