Homemade Taco + Chili Seasoning

For whatever reason the idea of making my own seasoning mixes used to really overwhelm me, but it is one of those things I wish I had done sooner!! We've been making our own seasoning mixes for about the last ten years, and it is so easy, plus it makes life so much simpler! We typically buy our individual spices from Thrive Market since we can get organic ones at a great price.  

Our taco + chili mix is probably our most used spice mix! It tastes great, is quick to make, and saves us money all while making sure we aren't ingesting added sugars or other unnecessary ingredients!

 
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TACO + CHILI SEASON MIX:
4T of chili powder
6T garlic powder
4T onion powder 
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4T dried oregano
3T paprika
6T ground cumin
2T sea salt
1T black pepper

Mix well in a medium size bowl, then transfer to an air tight glass jar! When ready to use, I add 1-2T per pound of meat/vegetables. *Note: this makes a large jar. You can make it a little spicier with more chili powder or red pepper flakes if you want! 

A Merry Little Christmas

 
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I truly love the Christmas season - the lights, the family focus, giving gifts, making cocoa. I know many people that feel the pressure of society to make it bigger and better and perfect every year, but when we focus on simplicity + genuine anticipation of the season, then we find the joy and awe of Christmas. For us it's keeping gifting simple + intentional, carving out time for rest (watching movies together, snuggling on the couch reading books, wintry walks in the park, family dates to see the lights), keeping an advent tradition with our little ones, and making lots of time for family.

 
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Every year we spend Christmas Eve with my family, and it's one of my favorite days of the year. My mom's house is decorated with lots of color, whimsy and farmhouse touches, and she always go the extra mile to make things special. (See her lovely, festive sangria below!) I love being in that house - the one where I grew up - and it's so special to me for Elliot to open presents right where I did as a child! He gets to see his cousins (who adore him), open presents and play outside. We exchange gifts for the kids, then do adult white elephant, which is always fun! My family has great taste, so we always end up with something thoughtful that we love! 

 
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The only thing I love just a tiny bit more is Christmas breakfast. Everyone comes in pjs, sips coffee + eats a big breakfast together - eggs, cinnamon rolls, bacon + sausage, grits, fruit, the works! This year we had the honor of hosting since Elliot is the youngest grandchild, and it was the best morning.

 
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Every year my mother buys me, my sister and herself a pair of Christmas leggings, and we wear them for Christmas breakfast! She also give us each a new pair of the softest pajamas + cute, cozy slippers!

 
 
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The rest of our day was spent at home, playing outside, exploring new toys, reading new books, spending all day in our pjs. No toys were put away in their bins and instead rested under the tree when not in use. We built a fire, made a gluten-free pizza, and just sat on the floor together. It was probably my favorite day of the entire year. Simple, intentional. No rushing around, no commitments, nowhere to be but home.  

 
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I hope you had the most wonderful Christmas (or other holiday that you celebrate!) with the ones you love! What is your favorite holiday tradition with your family?? 

A Whole30 Pantry

 
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Interrupting all of our holiday festivities to bring you some exciting news! Every year we jump in on the January Whole30 challenge, and this year I am super excited to be leading a group through it! Meal plans, tips + tricks, recipes, what to expect +  how to handle it. Changing our diet literally changed our lives (no more headaches!), so sharing that with other people + helping empower them to take charge of their health is literally the best job ever.

If you're thinking of doing the January Whole30 or another health challenge, here are a few things to get you started! Stock your pantry now so that you have everything you need for a successful New Year! (Anyone else LOVE the freshness of the new year, making goals, etc? I might like it a little...) Reading food labels is your first step when it comes to pantry staples, but since they can seem like greek sometimes, here are some of our Whole30 complaint favorites.

 
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SAUCES + DRESSINGS:
+ Coconut Aminos: use this as a soy sauce substitute! Stir fry, BBQ chicken, etc. to add a salty umami flavor to a dish
+ Red Boat Fish Sauce: we use this in Asian inspired dishes!
+ Primal Kitchen or Tessames salad dressings
+ Avocado Oil Mayo: we mostly make our own but love this one in a pinch! The chipotle lime is amazing too! 

OILS + VINEGAR:
+ Avocado oil: for cooking, dressings, making homemade mayo
+ Good quality Olive Oil: for cooking, dressings, etc. 
+ Coconut oil: for all. the. things. but especially cooking eggs! 
+ Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar (with 'the mother'!): for dressings, cooking and literally SO GOOD for your health! We do a shot of ACV + apple juice + cassia oil + cayenne +/- turmeric daily for health + wellness! 

