autumn eats.

the palate of changing seasons.

for fall, everything gets heartier and more indulgent, for me at least. so, over on my garden to goodness  page I am adding a few fall-friendly recipes as well as some staples in my kitchen.

first up is the much requested oat milk tutorial. it’s so creamy and delicious AND simple. there is nearly zero waste involved in this process, which I love, and it can added to pretty much everything. I recommend making it EXTRA vanilla and pouring it over cereal or adding it to your bread dough for added earthiness.

stay tuned for more additions & share you results if you try these recipes out!

part time parent. full time mom.

what do I mean when I say, a part time parent but a full time mom.

my littles are with me sunday evening through friday at 6:30 pm- unless there is no school on Friday. in which case,  they are home sunday evening through friday at 9:00am, per our agreement. it’s not ideal and would never be my preference but allowing them time their other parent comes with sacrifice. and now we are back in school, too. meaning that not only are they with their dad every single weekend but they are gone over 8 hours a day. our quality time is further divided into homework, dinner, bath time, and bed time.

this schedule and the perceived notion that I must have it easier because they aren’t with me everyday has me feelin’ some sort of way .

I know that there are many spaces to be grateful in our situation. they have loving parents who, mostly, agree on the when/what/where’s of their life. I work a flexible job that closes for holidays and gives me time off or at home when I need it. the littles get to do all sorts of fun things with their dad. and it allows for healthy balance in my life that most single parents are not afforded. we are lucky.

BUT, I want to do fun things with them too. sleep in and make pancakes on saturdays. go to festivals and birthday parties. the sorts of activities that can’t be crammed in to the 4 hours I am home between getting off work and sending them to bed.  I do make the most of my weekends but have guilt for doing activities that they could be joining in on.  I try to stay busy and work a second job because it’s too quiet at home when they are gone. every weekend I avoid the internet because I scroll through all the photographic reminders of  things I am missing out on with them. and I even text them an annoying amount to see what they are up to. they really are my best friends and it’s hard to feel as though I never get to actually relax and enjoy seeing how they function as people for a full day at a time.

from an outsider’s thumbnail view, I’m sure it seems as though I live it up while kid free. or that I choose to do things that don’t involve them. maybe it appears to be a rather carefree set up. maybe this blog post is a response to a recent “well-intended” acquaintance who’s kind words left me feeling more sad that anything. I have worked very hard to not care what other people’s opinions of my parenting are or how things look to those outsiders. and to rid myself of the guilt of it all. because it does grant me a lot of free time. and I am grateful for all the cool things I get to do that would otherwise be very difficult. being a single mama is hard work and I am fortunate to be able to balance it with work and friends and leisure. but that does not mean that I wouldn’t drop everything for the chance to have them 7 days a week.

I guess what I’m getting at with all this is that it’s easy to think you see all of what others are doing or that you can ever be in a place to judge the way they do it. I notice the friends and moms who only like the few photos I post of my littles but pay no mind to the other beautiful and creative ways I choose to express myself, as if they are rewarding me for finally showing up. I see you and it’s alright, trust me. even when I do photograph my kids, I choose to put the photos on a more private platform, or omit their real name, because the things I cherish most I elect to do more privately. we tend to make it harder on others as a reflection of our own feelings so I won’t pretend to know why someone gets to decide if I parent enough to be a good mom. but I will say that the time we spend together is not wasted, I just wish there were more of it. I also wish that the mom community were a safer space for those who don’t fit the “happy family” mold. and I know there are lots of other single parents out there who will understand as we navigate the tricky waters of co-parenting. even yet, there are parents who do it completely alone and have no idea what this free time is that I speak of. we are all just trying to get by (my motto, seemingly) and raise good, kind humans. even if we do it part time.

peace & progress,

Eliot.

too broke to go green.

balancing an ethical budget…

listen, we live in a society that tokenizes good deeds & healthy habits only to toss them aside a year later for the next big trend, sometimes with a rather villainous exit. consumerism and social media are mostly to blame but we can’t be let off the hook either, with our short attention spans and seemingly good intentions. depending on where you get your info it can be a whirlwind of conflicting misinformation.

soy or no soy? what if recycling is just another big business scheme? is it too late to save the great barrier reef? how do I compost in my space?

