Update on that big ol’ rhino head

rhino target remember me

A few weeks back, I shared this big fat random rhino head I found on clearance at Target for a few bucks. I loved it, but wasn’t quite sure how Ruth would react to it being in her bedroom. Well, I’m here to update you on this delightful experience.

I mounted it above her bed and Ruthie immediately rejected it with extreme prejudice. So I took it down. Then I put it back up the next day because it looked really cute up there above her crib with the other little things I have on the wall and I had to give it another shot, dang it! Well, duh, Ruthie noticed it again when I put her to bed and immediately got all rude about it. So I gave up and took it down again. I tried. And I guess I can understand not wanting some big rhino staring at you while you’re trying to sleep.

(I can’t lie; When I first opened it, I held it up to my face and said, “HIIII Ruthieeeee!” in a deep voice and I think I freaked her out. That might have something to do with why she hates it so much. HMM…)

So anyway, this is where Ruby the Rhino is hanging out today, way on the other side of the room from where Ruthie sleeps, above the dresser:

Ruthie's wall sunflower headband

Recognize her headband? lawlz

I had to make a new spot for her and she’s kind of off to the side up on that wall, but it’ll do. To be perfectly honest, all those little frames have been adjusted so carefully and strategically in that formation because they’re hiding about 40 nail holes I’ve made in that wall over the years. The rhino is covering several as well. I’ve never patched a wall in my life, but I guess I should try at some point since I’ve butchered nearly every wall in my home with all the times I’ve rearranged my stuff!

Rearranging wall decor is like therapy to me though. I do it more than what I’d consider normal. It just keeps things fresh around here!

you make me happy

This little thing I threw together in about 2 minutes because I had that empty frame and needed to cover some more nail holes. Scrapbook paper + laser cut wood quote (from Michael’s) = easy decor!

Now before I go, I just have to keep it real. Because this is what a toddler’s room ACTUALLY looks like:

Ruth's room outside the crop

Current Favorites: Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe's Storefront

Ohh, Trader Joe’s. You never cease to amaze.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for quite a while, sharing my current favorites from my beloved store. The problem is, there are so many great choices and they come out with new items so often, it was difficult for me to choose! One of the great things about Trader Joe’s is the community of shoppers who swap tips and share favorites. My beautiful friend Natali is one of those people — any time she and her husband host a party or get together, she has some new discovery from TJ’s for us to try. It’s no secret we both love the place and even run into each other there from time to time, so we decided to join together on this and each share our own favorite picks. Pop on over to The Thinking Blonde and check out her post, Trader Joe’s Treats: A compilation of grocery guilty pleasures. 

It’s easy to indulge at TJ’s — If I make eye contact with the awesome cheese section, it’s all over. Don’t even get me started on all the chocolate and the frozen Mac and Cheese. At this point, I’m making an effort to keep a balanced lifestyle and lose the rest of the weight I put on during my last pregnancy, so I’m doing my best to make healthy choices. So that leads me to my current healthy-ish picks from Trader Joe’s:

10. Coconut Oil

Trader Joes Coconut Oil

I am fully riding on the coconut oil train, letting my freak flag fly. It has a million uses. I cook with it and slather it on my body. It needs no further explanation!

9. Just Chicken

Trader Joes Just Chicien

This stuff is just precooked and sliced chicken breast and it’s perfect when you need to just throw together a quick healthy meal and don’t have the time to grill some chicken. It can be bland on it’s own so I season it up and put it on salads, sandwiches and also use it as a topping on pizza (CPK Thai Chicken Pizza, yasssss).

8. Frozen Rice/Quinoa

Trader Joes Frozen Organic Rice

Another quick option for a busy night are these frozen bags of rice and quinoa. I almost always have a box of the Organic Jasmine Rice on hand for throwing together a stir fry or to add into soups.

7. Organic Carrots of Many Colors

.Trader Joes Organic Carrots many colors

These rainbow carrots are a good way to trick your kids into eating vegetables. HAHAHA oh I make myself laugh. But you can sure try. That’s why I first bought these guys, for the kids, but I’ve personally grown to love them more than regular carrots. They ARE still just carrots I suppose, but isn’t it just so much more fun to eat the rainbow?

6. Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar

Trader Joes Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar

Okay. If I could only buy one thing from Trader Joe’s I would most DEFINITELY be buying the peanut butter cups, but this would be a close second. It is the tastiest vinegar, perfect for lightly dressing a salad or you know, just guzzling straight from the bottle. Is that bad? IT’S SO YUM.