NUTS + SEEDS:
+ Almond butter: for snacks, cooking, basically a replacement for peanut butter
+ Almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds: for snacking, adding to salads

OTHER STAPLES:
+ Canned coconut milk: this is a must! Coconut milk yogurt, our favorite coconut curry, even in your coffee! 
+ Kettle & Fire Bone Broth: for cooking or drinking (amazing when you have a cold!)
+ Organic crushed (or diced) tomatoes, tomato paste, marinara sauce
+ Nutpods: we usually drink black coffee, but this is a great alternative! 
+ Peppermint tea: this isn't totally necessary, but sometimes I love a good mug of tea, especially when we are limiting or eliminating coffee! 

SPICES:
+ Organic oregano, paprika, cumin, garlic, onion powder, chili powder, Italian seasoning, thyme, Himalayan salt or Real Salt for anything but great for making your own spice mixes (taco + chili, etc). If we ever don't have dried herbs we just use a drop (or a few!) of essential oils! 

In general look for items that are free of wheat, soy, added sugar, carrageenan, MSG, sulfites, dairy, hydrogenated oils like corn, soy and canola. We don't have access to a Whole Foods or other health food store, so we order these from Thrive Market and save both time and money! (Think Whole Foods meets Costco!)

Are you joining us for the January Whole30?? Make sure to follow along on Instagram for recipes, day to day insight and our favorite tips + tricks!

Christmas Traditions: Cookie Baking

 
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When I was little Christmas always included a day of baking cookies with my mom, sister and Grandmother, and we decided to keep the tradition with Elliot. So yesterday my mom, my nephew, Elliot and I made Christmas cookies! With the Christmas music playing, cinnamon + spruce diffusing and cookies baking, we had the best day!  Even our dog Sam got in on the action, eating every tiny sprinkle or crumb that fell on the floor. He was so much in the middle of it all that he got powdered sugar all over his face! 

We used a traditional batter and a gluten free one* and decorated with buttercream frosting (recipe below!) plus whatever we had on hand - mini chocolate chips, crushed candy canes, sprinkles, raw sugar crystals.

 
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The end result of our cooking making was perfectly imperfect.  It was hard for my inner perfectionist to relinquish control, but in the end I'd rather have messily made + decorated cookies with my people than to have picture-worthy ones on my own. 

It was the sweetest sight to see Elliot with his Mimi and his cousin, happy and excited and carrying on a tradition that I had with my sweet grandmother. For the first time since her passing I was able to think about her with only joy and no sadness. It felt like she was finally telling us it was ok to let go. No bitter, just sweet.

 
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SIMPLE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
1/2 to 2/3 cup grass-fed butter (use 2/3 for more creamy texture), room temperature
3 cups organic powdered sugar
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
1-2T almond milk to thin

Whip the butter + sugar in a stand mixer (we LOVE our KitchenAid), then add vanilla. Add the milk 1T at a time to desired consistency. Optional: mix in plant-based food coloring. Transfer to a plastic bag, cut the tip off and decorate! 


*We used this recipe for the cookies, and they were okay. It may be the brand of gluten-free flour we used (King Arthur) or maybe we just are more used to baking with almond flour, but the texture seemed a tiny bit gritty. When we do use gluten-free flour, we typically use the Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Baking Flour, which would probably yield better results! 

Last Minute Gifts That Spark Joy!

I mentioned in our last post that we take gift giving pretty seriously around here... basically I LOVE seeking out the perfect thing that someone will love, ideally supporting a small business and not getting too caught up in the 'buy everything' feeling that often comes this time of year. Whether you're giving a little something special to your neighbor or looking for the perfect thing for your spouse, here are a few of my favorite things that spark joy (and will arrive before Christmas)!

 
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+ For the cook: An Instant pot and a great cookbook. I love cookbooks and cooking out of pen and paper books! Some favorites: My New Roots (plant-based), It's All Good or It's All Easy by my girl Gwyneth Paltrow, Against All Grain or anything by Danielle Walker,  and Whole 30 Fast & Easy
+ For her: A copy of Hello Glow + a cozy pair of slippers 
+ For a friend, neighbor, sister: A pretty journal and a good book. Maybe Present Over Perfect or anything by Shauna Niequist, Chasing Slow by Erin Loechener, or Cultivate by Lara Casey
+ For him: a pair of work gloves with touch screen fingertips
+ For the coffee lover: a coffee subscription + a Chemex or French Press
+ For her: a subscription to the Magnolia Journal + fun coffee mugs for curling up to read with a mug of tea or coffee
+ For the wine connoisseur: A subscription to Winc  + pretty wine glasses (I also love these for a more casual style) to share (or not!)

