Chicken Tortilla Soup (Instant Pot Recipe!)

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I use my Instant Pot weekly around here and because it is SUCH a kitchen game-changer, I want to share more recipes that are Instant Pot-friendly! If you aren’t familiar with the Instant Pot, it’s basically a superhero version of a crockpot - you can make sweet potatoes, chicken, rice, you name it - in 20 minutes. If it’s 5pm and you have no dinner plan and only frozen chicken in your freezer, put down the takeout menu - you seriously can have dinner cooked and ready in under 30 minutes! I promise! The best time to buy an Instant Pot is around Labor Day/Black Friday because of the major discounts, but if you are ready to make this dinner tonight, you can snag it here (I use the 6-qt. version for my family and we always have leftovers, FYI).

This is my new favorite recipe to make in the Instant Pot - this super flavor-packed chicken tortilla soup!

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Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:
- 1 package chicken thighs or tenderloins
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 32-oz. box organic chicken stock
- 1 can diced chilies & tomatoes
- 1 can pinto beans
- 1 can northern beans
- 1 can black beans
- 1 jar tomatillo salsa
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 packet ranch seasoning mix
- 1 tbsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
toppings: diced avocado, tortillo chips (Trader Joes makes an awesome Frito knock-off!), shredded cheese and sour cream

Method:

1. Drizzle 4 tbsp. olive oil in bottom of Instant Pot.

2. Place thawed chicken tenders in bottom of instant pot, separating them as best as possible.

3. Add in all the spices on top of the chicken, including the ranch dressing packet (still looking for a “cleaner” version of this - let me know if you have ideas!)

4. Add 1-1.5 cups chicken stock.

5. Select “pressure cook” and make sure the time is set to 12 minutes. Close and lock the lid and make sure the valve is set to “sealing”.

6. Once chicken is finished with the pressure cook cycle, use a fork and knife to shred the chicken.

7. Then add in the rest of the ingredients! The beans, diced chilies and tomatoes, beans, tomatillo salsa and remainder of the chicken stock.

8. Serve topped with diced avocado, some shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream, along with some broken up tortilla chips. Dinner is served!

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Pregnancy Ride-or-Die Products. Baby #3.

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This baby boy #3 isn’t kidding - he means BUSINESS. My body knows what its doing this third time around and everything has happened so quickly - the bump, the swelling, the sore feet, back aches, dry skin and a whole bunch of other weird things. Not to make pregnancy sound rough - but there are definitely some interesting challenges to face and I’ve found some things that have helped ease some of the more difficult tasks! Rounding up some pregnancy-safe products and routines that have been working for me this time around and I hope they help you out, too, sister! Most of this stuff isn’t pregnancy-specific, so you don’t have to be bumpin’ to reap the benefits.

*Also, because I love you, I have a few discount codes at the bottom of this post that you can use if you decide to purchase any of these products - yay! Because I like to shop but I REALLY like to shop with promo codes ;)

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Bath Time.
Follain Rose Bath Salts + Little Barn Apothecary Grapefruit & Honeysuckle Body Oil
You guys. I’ve found the most winning combination and I can’t stop this bath situation - I take one almost every night! During my last pregnancy, taking baths really helped me unwind at the end of the night and sleep better. This time around it’s already helping with my sore back and feet. I simply shimmy some of these bath salts into the running water and then add 5-10 pumps of this oil into the water as well. It’s literally the best scent of my life and the oil really helps your skin stay hydrated, especially when you get out of the bath.

Vitamin Time.
DoTERRA Life Long Vitality Supplements + Probiotic + Bone Nutrient Complex
I take the full dose recommended for these supplements every single day and it serves as a complete prenatal. I also take the Bone Nutrient Complex, the Probiotic AND I’m on an iron supplement (I’m always anemic during my pregnancies). It’s a lot of vitamins, but I just take them with breakfast and a glass of juice and get it done. I love that they are made from whole-food sources, so there’s no unnecessary synthetic ingredients padded in. I’ve learned so much since my last pregnancy about the types of vitamins that really resonate with my body, so this is one of the things I am most proud of using daily!

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Clothes Time.
I wish I could just be naked. But that can’t really happen because this isn’t Papua New Gineua and my kids might get weirded out. But this time around I’ve been wearing some awesome Carly Jane hand-me-downs from my BFF Holly along with a slew of Target Knox Rose dresses (non-maternity). And I’ve been SO comfy! Especially since we’ve had an endless summer over here. Also, I went ahead and busted out all the Blanqi shapewear because I learned about this brand last time and seriously, it’s THE game changer. Helps lift my belly and keep the pressure off my special area and lower back. If you are pregnant, BUY THIS TANK. You will be forever changed.

