How I Wake up With a Clean Kitchen

This post is sponsored by Cascade. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My kitchen is easily one of the messiest parts of the house. It’s where the kids (and dogs) eat their meals, where everyone comes in from the garage, and backpacks, groceries and mail get strewn all over the place. Needless to say, it’s a constant battle to keep it tidy. There is nothing worse than waking up in the morning with a messy kitchen all while trying to get yourself and kids ready for the day. There are a few things I do in the evening to try and make my mornings​ run smoother.

1. Clean the Microwave while you tidy – Scrubbing a microwave is the worst. It’s like a dark cave​ ​that you can’t clearly see so you’re just kind of winging it. A few years ago I read about this​ ​cleaning trick and it actually works. Take a microwavable bowl and fill half with lemon juice, half​ ​with water and then microwave for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, voila! You have a clean​ ​microwave and saved yourself 5 minutes of scrubbing.

2. Cascade pure essentials is my new secret weapon when it comes to removing tough grease and set-on food stains. I don’t have time to pre-wash all the dishes just so I can put them into the dishwasher to be washed again! I need a product that will work for me, not against me. Cascade has simplified their winning formula and developed an ActionPac that is free of​ ​phosphates and chlorine bleach. Each ActionPac is infused with biobased ingredients and produces zero waste in landfills. How amazing is that? Not only are your dishes getting clean but it has ingredients that you can feel good about using for your family. It’s a win-win! I run the dishwasher before going to bed every night so I don’t have to wake up to a sink full of dirty dishes. Cascade pure essentials are available at Kroger stores now and you can get $1 off any Cascade pure essentials item now through May 25 here.

3. Laundry baskets in our house are for more than just holding laundry. I use them for​ ​miscellaneous items that belong in places besides the kitchen. I gather things in the basket​ ​throughout the day that go upstairs or in the basement … basically any item that isn’t food or a​ ​dish goes in this basket. Then at the end of the day I carry the basket upstairs with me and​ ​separate items out where they really belong (kids rooms, bathroom, dresser, etc). I also use this​ ​trick if I have company coming over and I didn’t have time to clean. Everything goes in the laundry basket and in the garage until they leave 🙂

4. A few years ago we invested in a robotic vacuum for the hardwood floors. Between the constant crumbs from the kids and dogs, and the amount of pet hair flying around, that sucker needs to be running literally all day long. Every evening when we go upstairs for the night I set the vacuum to run over the hardwoods. Once it’s finished, it finds its home base and charges when it’s done.

5. This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s my favorite part of cleaning. Having sparkling, clean countertops are my favorite. So while the microwave is cleaning, I spend those 5 minutes wiping​ ​down all counters, the fridge, dishwasher, and sink. That’s my final step before I head up to bed.​ ​All in all, everything takes around 20 minutes of my actual time and it makes me a much happier​ ​person in the morning!

At the end of the day our ultimate goal is to be able to spend as much time as possible with family and loved ones, not worry about a messy house. What are your go-to cleaning hacks to save you time?

4 Easy Ways to Host a Summer Picnic

In the late Spring and early Summer my backyard looks the best it does all year. With lush greens, beautiful morning light, and no mosquitos, it’s the perfect place to gather friends and family. The weather was absolutely perfect last week so my friend Katie and I decided to treat ourselves to an outdoor picnic instead of our usual coffee date. Catching up over savory snacks and fresh air was so good for our souls! There are few things I love more than hosting friends and I would definitely consider myself a pro when it comes to entertaining. Today I’m sharing my 4 tips for hosting a picnic (which literally anyone can do!) They’re so easy and require zero investment, besides food and drinks, because you probably have everything you need inside your home.

Even though picnics are already outside and surrounded by nature, don’t let that stop you from bringing in more greenery or beautiful blooms. Adding pops of color with flowers to your setup is a relatively inexpensive way to fill the space.

You don’t need to use outdoor only blankets & pillows. If the ground is dry than bring out all the indoor blankets and textiles you need. The more the merrier, especially if you’re having several people. No one wants to sit on dirt and be uncomfortable, so think of it like you’re decorating your living room. Think outside the box. Mix colors and blend textures. Don’t be afraid of color because after all, you’re probably doing it for the ‘gram anyway.

Keep food simple. Picnic food should be finger food items like small sandwiches, cheese and crackers, mini cupcakes and a veggie platter. Having to cut food with a knife and fork on your lap sounds like an accident waiting to happen. Plus, everything mentioned can be bought pre-made at your local grocery store which saves you time and your sanity. Leave the silverware at home and bust out those beautiful cloth napkins you save for special occasions and you’re set!

