Teriyaki Salmon: Recipe of the Week



One of my family’s favorite meals is teriyaki salmon with rice and veggies.  There is even a song “I Want A Salmon” and a special dance that my children will perform. I love how versatile this dish can be with spices and even a different sauce.  With different needs in my family (no carb diets, finicky eaters, etc.) this dish has been able to satisfy all of them.  Enjoy!



  • Salmon Filet (we use about a pound to a pound and a half, and it feeds 4-7)
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of Dill (optional,you can also use Old Bay seasoning or smoked paprika)
  • Juice of ½ a medium size lemon
  • 2 to 3 slices of ginger then chop into strips
  • 1 to 3 Tablespoons of White wine (which I usually use but had none on hand so used Shaoxing Rice Wine)

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce
  • 3 – 5 thin slices of ginger
  • 1 medium size onion sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of water



Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small sauce pan, put in your slices of ginger, onion, teriyaki sauce, and water.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Once boiling, simmer until onions are caramelized.

Place foil on baking sheet and fold sides up so liquid stays within the foil.  Place the salmon filet on top of the foil.  Add your seasonings, slices of butter or oil, ginger strips, then lemon juice and white wine.  Cook for 9 to 15 minutes until it reaches the desired doneness. 


We love our salmon served with rice and edamame or roasted/sautéed veggies of the season.  If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, the salmon is wonderful in a salad and lunch for school.  If you’re a fan of some heat, make rice balls.  Then flake the salmon meat, mix with Shichimi Togarashi (Chili Pepper) and some teriyaki sauce.  Place it over the rice balls and top with more teriyaki sauce.  It will definitely make you crave more!



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When Life Has Other Plans


We have the perfect family for us. Fell in love. Got married. Got a cat. Had one little girl. Husband got a promotion. Moved to the Midwest. Got a job I finally love. Had one little boy. Time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor, as stereotypically suburban and middle class as they may be. We are happy. We are content. Our family is complete.

And then one day, you feel a little off, and you decide to pee on a stick in your work bathroom, because there is just no way. And then you remember when you get in your car to look at said stick, and that perfect little life you are so smugly enjoying suddenly flashes before your eyes.

The reaction is complicated. Immediately, a smile creeps across my face. I love babies. But that smile gives way to anxiety. I love babies, but I was pretty sure I didn’t want to have any more. The anxiety gives way to pure fear. I have to tell my husband. He definitely didn’t want any more babies. And all of those complex emotions yield tears and a nervous laughter in my car in the parking lot of that new job I love. We are having a third baby.


Just to clarify, because you are probably already wondering. I was on birth control. I took it every day. Apparently, the 99.9% advertised effectiveness lulled us into a false sense of security. Even more shocking, when I called my doctor and told her that this pregnancy defied all odds, she was not surprised at all and told me how common birth control babies are. Great.

I love being a mother, but I fear that I have reached my limit as the mother of two and that one more child will simply tip the scales of my maternal capabilities. Two children, got it. Three children, descent into madness. And because my husband and I have been so vocal about being done having children, are people just going to assume this baby is an accident, unwanted? Is all the joy of announcing a pregnancy going to be overshadowed by the questions of “How do you feel?” and “Wow, was this planned?” Am I going to be fat forever? Are we going to be broke forever? Am I going to have to quit my job? Can my body handle another pregnancy? Will anyone even care about a third child? Will I suffer postpartum depression again? Can I survive another Midwestern winter with a newborn? Will there be anything of me left? Oh dear god, will I have to break my solemn oath and drive a minivan? Descent. Into. Madness.

I am now in my second trimester, and while I can’t say that this hormonal storm has quieted completely, I can say that I am more excited than I am terrified. Instead of focusing on the fact that I will not have the six pack I was sure was in the plans for this year (let’s be real—this was a pipe dream at best), I am looking forward to maternity pants (one of the greatest inventions of modernity) and anticipating feeling my baby kick (my favorite part of pregnancy). I am reconciling myself to the fact that money will continue to be tight, and the financial breakthrough we saw on the horizon as our daycare bill went from excruciating to only moderately painful will just be delayed a few years. I am grateful that I am able to get pregnant easily and am focusing on taking care of my body and being as healthy as I can, and I am grateful for the excuse of pregnancy and a new baby to explain my not-so-perfect physique. And I am confident that my marriage and my children will not only survive a new addition but will hopefully even be better for it.


