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).
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).
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).
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 🙂
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
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.
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. 🙂 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:
- The Marker Set – These are SO GOOD with two-sided tips – both fine and thick tip and a ton of great colors.
- 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).
- The Paintable Wooden Shapes – So many fun options and the kids absolutely LOVED them.
- 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
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).
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).
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 own🙂