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Zucchini Boats AKA Zacos!

All four kids cleaned their plates and decided this new favorite should be called a ZACO. Lucy even suggested that I open a catering company because my food is “very delicious.” I’m calling this meal a win! 

Ingredients:
4-5 large zucchini
olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1+ tablespoon minced garlic
½ medium sweet onion, chopped
1 packet of your favorite taco seasoning
¾ cup water
1 can black beans, drained
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese

Suggested toppings:
Guacamole
Sour Cream
Salsa

Preheat oven to 375*F. 

Wash zucchini, trim ends off, and cut down the middle lengthwise. Using a large spoon, scrape out the seeded inside of each zucchini. Place in rimmed cookie sheet or baking dish, cut side up. Brush with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes. 

While the zucchini are baking, brown ground turkey in a skillet, adding the chopped onion and minced garlic when meat is nearly done cooking. Mix taco seasoning packet with ¾ cup of water and add to the skillet when meat is cooked through. 

In a large mixing bowl combine black beans, fire roasted tomatoes, and frozen corn. Add meat and mix well to complete the filling.

Remove zucchini from the oven. Leaving zucchini on the baking dish, spoon filling into each boat. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top and return to oven for 12 to 15 minutes until filling is hot and cheese is melted to your liking.
Serve hot with guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and a side of tortilla chips! 

Coffee Choco Muf-Cakes with Oozy Cream Cheese Frosting

I’m not calling them muffins. I’m not calling them cupcakes.  They are somewhere in between. 
They are muf-cakes!

COFFEE CHOCO MUF-CAKES

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Ingredients:

¾ cup Toll House semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup Toll House espresso chips
¼ cup (½ stick) butter
1 cup Oakhurst Coffee Whole Milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups flour (Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
Dash of salt (omit if using salted butter)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F and prepare muffin pan (I used paper liners sprayed with no-stick cooking spray.)
  2. Melt together butter and ¼ cup of chocolate chips either in microwave or on stovetop
  3. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl (I used a standmixer but could totally be done by hand) mix milk, egg, and brown sugar. Once blended, add melted butter & chocolate. Mix.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until smooth.
  6. Add ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips and ½ cup espresso chips. Mix.
  7. Fill prepared muffin cups almost full with batter.
  8. Bake 20-25 minutes
  9. Let cool before topping with Oozy Cream Cheese Frosting!

Updated: Scratched the cornstarch. Not needed.

OOZY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

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Ingredients:

8 oz block of cream cheese – softened
½ cup Oakhurst Heavy Cream
3 to 4 cups confectioners sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Whip cream cheese and heavy cream with eclectic mixer until very smooth.
  2. With mixer on low, add confectioners sugar about ¼ cup at a time until the frosting reaches your desired thickness. I used about 3 cups.
  3. Use a piping bag or plastic storage bag with corner snipped to swirl frosting on each muf-cake.
  4. ENJOY!

Let Them See You Cry: Talking to children about death

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I was born when my parents were very young, which gave me the most incredible gift of knowing three generations of grandparents on BOTH sides – all four grandparents, seven great-grandparents, and two great-great-grandmothers. I don’t remember my great-great-grandmothers passing away. I think I was 9 when my great-grandmother, Ruth, died. She had been sick, and I remember my mom telling me through tears that she was at peace now. That really resonated with me. Death wasn’t just sad. Death could bring peace.

Since my oldest son, Calvin, was born in 2009, we have mourned the death of one of my great-grandfathers, my father-in-law, one of my great-grandmothers, my paternal grandmother, two cats, two dogs, and now most recently, my mom’s father. With each death came lots of sadness, of course, and questions. So many questions. Some were easy to explain.
Gram was very old and lived a long, happy life.
Papa Jack had cancer that made his body sick. His body is not hurting anymore.

We had to put our beloved family dog down in October, 2012 – just three months after Nic’s father passed away. Calvin was 3.5, Lucy was just a month shy of 2, and Eamon was 3 months old. We told Calvin, “Shadow is a good dog, but his body is not working and the doctors are going to help his soul go to heaven.” Without missing a beat, Calvin responded, “We have to do a life party just like Papa Jack’s.” So we did. We invited some of our friends and family. We brought paper and crayons and everyone drew pictures of Shadow for us to keep. Calvin sang his rendition of Cat Stevens’ Moonshadow for everyone and told them Shadow was named after that song.  It was perfect. And it was then that Nic and I knew that the kids understood it. We were saying goodbye.  Honoring our loved one. We were sad, and that was okay – good even. Winnie the Pooh was right “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

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I’ve shared before about my grandmother, Honey to her friends, Nanny to her grands. She was spectacular. Nanny was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy and her health declined steadily over several years. I remember clearly the last day I saw her. It was at my great-grandfather’s 100th birthday party. She looked beautiful but frail in her yellow shirt.  Rocco wouldn’t leave her side, and she loved it. When it was time for her to head home, my sisters, my dad, and I all took our turns hugging her in the driveway.  When she was safely in the car, we all hugged each other and began to cry. Since none of us live nearby in Connecticut, we were nearly certain we were saying our final farewell. 

Continue reading “Let Them See You Cry: Talking to children about death”

The Honeybees’ Snail Mail Challenge

The kids were feeling disappointed to miss out on the traditional school valentine exchanges this year, since we are schooling at home. They joked about making valentine boxes and handing out cards to each other. Finally, Calvin, being a completely unimpressed 12 year old, said, “I mean we could, but that seems like a waste of time, honestly.” So I suggested a craft project to send our love to family who we haven’t been able to see much (or at all) over the last year.  

