My Top 5 Uses for Reusable Bags

When grocery shopping, I used to always request paper bags when available because those plastic bags are my archnemesis. A big plastic bag filled with smaller ones sits in my garage that I grab once in a while and recycle at one of my local stores. Thankfully, that big bag of plastic has been smaller and, sometimes, nonexistent because I received a reusable, eco-friendly shopping bag in the mail as a giveaway. I use it every shopping trip and I also use it for other things.

Here are my Top 5 Uses for Reusable bags.

  1. Grocery Shopping
  2. Gift Giving
  3. Swim Bag
  4. Picnics
  5. Car diaper station

Grocery Shopping: I have my favorite cooler bags and 5 or 6 eco-friendly/reusable shopping bags with me every grocery trip. I even have a collapsible box one that is sturdy enough for larger items like laundry detergent or multiple canned goods. The store I shop at encourages it too with money off for each bag used. One of my cooler bags, I purchased from the grocery store, is my favorite because it is perfect size for pizzas! I found one online similar to it here!
I realized I had less plastic shopping bags balled up in my garage but I was adding to that ball thanks to the plastic bags from the produce section so I started shopping around for non-plastic produce bags to add to my grocery shopping ‘kit’. I am super particular when it comes to reusable bags for produce. But, I would high recommend these! They are super durable; I am not afraid of them tearing or stretching. The metal clasp was easy for cashier to quickly open to scan produce. I followed the directions upon receiving them and washed them before use. They washed nicely with no issues which is another plus! And, they store small too! I put all the bags into the largest pull close produce bag and store with my other reusable shopping bags.

Gift Giving: I have a box filled with gift bags that we have received that I dig through for each celebration instead of buying a new one. I started using reusable bags when that box did not have one for the needed celebration. They are the right size and there are ones available with the popular characters children love. My daughter received a Disney Frozen one and now she uses all around the house to carry her stuffed animals in; it is the cutest.

Swim Bag: My daughter takes swim lessons, well she did before COVID, she has not been in a pool since March. But, when she did have lessons, I was always running around trying to organize her stuff before running out the door. I had an over night bag we were using for the longest time but it was just so big and I did not need a bag that big. I then decided to try one of my reusable shopping bags and have been using one every lesson now. It is the perfect size to hold her towel, a clean diaper for after lessons, and her goggles. And, when she is in the pool, her clothes and shoes are all in one spot making it easy for me to keep track of and carry. You could easily find a cute beach, pool, fish, or ocean themed one to go along with whatever water activity you have planned.

Picnic: I have always thought picnic baskets were super cute but we have never taken an actual picnic using a picnic basket – mainly because I don’t own one and the ones I find super cute are expensive. I have packed lunches for when we have an all day outing at a park and have used a reusable bag to transport it all. I have one that has a plastic insert for the bottom giving the bag more stability. I layered our food putting our drinks and heavier items on the bottom and topping our bag with chips and fruit. My cooler bags have also been used on hotter days and I take the plastic insert from my other bag and use it in my cooler bag for that extra stability.

Car Diaper Station: Whenever we are out and about I always have my diaper bag with me and it is well stocked (usually). I have had the unlucky experience of needing a diaper while in the middle of errands and not having one so I try to not pull from the diaper bag when at parks or a change in the car in-between errands. I found a smaller reusable bag and I loaded it up with diapers, a pack of wipes, and an extra outfit. This is the bag I use for the in-between store changes and, when we are outside at a park, I can throw in the sunscreen and just carry that bag with me instead of the diaper bag that is loaded with everything else. You can easily find one that matches your child’s favorite things or one that matches something you love.

Do you have a favorite use for a reusable bag? Let me know what it is; always looking for new uses! Thanks for reading and following me!

Break

Last week, June 11th – June 14th, I took a break. My break was from social media and was extremely needed. I also took a step back from messaging and being on my phone all together as well. I made a post on both my Facebook and Instagram accounts and then I shut off notifications to both. Once or twice a day, I opened the apps and checked my notifications for any from my business pages then I closed them again. No scrolling, no checking stories or looking for new posts from certain people. My usage shocked me; I went from an hour or 2 a day on both platforms to 30 minutes or less.

On my post I shared before my break, I said I would be “back” on Monday the 15th. When Monday came, I did not feel the urge to jump right back into my social media use. I checked my notifications on Facebook, searched for a family member who was married over the weekend so I could see their photos, and I posted on my business page. I did even less than that on Instagram; checked notifications, watched a couple stories of other mom’s I follow, and that was it. As of this post, I have not turned notifications back on. I found that when I would get a notification I would check it then scroll away, so trying to limit my “need” to do that.

