Mom Things

Online Grocery Shopping & Tipping


With Amazon Prime Now, Metcalfes grocery delivery, Hy-Vee grocery delivery and Peapod so graciously bringing us our goods, we have to be mindful of tipping! Tipping is still expected, even as new services like these become mainstream and already include a service fee.

That Panera you just had delivered? Yep. Tip.

Groceries delivered with a fee? Yes, you still tip.

What if you order groceries online, but choose to do in-store pick up? Yes. Someone else did the work for you, still tip them $1 per bag.

This kind of tipping is different though. It reminds me of the European tip of, “a few dollars to show you’re grateful for a good service, not exact percentage.”

This kind tip isn’t a percentage of a bill like you would normally calculate when dining out. I like to think of the etiquette I’d use to tip at a hotel. So, about $1.00 per bag of groceries, and about $1.00 per entree delivered by carry-out. For example, I usually have 5 bags of groceries delivered one time per week, I’d use a $5 for the tip, even if I have 4 bags or 3 bags, $5 is easy, unless I have singles on hand.

A few times I’ve been in a jam since I am not usually a cash carrying kind of lady. In these instances, I’ve given Starbucks gift cards for $5 that I have in my wallet or a handmade card from my kids to say Thank you, we appreciate what you do. But usually, I try to have the tip cash on hand so I can easily say Thanks! And don’t sweat it if it’s not exact. It’s the thought that counts.

Mom Things

The Mom Re-Set


So you’ve had a week, or a month or even a year (Do you like that reference right there?! Love Friends!) that has just been MEH. Right? I have.

So how do you re-set? Start over? Feel better as a Mom who’s always ON? Well, here’s my top 5 and if you follow me on IG, you saw my night out last night, which was AMAZING and so necessary!

5. Pick a solid 4-6 hour of time and block it. Find your babysitter or service, or grandma and grandpa or spouse and just block off your time.  Don’t do this too far in advance, you never know what could pop up! Last minute is best 😉

4.  Pick an activity that you find relaxing and schedule it 1-2 days before your planned time off.  Manicure, pedicure, massage, dinner with friends, ice cream out, concert, whatever floats your boat. Sometimes it’s as simple as hanging out at Barnes and Noble with a chai tea latte to relax and feel “off duty.”

3.  Wine down. Music up. Make sure your down time includes some wine to relax, or a cocktail of your choice with you favorite music. Take the edge off! If you don’t have time to do this when you go out, have a glass once you get home. Music is powerful and can help you relax!

2.  Find your tribe. Text your friends or your Mom or Dad to say you’re off duty and find out what time works for a quick visit. Seeing your friends and family is a great way to reconnect and feel human!

1  Make yourself up. Put on your makeup, blow out your hair and find a cute outfit. You’ll feel so much better about yourself when you make yourself up.

It’s so important to get out, Moms! It reminds us of who we are, where we are going and why we are working so hard! We are better Moms when we have time off and can reconnect with the world. This may come in small chunks of time so make sure you take advantage of it!

Happy Saturday!

Mom Things

The Mom Drawer

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s the pilot of the plane, queen of the castle, commander in chief, the central gathering place every time we host a get-together. No matter how hard we try to entice guests into other rooms of our home, the kitchen is the hub. Everything happens here and naturally guests want to be part of what happening. Cooking, drink shaking, conversation, dessert unveiling, guests like action. So why not make part of the kitchen more functional for what we do every day?

I started thinking about this idea when we had company over the holidays and I automatically shoved all of my “mom things” (check book, bills, pens, epi-pens, stamps, junk in general) into a drawer in order to appear to have a clean counter top. Thou shall not hide gorgeous iceberg quartz, right? The problem was that I could never find anything. So I decided to clean out a junk drawer (we have a few) and call it my MOM DRAWER.



I found an old bamboo divider from Crate and Barrel and it works well.  Target has one similar that would do the trick. This is our Kitchen Controls Drawer / Mom Drawer. Now when guests come by, we still can quickly hide stuff, but now it’s organized and we will have easier access to the things we use EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Do you see the to-do list in there? The check book to pay the babysitter? Stamps. Calculator. Scissors. Thank You notes because you can NEVER write enough of these! And my favorite new creation is gift card storage. I know, nerd alert. The things that bring me joy now are quite funny.

