Wallcoverings That Will Survive Your Kids and Pets

Design Dilemma: You love the look of wallpaper but you're worried that it won't be able to withstand the wear and tear of kids and pets. 

Washable Vinyl Wallcoverings

Wallpaper is one of my favorite ways to add color, texture, and pattern to a room. However, the material can be a bit delicate and difficult to clean. This can be an issue if you have kids and pets. One solution to this common design dilemma is vinyl wallcovering.  Now, before you discount vinyl, let me say that it has come a long way and it deserves a second chance!  Many of the new vinyl wallcoverings on the market imitate silk, linen, and grasscloth quite well.

Even if you don't have children or pets, vinyl wallcovering can be a great option for high traffic areas in the home such as a mudroom. Vinyl wallcovering also works well in areas that are at risk of minor splashes such as a powder room or laundry room. 

Not all vinyls are created equal so I've rounded up a few of my favorites.

Phillip Jeffries - What a Gem
What a Gem is a versatile geometric and is available in an array of classic and vibrant colors. 

Image via Phillip Jeffries

Image via Phillip Jeffries

Phillip Jeffries - Vinyl Silk Road
Phillip Jeffries also offers a wide variety of vinyls that mimic natural wallpapers.

Image via Phillip Jeffries

Image via Phillip Jeffries

Maya Romanoff - Weathered Metals II
Depending on the colorway, Weathered Metals II could work in a wide range of interior settings. Another metallic vinyl look to consider is Hurly Burly II. Check out Silver Gunmetal which could go glam or industrial.

Image via Maya Romanoff

Image via Maya Romanoff

Designers Guild - Savine
Designers Guild always offers a gorgeous color selection and Savine, a contemporary tie-dye pattern, does not disappoint.

Image via Designers Guild

Image via Designers Guild

Vinyl won't be the right choice for everyone and every project but it is a great option to consider if you want the look of wallpaper and the wipe-ability of paint. What do you think? Would you give vinyl a try in your own home? 

Color Crush: Earthy Green

6 Unique Color Combinations for Earthy Greens

Lately I can't seem to get enough of earthy green colors. From my closet to my home decor....I want it everywhere! Which is why it's today's Color Crush. As I started playing around with earthy green color pairings it was hard to stop because there are so many ways to use this versatile and timeless hue. 

I've used Benjamin Moore paint swatches as a starting point but I also encourage you to think beyond painted walls. Experiment with these color palettes using fabrics, furniture, and accessories. 

All paint colors in this post are paired with Courtyard Green (546) by Benjamin Moore. 

Earthy Green Color Combinations.jpg
Benjamin Moore Paddington Blue

Pairing 1 - Energetic Blues
Benjamin Moore Paddington Blue (791)
An intense blue adds a lively punch to an earthy green. This particular blue reminds me of the semi-precious stone, Lapis Lazuli, another gorgeous color found in nature. 

Benjamin Moore Springhill Green

Pairing 2  - Yellow Greens
Benjamin Moore Springhill Green (412)
An earthy green paired with a yellow green is reminiscent of the tone on tone color palette found in foliage. Pantone named Greenery, a yellow green, the 2017 Color of the Year. Popular home decor products using this combination include palm tree and tropical prints on wallpaper and fabrics

Benjamin Moore Heirloom

Pairing 3 - Blush Pinks
Benjamin Moore Heirloom (023)
Blush pink or "millennial pink" continues to be a popular color and it pairs perfectly with earthy greens. If you love blush pink as much as I do, check out a previous Color Crush post to see more color palettes using blush pink

Benjamin Moore Tomato Tango

Pairing 4 - Red Based Oranges
Benjamin Moore Tomato Tango (CSP - 1145)
Red based oranges add a zesty twist to earthy greens. This is an easy way to add an unexpected pop of color to a room. If this red-orange feels too energetic, an alternative pairing is a burnt orange with more of a brown base. 

Benjamin Moore Smokey Taupe

Pairing 5 - Earthy Neutrals
Benjamin Moore Smokey Taupe (983)
Grays continue to be the neutral of choice. Try a warm gray to balance out and enhance an earthy green. 

