It hasn’t even been a month since my last “ten things” post, but I feel like I have lived six lives since then.

ONE // Friday Night Lights

I like to watch TV or movies while I’m needlepointing every night. Recently I kind of felt like I either hated everything new or had watched everything I wanted to watch. I was really searching for a show I could sink my teeth into and watch for seasons and seasons…. I have seen Friday Night Lights before, but it’s been years. When it popped up on my Netflix recommendations, I immediately clicked and I was immediately hooked. I loved it when I first watched it, though I didn’t remember a lot of the details. It still holds up after all these years. (Though it’s interesting to watch now as a parent– I think I’m watching the show with an entirely new perspective.)

TWO // New Stocking

Speaking of needlepoint, I landed on a design for Mike’s stocking!! I didn’t realize it was printed (versus hand-painted) when I purchased it and I was quite daunted at first. I have since made some good progress and she’s coming along beautifully. I am obsessed with the nutcrackers. They have so much personality with their crazy hair and fun outfits. My goal is to finish it by Labor Day…. but we will see if I’m able to pull it off. They’re so time consuming and truly end up being a labor of love. I’m happy to have a nice big project to keep me occupied too. Brings so much joy.

THREE // 18 Months

Baby Jack is not-so-much a baby anymore. (But I secretly hope his cousins call him baby Jack forever 💔.) Can you believe he just celebrated his half birthday and turned eighteen months old?! He has definitely been teetering on the edge of toddlerhood, now there’s no denying it though. He’s a toddler and I’m loving it! There are challenges with every stage and this is no different, but I think the rewards of 18 months have to be some of the most magical. Like the other day, we’re driving to gymnastics and all of a sudden he starts singing along to “The Ants Go Marching.” Really singing too. Saying “hurrah! hurrah!” with gusto and adding the “boom boom boom boom” sound effects too. Sometimes it’s hard to see time pass us by… but for the most part I’m loving every new development even more then the last.

FOUR // Jeans

Have you been following my jeans try-on situation? Honestly it’s going better than I expected and I’m (dare I say it) having fun trying on jeans and trying out new brands and styles. I usually hate trying jeans on but this has been a fun experiment. I saved a highlight to my IG story in case you want to catch up. So far I’ve been most impressed by this pair (and this pair for a more budget friendly price point) and then also this new-to-me brand with jeans so soft I couldn’t believe they weren’t leggings!

FIVE // Trying Times

Life has been a little tough lately, honestly. I think all things considered, we’ve kept good attitudes and tried our best to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. (Having a toddler, as exhausting as it can be, helps too. Life just has to keep marching on.) Every time we come up for air a little bit I feel like we get knocked down again. We have soooo many things to be grateful for and we really do have a ton of great things happening, but it’s also been hard, too. Just acknowledging that/this because sometimes it’s weird to be like “wow life is so good! look we have a toddler who is singing and turned 18 months and learned how to jump and climb!” and also at the same time be struggling in a lot of ways too. It’s weird. It’s hard.

SIX // 1000 Hours Outside

Mike and I decided at the beginning of the year that we would attempt the 1000 Hours Outside challenge. I should note that for me, this is a challenge as a mom. Luckily, Jack would happily spend the entire day outside– regardless of weather. We are already seeing benefits though! Our time outside is actually pretty low-key. We’re not going on massive adventures right now– it’s mostly walks around our neighborhood and into town and then playing basketball (we have this little hoop) on the patio. I really hate winter and I definitely dread going outside… I have to admit though, once we’re out I’m fine and I always come back in after and hour or two feeling completely recharged. Additional benefits? The house stays so much cleaner when playtime is outdoors 👏🏻 and we’re getting longer naps too!!

SEVEN // A surprisingly “hard” part of influencing

This is kind of random and it’s not a huge deal, but something that’s been on my mind. While it’s not worth making a whole blog post about it, I do just want to get it off my chest. I’ve been writing this blog for over fourteen years now. I’ve seen a lot. 95% has been incredible– I’ve met some of my closest friends, it’s turned into a full time job for me, I have had the opportunity to work with amazing brands, I have experienced things I never could have dreamed of. But there’s also like a little bit of the job that isn’t so fun. (Which, honestly, feels like a pretty low percentage if you took all jobs/careers into account. Only hating 5%? Not bad.) So to be clear, I love what I do and don’t see myself doing anything else anytime soon.

