sweet magnolia handmade

My dear friend, mama, maker, Julia of Sweet Magnolia Handmade. There are not enough beautiful words to describe this lady. I loved spending time with her in her happy place where she creates the sweetest, softest baby things. Check out her instagram and etsy here!

homemade soap + all purpose cleaner

You know those moments where you realize that you’re officially an adult or mom or … old? Like when you see high schoolers and they look like babies or when you get excited about things like a new mop. I’ve been experimenting with essential oils and making our own household products. I love all things natural and herbal. It’s so interesting how we are given all these plants, each with their own purpose, able to heal our bodies. Ive been reading things about cannabis oil curing children’s seizures who are seizing up hundreds of times a week- how miraculous, tea tree oil curing any fungus of the skin & frankincense curing cancer. I’m fascinated!

There’s so much to learn and play with. I’d love to hear how you use your oils too and I’ll be sharing once in a while what I’m doing over here.

To make soap all you need are these foaming soap dispensers, Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap, water and any essential oil you like. I use Eden’s Garden ‘cleaning’ in these bottles to wipe down surfaces in the house, floors, counters, everything. We don’t even have any other cleaners and it leaves everything so clean and smelling amazing, plus it’s non-toxic, double plus, it’s way cheaper to make it yourself. In our hand soap, I like to change the scent for the season, so for these winter months I’m using ‘fighting five’ (thieves), but my favorite blends are this, this and this.

To mix: for both the spray bottle and soap dispenser, I fill the bottle first with warm water almost to the top, then add a couple tablespoons of Castile soap and 10-20 drops of whichever essential oil you fancy. That’s it!

*Jazz hands*



a year on film

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Being still has been such a challenge for me this past year. I am usually reflective and reminiscent as the year ends, but when I think back it all just feels swept up like the wind. How has it come and gone so fast? Looking back at these photos, oh how she has grown, though each day feels the same, there’s been so much change, so much. I cannot even process it all and even now, I find it so hard to quiet myself and just be. That’s something I want to be intentional with in this new year.

Our wild girl has grown from a baby into a toddler this year. From crawling, to standing, walking, now running. First words, first kisses, first steps, first plane ride, first beach and salty waves, first mountains, picnics and waterfalls. And so much more to come!

Life as three is more different than I imagined. It’s way harder, but also more beautiful in ways I’d heard it could be but couldn’t really imagine because we had never experienced life outside of us before. How my heart, my love, joy has grown is something otherworldly.



Love! You will cherish these pictures even more as time passes. What a beautiful year!

I think it’s called MuMu. 🙂 There’s a link to it on my photography website if you look for their wedding:)


I’m curious, where is the bridesmaid dress you are wearing from?

the good stuff

At the end of every year one of my favorite things is to come up with a reading list for the coming year. My list was a bit different for 2016 as Ivy is becoming a toddler- I’ve been more interested in learning about parenting and how to nurture her ever changing brain. These are my favorites from this year and about all I had time to read with my beautiful wild child.

A Natural History of the Senses– Beautiful, my favorite of the year. Im still making my way through this one, but so far every page is so poetic and delicious to indulge in. Also, wouldn’t you just buy this because of the cover? Yes, Im that person!

Windows of the Soul–  I read this every year-the words are something my heart needs to hear over and over. After I read this for the first time I bought multiple copies just to give to all my friends, it’s so good!

Milk & Honey– poems. pain. love. strength. beauty. Rupi Kaur is a goddess.

Unselfie– EVERY parent and teacher needs a copy of this. It’s about empathy, teaching this to our children and how instilling this value can change their life. There are so many tools in this book to help our children succeed in the right way. It’s fascinating. I can’t help but think about how incredible it is to read a book like this, something someone has spent their entire lives doing studies and research for, and I get to devour it in a few days. What a gift!