Since my break and lack of notifications, I have noticed my anxiety and worry has diminished. It is still there but not as bad as it was prior. And this, along with being even more focused and present for my daughter, means more to me than staying up to date on other people and their lives they choose to share. I am going to keep my social media accounts for my Chalk Couture but I am going to leave my notifications off as well as start to unfollow those who I have noticed, in the past, cause an increase in my anxiety or cause me to feel a certain way negatively. No time for that here. With everything going on, I realized I want to surround myself with more positivity and happiness than ever before.

Love following Dani for positive inspiration like this

How I stay on top of cleaning

This saying could not be more accurate. I only have 1 child but I feel like I am constantly picking up something every time I turn around. This past year, we moved from a 2 story house with no storage, aside from the attic, to a 3 story house with storage available on every floor!

Along with figuring out how to organize things, I had find a cleaning schedule that worked for me around my daughter’s schedule. I didn’t want one that took up her whole nap time because I use that time as my ‘me time’ during the day. It took me a week or 2 to tweak the cleaning routine I had from our old house because we added 1 more bedroom and 1 more bathroom to my cleaning duties on top of more square footage.

I finally came up with the schedule that is working for me.

My daily cleaning consists of picking-up, vacuuming the main floor since that is where we primarily are the most during the day, cleaning and picking up the kitchen, and doing any laundry that is needed. The cleaning chore I have noticed I struggle with the most is vacuuming upstairs mainly because I do my cleaning during nap time. But, I have started to work it in on those days after she wakes up from her nap or in the evening before bedtime.

I know I am not the only one who despises cleaning or who struggles with doing it so I thought I would share what is working for me and our household. I am still working on organizing but I always see some new way to store/organize so I am playing around with new ideas until I find the ones that work best for what I need. Even though my routine works, it is still a work in progress so I would love to hear how you handle these chores in your household.

Time to Stop Crossing Oceans

I hate over thinking, it is the worst and it always comes on a low anxiety day causing it to turn into a high anxiety day or an anxiety attack. Usually, I know what caused me to over think. Sometimes it is caused by someone else letting me down, something not going the way I had it planned, wondering what others are saying or thinking about something I said or did, or something sparks it to come out of no where some days. Over thinking also prevents me from saying things I have always wanted to say because of the scenarios developed in my head due to over thinking and my anxiety. This post is one of the things I have been over thinking due to what people may say or think but I need to work past that and say the things that need to be said for me.

Have you ever heard the saying “There comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t even jump in puddles for you”? I have and sadly, I need to start incorporating it into my life. I am the type of person who will say “yes” before you even finish asking your question and I am the person who, 99.9% of the time, puts others and their feelings before my own. It took me having our daughter to realize that I need to focus more than that .1% on my own feelings and needs. I needed to start saying “No” and I needed to stop putting effort in crossing those oceans trying to connect to people who only jump in tiny sidewalk puddles to connect with me.

Now, you may be asking what was so hard about saying all that?! Why were you overthinking it? Well, those puddle jumpers aren’t acquaintances or even friends, they are family on both my side and my husbands. Even before children came into the picture I always tried to please everyone. Made sure they received the requested gifts, that they never heard “no”, and I was always the one who started the communication. Now, with children in the picture throughout our family, I feel that all that has been increased because I want to be a part of the children’s lives.

This past week has been super hard on me due to those puddle jumpers. I was crossing huge oceans trying to have conversations with them with not even a drop of conversation back in return. There was a family group message and everyone was responding to it, including those I had reached out to earlier individually. So, knowing they had to of seen my message(s), that was my final straw with the puddle jumpers. I knew I needed to stop crossing those oceans and being the one to start conversations because, to me due to the nature of that family group message, they didn’t see us as important or even family.

My daughter during this week asked me point blankly, “What’s wrong mama?” because I let those puddle jumpers get to me. And those 3 words from her were the sign I needed. Because they are family, I can’t necessarily close the chapter on them like I would say a friend who I had a falling out with. So, I am choosing to distance myself for me and my family because life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it. I need to change that 90%. I am going to make that 90% as positive as I can by surrounding myself with people who want to be a part of mine and my family’s life.

She is Awesome

I always wondered what I would say if I had a daughter when it came to encouraging her or boosting her self esteem. Ever since our daughter was born, even when she was still an infant, I was aware of how I was speaking and how I spoke about myself when speaking out loud. I never want her to second guess herself or compare herself because of something she overheard me say about myself. I have no words that describe what it means to me having that little girl in my life. 

When it came time to decorate her room, I knew I wanted positive affirmations incorporated in the decor some how. When Chalk Couture released the You Are Awesome transfer this past spring; I knew that was the exact decoration I was looking for.

The surface is a Wood Painting Panel that I painted an off-white before I applied the You Are Awesome transfer using Chalkology Shimmering Silver. The whole project took me about 30 minutes to complete due to having to wait for the paint to fully dry before applying the transfer.