So, we are having a new baby, another little BOY. We will call him a “surprise” a “bonus” and will remember that life often has other plans than our own. Embrace the chaos.


P.S. For additional comedic value, feel free to read my earlier Blog post about getting rid of my breast pump: http://www.thecitymoms.org/zen_parenting



And yes, it happened. I refuse to drive it until I have to, so my husband is enjoying it immensely.

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Ask Amanda: theCityMoms Edition


Question: I have battled depression and anxiety for years, but it wasn't until my last pregnancy I was finally diagnosed and treated. However, I have felt lately my anxiety has been through the roof. I cry over tiny things, I don't sleep, and I am very moody. I obsessively stress over things outside of my control. My panic attacks have taken a new form- I now feel like I'm going to pass out. What can I do to help ease my anxiety?


Answer: I know it can be annoying when a question is answered with a question, so forgive me.

First, are you still being treated for the depression and anxiety?

If not and you feel the symptoms are worsening, it's time for a follow-up appointment. Of course, I'm biased to therapy, but the most important thing is that you find what works for you.

Arm Yourself...With Coping Skills

When trying to manage something as overwhelming as anxiety or depression, coping skills are vital. And you want to have as many as you can. You wouldn't use just a hammer to fix all the broken things around the house. Even if you're skeptical about trying a new one, ask yourself ‘What have I got to lose?'

Check out my list of coping options at http://www.busymomslifecoach.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Coping-Skills-Toolbox.pdf. Try one a day for a month.

Ride the Wave

Depression and anxiety are usually episodic in nature. A panic attack comes on and then it goes away. Think of it as riding a wave until it dissipates. Sometimes just knowing that it won't last forever can instill some hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Apples and Oranges

Don’t compare yourself to others, especially someone who has never experienced anxiety or depression. Thoughts like 'They look happy. Why can't I just be happy like everyone else?' aren’t fair to you.



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Southwest Quinoa Salad: Recipe of the Week

Being from Texas, I love any food that is Mexican-inspired. When the weather starts to heat up, and we are constantly running from one sport to the next, I love to have a big bowl of salad in the fridge that I can grab on the go. I came up with this recipe, and it totally satisfies my Tex-Mex cravings while being quick to make and easily portable. Win-win! It is a vegetarian recipe, but you get plenty of protein from the quinoa and black beans. It’s also chock full of fiber, so it’s very filling. It can work on it’s own as a light meal or as a side dish.



1 cup cooked quinoa

1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup corn kernels (I used Trader Joe’s frozen roasted corn)

1 cup quartered grape tomatoes

1 medium avocado, diced

1 jalapeno, minced (optional)

2 Tbsp minced cilantro (optional)

Juice and zest of ½ lime

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and Pepper to taste



Cook quinoa according to package directions. I like to use chicken or vegetable broth instead of water to add a little extra flavor. When finished cooking, chill quinoa in fridge for 15 minutes.


Drain and rinse black beans. Chop grape tomatoes, avocado, jalapeno and cilantro (optional.) Add all to a large bowl. Once the quinoa is chilled, add to 1 cup cooked quinoa to the bowl.


To make the dressing, combine the juice and the zest of ½ of a lime. Add 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar and 2 minced garlic cloves. Finally, drizzle in 1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and whisk until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.




Pour dressing over the other ingredients in the bowl and stir to combine thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!


