Living a Simple, Intentional Life | Pt. 4 Diet and Exercise


I’m going to dive into another area today on this journey of living more intentionally. Today let’s talk about diet and exercise. A lot has changed for us as far as food choices and working out this past year. It all started around the beginning of the year actually. We decided to cancel our family membership at the YMCA. We loved going but we never consistently got to work out without being called back to the childcare area. Finley hated being left there. It also took a huge chunk of our night to get everyone packed up, drive there, drop off the girls in the child area, work out and then drive home. It seemed like a whole night affair. For Christmas last year Kev got T25 from my parents. Between T25, Insanity, a few yoga videos, some Tracy Anderson videos and running we decided we were better off just canceling our membership. 80 bucks a month saved! It’s been working pretty well for us ever since. We have a little area set up in the basement with weights and a tv to do videos. The girls play area is down there as well so most of the time they just play while we work out right next to them.

I will be the first to admit I don’t love to work out. I think it’s sort of a myth and honestly an excuse when people say they don’t work out because they really don’t love it or they aren’t an athletic person. I think very few of us really LOVE working out. I know some people definitely do. Kev is one of those people, I am not. I work out because I know the benefits far outweigh my excuses. I am not a natural runner either. I’ve run a lot of races and talk a lot about running but I always need to force myself to sign up for a race, pay the stupid amount of money to register and then tell everyone about it just to keep myself accountable to sticking with it. Don’t fool yourself by thinking you can’t do it. It’s such a mind game. Also, don’t trick yourself by assuming that you have to go so hardcore to even make it worthwhile. A mindset like that will be so intimidating that you’ll likely just give up before you even try. You don’t need to work out everyday. Start where you are. Take a walk, try some stretching. Just make it consistent and stick with it for at least a month. I promise it will become a habit you will miss when it’s not there.

I think we should all get rid of the idea that we consistently have to be losing weight or that the only reason to work out is to lose weight. I decided this year that I was going to work out without an end goal. Because really, once you reach your end goal then what? you stop working out? I wanted to make it a lifetime habit. Something I do to feel strong, healthy, and happy.


Around March last year I decided to go on a food cleanse for Lent. What an unknowing turning point in our life. Through those 40 days I read a ton about food, ingredients, diets and really did a 180 degree turn with how we approach food in our house. We all love to eat but through the cleanse I realized just how important the food we choose to eat is. I hate diets. The word makes me cringe. Diets are fads. They don’t last, are hard to stick with and are crazy restrictive. What if we looked at food in a completely different way? What if we chose to eat wholesome, real homemade food and didn’t have to worry about calories or intake? What if instead of “I can’t eat that” it was “I don’t want to eat that”? A light switch went on in my head during Lent. This was so much more than restricting what we were going to be eating from now on. Do we honestly realize how much processed food we eat in our culture? It’s mind blowing and sad. In the book Notes From A Blue Bike, Tsh talks about a slow food way of eating. How it’s important to take your time when cooking meals — that we should be involving our kids in the cooking process, spending more on an emptier cart, being informed on what our food choices mean for others in the world and the importance of farmers markets and eating what’s in season. The whole chapter (THE ENTIRE BOOK) really spoke to me. I want my girls to grow up with a healthy body image. I don’t want food to be an issue. Our culture overloads young girls with this idea that food is the enemy to looking your best. I don’t want this for them. Of course balance is key but I want to teach them how to think differently about the food we eat.

We made some major changes to our pantry and fridge. I really do try to make everything now (granola, granola bars, salad dressings, sauces, sweets, etc…) that we use to buy and was processed. There are, of course, some great choices out there for you when you need a quicker option but you have to look. Not all packaged food is created equal even when it’s organic or “all natural”. The biggest thing is just how important label reading is. I read every label of everything we buy. I really try to make sure things have 5 or less ingredients and that I can pronounce them and know what they are. I challenge you to take charge of what you eat. Learn what all those ingredients in the food you are eating are. I know it can sound overwhelming when someone starts talking about this. But really any little change you make is a start in the right direction. Find the balance that works for you and your family.

