Let The (Bargain) Shopping Begin at Just Between Friends


Remember before you had kids (difficult, I know) and you said silly things like “I will only dress my children in clothes from Gap Kids”, or when you had only one child and said “No thanks” to hand-me-downs because you liked buying new clothes for your precious little angel? Just me? Oh, how I like to laugh at that young, clueless version of myself.


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Cream Cheese Monkey Bread: Recipe of the Week


Cream Cheese Monkey Bread


With Easter just around the corner, I thought it would be a perfect time to share one of my fave sweet treats that could be served for breakfast or late brunch … because there isn’t enough CANDY hanging around the house, right? HAHA

Monkey bread with a gooey surprise hidden inside? Yes, please. And by taking a shortcut with refrigerated dough, you’ll be hoppin’ through this delish recipe in no time, so you can enjoy this yummy goodness that will have your entire kitchen smelling amazeballs!

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40 Bags in 40 Days


So it's lent.  A time of where you sacrifice something that you normally love (and yes I know there’s more to lent than this). I decided to try a different approach this year, mostly because I typically forget to not eat meat on Fridays and usually I'm not able to actually follow through with the 40 days of giving something up. So when I saw this Lenten challenge on Facebook, I decided I was in. Bring it on 40 bags in 40 days!  #40bagsin40days


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Indian Chicken Lettuce Wraps: Recipe of the Week


Indian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Sometimes I want an easy lunch with a bit of a bite.  These lettuce wraps are great because I add a little siracha directly to my portion and the kids get the normal spiced version.  Even better, these have my kids reaching for the lettuce and fighting over who gets the largest leaf.

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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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