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Just Between Friends


If you are anything like me, you walk into Target with the intention of buying (x item valued at $15) and leave with a cartful of the most random items, a $150 bill, and some serious buyer’s remorse. SO, the thought of attending a massive consignment sale could be daunting. A huge building full of kid items and clothes plus yours truly with oh so very little restraint could equal big trouble. Plus, I get overwhelmed. I’m not the biggest fan of digging through the racks, and I impulse buy (reference earlier comment about Target). BUT, attending consignment sales, especially one as expertly organized as Just Between Friends North Indy, is absolutely worth it!

Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of your shopping experience:

Create a budget and a time limit BEFORE you go—If you are a classic over spender like myself, this is crucial. You will be amazed at how far your dollar can stretch at JBF, but it’s still important to set a limit. I decided to spend $100, and I gave myself an hour to shop. The time limit keeps me focused and prevents me from making too many “oh sure, why not” purchases and limits the browsing time.


Hire a babysitter—While children are allowed to attend the sale with you, I really think it is so much easier without. This especially applies to children who do not walk yet or toddlers who like to get into everything. You will move faster without, and during peak shopping times, the sale gets pretty crowded. Also, if you are anything like me, after enough times of hearing “Mommy, I really want…” you just give in and spend way too much money.

Create a shopping list—Plan out what you want to purchase BEFORE you arrive at the sale and be specific. Once again, this will focus your efforts, and keep you on track in the massive sale. Once you walk in those doors, it is very easy to be tempted because there is just so much great stuff. Yes, there will be some variations, but try your best.

Here’s my list for the sale:

Double stroller

Better umbrella stroller

Diaper genie

Infant bouncy seat

4T shirts for my daughter

3T shorts for my daughter

18 month shorts and shirts for my son

Get your bags ready—I had a large, reusable shopping bag that I decided to bring, but I quickly learned that the true professionals bring rolling laundry bins or carts. The bigger the better. You could also use a stroller or purchase one at the sale and use it. There are large Ikea bags available, and you can purchase the branded JBF bags (which are super cute and handy) for just $3.



Go for the big ticket items first—If you are looking for bigger items such as strollers, infant gear, or even furniture, check that out first and take the items to the convenient hold area to retrieve when you are done. These items are rarer than clothing and the good stuff goes fast! Plus, you don’t want to be lugging them around the whole time you are shopping.


Enjoy!—If you are a bargain hunter, this will be heaven for you. There are so many great deals to be had. I found several shirts for $1 a piece and spotted many brand name items such as Matilda Jane on the racks. Doing a little digging is worth it. Sometimes you can even find identical items but with different prices, so it pays to look around. And lastly, don’t forget the home décor and Mom’s corner items as well as the vendors!



Here is what other experts had to say about maximizing your experience at JBF:

Julie Leonard, who has been coming to the sale for years, recommends volunteering, which gives you an early access pass to the sale. She said it is great being able to scope out the really good items before anyone else can buy them. For older children, she recommends texting them pictures of clothing, so you don’t end up buying lots of items they don’t like. Finally, she said remember to buy complete outfits. She makes a point to match items as she goes.IMG_7053.JPG

Dawn Pfannenstiel is the Event Coordinator and brains behind JBF. She has been running the organization since 2005 and has been running this particular sale since 2007. Dawn recommends making a list of what you need to buy. She said that a staffer of JBF with seven children even traces her children’s feet and cuts yarn in the size of their inseam to make sure she gets the correct sizes. You can also make a cheat sheet with everyone’s sizes. She also said to plan ahead and use the sale to purchase gifts for birthdays and holidays. Many items at the sale are brand new!


For this Spring/Summer sale, over 350 families are consigning, which means there are so many amazing items from which to choose. During JBF’s last sale, nearly 20,000 items were sold and nearly 2100 guests attended.


So, here is how I fared:

For $113.96, I purchased:

2 diaper pails (for $5 each this was a steal!)

Changing pad

Bouncy seat

Jeep umbrella stroller

Boppy w/slip cover (not on my list, but couldn’t pass up 50% off retail)

4 18 month shirts (2 brand new)

4 18 month shorts

7 2/3T shorts

4 4T shirts

1 4T dress

1 4T ballet leotard and tutu

1 4T bathing suit

Not too shabby, and only $13.96 over budget! At a retail store one hundred dollars would have bought me a fraction of that!