If by chance you are looking for some new workout gear to give yourself a boost of confidence to start working out or to kick it up a notch,  I would highly recommend the new activewear line from Boden. I have a lot of running gear but these items are by far the softest most comfy pants, tank and hoodie I own. Boden is offering 15% off any of their activewear line now until Nov. 9th with code: YOGA

Would love to hear from your guys how you approach eating and working out??



*I am in no way a doctor or dietician. Everything I wrote in this post simply reflects my own personal thoughts. There is of course a time and place for diets and working out to lose weight.

Living a Simple, Intentional Life | Pt.3 Clothing

I will be the first to admit I am a clothes hoarder. I love sales, the clearance rack and I keep clothes forever! I still have (had- just got rid of them) clothes in my closet from when I was in college (10 years ago). I just don’t like to let go of things. My closet started getting out of control though and really, I only wore such a small fraction of what was in there. I started questioning what I was keeping and why? My style has changed so much since becoming a Mom. Most of the stuff just sat in there because it was too dressy, to busy for my tastes now a days or I thought it had some sort of special meaning. My closet did not reflect the person I felt like on the inside. A girl who is much more confident in what she wears then her closet let on. I think if someone that didn’t know me opened my closet doors, they’d think the owner was all over the place, not knowing what she really liked at all. When I started cleaning out all our drawers, pantry, cupboards, basement, toys, and things else where in the house, my closet was no exception. I felt like Stacy and Clinton. I didn’t have anything that was terribly out of fashion like in that show, but I was harsh and got rid of everything that I didn’t currently wear. Have you read 7 by Jen Hatmaker? I just kept thinking of that chapter over and over. We really DO NOT need thousands of items in our closets. Next time you say “I don’t have anything to wear” go count how many items of clothing you have. I bet the number will make you cringe a little.

With a pretty much empty closet staring at me (I either donated or sold all old clothes), I decided it was time to invest in some good pieces to fill it partly back up. Pieces that would last more than one season. Pieces that could be mixed, matched and worn a hundred different ways. Pieces that wouldn’t go out of style in 6 months. No fast fashion. Every one is talking about a “capsule collection” in the blog world these days and I love the idea behind it, I do. I personally didn’t want to set up any strict rules for myself though. I want this to be something I stick with. More of a lifestyle change than just a season or say 40 days. I also wanted to be able to wear whatever items from my closet that I hadn’t gotten rid of. I made a list of items I thought I needed to add as we head into the dreaded Northeast winter. I told myself after I found those items that was it though, no more spending on random things here and there. I needed to know/believe I didn’t need anything else. It’s fun to window shop for sure but there is a difference between looking for fun and feeling like you need things when you don’t. I want to find that balance.

I saved up the last few months to invest in some of these items for fall/winter. When you aren’t buying clothes all season long, it allows you to save up and then wisely make choices for new items when the next season rolls around. Having a plan it key. Then you don’t end up with tons of random items that don’t match and you only wear once. Here are some items that will be getting me through this up coming winter.



1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Sweaters are a big one for me. It’s so dang cold, for so dang long here that it’s worth the money to buy some nice sweaters. I love cardigans because you can layers all your summer tees and tanks and make them last into the winter. Still obsessed with Everlane’s u neck white tee. I love thin slouchy sweaters that you can half tuck in the front of your jeans. I hand wash all my sweaters and line dry them so they keep their shape and don’t get all pilly.



1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Keeping it simple here. A cream silk blouse, totally cool to wear with a pair of jeans and ankle boots. Can’t go wrong with a chambray shirt and ooooh I could have a hundred buffalo plaid shirts and it wouldn’t be enough (jk) but I kept it to two different colors this winter. Love the simple striped cotton tee from J.Crew but making it a little more interesting with 2 shoulder zippers. The ottoman striped popover from the Loft will definitely be my most worn item. I’ve already worn it like 2 times this week.

