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Keeping The Good Of Last Year: New Family (And Kid-Only) Activities – Plus The Value Of “Me” Time

We’ve been living up here in the mountains, mostly quarantined for a full year… Just two grownups, 2 kids, and to add some drama, two naughty but adorable pups. Are we ready for the world to open up? YES. Will we look back with an odd nostalgia on the year where we got to spend 24 hours a day with our kids for months on end in nature? – strangely, yes. That doesn’t mean that it’s been easy, that we haven’t gotten sick of each other or our own cooking (we can’t wait for Portland restaurants). So today I’m sharing some ideas on small things that have helped make our lives a bit easier during isolation and things I want to continue. I’m talking cooking and serving essentials, fun activities with the kids (and for them to do without us), and what I do for “me time” (something I never had before and by gosh I’ve really come to LOVE and need it). It’s a Target collaboration and it’s all VERY good.

Affordable Kitchen Essentials That Make Our Life Easier (And Are Durable Enough For The Kids To Help Cook and Clean)

When we first stocked and organized the inside of these cabinets I bought almost exclusively the Made By Design line from Target (it had just launched), thinking that since this was going to be a weekend house I wasn’t going to splurge on anything fancy, plus aesthetically I wanted everything super simple, matching and functional (no extra pretty cheese boards that we rarely use).

photo by sara ligorria tramp | from: inside all our (super organized) drawers & cabinets in the mountain house kitchen
photo by sara ligorria tramp | from: inside all our (super organized) drawers & cabinets in the mountain house kitchen

Now after cooking here almost exclusively for a year I want to call out some of the pieces that I still have and love, as well as newer additions that are so practical and affordable (and needed).

Mixing Bowl Set with Lids | Plastic Mixing Bowl Set | Measuring Cups | Measuring Spoons | Whisk | Pastry Basting Brush | Kitchen Towels

While we’ve now splurged on a fancy knife or two and my apron collection has grown, those pieces (above) are consistent staples that I love and frankly never have to worry about breaking, dropping, melting, etc (so very kid-cook friendly).

The spout nesting bowls – Why are these so good? They are super lightweight, have an easy pour spout, they nest inside each other so they don’t take up too much room in your drawers (we propped the middle and little one up so you could see it), and the best part is that their bottom is silicone so it doesn’t slide on the counter. At all. It grips to the counter making all whisking and stirring easier.

The stainless measuring cups and spoons – I had the plastic ones before and these are just so much easier to clean, care for, and again they nest and take up such little space in your drawer. You can take them apart, but I don’t.

We use all the silicone cooking utensils frequently, not just those two. And while I love a classic wooden spoon or spatula, silicone is indeed easier.

Now the big nesting bowls are the newest addition that I bought for this shoot, not having any larger bowls with lids (and wanting to avoid plastic wrap at all costs). How great are THESE??? Just in time for potato salad and slaw season, marinating chicken, etc. And again, they nest (check stories to see them in action).

Planter | Wood Slotted Spoon | Olive Wood Serving Board | Sugar Cellar | Dip Bowl | Glass Spice Jar | Kitchen Towels | Racked Arc Framed Print

We switched out some of our kitchen decor pieces for this shoot from Target that I wanted to call them out because they are GOOD. Please note the very heavy, simple, black paper towel holder (below) and my new basil pot that is SO CUTE. The cute art (that we’ll keep for when we AirBnB the house next year, and our new kitchen rug (below). We even got all our scratch pancake ingredients from Target. It’s a real one-stop shop y’all ๐Ÿ™‚

Paper Towel Rack | Cutting Board (on stove counter) | Ceramic-Coated Aluminum Skillet| Floor Runner | Cutting Board (on island)

Organic Flour | Organic Cage-Free Eggs | Organic Sugar | Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chip | Organic Whole Milk | Unsalted Butter

Our cooking rule right now is that they can make anything they want for lunch as long as they follow a recipe, read the steps, do the fractions, etc. (they don’t always opt for this, by the way – very often we slap together bread and meat). For shoot day, they chose pancakes, requesting whip cream and strawberries and we didn’t say “no”, not today.

