target hack: DIY Rolling baskets

Let’s do a project today, shall we?

Awhile back, I started to notice a trend…a trend that I fear is here to stay (at least for awhile):   toys.  Toys, toys everywhere!  It honestly drives me nuts.

In about ten minutes Abby can stir a toddler tornado, which leaves every toy scattered across the room.  IMG_6002

A very very small and random sampling of said trend.

And while I acknowledge they are a necessary evil, I still want to feel like an adult who lives in a semi-nice, semi-clean, semi-uncluttered house once in awhile.  So I’m learning to be OK with toys as long as they can be contained.

Our house is such that our living room needs to house several toys – we don’t have a dedicated playroom and I don’t want all of Abby’s toys up in her room.   We spend most of our time on the first floor and reality is that toys need to be there if I want to get anything done so Abby can have fun.

I picked up a couple of these baskets from Target, but they weren’t quite doing it for me.



They just needed something.  I really wanted them to have a lid to completely keep things out of view, but that didn’t seem easy.  So I decided to prop them up and give ‘em some wheels.  It would give them just a little somethin’ somethin’ while at the same time giving me some added functionality.

This project was really very simple and doesn’t require any fancy tools.


Here’s all you need (quantities listed are for one basket):

  • (1) Basket (wicker worked well, but a wire basket would be cute too)
  • (1) Wood cut-to-size for a platform (it should be the same dimensions as the bottom of your basket).  Perhaps a 2″ thick piece to make it extra chunky?  That would be cute too!
  • (4) Caster wheels of your liking (I used these)
  • (4) 1.5” Screws (make sure you account for the width of your platform here) and a cordless drill

Now, because I’m cheap resourceful, I decided to make my own wooden platform out of scrap wood I had laying around.  This took some additional time because I had to kreg jig the pieces together to make a sturdy base.  You could just buy a piece at Home Depot and have them cut it to size for you.  Bada bing, bada boom.


Next, simply attach your castor wheels to the platform with the provided screws.  I used a small template to make sure I was placing them in the same spot all the way around, but that’s just the perfectionist talking.  It certainly isn’t necessary.

Lastly, all I did to attach the basket, was set it on top of the platform, place a screw through the bottom of the basket, and screw it directly on to the platform.  I did one in each corner….so four.


In all, this project took about an hour, and I have to say they’ve held up great.   And yes, I can say that because I made them way back in February.  Ha.  Let’s just say I wanted to provide adequate testing prior to sharing them with you, mmmkay?

Even with a toddler pulling them all over the house and occasionally sitting in them we really haven’t had any issues.  And I have to say, the wheels actually make it a heck of a lot easier to do a quick toy pickup…I just pull that basket around the room with me, fill it up, and push it right back under the table.   Much easier than lugging the whole basket around in your arms, in my opinion.  Fashion AND function….they’re a double-threat.

How do you contain the clutter at your house?  Or have you mastered the secret jedi skill of not caring?

random ramblings

I started writing random ramblings awhile ago to talk about a bunch of, well, random things all at once.  They typically have no rhyme or reason and reflect whatever I’m thinking about that week.   Sometimes they’re long, sometimes they’re short (uh hem, that’s what she said), but they are always fun to write and hopefully read.   So sit back, grab your cup ‘o coffee and let’s chat.


First up:  Taylor Swift.

I’ll be damned if that little pop star isn’t keeping me up at night.   Seriously.  It’s 11:30 p.m. and all I can think is:  “players gunna play play play play play…..haters gunna hate hate hate hate hate.”

{here, dad}:

I can’t explain it.  Maybe I like the cross-over version of Taylor Swift?  Maybe it’s the Oula dance?  Who knows.  All I know is that I can’t shake it off.   (see what I did right there?)


I come from a long line of clean-car freaks fanatics.  Growing up I was never allowed to eat in the car.  Ever.  No gas-station-treat-stops on road trips.  No snacks around town (although I wonder if my mom secretly let us when my dad wasn’t there, because HELLO.  How can you have THREE kids and NOT let them eat in the car?!).  As teenagers we were required to keep the cars clean, and wash them or vacuum them if we made a mess.  To this day, I bet my dad washes his cars once a week, if not more (you know if they maybe it sprinkled rain or they accidently drove down a dirt road).   I still notice my dad picking crumbs or little specs of debris out of the car after we’ve ridden with him.   His cars are immaculate and he keeps them forever (because why wouldn’t you keep a car forever if it looked brand new?).