Don’t forget the wine! I don’t know about you, but sitting outside on the ground for a few hours without having a drink in my hand doesn’t sound like that much fun. While I’m not a huge drinker I do enjoy having a glass or two of wine socially with my friends. I love white wine and Butter Chardonnay has become a favorite of mine recently. They just introduced a 4-pack of Chardonnay cans which are perfect for a picnic, especially if you’re having one at a local park or public beach. No glass=no mess! Having the cans means you don’t have to pack cups either, so it’s one less thing to forget.

When was the last time you threw a picnic? What is the one must-have item on your picnic list?

How to Refresh your Patio in under 30 Minutes

This post is sponsored by Tuesday Morning. All thoughts & opinions are my own. 

Our outdoor patio space has been in need of  love for a long, long time. Since we’ve had so much rain over the past several months (and frankly several years) it has gotten neglected big time. Living in Atlanta there are only a few months out of there year where it’s actually enjoyable to be outside (because sweltering heat & humidity, mosquitos and pollen. Ew.) The rain appears to have finally stopped for a while and with Spring in full bloom, it is the perfect time to update our patio!

I love shopping at places like Tuesday Morning because they offer affordable, unique items that help express my personal style. I can always count on them to have a wide variety of items I need so I’m not running all over town. It was so easy to transform our backyard patio without breaking the bank. The weather this past weekend could not have been better and it was the perfect time to host a girls night. I made sure to enlist the help of my trusty sidekick who is now a pro at arranging (and eating) oranges. When choosing serving ware, I always lean towards more neutral colors that can be used for holidays, parties, and everyday use.

In addition to the serving ware, Tuesday Morning has a ton of cost-effective outdoor items like rugs, pillows and cushions, umbrellas and patio furniture. Our patio set was relatively new but as you’ll see from the “before” pictures below, it was looking very run down. I wanted to add some pops of color and white textiles to brighten the space and make it feel inviting. With adding white flower pots, a beautiful white ceramic table, colorful pillows and a rug, I was able to create an outdoor living space that was warm and welcoming. My favorite find however was this adorable outdoor bar cart which I filled with greenery and flowers. The possibilities for this little cart are endless (dessert bar anyone??) and I cannot wait to use it in down the line. At only $79, it was steal for sure!

If you’re looking to makeover a patio or other space in your house then be sure to stop by your local Tuesday Morning for one-of-a-kind items and amazing deals! I was able to makeover our entire patio in under 30 minutes with only trips to the store (Tuesday Morning and my local grocery store) to get everything I needed to host our friends. Now that you’ve seen the “after” transformation of our deck space, here are the before ones. I told you our patio needed a lot of love!

Have you given your outdoor space a make over yet? Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave a photo so I can see the transformation! Happy Spring!

The Best Beach Getaway for Families – Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

Our first beach trip of 2019 was to the beautiful Hilton Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort in Destin, Florida. It’s an iconic destination with thousands of Spring Breakers and families flocking there nearly year-round. With summer upon us, it is an ideal place to visit with the family because it’s a short drive from several Southern states. It’s also extremely kid and family-friendly with so many activities besides just going to the beach all week!

We stayed in one of the junior suites which had built in bunk beads for the kids. They were so obsessed with them and I love how they were down the hallway from the main part of the room so there was some separation. There is also a small TV in the bunk bed nook so Disney Junior wasn’t monopolizing the TV 24/7. In addition to the king bed and bunk beds, there is also a pull out couch which could technically sleep 2 more kids. Our patio overlooked the pools and beach and was a great place to relax in the evening after a long day in the sun.

I’m pretty picky when it comes to beach resorts, especially when traveling with the kids. I always look for hotels that go out of their way to make the stay enjoyable and stress-free. The chair set-up on the beach was a breeze and took no time at all to get a spot. The staff does everything for you without even asking: carries your chairs to your preferred location, puts your umbrella in the sand and makes sure you’re comfortable before heading back to the rental tower. This might not seem that important to you but when you’re lugging a cooler, beach towels and a million beach toys while walking in sand and also making sure your kids don’t run in the ocean fully clothed, you come to appreciate any help you can get.

