Why you should set your expectations low, low, low (and the easiest damn salad recipe)

easiest damn salad-sm.jpg

Does anyone talk on the phone anymore?

In the age of texting, Instagram, FB messaging, and skype, when was the last time you had a phone conversation?

There are times I certainly avoid it, for sure. Yet reminiscent to my junior high days, when I would pick up the phone the second I got home to talk to the same people I had seen all day, there are a select few I’m more than happy to talk to, old school style, for hours.

Just last night I talked for nearly two hours to a dear friend I’ve known for 25 years (what? seriously how old am I?), as she drove home from a work trip. We ran the gamut of updates, laughed, sighed, dreamed, and overanalyzed, as girls do. What was more a nod of releasing our expectations and control over external circumstances and people, we laughed over setting our goal of low expectations for 2018.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big dreamer, ambitious AF (overly so), but what I’ve come to realize is that to stay mentally in the game, I have to LET GO of external expectations, especially when it comes to people.

I can only control my thoughts, my actions, my responses, my dreams, my life.

I’ve heard it before, but have you?

All that you have at the moment,
you’ve attracted by the person you are

Does that bring a grateful smile to your face, or a punch to the gut?

I was recently reading Jim Rohn’s “Leading an Inspired Life.” Though simple and straightforward, the reminders of how discipline, whether the focused attention to or the lack of discipline, will sow the consequences of either action and growth or neglect and stagnation. It’s simple, but we easily choose comfort, fear, excuses, and carelessness over growing in our habit of discipline.

None of us have control over the external matters in our lives, but we can control what’s internal, especially the 3 pounds of flesh between our ears. Pick up a book and learn something new, take a class to up your game, bite your tongue if you have to stop yourself from speaking unhelpful words, whatever it is, redefine your success by taking whatever step needs to be taken.

Take heart and have discipline. Period.

Quite simply, begin by taking baby steps. And by all means, don’t lose the momentum by letting fear or laziness in. It’s far too slippery of a slope.

Rohn highlights Ben Franklin’s three principles of success:

  1. Number one: big achievements come one step at a time, one day at a time.
  2. Number two: you have the power to mold your life. You can make it whatever you want. You can shape it and reshape it.
  3. Number three: success is measured through pleasure. This is the key principle. You’ve got to be happy along the way. You’ve got to learn to give yourself a pat on the back. You need to tell yourself, “I’m proud of me today!” You’ve got to learn to enjoy the process.

If you haven’t read this book already, I highly recommend it. I may have highlighted every other paragraph. It’s just that good.

The same week I was reading Rohn’s book, Bedros Keuliian was interviewed on Shawn Stevenson’s Model Heath Show. This interview was hard core and I also highly recommend you listen to it for inspiration. He says it best, “if you want to be a high performer in life, in a relationship, in your diet, in your fitness, in your business, in anything, at work, you've got to be disciplined, structured, and do the highest value stuff first. Take care of yourself...to me discipline and structure equal freedom…I have more freedom because of structure and discipline than I ever had before.

Boom.

Create structure in your life and carve out the time for the most important items that align your life with your values and mission. For me, it’s waking up early to meditate, pray, and to exercise; to meal prep on the weekend to eat healthy all week; to read and listen to podcasts to continue to learn.

At the end of the day, when you align life with your values, you show up as the best version of yourself. You’ve taken care of yourself and feel good in your skin, you vibe higher, you spread more love and joy. In effect, you create more and radiate. You’re contagious.

So, set your expectations high for your dreams, but release the expectations you have for everyone else. Let them be themselves. Forgive, accept. Forgive and accept yourself.

Be generous with your kindness and love. Be you.

P.S. If you’re all about inspirational talks, I also recommend Simon T. Bailey’s talk on “This Is What’s Holding You Back From Brilliance”:


“It’s not who you are that holds you back from brilliant success,” Bailey says. “It’s who you think you’re not that holds you back. And sometimes we focus on who we think we’re not instead of who we are.”