All in all, this was a great experience! Grab your lists, your bags, and your friends, and get shopping!


Just Between Friends North Indy Spring/Summer Sale


Open to the public Wednesday* through Friday from 9am-7pm, Saturday from 9am-3pm and 5pm-9pm

25% off most items on Friday, 50% off on Saturday day and 75% off Saturday evening

*Admission is free except on Wednesday, $2 admission goes to Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County

Cash, Check, Credit Card accepted

Hamilton County Fairgrounds, 1721 Pleasant Street, Noblesville



CityMom Christi Amos handles marketing for JBF and was kind enough to invite me to the pre-sale. Thanks!


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How to Navigate The Children's Museum Like a Ninja

Guys. We are seriously lucky. We get to raise our kids in the same city as the best children's museum in the country  http://www.forbes.com/pictures/ehkj45fihl/childrens-museum-indianapolis/. It's also the biggest children's museum in the country. And that can feel a bit overwhelming for a helicopter mom with a giant stroller and a ceaseless need for Starbucks (is that just me? Oh... ok)

We're beginning our fourth year as Children's Museum members and visit about once a month. I fancy myself a pro at getting the most out of every visit. Here's how to wiggle your way around the best and biggest children's museum like the mom ninja you are. 


Before you go

There are two different schools of thought when it comes to the perfect time of day to arrive at the museum. The obvious first choice is to get there at 9:55 and open the place up. This is what most people do because it correlates with the early afternoon nap time. You know what else it correlates with? FIELD TRIPPERS. I like to go around 2:00 (when the big kids and their chaperons are long gone) and stay until closing time. This works well for me because my oldest no longer naps and I could care less what time of day my two-year-old naps (#SecondChildSyndrome). 

 The food from the food court is the bomb, but it's pricey. If your kids are anything like mine, they eat three bites of lunch and are ready to sprint to the Dinosphere. I always pack lunch for the kids and buy lunch for myself. (They have awesome wraps and salads, but my fave is the black bean burger.) My kids are thrilled to have their usual PBJ while I appreciate a good meal (that goes in my mouth and not in the trash). 

Leave the DSLR at home. Look, photography is great and everyone wants amazing memories of their child exploring the Museum. But don't be THAT mom who is holding up the line at the TMNT pizza thrower thing because you have to take 30+ pictures (with different settings, natch) of your kid. Snap one with your iPhone and move on.


The parking garage is huge and offers tons of covered parking. The walkway is on the 3rd floor of the parking garage, so park near there if you can find a spot. If the weather is nice, go for the ground parking just north of the Museum. Taking that route gives you a cool view of the dinosaurs climbing through the entry as well as the stone sculptures of major landmarks from all over the world. 



Keep your coat in your car unless the temps are crazy cold. Can't bear to walk the ramp in just a sweater? Take advantage of the lockers just east of the lobby. If you have a stroller, you can always store coats in there instead... you know, if you don't care if there is room for your kid. 

Don't rush through the lobby. Aside from the massive Bumblebee and dinosaurs, there are always cool mini-exhibits that change regularly. The staff members that greet museum goers are often dressed as characters coordinating with the newest exhibit (like April from TMNT and Beauty and the Beast's Belle from the Pirates and Princesses exhibit). Museum mascot Rex is usually there giving high fives and fist bumps, too! 

Grab a map. Even if you know the place inside and out, the maps are updated regularly and feature detailed info about the new and changing exhibits. 


Where to start? 

If you get there right at 10am, consider heading straight to the top or directly to Playscape (where there are no field trippers - whoot whoot!). Most visitors start in the Dinosphere or beeline it to whatever the newest exhibit is on the second floor. However, if you see a short line at the Chocolate Slide/Jolly Days Slide, take advantage! I repeat: TAKE ADVANTAGE! We usually skip this because the line gets so, so long and my kids just don't have the patience (and neither do I). 


Then what? 