I absolutely loved the beachside service. It was so convenient and relaxing having the kids lunch and our drinks brought out to us. I hate having to get everyone dried and dressed just to go break for lunch, so having the beachside service was amazing. The kids could eat and play at their leisure and didn’t have to stop enjoying themselves. As any parent knows: Happy Kids, Happy Life. Evelyn was straight up eating corn on the cob while on the beach. I don’t think she has ever been so happy in her entire life!

If you happen to get caught with cold temps or rain, The Hilton Sandestin offers free shuttles and access to Village Baytowne Wharf, an outdoor complex with plenty of restaurants, family-friendly actives and entertainment. My kids loved the arcade, playground, trampolines and carousel. We had mediocre weather one day and we couldn’t have asked for a better place to spend the day. The kids loved it so much that we went back over after dinner at the hotel one night. It’s literally right across the street from the hotel and a short 3 minute car ride.

In addition to the 2 outdoor pools, baby pool, indoor pool, and 2 hot tubs, there are four golf courses on property (cue the sound of husbands collectively cheering everywhere), 15 tennis courts, complimentary bikes, kayak and boogie boards. The mini golf course right next to the hotel provides a great break from the beach and is so much fun for the kiddos! Speaking of needing a break from the beach, The Hilton Sandestin also has Club KZ, a children’s program that provides day or evening childcare from ages 5-12. There are morning and evening times available and meals are even provided for them in case you and your spouse want to grab a bite to eat at one of the resort’s 4 restaurants.

Let’s talk about the amazing food that Hilton Sandestin has. From a steak house to sushi bar and a beachside bar and grill, the 5 onsite restaurants at the resort give options for every member of the family. Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood is perfect for a date night (drop the kids in Club KZ), Sandcastles has the most delicious breakfast buffet and a great kids menu (we ate there the most!), and Picnix Poolside Market is great for afternoon ice cream and yummy lunches when the kids refuse to leave the pool or beach but need to eat. Did I mention that Hilton Sandestin also offers 24 hour in-room dining and has a coffee shop in the lobby? You guys, I’m not even kidding when I say they thought of everything to make your family vacation go smooth and stress-free. Having so many incredible food and drink options on site is so convenient when traveling with children. Like I mentioned above, happy kids, happy life right? In all seriousness, the happiness of my children while on vacation is what I care most about and Henry and Evelyn never stopped smiling our entire trip.

During our stay I had the pleasure of experience the award winning spa, Serenity by the Sea, to get a hydrafacial. After being in the sun and piling on the sunscreen, it felt so good to have my pores cleaned out and my face felt amazing and so smooth afterwards. They offer massages, manicures, pedicures, several different facials, soaks, a sauna and a whirlpool so you can be sure to get all the self-care and relaxation that you need. It has been named one of the 10 Best Spa Treatments by USA Today and I can see why. My whole experience was amazing and I wish I had more time to spend there. You can also bring in the littles so they can feel pampered as well with a Sherbet Splash Pedicure. In addition to the spa services there is also a 24/7 state-of-the-art fitness center which offers sunrise yoga, numerous other classes and an array of equipment so you can get your sweat on.

A huge thank you to the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa for hosting us and making our trip so amazing! I cannot recommend this beautiful destination enough! Our stay was one of the best we’ve ever had and we will for sure be back!

4 Ride or Die Beauty Products That Need To Be on Your Shelf

I’m a sucker for rose scented anything so when Physicians Formula came out with their Rosè Collection I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the products. I have really sensitive skin and products with too much perfume or fragrance can really bother me. However, the entire Rosè All Day line is gentle, lightweight and doesn’t clog my pores (which is my biggest concern when trying out new skincare). Rose contains anti-inflammatory and antiseptic healing properties and happens to be my favorite scent in the entire world, besides that newborn baby smell 🙂 I’ve been using the Rosè Collection for over a month now and can now give my honest thoughts on each item!

Rosè All Day Illuminating Setting SprayThe first setting spray I ever used was Physicans Formula #InstaReady Setting Spray so when I saw they added a new rose scented one to their line I was ecstatic. The Rosè Illuminating Setting Spray is so refreshing and leaves my skin looking dewy and keeps my makeup in place. It smells amazing and I even sprayed some in my hair so my hair would smell good before date night, haha!