Benjamin Moore Dalila

Pairing 6 - Sunny Yellows
Benjamin Moore Dalila (319)
A sunny yellow paired with a earthy green feels like a daily dose of summer indoors. Sunshine year-round, what more could you want?

 

Which color combination is your favorite? How would you use these color palettes in your own home? 

Designer as Client: Why I Choose Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops allow you to spend more time enjoying your home and less time worrying about common spills and maintenance.

Whether I’m designing for myself,or for a client, it’s important to ask how much time, money, and effort am I or the client willing to be spend on maintenance.  As a busy mom of two I’m always on the lookout for products that are beautiful and easy to maintain. Below I share why quartz countertops are one of my go-to kitchen and bath materials.

Interior Design by Desi Interior Design (The New Victorian Mansion Bed & Breakfast)

Interior Design by Desi Interior Design (The New Victorian Mansion Bed & Breakfast)

No Ongoing Maintenance
The main reason I love quartz countertops is that they are so easy to maintain - quartz requires no periodic sealing, polishing, or reconditioning. If left unsealed or not maintained on a regular basis, stones such as granite, marble, and soapstone are easily stained and may be permanently damaged by something as simple as a spilled glass of wine. Quartz is very stain resistant making it perfect for kitchen and bath applications.  

Daily Cleaning Ease
Cleaning quartz countertops is as easy as wiping them off with mild soap and water. Because the product is non-porous and stain resistant, you never have to worry about the surface harboring bacterial from raw food or soaking up a spill that you didn’t catch right away.

Strength
Quartz counters are made by combining 93% natural quartz stone with a small amount of resin binder and colorant. This creates an extremely hard, strong stone that is stronger that granite or marble, and is very scratch resistant.

Unique Colors, Patterns, and Finishes
Whether you want a pattern that mimics natural stone or are in the market for a color not found in nature, you’re likely to find something that fits your aesthetic.  Cambria, a leader in the quartz industry, recently launched a matte (vs polished) finish that offers a previously unavailable low-sheen look with the same great performance.  

If you’re interested in seeing more examples of quartz countertops I highly recommend checking out Cambria, Caesarstone, and Silestone.

Questions about using quartz in your kitchen or bath project? Leave me a note and I'll respond!

Designer Confessions: I Have No End Tables (and I'm OK with It)

You want to put your glass down somewhere? Well, I'm sorry, I don't have a place to do that.

When people hear that I am an interior designer they often exclaim "Your home must be sooooo beautiful!" It's such a complement, but in my head I worry that you all envision one Pinterest-worthy room after another. The rooms would feel "done," everything would be in its place, and the bookshelves would be perfectly styled instead of overflowing with an ever-expanding collection of Curious George

Fabric: Schumacher - Bermuda Blossoms - Slate

Fabric: Schumacher - Bermuda Blossoms - Slate

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but we have no tables in our living room. As soon as our oldest became mobile they had to go. No matter what I brought home there was always an issue. Corners too pointy. Too lightweight and the table would be knocked down. Too heavy and, if knocked down, it would hurt him. No one will get hurt but the style/color/shape doesn't work. We now have another baby and are back at square one. I decided to let it go. 

I'd love to say my house looks like a page out of a magazine, but it simply doesn't. We are in the thick of this season of life. Our home is beautiful to me, and, it's also set up to allow ourselves a lot of grace when it comes to living with two small children.

So there you have it. The cobbler's children have no shoes and I have no end tables. This intentional design, however incomplete, works for our little family of four. I wouldn't have it any other way.

In what ways have you let go of the way your home "should" look? 

Everyday Upgrade - Unbreakable Melamine Dinnerware

Summer Outdoor Dining Without the Worry of Breakage

Melamine dinnerware is lightweight and durable, making it perfect for outdoor dining and picnics. Its unbreakable nature allows you to enjoy summer outdoor dining without worrying about a shattered plate. Below I share some of my favorite melamine dinnerware sets to keep your summer dining simple, casual, and stylish.

Pottery Barn - Swirl Melamine Dinnerware
Each piece of the Swirl melamine collection has the beautiful appearance of hand-painted and glazed ceramics, but is completely unbreakable. The color selection is gorgeous!
 