Anyways, a small portion of the clean-car gene definitely got passed on to me.  I prefer to wash my vehicle by-hand (although I can’t tell you the last time I’ve had that luxury).   I like the inside dust, crumb, dirt and dog-hair free.  I don’t like any items left in my car after we go somewhere…even if it’s just around town.  That stuff needs to exit the vehicle.  Pre-child I could spend a good 2 hours cleaning my car to perfection.  Post-child, I get as much time as it takes Abby to eat a sucker.  It’s not perfect, but I’ll take it.  I’ve learned to live with a few cheddar bunnies here or there, and I’ve resigned to the fact that my car won’t always shine like the top of the Chrysler building.  But I have my limits, which I’ll get to in a minute.

Let’s talk about the Hubs.   I’m pretttttty sure the last time his truck was cleaned out was in 2011 when I cleaned it out for his birthday.   He drives his truck like a truck should be driven:  mostly on dirt, in puddles, through bushes….basically wherever he wants.   He’s got a good collection of Montana Racing Stripes (scratches) along the side of it.  The inside has dirt, rocks, gear, dust, stains and garbage.  All of this used to bother me but I acknowledge the fact that not everyone cares about that stuff.  And that’s cool.  Now I just climb on up in the cab, sit indian-style and don’t sweat it.  But what does drive me nuts?  Is how he uses the passenger floor as his garbage.  Done with that wrapper?  Sweet, just crinkle it up and toss it on the floor.   Water gone?  Crush that bottle and throw it on over.  And, nope, it doesn’t matter if I’m sitting right there in that seat or not.  Seriously.

So last week when Abby inhaled a juice box, crushed it, and threw it on the floor of MY car?  ohhellno.

I pulled the car over.

She looked at me like I was crazy but I knew I had to nip that in the bud right then and there.   We don’t have too many rules; I’m a pretty laid back parent.  But that sh&t ain’t gunna fly in momma’s car.


I don’t care how big of a diva you are, kid.  You won’t throw trash in my car!


So, we’ve been looking for a house.  And looking, and looking and looking.

Turns out house hunting isn’t as much fun as I thought it might be.  I was convinced that Missoula just didn’t have the type of house that I needed wanted.  Then one day I got a little frisky and searched for houses that were almost twice our budget.

Yep.  Missoula has those houses.


In other news, I’ve started playing the lottery.

Just kidding.


I think I need an intervention because I actually had this thought today:

“You know, it’d be really cool if I built a fridge to go with Abby’s play kitchen for her Christmas present this year.”

Am I nuts?  Have I blocked out the chaos of last year?  I think I need to re-read this post, or someone, please talk some sense into me.  The sanding…my god the sanding….

Ok, so Abby has been watching Daniel Tiger (which I actually think is pretty cute because it’s like the “new” Mr. Rogers).   Any clue what I’m talking about?  No?  Ok.

Well Daniel Tiger does this thing where he rubs noses with his mom/dad/the screen/whoever, while saying ugga mugga.  Just as a way to show affection or hug I guess.  Anyways…..Abby has been saying, “Momma, Ugga Mugga!” and then getting really close, rubbing our noses, while saying really softly, “ugga mugga.”  It is THE.  SWEETEST.  THING.  It melts my heart every single time.

Kinda like this (without all of the really weird stuff edited in):


And with that clip, my friends, we may have hit an all-time low here on twsst.  (I hope you didn’t watch the whole thing, it was extremely weird….but it was the only thing I could find with an ugga mugga in it!).

Thanks for reading all of this nonsense, I’m always amazed that anyone reads this blog, but I’m so grateful that you do.