"Find an environment where you are celebrated not just tolerated. That environment should invite you to be a vitamin not an aspirin."

Now that you'll be kicking some ass, you'll need a quick, healthy salad to keep you going. Better yet, if healthy eating is a goal of yours, start by little habits such as starting your day with room temperature lemon water, or swapping one of your meals to include double the veggies you typically eat, such as this salad, the world’s easiest damn taco salad, with ingredients from Trader Joe’s:
 

Easiest Damn Taco Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • Arugula or favorite green mix
  • 1 cup tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • 4 mini sweet bell peppers, diced
  • Black olives
  • Chicken
  • 2 tbps Salsa Verde
  • lime wedge for an extra kick
  • 1 Sliced green onion, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium sized bowl mix all of the ingredients with the salsa verde
  2. Squeeze with lime and garnish with green onion

 

when life gives you balls, you juggle them

Jump down to the end for the recipe....I kind of go off on a tangent!

Jump down to the end for the recipe....I kind of go off on a tangent!


Standing at the kitchen sink washing a pan, I gaze out to see Charlie maliciously wave a dirty mop in her sister's face.

That was it.

I had just told her an hour ago that there is never a reason to hit her sister. And now this.

Perhaps I should have just kept my mouth shut, but I immediately begin to mediate and tell her to go to her room. While she was at it, to clean up the earlier tornado that hit that section of the house.

Stomping off, the wailing begins.

I shout, "crying about it won't get you closer to the goal."

I can't believe I utter those words. Yet in sheer frustration, the darkness and humbling truth is usually revealed. Were those words for her or for me? 

Quite plain and simple, I'm tired. 

There's no doubt a laundry list of reasons why exhaustion burdens me. Parenting alone, however, tops the list. Cuddling, having fun, playing games, and cranking up the music for dance parties is easy. On the flip side, discipline, and understanding the bigger picture of not only my legacy, but the minds, and the legacies of these little people I was blessed with, is created in the minor moments of loving correction. This is hard. These moments continue to beat me down, and make me feel I'm doing something wrong. Like I know better but can't learn the lesson myself. 

Relationships are funny, intricate things.

And then there are moments like this - 

Yesterday at a 6-year olds birthday party, I was caught in the crossfire of a dad exchange:

With empathy one dad asks, "How long is your wife out of town?"
The tired dad replies, "She was in London last week and will be in Charlotte next week. So two weeks."
"Oh geez. You need a raise and a 'World's Best Dad shirt' for that kind of stint," the empathetic dad responds, but with a hint of disgust.
"Yes, yes I do!"
I blankly stared forward, thoughts swirling in my head.

Really? I guess I knew men felt this way when their wives went away, but I had never been caught in the middle of the banter. Seriously, how do you think your wives feel when you go away? Why is this even a discussion? Is equality still this skewed? It took both you to create these children, so buck up!

Well, that's only the beginning of my G-rated version.

Shaken from my stupor, I feel the kids racing up the stairs for cheesy pizza and cupcakes. It was time to choose my own battles with my children. To choose gluten or not.

I certainly don't stew on the following ideas, but I was reminded of them through various conversations this weekend:

  • I didn't get married to boast I had a husband who cheated on me multiple times. I don't need to share this, but some people give you the look of "why are you divorced?"
  • I didn't get married to end up a single mom. Though it's hard and not what I intended, I don't want your pity.
  • I didn't get divorced to be judged on whether or not I made the right decision to move to a different state to be closer to family. You don't know the full picture and boundaries had to be defined. Period. 
  • I didn't get divorced to feel a special kind of overwhelm. That kind of just comes with the territory when you're playing the role of both mom and dad at all hours and doing it all. Even with shared custody, the "overwhelm" doesn't go away.