Quiet– understanding an introvert personality, really insightful! It’s packed full of information about personalities and people. It’s helped me understand myself and so many others. It talks about how historically we’ve been shaped to think an extrovert personality is more desirable, but that the qualities of an introvert personality are actually really valuable and have shaped history and our country. It’s hard to explain this book in a few sentences, but theres a lot of good stuff in there!

The Whole Brain Child– a must read! This book has made me feel 100% better prepared for the years ahead and understanding the development of our child’s brain while giving me tools to help nurture. I love this quote from the book.

“Too often we forget that discipline really means to teach, not to punish. A disciple is a student, not a recipient of behavioral consequences.” – Daniel Siegel

and Big Magic– no description necessary. Just read it, do it, buy it, magic.





eating veggies, saving the world

“I dislike the thought that some animal has been made miserable to feed me. If I am going to eat meat, I want it to be from an animal that has lived a pleasant, uncrowded life outdoors, on bountiful pasture, with good water nearby and trees for shade.” – Wendell Berry

I’ve wanted to share this for a while (years!) but the subject makes me all fiery inside. It’s something that effects me greatly, deeply. It’s that subject that people just don’t want to talk about. I think because everyone loves animals yet they eat them and it’s so hard to look and see the truth behind how our meat and milk gets to our mouth. No body wants to see that, nobody wants to be responsible for that.

My journey into these truths began four years ago, randomly, I was bored one day and started watching documentaries on Netflix. ( Food inc., Vegucated, Forks Over Knives) I’m sure it’s not like this for every body, but after seeing the cruelty, hearing the facts and doing lots of research for myself I was pretty much vegan that same day- I couldn’t, as a consumer, be supporting these industries.

I grew up meat and potatoes. Like I didn’t even know what hummus or quinoa was, or even that there was milk besides from a cow! Yikes! A lot of what I ate growing up was probably what most of America eats, lucky charms for breakfast, lunchables, pop tarts, top ramen, hamburger helper (my dad’s go to😆) and anything and everything from a jar or can (hello spaghettios). So learning to basically cook again and completely change every aspect of our habits was challenging…but isn’t every change a little hard at first? You just begin, stick to it and eventually it becomes normal, second nature. After a year, maybe less, it’s hard to remember not being vegetarian, its easy now, our new normal as if it’s always been this way. So if the thought of changing to vegan/vegetarian is daunting. Take baby steps, try new things, find what works and what doesn’t (still haven’t mastered the art of tofu) and let it grow with you. It becomes easier, pinky promise!

Here are a few facts that I find convincing for myself, but go research factory farming and come to a place of awareness and knowledge to make informed decisions for yourself and your family.

-51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. Crap! literally. More interesting facts here.

-Cutting meat and dairy from your diet has more of an impact on the environment than buying a Prius.

Honestly for me, the cruelty is what was convincing because I’m easily effected visually and the images of live animals suffering, feeling, living a life in horrible conditions, then inhumanely slaughtered just for the pleasure of a meal doesn’t sit right when meat isn’t necessary for me to survive. It’s purely for pleasure, so I’m happy to pass!

-you only need 46g of protein a day! Once you learn what alternatives have protein it’s easy.

-the chicken and egg industries are awful. Every male baby chick is thrown into a grinder, alive, the females are raised for eggs, beaks cut off, crammed and caged up with no sunlight.

-pigs are kept in cages so small they cannot turn around.

There is so much cruelty I’m not going into, but you can find out for yourself if you try.

The dairy industry is one of the saddest things.
– dairy milk actually leaches calcium from your bones.
– There are blood/pus cells in milk from their utters being hooked up to a machine all day. It’s pasteurized so it’s safe, but gross! Plus there are hormones and gmos in their milk since the food they eat has pesticides and gmos.
– Cows must be pregnant first to lactate. They are constantly inseminated and pregnant all the time, then their babies are taken away immediately so humans can have their milk. If the calf is a male, it’s slaughtered for veil and the females are kept alone, confined, raised for dairy.
– Humans don’t need milk. What!!! After you’re done nursing from your mama humans do not need milk, crazy right! Not your mama, not your milk. Try SILK almond or cashew milk (we love unsweetened) or any alternative just make sure it’s free from carrageenan.