Pottery Barn Swirl Melamine Dinnerwear

Kate Spade New York Melamine Collection
Kate Spade's New York collection features salad and dinner plates with fun phrases like "What a spread!" and "Salut!". The vibrant stripes and gold accents are are a playful addition to your summer spread.

Kate Spade New York Melamine Dinnerwear

Unison - Heller White Melamine Dinner Set
Heller's modern salad plates, dinner plates and soup bowls were designed in 1964 and remain timeless. These also stack perfectly for easy storage!  

Unison Heller Modern Melamine Dinnerwear

Q Squared - Heritage 12pc Melamine Dinnerwear Set
The Heritage collection from Q Squared offers a more traditional aesthetic with its delicate chrysanthemums and soft blue hues. Q Squared produces a large variety of unbreakable dinnerwear. Check out the Q Squared website for a variety of other designs. 

Q Squared Heritage Melamine Dinnerwear

Crate and Barrel - Regatta Melamine
The Regatta melamine dinnerware from Crate & Barrel features a  graphic maritime pattern and a classic navy and white color combination. 

Crate and Barrel Regatta Melamine Dinnerwear

How to Create a Personalized Design Framework for Easy Decision Making

Putting constraints on design decisions can actually allow you freedom and focus

Between Instagram, Pinterest, and design blogs there is an infinite amount of inspiration from which you can draw. While this is amazing in so many ways, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed and lacking focus when it comes to designing your own space. Even as an interior designer I can fall into the trap of loving everything and having a hard time committing to anything. Today I'd like to offer a design approach that puts constraints on your design decisions. While this might sound limiting, creating a set of personalized design rules provides you freedom and focus within the framework you create.

Fabric: Shumacher - Abstract Leaf - Indigo

Fabric: Shumacher - Abstract Leaf - Indigo

Create your design "rules" or framework using these two easy steps:

1. Identify Key Words to Describe the Predominate Style
What is the design style that you are continually drawn towards? Examples of interior design styles include modern, contemporary, classic, traditional, transitional, eclectic, industrial, vintage, minimalist, mid-century modern. Choose one or two words (ex. modern-vintage) that resonate with you and use these as your guide as you make decisions. If you need guidance on defining your design style a mood board is a great tool. Read my post on how to use a mood board to define your style here. 

2. Select a Core Color Palette
Limiting your color palette to three core colors is an easy way to create a cohesive look. Select one neutral, one main color, and one accent color. Feel free to vary the tints and shades within the palette to create interest. For example if your main color is navy you can include other shades of blue such as a blue-gray or a bright robin's egg blue. If you need some inspiration for your core color palette, Color Snap by Sherwin Williams is a great place to start. Simply upload an image you like and the tool with turn the image into a color palette using Sherwin Williams paint. 

Some of you might be concerned that these constraints will make your space boring. However, I assure you that within this framework there are many ways to add interest to your space. Consider design elements such as scale, balance, texture, and line to create an aesthetically pleasing mix. While there is freedom to express your style, the framework keeps you focused. This makes design decisions much easier saving yourself from design decision fatigue and a paralyzed state of indecision. Your result will be a cohesive design scheme for you to enjoy. 

Give it a try and let me know what you think. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I'll send you a response!

How to Create a Floor Plan and Furniture Layout That Works for You!

Have you ever made a furniture purchase only to realize it doesn't fit in the room or the scale is completely off? Not only is this a waste of time, it can be a waste of money. There could be a significant return shipping or restocking cost, or you may not even be able to return the piece! Whether you're designing a living room, bedroom, or office it's important to plan out the space before making purchases. To do this I recommend creating a scaled floor plan to guide your decision making process. A scaled floor plan allows you to focus your efforts on finding the right size, shape, and type of furniture. This doesn't need to be a fancy furniture plan completed on the computer. It can be as simple as using graph paper (one square equals one foot) to draw out the space and potential furniture options. You can even use painters tape or cardboard cutouts to mark the furniture dimensions and layout on your floor. 

Below are my top 6 designer tips for creating a floor plan and furniture layout that is both aesthetically pleasing and functions well for your daily life. 

