January 20, 2020

When compared to the size of our house, you’d think we’d have a walk in pantry, somehow though, the builders thought it was necessary to make the master closet the size of a small room (we could easily fit 2 twin beds inside), but no walk in pantry. All they gave us is one the size of a small coat closet, which is fine, but not proportionate to the rest of the house. So we’ve had to be strategic in how we plan out our pantry space, which gets unorganized easily because of busy family life.

Now, The Container Store project of the month comes in handy to utlilize #smallspaces, so enter the Elfa Utility Pantry Door & Wall Rack. This gave us us even more space to use in our pantry, and when it comes to storage space, the back of the door is one of the most under-utilized areas of the home. It transformed our small pantry closet into a fully functional space.

It’s simple to put the rack together… you place the top door hook, attach the metal bar, fit in the bottom door hooks, and then tighten the bar on until it’s secure. Then, you simply hook on your baskets to the metal bar. You don’t need nails or any fancy, and everything goes on and off easy (I think it took 5 minutes to attach the rack to the door!), so if we ever moved, we are for sure taking the rack with us.

Once assembled, I decided to put all our crackers on the top basket, and some of the honeys and baking syrups in the second basket. These are used often, as the kids are baking often, so I think it’ll come in handy to have stored here. The rest of the baskets are filled with some snack drinks and things to go. Typically, we use reusable canisters for our water, and don’t buy water bottles, but somehow end up with some small bottles here and there from events and parties that end up coming home with us, but then we forget about it because they get lost in our pantry. Now, we have a spot for them, and it’s easy to see and grab for when we’re on the go. Once, all the water bottles are gone, we’ll fill the spot with something else.

We can’t get more shelves in our pantry closet, but the Elfa Door & Wall racks are so useful in that it adds more storage to a small space. Suddenly, our pantry is a little more organized and spacious! And the Elfa Door and Wall Racks are currently on sale 30% off, so now is the time to order!

This post is in partnership with The Container Store as one of their Brand Ambassadors. The opinions and text are all mine. I appreciate the time you spend in this space, the support you give me, and the brands I partner with.


December 13, 2019

Each year, we’ve slowly improved how we store our Christmas decorations, but I think this year, thanks to The Container Store, this is our most organized year yet. We officially have a tree storage box for our tree. Every year, we’ve been using the cardboard box it came it, and just re-taping it each year to use again, but now we have a real container that’s not going to rip on us and fits the tree perfectly. It was a challenge trying to cram that tree back into the cardboard box each year. The box always looked like it was about to burst! The tree storage box also has space to spare to put in the other small trees we put around the house. Plus, there are wheels, which comes handy when moving it around to be stored for next year.

Now, we also have a wreath box, which before I’d just try to stuff the wreath in with our tree, and when that stop working, I gave away our wreath because I didn’t know where to store it. Now, that is has a container, it’s time to pick up another one to decorate our front door!

The best part of our much improved storage is the light wrap and ornaments storage boxes. Goodbye to tangled up lights! And hello to safely stored breakable ornaments! This is such a game changer in storing holiday decor. Seriously. Get yourself some cord wraps!

The open canvas storage bins are great for storing some wooden ornaments we have. We can throw them all in and not worry about something breaking. It will also come in handy to hold some smaller gifts to put under the tree. And some clear weathertight totes are perfect for holding stockings and our Christmas friends that we want to keep clear of dust and dirt.

Having everything simplified and organized makes things a lot easier when I take things out to decorate. I just take out the boxes and my girls do all the decorating! I just let them have at it! And then when it’s time to put away, they know everything has a specific place, so it will make clean up so much easier. I’m all about neat and easy!

This post is in partnership with The Container Store as one of their Brand Ambassadors. The opinions and text are all mine. I appreciate the time you spend in this space, the support you give me, and the brands I partner with.



December 4, 2019

Whenever Ben asks me what I want for some occasion, besides giving the “Nothing, I don’t want to spend” answer I’ve been giving of late (due to budgetary purposes), it’s usually something like, “Oh, you know, rings and things.” HA! And he knows precisely what I mean about “rings & things.” Rings means antique/vintage pieces, or really simple modern ones to mix in with my antique pieces, and “things” usually mean shoes.