Rosè All Day Oil-Free Serum – This is one of my all-time favorite skincare products ever. I’ve been using it for over a year and I swear my makeup goes on better because of it. Last year before my 34th birthday I was getting my makeup done and I mentioned to the artist that my makeup always seemed to look dry and cakey on my face. She suggested that I apply oil to my skin beforehand and assured me that would help. Even though I was skeptical I did so the next day and could immediately tell a difference. Since then this serum has become a staple in my pre-makeup routine. I mix 1/2 a dropper of the Rosè All Day Oil-Free Serum with my face cream and it provides the right amount of moisture and highlight without being overpowering or making my skin feel oily. If there is one product I could place in everyone’s bathroom it would be this one! It’s great to use even if you’re going makeup-free because of the subtle shimmer. I feel like this product 100% transformed my skin.

Rosè All Day Tri-phase Beauty ElixirLately I have been mixing this with my foundation to give my skin an extra glowing boost. It has an underlying sweet floral scent and there isn’t anything I don’t love about this elixir. Just like all the other products in the Rosè Collection, this one is lightweight and brightens my skin so I always look rested and refreshed.

Rosè All Night Ultra-Rich Restorative Cream – This ultra-hydrating night cream not only smells amazing but packs a big punch while you sleep. My face feels instantly hydrated immediately after use and I sleep better know this cream is repairing my skin while I sleep. It’s infused with calming rose water, Brightening Kakadu Plum, and Wrinkle-Relaxing Sea Mayweed which is a natural alternative to fillers – yay! This cream goes on smooth over other products as well (I use a Tretinoin cream every other night).

The main reason I love Physicians Formula is because they do not conduct tests or commission any outside facility to conduct tests that involve the use of animals. The safety of their products is determined using clinical evaluations and human use-trials under the supervision of a Board Certified Dermatologist. Their products are formulated for sensitive skin and do not contain PABA, nor over 100 known skin irritants. I’m a diehard fan of their makeup and mission as well. Their products are the best of the best without breaking the bank. They have stayed true to themselves since 1937 and is my go-to brand for sensitive skin makeup and skincare.

Have you tried the new Physicians Formula Rosè Collection? If so, what was your favorite product?

The Ultimate High-Waist Jean

If you’ve been following me for a while or know me in real life, than you know I rarely ever wear jeans. I’ve actually never really loved them and hate the way 99% of jeans fit. That being said, it shouldn’t come as a shock to know I only own ONE pair. After having the same pair of jeans for over a year I can confidently say that they are my all-time favorite. I’ve always needed a high waist jean that hugs me in all the right places and doesn’t cut me in unflattering places (muffin tops are only good on muffins). I discovered Good American jeans after reading rave reviews and seeing them on actual real, curvy women and not just ones that are a size 2. This style fit that I love is the Good Legs in Black and even though the price tag is high ($149), they are one thousand percent worth the investment. If you sign up for their email list you can save 15% on your first order, shipping is free and they allow free returns.

I love layering and wearing jackets or blazers over just about anything. Fun prints like this animal print blazer easily dress up an outfit for a more polished look. It’s also very lightweight and can be worn year round here in the South. Under the blazer I wore my favorite black bodysuit from True & Co. Now let me tell you why this look can work for ANY body type. Dressing in the same stand-alone, one color-blocked garment creates a long column that draws the eye vertically, making you appear longer and leaner. Adding a blazer also brings out your waist and creates a flattering curve. Be sure to choose a blazer that doesn’t have a lot of excess fabric, which creates unnecessary bulk. Avoid blazers that are too boxy or too long; these fits will hide your shape.

Tiger Blazer // Black Jeans // Black Body Suit // Sunglasses // Heels (similar)

Happy weekend, friends! xo

The 8 Most Instagrammable Restaurants in NYC!

I make it very known that I will travel for food. It’s such a huge part of my life and frankly life is just too short to miss out on all the good stuff! Even though this trip was mainly a content creation trip, we couldn’t forget about all the amazing food New York City has to offer. In fact, two years ago my friend Lori and I went to NYC for 24 hours to eat dessert. I’m grateful that Lindsay is also a huge foodie because she picked all of the restaurants for the trip. Each one was amazing and it really is hard to find bad food in the city! Below is a list of everywhere we went and the times of day which I think is helpful when planning your visit!

Biergarten at The Standard  – Meatpacking District [Friday, 6:30pm] – This was definitely the most packed place we went to while in NY but granted, it was prime time. Reservations are not necessary and there are plenty of long cafeteria style tables, high tops, and bar space.There are also several large TVs and ping pong tables plus it’s dog friendly. They have amazing cocktails, huge beers, chicken sausages and massive pretzels. Overall it has a really fun atmosphere and vibe!