How to Create a Floor Plan and Furniture Layout Designer Tips

1. Measure the Room
Start with the general perimeter measurements, ceiling height, doors, and windows. If doors or windows open into the space mark the direction of their swing. Lastly, note the width and height of any doorway opening the furniture will need to pass through in order to get to its final space. 

2. Measure Furniture You Plan to Keep
You probably have a general sense of how your existing pieces fit into your current setup, but you need to know how they will mix with new items. When measuring existing furniture, don't forget about arm and seat height. For example, you don't want to find out your existing sofa seat height is much too low for resting your feet up on the new ottoman. 

3. Identify the Types and Quantity of Furniture
Questions you should ask yourself include how many people will use the room, how much storage do I need, do I need an area rug to soften a hard surface floor? If you need help thinking through this step, read my post on the Five Function Questions to Ask Before Starting a Design or Remodeling Project.

4. Consider Traffic Patterns and Clearance
How are people going to enter into, move through, and settle into the space? Utilize furniture placement to invite people in at certain points or direct them around an area. Allow for enough clearance around the furniture. I prefer at least three feet of clearance going around major areas of circulation. Remember to be mindful of fixed items such as kitchen countertops, built-ins, or pillars. 

5. Create Activity Zones
Identify what activities you want to take place in the space and think how the furniture types and placement can facilitate these activities. Will this be a space for entertaining, intimate conversations, or a cozy nook to curl up with a new book and a cup of coffee? Each scenario requires different furniture pieces and layouts. 

6. Play with Scale and Shape to Create Balance
As you start to layout the various pieces take note of the visual weight. If the furniture feels cramped there may be a disproportionate number of large-scaled items. Alternately, if the pieces appear to be floating in the space they may be too small and need to be anchored by a more substantially sized item. You can also play with mixing linear and organic shapes to add interest and variety.

Once complete, a scaled floor plan can act as a road map providing clear direction as you complete the room. Keep this furniture floor plan on hand while shopping so it's easy to reference the size, quantity, and shapes you need. You'll stay focused on the task at hand and save yourself from the frustration of purchases that simply don't work in the space.

What are the biggest challenges you face with floor plans and furniture layouts? 

Paleo Carrot Coconut Soup

This carrot coconut soup is perfect for the spring months with its light texture and ginger zing. 

I recently took inventory of the freezer meals I have on hand and realized I have one of my favorite soups just waiting to be enjoyed! I'm talking about this dairy-free, gluten-free, and Paleo carrot coconut soup. So delicious and so easy. This is a lighter soup so I suggest adding a protein or salad on the side to make it a full meal. Enjoy! 

Paleo Carrot Coconut Soup Dairy Free Gluten Free

Ingredients
Carrots - (10) Large
Green Apple - (1) with Peel
Onion - (1) Medium
Garlic - (4) Cloves
Fresh Ginger - (1) 1" Piece
Coconut Milk - (1) 13.5 oz Can
Vegetable Broth - (2) Cups
Orange Juice - (1/2) Cup
Lime Juice - (1) Tablespoon
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Imprecise Instructions
1. Roughly chop the carrots, onion, green apple, and garlic and place in a large soup pot. Grate or dice the ginger and add to the mix. 

2. Pour the vegetable broth, coconut milk, orange juice, and lime juice into the pot. Add salt and pepper. 

3. Boil until the ingredients are easily pierced with a fork.  

4. Blend the ingredients using your choice of blender. Note: If you like the creaminess that cashews lend to a soup (as used in my Paleo Dairy Free Broccoli Bisque) add approximately (1/2) cup of cashews in with the other ingredients prior to blending. 

If you are interested in reading about my essential kitchen tools for quick and easy meal prep check out this post.

5 Function Questions to Ask Before Starting a Design or Remodeling Project

Consider these five function questions before diving into your design or remodel project to make a lasting impact on the longevity and impact of your new space. 

When designing a space, whether you are remodeling a kitchen, or getting some new furniture for the living room it's easy to jump to the pretty picture, inspiration-gathering part of the process. But in order to get the most out of your new space you must consider function. As an interior designer I not only uncover my clients' aesthetic, I am also a detective. I ask probing questions to get to know my client's preferences and needs so that a space not only looks good on install day, it functions for everyday life in the long run. Today I'm sharing my top 5 questions used to uncover the functional requirements of a space. Consider your answers to these questions when working with a design professional or when working on your project solo. 