1. 3pc Bamboo Cutting Board Set | 2. Stoneware Sugar Cellar | 3. Olive Wood Serving Board | 4. Rustic Weathered Planter | 5. The Full Plate Cookbook | 6. Beech Wood Slotted Spoon | 7. Natural Acacia Dip Bowl | 8. Glass Spice Jar with Stainless Lid | 9. Organic Flour | 10. Organic Whole Milk |11. Double-Acting Baking Powder | 12. Organic Sugar | 13. Plastic Mixing Bowl Set | 14. Rubberwood Carving Board | 15. 5pc Plastic Mixing Bowl Set with Lids | 16. Large Beech Wood & Silicone Spatula | 17. 9″ Stainless Whisk with Soft Grip | 18. Ceramic-Coated Aluminum Skillet | 19. Silicone Pastry Basting Brush | 20. Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons | 21. Stainless Steel Paper Towel Holder | 22. Set of 2 Racked Arc Framed Prints | 23. Cotton Chambray Apron | 24. 5pk Cotton Kitchen Towels | 25. Unsalted Butter | 26. Organic Cage-Free Eggs | 27. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips | 28. Stainless Steel Measuring Cups | 29. High-Rise Distressed Straight Cropped Jeans | 30. Women’s Frankie Sneakers | 31. Heathered Area Rug

Our Everyday Dinner Plates, Serving Dishes And Flatware We Can’t Quit

Bowl | Salad Plate | Entree Plate | Apron

Of course, I love a heavy hand thrown stoneware plate in theory (and for beautiful food shots), but once you use these Made by Design plates/bowls it’s VERY hard to opt for anything else on a daily basis.

WHY? Well, they are extremely lightweight so the kids can easily carry sets of 4 to set the table (or as I’m demonstrating I can carry all of them). It makes it easy for them to load and unload the dishwasher (they are super flat), help do the dishes without me worrying about them breaking but if they do break (none have yet in 2 years) we know that they are affordable and easily replaceable. I now get why families back in the day have everyday plates and “china” for special occasions. While the handmade plate is the 2021 version of china, for 3 meals a day with just the four of us, where two kids are required to help set and clean, these are honestly extremely, extremely perfect for our family.

Faux Leather Blue Charger | Flatware | Serving Bowl | Wooden Spoons | Tall Tumblers | Short Tumblers | Mugs | Serving Platter | Cloth Napkin | Lumbar Pillow | Square Pillow | Faux Sheepskin

Not to mention they are flat, white, and totally simple – aka aesthetically they are GREAT. We also use the serving bowls and platters and love that they stack so easily in their drawer and again, so easy for the kids to wash, dry, and put away. Not shown is the pasta bowl (which I use daily for salads).

I had those faux leather placemats in brown/caramel which I liked, but Emily B. found the blue version in the store and I LOVE how they pop off our wood more (and so easy to wipe clean, stack, etc – guys I’m APPARENTLY VERY PASSIONATE ABOUT HOW WELL THINGS STACK AND HOW EASY IT IS FOR MY KIDS TO CLEAN EVERYTHING (this is also why if you are renovating your kitchen make sure to put in drawers for these, not upper cabinets for easy access).

The glasses and mugs are also so far indestructible while being so modern and thin. They come in sets of four and are very affordable – I LOVE these. they do not stack, but that’s because straight lines can’t and I accept that.

Flatware – We love these and have had them in every kitchen since they came out a few years ago. They have a great weight to them (these are the Threshold, not the Hearth and Hand ones that are a bit lighter), they don’t scuff easily and just have a nice proportion and they feel good in your hand.

LUCKY KIDS. Whip cream and syrup styling by Charlie Henderson. ๐Ÿ™‚ So there you have it – the everyday kitchen essentials that we have genuinely used for years that work for us. It’s all about making it easy for the kids to cook, eat, serve, clean, wash and put away – while looking good and simple. Having kids old enough to actually clean up after themselves is the real game-changer here.

1. 4pk Glass Clarte Tumblers | 2. 4pk Glass Clarte Short Tumblers | 3. White Glass Stackable Mugs | 4. Faux Leather Decorative Charger | 5. White Glass Dinner Plate | 6. White Glass Bowl | 7. White Glass Salad Plate | 8. Beech Wood Solid Spoon | 9. Oversize Square Wooden Stripe Pillow | 10. Oversized Stripe Lumbar Throw Pillow | 11. 5pc Matte Black Stainless Steel Silverware | 12. Faux Solid Area Rug | 13. 64oz White Glass Serving Bowl | 14. White Glass Serving Platter | 15. 4pk Cotton Easy Care Napkins

New Stuff To Do!! Introducing Mondo Llama (Target’s New Crafting Line)

We are HUGE crafters here (and lately it’s been even more since watching Making it, Blown Away and DesignStar – these kids are inspired) but we had gone through almost all of the supplies since Covid started. There was not one googly eye or pipe cleaner left in the house. Enter the new Mondo Llama craft line that not only has some fun project kits but great art basics to help get you ready for any project.