I don’t have the answers. what I do have is a responsibility to do what I can within the capabilities of our family. resources are limited around here from time to time but I get asked a lot about how we choose to live a simpler life on a budget. truth be told, it’s an expensive habit in our economic climate. not only do most one-income households not make enough to invest in all eco-friendly products, it can be difficult to know what is worth the investment when you’re ready to make it. nothing bums me out more than being recommended an “affordable” ethical brand only to see that they charge $65 for a hemp/cotton kids tee. or following an instagram influencer who only uses $80 dollar face cream & eats all organic from their local boutique grocer. quality and time do have immense value but it just isn’t practical for me and I know I’m not alone.

recently, I took to the ‘gram for a fun little poll: cost vs. organic/ethical when choosing brands for your family? the results were slightly in favor of organic/ethical. not surprised. I often feel guilty for choosing the less expensive option or fall victim to social media competition or I go without the product entirely if I can’t make a good choice. not ashamed to admit that there’s a lot of pressure to keep up. what do you do when you just can’t spend the extra now to save it later. a lot of the mamas I know have made those investments in their family and my friends come from all kinds of financial backgrounds. I love watching them craft a life that works for them. for me- I grow/make my own, use coupons, and shop smart/second hand. to each their own.

but, I’ve got some tips. in list fashion. as I would. because this mama is on a budget…

  1. use what you have or get rid of it, without guilt. odds are you don’t have a sentimental attachment to every antique find or little human outfit that is three seasons outgrown. pass it on to someone else. trade it for something you do need. sell it to a stranger. minimizing serves a multitude of functions in our lives both mentally and practically.via My New Neighbor on Pinterest

2. do your freakin’ research. I’m sure my little humans get tired of me holding up traffic in the grocery while I google an ingredient or brand before tossing something in the buggy. but they’ll get over it. this also applies when embarking on any home upgrades or making fashion purchases. you have to remember that going green has become a softly regulated labeling and sales device. resulting in qualifications that might not meet your personal standards. marketing has a way of jazzing things up and watering them down at the same time.  I’d love to go in to some of my favorite brands but there are too many and everyone has differing opinions on what means the most to them when shopping. but there are a lot of sites that do the research for you. below are a random assortment of product/food/clothing shops that I use…

  • ThredUp is the coolest site I’ve found in a while because second hand is best but not everyone has time/energy to spend hours thrifting. it’s organized, has a wide variety of price/size/style options for little humans and adults, AND gives you a place to send your unwanted items.
  • Grove Collaborative covers all the bases from cleaning supplies to skincare and even supplements. they offer deliveries through a handy subscription or you shop as you please. under each product you will find a clear list of which “grove values” are met. super helpful!
  • Brandless has a motto of “better stuff, fewer dollars” which is probably the best motto if you want to sell me anything. all items are $3 or less. they ship direct to lower lost resources between buyer and consumer. the food products are labeled to accommodate vegan, gluten free, non-gmo, etc. bonus: they partner with Feeding America to donate a meal every time you check out.
  • Aldi’s if you don’t know, find out. that’s all I have to say. and don’t forget your quarter for the buggy.