One of the challenges is that some parts of the job can feel like being back in a high school cafeteria. Popularity is literally an important figure taken into account. While numbers may have bothered me a little bit more when I was in my early twenties (and Instagram/influencing felt more cut throat), I feel like I’m in a pretty good place right now. I have a great, highly engaged audience (love you!!) and, most importantly, I really know who I am– and who I’m not– as an influencer. This is hugely helpful for my business overall. But (!!!), sometimes brands don’t think I’m cool enough (for lack of a better word, just go with it) to work with and it really bothers me. I know I’m not a cool it girl. But… again, I know who I am and what my audience likes…. and I have the numbers to back it up. When brands that I love (and that you love!) blatantly ignore me, it does hurt. It’s probably the high schooler in me feeling like I don’t quite belong all over again, but I can’t deny that I’m not a little hurt!

EIGHT // Surviving Norovirus

Oh my god the norovirus nearly did us in this past weekend. It was probably the worst 24 hours of parenting (which all things considered, we are lucky if a stomach bug is as bad as it’s been), but omg. Thankfully, we were all staggered so no one was at their worst at the same time. It was still horrible and we went through so many loads of laundry and I was Clorox-ing every surface of our house multiple times over. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy!! The scariest part was Friday night, Jack was sick and then I was with him while Mike was handling switching over crib sheets and then I started getting sick (and starting to pass out) while holding Jack. I am not one to ask for help, pretty much ever, and I was screaming to Mike (who went to the basement to get clean sheets out of the dryer “heeeeeeeeeelp!” He came running in and scooped Jack back up, but whew it was a scary few minutes.

NINE // Saying No

I swear I go through phases where I’m so good at saying no and honoring my own boundaries and then other times I am in a major “just say yes to everything!” phase. Right now I’m in a big, “thank you for thinking of me but I can’t right now” phase. I do experience some guilt as I hate letting people down and in an ideal world I would be able to do everything and help everyone and do it all. I just now I don’t have the bandwidth emotionally or, frankly, the time to take on anything additional right now. It is a liberating feeling and I know– maybe soon, maybe further down the road– that I’ll be in a “yes” phase again.

TEN // Recipe Recommendations?!

It’s been on my dream “to do list” to get better about cooking dinner. I’m grateful to have a husband who takes the reins big time when it comes to feeding our family. For a while, I was trying to cook one dish a week…. and then Jack got way more active and I just lost interest in trying to entertain him in the kitchen while I prepped/cooked. But I’m really trying to be better…. Any family favorite recommendations?! Doesn’t have to be gourmet and doesn’t need to be like “one pot easy,” but I would like to avoid crazy unhealthy dinners. (We do enough takeout for those kinds of nights 😉) Merci !

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Thank you for this post, Carly. I appreciate your vulnerability in expressing your feelings, especially with regards to #5 and #7. I do hope all goes well with you and your family. Life is hard. I am rooting for you! Additionally, what I love most about you is that you aren’t like other influencers or bloggers. I’ve been following for 10 years now, and I feel like you’ve just gotten better with time – your voice is so clearly you. I wish you only the best.


Dear Carly,
I have been reading your blogs for some years now and I love it as it is no matter what some brands think. Your posts feel authentic and interesting.
I still remember a post about anxiety which made me realize that I’m not the only one who is afraid to step out of their comfort zone sometimes. It really helped me.
So thank you, Carly!


Who defines cool these days anyways? I think you’re a cool gal and honestly being cool to me means making people feel included and welcomed. If a brand isn’t doing that then shame on them.


1. My fam is also doing 1000 hours outside (our second year) and for two toddler boys it has been amazing for us all. Everyone is happy outdoors and turns out I love being outside after thinking I was basically an inside cat for many years.

2. I totally agree about the life is hard part. As said, two small boys and life must go on and life is hard but it is also so, so wonderful. I also have so much to be grateful for. I had those same thoughts as I went to work yesterday.

I love How Sweet Eats- her ranch meatballs with couscous are so tasty. The BBQ-ish ones are very good too but we eat them a lot in the summer. 75% of our dinners come from her website or books.