For the sake of the shoot I turned my writing desk into a craft table for all of us to do the crafts together and showcase the product better. It stayed like this for 4 days and they spent hours up there until I kicked them back up to the attic.

The big hits for us in the more basics/ a la carte supplies were:

  1. The Marker Set – These are SO GOOD with two-sided tips – both fine and thick tip and a ton of great colors.
  2. Cosmic Bucket of Crafts Set – We had a different version of this before and for whatever reason the kids really used everything and it really provoked their creativity (more than when we had everything in jars).
  3. The Paintable Wooden Shapes – So many fun options and the kids absolutely LOVED them.
  4. Seek & Find Coloring Poster (I wouldn’t say this is a “basic”, but my goodness it’s fun) – We now have it on the dining table and we all color it during breakfast (it’s big enough that you can spread it out) – and in case you haven’t got on board with adult coloring books yet, I love them (especially while the kids are crafting if I just want to zone out but have them feel like I’m engaged :))

In addition to the basics, they sell these kits which I think are specifically great gifts or if you don’t already have a big craft and paint supply setup. For instance, the pet rock kits, rainbow paper mache, and kaleidoscope all came with everything you need to paint and decorate them, but there are also just paintable wooden shapes that are ready for anything you have at home to decorate. Since we have a ton of paints I preferred the non-kits to make less waste, but the kids of course loved them all.

While these wooden pieces don’t take too much time to paint, they are such cute gifts and decor. I also really love them raw wood – how cute is that rainbow????

The new Mondo Llama line is GREAT, it feels like there was a hole in the market for great crafts supplies, craft kits, and basic supplies that our kids love and now we are fully stocked.

1. Seek & Find Coloring Poster | 2. Paint-Your-Own Rocks Kit Bugs | 3. Freestanding Wood Shark Face | 4. Freestanding Wood Llama | 5. 5pc Paint Palette Set | 6. Butcher Kraft Paper Roll | 7. 24pc Artist Paintbrush Set | 8. 100ct Notched Craft Sticks | 9. Cosmic Bucket of Crafts Set | 10. Small Beauty Organizer | 11. Freestanding Wood Rainbow | 12. 48ct Dual-Tip Brush Market Set in Plastic Case | 13. Create-Your-Own Kaleidoscope Kit | 14. Freestanding Wood Unicorn | 15. 24″x30″ Framed Dots | 16. Paint-Your-Own Canvas Rainbow Kit | 17. 6ct Pre-Mixed Pouring Paints | 18. Girls’ Striped Long Sleeve T-Shirt | 19. Girls’ Heart Pocket Skirtall | 20. Boys’ Woven Long Sleeve Button Down | 21. Women’s Puff Elbow Sleeve Shirt

How I Do”ME Time” Including All My Necessary Mood-Enhancing Elements And Eco-Beauty Products

Ladder | Towels | Stool | Bath Rug | Vase | Oil Diffuser | Dry Brush | Bath Caddy | Candle | Book | Pixie BeautifEYE Cream | Joon x Moon Coconut Sugar Scrub

Parents have always lacked “me time” and this year made it even harder UNLESS you carved it out, and hot tip – they leave you alone in the bathroom. I’ve become quite the bather, 3-4 nights a week after I put the kids down and it’s a whole thing that I look forward to every single day. Granted I do have a pretty spa-like bathroom, but it’s really not the room that makes it so special – it’s how I create the ambiance, what I’m reading, and what products I use to pamper myself.

Ingredients for the perfect mood – you need a bath caddy, a lit candle (or 3), a page-turner to read (I use my kindle) or an addictive show to watch (I often put my laptop on top of the tray), and something to drink (herbal tea or wine, depending on my mood).

Foot File

I then proceed to pamper myself head to toe – not all of these every night, but VERY frequently. Target has a lot of new green and eco beauty products that I’ve been trying and so far loving. Emily B. bought them all for the shoot so I got to try what we shot. I use this sugar cube scrub (it made my legs where I normally have dry bumps totally smooth), facial cleansing brush, hair mask, and hydrating milk (which is a moisturizing cleanser and toner).