Don't be afraid to check out an exhibit that is geared toward bigger or littler kids (with the exception of Playscape, which is for kids five and under). My kids are five and two and they love love love ScienceWorks and Treasures of the Earth, both of which are geared toward school-age kids. All the exhibits have hands-on features and are even exciting for the parents. 

The Museum staff and volunteers are amazing. They know so many cool facts and stories that you wouldn't necessarily be privy to unless you engage with them. Chat up the paleontologists working in the lab. Ask questions of the volunteers outside of ScienceWorks. Your kids will be mesmerized to talk to real-life scientists and you'll learn something, too! 

The carousel (located of the fourth floor) is an absolute must. It's majestic, beautiful and an important part of Indianapolis history. It was once an attraction at Broad Ripple Park! The staff goes above and beyond to make the ride fun and engaging for the kids. 

The lower level is my favorite and what you'd consider the "classic" Children's Museum exhibits. My kids would be content if the only two exhibits they saw were Dinosphere and All Aboard! They've seen them countless times and never tire of them. They've been a mainstay at the Museum for-ev-er and there's good reason for that. 


Time to Split: 

It's easy to run right past the gift shop to avoid the "oooooh, can I get this? How about this? But I neeeeeeed that!" from your kids. I get it. But the gift shop is actually one of the most hands on parts of the Museum! It's filled with train and activity tables that feature Magformers, Zoobs, that squishy sand stuff that claims not to make a mess, and so much more. My kids love it and I usually can get outta there without buying anything. 

At the top of the ramp lies the InfoZone, which I consider my secret Museum cavern. It's part of the Indianapolis Public Library and is an easy way to drop off those overdue books and pick up new materials featuring museum subject matter (dinosaurs, trains, China, and tons more). I like to get a bag of books and take a bathroom break before heading home. 



Other hacks: 

Splurge on the +2 membership, which covers everyone in your house plus two guests. All the marketing the Museum does is true. It pays for itself during the second visit. 

Worried about losing your kid? Have your little ones keep one of your business cards (or a mommy card - https://www.tinyprints.com/shop/mommy--contact-cards.htm) in their pocket. My five year old knows to show the card to another mom and say, "Can you call my mom?" Thankfully, we've never had to use it, but I feel better knowing we have a plan.

Nursing at the Museum is a breeze. They have dedicated nursing rooms within Playscape that are like the Beyonce of nursing rooms (we're talking dimmer lights, glider chairs, and TVs playing Sesame Street to occupy big sibs). Two other quiet, semi-private places to nurse include the Big, Bad, and Bizarre extension of the Dinosphere and the Power of Children exhibit. 

Have questions? Send a tweet to @TCMIndy. They are awesome at responding and are a wealth of knowledge. 

Oh, and there's a Starbucks to your immediate left after you check in to the museum. Cheers! 

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Dairy Free Chicken Pot Pie: Recipe of the Week


Chicken Pot Pie (Dairy Free)

3 cups Unsweetened Regular Almond Milk

1 cup of Chicken Broth (You can get the broth from the cooked chicken)

3 Tbsp of Dairy Free Butter

1 Tbsp of Italian Seasoning

1 Tbsp of Minced Garlic

2 Tbsp of Flour

1 tsp of Salt

1 tsp of Pepper

2 cans of Green Beans (Drained)

1 can of Corn (Drained)

1 big chicken breast (boneless skinless)  (You can also use a Rotissere Chicken)

1 package of little biscuits



  1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cook chicken in a square baking dish for 25 minutes (covered with foil)

While that is cooking you can get started on the gravy…here’s how:

  1. Place butter, minced garlic and Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper in saucepan. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add flour and whisk into a paste. 
  3. Add in Almond Milk and chicken broth. Whisk until blended
  4. Cook for 10 minutes (whisking frequently). Take off stovetop and stir in drained veggies.

Once your chicken is done cooking…

  1. Shred the chicken in the pan
  2. Pour in the gravy/veggie mixture

Put in the oven to cook for 20 min.