Ugga Mugga,


(shake it off, shake it off!)

archery season opener: hunting-widow edition

Sweet Jesus the summer went by fast.  So fast that apparently I didn’t have time to blog about anything at all.  Obviously we have some catching up to do, and catch-up we will since it’s officially Archery Season….bow season….hunting season…whatever.  All I know is that I we have a lot of time on my our hands these days and I’m loving it.  This euphoria usually lasts about 3 weeks and then I get completely bored, overwhelmed with being a single parent, and cabin fever sets in.  But for three glorious weeks I bask in the fact that time is on my side.  Time to do whateva I want.  Time to do laundry (ok, it’s sad that I listed that first).  Time to clean the house.  Time to workout.  Time to cook.  Time to write.  Time to take that graphic design class I signed up for in April.  Time to think!    All I know is that I will not be frantically packing (and unpacking) bags for weekend getaways.

So to get me back in the blogging mood, I decided to document opening day, hunting-widow edition. To do this I snapped a photo each hour throughout the day.  Not necessarily on-the-hour, because surprisingly it was sometimes hard to remember to take one before the hour was up…but it’s kind of a cool way to tell a story through pictures.  And it sorta kicked off our hunting season (which admittedly is drastically different from a hunters) of being a Party of Two (ok, three if you count Summy).

I learned that I take a lot of pictures of my kid and food.  Clearly, I’m fascinating.

You know I’m dying to write a caption or give you a backstory to some of these…but, no, pumpkin, no.  I’m not going to.  A picture speaks a thousand words right?  So I’ll let them do the talking for once.

And hopefully, this will be my giant leap back into writing and sharing.

















If you need me I’ll be freakishly organizing and purging our house, along with feverishly planning projects I can “surprise” the Hubs with (who doesn’t want a tile backsplash installed while they’re away?  hello.).

35 years old; it ain’t the end, but it sure ain’t where I began…

I have a tradition of writing a post on my birthday.  It’s typically one that is a little more personal, a glimpse into my little world and my goals or dreams, or just a few fun facts to help you get to know the real me a bit better.  While I try to be as real and authentic as I can in all my posts, it’s hard to know what each reader walks away thinking.  So these are always a good way for me to open up a bit and share a piece of me with all of you.

So, this year I guess I’m 35.   I have this convenient problem of never really being able to remember how old I am.  I mean,  is it 33 or 34?  I just never know….because it all still feels like 28.    I have this fear that I’ll wake up 70 years old and still feel 28, which seems like a nasty trick.   Just stuck inside some old body.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I used to think 35 was old.  Like, ancient.


And now I am 35.


This year I don’t really have a list of fun facts to share with you (like I did at 32.)  I’m not fearful of the coming year, wondering what it will bring and terrified of losing myself (like I was at 33).  And I’m not really too sentimental about reflecting on the past year (like I was at 34).   This year?  I feel…..content.   Weird, huh?  And I’m not really sure how to explain it other than things are good.  I feel healthy.  I feel happy.  I feel like maybe I’m finally figuring this mom thing out.  I feel motivated.  I feel confident.

Content or not, I still find myself questioning everything constantly – how can I be a better mom?  Can I do better at my job?  Do I even like my job?  Why can’t our house stay clean for just one freaking second?   How can I strengthen the relationship with my Husband?  When do I get some time to myself?  Why are there no houses for sale that I like in Missoula?  Shouldn’t we be talking about baby #2?  

I mean seriously.  I question everything.  Big things.  Little things.  Important things.  Inconsequential things.

And the more I think about it, the more I think that’s ok.  I don’t want to settle and never question anything.  Questioning things makes you think.  It makes you evaluate your circumstances and helps you realize that if you don’t like something you can change it.  Or you can work towards changing it.   I am living proof of that.  I made a huge commitment to myself this year and put myself and my health first by changing my diet (and my families diet).  And I’m seeing positive results because of it.   And I did it because I questioned the way I was feeling; I knew it wasn’t right and it could be better; it could be different.

So, after a little thought and reflection about how I feel regarding turning 35, I decided that my goal for this year is to JUST BE.

be happy.

be thankful.

be thoughtful.

be creative.

be spontaneous.

be loving.

be unique.

be daring.

be me.


If that means questioning things, so be it.  I’m ok with that.  As long as I remember that overall I do feel content and happy right where I’m at.

I’m the first to admit that letting yourself “be” is likely harder than it sounds.

And I hate to sound cliche’…but as a mom you really do tend to put yourself last.  To put your own feelings, wants, needs and dreams aside so that your family can flourish.  That’s ok to some extent.  But you can’t put yourself so much in last place that you’re forgotten.