So with that, that's where we land today. In the here and now. We make it work. Though I'm so very tired of doing it alone, especially at 2am when there's no one to nudge to ask to take this shift for the night, I know things won't always be this way. Apparently there's an actual Law of Rhythm that dictates this fact, establishing the seasons of life. Sometimes it's hard to see beyond tomorrow, which looks a lot like today. Yet like a pendulum, we swing to the left and back to the right - in constant motion, growing, changing, learning and evolving. Thank goodness! 

So with a deep breath, I keep moving forward, knowing anything is possible, especially when I dare to create it. With eyes in my own lane, focused on my end goal, keeping the balls in the air long enough to learn what I need to learn, and teach both myself and my little ladies. This one life is precious and I want to live it to the fullest, providing a rich and vibrant environment for all of us.

This post definitely took a different turn than I intended, but I guess I had to get some things off of my chest.

With that note, speaking about balls, how about some homemade energy balls, or bars, that are easy, quick and totally satisfying?

We made both mango and chocolate versions, but at the end of it, the girls voted their favorite was chocolate. So here it is. Email me if you want the mango version!

Double Chocolate Date dates

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened toasted coconut
  • 1/3 cup dry roasted and salted macadamia nuts
  • 10 pitted dates
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 squares of dark - 70% or higher - chocolate cut up to little pieces 
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a food processor, pulse the macadamia nut until they're just chopped. Any longer and it will become nut butter. Remove from food processor and place in a big bowl.
  2. Add dates into the food processor and pulse until just blended. Add coconut. Pulse again until it's a nice paste.
  3. Add to the nut mixture. Add in chocolate pieces.
  4. Form into balls with your hands or press into an 8x8 roasting dish to make bars.
  5. Roll the balls in the cacao powder for some extra chocolate love.
  6. Refrigerate and enjoy.

 

 

Finding your Tribe

Perched over a snowy path, sitting in the Sierra-at-Tahoe Java Junction café, catching up on my Money Mindset Academy class, the air is crisp with sugar and fried foods. Walking through all consuming crowds at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk come to mind – hot chocolate, fritters, donuts, ice cream, French fries. All things sweet and crispy. To be honest, it’s a little distracting, and nauseating.

Similar to how I’m submitting myself to the sweet aroma and icy wonderland view, I’ve been thinking a lot about my tribe, the people I surround myself. These people I submit myself to, ultimately help to create my perspective, my thoughts, my aspirations, my life.

Jim Rohn says we are, "the average of the five people we spend the most time with."

Aside from my very engineering minded co-workers I spend 8 hours with, and my very young children, who are these people? Parents, cousins, siblings, friends, books, podcasts, and TV shows.

I love these people, yet I feel I’ve stagnated in having the support to challenge me. To have people understand me, really know me, and my dreams. To be part of something bigger than what I am, what I’m doing right now.

Personally, I want to surround myself with people who are building schools, who are creating change in their community, who are using their God-given gifts to show the world their superpowers, who are loving life, making money, and sharing love and truth.

Currently I get super pumped listening to podcasts and reading books. When the hour is up or the last page turned, I get a little sad. If only I could call these people up, like an old friend, and simply hang out, letting conversations organically flow about life and growth, and about getting old, and everything in between.

Who do you surround yourself with? Are they in line with where you want to go, or are they keeping you safe and comfortable? We only have 24 hours in a day, how are you spending them, and with whom?

I’m not going to throw away my family and friends, but I can be more selective with who I allow into my space and brain.

With that being said, I jumped at the opportunity to embrace the chaos of Taco Tuesday this past week with a total of 6 kids (4 being boys). A last minute dinner text from my dear friend of nearly 30 years resulted in us combining forces when it came to pulling dinner together. Kids were clinging, screaming, and running in circles. There was homework resistance, there were rumbling bellies, and some were hanging on the precipice of hangry, but we made it and enjoyed it.

Truth be told, being a single mom is quite lonely most of the time, but I find dinner time to be the worst. At the end of the day, with little to give, or little energy to push through to engage and teach the littles, talking to another adult, let alone be part of a team to pull it off, was exactly what I needed.

