A Scrambled Work-Life Balance + Reminder to Be Free

You may have noticed less posts than usual here this month, and that’s because my work-life balance has been majorly scrambled. January is always slower for work, which is honestly a blessing after the 60 hours a week I put in during the holiday season. But this month, my husband, who most of you know works for a band, has also been on tour for the last two weeks straight. In total, Robbie is gone about half the year, but he always come home once a week for two to three days, during which I work full time while he cares for our kids. When he is on the road, I have child care a couple of days a week to work, but the rest of the time it’s me being a (temporary) single parent, and I’m admittedly usually on the border of losing it by the time he arrives home. As much as I adore my kids, I’m  more than ready to hand them off when he walks in the door. It can be a bit much for both of us at times, but over the years, we’ve created a routine that works well for both of our jobs and our roles as parents. But having him gone for two weeks (the longest in a row he’s been gone since before we had kids) and trying to work full time, get the kids to school and activities multiple times a day, get them fed and bathed and dressed, and taking care of stuff around the house, etc. without a break has been pretty freaking exhausting. I like to post here at least three times a week, but this month I just had to take a step back.

I will say that in the past, I probably would have stayed up until 2 AM to work, gotten four hours of sleep tops, and then pushed myself to run on fumes to get through each day. This year one of my goals has been to go easier on myself, and allowing myself some time to just breathe or meditate or watch freaking Netflix for a half hour before I go to bed (which has been by midnight every night) has definitely helped me operate on just more than survival mode during this time.

Essley and I stopped at a local forest preserve the day before Robbie left (back when it felt like early spring at the beginning of the month; it is 100% winter now), and I snapped these photos with my phone. When things have felt like too much over the last couple of weeks, I look at them as a reminder of how easy it is to take a moment to just allow myself to be free, like Essley. I mean, this girl is truly on the most free spirits humans I’ve ever met. It’s so easy to be inspired by that. It’s also kind of amazing how our little ones, no matter how much they push us to the edge, can be teachers to we adults, isn’t it?

Things will be back to normal here in February, both at home and here on Bubby and Bean. In the meantime, I’ll just going to do what I can, and keep looking at the photos as a reminder on the best way to be. I also want to give a major shout out to actual single working parents and those who have their partners gone for truly long periods (like those in the military). This shit is hard, man, and you are amazing and inspiring and strong.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Did You See That?


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Mardi Gras Dog Parades That Help Animals in Need

Mardi Gras is just around the corner! In cities across the US, pet parents can bring a bit of The Big Easy to their buddies that bark by celebrating the holiday at one of the many dog-friendly Mardi…



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DogTipper

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A Little Valentine Card Love

Eco Friendly Valentine's Day Cards
Valentine's Day Cards from Bubby and Bean
Recycled Valentines

Valentine’s Day may be a month away, but that didn’t stop my 5 year old from taping a Valentine’s banner to the fireplace literally the minute the Christmas decorations came down. This past weekend, she even asked if we could start making Valentines for her classmates. And while I gently assured her that we didn’t need to do it quite this early, it did prompt me to reopen the Bubby and Bean Art Shop shop after a short break following the holiday rush, with a bunch of Valentine’s Day cards., that I am now sharing with you all today. For those who didn’t know we had this little side business (I don’t talk about it much here, but I started it back in late 2010!), I create greeting eco-friendly greeting cards, every single one of which is printed, cut, scored, and folded individually by hand. If you’re thinking of sending or giving hip, handcrafted, earth-friendly Valentine cards this year, I’d love for you to check them out.  Oh yeah, and you can take 25% of your order today through this Friday (1/18/19) with code LOVE19. Hurray!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Dogs on a snowy run

Poet, the twister and turner, takes the stick.

Then Zoom, Quest, and Clavo begin the long chase:

Natural History

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Dan Flores is wrong about the Pre-Columbian distribution of coyotes

Long-time readers of this blog know that I am quite critical of Dan Flores’s Coyote America, a book that has been hailed as a sort of definitive source for the natural and cultural history of the animal. The good parts are where the author talks about native peoples and their relationship and understanding of the animal. The bad parts are where he misrepresents the molecular research on coyote evolution, most notably where he contends the genetic difference between a gray wolf and a coyote is equivalent to that of humans and orangutans (page 27, if you’re looking for it). I’ll give Flores a pass in that he didn’t do his research for the book until after the coyote, gray wolf, Eastern wolf, and red wolf genome comparisons came out, and found that all these animals were as closely related to each other as humans from different continental origins.