3. start small. replace things one at a time. it is worse to waste something like a plastic container than it is to make use of it. note- I don’t apply this rule to food containers, throw that shit out. you might feel it appropriate to rid your closet of every synthetic fabric or cheaply made dress from Forever 21 to make way for small batch, conscious clothing but in reality it’s gonna end up somewhere, regardless. if you wear/use/eat it, keep it. if not, see #1. check out a few of the blogs where I find good info…

  • Mama Eco the patron saint of eco-friendliness. super grateful to have found Shannon Kenny on instagram. she has the best tips and even has a shopping guide on Amazon to help you out.
  • Sammie Kolk is the go-to for clean beauty, hands down. she also highlights a lot of great food items. while not all of the products she features are in my price range, I always check her blog for recommendations and promo codes when shopping
  • eartheasy aims at sharing the way to a more sustainable living through guides and tutorials, that the site founder says are mostly from first hand experience. gardening, composting, green home- the wealth of info here is limitless. you can even shop or chat live with customer service to ask questions.
  • The Raw Alignment Movement was recommended by a friend and it’s a really great, all-inclusive-type service where you can get a monthly health/wellness membership that’s customizable to your needs. some of the videos are also up on YouTube for free. they cover all kinds of topics and the vibe is overall positivity and spreading the love. it is geared toward a vegan crowd but has plenty to offer everyone.
  • MOTHER is the holy grail. run, don’t walk. thank me later.

4. make it. grow it. put a bird on it. (Portlandia, anyone?!) go ahead, risk that Pinterest fail. I know that not everyone can sew or has the space for a garden or compost, which is totally fine. you can find diy guides to making your own make up or cleaning supplies, for building up your outdoor space, and cooking just about anything you can think of. evaluate your skills and resources and make the most of them. personally, I have a garden & enjoy cooking. I rarely shop for clothes but when I do, it’s a one item in/two items out policy in which we donate or pass down items. and I keep gift giving to a practical minimum- meaning, very few tangible gifts are ever purchased by me for the little humans. (sounds dramatic but my kids have never got them so they aren’t missing out) those things help my dollar stretch further so that we can travel and do fun stuff. I think the time you invest in doing so will always pay off. you can even include the little humans in some projects which is a double win! it’s also another good opportunity to trade things with other people or come up with original gifts to give.

5. shop small. shop local. support your friends’ businesses. SHOP WITH INTENTION.

ultimately, do what’s right for your family. there’s nothing shameful about living a mostly simple life. eat the doritos. buy the marc jacobs. throw out your food scraps. know when you are willing to compromise in order to get a good value and when quality should win out. we are all just trying to get by over here with minimal impact and living a life we enjoy. hopefully, some of these tips have helped if you’re rockin’ the green life on a budget. and if you have any great recommendations send them my way.

humbly,

Eliot.

roadtrips 2.0

three little humans.

one week of summer break.

and a single mama budget.

I am probably insane. but this year we tackled our second east coast road trip as a family. I researched a lot of destinations and finally set my eyes on Cape Cod. New England has always been on my short list of dream spots but it isn’t notoriously budget friendly and I was not sure if there would be many points of interest to the littles other than the beach. I like a good challenge though, so this is how I made it happen…

PLANNING.

lots and lots of planning and mapping out and list making goes in to how I prepare for a vacation whether it’s a solo adventure or with the family. maybe everyone doesn’t get as jazzed about excel spreadsheets and drafting lists as I do but there are so many great resources if you have/take the time to look.

here are a few of my go-to resources-

Pinterest- use key phrases like family friendly, budget, must see, and definitely must eat!

Instagram- follow local and travel hashtags for the area

ask around- the absolute best way to find out what to do is to ask someone who’s done it. find other moms and friends who have travelled to the area. put your feelers out for what touristy things are worth it and which ones to pass up. I always refer to my trips as the PostCard Tour of *location* because I want to find half tried and true vacation spots and half hidden gems

google maps- sounds tedious, but once you’ve selected some itinerary items you can build on them efficiently by researching what is nearby. that way mapping out for routes for that day can maximize what you’re able to fit in.

the most important factor in choosing our adventures is that each of my littles feels included in the process. I ask them simple questions before making concrete decisions- what is one thing you want to see and one thing you want to eat? from here, I choose our accommodations to be as centrally located and cost effective as I can for what we plan to do during our stay. summer in cape cod was slim picking but we were able to stay close by in Fairhaven, Mass. now, I begin putting it all on paper.