This Christmas we received a crazy number of gift cards. Honestly, I am TERRIBLE when it comes to actually using them. The worst, actually. Since I left corporate life a few years ago, I didn’t need these business card holders anymore, so our gift cards replaced old business cards. Ta-da! Easy to access and everyone can see them now they are not buried at the bottom of my purse!



So there ya go – Moms, take a drawer from the kitchen. You need it. SO much happens in this space, it is a game changer. Yes, most of this stuff belongs in our office downstairs, but life happens fast and having a mini-office in a drawer makes things so much easier until I have a chance to go downstairs and file.

One thing not pictured in the mom drawer is CHOCOLATE! I cannot survive a single day without some sort of chocolate. So add that.

Have a great week – it snowed here today and we had a ball sledding!

Thanks for stopping by 😉

Mom Things, Travel

Allergy & Family Friendly Chicago Hotels

We’re pretty picky travelers when it comes to choosing the right hotel for our family get-away. The last thing we need is poor sleep, cranky kids and overtired parents in an unfamiliar environment. Not only do we travel with two little buddies ages 7 and 4, we also have food allergies. Most of the time we roll with it, but we do like to know in advance how much we can eat as a family at the hotel, or if we need to stock up on safe snacks.


Chicago is a place we travel to fairly regularly, either as a couple or family for some fun activities and good eats. Today I wanted to share my top 4 personal favorites for family friendly and allergy friendly places in the Windy City.

4. Hilton Homewood Suites Chicago – Downtown:  We fell in love with Homewood Suites two years ago when they rescued us from our Airbnb “Buggy Bungalow” in the Vanderbilt Neighborhood of Nashville, TN. Homewood Suites welcomed us with open arms and little did we know that every room was a large suite! We all had our own beds, and a cute newly renovated kitchen to make nut-free meals for our daughter.

The best part about Homewood Suites is the continental breakfast where most of the items are nut-free. The willingness and time the staff took to get to know our family and our food allergies was amazing. Most week-nights Homewood Suites offers a cocktail and snack hour which can double as dinner if you have littles traveling with you. Family friendly + allergy friendly, I highly recommend Hilton Homewood Suites. This is a budget friendly hotel at $125 / night. This hotel is also partnered with American Girl – Chicago and offers extra fun for your little ladies.

3.  Ivy Boutique Hotel Chicago: This hotel is our standard “go-to” when we visit Chicago and I have my best friend to thank for finding this. She’s an incredible CPA and will always find the best of the best for the best price.

Ivy is a small, 16-story hotel off of Ontario + Michigan. It’s quiet and out of the way of the hustle of Michigan Ave. The staff is very personable and the rooms are HUGE. Personally, I like how each room feels like two rooms so we can put the kids to bed and still watch TV without them right there.

This hotel was recently renovated and the rain shower is incredible. Nightly dessert wasn’t too bad either 🙂

During the day, we visited the hotel’s roof top bar + restaurant, everyone was over the top about our daughters food allergies and made kiddie cocktails so the kids could enjoy the panoramic downtown city views like the big kids.

Ontario is sprinkled with quick service dining, so we had plenty of options for safe nut-free food. Garrett’s Popcorn is on this street as well, so if you’re a fan, you can beat the line! The price is right, usually around $259 on weekends, but during the week this hotel is only $159. A steal for how large the rooms are!

2. Omni Hotel Chicago:  We’re excited to try this hotel since it seems like the most family focused hotel we’ve stayed at in a long time. The Omni Kids Crew Program offers:

  • Activity book with stickers
  • Crayons
  • 2-in-1 card games
  • Binoculars
  • Small tabletop game
  • On their first night at the hotel, kids also receive milk and cookies delivered to their room.

The Omni is also an all-suites hotel so we’ll all have our own beds and solid night of sleep. This hotel is also partnered with American Girl ensuring even more special goodies for your American Girl Doll enthusiast. Free wifi, two sun decks and an indoor swimming pool, I think we’ll all have a great time! There is something for everyone and after speaking with the head chef at the 676 Restaurant, allergies will be a piece of cake. Rooms start at $189 during the week, and are a little higher during peak times + weekends.