I love when I see older ladies wear ring stacks on their fingers. They usually have some cool, eclectic style going on. It’s interesting to me the rings they pick out, and I want to know the story on each of the pieces or why they placed certain ones together.

Recently, a friend of mine told me when we were in college, that I was trying to get her to add more accessories in her wardrobe and said something silly like “Once you accessorize, you never go back!” Yeah, I guess I’ve been nothing but consistent on that. I’ve either got big statement earrings on, layered necklaces, or ring stacks. And sometimes, all 3 of those at once.

Though ever since I can remember, rings have been my favorite accessory. When we’d go on family vacations, I’d always pick out some trinket of a ring to commemorate it. When I was 16, at Disneyworld, I picked out a sterling Tinkerbell ring. The following year, while vacationing in the Bahamas, my mom let me pick out a ring with the country’s official flower. So rings have marked special events and occasions for me, which it makes it even more special. It’s kind of always been just a preferred go-to piece of jewelry. 

Are you a rings & things gal? If so, I put together some pretty rings I’ve seen floating around on the internets (and shops I’ve personally shopped from myself). Some of them are on my Christmas wishlist, so maybe some of these are just what you have been looking for too.

I love the simple rings from AU-Rate. The mini circle ring is one of my go-to rings to wear for stacking. There are so many simple rings from AU-Rate that are perfect for stacking.
Jean Jean Vintage is always a fave spot to find shiny baubles to add to my wishlist. I have this Skull ring in rose gold and wear it often. It’s my memento mori ring to remind me of the brevity of life.
My first antique ring came from Erica Weiner; Ben got it for my as a surprise for finishing writing my book. If you like antique rings, Erica Weiner has you covered, if you prefer new, she’s got that too.
I love the dreamy rings on The Moonstoned. Each piece seems so mysterious and full of stories to tell. A garnet band has been on my ring wishlist and the deep color on this one is so beautiful.
The One I Love NYC is another one of my go-to places to look for antique rings. Ben proposed (on our 10th anniversary) with a ring from here. I really love this flower in the hand ring. It’s such a unique piece.


October 31, 2019

Once upon a time, the powerful fairy, Maleficent, unexpectedly showed up at the christening of King Stefan’s daughter, Aurora.

She was clearly not welcomed, but she insisted on giving the sweet child a gift. For her gift, Maleficent gave her a curse and proclaimed, “Aurora will grow in grace and beauty, but before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. Only to be awakened by a true love’s kiss.”

The MARVELous trio… Pepper Potts, Agent Peggy Carter, and Scarlett Witch, were there to give their own special blessings for Aurora, so they stepped in to protect the child.

Scarlett Witch tried to use her ability to manipulate chaos magic, and remove the curse, but Maleficent’s power was too strong.

Agent Carter stepped in to try to negotiate with Maleficent, but it would do no good. Maleficent was resolved in her hatred for King Stefan, and consequently, Aurora.

Pepper Potts attempted to fight Maleficent with her clipboard, but again, she was defeated by the overwhelming power of the great fairy.

As soon as Maleficent left the celebration, the MARVELous trio promised King Stefan they would raise and protect the child, and hide her until after her 16th birthday. So off into the hideouts of S.H.I.E.L.D. they went…

Of course, Maleficent, being the powerful fairy she is, was able to locate their secret location and would occasionally pay the child a visit.

What started off as strong disdain for the child, or as she liked to call her, “Beastie,” slowly blossomed into fond affection.

The jealousy and bitterness she once felt towards the child, was replaced with love and compassion.

Maleficent found herself slowly believing in the power of love once again.

“Beastie” had captured her heart. She tried to undo the spell she cast, but the curse was much too strong to be broken. Maleficent would spend the next 15 years trying to stop the inevitable. Maybe, if she worked with the MARVELous trio, they would be able to find a solution together. To be continued…

Want to see if the curse manifests on Aurora’s 16th birthday? Stay tuned for Maleficent & the MARVELous Trio II coming out Halloween 2034.