Yes, there are small local farms that are not this cruel, but in order to keep up with the meat and dairy demands of our nation, factory farms are the sad reality.

Another thing I find interesting is that before animals were made a commodity and so readily available for cheap prices, only the wealthy could afford to eat meat and they were the only ones suffering from heart disease, cancer, arteriosclerosis. Now these are our number one killers in America. Studies have been done on eating meat and heart disease and they’ve found that with a plant based diet it’s almost impossible to have high cholesterol, clogging the arteries that leads to heart attacks. Isn’t that amazing!


…you might be thinking, how the poop does she get protein, iron, b-12!

I wish I was one of those women who loved cooking, but I don’t. I love the eating part, but that’s it.

On a typical week this is what our meals might look like… they are easy, simple ingredients, real food!

Breakfast: burritos ( 20g of protein), every day. Yes we eat eggs. Get your own chickens or find a local person/growers market who has a coop. The difference in taste and color is amazing plus you don’t have to feel guilty supporting the egg industry. We cook an onion, kale, mushrooms in sriracha and liquid aminos, add eggs to make into a scramble and top with Chipotle Vegenaise.

Lunch: yum cups, risotto, falafel sandwich, couscous, hummus with fresh veggies like bell peppers, carrots, celery. (10+grams of protein in each of these)

Snack: nuts(iron)(5+grams protein), smoothie(10+ grams if you add protein powder, chia seeds, hemp hearts), apple with nut butter and baked goods.
Make sure your protein powder is not whey(dairy) We use hemp or pumpkin protein.

Dinner: curry with veggies & rice (this makes the best curry!), roasted salmon (once in a while I’ll buy fish) with veggies, burritos, lots of burritos, squash tacos, rice noodles with peanut sauce and veggies. Lots of dishes with beans added… (15+ protein)

For dessert, our favorite is to blend frozen bananas with cocao powder, almond milk, sometimes peanut butter and always protein powder. This is seriously so good, like ice cream!

For b-12 we take this supplement.

Maybe you’re wondering about the husband and how he felt about this big change. At first he was like, ‘I’m still drinking milk’, but eventually my constant ranting about the dairy industry worked. After we tried a few plant milks and found one we loved, he was sold. It actually tastes better than dairy! Does anyone even like the taste of cow milk?
As for the meat, after learning the truth of it all, he was happy to make this change with me! He’s the best!

American culture portrays ‘a mans man’ as someone who is at the BBQ and eats meat for every meal. I would like that to change our view of ‘man’ to someone who is kind, compassionate and humble- embodying wisdom, doing what is brave by standing for what is right and honorable when it’s not the popular thing to do- standing up for the voiceless. Animals are creatures who were created to feel and think. How these companies have turned animals into an abused commodity is wrong, in so many ways and the practices they carry out, the cruelty, is not something we can just be ignorant to. It’s devastating to our land, the world, our bodies and these creatures.

I wanted to write this post, not to condemn anyone who eats meat, but I really just want to share something that I truly care about- to shed a small light on this big subject that isn’t talked about a lot, but that is a huge deal for our world right now and needs to be acknowledged. Even just one person can make a difference, in your life, your family’s health, impacting the environment and saving hundreds of animals a year, just you.

More links!

Two favorite cookbooks right now, here & here

My vegetarian Pinterest board

Protein powder

Dairy free butter or use coconut oil when baking

Dairy free milk

Veganaise instead of Mayo, it’s so yummy! And hello, mayo is so gross!

Sub applesauce or flax meal for eggs when baking

We still eat cheese, but nutritional yeast is something we use a lot in dishes to give it that cheesy flavor. I haven’d found a plant based cheese I love, but almond pepper jack wasn’t too bad!

A couple videos. Here & here. Or look for Food inc., Forks over Knives & Vegucated on Netflix.

Warmly, Laura