I always lay out a weekly itinerary. figure out which days will be best to leave and return as well as how many full days we will have to explore once our driving route is planned. we have never flown as a family because I like the option of stopping whenever we want but laying out this itinerary is also good to see if certain days are cheaper for flights. this helps for several other reasons too: some places will be closed on certain days or have limited hours and you never want to end up somewhere great only to find out it is closed, you cannot predict the weather but you can surely prepare for it, and you can break up your days based on areas of town or nearby cities you want to visit to get the most out of your time. example: for us, we knew the beach was a must but that Boston was a short hour drive away. onto our itinerary it went.

next, I window shop the area for points of interest, restaurants, roadside attractions, museums, etc. this can get out of control quickly when there’s a lot to see! it’s also one of my favorite parts of planning. I write them all down and make note of any important details about the locations like hours, admission, recommended menu items, and parking tips. this trip I got really fancy, grouping them together on the list by purpose that way I didn’t end up with 35 coffee shops I had to get a latte from but no good place to get fresh seafood. balancing the itinerary is super important. little humans wear out easily and the budget stretches further when I have an idea of where my money will be spent before I get there.

I throw all my favorite places onto a map. from there I can start to get an idea of where to spend our time. since our AirBnb was within an hour of a ton of cool places so this step was tough. I have a bad habit of over packing our days because I want to see everything! I usually group itinerary items together by proximity and deciding what will be worth the visit and what just isn’t practical. most larger cities have designated neighborhoods you can use as a guide. example: the squares in Savannah, boroughs of Cape Cod, or districts of Boston. I’ve told myself it is okay to over plan as long as I don’t stress too much about missing out on things once we get there. everything is gonna take longer than what I’ve plan for, but spontaneity and being present with my family is something I won’t regret. it’s a lesson I’m learning the more we travel.

laying out my routes to and from our main destination comes after mostly because I want to spend the bulk of our budget on our full days but try to plan one big pit stop, no more than 3-4 hours long, on each leg of the drive. depending on the kids ages, more stops could mean more opportunities to find roadside attractions. we chose Hershey Chocolate World, in Hershey part for the way there. it was exactly halfway through the trip and we loved it! for the way home, I was a little more ambitious and drove into NYC. it made for a long drive home, through the night, but the littles slept and it was more than worth it. pinterest is my favorite place to find hidden gems along the way. search a city on the map and see what other travelers have found there. street art, kitschy restaurants, world’s largest lumberjack. odds are, there’s something beautiful or interesting I don’t want to miss out on that gives the kids a break from sitting in the car.  google maps will be your best friend for this because you can plug in multiple stops along your route.

lastly, I make a budget. not everyone needs to do this and that’s great, but if you do just realize you will go over budget. it’s another situation that can cause stress if you let it. eating with children comes with a multitude of challenges and pop up expenses. my littles aren’t super picky but they are very opinionated. luckily, they are also very accommodating to what each of them want and will go along with most anything. food definitely took up the majority of our budget because we love trying new things and wanted to make the most of being Oceanside. we also have certain, cheaper, souvenirs that I have made it a habit to cherish and seek out with them. we collect Christmas ornaments and magnets. that way they are invested in choosing those items and are less likely to ask for the tourist trap souvenirs. parking was the area of the budget that I thought I prepared for adequately and definitely didn’t. most places will have a yelp review posted with tips if you’re lucky but it never hurts to call and ask if parking info isn’t listed on the website. for beaches, there should be city/state/park websites with details. money is the least fun thing to talk about when trying to explore and enjoy. planning is the best way for me to make it as simple as possible.

there you have it! an overview of the process gives plenty of room for customization but this is how I go about it, for the most part. next week, I will post our itinerary and some recommendations on the travel page (go to the menu to find) as well as my favorite photos from our trip. ❤ travelling with my little humans has been the most beautiful way to see the world through six more eyes and I wouldn’t trade these memories for anything!!

safe travels,

Eliot & the Wilder Ones