Fabric: Marble in Smoke by Rebecca Atwood 

Fabric: Marble in Smoke by Rebecca Atwood 

1. How many people will use the space (both on a regular and occasional basis) and who are the main users? For example, you are a family of four that likes to watch movies in the living room on Friday nights. You'll want to have enough comfortable seating that faces the television to accommodate all four of you. On occasion, the kids will have friends over for movies. This means you'll also need some less permanent seating to pull in as needed. Potential solutions include chairs from an adjacent space that are easily moved or a big pile of floor pillows that are brought out for this occasion. Aside from quantity of people, the type of people is also important. The way a toddler utilizes a space will be very different than an empty-nester. 

2. How is the space used and what are the main tasks done in the space? Are there secondary tasks to consider? In a kitchen the main ask is usually cooking. However, within this general task there can be variation. For example, if you are a passionate cook you'll place priority on certain features over others and may want additional work surfaces. Secondary activities that need to be addressed may include space for nightly homework or working from home. 

3. What level of durability does the space require? Are food and drink likely to be spilled on the dining room chairs (hello children!) or is it a more refined dining environment for adults only? Also ask yourself how much upkeep are you willing to do? Be honest :) In an ideal world you might be committed to resealing that showstopping stone yearly, but in the hustle and bustle of everyday life will it actually happen? There are many beautiful, low maintenance items to select from if that's what you need. It's simply a matter of planning for minimal upkeep rather than realizing you need it after the fact.  

4. What currently does NOT work in the space? What DO you like about the existing space? Use these answers to inform decisions during your design project planning. It's easy to get bogged down in what you don't like or doesn't function well, but there may be elements that do work well. You'll want to take note of these too so they can be incorporated. 

5. Are there any special needs that should be considered? Perhaps you are petite and would benefit from a smaller scale chair with less depth. Or maybe your home office would benefit from a particular set up that is unique to your job. Consider how you would ideally function and move about in the space and work backwards to find the right solutions. 

Scrolling through Instagram might be more fun, but considering these function questions before diving into your design project can make a lasting impact on the longevity and impact of your new space. Are there areas of functionality in your space you struggle with? Let me know in the comments section and I'll help you uncover potential solutions!

Designer Secrets to Selecting a Paint Color You Love

Based on years of experience as an interior designer, I share my paint selection tips that will decrease overwhelm and ensure that you select a color you love! 

Painting is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to update a room. However, selecting the perfect paint color and finish can be challenging. Last week I wrote about the emotional resistance that can arise when selecting paint, which I tie to our internal fear of getting a major life change "wrong."  Today I'm going to give you some practical tips, based on years of experience as an interior designer, that will help make this selection feel less overwhelming and ensure you end up with a color you love. Below are my top five designer tips for selecting paint colors. 

Designer Tips Paint Color Selection

1. Start with a reference point
If you aren't sure which color direction to go in a room look to the colors you are drawn to in the items you already own. This could be a piece of art, an area rug, throw pillows or other accessories. Pull your favorite color from these items and start to consider the options within that color family. If you are redecorating an entire space, leave the paint selection until other major elements are selected.  There are an infinite number of paint colors to select from, while items such as area rugs or upholstered furniture pieces might be more limited. Save yourself some trouble and wait until the end of your selections to select the paint.

2. Consider how you want the room to feel
Color plays a big role in how a space feels. For example, do you want your room to feel light and airy? Go light.  Or do you want the room to feel intimate and warm? If you are going for the later, consider a deep, saturated hue.

3. Get samples
This is the fun part, but have some restraint. Just because you can take home all of the samples doesn't mean that you should. The more you take with you the greater the chance you will feel overwhelmed when you get back home. Start by pulling lots of options but see if you can narrow things down before leaving the store. If you can, bring your reference point (or a photo) to the store so you can easily eliminate options that are clearly not going to work. 