5. Roasted Coconut Chips

Trader Joes Roasted Coconut Chips

These might seem weird, as they did to me a few years ago, but just give them a try if you haven’t yet! It’s so good to have something like this on hand if you just want a little sweet something but don’t want to go full-bore rainbow chip cupcake binge. Not that I’ve ever done that.

4. Honey

Trader Joes Honey display

If you’re into maple syrup, agave and honey, check out their selection. The Organic Raw Honey is by far my favorite. At night before bed, Justin and I have a cup of tea with a little bit of this honey and it’s just a lovely way to end the day with my boo cakes. Much better than downing a whole bag of Takis, which again, I know nothing about.

Trader Joes Organic Raw Honey personal favorite

3. Sweet and Spicy Pecans

Trader Joes Sweet and Spicy Pecans

“Great for salad or snacking”, most definitely I agree. A little bit goes a long way with these bad boys. I put them on salads usually, and a whole bag will last me quite a while. They’re really tasty though! As a matter of fact, the entire nuts and seeds selection is awesome. I’m not eating vegan anymore, but it was always nice to be able to find bags of raw cashews so easily. Vegans love them some raw cashews.

2. Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Trader Joes Sundried Tomatoes

“Ehhh, sun-dried tomatoes are nothing special” —


THESE ARE THE BEST. Unless your grandma runs a sun-dried tomato farm and you are forced to eat them as a sign of family loyalty, do not ever buy any other brand of sun-dried tomatoes. They are the softest, best tasting sun-dried tomatoes on the planet. Yes, I just dared to make that claim. Sometimes you’ll buy them and they’re these little nasty dried hard beef jerky weirdness, but ohhh not these. Try them. You’ll understand. I don’t want to say the dreaded “M” word on my blog, but you get my drift.


Trader Joes Salsa

I haven’t tried every single flavor they offer, but the Hatch Valley Salsa (green chile) is so yummy. I’m all about easy chicken-crockpot recipes and these are really great for that — throw in a jar with a few chicken breasts and BAM, dinner. It’s also great on the frozen tamales with a little avocado on top —  oh me, oh my. My sister in law introduced me to the Spicy, Smoky Peach Salsa and as funny as it sounds, it’s delicious as well!

Bonus: Flowers!

Trader Joes Flowers

They carry such a beautiful and inexpensive selection of flowers, I don’t feel bad picking out a bunch for my kitchen table nearly every time I’m in the store. Now that I’m thinking about it, the very first time I realized TJ’s carries such pretty flowers was about 7 years ago when my new friend Natali gave some pretty purple ones to me as a ‘just because’ gift! Yeah, Nat, we definitely have Trader Joe’s weaved into our friendship from the very beginning, ha!

I could really go on and on about my love of Trader Joe’s, but I’m sure you already feel the same. One step in that place and you can’t help but fall in love!

I’d love to hear your favorite products from TJ’s in the comments! And don’t forget to check out Natali’s post to see some of her favorite guilty pleasures!

HEADS up! Rhino on clearance at Target

rhino target

See what I did there? Heads up, cuz it’s a head! #MountCleverest

“But… why?” you ask. That’s kind of what I’m asking myself right about now. Would you buy this thing? I just saw it was $3.74 and you can’t honestly expect me to pass up an amazingly rando purchase such as this for a steal like that, can you? Target has so many little weirdly awesome things that I so easily get sucked into purchasing. I mean, I just BARELY made it out of there without buying this little gold mouse wearing a party hat:

oh joy for target party hats

Party Mouse Figurine | Oh Joy! for Target

COME ON. I think I have to go back for that guy.

I think I’ll test the rhino head in Ruthie’s room to see if it weirds her out or not. If she approves, I will consider this a successful random purchase! Either way, I will definitely be pulling a Godfather and putting it in someone’s bed. Will follow up on this soon. I know this is riveting, news-worthy information right here and I don’t want to keep the world biting their nails in anticipation.

Current Faves: Little Luxuries (for chilly days)


In my experience as a mom, I have gained much wisdom and learned many life lessons that have shaped me into the amazing creature you see sitting before you. (….or…whatever.) Life lessons such as…

When one forgets to close the bathroom door, a wandering toddler may very well throw one’s lipstick in the toilet. 

…such as, Keep your children close, keep your candy stash closer.

…such as, No seriously kid, get your own candy.