Pants & Jeans:pants

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

I swear these are not all black. The coated racetrack jeans from Madewell are amazing! Oh Man! Such a good purchase. Love the high waisted grey BDG jeans from UO. I have them in ankle length and the longer length. Grey jeans are where it’s at this year. Goes with everything! The black ponte pants from the Loft are my alternative to leggings. I am just not a girl that feels comfortable wearing leggings out in public. They are pjs in my head and I feel weird wearing them out. So these pants are great. Soft, stretchy, but have butt pockets and a button to make me feel like they are actually pants. Cranberry colored cords just scream fall and winter to me. Love the fit of these ones. Also, the legging jeans from the Loft are amazing. Extra skinny, perfect rise, great color.

Skirts & Dresses:skirts+dresses

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Amazing all around. I can’t wait to wear all of these with thick tights, ankle boots and warm sweaters. Love the cranberry cord mini- so many outfits to make with it! I’ve been looking for a “leather” mini that is stylish with still being ladylike. This one fits the bill! Not to short, but with cute elastic waist and exposed zipper detail. I wore this striped black and cranberry dress to the conference this weekend.

Shoes & Boots:shoes

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

I am kind of obsessed with my Vans high tops. LOVE THEM! Sneakers and ankle boots. My go to for everything.

You can read Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 of this journey here.

Loft is 40% off right now just so you know!

Living a Simple, Intentional Life | Pt.2 Toys

Rowan's Nook |

Ever since I wrote the post a few months back about living a simple, intentional life I’ve wanted to share more about how we’ve been working on that in our house. I was so encouraged by all the comments and emails I received from readers and friends (thank you!) striving for the same things in their own lives. It really seems like it’s a common goal for so many of us. Over the past 2 months I’ve majorly purged our house. There seriously has not been a drawer or closet untouched. We have a huge pile of things for a garage sale and have taken countless trips to the goodwill. Man I loved knick knacks a little too much. Anyways, I wanted to start a series on here talking about the different areas that I went through and purged/changed/reorganized to reach our idea of a simple, intentional life.

Today we will talk about toys, but over the next few weeks I would love to talk about the changes I made to our closets, our food choices, our calendar/time, and decorating. Hope you will join along and share your own tips in each of these categories.
First up:


Boy, Oh boy! I can’t escape a trip to target without having to bring Rowan up and down each of the toy aisles. She always asks me when we walk in, “Momma, can we just go check on the toys and make sure they are all still working?” Nice try kid. The reason I picked toys as something we needed to change was because I felt like they were taking over. I don’t say any of this as a way of passing judgement on anyone. This is just how I felt for our house. I don’t like getting caught up in the idea that kids need lots of toys. They don’t. At all. In fact, I believe that too many toys hinder how kids play. I also don’t want Rowan and Finley to think they need toys to have fun either. I’ve never been a big fan of the big ol’ plastic, loud noise making, breaking every 2 seconds, million of parts, fill your house with clutter kind of toys. I stood pretty firmly when Rowan was a baby but over time they just accumulated. You can’t help it. Birthdays, christmas, etc… Every time you turn around it’s another holiday that presents are being given. I am always grateful, but there comes a time when enough is enough in my opinion. I looked around our house at the beginning of the summer and thought we have waaaaay too many toys and the kids play with literally 20% of them. That’s when I went to town on the toy room, their bedrooms, our toy dresser and donated about 75% of everything.

Kev and I sat down and came up with a new game plan when it comes to toys in our house. We talked with each of our parents and asked that for Christmas and birthdays they really try to limit what they give the girls. We suggested that what we would really love is if they gave a gift of an “experience” instead. Bring Rowan to the science museum, Disney on Ice, or the ballet for example. Something that would create a wonderful special day for the grandparents and the girls to share together. Rowan will talk about something like that for months and months, when a toy would interest her for like a week maybe. Some of you may think that is harsh or no fun but I really just didn’t like our parents wasting money either.