But I don’t know of anyone who thought that coyotes are to wolves what humans are to orangutans. At best, we thought coyotes were to wolves what our species of human was to Neanderthals.

So that was my beginning of great distrust in Flores’s account of how coyotes evolved in North America.

I do remember one part that I thought might have been true, simply because it mirrors the way coyotes moved into the eastern parts of North America. Flores contends that coyotes did not make it into Southern Mexico and Central America until after European colonization took place. The clearing of the tropical forests and the introduction of sheep and goats made all of this possible.

This made sense to me, but then I thought, well, I should look it up.

It turns out that Flores was dead wrong about Southern Mexican and Central American coyote populations. A 2004 paper that looked at the paleontology and sixteenth century accounts of coyotes in the region found that coyotes were in the region before European conquest.

So coyotes have lived in Guatemala and El Salvador long before Europeans felled the forests and turned out sheep and goats. Their recent range expansion into southern Panama may eventually lead to their arrival in Colombia, and they will have the Southern Continent to colonize.

This book gets so many facts wrong about the evolution and natural history of coyotes that I do worry a lot about its impact. It is written as a popular natural history, so it needs to be understood in that vein. However, the author seemed to choose which scientific facts he wanted to present without looking deeper into the fullness of the literature that exists on them.

And as a natural history writer, I find such errors to be problematic, but I always find some way to make sure you know that I am not the final authority on any subject. Because I blog, I can show you my evolution in thought more easily. Books are far more permanent inscriptions. That’s why you will see me hedge about certain subjects where I know more research is being done, such as what the African golden wolf actually is or where dog domestication happened.

The challenge is to make natural history subjects interest and to make your interpretations fit the literature, both of science and of prose.

And yes, it took me a month to read Flores’s coyote book. I had that many problems with it.

Natural History

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A Look Back at 2018 + Thoughts on the Coming Year

2018 Year In Review

Happy New Year! Welcome to our first post of 2019! Kind of exciting. I believe this is the longest the blog has ever been silent, and while I’ve remained active on Instagram, I missed this space over the last two weeks. I’m sharing a whole lot in this post – maybe to make up for lost time, maybe because I have a lot to say – and I appreciate you taking the time to read it.

2018 was one of those years of extremes, where beauty and tragedy dotted the ordinary enough to make a profound impact. For the most part, it actually felt a lot better than 2016 and 2017, which were both incredibly difficult for my family due to my son’s epilepsy diagnosis and the loss of my stepfather. But it wasn’t without sorrow either. There were some major highs and lows.

A lot of really wonderful things did happen in 2018. We bought our first home during the first week of the year (and remodeled the laundry room, downstairs bathroom, and backyard ourselves, redecorated/painted the family room and both kids’ rooms, and redesigned our master closet throughout the year), I traveled quite a bit (California twice, Colorado, Indiana, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Mexico), we dropped both kids off at school for the first time ever (it was a rough beginning for Emmett but he loves it now), and we enjoyed some really wonderful experiences together as a family. I also ended the year with a 100 day fitness challenge that reminded me how much better I feel physically and mentally when I incorporate 30 minutes a day of some sort of activity. (I’m starting another challenge right now about which I’ll share more later.)

On the other end of things, 2018 brought the loss of my best friend to ALS. He left behind a two year old daughter and wife, and while I’m eternally grateful for the chances I had to visit him over the year before he passed away, it was heartbreaking not be able to say goodbye in person. Losing a friend similar in age to that kind of illness was also a huge reminder of my own mortality, which is a gift in a way, but also quite sobering.

In general, the ups and downs of 2018 taught me a lot about finding balance and also appreciating  every single day that I wake up healthy. I also learned that while I appreciate the opportunities I have these days for work so, so much, that I need to make sure I’m not constantly overwhelming myself with work projects (and parent projects too!). In fact, while I don’t make New Year’s resolutions for many reasons, I decided that I’m going to be less hard on myself in general this year. (And this started on New Year’s Day – my birthday – when I allowed myself to lounge around and enjoy the evening after we arrived back home from Atlanta instead of rushing to unpack and plan. To be honest, two days later, my bags remain unpacked. And I’m totally cool with it.)

Creamy Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

And now onto the real topic of this post: my 2018 Bubby and Bean favorites! These annual roundups are really fun for me put together, because they allow me to take the time to go back and read through the blog for the entire previous year. Selecting my favorite posts to share with all of you, month by month, feels like a treat, and reminds me of how grateful I am that after many years (Bubby and Bean turned 8 in November!), I really do feel at a great place with my job. Yes, the vast majority of it is emails and forms and contracts and applications and negotiations and bookkeeping and a whole lot of social media work (in other worlds, things that aren’t my forte), but being able to be creative on some level for a living every single day through writing and photography and other projects is a dream come true. And getting to share pieces of my life and learn about yours while I do it is a major cherry on top. A huge thank you to all of you for supporting Bubby and Bean, by the way. I wouldn’t be able to do this without my readers and followers, and I appreciate all of you more than I can say.