Take out of oven and add the small (uncooked) biscuits on top and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes.


*This recipe is a dairy free recipe.  For those of you who don’t want to do dairy free, just sub in milk and butter, as opposed to almond milk and dairy free butter.



Kelly is someone who cooks out of necessity. If it were affordable to eat out, her trash would be filled with takeout containers. She tends to get creative with the recipes by adding extra ingredients. 


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A Picture Perfect Diet

My weight has been a struggle for me for most of my adult life. In high school, I was lucky. I was tall and thin no matter what I ate. My diet consisted mostly of cheese and ice cream. That ability changed somewhere in my 20s. Stress eating and a general lack of activity took over, and I became overweight. When I started dating my husband I was at my heaviest weight ever. Fortunately, my husband is a generally active guy, and he likes to cook healthy food. He does a great job of making things that are healthy and taste good (I didn’t believe that was a thing before him really – did you know you could add flavor with spices instead of fat?). Increased activity combined with various diet plans (I think I have tried them all) eventually got me to a place where I could be active and maintain a weight I was happy with. Until I got pregnant of course. Having struggled so much to finally reach a good weight, I was terrified to put the weight back on. I didn’t weigh myself once during my pregnancy, but when I did finally weigh a couple of weeks after Jack’s birth, I had about 50 pounds to lose.

That leads us to today. I have lost the baby weight. I did follow the Weight Watchers nursing mom program, which helped me to make sure I ate enough to keep nursing. Before I got pregnant and now that Jack is weaned I use the free Lose It application on my phone and like it. However, all of that takes time, and I was really feeling like I need something very simple and fast to make sure I am continuing to make healthy food choices. 


With my work schedule and taking care of a toddler (oh my God! I have a toddler!) calorie counting was just too much of a task. A few weeks ago, I was reading something online--and I am not sure where I saw it--but I came across the idea to take pictures of my food before I eat it.

So, I tried it. When I looked at my food through the lens of my camera it was a rather eye opening experience. First I noticed that even though my daily calories were fine (I was still counting them) there was a serious lack of color (i.e. fruits and veggies) in my diet. The first day I had a very boring looking bowl of cereal and a Lean Cuisine for lunch. I think we had a frozen pizza or something for dinner. I may have had a piece of fruit in there somewhere, but not a single vegetable. I wasn’t over-eating, but I wasn’t eating a very healthy diet.


 The next morning my cereal and milk was replaced by cereal and nonfat Greek yogurt and blueberries. I still had a lean cuisine for lunch, but I added fruits and/or vegetables to every meal and snack. I’ve stopped counting calories; my energy has increased; and I’ve actually lost a few more pounds. And as you can see, I still eat desert on occasion.


Taking a picture gives me a moment to pause and evaluate what I am putting in my body. In that short pause my brain decides if it is colorful enough and if I feel good about eating it. And although I will obviously not be considering a career in food photography, it has become a pretty quick and easy way to evaluate if I am eating healthy or not. All I have to do is skim through the pictures in my phone, and it gives me a quick visual inventory of how many fruits and vegetables I have eaten. Hopefully, eating a balanced healthy diet, will be a habit that I will be able to pass on to my son.


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Boring Bedroom Makeover

Suffering boredom in the bedroom?

Oh no, I’m not THAT kind of expert.  But I can help you create some excitement in your décor!  

Nightstands are a super fun and easy way to bring some personality into the bedroom without going for a complete makeover.  If you’re in the market for something new, consider bold pops of color or unique pieces that you might not necessarily think of as a standard “nightstand.”  


Great way to save money here:  garage sales and thrift stores.  It you find a piece with a nice shape, give it a new coat of paint in a fun color.  

My favorite element in design is to mix and match.  This is now a trend in nightstands.  You don’t have to buy the standard pair of matching tables with a drawer.  Create some interest by mixing it up a little, by having a table and a cabinet, or a trunk and a table, or two different kinds of tables.  Have fun with it!