Gentle Cycle Milky Cleanser | All-in-One Hydrating Milk | Rose Quartz Roller | Faux Dogwood Flower Arrangement | Modern White Tray | Vitamin C Serum | Wrinkle Cream | Watch

The whole EHD team was very pleased to know that such a big retail store was investing so much in eco-beauty brands – Thank you, Target. And Brian even gets to benefit as I bought him some Hims serum and eye cream (after years of Dax talking about it and advertising on Armchair Expert).

1. Gray Stoneware Vase | 2. Shaker Accent Table/Stool | 3. Oud Wood & Musk Candle | 4. Waffle Bath Towel | 5. Decorative Apple Picking Ladder | 6. EcoTools Dry Brush | 7. Looped Bath Rug | 8. Vetiver & Cedarwood Oil Diffuser | 9. Joon x Moon Coconut Sugar Scrub | 10. What Kind of Woman | 11. Bamboo Bath Caddy | 12. EcoTools Foot File | 13. Deep Conditioning Treatment Mask | 14. BeautifEYE Cream | 15. Cozy Chenille Robe | 16. Destress Dietary Supplement Capsules | 17. Rose Quartz Roller | 18. Rae Beauty Ingestible Drops | 19. Faux Dogwood Flower Arrangement | 20. Modern White Tray | 21. Women’s Full Arabic Strap Watch | 22. Women’s Deluxe Slippers | 23. Facial Cleansing Brush | 24. Everyday Moisturizer | 25. Vitamin C Serum | 26. Anomaly Dry Shampoo | 27. Anomaly Gentle Shampoo | 28. Medium Detangling Hair Brush | 29. Gentle Cycle Milky Cleanser | 30. All-in-One Hydrating Milk | 31. Coconut & Vanilla Deodorant | 32. Women’s 5-Blade Razor | 33. Women’s Foaming Shave Gel | 34. Tanologist Self Tan Mousse | 35. Tanologist Self-Tan Mitt | 36. Bakuchiol Booster Facial Treatment | 37. Thayers Witch Hazel Toner

So there you are – ways to help enjoy the family time, and a big encouragement to give yourself more ME time regardless if you have kids, jobs, or not. Even with kids going back to school soon these ideas are some that will STICK, hopefully forever for our family.

Thanks to Target for sponsoring this post! All the words and thoughts are my own๐Ÿ™‚

*Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp
**Art direction by me and
styling by Emily Bowser

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karen
6 days ago

Been a while since we had a big ol Target post. Love it. I have 20 product tabs open to come back to now. 

KWu
5 days ago
Reply to  karen

I had the same thought. This sounds like a planted comment but it’s actually sincere– I have missed EHD telling me what to buy at Target!

Paul Thomson
6 days ago

Oh man, this post is going to cost me a ton, I’ll take one of everything. ๐Ÿ™‚

LouAnn
6 days ago

This is a dangerous post since 9 out of 10 of my shopping outings this past year have been to Target! ๐Ÿ˜‰

So many good things!! And yes, there were so many isolating and lonely feelings this past year, but also SO much good. 

MKK
5 days ago

I love the kitchen rug, but it seems impractical especially for an Airbnb. Tomato sauce is one thing that comes to mind.
Just viewed a news item on Public Television channel about Enchanted Forest in Salem, OR. It is reopening end of April and has struggled with Covid and wild fires.   Since you are now in OR, you can support a local business while giving your children a fun outing. 

HH
5 days ago
Reply to  MKK

Enchanted Forest!!! Went there as a kid when we lived in Portland and haven’t thought about it in YEARS. Emily and Brian – take the kids there! I remember it as being fun, whimsical, and cheesy.

Rusty
5 days ago

Eco-beauty products!๐Ÿ‘
The ruffled top is way cute.
Kids cooking….always good!
The colouring poster looks especially great.
No so keen on the paper towel holder, because…why paper towels at all?
Again….I soooo wish Australia had a Target like the USA! Basically, I just wish the US Target would buy our Target, stock them and make all Aussies happier campers! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Vera
2 days ago
Reply to  Rusty

Ditto for Canada! Target came in a few years ago and I think they had major issues with supply or something – and then they pulled out!
TARGET COME BACK (and be like the American Target)! ๐Ÿ˜Š
Fun post! Even though I canโ€™t buy any of these beautiful things I can never see too much of that dreamy mountain bath!