So here, my friends, are my favorites posts from 2018…

The creamy parmesan mashed potatoes recipe I shared in early January (photo above) was on regular rotation in our house throughout the year.

5 (Low Sugar!) Ways To Celebrate Valentine's Day With Kids

February brought this post on 5 low sugar ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with little ones.

Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies

In contrast to the previous post, this sunbutter and jelly heart print cookie recipe did contain its fair share or sugar, but the health benefits of the sunbutter kinds of canceled that out, right? (Plus, they’re sooo good)

Why A Toddler's Milestone Mean So Much

In March, I shared why Emmett’s toddler firsts/milestones have been such a big deal for us.

Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas

March also brought one of our most popular recipe posts of the year for avocado and pan roasted chickpea pitas.

The Best Items To Buy At Trader Joe's

For April of 2018, I updated one of my highest traffic posts ever from 2017: my 15 favorite foods from Trader Joe’s.

8 Tips For Eco-Friendly Travel With Kids

I also shared this post with my tips for eco-friendly travel with kids in April (which I absolutely loved writing and shooting because it’s a topic about which I’m incredibly passionate).

Affordable Master Closet Renovation Ideas

May was full of fun projects. I loved redoing our master closet and taking it from a majorly hot mess to super organized. (And it still looks organized many months later which is a sweet, sweet miracle.)

Turning Your Child's Artwork Into End of School Year Gifts

For an end of school year gift for Essley, I turned some of her favorite pieces of artwork she made at preschool into mugs, a notebook, and a pillow. She was thrilled.

Grilled Corn with Orange Hoisin and Chili Glaze

I came up with this grilled corn with orange hosin sauce and chili glaze for Memorial Day and ate it constantly throughout the summer.

Tied with our laundry room reno, our backyard redesign was my favorite home project of the entire year. In terms of blog content, it was my favorite project of all. I am so grateful to have been able to team up with the incredibly talented Tyler Wisler to this. (And the video we got to do for TIKI as part of it was SO MUCH FUN.)

The Importance of Women's Health

In June, I shared a very personal post on mental illness and why I so strongly believe it’s time to end the stigma.

12 Easy Ways to Be More Eco-Friendly at Home

Okay, so this post was admittedly about a (very hip and earth conscious, mind you) brand of toilet paper, it was also about 12 easy ways to be more eco-friendly at home. It was fun to write and I hope it proved useful for those who read it too.

Saying Goodbye to a Best Friend (+ Feelings On Being An 'Influencer' In Sad Times)

I got personal again in July and talked about the passing of my best friend, as well as some of my own struggles about how to balance difficult life experiences with a job that often relies on oversharing. (I also shared some of what I read at his memorial right here.)

In July, I shared my favorite home project of 2018, our laundry room renovation (as also seen in the top photo of this post). It was a huge change – if you haven’t yet seen the before pictures, I think you’ll be surprised! Later in July I posted more about the renovation, specially how we created storage in a small space.

At the end of the month, I shared some moments of our almost two week trip to Colorado.

Two Years Seizure Free!

In August, we celebrated our son Emmett’s two year anniversary of being seizure free!

Also in August, Essley and I bonded over back to school shopping.

A Fun Start of School Year Interview For Kids

I shared a fun back to school interview to do with your kids in September (along with my little ones’ first day of school pictures – Emmett’s first ever!).

Later that month, I talked about how my kids and I practice daily gratitude together.

Tips for Getting Ready For a Mama's Night Out

In October, I talked about one of my favorite kinds of self care: getting ready for a mama’s night out.

Also in October, I talked about the concept of free, unstructured play, and why it’s so important.

Vegan Mini Halloween Pizzas

These plant-based Halloween mini pizzas were definitely our most fun recipe project of 2018.

One of my favorite holiday gifts to give in 2018 was the gift of trees. I talked all about this right here.

Holiday Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Later in November I shared this peppermint hot chocolate recipe which I may or may not be drinking as I type this…

How to Make Crayon Wax Decorated Holiday Ornaments with Your Kids

This DIY melted crayon wax ornaments post was our most read post in December.

10 Holiday Traditions For Kids

In December, I shared 10 holiday traditions my kids love.