Having a tribe to lean on, grow with, be challenged by, and just eat tacos with, is where it’s at.

Do yourself a favor and evaluate your tribe. I hope you can feel they are elevating you to be your best, or better yet, better than ever before. Better than you've ever imagined.

And in the words of Judah and the Lion, “Hey, my life is real great, feel I'm well on my way to my dreams coming true, and I'm getting to do it with you"

In case you need some inspo for your own Taco Tuesday fiasco fun night, here is my favorite recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground meat of choice, I prefer organic, grass-fed beef for these tacos

  • ½ onion, diced

  • 2 tbsp chili powder (more if want spice, less for less heat)

  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder

  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 tsp. dried oregano

  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin

  • 1 Tbsp. salt

  • 1/2 Tbsp. black pepper

    Directions

  1. Over medium heat, place a pat of butter or coconut oil in pan, preferably cast iron pan

  2. Add onions to the pan and sauté (approx. 10 minutes).

  3. Add ground beef to the onions and sauté, stirring and breaking up the beef (approx. 15 minutes).

  4. Combine spices and add to beef for the final few minutes, and the beef is completely cooked.

  5. Create your tacos using romaine leaves, or my favorite siete tortillas. Top with tomatoes, avocado or guacamole, cilantro, a squeeze of lime and cheese (optional).

Fill those bellies, laugh hard, and love harder. Cheers, friends!

peace and joy


2018.jpg

Freedom.

That was my theme for 2017.

I embraced freedom by letting go of a lot of shit that was holding me back. I took hold of the uncomfortable and put myself out there. I’ve been brave. I’ve been scared. I’ve been nervous. I’ve been disappointed when my expectations looked different than my reality.

I faced a lot of fears, stepped out of my comfort zones, and took an extra bite of courage to do things I never thought I'd do.

From business goals to flops. From relationship giddiness to sadness. I’m proud of myself for accepting the challenge to dream and grow; to let freedom provide the space and grace to show me the way.

Despite the ups and downs, and constant noise, there’s been a lot of knowledge that has seeped into these bones and grey matter. There’s been a lot of growth. And for that, I’m grateful.

The crazy thing about this journey of life, is that as much as we may want others to hold us accountable, offer encouragement, or even do some of the work, it all comes down to one thing:

IT’S ALL UP TO YOU!!

You, me, we are 100% responsible for not only the outcome, but the process. What kind of effort are we putting in? How are we showing up every day? Are you walking in integrity even if you lose?

You can respond like my 6-year old does after I tell her to do something, with, “I forgot!” But let’s be honest, the response, the procrastination, the dilly-dallying you (and I) do is really just fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failing, fear of disappointment. When you set a goal, or there is risk involved in your decision, it’s only natural to have those emotions. But that’s where the magic happens. That’s when you learn about how powerful you are, your values and character, and how you have the choice to embrace the opportunity to fly or stay still.

flight.jpg

I’m no superwoman. It certainly wasn't all rainbows and butterflies. 

Despite the growth and excitement, there have been polar opposites. There have been hardships. Potential clients and business relationships went cold. I’ve let people down. I’ve let things remain unsaid. I’ve held back. I’ve let fear build a wall, keeping others out. Phone tag with "big guy" went silent. I’ve completely spaced on Christmas gifts and arrived to the party flustered and empty handed. Heck, I even forgot deodorant once, on the hottest day of the year. Yikes!

Don’t forget, we’re human. We have ample daily opportunities to remember this point. We’re not perfect and most definitely still a work in progress. Whether you're looking to lose weight, learn how to cook, travel more, pursue a new relationship, quit your job, tuck these little truths in the back of your mind as you live with intention:

  • Ask questions to understand.
  • Don’t assume.
  • Live in the now.
  • Let go of your past.
  • Pursue growth.
  • Don't lose sight of hope.
  • Keep the faith.
  • Read. Read. Read.
  • Forgive and offer grace.
  • Keep it simple.
  • It's starts with you.
  • Love.
sparklers.jpg

I’ve heard it time and time again, 2017 was the fastest year ever. In 365 days we may be saying the same thing about 2018. However, what resolutions and actionable baby steps are you dreaming up to make 2018 a different game than 2017? What is your picture of you thriving?