On the recipe front, an Instagram account that has been a life saver this winter is @krollskorner. Everything we have tried from Tawnie’s blog has turned out beautifully—sheet pan recipes, soups, casseroles, you name it!


Highly recommend Julia Turshen’s newsletter! She has a free and paid version and usually provides recipes and great recs in there (even in the free version!). It’s called keep calm and cook on. Her cooking classes are so fun and her recipes are easy and approachable! She really thinks of everything. She had a recent newsletter all about cooking for kids which I loved! (I have a 3.5 year old and a 4 month old so it’s super helpful!)


On the recipe front – I have a one year old and we’ve been loving the Feeding Littles and Beyond cookbook. The cauliflower Parmesan and zucchini lamb meatballs + orzo are our favorites and are a good combo of pretty easy and something everyone likes!


Family favorite recipes that our toddler also loves
– sheet pan : chicken breast and diced sweet potatoes at 350 for 30ish min. We add it to a rice bowl with some fun teriyaki sauce
– roasted salmon and broccoli
– harvest salad – roast sweet potato and add to mixed greens with goat cheese, leftover roast chicken, sliced apple, and craisins
– slow cooker 2 bean Buffalo chicken chili (we make this every other week)
– Korean beef bowls with broccoli (five Mary’s recipe)
– easiest hot meal: kielbasa, sweet potato, and broccoli on a sheet pan added to rice
– spaghetti
– zupas toscana sooo good
– we grab “take and bake” loaves of bread from the grocery store and keep it in the oven to pop in when we make soup/chili/pasta


I love dinners with a classic americana vibe and subsequently have fallen head over heals for America Test Kitchen’s stuffed bell peppers. The components take a little bit of time to pull together (not hard, but there are a few steps) but they reheat beautifully, so I always make enough peppers for a few meals at once for the night a day or two later when using just the microwave feels like a big accomplishment.


Carly! I have been reading your blog for years and love your insta content. The Jean try on has been especially motivating because I’m expecting a baby in a month and I’m worried I’ll just hate how I look in everything, so seeing you have success is encouraging.
Also recipe recs! I highly recommend the run fast eat slow cookbook series, really high nutrient, easy meals for the whole fam, even if you aren’t a runner. I also really like cookie and Kate – a great vegetarian food blog.


As for recipe recommendations, we love the NYT Cooking app. It has so many possibilities and it has super specific filters based on your energy levels, cooking abilities, and time. Filters such as: for two, vegan, sheet pan, one pot, special occasion, family friendly, etc. Also, (and this is a favorite feature of mine) you can search by ingredients if you have say one eggplant that won’t last much longer, or each recipe gives appropriate substitutions. Once you pick recipes you can create an in app grocery list which makes planning easy. Hope this helps!


Re recipes, Ina’s roast chicken. Throw some bread slices along with the veggies in pan around the chicken. It’s simple and delicious!

Julie Gilpin

You are the coolest girl!! I so appreciate you… I’m a bit older than you, and started following you many moons ago when you wrote about the brand you… it’s resonated with me in my work.
I absolutely love watching you shine and thrive as a mom… you are doing it all with grace and joy … perfection. And baby jack is so lucky! And darling … my many jack is now 15… flies too fast… but every new stage of kids and you as a non is a gift!! Thanks for all you put out and for excellent the example you are to young women!


Really appreciate your honesty and transparency, Carly! We think you’re the coolest! 🙂 For family friendly recipes, Caroline Chambers’ website and substack have honestly been a godsend- every single one of her recipes that I’ve made has become a staple in our rotation.


Absolutely love your non-cool-girl content. All the best to you and your fam during this challenging but rewarding season!


These are some of my favorite posts 🙂

Easy meals – Liz Adams’ turkey & feta meatballs omg! I’ve been craving it so much but still feels lighter and healthier than a pasta dish. we don’t pan roast them first in the interest of time and just bake the meatballs in the oven for about 25 min.

Also NYT sheet pan veggies. Literally the easiest thing especially if you get pre-chopped broccoli. Comes together in 10 min and all on one baking sheet. My husband will cook chicken on the side if he wants it to be a bit more substantial.