Share any of your favorites in the comments. I love reading them! Happy gift giving + Merry Christmas!! 

A Simple Christmas: Want, Need, Wear, Read

 
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It seems like every year the Christmas season gets more and more hectic, and we have to be more and more intentional about chasing the slow. Between aunts and uncles and grandparents there are a lot of gifts going around (which is amazing!!), and we as parents want to make sure that Elliot grows up treasuring all of them. So one of the ways that we have decided to keep Christmas simple is with intentional gift giving. We buy something he wants, something he needs, something for him to wear and something for him to read. The concept is not ours originally, but we've been doing it for a few years now and really love it! 

 
We've also been keeping our decorations on the simple side - lots of greenery + lights, adding glitter + ornaments to our vases + candles.

We've also been keeping our decorations on the simple side - lots of greenery + lights, adding glitter + ornaments to our vases + candles.

 

WANT: A Paw Patroller + a handmade wooden bow. We got him two toys this year since his need and wear are both clothes, ha! And we got a great deal on the Paw Patroller on Black Friday! 

NEED + WEAR: This category often overlaps for Elliot since he is growing so quickly! This year he's getting two outfits. A cute Nike one similar to this (he loves them for outdoor activities + play!) and a cute set of sweats (again, outdoor play. I can't keep that kid inside!). Often we buy shoes for one of the items in this category. These are our go-to, and I also love these.

READ: This year we are giving him 'Little Excavator' because he loves construction equipment and this book is about 'Little E'. We snagged it at his preschool's book fair, so some of the proceeds benefitted his school. Winning!! Some of our other favorites include Iggy Peck, Architect and the other two books in the series. My beautiful friend Jodi Kendall wrote 'The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City', which I LOVE for older children and am reading to Elliot a little at a time. 

 
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I LOVE packing stockings too! We keep it simple + fun and add things we need, so in Elliot's stocking we are putting a small lego set, a wooden spelling puzzlenontoxic finger paint, socks + undies, Justin's dark chocolate peanut butter cups, toothbrush + his favorite toothpaste.

What are your favorite Christmas gifting traditions? How do you keep things simple but fun? 

Snow Day

 
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We received a tiny Christmas miracle this year in Atlanta - snow in December! I grew up dreaming of snowy white Christmas and watching movies with beautiful glistening snow, and while the Christmas season is festive around these parts, it is never snowy. We may get some snow (or ice!) in February, but it rarely hangs around for long. Last week however, we were gifted some December snow! 

 
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We drove up to my sister in law's house to build snowmen and throw snowballs with Elliot's cousins. This was really his first time playing in the snow, and despite being ill prepared with regard to waterproof clothes, he loved it! I think his favorite part may have been throwing snowballs at me... 

 
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Thoughts on Underpinnings

A little while back I posted on Facebook asking for recommendations for under things, ideally organic, sustainably made under things. And the response I got was pretty sad. It seems that most of my lady friends don't actually own undergarments that they love. So I set out on a search of my own. 

One friend recommended Aerie products, another mentioned Patagonia, so I started there. And after a little online digging, I also found PACT Organic, and decided to give their items a try. I judged the items based on fit, style, comfort and perceived longevity, and here are my results.

 
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+ Aerie: While these were hands down the most stylish of underpinnings, I found the fit to be on the small side and felt that they wouldn't hold up well with daily wear. I also prefer organic cotton when it comes to things of the undergarment nature, so I decided that as cute as they are, the Aerie bottoms aren't for me.

+ Patagonia: quality and sustainability boxes were checked for sure, but I didn't love the fit and the appearance they had on the body. I tried this style and this one, and they felt and looked quite a bit like wearing a bathing suit bottom. 

+ PACT Organic: these were the ones I kept! I love the organic cotton, and the fit was pretty spot on, although I plan to go one size up with my next order for a little wiggle room (and babies, let's be honest.) The price was fair ($22 for two pair), and the style was more what I wanted. I ended up ordering boxers for my husband and boxer briefs for my son and was happy with those as well, and I plan to try their camisoles as my Target ones are needing replacement. I love their commitment to sustainability, fair wages and work environments, and pesticide-free organic cotton, especially for items coming so close to sensitive areas of our bodies. We will definitely be adding some PACT items to the holiday stockings this year! 

 
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There are a couple other companies I want to try:
+ Organic Basics: I'm asking Santa for a starter set - organic cotton underpinnings for both top and bottom as well as organic t-shirts to wear under sweaters to extend their life (more on that soon!) 