True as Agent Peggy Carter…

Brave as Maleficent…

Soul as Scarlett Witch…

Glow as Pepper Potts…

And Red as Baby Aurora…

We’re 13 years strong with these Halloween stories of ours! The girls are still into it. They decide their character/costumes and we come up with a story together. Thankfully, it was mainly one costume I had to make (Maleficent’s) and the rest were pieces that had been thrifted. Whew! Halloween prep for 5 kids in intense!

Have a look back at our past Halloween stories…
2018: The Greatest Showman
2017: England News & Beyond
2016: Cutthroat Kitchen: Bratcher Edition
2015: The Mystery of the Missing Leia and Yoda
2014: The Zookeeper’s Wild Day
2013: The Mystery of Pinkie Pielilocks and the Three Bears
2012: The Adventures of Spider-Girl & She-ra
2011: Barbershop Quartet
2010: The Three Little Piggies
2009: Hannah and Gretel
2008: The Untold Story of Oz
2007: Little Red Riding Hood

Happy Halloween!!!


October 25, 2019

If you know me, and how I get mess stress easily, then you know how happy I am to be a Brand Ambassador for The Container Store. Life is full with a family of seven, and things have felt extra full lately, so certain areas and spaces in our home  have succumb to disarray. So I’m looking forward to partnering with The Container Store to get these spots organized and back under control.

This month, I’m tackling my kitchen cabinets and drawers. Earlier this month, I did a major clean and purge of our pantry and fridge, so it feels good to move on to the drawers and cabinets. The girls are always baking, and with life being as full as it is, our cabinets and drawers have been filled with a mishmosh of things. It definitely needed to go through a deep purge and some organizing. Finally, after a free afternoon of going through everything, I’m so excited to share how organized everything is.



The Container Store has thousands of kitchen products designed to be efficient with your space and make things easier to stay organized. I’m loving the extra space we get now using the Cupboard Chrome Shelf, I get all my plates and bowls in one cabinet, instead of spread out between two. The Single Corner Shelf is especially helpful in maximizing our space, and the Undershelf Basket also provided more organization and gave us another row inside our cabinet to store goods.

I used The Everything Drawer Organizers (and mixed and matched it with this one too) for our drawers. You can mix and match the containers to get the configuration that works just right for your space. Our drawers look so much better, and everything just makes sense now. With everything now having a place, instead of all simply being tossed in the drawer together, will definitely make for better kitchen efficiency.

I enjoy organized spaces, but the kitchen is one of the first things to go when life gets chaotic, and it’s probably because the mess is hidden behind cabinets and drawers. This challenge was exactly what I needed to take back control of my kitchen. With all my girls cooking and baking all the time, I think all the organization will lessen some of the fighting and bickering as they’re looking for things. This mom is all about that! Plus, the holidays are coming up and there will be even more baking and cooking, so we got everything organized just in time.

This post is in partnership with The Container Store as one of their Brand Ambassadors. The opinions and text are all mine. I appreciate the time you spend in this space, the support you give me, and the brands I partner with. If you’re in need of some kitchen organization too, take advantage of their kitchen sale going on now through November 10!


January 29, 2019


3 from 2 votes


Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8
Author Rubyellen


  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 2/3 cup bulgur wheat
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped


  1. In pot, cook onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, stirring until softened about 3-5 minutes.

  2. Add the carrots and cook for another 3-5 minutes. 

  3. Add the broth, lentils, bulgur, tomato paste, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. 

  4. Cover and cook over low heat until the lentils and bulgur are very tender, about 25-30 minutes. Discard bay leaves after. 

  5. Add salt and stir in lemon juice. Add pepper to taste. 

  6. Serve with cilantro sprinkled on top.

This recipe was shared with us from one of Ben’s co-workers, who is a master at making delicious food. I changed up a few things to the recipe and I hope you give it a try. It’s quick and easy, and that’s all I can do these days. The meal is very healthy, so Ben adds some greek yogurt to a bowl of soup for some added bulk and calories. It makes it extra creamy and delicious.

Bulgur can be difficult to find. We drove to a few grocery stores looking for it, until we succumb to ordering it from here instead.

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