I'm working up a few goals based on my values, but my overall theme for 2018:

Peace and Joy

Whatever may come, I want to receive as a gift and be at peace with myself, the process, and the outcome. Hopefully I can also spread some joy along the way as well.

Shine bright friends, it's contagious!

Happy New Year!

 

 

BLACK FRIDAY - what's your game?

First and foremost, I think Black Friday is silly... and genius, as long as you’re smart about it.

After a day of thanksgiving, gratitude, family, friends, consumption of some of the best things, including delicious food, we completely do a 180 and spend copious amounts of money we don’t necessarily have to spend. Yes, there are some fantastic deals, but you don’t need to consume just because everyone else is doing it. But be true to you, that’s all I ask! If you plan on perusing some deals, I’ll hook you up below – and no need to leave your pj’s and house.

I’m not sure where you live, but it’s sunny and mild here. I’m planning to head out for a run around the Lafayette reservoir here shortly, after I drink my bone broth. My belly is not happy with me today, despite eating clean yesterday. Yep, I still got issues to sort through myself! How will you embrace the day? I hope it involves getting outside in nature, spending more time with people you love, and of course enjoying those leftovers. And perhaps some shopping!

So like I said, and rather contradictory of my first thoughts, if you are going to imbibe in the weekend spending events, here are my top recommendations. NOW is truly the time to try out those brands you’ve been eyeing! Not to mention support many of which are small businesses, including myself!

 

SKINCARE

Beautycounter

The Deals for Friday (stay tuned for deals throughout the weekend!):

How to: simply click any link in this post or HERE to shop!

Gift ideas:

BC.jpg

FATCO

The Deal for Friday: Enjoy 25% off of everything

How to: simply click HERE to shop!

Gift ideas:

  • Calming Body Butta (love using this lotion on my daughters after a bath)
  • Baby Butta (clean and unscented for the precious babes in your family )
  • Stank Stop (looking for a safe and effective deodorant, this is it!)
facto_baby_butta4oz_540x.jpg

 

FOOD

Kasandrinos Olive Oil

The Deal: 25%-off your order!

  • How to: Simply click HERE to shop and use code “bf25” at checkout. On SATURDAY, use code “sb25” and on MONDAY use code “cm25”

This is the best olive oil you can find and they're an awesome GREEK family, of course ; )

kasandrinos_500_ml_front__20890_1497059069.jpg

 

EatingEvolved

The Deal: One free pouch of Strawberry Coconut Cups with purchase

How to: Simply click above and use my code: erinhtmt

 

Foursigmatic Mushroom Coffee and Elixirs

The Deal: 15%-50% off of the top products

How to: simply click here or one of the links below

Gift ideas:

 

Footwear

Plae

Not affiliated whatsoever but love these shoes for my girls!

The deal: Select styles 40-60% off

How to: click here.

 

Health

Health coaching with me!

The deal: 20% off my health coaching services

If you’re looking to confront some of your health issues – need to clean up your diet, address allergies, tackle a meal plan, try a 21-day sugar detox. I’ve got you covered!

How to: Email me at erinsholland@gmail.com or fill out the form on my website!

werking, goals, and pieces of me

Winter fruit at it's finest. Pomegranates are so purty!

Winter fruit at it's finest. Pomegranates are so purty!


It’s the eve of Thanksgiving.

My house is halfway ready for the breakfast I’m hosting tomorrow. The table is set, the carne vinho d’alhos (Portuguese style meat) has been marinating since Monday evening, the potatoes are out, ready to be chopped in the morning, and my sister is planning on bringing the gin! Yet the vacuum sits in the hallway, laundry is strewn on the couch waiting to be folded, and the side project of fixing our TV has remnants of technology littering the living room floor.