1.Four Seasons Chicago: Hello family luxury. I just love the family focused offerings the Four Seasons has put together.

  • Ice Cream Man: a cute ice cream cart is wheeled to your door and a fresh made sundae is custom made for your kids (and you too!). How fun!
  • Martini Man: when the ice cream truck is done, Martini Man comes around for parents, helps take the edge of a fun day in the city. LOVE this idea.
  • The indoor pool was featured in Home Alone 2.
  • Kids Clubroom is full of activities for kids of ALL ages.
  • Babysitters available.
  • Children’s welcome program, kiddies are greeted with stuffed animals, games, etc.
  • Free wifi
  • House-car service for 2 mile radius
  • Childproofed rooms upon request. ie: outlet covers
  • Special VIP access to area attractions

What really drew me to the Four Seasons was the Family Fun in the City offer, a two night minimum, but worth it. Also, their attention to detail and food allergies. The Allium restaurant located inside the Four Seasons specifically calls out Sunbutter as their alternate to PB+J sammies. I know they get it. And that is comforting.

A standard room during the week is around $400 / night. This price looks steep, however, all of the extra services are worth the splurge. The Four Seasons offers laid back luxury that is perfect for any family looking to be taken care of, 100%.


Those are our favorites. The beauty about visiting a big city like Chicago is that there is SO much to choose from and while we have stayed at a variety of hotels (not listed here) there are many, many more to choose from that may have just as great or better experiences and prices. I love that part. Exploring a city and finding those nuggets of goodness. Traveling with kids is much different than traveling alone, so we’ve been re-discovering Chicago over and over again for the past 7 years 🙂


Mom Things

Daily Organizing Made Easy




It’s a new year and a time for all of us to set those lofty, unattainable goals. I’ve set three that I talked about on IG live the other day.

  1.  Read the newspaper every Sunday. I just renewed our New York Times Sunday edition that will begin this Sunday. This isn’t because I like reading sad stories. It’s because it’s real life. And when we are in touch with the world and everything going on around us, there is more empathy and understanding. A bigger picture. Plus, I’m a journalism major, so the paper has a special place in my heart. The smell. The touch. The writing. The pretty pictures of fancy people out in NYC. I love it.
  2. Be consistent with workouts. At least getting in some cardio three times per week. Anything above that is a bonus.
  3. Toy management. Clean out the toy room and both kid’s closets and put all toys + pieces back together. Eliminate old toys and organize new ones. This is for sure a 6 month project.

Those are my personal goals. Professionally, I’d like to continue to grow my blog. Next month will be my two year blogging anniversary. While I’ve grown a lot in the blogging community, I’ve only touched the tip of the ice berg. There is much more to learn and do. I’m excited to put to work the skills I learned at FaBlogCon now that things have settled a bit.

  1.  Incorporate professional photography into posts rather than cell phone pictures.
  2. Quality vs Quantity when it comes to content.
  3. Network more in WordPress and organically in my own community.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to hang out with many friends and family, which I am so grateful for.  We have never been so busy with gatherings and friends and school events, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Stemming from these conversations was a common theme:  how to stay organized.

Today I thought I’d share how I try, TRY (key word!) to stay organized. I’m a planner by nature, and toning down my planning (in my family life) has been challenging this past year, but it has been working. I guess I was over-planning life a bit and I learned that quickly in September when things came to a screeching halt! Letting things happen organically has been refreshing, helpful and fun and without disappointment (by me).

  1. You have a busy life, so get a big planner. The planner I have is the size of a standard magazine. Big. I’ve been purchasing Kate Spade planners for several years, and hers are the best.  Lots of room to write. There are other sizes and styles, you can stalk the Kate Spade website or Nordstrom for other styles.  Also a notebook for lists outside your date keeping.

2.  Take advantage of all the “notes” pages in the Kate Spade planners! This planner is my one-stop-shop. When I have a school meeting, I bring this, and only this. There is plenty of room for me to write meeting minutes and check upcoming dates. Phones are nice, but they don’t allow your team to all look at the big picture, or you try and you’re all huddled over someones shoulder in their personal space and that gets uncomfortable and weird fast. Also, I’ve tried the phone/google calendar and TOOO many times it has lost or deleted or an update moved my appointment. So went back to good old paper and pencil. No fail. Plus, I LOVE TO CROSS STUFF OFF!