I hope my daughter never second guesses or forgets how awesome, smart, wonderful, beautiful and loved she is!

Banana Bread

When I am stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious I turn to cooking and baking. I do not know what it is but cooking or baking always makes me feel better. It can be something as simple as making pasta sauce or something with a few more steps like oatmeal cookies or a cake.

Today, I was following my cleaning schedule – bathroom Tuesday here today ugh! – and, when I finished, I was picking up a few of my daughter’s toys she left in the kitchen when I noticed our bananas were not looking so fresh any more. Decided to make some banana bread; perfect recipe to make the house smell yummy on the cold, rainy day we had.

I followed a Juice Plus recipe using Dutch Chocolate Complete for a healthy, plant-based bread.  This isn’t my usual go to recipe as it’s kicked up with the addition of protein! The recipe calls for French Vanilla Complete but I switched up the Complete flavor because we usually add chocolate chips to our banana bread so decided to give it a bit more chocolate flavor with the Complete. Love the options Complete has. Not only can I make delicious smoothies but I can bake with it too!

Find the Recipe here!



Interested in learning more about what Juice Plus has to offer? Let me know!

Hydration

This past week was Hydration Week with my JuicePlus team. Aside from my morning cup of coffee, and some times an afternoon one, all I have during the day is water. The minimum I drink each day is 48oz but I always try for more. During Hydration week I challenged myself to drink more everyday, and then, make it my new minimum daily intake.

During hydration week, I started each day with a large glass of water, sometimes with lemon, to get a start on my goal, rehydrate my body, and jump start my metabolism. My goal was at least 64 oz/daily then my plan was to continue that intake as I took the baby steps to reach half my body weight in ounces.

I missed my minimum 4 out of the 7 days. One day I was out doing errands, following my areas social distance guidelines, so I limited my intake due to not having access to bathrooms while out. The other days I have no reason/excuse, just wasn’t drinking my water. The other 3 days I was drinking with and without my drinking reminders from the Water Time app I started using. Those 3 days I noticed an increase in energy, my skin looked and felt better, and I felt more alert those 3 days.

On those 3 days, I found that I reached my daily minimum plus some because I had a water bottle I liked. I also added some fresh fruit or fresh mint to it to add some flavor. I made sure I had at least half of my minimum ounce intake gone by mid day. I would drink the rest before dinner, if possible, so I was not running to the bathroom instead of sleeping!!

What I have learned from this hydration week was that I was not as hydrated as I thought I was. On the days I missed my minimum ounce intake, aside from the opposite of the positive side effects I mentioned above, I noticed my hands felt dryer and I was tired. Crazy to think I never tied my water intake to my energy level. I also noticed that my daughter, who is 2, was drinking more because she saw me drinking.

Why did I share all this?! Because I know that I am not the only one out there who didn’t think to tie my hydration level to negatives in my life. Drinking more water and staying hydrated will make your life so much better by not only giving you more energy but by aiding in weight loss, helping you think clearer, and you’ll see it in the glow of your skin. Water will also help lessen headaches AND joint pain!

Join me in the challenge to drink more water and to hit that ounce goal EVERY day!

Cheers!

Mother’s Day

I follow Petra K. McEwan, MD* on social media. She shares different advice on motherhood, self care, and marriage. I joined her 7 Day Motherhood Challenge this Mother’s Day. Across the 7 days, she challenged participants to learn something new while taking time to truly focus on their children. Our daughter is 2 and I hope Dr. McEwan does a challenge like this every year so I can see how things grow and change.

Day 1 was to focus on your child(ren’s) favorite things. This was hard for me because our daughter loves almost everything. But, after looking through some pictures and thinking about what really makes her eyes light up, I knew what some of her favorite things were.
She loves having picnics either inside with a movie or outside under the sunshine. Her favorite picnic meal is either a cheeseburger and fries or pizza; this girl would eat pizza every meal if we let her! She loves being outside no matter the weather and she has a new discovered loved for hunting for worms after rain storms. She has a teepee that she goes to when she’s upset or needs a minute to calm down. It is also her go to place to read. And coloring, I couldn’t forget coloring. Whether it is with markers, crayons, paint, whatever leaves a mark, she will color with it! I think that is one of my favorite things about her is her creativity.

Day 2 was to show your child how much you love them. I think my daughter would prefer if I started to limit it! I love hearing her giggle as I chase her around the house asking for a cuddle or a kiss. And I especially love when she turns around and does it to me or randomly comes to me and gives me a hug or kiss. Day 3 was to slow down and have some quiet time together. Usually, quiet time was only after dinner due to busy schedules during the day but with quarantine it has become part of our daily routine and I love it! I told her we needed to have some relaxing time so she grabbed her new coloring pad and asked me to watch her. She loves when we sit with her when she colors even if we aren’t coloring with her. This allowed me to truly focus on her, watching as her creative ideas flowed.