The chilly, rainy weather has finally hit California and with it, I’ve found myself inside with the kids more. While Maddie is at school from 8:00-3:30, that leaves quite a stretch of time indoors with Jack and Ruthie. Keeping them fed and learning and having fun is my job, but I’ve been learning  really how important it is to make an effort in taking care of myself as well. As the one running things around here during the day, I am the one who sets the tone of the home. I’ve been seeing this more and more — when I am in peace, feeling human, having a few minutes set aside to be pampered a bit, it makes these long winter days indoors a lot less daunting and in turn, the atmosphere of our home is much lighter.

And that brings me to my current favorites, a few little luxuries that have been keeping me feeling like me, especially during those long days indoors.

Finding my happy coffee place

merman pop

My morning routine isn’t exactly strict and can change at the drop of a hat, but I do like to have a clean sink and a cup of coffee by 10:00. Don’t ask me why, I just feel better when I have a clean kitchen behind me. Since my ideal setting of a quaint coffee shop with a good book isn’t exactly in the cards, I try to make it a treat I look forward to anyway. An experience, if you will.

Something that makes it a little more special is having a cute mug. It’s just not as fun to drink out of a plain old mug! Also, I take a few seconds to froth the milk. I know, I’m a wild woman with my frothy latte in a cute mug. But it works for me. One more thing: I will sit and enjoy the heck out of that thing from start to finish, butt firmly planted on the couch with a cozy blanket. Yes, if the kids need me I’ll get up; I am not a monster. But I have let one too many cups of coffee chill to arctic temperatures on the counter while I do “just one more thing real quick” (hence, the clean sink method mentioned above). If I’m going to limit myself to one caffeinated beverage a day, you better believe I’m going to enjoy it.

Candles, candles, everywhere…

Target Candles

Candles make a house a home. Someone said that somewhere. There’s just something about the gentle flicker of warm light and the scent of baked goods filling the air that is soothing to the soul. Hey, at the very least, they mask the smell of the morning’s dirty diapers piling up in double-knotted grocery bags by the front door. But man, I do love me some candles. I have them in every room and except for when I’m cooking, there’s usually one lit in the kitchen.

Nailed it.

cuticle butter

THIS. STUFF. IS. LEGIT. Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream. I was having tea with my friends Sarah and Jimaie last year and Jimaie whipped this stuff out of her purse and started rubbing it on her nails, telling us how every new mother should be given this as a gift when she has her baby. I watched in awestruck wonder. The little tin in all it’s adorableness drew me in immediately… and then there’s the scent. It is lemony heavenly goodness. I picked this up at Target for a few dollars and now it goes where I go, it stays where I stay.

I ran out of catchy titles. This one is about soap.

african black soap

Okay, so this African Black Soap intrigued me as soon as I saw it at the store. It took me a while to gain the courage to buy it and see what it’s all about. For “acne prone and troubled skin”, which I do sometimes have, but let’s be real here, I bought it because it’s black soap! Keep the “soapist” remarks to yourself… I enjoy all colors of soap and do not discriminate. It just looks so exotic. It smells good too!  It’s a behemoth of a bar too and it’s lasting forever. Every product I’ve tried from the Shea Moisture line has been great so far. I also really love this Olive and Green Tea Bubble Bath & Body Wash.

olive green tea shea

You might be thinking, “meh, soap”, but girl, try this body wash. My skin is so soft after I use this stuff, like buttah.

These simple things may seem very “duh”, but it’s taken me a few good years to get my groove here. I’m sure some ladies would be surprised how many days they go without taking any time for themselves to just chill and be still. So yes, these things sure go a long way in keeping me feeling like me. What are your little luxuries?

Vegan 101: Tips, pantry staples, recipe sources, more…


The most frequently asked questions I receive are about my vegan diet. I know not everyone agrees with the lifestyle and it’s been known to make people very defensive about their own nutrition and food choices, so please keep in mind I’m writing this for those who are interested and who have asked about it. I’m not trying to make any enemies, talk down to those who eat meat or win over any converts! Eat what you want, yo, and I’ll do the same.

(We’re annoying, I get it.)

With the disclaimer out of the way, let’s do this thang.

It’s not just about weight loss

I’ve been eating a plant-based diet for a little over a year now. You guys know I’ve had a lot of success with it as far as weight loss goes, and as much as that was a selling point for me back then, it has become way more about the nutrition. Having to eat more fruits and vegetables was a huge challenge at first. HUGE. I was never a big meal eater to begin with (I should belong to Snackaholics Anonymous) and all of a sudden I had to fit in all these servings of stuff I didn’t really enjoy eating. I was not diggin’ it. When I realized vegans eat more than just lettuce and carrot sticks, things changed big time.