I also forgot about the email I received at 3pm to rearrange a qualifications package for work.

I recently read in Gretchen Rubin’s, Better than Before, “It’s a Secret of Adulthood: Working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination.”

I’m an expert at “working” and doing everything else that needs to be done, aside from the most important task of the day. Side note: if you want a really clean house, start a fight with me. Being productive by cleaning is my natural reaction to get my mind off of the conflict. Ha!

But back to the point. This is my real life. Authentically me. Virtually I’m able to share my life with you, in pieces. Bit by bit, I hope I’m able to share pieces of myself that you’re able to fit together to get the entire picture.

Here’s a few random notes about me:

  • I consume music - all genres. I kind of wish I had a soundtrack for my life. Ed Sheeran, Lauv, and the James Arthur Pandora station is my jam right now.

  • I love to travel and sadly don’t get to go on as many adventures anymore. I plan on changing that soon.

  • I’m a foodie. While I love to eat out to avoid cleaning up, I’d much rather cook my own food. Unless you’re taking me out to sushi,  French Laundry, or Kokkari.

  • I’m passionate about helping others find what stirs their hearts. Yet I also want to encourage others to feel good in their skin, which usually starts with nutrition and mindset.

  • Being a mother of two daughters is HARD. But my babies are my inspiration to create a sustaining business to have a flexible schedule so that I can be there for them when they have field trips, parent-teacher conferences, mid-day parties, the stomach bug, and to pick them up at a decent hour. Ultimately this boils down to stress less and remove myself from the rat race of commuting, eight hours behind a screen, and too few hours with the most important people in my life. Goals.

That being said, if you haven’t been following for long, you may not know what I stand for. Above all, I want to help you thrive by helping you decipher the ever-changing nutritional landscape and simplifying meals, provide solutions for cleaning up your environment through education like discovering the EWG, as well as your personal care products. Beautycounter being one of my favorite ways to clean up what I put on my skin.

We all know we should eat better but it’s rare we pay attention to what we PUT ON our skin, dismissing the fact that our skin is our largest organ and literally soaks up everything we use – toothpaste, shampoo, shaving cream, lotion, lipstick, chapstick, mascara, and so on.

I not only love Beautycounter for their safer, high-performing products, but also the fact that they walk the talk and are physically fighting for change at a legislative level, demanding change industry wide. They don’t have to do that, but they are, making it a level playing field for everyone, asking for transparency so that we can decide for ourselves what we want to consume – what we want to expose ourselves and our children to. Without transparency, we blindly put toxins in and on our bodies, wondering why cancer and disease has increased in the last 50 years. We have a right to know and make educated decisions for ourselves.

I could go on and on, but before you judge me or your Beautycounter consultant, read this article or this one, or this one; watch this video!

If you want to know more, reach out. I’m happy to answer questions and share some of my favorite products.

Or heck, give them a try this Black Friday through Cyber Monday! There will be some amazing deals!

Quickly becoming a favorite! The Countermatch line is impressive!

Quickly becoming a favorite! The Countermatch line is impressive!

Now let’s be thankful, grateful, and present these next few days with family and friends. Enjoy your turkey, stuffing, and pie : )

Grateful for you friends!

XOX

 

Giving Willy Wonka a run for his money


Before I was 30.

Before I was a mom.

Before I was a health coach and foodie.

Before Beautycounter.

Before I was grinding for a paycheck.

I was game for any and every adventure. College days, disposable income, and no real ties allowed me the space to do so, but sometimes that pang to go be free, gives me a poke.

These days I may have to forego midnight drives to Joshua Tree, day trips to Big Bear, jaunts in a PNW rainforest, and international solo birthday trips, but I believe we all need some fun and adventure in our lives. Consider it another pillar of your health and wellness journey.