Also last month, I showed you guys how I style my naturally frizzy hair.

Our Mexico Trip

And finally, I shared some photos and thoughts from our trip to Mexico.

As for 2019 on a personal level, as I mentioned earlier, my biggest goal is to be easier on myself. This might not sound like much of a goal, but for someone like me who is intrinsically unable to relax (no really; I feel extreme guilt if I’m not being productive and tend to emotionally punish myself as a result), it’s actually work to do this. I was very much satisfied with the results of my goal to be more physically motivated (in terms of exercise, etc.) in 2018, and now I think it’s time to work more on the mind/spirit side of things – in terms of both active efforts like meditation/mindfulness, and in terms of the opposite of active, like being okay with saying no or just cutting myself a freaking break if I screw up or can’t “do it all.”

When it comes to business goals for 2019 and the blog/Bubby and Bean brand, I honestly just hope to continue more of what is already happening. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to grow, but the older I get, the more I feel like BIGGER BETTER MORE isn’t always a good thing when it comes to business and career. Sometimes it’s even more wonderful to just say “I like where I am and would be grateful to continue to make it happen on the same level.” So I want to continue to produce fun, creative content that will benefit all of you (and am always open to suggestions!), and would like to continue to focus on the topics that most interest me like I did in 2018 (home projects, parenting, and food with a side of fashion/beauty and travel). I feel at a great place with Bubby and Bean right now, and the only real change I’d like to see happen is a move to WordPress for our platform. I am one of those old schoolers still using Blogger, and while the thought of such a huge, time consuming change terrifies me, I know it would allow me to do many more cool things with the blog than I’m able to here. (I won’t do it myself however, so if you can recommend a great service to switch things over, get us up and running on WP, and provide continued support sometime in the next couple of months, please email me at bubbyandbean @gmail or send me a DM on IG!)

If you made it this far, thank you thank you thank you! I love and appreciate my readers so deeply. For real. I know many less people read blogs these days than they did when I first started, and social media seems to be where it’s at and stuff (you rule the freaking world, Instagram, and it drives me crazy), but that just makes me even more grateful for all of you. I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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How I Style (and Embrace) My Naturally Frizzy Hair

This post was sponsored by Revlon Hair Tools as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Let me start out this post by saying that I’m not a huge fan of the term “frizzy” when it comes to hair, because I feel that it implies that one’s natural hair texture can be a bad thing. We are all different, and we all have different hair, and while I admittedly get frustrated with mine, it’s just that – mine, and I’m grateful for it. That said, if we’re being real here, “frizzy” is ultimately the best way to describe the natural state of my hair, so for this post, I’m going with it. If I let my hair air dry, it’s an odd sort of wavy with each hair going in an opposite direction, and lacks shine or smoothness. It’s not unhealthy; this is just how it is.

Over the years, there has been a lot of trial and error to getting my hair to a good place when I style it. I wear it different ways depending on my mood and the occasion (and let’s face it, time I have in my day), but I feel at my best when it’s tamed and curled. Figuring out a routine that works for my hair and the knowledge of how to style it with the right products has also helped me embrace the natural texture.

I’ve gotten quite a few questions on my Instagram about how I style my hair when it’s curled and/or my typical hair routine, and I finally decided to share my tips. This is for you, fellow frizzy haired friends!

(Check out those before shots above. Frizz factory.)

1. I only wash my hair a few times a week. It’s important not to overdo cleansing when you have frizzy hair, as it depletes the hair of moisture, and moisture is frizz’s secret weapon (except when that moisture is in the form of humidity of course, but since it’s winter, I’m going to pretend humidity doesn’t exist for now, thank you very much).

2. I always use conditioner. Building on tip #1 and moisture being so important to fighting frizz, I always condition. After washing my hair in the shower, I removed excess water, apply a rich conditioner, comb through, and then allow it to sit for a few minutes before rinsing. If I skip this step, my hair is a hot mess of frizzdom.

3. I blot my hair dry.
I am usually in a rush to shower and wash my hair because my kids are likely screaming “mama” outside the bathroom door, and it’s easier to get my hair dry by scrubbing with the towel, but this is a recipe for frizz disaster. Instead I gently blot.

4. I use a leave in oil. After washing and conditioning, I apply a leave in hair oil/serum and brush through. This is key to smoothing the cuticle. (I also use it after I style to tame flyaways.)

5. I allow my hair to partially air dry. Fully air drying my hair is pretty much always a horrible idea, but I’ve noticed if I use a blow dryer on it while soaking wet, my hair is dehydrated and, yes, frizzy. I usually let it air dry about 50% of the way (or more) before drying with heat.