3.  Each date has PLENTY of space to write all of your appointments, even the weekends! I try to only put appointments, meeting times, and important “to do” items in the planner. The notebook is more for list making and chores. Also, binder clips. I like to keep my planner out and open on my counter top or desk all day every day. This way there is 100% transparency in what I’m doing and what is coming up. My hubs also can see what we have going on if it’s not on our chalk board. This is easy communication without actually communicating. WIN WIN

4.  Tabs. Important dates coming up? Need a quick reminder for PTA meeting or doctor appointment? Stick in a tab. I like to use these over and over for big events coming up since I’m constantly flipping back and forth in my planner. From notes sections, to spring break week, to summer tennis camps, these tabs help me navigate quickly from one section to another. Don’t worry if you don’t have tabs, Kate Spade has built in tabs for every month making it just as simple. This is just one of those personal preferences I have 🙂


5.  Stickers! who doesn’t love stickers. We live in a world full of crazy, serious, not-so-fun grown-up things.  Stickers take us back to a time of playful youth! Plus, when I have a special treat for myself, I can make it pop in my calendar with a fun “mani/pedi” sticker. Which never happens, but hey, when it does, I want to yell it from a mountain, but I can’t, so I use a sticker. I’m nuts, but you already knew that.


6.  Last, but not least, the notebook.  This small notebook with one pocket divider is for weekly Monday thru Friday “to-do”s and the other half is for grocery lists and meals. This notebook is small enough to throw into my tote and car, it goes everywhere. In fact, I’ve left it at Metcalfes before, and they have called to tell me to come pick it up. I like RED because I can find it in my messy purse, and I’m less likely to leave it behind because it stands out among my stuff!


Lastly, I LOVE keeping a planner and lists because at the end of the week or month or year, I can always look back and remember this time. A time that I thought was so crazy and unorganized in 10 years will probably look fun and completely under control. It gives us a story. I’ve kept my planners since 2003, they all look about the same, and I have them on a shelf in my office/craft room. They tell my story. The one I like the best is my 2009 planner, the year I got married. I thought life couldn’t get any crazier than that year, but looking back at it now, I was just a crazy bride. It gives us perspective. If you write a lot, like I do. I like remembering things, so I also write silly things in my planner like “first tooth” or “first ski trip” or “nutcracker” and save the tickets to that place. We’re so busy, we just don’t have time, right now, to create all these amazing Shutterfly books we think we’re going to make. So for now, this is a good substitute, and when I’m retired, I can make those picture books based on my own notes here.

There you have it. That’s my daily organizational routine. Maybe it helps you out! Hoping to share some more “Mom” things this year on my blog, you can find them under the sub heading “mom things”, or in the search box.

Have a great weekend!


How to be Nutfree, Mom Things

Moroccan Oil Hairspray – Update


Happy Holidays!

Each day I review nutfreemomblog statistics, and 9 times out of 10, someone has clicked or google searched my “Moroccan Oil” article about my daughter and her reaction to the Moroccan Oil hairspray last year. Today, I decided to do some investigating because I felt like my last write up was just a rant and did not prove to be useful.

This morning at 9am CST, I called Moroccan Oil corporate and talked with customer service. I asked the woman why Moroccan oil did not contain an allergy statement on their hair spray products, specifically stating “this product is derived from a tree nut.”

She said, “People with nut allergies should not be allergic to Moroccan oil products since it’s derived from a seed, not a nut.”

I continued to point out that their very own website states that:

Argan trees grow and tenaciously survive in semi-desert areas of the Mediterranean. The deep roots and small leaves of the argan tree allow it to resist arid winds and water loss, resulting in a nut with a unique oil profile.

Pure argan oil is a rare and precious oil that is harvested and extracted from the nut of the argan tree. For centuries, women across the Mediterranean have used argan oil in their beauty regimen for vibrant, healthy-looking skin and hair.

I asked again why there is no warning since most people do not know that an Argan Tree is a nut producing tree in the Mediterranean. With 35% of consumers having a nut allergy, I think it’s fair to say that people should at least be warned what is inside the products they are using and the reaction that could happen.  Aveda does this for consumers, why can’t Moroccan Oil?