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Skincare Time.
On my Face:
I often switch up my skincare routine, but I’ve enjoyed cleansing with doTERRA Verage Cleanser, using the Indie Lee COQ-10 Toner, using the Pai Back to Life Serum and the Herbivore Botanicals Prism and Orchid face oils for moisture. These are all safe for pregnancy (I absolutely LOVE the doTERRA Yarrow/Pom oil for my face, but it’s not something that’s pregnancy-safe so I’ve taken a break from it until the baby arrives).

On my Belly:
I have stretch marks from my previous pregnancies, and from what I’ve read they’re just a genetic thing and there’s not TONS you can do about them. But I still try! This pregnancy I’ve been slathering my belly in the Earth Mama Belly Oil (used at night) + Earth Mama Belly Butter (used in the morning) + doTERRA Body Butter (used after showering and swimming) & Immortelle Anti-Aging Rollerball Blend (used to spot treat areas where I already have stretch marks, to help repair the skin). It might seem like a lot, but I really love all these products and the routine of using them really relaxes me and feels like self-care. So I love them all!

Discount Codes + Deals for YOU!

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Follain (for skincare products)
15% off online: use code ref15_3i83z7

Blanqi (shapewear + maternity support)
*
$20 off your first order when you use this link to shop!

DoTERRA (supplements + essential oils + some skincare)
*25% off your first AND every order by clicking here (for supplements I use daily)
***(also, I will send you a welcome package of samples and a custom gift for you when you purchase a $100+ wholesale membership starter kit!)

Earth Mama (skincare and other pregnancy-safe products)
*Spend $50 and get 20% off with code BYOBundle
*Also, THIS is a really great starter kit if you want to try out some of the Earth Mama pregnancy products!


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Other Items I’ve Been Using:


Think Before You Speak.

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I’ve experienced a series of what you could call, unfortunate events.

Yesterday at the grocery store, a stranger told me I was so big that “this baby better get out soon because he’s going to mess up my hips”.

This past weekend, a stranger at a restaurant asked me if I was “sad that I’m having another boy and not a girl”. They said this in front of my entire family, including my two sons.

Then at Everett’s baseball game, a stranger told me a story about her friend who had six boys while trying for a girl, only to have her husband leave her and have a baby girl with another woman. “I’m sure that won’t happen to you,” she said.

Are you flabbergasted? I still am. Like I said, these are some unfortunate events.

Add this to the collection of others who feel the need to walk up to me, ask about my baby’s due date and gender, and proceed to tell me their horror pregnancy stories. Their emergency stories. Their near-death labor and delivery experiences. I don’t know why people do this, but they do indeed do it. They feel the openness and comfort level to talk, talk TALK to pregnant women. They wouldn’t do this to a stranger on the subway. I don’t think.

My response over the weekend was anger. “People should NOT speak to pregnant women!”, I told Stevie. “We aren’t dogs! Don’t come up and try to pet us and then say foolish things!” I contemplated not going out in public anymore, just to avoid any other triggering situations. Should women in their third trimester be subject to people’s verbal opinions on how they look?

Since the weekend has passed, I’ve had more time to think about it and I think I have actually learned a personally valuable lesson from all this.

I can learn from the hurtful things that people say to me. Because I am human, too, and just like my parents used to tell me when I was a little girl, I need to learn to THINK before I SPEAK.

Even though I was the target of these comments (or rather, my belly), the truth is that I don’t always think before I speak to someone, and as a result I could hurt someone’s feelings by carelessly remarking on something I don’t need to have an opinion on.

There is a reason pregnant women don’t want to tell people their chosen baby name, the baby’s gender, OR their due date. They don’t need to hear commentary from a stranger who isn’t invested in this baby. They don’t need to hear insensitive remarks. I didn’t need that over the weekend, as I felt puffier than ever and really, really tired.

This is such a lovely community of friends here, so I don’t share this because I feel attacked here. The opposite in fact. But I think we could all use the reminder (myself included) to do as our mothers told us when we were little, and THINK before we SPEAK. You never know how your own random words can seriously rattle someone, even if you walk away and don’t think a thing of it. That pregnant, hormonal woman (who knows exactly how big she looks, by the way), is most likely dealing with her own insecurities, fears and anticipation (as well as an array of discomforts!) and doesn’t need a strangers’ input/commentary.

If you see a pregnant woman and are desperate to say something to them because you just REALLY can’t help yourself, there are two appropriate things you can say:

1. How are you feeling?
2. You look wonderful!

That’s all! There is no need for you to follow up with your own stories or input. Because without even realizing it, that woman is definitely reading between the lines of what you’ve already said (pregnancy hormones make us extra sensitive!!!), so those few words are more than enough.

I share this today so that we can all be more aware and sensitive to those around us. Our words are powerful, they hold weight and they can make a difference in someone’s day. Today is a great day to brighten someone’s day with your powerful, KIND words!