Day 4 was to be creative. Well, this day was not a challenge for me. We do art pretty much everyday between coloring or a step-by-step craft. On this particular day she was really into her dress-up clothes and couldn’t decide what princess to be. After going through all her choices she decided to be all of them! She had on 4 different skirts, 3 tops, and 2 head bands! I couldn’t help but giggle. She wore that ensemble for almost an hour before she started leaving layers around the house.

Day 5 was to be physically active. It was cold (have been having a lot of colder weather in the Midwest lately) so we ran around the house and did her favorite movement song “Run Baby Run”. This particular song includes jumping, spinning and of course running and was stuck in my head for the rest of the day! Day 6 (Mother’s Day Eve) was to learn something new. We had a gorgeous day so we took advantage of the sunshine and played outside. We have always put her in the toddler swings but she insisted on swinging “like a big girl” on the regular swing. Well she rocked it! As my husband knelt behind her giving her gentle pushes and prepared to catch her if she fell, she held on and copied my younger cousin on the opposite swing pumping her legs. Have a feeling we wont be using the toddler swing much any more!

snapshot from a video, sorry for the blur

The challenge ended with Mother’s Day being day 7. The Chicagoland area had a wet, cold Mother’s Day with some snow flurries thrown in there as well. But, my husband and daughter made it the best day. And while I sat back with my coffee watching the snow, my heart went out to all the mom’s this Mother’s Day. I know that for many of you life isn’t what you expected it to be. Some are dealing with loss, death, or estrangement while other’s are in need of a miracle. Some mom’s have the weight of the world on their shoulders being a single mom, a mom in the military, a widow, or a military wife. I know Mother’s Day can be hard but I want to say thank you. Thank you for showing up, for loving, for giving, for caring, for fighting, for believing, for being there, and I thank you for doing all the hard things. Mothering is not easy but know that I see you and know you are not alone.
#wmdmotherhoodchallenge

*Connect with Petra K. McEwan, MD on instagram @wifeymommydoc or on her website http://www.wifeymommydoc.com

Coffee Everyday

Even before I was a mom, I had coffee sometime throughout my day. But now that I am a mom, I have a morning cup and some days, an afternoon cup. My coffee maker sits on the counter in a corner of our kitchen and I have been wanting something to put by my coffee maker for a while now. I searched stores and just could not find the decor that screamed yes! I finally found something thanks to Chalk Couture.

Today I used the A Day Without Coffee transfer along with some Bright White Chalkology Paste and a simple shadow box I found at my local craft store. This transfer is from the new Celebration’s Suite and sells outs quickly so when it is restocked and available I would highly suggest snagging one! I was planning on using artificial coffee beans but due to cost and length of time it would take to get to me I resorted to filling it with some old coffee beans I found buried in my freezer.

Check out the video below to see how I made this truthful kitchen decor.

*I have received questions about my coffee maker–you can find it here: https://amzn.to/2XWRdmG

Same Storm

Illinois’s stay-at-home order has been extended from April 30th to May 30th. Not going to lie, this caused severe anxiety for me even knowing it was probably going to happen. I am starting to run out of ways to keep my daughter occupied at home as I am sure most parents are. I know that she is at a young age where she probably will not remember this stage of her life aside from hearing stories about it later in life but it breaks my heart hearing her say that we can’t go to the zoo, or as she calls it “The Monkey House”, because people are sick.

I have been avoiding Facebook more lately but, was able to get through this recent anxiety attack after I read a statement from someone on there. She said “We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat”. This could not be more accurate. We are all riding out the same storm but all of our boats look 100% different. That small statement made me sit back and think about everything and realize how grateful and fortunate my family is. Along with being healthy, my husband’s company is ‘essential’ and he is still working thus we do not have that worry about our bills like some of my family and friends have.

Even though I LOVE my breaks and me time, I realize how lucky I am for my time at home with our daughter as a SAHM. So, in retro spec, our daily routine and lives have not changed aside from our trips out to places and her scheduled activities. So, our boat we are on during this storm hasn’t really changed. But, my family and friend’s boats have changed. Some have changed due to not working now or because some have not received any of the support others have through unemployment and the stimulus check. Many of my friends and family are juggling working from home while also now being a teacher for their kids. I have family and friends who own their own business so they are stressed while juggling everything that comes along with owning a business on top of not having any money coming in.

So, even through we are in this storm together, and as we navigate the storm we are in, please do not say “We are all in the same boat” because honestly we are not. Reach out to those who are in a different boat than you and offer any help that you reasonably can without upsetting your boat. My family has been doing this by getting food from locally owned restaurants, offering food or supplies to our family and friends, and checking in with those who are adjusting to their new normal at home.