Old Rose – Chelsea [Friday, 11:30am] This is a blogger hot spot and rightfully so. Everything is so decorated and designed so beautifully making every nook photo worthy. It’s located inside the Jane Hotel on the first floor and reservations are strongly encouraged so you can secure your spot (they’re available on Open Table). You cannot take pictures on a DSLR camera without getting permission prior via email. iPhone photography is allowed though. The food was really good but the service was pretty slow because the one bartender was also the waitress for the entire restaurant which was so strange. Needless to say it took forever to get drinks. In the end I do recommend coming here if you’re looking for a cute photo opt!

Artichoke Pizza – Chelsea [Saturday 12:30pm] Since we had a 5:30am wake up call Saturday morning to shoot for 5 hours, no one had eaten anything and by noon we were starving. After finishing up at Vessel our amazing driver took us to Artichoke Pizza (we asked for the closest pizza spot that was good and it didn’t disappoint!) There is a full bar and plenty of seating. You order and pay at the pizza counter so we didn’t have a server. Maybe it was the time of day but it was actually nice since we kind of needed to eat and run! The pizza was made fresh with a crispy crust and heavy toppings, which we all loved!

Cha Cha Matcha – Nolita [Friday 9:30am] This is one of those Instagram famous hot spots and it was on the same block as our hotel. The young kids behind the counter could not have been nicer and were totally cool with us taking 5000 photos. The cafe draws quite an eclectic crowd and most of them were in and out with their drinks and pastries. It’s definitely a trendy spot with cute decor and a pink exterior. I never knew matcha could be made so many ways and their drinks were insanely delicious. They also have matcha soft serve which I’ll have to get next time because I’ve read rave reviews about it!

Bobo – West Village [Thursday 6:45pm] The cutest and coziest French spot in the West Village. We sat in the covered and heated outside patio which was great because the inside dining rooms were a tad noisy. The Beet Chips were out of this world. Typically I hate beets and never, ever eat them but these were AMAZING! The service was outstanding and our waiter was very attentive. I ordered the homemade potato gnocchi that came with cremini & maitake mushrooms in a porcini-cognac cream. The texture was very soft and pillowy and so so good. I loved the overall atmosphere in this tucked away little gem and will definitely be back!

Randolph Beer – Nolita [Thursday, 1pm] – We lucked out that there was such an amazing food spot right next door to our hotel. It was perfect since Thursday was pouring and after spending an hour in Uber driving in from the airport, we were starving. Upon arrival our group were the only ones there so the food and drinks came super fast. There are several vegan and gluten free options on the menu and I went with the cauliflower rice bowl with avocado, egg, and cheese. I can’t even express how tasty the waffle fries were and all the dipping sauces that came with them.

The Polo Bar – Midtown East [Saturday, 5:30pm] – Before even discussing the food I need to say that the customer service here is better than any other restaurant I have ever been to in my entire life. That says A LOT considering I am 34 years old and a huge foodie. Lindsay stalked Open Table for 2 weeks so we could get a reservation since you have to have one in order to dine there. For example, as I write this post at 8am there have already been 84 reservations made on Open Table, so they go fast but it’s worth the daily checking. The drinks, equestrian decor and food could not have been better. You have to have a reservation even if you want to have a drink at the bar, so you can arrive early or stay after if you want to experience the bar atmosphere, which is wonderful! They also have breakfast, brunch and lunch as well if that’s more of your speed. Definitely get the famous RRL Hot Dog which can be split amongst the table as an appetizer. The hot dog is served in a split brioche bun and topped with ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut, chopped onions, relish and pickled jalapeño slices. They’re made from a blend of Colorado beef and Australian Wagyu which come from Ralph Lauren’s ranch in Colorado. As far as cocktails and other items on the menu, everything the 4 of us had was amazing and judging by all the amazing reviews online, you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

Milk & Cream Cereal Bar – Nolita [Saturday 8pm] – My husband and I tried this back in December and when I found out it was so close to our hotel, I knew I had to bring the girls. We stopped there for dessert Saturday night after Polo Bar and even though the line was long, it moves pretty fast and gives you time to look at the menu. Table space is limited but since there were 4 of us we were able to keep watch on people leaving and then swoop in and snag a corner table. There is ice cream, milkshakes and regular cereal bowl that you can choose from, 18 cereals and tons of toppings and sauces.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in New York? Let me know in the comments so I can visit on my next trip! xo!

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