6. I blow dry it straight. Once partially air dried, I use a blow dryer and the Revlon Perfect Style Extra Large Paddle Brush, which I brush in a downward motion to smooth and straighten. Even if I plan on curling my hair once it’s dry, I always blow it straight first. If I don’t, the natural wave creates all sorts of unwanted frizz. I also use the Revlon Extra Large Paddle Brush in an upward motion at the roots to create volume while I’m drying. Bonus: The extra large paddle reduces drying time, thank to IONIC TECHNOLOGY© infused bristles which help to dry hair fast while retaining moisture and reducing frizz.

7. I brush it well. After my hair is completely dry, I brush it several times with the Revlon Perfect Style Extra Large Paddle Brush. This brush is truly a miracle worker for taming frizz and helping my hair to shine. (Check out my IG Stories for a video of this in action; it’s amazing to watch the difference.)

8. I curl it. I leave my hair straight about half the time, but I very much prefer how it looks when it’s curled. I have thick hair and curling it takes time, but when I use the Revlon Perfect Heat Long Lasting Curls 3X Ceramic 3/4″ Curling Iron, it stays curled until my next washing, which makes for several days of super easy, pretty waves. I also love using the Revlon Perfect Heat Curling Iron because it has three layers of ceramic coating and even heat distribution to style from the inside out, which helps protect my hair from over styling damage (a big deal when your hair is naturally frizzy). The fact that it heats up fast (in 30 seconds) and has auto shut off is a major bonus for me, since I’m (A) always in a rush, and (B) admittedly scatter brained a good portion of the time. The 30 heat settings is really nice too, because even though I usually go high (it heats up to 400 degrees), sometimes I just want a subtle wave. I’ve used curling irons that have made my frizz look worse than when I started, but the Revlon Perfect Heat Curling Iron helps my waves look smooth and shiny. After curling, I use Revlon Extra Large Paddle Brush to brush the curls into natural looking waves.

9. I lightly spray. I finish my look with a light coat of hair spray, and sometimes add a little more oil/serum to the ends. This usually completes my styling, but sometimes I move on to #10…

10. I (sometimes) put it up or back. The truth to this one is that I’m basically every stereotype of a work at home parent, which means even when my hair is styled exactly how I want it, I usually end up putting it up in a ponytail or bun, or in a loose braid to keep it out of my face during the day. To do this, I grab a Revlon Extra Thick Elastic Hair Band and throw it up or back, without much thought. My hair is pretty thick, especially when it’s curled, and these elastics are amazing for strong, maximum hold. They don’t pull on my hair, which is key for reducing damage (which, yes, leads to more frizz.)

So there you have it, friends: the step by step of how I style my naturally frizzy hair. I have to say that while using a great conditioner and hair serum plays a big part in keeping my frizz under control, Revlon Hair Tools are truly my secret weapons in helping my hair look smooth, shiny, and healthy. I like them so much that I’ve already grabbed a few for holiday gifts for family members. The Revlon Extra Large Paddle Brush, Revlon Perfect Heat Long Lasting Curls 3X Ceramic 3/4″ Curling Iron, and Revlon Extra Thick Elastic Hair Bands, along with other Revlon Hair Tools, are available at Walmart this holiday season. If you get any of them, I’d love to hear what you think and if you love them as much as I do. And if you have any other tips for fellow frizzy haired friends, I’m all ears!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Does Your Dog Dig Holes?

From the makers of the iFetch comes the iDig interactive toy for your dog. Two models are available, one to stay at home, and one to fold up and take with you when you travel. The idea is this: you load the dog’s favorite toys or treats into the idig, then close the flaps over […]


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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Not-so-still Life with Cats

 

Living with a cat has so many benefits. Of course we enjoy the company of these always-adorable, sometimes-cuddly, often-independent creatures. And of course, living with a cat has its challenges, too, challenges that require cat owners to have a certain type of strength.

The extent of cats’ curiosity, spontaneity, dominance, and skittishness can keep us pretty busy. It also takes some serious devotion and patience to live with a family member who is bent on terrorizing rolls of toilet paper, swatting objects off shelves, dueling with dogs, and, this time of year, eviscerating Christmas trees.

There’s also research that shows self-identified cat people tend to be pretty open, which researchers tie to intellectual curiosity and artistic creativity. And if you’ve had to outsmart a cat at Christmas-time, you know what we’re talking about.

But no matter how ornery our cats are, they still purr themselves back into our hearts when they’re done. And like the good pet parents we are, we’re there to love and treat them.

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