+ Naja: Seemingly the perfect pairing between pretty + ethical... because every lady needs something a little special, am I right?? Another request for Santa ;) 

Do you have any favorites when it comes to underpinnings? Share them in the comments below! 

Healthy Living, Young Living + iTovi

After being in vacation mode for most of the summer, I’m feeling the need for a reset so I’m jumping in on the September Whole 30, and focusing on intentional self-care for the next thirty days. Part of that for me is supplements, emotional support, and essential oils. That’s why we broke out our iTOVi scanner last night to get a feel for how to best support our bodies right now. The iTOVi works based on frequencies and bioimpedance to show areas that may need a little extra TLC.

I’ll admit, I was super skeptical about the theory of frequencies until I started looking into it more. Has your spouse, child or loved one ever walked into the room and you immediately feel your emotional state change? Have you ever gone to a concert or large sporting event and immediately felt the rush of energy in the stadium? It’s because we all carry energy around as a frequency.

 
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Your heart is a complex electromagnet that works by constantly emitting electronic frequencies to tell your body to pump blood, bring in oxygen, get rid of carbon dioxide. "The heart muscle itself, because of its electrical activity, creates its own endogenous EMFs" (electromagnetic frequencies)." In fact every living thing has a frequency. A healthy human body operates around 62-72MHz, and as our frequency lowers as our bodies work harder to maintain balance. How do we help our bodies maintain that balance? With plants! We can consume them or apply them in the form of oils. One of my go-to oils is lavender, which has a frequency of 118MHz!

“Every biological or nonbiological thing has a unique energy signature that vibrates at certain frequencies. A frequency is the number of times a wave repeats itself within a second, called an oscillation. iTOVi has measured and recorded each unique frequency of essential oils and supplements for each product company. Through the electrodes on the iTOVi scanner, these frequencies are sent into the skin, inducing a measurable response from the body.

"The scan report is the heart of the iTOVi experience. Each report is personalized to you the moment you are scanned. Products are then sorted from the top down by which ones your body had the strongest response." - iTovi website. You can read more of the research here and some of the science behind how it works here.

 
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After scanning, I started back on Mindwise (an amazing Vitamin D, healthy fat supplement that supports healthy adrenals and this mama mind!), Endoflex Vitality (endocrine system support), and SuperC (a healthier alternative to EmergenC). I also started using Purification oil over the liver, Release over my heart, and we have been diffusing Orange + Gathering. While using these emotionally supporting oils, I'm focusing on releasing control, being fully present, and practicing the discipilne of rest. (For more on emotions + oils, I love this book.) If you've been following along on Instagram you've seen that I also started back on one of my favorite workout programs last month, so I'll be continuing that as well. 

Your health is really a complex circle of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, and when any one area is out of balance, we feel it in all others. Finding balance is a constant journey, but one that has gotten much easier for us with our essential oils and our iTOVi scanner.


 
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If you want to get an iTovi scanner of your own, you can do so here. I love ours because it provides us with a road map for our health and is just so easy to use. It's super portable, works with your smartphone via Bluetooth and is easy to use with kiddos! Simply hold it against their back while they color or play. I love how empowered I feel as a mama with these tools! #winning

Book Review: Oola for Women

I've been a fan of the Oola principles since they released the "Infused" essential oil line with Young Living. As a full-time employee, full-time mom and entrepreneur, their mantra of focus on balancing faith, family, fitness, friends, finances, field and fun definitely grabbed my attention. And though my life has changed drastically since I read their original book, the Oola for Women was still as relevant. When one area of our lives slows down with responsibility, another inevitably ramps up, and all of us want that sense of balance. Hearing stories from other women (real women, some of who I actually know!) was encouraging and inspiring. (Psssst.... head over to Instagram to enter to win a copy of your very own!) 

The things that resonated the most with me were the Oola blocker and the Oola accelerators. I find my heart often needs a reset and reminder to let go of fear, anger, envy and self-sabotage and instead focus on love, gratitude, discipline, wisdom and passion. I also love a good pen and paper vision casting, writing out where I/we want to be, then working backwards to create practical, tangible steps towards achieving that big vision. "Goals are milestones to your dreams." Amen to that. Setting pen to paper to write out goals, big and small, makes them more real and more likely to be realized. 

So pour a glass of rose (or some kombucha if you're Whole 30-ing like me!), set up a warm bath with a lavender bath bomb and dive into this book. Really look at your life to find the sources of discontent, dream about what it is you want your life to look like, then write down practical steps to get there. Because creating that daily action plan will ultimately result in living the life of your dreams - your Oola life.