3. Hang samples on the wall to narrow down your choices
Once you have a few front-runners, tape the samples to the wall. It's important to hang the samples on the wall because that's how you will actually experience the color - not looking from above if they are spread out on a table. Remember, adjacent colors can change your perception of a hue. Isolate the particular swatch in consideration and hang something neutral, such as a blank piece of paper, behind the swatch if necessary. 

4. Consider finish
Finish is both a practical and aesthetic consideration. From a practical standpoint, a matte finish is not as durable as an eggshell finish but it is easier to touch up. A finish with a higher sheen wipes clean easily but it will emphasize imperfections on the wall. With that said, paint technology continues to improve and the matte finishes are getting more durable. Showrooms such as Hirshfields are a great resource on the latest paint types. From an aesthetic standpoint using multiple finishes can create interest and variety in the design. 

5. Test the color(s) and leave up for at least one day
Do a test sample on all four walls in the room you are going to paint. I recommend doing all four walls as the color can actually look different depending on its orientation in the room. Look at the samples throughout the day to see what the color looks like with different light sources (natural vs artificial) and at different times of day. Certain color undertones may be highlighted or be less noticeable depending on these factors. You'll want to make sure the color appeals to you at all times. 

A last piece of advice is to not over analyze. There are so many colors available it's easy to drive yourself crazy. Remember, you can always repaint! Do you plan to repaint any rooms in your home? What are the biggest challenges you face when committing to something new for your home? 

PS - If paint selection or other home decisions are stressing you out I share my tips to prevent design and remodeling decision burnout in a past article which can be found here.

A Can of Paint and New Beginnings

Sealed within a can of paint is a sense of revitalization, possibility, and new beginnings. 

Painting a room seems to be one of everyone's favorite ways to transform a room. This makes sense. Color can dramatically alter the look and feel of a space, the materials are relatively inexpensive, and, if so inclined, most of us have enough skill to complete the job ourselves. But what about the less tangible allure of a fresh coat of paint? I'd argue that sealed within that metal can is a sense of revitalization, possibility, and a new beginning. 

A Can of Paint and New Beginnings

Consider when fresh paint is often applied. Often it is because a room is about to serve a new purpose. There is change in your own life. You move into your first home and want to put your mark on the space. Perhaps a room is converted into a home office where you will begin your entrepreneurial adventure. Or, the former guestroom will become a nursery where you'll spend sleepless nights, experience moments of joy as you hear a first giggle, and realize with utter frustration this tiny human does, in fact, have a mind of their own. 

When I look at selecting paint with my designer eyes I see the technical aspects explaining why it can be so difficult. Extrapolating how a tiny sample will appear when the color is applied to all four walls or understanding the nuances of color undertones can be tricky, but what about the emotional aspects of choosing a paint color? When there is little certainty around life changes, as there rarely is, we can cling to things we can have control over. Could it be that the pressure we put on ourselves to get our new beginning "right" transfers to a concrete decision we can make right now - like a can of paint? 

Does this idea resonate with you? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

PS - Advice on how to select paint colors is one of the most common requests I receive. Next week I'll share my designer secrets to selecting a paint color you love. Stay tuned. 

Five Secrets to (Almost) Stress-Free Travel with Kids

Traveling with children may not be as easy as traveling solo, but with some planning, there are ways to make your "trip" feel less stressful and more like a "vacation."

Do you think there is a difference between a vacation and a trip? I've heard parents describe a vacation as an occasion where you can relax, take a break from daily responsibilities, and maybe even read a book(!). On the other hand, a trip is a journey to a destination with your children - it may be a beautiful destination - but there is still an element of effort and work involved. As much as we love our children they do require some tending to! 

To make break up the cold Minnesota winters our family loves to get out of town. With a three year old and a 6 month old this can be tricky, but we do it frequently enough that we've found a way to travel with kids and have it go smoothly. Below are my top five tips for traveling with children (almost) stress-free.

5 Secrets to Stress Free Travel with Kids

1. Rent a house or condo
Hotels are expensive and quarters are tight. By staying at a vacation rental you'll be able to cook at home for some or all of your meals. This is less expensive, healthier, and much less stressful than dining out with young children. You'll also have a place to hang out after the kids go to sleep. No tip-toeing around and you will be able enjoy an uninterrupted conversation over a glass of wine. Lastly - this is my favorite - you'll have access to laundry. Once you have children there is no such thing as "traveling light." The ability to do laundry means there is less clothing to pack and less to suitcases to haul through the airport. I recommend Airbnb or Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) for booking vacation rentals.