Enter the Color Factory, a creation by Oh Happy Day and her favorite artists and collaborators. Oh Happy Day, brings color, life and joy to basically anything and everything. They are the epitome of parties and have your back if you need a pop of color and a smile in your life.

But back to our San Francisco adventure….

We – me, Charlie Bear, and Samurai – played hooky from school and work to enjoy each other and have some fun in the city. We grabbed BART, sipped our foursigmatic hot cacao, and braced ourselves for our big adventure.

The Color Factory is hard to explain, so I didn’t bother telling the girls where we were going, other than our only objective was to have fun together. Suffice to say, besides waiting in line to enter, they greatly enjoyed themselves.

When you first enter the building, you are directed down the magical rainbow staircase. The suspense continues as you wait again to show your tickets, to the friendly Color Factory attendee – picture your own version of an oompa loompa here. As we wait, this time because I can’t find the ticket I literally just had on my phone, the aromatic scratch n’ sniff wall is within sight and the anticipation continues to build.

stairs2.jpg

Finally! We’re in.

A great feature of the visit are the handy dandy cards you receive with an individual barcode that allows you take your picture with one of the strategically located cameras. 5,4,3,2,1, and you instantly receive the result in an email.

We got our card and began our journey sniffing the wall of memories: Green grass, Laundry hanging in the sun to dry, a root beer float with two straws, stop and smell the roses. So creative and fun!

Inundated with scents, we moved on to our complimentary marshmallows! I have to say the mint chip one was the best and I’m not even a marshmallow fan.

Satisfied we continued on to the black and white striped kitchen to try activated charcoal lemonade. Interesting, but no need to linger.

Next, the orange room. It was lost on the girls but I felt like I had returned to the 80’s with all sorts orange of trinkets and delights. Most specifically, the orange Neutrogena soap. Totally used that back in the day!

Followed by the blue room, filled with blue balloons.

Michael Jackson tunes and a disco ball beckoned us from the blue room and we ventured to get our dance party on. Being living room dance party connoisseurs, we were killing it, but the Light Bright Room – a massive, life size light bright – was too intriguing, so we killed the tunes and went onward.

As an 80’s child, light bright was one of the main items I coveted when I went to a friend’s home. This was everything my 6-year old heart ever wanted – and obviously my 6-year old was loving every second of it, until her 4-year old sister stole the color peg she wanted.

Moving on, we crossed the hall to find two of the largest markers I’ve ever seen and an oompa loompa breaking down the rules of the room: color the walls as you please, no graffiti or words, and don’t color on the floor. Have at it kids!

Wearing out their wee arm muscles, we moved on to find 10,000 colored ribbons to touch, run through, get lost in and laugh vigorously. But a few run-throughs and belly laughs were enough. We found our way upstairs. The confetti room may have been my favorite. Though simple, this room was pure delight. Confetti angels on the floor, confetti fights, laughter and pure joy.

From there, we ended our journey literally sinking into the giant yellow room’s ball pit. With clever puns and jokes on the walls, we worked ourselves around the pit, from corner to corner, trying not to lose each other. It was a deceptively hard trek through the pit, making the soft serve treat at the opposite side an even sweeter reward.

What I loved:

  • Everything. You don’t experience these diverse eye-catching, colorful arrangements in your everyday life.
  • The tactile nature of each and every little thing. How often can you go somewhere and say, “Touch everything!”
  • The creativity and detail put into the complete exhibit, allowing all ages to have fun

Whether or not you make it to the Color Factory, I hope you fill your days with love, laughter, and adventure!

Coco for coconut

Right before it became pumpkin spice coconut butter!

Right before it became pumpkin spice coconut butter!


Back in the day when I used to shop at Costco, the bi-weekly staples were bacon, meat, fish, veggies, fruit, a huge ass jar of coconut oil, and bags upon bags of nuts – almonds, walnuts, and pecans. On special occasions I’d splurge for macadamia nuts and proceed to nosh on them on the ride home to appease my traffic woes through downtown Seattle.