Some good resources for cooking

The Modern Proper (2 foodie friends)
They have an Instagram acct, blog, and one cookbook out called The Modern Proper

Once upon a Chef ( Jennifer Segal)
Instagram, blog, and 2 cookbooks

Smitten Kitchen
Instagram, very long running blog, 3 cookbooks, her latest cookbook Smitten Kitchen Keepers was on most of the 2022 best of lists

Allie N.

You’re authentic and you’re a cool girl to me. Thanks for being my internet role model for the past 10 (!!!) years – since high school for me! <3

Audrey m

We had a stomach bug this year, as well — truly horrible! It’s such a relief when you’re on the other side. Scary when you’re in the thick of it.
The cauliflower tacos from smitten kitchen are an awesome easyish weeknight dinner option.
Instant pot palak dal from my heart beets (though stovetop wouldn’t be too hard) is also in heavy rotation.
And then fresh dough from a local pizzeria (usually super inexpensive), jarred pizza sauce, cheese and veggies/pepperoni. Cannot go wrong !


These were two recent favorite dinners in our house:
*Just use lemon zest instead of the preserved lemon and it will still be great. We used dried cumin too instead of the seeds. Serve with some good sourdough.
This takes longer but is very hands off. I halved the recipe and it’s 4 servings as this is pretty rich/satisfying. If you want it to be soupy, use all 4 cups of broth to the 2 lbs of short rib (those amounts are based on halving the recipe). I used dried thyme and skipped bay leaf and star anise.

Happy cooking!


Have you tried the crock pot? Honestly, I LOVE it. I work from home with two kids in various activities, and the crock pot allows me to serve home-cooked meals 6 nights per week, typically (I make a lot and we eat leftovers). Pizza soup is a favorite ( I prep it and put it in at noon, and it’s ready when everyone comes home for dinner. I add in peppers, spinach, and mushrooms to up the vegetables.

Lisa M

For recipes, check out @carochambers on IG! She has a weekly email subscription where she sends a weekly recipe to your inbox – sounds like exactly what you’re looking for, somewhere between gourmet and one-pot — and so easy and healthy! She often posts recipes on her IG for free too, but 10/10 recommend the paid sub (its like $45 for the year I think?)


Thank you for being real. I enjoy your posts tremendously. I never was a cool girl and didn’t want to be. Being vulnerable and authentic, now that’s the real deal. Never stop being you!
I’m glad you and the family are feeling better too.


Would love to recommend Julie (her blog is for recipe recommendations! She started as a fitness & lifestyle blogger and transitioned her blog a bit when she had kids. (She has three boys!)

I love her blog for many reasons, but especially her recipes. They are easy but not too easy, if that makes sense, and they are definitely healthy yet still tasty. I’ve been cooking from her blog for years and have yet to try something my family didn’t like.

Would highly recommend her Honey Garlic Chicken, Chicken Sausage Sweet Potato Bake, and Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins. All three I made this past week!


Long-time reader, first-time commenter. I appreciate your authenticity and vulnerability, which is why yours is one of the few blogs I still follow.
My number one recipe recommendation is “The Complete Baby and Toddler Cookbook” from America’s Test Kitchen. Even though you’re past the baby food stage, it has tons of toddler snacks and family meals, which are easy and so, so delicious. It also has tips for cooking with your kids, which is how I manage to get dinner on the table with two little ones. Since my oldest was Jack’s age, she has loved to “help” me in the kitchen, even if it’s just “chopping” parsley with her play kitchen knife. 🙂


Although it can be discouraging to not be the “cool” girl and therefore brands don’t choose to work with you, I am SO happy you are who you are. In this day of Instagram where everyone looks the same, acts the same, and has all the same brand deals – I love coming to your Instagram and blog knowing exactly who and what I’m going to get. It helps to remind me to be more authentic to me regardless of what everyone else is doing!


I’m sorry things have been hard lately Carly!! I appreciate your blog so much and am an avid follower. Don’t stop being you!

Kate Brinkley

Surviving a tummy bug as a parent is one of those milestones! I feel like I went two decades without being sick and then we had our first go round when our oldest was six months. BRUTAL! Glad you are on the other side of it!