2. Sign up for express or rewards programs
As you know, waiting in long lines with children is no fun.  Most airlines and rental car companies have their own rewards programs. Check out your preferred companies and see what they can offer.  After waiting in an exceptionally long rental car line (with a very busy toddler) my husband discovered that Dollar-Rent-A-Car has a free express program that has saved us some serious time and frustration. 

3. Have a plan
Get specific here. Consider things like who is taking what luggage, who is responsible for what children, etc. In the middle of airport chaos, while one child is running off, is not a good time to figure these things out. Here is an example of our airplane boarding. I always board the plane first while my husband waits with the kids at the gate. I have time to gate-check the stroller and set up snacks and games in our seats so we are organized and ready to go. When it's near the end of boarding, my husband brings the kids on. Our three year old has had fun watching the planes and hasn't had to sit still in his seat for longer than necessary (there is only so long they can contain their wiggles!). 

4. Centralize the details of the trip
Send yourself one email or create a document in Evernote that contains all of the information you will need once you arrive (rental car confirmation numbers, the address where you are staying, etc). When everyone is tired and needs a snack you won't have to waste time scrolling through dozens of emails to find the information you need. 

5. Set expectations
This is a family trip but it doesn't mean you can't carve out a little "me time" while you are there. Before the trip talk to your significant other about expectations or priorities you both have for the trip and strategize how you can meet those wishes. For example, on our last trip I wanted to take a daily exercise walk outside. By being upfront about this priority we could deliberately plan for that time instead of me just hoping it might fit into the day. 

Traveling with children is certainly not as easy as traveling solo but there can be so much joy in the unstructured time away from your daily routines. It takes some planning, but there are ways to make your "trip" feel less stressful and more like a "vacation."

I hope you and your families will have the opportunity to see a little sunshine, spend quality time, and explore new areas together this winter. I'd love to hear where you are headed!

Roasted Beet & Butternut Squash Side Salad Recipe

Try this warm side salad recipe made of beets and butternut squash during the cold winter months. 

For the past couple of years we have been members of a winter CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) through Foxtail Farms. Among a plethora of other fresh vegetables, the shares we received in the last months of 2016 included beets and butternut squash. I decided to combine the two, tossed with a homemade salad dressing, and have a new favorite simple side dish recipe! To make this side dish into a full meal, simply combine with mixed greens and add grilled chicken. 

Roasted Beet and Butternut Squash Side Salad

Ingredients
Butternut Squash - (1) Large
Beets - (3) Medium
*Aim for a 50/50 mix of squash and beets; adjust quantities as needed.
*I prefer red beets for the pretty color contrast against the butternut squash but any type will work. 
Raw or Roasted Unsalted Pecans - (1/4) Cup
Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar
Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Imprecise Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Peel the beets and butternut squash. Remove seeds from the inside of the butternut squash. Cut both the beets and butternut squash into 1" cubes. Note: It's best to keep your cubes of similar size for even roasting and cook time. 

3. Toss the cubed beets in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the beets out, in a single layer, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Next, repeat these steps with the cubed butternut squash. Keep the beets and butternut squash on separate baking sheets in case one requires slightly more or less cooking time. 

4. Roast the beets and butternut squash, flipping occasionally, for approximately 30 - 45 minutes. They are done when they can easily be pierced with a fork. 

5. While the vegetables are roasting make the salad dressing by mixing olive oil, red wine vinegar (about 50/50 ratio), and a splash of lemon juice. 

6. Once the vegetables are done combine the beets and butternut squash in a bowl, drizzle with the salad dressing, and add chopped pecans. Mix until the beets and butternut squash are evenly coated with the dressing. Serve warm.

Let me know if you give this recipe a try - I would love to hear what you think!

P.S. Learn more about Foxtail Farms and the benefits of joining a CSA by clicking here. I also suggest this interesting article on CSA's from The New York Times