That’s why this year I’m going to let myself just be.  It doesn’t mean I’ll be first all the time, or second or third.  Sometimes I’ll still be last.   But as long as I’m being true to myself and honest about what I’m feeling then it’s ok.

I feel good about turning 35, even if it’s hard to remember or acknowledge.  I’m looking forward to this year and what it holds, and I’m going to let myself be happy and enjoy it….no matter how ancient I am.

I may also enjoy some Big Dipper ice cream and just be stomach-achy.  But that’s another story.



As always, I’ve borrowed my title from one of my favorite Jewel songs, Stephenville, TX.   Take a listen here:

Is there chocolate after whole30? Duh.

Let’s talk about chocolate.

I think my feelings can best be expressed through this lovely quote found on Pinterest:


I was willing to give it up for Whole30.  I fought my sugar demons (and won).   But good chocolate?  Dark chocolate?  Smooth, creamy, delicious chocolate?  That’s not something I’m willing to give up forever.  Because life without chocolate is not life, my friends.  End of story.

That being said, I do have some thoughts about what qualifies as good chocolate now.   I could care less about a Hersey’s bar.  I wouldn’t give a Nestle’s chocolate chip a second glance.  Don’t even try to tempt me with a Hershey’s kiss.  I guess you could say I’m a chocolate snob.  And I’m ok with that.

Which is how I ended up in my kitchen making my own chocolate.


Picking my own ingredients, tweaking the recipe until I got just the right consistency and just the right flavor.  (I know, who am I?)    I even did blind taste-tests with unsuspecting guests which served two purposes (1) validate my efforts to solidify the best recipe and (2) rid the house of the abundance of chocolate.  I may have fought my sugar demons and won…but they are still there just waiting to be awoken.

I know I have to be careful about how much to indulge.  I’ve made so much progress on Whole30 that the last thing I want to do is revert back to old habits because it’s a slippery slope.  The good news is that since making this I’ve been able to be quite reasonable about eating it.  I’m satisfied after a piece and don’t feel the need for “just one more bite.”   I don’t indulge everyday.   I feel all grown up and what not.

So let’s talk about this chocolate.  It’s full of good-for-you stuff.  Like raw honey, coconut oil and cocoa butter.  The combination of which give it a smooth, creamy almost chewy texture.    That’s actually what surprised me the most about this homemade version…there’s a noticeable difference in texture that’s literally a little softer and chewier than a store-bought bar.  And it’s divine.


The cocoa powder gives it that decadent chocolate flavor and a touch of vanilla balances out the flavors and sweetens it up just a titch.

You definitely don’t need any sort of fancy mold to make chocolate (just pour it out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper), but I thought it would be fun to have bite-sized pieces that you could just grab.  Plus it might help me from over-indulging (who me?).


I personally am a fan of salted chocolate, so I finished these with a sprinkle of sea salt.  If you don’t care for the salty/sweet combo just omit that.  The chocolate will still be delicious.  Promise.




Homemade Salted Chocolate

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  1. Melt cocoa butter, coconut oil and raw honey in a double boiler, stirring continuously (if you don’t have raw honey that needs to be melted, add it during step 2).
  2. Once all ingredients have melted, remove from heat and stir in cocoa powder and vanilla extract until well combined.
  3. Carefully pour chocolate into molds, or schmear across a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
  4. While still hot, sprinkle the chocolate with sea salt (I like a lot, you may not)
  5. Put molds (or cookie sheet) in the refrigerator to set the chocolate (around 30 minutes)
  6. Enjoy!


  • Due to the coconut oil, it’s best to store the chocolate in the fridge.  It should last a bit longer in there too (because maybe you’ll forget that you have it???  Doubtful.)
  • I haven’t experimented with this much, but it would be fun to add different flavor extracts (almond, mint?) or toppings (roasted almonds, coconut, bacon.  Yes.  Bacon).


*recipe adapted from wellnessmama


whole30 wrap-up (with my ten tips for success and top five recipes)

I’m just over a week in to “life after whole30.”  I’ve reintroduced eggs with no repercussions….but my almonds?  My almond butter?  We might have a problem.  I’ve had a minor headache each day since eating them, and I’m not sure if it’s the almonds, or the extreme lack of sleep due to a sick kiddo (read:  I pretty much pulled an all-nighter this weekend and not in a good way).