Also, so much of what you eat and why you’re eating it is mental. I know I snack like crazy when I’m stressed out and I don’t eat at all when I’m depressed. I would go for comforting, heavy, fattening foods to satisfy myself and just keep eating and eating without even considering what damage it was doing to my body and mind. I’m not trying to be all hippy kale goddess, but it’s true! You’ll notice when you start filling yourself with whole foods, you will not only start dropping weight, but you’ll start breaking free of those mind games food was playing with you. You’re truly going to feel better in every way.

You won’t be deprived of the yummy stuff

Okay, If you’re going to do this, don’t go into it being all depressed that you’re depriving yourself of all the foods you love. You’re not going to die, I promise. There are SO many healthy alternatives and meat free/dairy free substitutions for your favorite dishes, it’s just going to take a little bit of thinking and effort on your part to learn what to eat and most importantly, WHY you’re eating it. That’s the key to sticking with this long term.

It’s not about dousing everything in ranch dressing or melted cheese anymore (though there are amazing recipes for non-dairy ranch dressing and cheese sauces, Google it)… it’s about making a serious effort to change your health and letting go of the hold unhealthy food has on you. I’m still working on that too, don’t get me wrong. When my period is coming, all I want is nasty gas station nachos with jalapenos.

It just takes time and dedication. And you have to want to do this.

You will be harassed about protein

Read about how vegans absolutely do get enough protein and read it from unbiased sources, please. It’s the most frequently asked question you will receive and you will be treated like you are an idiot for not considering the all-hailed “complete animal proteins”. Protein is in almost everything we eat, if we’re eating the right way. I am not withering away and neither will you, I promise! Sorry to be defensive about this.

But really, I should show you my muscles. I could win a fight with a cow right now.

Also important: B-12.

Do your nutritional research so you’re ready for these conversations! You don’t want to be caught with your pants down. Unless you’re into that sort of thing.

Okay, Dr. Phil wannabe over here is stepping down from the stage. On to the fun and much less boring stuff…

In My Pantry

These are staples I always have on hand. I didn’t know what half of these things were when I started, but now I can’t live without them and they’re essential in making those alternative dishes I was talking about.


Note: I buy and eat plenty of other things as well. Be sure you’re eating a well-rounded and varied diet of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.

  • Raw almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
  • Black beans and garbanzo beans
  • Nut butters – cashew butter, almond butter and sunflower seed butter… all fabulous
  • Coconut oil
  • Nutritional yeast – NOT Brewer’s Yeast. I know it sounds disgusto, but it’s great stuff
  • Agave nectar
  • Dates (for a natural sweetener)
  • Quinoa
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Whole wheat pita bread – great for veggie sandwiches and for dipping
  • Kale – for my favorite kale chips
  • Hummus & Pita chips/veggie sticks
  • Edamame – from the freezer section at Trader Joe’s
  • Olives
  • Avocado
  • Salsa
  • Frozen bananas – When bananas just start turning brown and I don’t have time to eat them, I break them in half, throw them in plastic baggies and freeze them. These are a great base for non-dairy ice cream and to toss in smoothies.

Oh She Glows – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard (THE BEST. And made with frozen bananas!)

Non dairy alternatives:

  • Almond Breeze Almond Milk
  • Tofutti Better than Sour Cream (they have a cream cheese too)
  • Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips are accidentally vegan
  • As are… OREOS!

Tips for eating in restaurants

Some of these might be “DUH” to you, but I’ve been stuck and confused in restaurants too many times to not include this.

  • Look up the menu online beforehand. It helps to be prepared before you walk in there.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask them to leave the chicken/shrimp/cheese off the salads.
  • Vinegar-based dressings are your BFF
  • Substitute! If you don’t want the side of mac and cheese or mashed potatoes and gravy, opt for steamed veggies or a baked potato.
  • Minestrone soup plus a side salad is perfect for lunch
  • Veggie sandwiches usually come with cream cheese, so just have them leave it off and use mustard, oil/vinegar or whatever condiment you prefer.
  • Pasta with marinara sauce, leave off the parmesan cheese
  • Get the veggie burger
  • If all else fails and you’re out of options, eat the stupid thing. No one’s perfect!

Sources for great recipes

Carrie On Vegan

Oh She Glows

Healthy Happy Life

Amy’s Nutritarian Kitchen

FatFree Vegan Kitchen

Healthy Bitch Daily

Search Pinterest as well!

Hopefully I answered some questions for you in this novel of a post. If you all have anything else to ask or add, feel free to do so in the comments.