The customer service person also told me that all allergy information is listed on the back of the bottles of their products. I disagreed. Unknown (non-layman) names of ingredients and chemicals are listed, but does not specifically list out Almond, Argon Nut, etc.

What I do know is that my nut allergic daughter had a specific reaction to this product. Our home is allergy free for her, and when I sprayed her hair for her 6th birthday with perfect ringlets last January, she broke out in a rash around her mouth, neck and cheeks. After washing her hair, he rash and redness went away. Direct correlation.

This product caused her to have a reaction and I wonder if others are having the same reaction or wondering if they are allergic to this product, thus the number of hits my specific blog post has been receiving. There is no other information available for this product.

These types of cosmetics are not FDA Approved, either.

FDA Authority Over Cosmetics: How Cosmetics Are Not FDA-Approved, but Are FDA-Regulated

The law does not require cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, to have FDA approval before they go on the market, but there are laws and regulations that apply to cosmetics on the market in interstate commerce.

The two most important laws pertaining to cosmetics marketed in the United States are the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). FDA regulates cosmetics under the authority of these laws.

In the United States, federal laws are enacted by Congress. In order to make the laws work on a day-to-day level, Congress authorizes certain government agencies. such as FDA, to create regulations. A change in FDA’s legal authority over cosmetics would require Congress to change the law.

The FDA does not approve labeling either. Click the link below to see what the FDA does NOT do for the cosmetic industry.

Does FDA pre-approve cosmetic product labeling?

No. FDA does not have the resources or authority under the law for pre-market approval of cosmetic product labeling. It is the manufacturer’s and/or distributor’s responsibility to ensure that products are labeled properly. Failure to comply with labeling requirements may result in a misbranded product.

I’m working on sending an email to show how many hits my blog has received from readers looking for more information on the allergies in the Moroccan Oil hair products. Once I receive a response, I will post it here, with a link from the home page.

Thanks for stopping by. And for the record, I really do like Moroccan Oil hair products. I think they do great things and the smell is incredible. We just cant use them, and I want them to add an allergy statement to their products so people with allergies can make informed decisions.

Mom Things

Nut Allergies and Kissing

A kiss seems so innocent. I give the kid’s kisses every morning before they are off to school, and rarely I think about it.

Today I messed up.

Big time.

Luckily, I just got back from FaBlogCon where we talked about kissing and food allergies. And with the holiday season approaching, this is the perfect time to talk about your SMOOCHES!

Please, if you can, just give hugs, they are always safe.

This morning, I was making lunches and the kids asked for Oatmeal for breakfast (ok, winning on that one, patting myself on the back). Oatmeal takes a little longer than cereal or toast, so I was short on time for my own breakfast. We can’t leave the house unless EVERYONE has something to eat, that’s just how we are. Morning time = hungry time.

I quickly made a piece of toast and topped it with Peanut Butter, and stood in my usual peanut butter corner zone, away from my daughter and a place that’s super easy to clean up when I’m done. No cross contact happening here. I did all the right things. Normally I don’t even eat it around her, but today I was in time crunch and needed some quick toast.

Then a few minutes later we are in the drop off circle at school and my daughter zooms in for her morning smooch. At the moment, I did not think anything of it, but I felt off.

About half way to my son’s school I retraced my morning steps and quickly found my mistake, the peanut butter toast + smooch = possibly deadly kiss.

The old me would have lost it. The new me said, “Don’t freak out, I will call the school and talk to the admin, they can help.”

Our very lovely school, and front office personnel handled it like a boss, even telling my daughter that they just needed to wipe her mouth, “there is some breakfast still on there,” so that she wouldn’t freak out. I love our school because it’s tight-knit and EVERYONE knows my kiddo and her food allergies. Everyone here has her back, and I LOVE that.

Lessons learned: from now on, no morning peanut butter toast. I can have a granola bar!!!! I have a tremendous amount of guilt about this and it’s really put a dark cloud over my morning. As parents, we hold ourselves to such insanely high standards. I need to shake this, but felt that I also needed to share. Maybe this has happened to you. Maybe it will happen to you. As our littles grow, kissing will be in their future with boyfriends and girlfriends. Whether we like it or not, they will be adults someday, and kissing conversations need to happen to protect them.

But for now.


Happy Humpday!