The rules:  

1. Make sure both sides are approximately the same height.
2. Both sides should have a connection in some way (finish, color, shape, style).


Okay, so you already have the standard pair of stands with a drawer and shelves.  How do you spice it up?

  1. Mix up your lighting (again, keep the heights within the same range).

  2. Add visual interest with different heights of items on each stand.  

  3. Everyone is using their phone these days for an alarm, so throw out the digital clocks and add a cool replacement.  

  4. Fun artwork either on the stand or on the wall.

  5. Decorative boxes to hold the ugly stuff.  


Now, no excuse for a boring bedroom!

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When The Friendship Isn't Healthy


I was sixteen and sitting on the bus, riding home from a basketball game. My Discman (also known as a portable CD player for all you young cats) had just run out of batteries mid-song and I was too lazy to take the headphones off so I closed my eyes thinking I’d just take a little nap before we made it back to school.

Then I heard them: my two best friends talking about me. Sitting in the seat behind me, they were talking about me because they thought I couldn’t hear them. One girl complained about me asking her to braid my hair on the bus ride to the game. The other girl agreed that that was super-annoying and that she just wished I would leave them alone. This typical, high school mean girl stuff went on for a few minutes.

It felt like hours.

Just typing this, reliving those moments, makes my stomach twist up. I can recall with perfect clarity how horrible it made me feel. I felt such shame for not being worthy of their friendship.

I was heartbroken and embarrassed. I wished I could disappear; I wished I could instantly get off the bus and make my way home unseen. But that’s not how things work even when you really, really need them to so I had to suffer through the rest of the bus ride home. I don’t remember much after that. I know it didn’t end our friendship, that we still played basketball together, that we still hung out together, I have the pictures and memories to prove it.

But what I do remember is the absolute devastation of feeling betrayed and unwanted. These were my two best friends and they didn’t want to be my friends? Who was I supposed to be friends with? High school without a friend is horrible. I needed them. I liked them. Why didn’t they like me all of the sudden? Or had they not liked me for a while?

Almost twenty years later, I realize that I could have gotten new friends. I had other friends, other people that wanted to be friends with me, and probably wouldn’t have–literally and figuratively–talked about me behind my back.

I was thinking about that story the other day as I was puttering around the house. Wondering what friends I have now that I need to do without, what friends I have now that cause me to feel insecure, betrayed, or unwanted. I know that’s a crazy question to ask myself, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t letting things–people, relationships, distractions–into my life that were taking away from it instead of making it better. I am too loved and too awesome to let people in that make me feel bad about myself.

Also, you are too loved and too awesome to let people in that make you feel bad about yourself.

You know that, right?

It sounds like such a simple truth, but I know it’s really not. I have had friends before that I shouldn’t have had for no other reason than they took more than they gave. I’m not talking about friends that need you for a season and then you need them for a season and you take turns caring for each other. That is wonderful and what friends are for. I’m talking about people that just take. And take and take and take. They never fill, they never serve, they never lessen our burdens or loads.

Those people have to go. Those people need to step back.

I didn’t learn this lesson until my thirties. I had to have some friendships fail to be able to learn this lesson. I had to feel the uncomfortable fit of forced relationships that weren’t meant to be so that I could learn what the healthy, life-giving ones really looked and felt like.

And it was so worth it. Because I’d say the friends I have now, the relationships that are growing and blooming and supporting me, are pretty great.

I want that for you, too. I want you to have friends that make your life better not worse. I want you to have some ride-or-die friends that have your back no matter what. I also want you to know what ride-or-die means so if you need to, Google that shiz.

Having good friends makes every aspect of our lives better. I believe my marriage is better because of my friends. I believe I’m a better mom because of my friends. I believe I’m a better friend because of my friends. So if you’ve got people in your life that leave you feeling less than or are tearing you down instead of building you up, it’s probably time to say goodbye to them. You deserve to have good, real, encouraging friends. Life is too short to be around people that don’t add to your life.

I just wish I had learned this truth sooner.

This post originally appeared on Trusty Chucks.com in April, 2015.


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