Ever since becoming a mom myself, I crave information and tips from other moms who are seeking some sort of daily balance. (aren’t we all?!) Whether you’re a full-time stay at home mom, you work outside the home, or work from home – every scenario seems to have benefits and challenges. It may be surprising to a lot of people that I’m primarily a work from home mom. I spend about 75% of my time working from home, while the other 25% is spent filming on set, attending meetings and events, or spent traveling for book signings or press appearances. This was what I had always hoped for! I think that I was a bit naive in assuming that this was the most manageable way to approach working motherhood. While I’m immensely grateful to spend a lot of time at home, I quickly realized after having my son that juggling both roles day in and day out from my small apartment in NYC was going to be trickier than I had thought. After spending 2 years trying to figure out what works best for us, I think I’m finally starting to get into a groove. Below are 5 tips that have been the most beneficial for me personally when it comes to working from home. This little video is a small peek into our daily routine around here. Some days it works better than others! We’re constantly adjusting things around here to make sure everyone’s needs are met.

 

1. Maximize nap time.  I refer to these precious hours as the “golden hours!” I work with intense focus and efficiency to accomplish as much as possible. Anything you can do to encourage your little one to get as much sleep as they need is both good for your kiddo and great for getting a lot done. A good quality room darkening and child safe window treatment in the nursery was a must for me as a new parent. It’s resulted in more sleep for me and baby – not only do I not have to worry about cords being a safety hazard, the blackout effect allows everyone around here to get as much sleep as possible. When I’m well rested, I’m insanely more productive during the day. Investing in a good blackout shade for the nursery is one of the first tips I rattle off to friends that are expecting. The first time we installed a blackout option it went very badly. I was essentially using a spring rod with blackout panels and they would fall down at least twice a day – sometimes during nap time waking up Ollie and robbing myself of precious nap hours. I literally taped black garbage bags to my windows at one point. After making those mistakes, I made the conscious decision to invest in really good quality blackout shades and I’ve never looked back.

 

2. Establish a weekly routine. I’ve found that it’s crucial for my home to feel like it’s in some sort of “order” before I can be productive. By having one or two housekeeping tasks that I tackle each day of the week, things are easily kept up. In a moment of mom desperation I attended a small seminar hosted by Power of Moms a few months ago. It was a fantastic way to hear what works for other moms and to gain some knowledge and skills about how to better handle being a mom – especially while trying to find some sort of balance with my work. One of the most valuable lessons learned was that I need to have set weekly routines and responsibilities. Simple things like having a set day where I run the vacuum over my rugs, water my planters boxes, and wipe down all of the mirrors and windows in the apartment made such a difference in me feeling like I had some sort of control in my life. By doing a few small things each day, the upkeep began to feel more manageable and my apartment was never getting unbearably messy. Living and working in an organized space is HUGE for me.

 

3. Finish tasks before moving on to others. There’s nothing worse that feeling like you didn’t accomplish anything at the end of the day – especially when you’re emotionally and physically exhausted after hours of juggling work and trying being a present parent. I’ve found the best way to combat this feeling, is to start and finish a task before moving on to something else on my list. It may take me all day to accomplish it, but at least I get to check one thing off the list at the end of the day. This has been a great way for me to prioritize deadlines as well.

 

4. Map out your week. A proper plan will work wonders for keeping a busy working schedule at home in check. I reserve Sunday evenings to create a roadmap for the week and share it with my husband so that we can tackle the coming week as a team. I feel like this tip sounds somewhat obvious, but I can’t tell you what a difference it makes to have a bird eye view of what’s ahead. It helps me to set expectations and coordinate additional help if needed. It’s also great for Robby to know if it’s going to be a particularly busy week for me – it’s been a really beneficial experience to work as a team. A great example of this has been switching off mornings with Ollie. Ollie is an EARLY riser – if one of us gets up with him consistently we start to look like a walking zombie. Once we realized that it was taking a toll, we decided to alternate mornings with him. This plan has been a great way for us to know that we’ve each got a couple mornings throughout the week where we can sleep in or get up and get work done. This idea of mapping out your upcoming week is not only good for work and family obligations, it’s also great for meals. A weekly meal plan will make your life spent in your kitchen feel more under control just like a weekly road map will make your home life feel more in control. (Are you picking up on the fact that I crave an organized home life yet?!)

 

5. Build a good support team. Whether it’s a nanny, babysitter, playgroup or daycare, realize that no one can do it ALL on their own. In the beginning, I thought that I could manage most of it on my own if I just planned to get my work done during nap time and in the evenings. After 3 months of doing this I realized that this was a recipe for disaster. For me, I can’t work every night after putting Ollie down. I need my nights to de-stress, spend time with Robby, and let my mind rest a little bit. We are incredibly blessed to have my sister Kylie as part of our team. In addition to her helping out with my little guy (and being the world’s greatest aunt), Kylie also helps me with work projects. She takes all of the beautiful photos on this blog, makes videos just like this one, and helps to manage my social media. I’d be lost without her! What’s particularly great about her and the way she helps our family is that she can ping pong between giving Ollie needed attention and helping me with something work related. We hit the jackpot with her – and there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not immensely grateful for her place in our family/work life.

 

Sending a big high five to all moms out there. This is a tough job whether you “work” or not and I’m sure I’ll spend my lifetime trying to obtain the perfect “balance.” In the meantime, I’m going to focus on keeping all of the balls in the air. There will be days when I’m a better mom than employee and vice versa. I think what’s most important is to remember that we should all be kind to ourselves and expect for things to get a little unbalanced every now and then – then we’ll adjust and start the process all over again. Motherhood is the greatest and most challenging part of my life – I wouldn’t have it any other way and have profound respect for anyone out there just trying their best to manage it all. Keep on keepin’ on mamas!