As far as the toys I did keep, I narrowed down the toys to 5 different categories. If it didn’t fall into one of them, wasn’t well made, or well loved by the girls, or a toy that I felt enriched their play it was donated. Our toy categories are…

1. Dress Up/Imagination play:

I kept all our dress up clothes (Melissa and Doug have the cutest outfits) and I created a little dress up chest with all the accessories. We have the Melissa and Doug Puppet theatre that the girls love as well. They use all their stuffed animals as “puppets” and love to put on little shows. We have a cute B. Doctor set the girls love. We also have a great kitchen set with lots of Melissa and Doug food pieces. Rowan’s favorite is her Kid Kraft dollhouse, I feel like that is the one toy we’ve bought her that she still uses almost daily. I keep a little basket next to it that houses all the dolls, figurines and furniture. She doesn’t use any one set of dolls for the house. I’ve seen a big ol’ party up in there with Barbies, My Little Ponies, Princess Sophie and Minnie Mouse.

2. Art and Craft Supplies:

In my opinion you can never have enough art supplies. We have loads of markers, paper, coloring books, scissors, glue, glitter (ugh), goggly eyes, pipe cleaners, ribbon. etc… Don’t get scared if you are not a crafty person. If you have the supplies out for your little one to create- they will create! They are so creative without even trying. Sometimes I like to have a set craft in mind for the girls but most times I just let them go at it. Love seeing what Rowan will come up with. If you do feel like you need a lithe help in this area, we love the Alex Toys Craft boxes you can get. It’s a great place to start!

3. Puzzles/ Building

Rowan loves puzzles. We especially extra large floor puzzles, but man she is good at even teeny tiny piece puzzles. She works so hard at them, it’s pretty darn cute. We also love legos. I just bought her first set of real legos. We’ve moved on from duplos and we had the best time this morning building silly animals with them. We also love these bristle blocks and then my absolute favorite are the Haba blocks. Rowan has this Janod circus set and it’s about the cutest thing I have ever seen. We also love this Janod alphabet puzzle.

4. Musical Instruments

Any real musical instrument is ok in my book. I not a huge fan of the fake kid ones out there, I don’t mean a miniature version of the real one, I mean the ones were you press a button on a “guitar” and it plays music sort of thing. That’s not really teaching anything about music. One musical toy we do absolutely LOVE is this Symphony B. Music Toy. I find myself sitting and playing with it well after the girls are done. It’s so fun.

5. Books

Books! Books! Books! I will never say no to books. I always want our house to be full of books to read and look at. I want them out and accessible to the girls and not just tucked up in their rooms either. We have 2 separate areas for their books downstairs on our main floor. I always want them around as an option for something to do.

We organized all the toys and created a few little areas of play around our house. Our basement has most of the imagination play items. We do a lot of our art projects over at my craft table. We have Rowan’s Dollhouse set up in our living room. In the family room we have a little chalk drawing area as well as all the puzzles and blocks stored in the drawers of the dresser. Our goal was to have things accessible but to not take over the house. I wanted it all scaled back and for everything to have a home. And you know what? Removing more than half the toys actually has made the girls play with the toys more. They can find things, aren’t overwhelmed, know how to clean up better, and are more creative with less.

How to you handle toys in your house?

Here are some photos of our play areas. Nothing fancy or styled for pinterst just real life how we organize our kids toys.

Toy Dresser |

Toy Baskets |

Rowan's Dollhouse |

Basement Play Area |

Craft Room |

p.s. I didn’t mention any super specific toys for Finley because she honestly doesn’t want to play with anything other than what Rowan is playing with. She loves all the toys mentioned above just as much as Rowan.

A Simple, Intentional Life.