P.S. - Just so you know, after that women’s comments at the grocery store, I stumbled upon an enormous, beautiful pre-lit Christmas wreath in the store, and I BOUGHT IT. So don’t feel bad for me - Costco seems to always have my back.

A Boy Mom Pregnancy.

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Wearing:

Blanqi Maternity Tank, Carly Jean Maternity Tank, Blanqi Maternity Leggings, Nike Free Run Shoes


We took these photos one morning in Central Park and it was cool. I am craving that cool feeling right now! Just this week I’m really starting to feel big and so round and slow and gosh… I still have 3 months left to go. I don’t think there are enough popsicles in the world to cool me down. I am not usually one to want to rush the seasons, but this time around I am fine with saying goodbye to summer and moving into a little fresh fall air. Ready for a little sweater weather, or at least the ability to feel COOL and watch other people wear sweaters ;)

This pregnancy has been different from my others. At first, I thought I must be having a girl because I was just SO SICK, and since that was unique to my other pregnancies, I assumed that meant it was a different gender. I’m so happy to be wrong! We are thrilled to be having a bunch of boys - it certainly makes for easier planning and prep! Don’t get me wrong - I am so girly and it would be fun to have a little girl, but apparently God wants to stock our family with manly men! My little boys are such wonderful people, and I am just so excited to experience raising another little one with his own personality and quirks and LIFE. I am so excited to snuggle a little baby boy again. There is truly nothing sweeter. I just need to get to the finish line without waddling my way there!

I have been a part of an amazing small group of women over the past several months, where we gather and watch an online faith-based parenting course called Moms of Men. I highly recommend it! If you have struggled with knowing how to best raise your little boys (like I have!), this course gives so many amazing resources, tools and wisdom for how to lean into your own gut instincts as a mother. I’ve also been reading this book (very slowly, haha), but I am really loving the insights about boys and how they develop and grow! When I first found out I was having Everett (over five years ago! Where has the time gone?!) I was honestly freaked out about knowing how to raise a boy. How to discipline, how to talk about sex (seriously howwwww), how to give him space and freedom but also have a close relationship where we can talk about anything - how how how?! I was so overwhelmed. I’ve learned that it’s just a step-by-step, day-by-day adaptation. As the boys are growing up, I’m growing into my own sense of motherhood. It’s a long story, slow and drawn-out, something that we are all writing together. I am so grateful for the slow pace, because it gives me time to learn and grow and make mistakes, and hopefully - learn from them too!

I am so curious about this new little boy. What will he look like?! How will his birth order impact his personality and demeanor? How will he interact with his brothers? I am so excited and also so prayerful that I can give the same amount of love and investment into this little guy as my others. It’s so strange to anticipate loving someone who isn’t quite here yet. I mean, he’s HERE (kicking me all the live long day), but you know what I mean, right?

I can’t wait to meet you, little boy! But I can. So stay put in there until it’s necessary to evict. xx


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Family Summer Trip to NYC!

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I can’t go too many months before I get the itch to get back to New York. Stevie is up there almost weekly for work so we talk a lot about NYC as a family - we have a bunch of great books (this one and this one are our faves), and it helps the boys understand where he spends time when he’s working. It also has helped us create a fun bucket list of places to visit and explore! Which is just what we did as a family a few weeks ago. We loved taking the boys up there for a few fun days in the city and I just I love sharing with them all the things I appreciate so darn much about that wondrous place. In case some of you are planning a trip or curious about what to explore with your kiddos, I wanted to share!

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A quick note: If you think traveling with kids in NYC is absolutely terrifying and insane - I promise you it’s neither. Like anything else with kids, it just requires some planning before the trip and some grace & flexibility during the trip. Believe me, our travel times aren’t without challenges and moments of frustration. But I truly love traveling with these boys - we have so much fun together and make such sweet memories as a family! It’s definitely worth the work and the sometimes frustrating moments that are inevitable. Definitely let me know if you have questions. Okay, on to the pictures and recs!

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Central Park and Washington Square Park were our jam this time around. We were in Central Park every single day - I don’t know how people live in the city without getting into some green space every day #suburbanthoughts. It’s so grounding and green and SO BEAUTIFUL. The trees are magnificently old and feel like they have endless stories to tell. I just love it. We also love Bryant and Riverside Parks but didn’t spend any time in those on this particular trip.

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Things to do in Central Park with kids:

  • bring a frisbee and run/play freely on Sheep’s Meadow

  • explore the 10+ playgrounds (some with splashpads - if you’re visiting in summer, bring a towel!) Our faves are the Diana Ross Playground (westside), the James Michael Levin Playground (eastside) and the Heckscher Playground (just north of Central Park South).

  • see a show at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Puppet Theater (seriously, these shows are SO incredible!) Puppetry feels like a lost art (kind of like tap dance?) and I love that this form of puppetry is still celebrated here.