 

 

 

A few sources from the video:

Video: Kylie Whiting

Motorized Blackout Roller Shades: Decorview

Planter boxes: Dig Brooklyn

Letterpressed Herb Markers: etsy – half pink ink studio

Weekly planner: Paper Source

A few favorites in the nursery: crib, glider, bookcases, rug, central park print, bookends, modern birth print


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We’ve talked about the Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer Cake (directions here!)  in depth, now I thought that I’d share just a few of the details that made this little party so much fun. I mentioned in my last post, that for Ollie’s first birthday, we had ordered a few things from Shop Sweet LuLu. I was so impressed with how well curated the site was and the quality of the party decor that we received, that we just decided to reuse almost everything that had survived last year. We went with the same blue/green color theme and got a few more milk and cookies details and called it a day. Below you’ll find a source list for everything we used to pull off this sweet theme. I particularly loved the cookie straws and those mini milk jugs! Happy Birthday Ollie! I’m so happy you’re ours. xo

 

A few posts that I found while taking a trip down memory lane!

Oliver’s First Birthday Party 

Oliver’s First Birthday on Kelsey’s Essentials

Welcome Home Oliver

 

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Milk Containers (we filled them with Cookie Crisp cereal and sent them with our guests as a favor!)
Mini Milk Jugs
Straws
Number Balloon and Tassel
Cake Stand
‘Ollie is 2′ banner
Ombre Tassel Garland
Cookie Cake Tutorial
Table in a Bag (perfect for parties in the park!)

 

 

photos: Kylie Whiting

 


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My sweet Ollie boy turns TWO this week! We wanted to celebrate with a small party incorporating some of his favorite things right now. In addition to being a huge fan of milk & cookies, he also loves Sesame Street and will ask for both Cookie Monster and Elmo on a regular basis. (it’s so cute!) I knew that it was going to be a bit of an intense week for work, so I decided to really only focus on a cake and not worry too much about food for the party. Last year I made a bunch of food, essentially catering the party, and in a way I regretted it. I ended up being in the kitchen the whole time stressed about taco assembly! It was so much nicer to just focus on a fun cake rather than an entire menu spread. I really wanted to make a chocolate chip cookie layer cake of some sort and ended up winging it in a sense. Below you’ll find all of the steps I took to make the recipe and how it turned out.

 

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First, I had to think about the cookie. I knew that I wanted it to be thick and fairly soft. If the cookie was thin and crispy it would have been tough to pull off layers of frosting in between without it feeling like there was too much frosting. Also, I was hoping to make a cake that would be easy to cut. I fear that a thin, crispy cookie wouldn’t have held up. So I took my existing chocolate chip cookie recipe and made a few changes – similar to what I would have done if I were writing a recipe for a bar cookie. The dry ingredients were standard and basic – flour, baking soda, and salt. I increased the salt a bit more than I usually would to try and obtain that sweet and salty bite. (next time I might eliminate the salt all together and just use salted butter) I know that it’s the popular opinion to work only with unsalted butter so that you can better control the flavor, but I’m starting to think that I might actually like working with salted butter in baking more often. So daring, I know.

 

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Cooking can be such a creative outlet – whether it’s pulling together a simple weeknight dinner for your family, making a special occasion meal, or even just dreaming up a menu, the creative aspect of cooking is one of the things I love most about the craft. In fact, I worked as a recipe developer for a local restaurant right after I completed Food Network Star and to this day it was one of my favorite jobs. I learned so much!

 

I recently had the unique opportunity to collaborate with an incredible local Utah chef on a menu for a special event in Utah. We were celebrating 10 years of the ever so charming Daybreak Community. The dinner was held on the Cross Water Bridge located in one of their newest developments and was picturesque as it gets. The menu came together so nicely and the execution was fantastic. I worked with Chef Adam Kreisel and his team at Chaia Cucina to create a menu that celebrated the best ingredients Utah has to offer from local farms like Drake Family Farm and Clifford Family Farm. It was a homey approach that made the meal feel not too fancy – yet still very impressive! I particularly loved elements like the savory chickpea flour waffle with the main course and the grilled peach and blueberry compote dessert that was a variation of my Skillet Blueberry and Peach Cobbler from Kitchen Confidence. We added gingersnap cookie crumbles, homemade creme fraiche, and grey sea salt for a refined finish.

 

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Thanks so much for having me Daybreak! Everything I love about my home state of Utah was captured during this dinner – great people, beautiful surroundings, and delicious food.

 

Special thanks to David Newkirk for these gorgeous images!


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It’s here! Summer is finally here!! That means I intend to use my oven as little as possible and utilize as much fresh produce for quick and easy meals as I can get my hands on. Salads are a great place start. Whether you’re trying to decide what to make for an upcoming bbq or potluck, Kitchen Confidence is filled with fantastic salad recipes. Right now I’m planning to make my Summer Bean, Pea, and Radish Salad for a baby shower, my Charred Corn Salad with Basil Vinaigrette for a BBQ, and my Potato Salad for the Fourth of July. They’re all bright and beautiful when it comes to both look and flavor.

 

All 3 of these delicious summer salad recipes can be found in my book, Kitchen Confidence.  Have any of you tried these recipes already? I would love to know what you think!

 

*An insider tip for those interested in making the Summer Bean, Pea, and Radish Salad…you can buy almost all of the ingredients for this dish at Trader Joe’s in their prepared produce aisle. It makes throwing this salad together so incredibly easy! I plan to make it all summer long.

 

Photography by Sara Remington


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