So, I’m going to give almonds another try at reintroduction.  Because life is just so much better when you can schmear almond butter all over everything.  Right?

Anyhoo.  I’ve been updating ya’ll throughout this whole process (see week 1, week 2, week 3, and week 4 here), but I wanted to do one final recap to put my  all of my thoughts together.   Because looking back it’s really quite amazing just how far I’ve come in 30 days.   Remember when I was dreading it?  Certain I couldn’t live without cheese?

I’m not even kidding when I say I don’t even care about cheese anymore.  Seriously.  I really don’t even want it.  Chocolate?  That’s a different story.

I started Whole30 for two main reasons.  First, to try and identify (and/or confirm) any potential food allergies or sensitivities.  Second, to address some other unpleasantries occurring much too often for my liking (headaches, stomach aches after eating, general feistiness and irritability, and insomnia).    I’m still working towards identifying my food allergies/sensitivities through reintroduction (a process that will take awhile) but I’m confident that I’ll know pretty quickly if I have any.   My results otherwise have been amazing.  No more headaches.  Not one stomach ache since Day 1.  My irritability has vastly improved (this one’s harder to gauge since I’ll obviously still get mad or annoyed sometimes or have bad days.  But I definitely don’t have the crazy “swings” anymore).   Unfortunately my insomnia hasn’t gotten much better.  I still have terrible sleep most nights.  However Abby still wakes up most nights.  So part of me wonders if my body is just staying “on alert” waiting for the inevitable “momma!!”

In the end, I’ll take the “wins” I’ve gained over the sleepless nights.  And even though I’m not sleeping very well my energy is still incredible during the day.  My skin seems brighter and clearer.  I feel stronger.  I feel more confident.  And I lost 6 pounds so my body feels leaner and healthier.   I do have before and after pics but I’m terrified to post them on the Internet.  ha.  I can spill my guts out here in written form, but in the literal form?  Ummm…..not ready for that.

What’s been unexpectedly awesome during this past month are the people that are inspired by what I’ve done and are considering whole30 themselves.  So I thought I’d put together my top ten tips.  I’ll try to stay succinct.  But no promises.


1.  Read the plan.  Like really.  Read it.

The website has a ton of information to get you started.  There are downloads available, forums and FAQ’s.  I studied this site for a good two weeks before starting.  But I also highly, highly recommend reading the book, It Starts With Food before you start.  It answered so many questions, explains the science behind why foods are off-limits, and even has recipes to get you started if you need them.  The $10 it took was money well spent (I bought the Kindle version).

2.  Plan your meals.  Like a boss.

This is my #1 piece of advice.  I would have been lost without meal planning.  Then again, planning comes naturally to me and I generally feel lost without one.  I would literally scour recipes (and my pantry to see what I already had), then write out what I was going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner each week (allotting for leftovers in there as well).  Once that was done it only took a few minutes to make my shopping list.

3.  Say hello to a new kind of Sunday Funday (aka meal prep).

I chose to dedicate part of my weekend to meal prep.  Either making my breakfasts (so they could easily be reheated), making a batch of soup (to use as a side), or even pre-making a dinner if I knew I’d be short on time one evening.  Not everyone may want to do this, but it was so helpful on days where I just needed to grab something and go, or got home late from work.  Well worth the time spent.  Also, be prepared to spend a lot of time in the kitchen either cooking, cleaning up from cooking, or eating.

4.  Support at home is nice, but not necessary.

While the Hubs was very supportive of whole30, he wasn’t officially doing it with me.  Therefore I didn’t raid our pantry/fridge and eliminate non-compliant foods.  I thought this might be hard having temptation at my fingertips, but my will power was surprisingly strong.  I think just knowing that one slip-up meant starting over at Day 1 was enough to keep me on track.  Although, I will admit it was harder to turn an eye to the beer, chocolate, chips and cheese during the first few weeks.    Also, I was still cooking all sorts of other food for Abby too and I think what I noticed most about continuing to do that….is that I did a lot of mindless “bites” or “snacking” before when I would cook her dinner.  I’m really conscious of doing that now, which is a good thing.