The superfluous amount of nuts was a two-fold dilemma: 1) our favorite chocolate chip cookie used solely nuts as the base instead of flour, and 2) being a SAHM, I basically survived off of nuts, smoothies, and the leftover bites on itty bitty plastic plates (yep, I know, disgusting).

Then one day it happened. I had hit my quota and my body purely rejected nuts.

If I feel like getting a headache, having my stomach distend as if I was 7 months pregnant, and have gut issues for a few days, I may partake in a nut. But let’s be honest, it’s not a nice predicament to willingly put myself in.

I say all of this because perhaps you have mild symptoms of eating too many nuts also. They’re
delicious, full of healthy fats and vitamins, and an amazingly easy snack to consume. But let’s face it, it’s easy to overdo it. I only say this so that you’ll pay attention the next time you reach for a nut. Stop and see how your body truly feels when you eat them. If you think you may want to eliminate your handful of almonds (like every health magazine has told you to eat at 3pm), you may want to turn to another lovely fatty friend and my favorite nut replacement - coconut.

Fun fact, coconut is not a nut. I repeat, it’s not a nut! It’s in fact, a fruit.

Back to the story - not knowing how I’d replace my beloved nut fetish, I quickly discovered my love for coconut butter. Okay, okay, I guess I did have an adjustment period, and it did take some time to acquire a taste for it. But once that all fell into place, there wasn’t a week that went by where I didn’t make my own coconut butter and have fun with different flavors.

A spoonful here and a spoonful there, and I barely missed my crunchy nutty friends.

Now that I’m working again and eating real food throughout the day, I don’t make it as often anymore. Which, when I think about it, is such an oxymoron. These days I have less time yet I meal plan and therefore have a stocked fridge. Unless of course you come over on a weekend and I haven’t gone grocery shopping.

Anyway, when I do make coconut butter, it’s usually to make chocolate coconut cups. I love
myself some Eating Evolved coconut cups, yet my budget does not. I can’t just buy one package you know. So I make my own.

When I saw that they had pumpkin coconut cups, I felt up for the challenge.

First things first, I don’t understand the pumpkin spice craze come fall. I do have a soul
and like pumpkin bread but I by no means run out as soon as the first yellow leaf succumbs to the season change and frantically buy every pumpkin spiced item in town. But that’s beside the point. Making your own pumpkin coconut butter may just be the easiest thing in the world. Making the chocolate pumpkin cups on the other hand, can be quite the feat. Not hard, but difficult for this impatient heart of mine.

Are you ready? Here's what you do:

  • Grab a bag of shredded coconut.
  • Fill food processor - nearly to the brim
  • Blend until smooth – 5-10 minutes
Get yo'self some shredded coconut. Trader Joe's has the best deal!

Get yo'self some shredded coconut. Trader Joe's has the best deal!

Throw a pinch of sea salt in there and let it whirl!

Throw a pinch of sea salt in there and let it whirl!

You can proceed from there and add fun things such as:

  • Salt
  • Vanilla
  • Dehydrated fruit – strawberries are a favorite
  • Cacao powder
  • pumpkin spice

From there, drizzle it on everything, replace your mid-afternoon snack attack with a
spoonful, or try one of these recipes:

  • Warm coconut butter on a freshly roasted sweet potato with cinnamon. Yes please!
  • PaleOMG’s apple pie bites. Hot damn!
  • Make mint chocolate coconut cups. Mmmmm.
  • Drizzle over berries or coconut oil sauteed apples. Sure thing!
  • Add 1-2 tbsp and blend into your favorite morning drink. Bring it!

Do note, unless it’s summer or you live in a sauna, coconut butter will harden.


If you don’t want to do any of that, try Eating Evolved and use my code (ERINHTMT) for a special treat when you place an order.

What else do you do with coconut butter??