Courtney
5 days ago

We are also big on Target dishes–we have a similar set (also white, but with a tiny dot around the rim)–I chose them because I like big mugs for tea: https://www.target.com/p/16pc-porcelain-beaded-rim-dinnerware-set-white-threshold-8482/-/A-14172073#lnk=sametab. You can get the set, but we’ve replaced pieces individually when they inevitably break. 
I love those stacking bowls with the lids, and I need some new towels … thanks for the recs! 

Lauren
5 days ago

SO much good stuff. If interested I have some recommendations for AirBnB management (cleaning crew and overall rental management) on the mountain (I grew up there and stay relatively up to date with the “goings on” in the area)

Kristi
5 days ago

Very fun pics with kiddos…I know you’ve said many times how passionate you are about parenting and read, listen to podcasts etc.  I wanted to ask if you’ve heard of or read Hunt, Gather, Parent by Michaeleen Doucleff? It’s soo good and thought you might like to check it out.

Sara
5 days ago

Love seeing all of these things and hear what you abs your kids really love. Weโ€™ve been in a craft supply rut so maybe some of these will fit my as little waste as possible criteria! I find art supplies for them to be the hardest to find out of plastic or in recyclable packaging. If anyone on this thread knows of any, please share!

I always love the pillows you show from target but literally NEVER buy because theyโ€™re always sewn shut instead of having a zipper. Em, can you please please ask target about making zipper pillows? The kids just get them so dirty, I have to be able to unzip them to clean!

Heidi
5 days ago

I love white dishes and bought my set from Target a couple of years ago. Does anyone else have issues with getting the gray scratch marks on their white plates? Mine look pretty bad and Iโ€™m wondering if this is common with all white dishes?

Stacy
5 days ago
Reply to  Heidi

I have had white dishes from Crate and Barrel for 21 years. I have lived in many States and have 3 teenagers- not one broken, and no scratches!

MKK
5 days ago
Reply to  Stacy

You can remove the gray marks with Bon ami:
https://www.bonami.com/tips/how-to-get-scuff-marks-off-dishes/
I purchased white Target dishes/bowls/serving items back in 2004 thinking they would be temporary after a big move. I still have them! I get compliments. ๐Ÿ˜‰

From recent reviews of C & B dishes, they must not be holding up as well as the ones purchased 21 years ago.

Misty
5 days ago
Reply to  Stacy

I researched this specifically and what I found was stoneware Scratches but porcelain is better and China doesnโ€™t at all. Canโ€™t speak to the accuracy of this personally yet but a friend purchased porcelain from C&B recently and so far so good!

Katie
4 days ago
Reply to  Misty

I researched this, too, and our only set of dishes is white porcelain and I can attest that porcelain is very durable. We use them for every meal and definitely dropped pieces, but no scratches, chips, or breaks in the five years we’ve had them so far. More expensive up front than these Target dishes, but we plan to have them for a very long time.

GOODING, PAULA
5 days ago

I love your Target shoots! It makes shopping at Target very enjoyable.

Kamina
5 days ago

Aww, I love that you are reading What Kind of Woman and mentioned Dax and Armchair Expert too. I follow Kate Baer for her poetry on instagram and I’m a long-time listener of Dax! Just feeling safe like a happy little spider in a web of internet connections.

4 days ago

I’m with everyone else – so many new tabs open now! However, I had to laugh at “They leave you alone in the bathroom.” I would love to test this theory with a dedicated parents’ bathroom, but in our little bungalow, going into the bathroom is basically raising the bat signal for someone to need parental attention!

Olivia
3 days ago
Reply to  Lashley

Yes! My thought exactly. My 3yo literally asked me to play tug of war with her while I was going to the bathroom. And because I didn’t want her to wail and wake up er baby sister…I did it. But someday that may change!

JB
4 days ago

Where can I find this cute checked button down top with the puff sleeves that Emily is sporting in the middle photos?

Em
4 days ago
Reply to  JB

I was wondering the same thing! Please share the details!

bc
4 days ago
Reply to  JB

Pretty sure I just saw it at Target. Who What Wear label.

Ann
3 days ago

My god, the privilege to be able to look back at this year with “nostalgia”… That was tough to read, two sentences in.

Rebecca
3 days ago

This is such a thoughtful sponsored post! Love the placemats and the Kate Baer book placement!!

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