5.  You won’t miss alcohol as much as you think. 

Weird, but true.  I mean there were definitely times when we were out and it would have been nice to have a beer.  Or wine.  But for the majority of the time?  It was ok.   It really only stung a little when we were out in a social setting.

6.  “The sugar demon is strong with this one.”  

I knew giving up sugar would be hard.  But I wasn’t prepared for just how hard it would be.  Sugar is in virtually everything so you either have to find an alternative, make your own version of it, or just forget about it.  I think I missed it more than I thought I would, and I definitely wasn’t mentally ready for fighting those demons.  In fact, I’m even more scared to wake them up; which is why I still haven’t had any.

7.  Not all Whole30’s are created equal. 

I found out pretty quickly that not everyone approaches Whole30 the same way.  Simply searching “#whole30” on Instagram or Pinterest doesn’t necessarily yield good results.  Oftentimes recipes deemed compliant were far from it.   Some of the meals pictured were in no way following the meal plan guidelines for servings of meat vs. veggies vs. fruit.  Not everyone follows the meal plan to a “T” and that can be hard if you’re trying to.  It’s easy to avoid these errors if you’ve read the book and studied the guide, and I was glad I had.

8.  Document it.

I kept a daily journal of how I was feeling, what was going well, what wasn’t, and what my favorite foods were.  I also reported here on a weekly basis to recap everything.  Looking back I actually think that both of those exercises were really helpful.  I could see progress being made, and when I hit low points (um, week 2!) I could look back and remind myself that “this too shall pass.”   It also reminded me that despite the hard things, good things were happening too.

9.  If you need more support, get it!

I was so lucky to have a girlfriend doing this with me.  Granted, she was in a different state…but just to even bounce a question off of her, complain about a hard day/craving or swap recipes with was so nice.  I’m so grateful for that.  But if you don’t have someone doing it with you?  The Whole30 forum is awesome.  I often found myself looking for answers there.  From the looks of it there are people starting everyday and talking about it on the forum, so you can buddy up with a virtual group of people that started around the same time as you.  It’s a great support mechanism.

10.  It will get easier.

I know at the beginning it’s overwhelming.  It’s stressful.  It’s scary.  You should have seen me leading up to that first week.  I had lists stuffed in every pocket, recipes pinned up the wazzoo (want my board?  click here), charts and lists printed off to study.  It was a whole30 command center up in here.  But I promise you.  It will get easier.  You’ll get comfortable with the food lists.  You’ll find recipes that you love.  And pretty soon it won’t seem like a chore…it will be exciting and easy.

That’s a lot of words.  So much for being succinct.

Let’s move on to my top five recipes (with pictures!) that I’m keeping in my rotation (remember that some ingredients might need to be omitted to be whole30-compliant).

Cinnamon “Greek” Beef Stew.  This is the most flavorful, yummy, delicious stew I think I’ve ever had.  It’s not like traditional stew…it reminds me of an Indian dish in a way.  No wonder I like it.



Artichoke Lemon Pesto Chicken Squash.   You had me at artichoke pesto.  Seriously.  DELISH.

PaleOMG – Paleo Recipes – Artichoke Lemon Pesto Chicken Pasta


Chipotle Chicken Sweet Potato Skins.  My love for sweet potatoes has only grown during these past 37 days.  Partially due to these guys.

Healthy Chipotle Chicken Sweet Potato Skins-4


Larb.  Why-oh-why must you look so unappetizing?  P.S.  your name doesn’t help either.  But man, Larb.  I think I love you.



Mustard Garlic Brussels Sprouts.  Just make these.

Seriously though?  Almost everything I made/ate was really good this past month.  You can look at my weekly recaps for more recipe ideas, or hop over to my Pinterest board.

My final thougthts on whole30?   I am so thankful I pushed through my fears and worries and just did it.    It really has changed my life.   So much that I plan to continue to try and eat this way (at least when I’m in control of making my meals).  It really has changed my relationship with food and I have a better sense of how certain foods make me feel, and how that age-old saying of “you are what you eat” is so, so true.

I think everyone should give whole30 a try.   It might just change your life too.


done-talking-about-whole30-for-awhile (and still-missing-almond-butter) Janna