I really get inspired to cook by watching cooking videos on Youtube. My absolute favorites are Alison Roman (I’ve made so many of her recipes and they’re SO good) and Carla Lalli Music. Carla’s cookbook That Sounds So Good is my favorite cookbook; I’ve made so many of the recipes and they’ve all been really delish, healthy, and easy.

hope you like them as much as I do haha!


Hi Carly,

I am a fellow millennial mom and somehow only just discovered your blog and Instagram! I’m loved reading blogs for so long but, like you said, not many of the people I used to follow post anymore. So, so happy you still do and I’m loving reading your posts. I can’t believe I only just found you as we have so many similar interests and are at the same phase of life. I’m sorry about the sucky people/companies you occasionally run into but I say you’re great! Keep going! 😀

PS: Speaking of same phase of life, we all just got through the Norovirus too and HOLY COW that was a doozy!!!😵‍💫😵‍💫😵‍💫

Audrey C

I have a super easy and delicious shrimp pasta dish that is a huge hit in my family. I only have screenshots of it but I’ll email them your way. The biggest tip I have is ask to purchase your shrimp peeled, deveined with the tails off. If you’re not a fan of shrimp I think it would be good with scallops, too.


The funny thing about the “cool” girl issue, is that I follow you because your content is realistic, not because it’s cool. Outfits include pieces I can actually afford or I have that are similar and are generally easy. Travel is to places I’ve been or already plan to travel to. Motherhood that is discussed with both its challenges and its wonders. It’s relatable… and it’s a breath of fresh air when most of Instagram is saturated with overly-aspirational content. And yeah, I’m also a “boring” mom in NJ, but I bet a lot of your followers are just as “boring” (in their own super-cool way) too. I’ve also been following you since I was in college and I continue to enjoy your content because it *isn’t* about chasing the next best thing…because that’s exhausting. Like fads, many of those accounts/influencers will likely gain and lose popularity. Your content is like a pair of good jeans! Dependable, consistent, makes you feel good, etc… even if the fit/style might change a little over time!


I also have an 18 month old and one of my goals for the year is to cook more for my family. My husband picked up the slack since having our son. So I’m trying to do 2 nights a week. Try once upon a chef blog so far I like her recipes a lot! my mom gave me her cookbook for Christmas but I really enjoy reading her blog too.


Carly – your blog and instagram are my favorites to follow because the content you share feels attainable and normal(?) for lack of a better word. I feel like I’m following my friend/older sister who has all of the insider knowledge. Keep being you! It’s refreshing in a world where everyone thinks they need to be perfect on the internet.

Leslie Martinez

Honestly the most delicious roast chicken ever. Just pour about 1/2 a bottle of Wishbone Italian Salad Dressing over a whole chicken and roast at 425 until golden and crispy. So easy and so good!

Amanda Spence

Hi Carly,

Thank you for your honest and thoughtful blog post. I have been following your blog and Instagram for several years now and think you are the best! I follow so many “influencers”, but you seem more authentic, kind, and relatable which is why I enjoy your posts so much. I have a son who is a little bit older than Jack and have enjoyed your baby/toddler recommendations. The daycare labels and sippy cup are great!

Life has been a bit challenging for me lately and it’s comforting to know that others I admire (who seem to have it all together) also have their own private struggles. A good reminder when we usually only see a highlight reel online. Thank you for sharing and wishing you the best.


Love the 1000 outside challenge. Hate that winter weather continues its hold here. I’m ready for some warmer days!


I subscribe to Momables meal planning. After trying several, I’ve found it to be the most doable. Fresh ingredients, quick prep. Good variety. I’ve learned a thing or to about cooking techniques since signing up with them.


Like so many others, I think you are just a delight to follow, and are so very cool in my eyes! I have been reading since your move to NYC years ago, and I just cannot express enough how much I enjoy what you share with the world! I love hearing about your life, whether it is a fantastic trip, New York fashion week, or what Jack is up to that week, and am grateful for your authenticity. I can imagine how you feel in this situation, and think it is so silly of those brands to pass over working with someone so wonderful. Know we will always be in your corner supporting you!


I just tried Grossy Pelosis Rigatoni Pie recipe and its AMAZING. Super easy and delicious. Pair with a salad and garlic bread and you’re set to please!