  • grab lunch at Shake Shack at 77th & Columbus Ave. and walk your lunch into the park. We like to eat on the big rocks that overlook the lake :) Yum I want another Shackburger right now…

  • walk from the Bethesda Fountain down through the mall (a gorgeous tree-lined pathway)

  • play on the Alice and Wonderland statue on the eastside of the park at 75th street. It’s really fun for the kids to climb and it overlooks a pretty little pond and it’s just such a peaceful reprieve.

    We didn’t get to sail boats or do a horse carriage ride yet (two requests that we couldn’t make happen this time!), but those are still on our list!

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A tower of blondes.

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I wear my Blanqi supportwear every day - if you’re pregnant, you have to check them out! Made walking around the city so much more bearable, especially since I tend to carry big, heavy babies. My favorites are the maternity tanks - an absolute must for any pregnancy! I wear one everyday, either by itself or with layers.

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Juice Generation!! It’s become a family fave.

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^ The BOB Double Stroller that has endured a lot of abuse over the years traveling with us - it’s still rocking!!

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We took the boys to get cronuts at Dominique Ansel Bakery in SOHO! It was so much fun sharing a sweet treat there. I honestly have no idea how we were able to snag some because when we used to live here, the line was LONG and they would sell out first thing in the morning. But they were SO GOOD. I can’t remember what the flavor was - they change it monthly but whatever it was, it was GOOD. We also really like the DKA and Everett chose some kind of Nutella bread and he chose well. Haha I’m so proud.

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New buildings going up all the time!

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We explored two museums on this trip - first, the American Museum of Natural History (Daxton is REALLY into dinosaurs right now), which we have spent a lot of time in on multiple trips. They really loved it this time and the dinosaurs wowed them more than ever. Haha I love this age. And we also visited The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, which was awesome! It literally has a space shuttle on the ship. Like, in every direction, this is a dream museum for boys.

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I forgot to mention that we found an EXCELLENT pizza place that is completely kid/family-friendly called Patsys Pizzeria - if you are looking for something on the upper west side, you will not be disappointed! I can still taste the goodness.

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“Cleaning fossils” at the American Museum of Natural History. They were cracking us up. We found the Discovery Room this time around and it is honestly such a perfect place for kids to get hands-on! So often, museums can be a bit boring because they can’t actually touch anything, but this is a dedicated space that is for kids to use their hands and discover! They dusted away at fossils (pretend ones), used those fossils to build the structure of a dinosaur, pet little live critters (I’ll admit I was grossed out), used a telescope and microscope, you name it! It was really fun to see their minds at work in a new way. I HIGHLY recommend visiting this room if you come to the museum.

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We got mildly addicted to Juice Generation a few years ago and now we basically go as much as possible whenever we’re in the city. “Get Ur Green On” is my favorite juice!

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The Alice in Wonderland Statue in Central Park! We had never been there before but they LOVED climbing it! It looks out over a beautiful pond - would be a great spot to bring a book and read for a bit. That wasn’t really the case for me, but if you were alone it would be splendid.

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Everett really wanted to visit “Town Square” (Times Square), and we didn’t have the heart to correct him because it was SO CUTE. So off to Town Square we went. Haha for like 10 minutes. Then we left again because oh, it’s so bright. It’s one of those places that you HAVE to go to see a show, but otherwise you don’t really want to be in that mess of lights and sounds.

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^ My dream is to one day see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular here!

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To make things easy, we usually stay at a hotel close to Central Park. Our favorites are The Warwick (where we stayed this time around) but if that one is sold out or if the prices are crazy, we like The Hilton NYC Midtown, which is located just across the street. Honestly, it’s just nice being able to walk the kids into the park everyday, so this location works well for us. Also there’s a Starbucks on the way from our hotel into the park #priorities. But there are SO many trendy, cool hotels everywhere - I’m always filling my bucket list with new ideas!

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There you have it! We had such an amazing trip. I loved watching the boys light up at so many new experiences this time around. They have been so much littler in the past when we’ve taken them to NYC that I have just made all the decisions about where we eat and what we do, but this time around they had opinions! They wanted to walk more, which I’ll be honest, terrified me at times, especially when we were close to lots of street traffic. But just like anything else, it took a little practice and learning and we were all finding our rhythm as a family exploring the city. And all their suggestions and ideas were so much fun to make happen. Except when Everett insisted we ride the subway and I watched Daxton basically lick one of the subway poles while we were riding. I felt like I was in slow motion yelling, “NOOOOOO”, but thankfully, somehow, he didn’t get sick after that. Ahhhh I don’t even want to think about it.

We had so much fun! I also put together a little IGTV episode about our trip, you can see it here. Do you have questions? Have you ever taken your kiddos on a city trip? Did you/they like it? Would love to hear from you!