I’m not quite sure how to start this post. There have been so many thoughts running through my mind lately. Plans for our future. Goals for our family. Reasons why I blog. I’ve just been feeling unsettled. I keep coming back to this idea of a “simple life” but I am not quite sure what that is yet. I know I feel most at peace when I am away from my phone, this computer, enjoying life with my family. We sat the other night in the darkness of the Adirondacks, in front of the warmth and crackle of a fire. We were hand in hand talking about our day hiking and being all together as one and I thought, “how do I take this home with me?” I don’t want to leave this moment. It felt simple. It felt real. It felt like what I have been longing for. I don’t think the answer though is to sell everything, swear off technology and move to the woods. It sounds appealing but a little unrealistic for us. So how DO you find this simpleness right where you’re at? I don’t have the answer yet, but I do have some thoughts on how I hope to work towards that. I’ve been pulling away a bit from social media. I see the fun in it, I do, but at this stage in life I just don’t need the distraction. I’ve cleared out my Feedly account as well. Left only who is uplifting, inspiring and who I truly love. And really, this is where the internet can shine in my opinion. I love reading blogs with heart, worth and something to say. 2 blog posts that have really hit home for me lately (and were oh-so timely) were by my dear friends Monica and Lesley. Ooooh those posts were meant for me to read. I love those ladies so much.

I’ve also been reading Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider and I really love what she has to say so far.

“Living slower requires living with intention. And to live with intention means to make little daily choices that resonate deeply in our souls-that make sense deep in our being and ring true.”

Even the forward is good (of course, hello Ann Voskamp):
“Simplicity is never a matter of circumstances; simplicity is always a matter of focus…To realize that the real hidden cost of everything you buy- is how much life it cost you to get it. That life is not an emergency but a gift to slow down and savor. That it glorifies God to spend your extraordinary life paying attention enough to the moments you enjoy God. That the moments all matter. The daily decisions add up to the sum of your life. And a pail with a pinhole loses as much as the pail pushed right over. A whole life can be lost in minutes wasted, small moments missed.”

Word. Doesn’t that just stop you in your tracks?

I want to live with intention and I don’t want to waste moments. I don’t want to be jealous of what others have or achieved. I don’t want to multitask my way to the top while pushing everything else that matters to the side. I want to be present in the tiny moments with my husband and children. Now granted, I know that we all need to work to make money. We can’t escape that fact but I think there are ways to live simple, work hard and be successful too (although success may be different than what the world sees as successful). Kev has worked so hard over the years for our family, but he has also worked real hard at letting work just be work. When he is home, he is physically and mentally here with us. He loves what he does but he loves us more. A job is not what defines you. And for me, I’ve always had very big dreams for this blog. It’s taken me since Rowan was born to realize my job as being a stay at home Mom is much more important than my goals for this blog/business. Letting go of that internal struggle is very freeing.

Tonight I got to swing on a swing (one of my most favorite things) by myself for like 15 mins while Kev and the girls played on the playground. I didn’t check my phone, I wasn’t counting down the minutes till we had to leave for the next thing, I was just there. Swinging in the setting sun, watching the girls laugh as Kev chased them. The breeze felt warm and I prayed that God would help us find our way. That He would lead us into more of these simple moments and that I would appreciate them. Because I think that is a key piece to all of this. I think we need to be grateful for the things we already have, the places we already are and the moments we already live out. I think we need to start with thankfulness. I also prayed that God would help keep my focus on Him. Jesus is what truly matters at the end of the day anyway, focusing on him will always lead your path straight.

So. I don’t really have an ending to this post. It was more like a stream of conscience of what I’ve been thinking about/working on lately. The girls are going to have a sleepover with their grandparents this weekend and Kev and I have big plans of cleaning out/simplifying the house. Garage sale here we come! To end this all- Here are a few pictures of a day this past weekend where I had that same “at peace” feeling. Being on top of a mountain can really clear your mind and put a lot of things in perspective. Whiteface mountain you were good to us!













Hi, I'm Jen!

Welcome to my personal lifestyle blog. It features topics such as motherhood, family life, fashion, cooking, and all sorts of adventures. I hope you enjoy what you find!

Jen Loves Kev