Continue reading “The Honeybees’ Snail Mail Challenge”

2020 Gift Guide from E.Louise & Bean

Liz & Emily December 2019

Alright, let’s just say it: 2020 has been a shitshow. After months of isolation, social distancing, political turmoil, and binge watching every show in existence, we all desperately deserve something to be joyful about. Even the typical holiday haters didn’t complain when we all turned on the Christmas music the morning of November 1st.
We may be home alone, but we’re going to be merry about it, dammit. 

But seriously, with the miles and masks that separate us from our loved ones this year, finding perfect gifts feels more important than ever. Last year, our family committed to giving and receiving homemade and regifted items – “Thriftmas 2019.” It kept spending down and encouraged repurposing and recycling over wastefulness! This year, we have been leaning pretty hard on Amazon deliveries to keep things running – maybe too hard – so we’re switching gears and making an effort to support small and locally run businesses for the holidays. We’ve put together three lists to help make your shopping easier and more fun. We even have some special discount codes for you! When we don’t have a code of our own, we’ve looked around for the best deal we could find! (In some cases, the link we provide may be a referral link that credits our accounts, but this will not charge you more!)

We hope you like the shops we’ve highlighted. Let us know what you find for your loved ones!  Happy shopping!

-Liz & Emily

  • Cute Knits – Based out of a small town in Maine, not far from Bar Harbor, Anna designs and sews clothes for kids and mommas alike. Her creations are made in vibrant colors and unique patterns, making them truly one-of-a-kind finds. Order soon to get your creations in time for Christmas! Use code SANTA10 for 10% off!
  • Beloved Littles Co. – Lacie started out making gifts for her expecting friends, and now runs a vibrant online business selling beautiful burp cloths, teethers, bibs, lovies and more. In a sea of plastic, these handmade fabric and wooden treasures make excellent gifts! Use code SANTA15 for 15% off your order. (P.S. Lacie’s packaging is adorable, so you can send gifts directly to your loved ones knowing it will arrive packaged with love and care!)
  • Cuddle & Kind– Who doesn’t love a mission-focused business? Cuddle and Kind dolls are handmade, and each clever character has a unique name and comes in two sizes. For each doll sold, 10 meals are provided to children in need. Needless to say, Wyatt the Fox is on someone’s Christmas list this year! Use this link to get 20% off your first purchase!
  • PlaidHoney – Liz discovered PlaidHoney on Instagram, and fell in love with their whimsical clothes for kids. Rocco spent the summer running around in their bummies (short shorts), and he has recently discovered his love for leggings. We feel you, kid. PlaidHoney’s Etsy shop will reopen with holiday inventory on November 23rd. For now, browse their Instagram to see the adorable clothes.
    Use code SANTA15 for 15% off when you check out before December 18th!
  • Young Apparel Co. – Liz and her kids have been brand repping for Sarah at Young Apparel Co. for a few years now. With graphic tee creations for the whole crew, this has become a hit with our whole family. Check out the shop to see the shirt Liz’s daughter, Lucy, recently helped design – 50% of the proceeds from the Lucy Tee will be donated to GirlsWhoCode! Use code SANTA20 for 20% off your order!
  • Orange Lining – Our sister Margaret discovered this company a few years ago, when they collaborated with one of our favorite mommy bloggers. They call their signature item the Hero Blanket, because the blanket wraps and fastens around the neck like a cape and comes with a matching crown. Rocco and Wyatt have matching sets, and now the littles in your life can have one too. For 20% off, use code HolidayHero20 when you check out!
  • Early Gift Gear – Emily discovered this baby clothing shop while she was looking for an outfit for Wyatt to wear home from the hospital. It was their honeycomb pattern that first got her attention, but all of their fabrics are spectacular, and designed by the shop!
    Use code HOLIDAY20 for 20% off!

In our family, coffee is almost a religion. Coffee brings people together, even when we’re all so far apart. FaceTime coffee dates and sharing our coffee routine on social media has kept our family in touch these past several months. 

  • Ashlawn Farm Coffee – OK so truly, this list centers around one small shop. Almost 20 years ago, our aunt Carol started running a coffee shop out of the old barn on the farm she lives on in Connecticut. Since then, the charm of her business and quality of her coffee and customer service has grown her little brand exponentially. If you’ve got a coffee lover in your life, freshly roasted coffee from Ashlawn makes the perfect gift. Order online, and Carol and her team will ship it right to your door!
    Use code HOLIDAY10 for 10% off your purchase!
  • MoccaMaster – Thirteen years ago, Carol gifted a MoccaMaster coffee maker to Liz and Nic as a wedding gift. Three months ago, Liz and Nic bought a new one – not because the old one wasn’t working, but because it seemed like a good idea. These coffee makers look great on your counter and make the best coffee we’ve ever brewed at home. Emily and Aaron got the pink one to match the rest of their kitchen when they got married in 2017. With 20+ colors to choose from you’re sure to find the perfect shade for your house! We don’t have a code to offer you here, but they’re running free shipping on all brewers right now!
  • Bodum Coffee Grinders – True coffee lovers grind their own coffee at home, and Bodum coffee grinders are stylish and reliable. Both their basic model and their larger burr grinders would make a great gift this holiday season, and right now the whole site is on sale. Use code BODUM_10 for 10% off and free shipping!
  • YETI – Particularly as a mom, cold coffee is a serious issue. YETI mugs keep your coffee hot all morning while you chase kids, run homeschool, and/or change diapers. They also make a great gift for dads for all the same reasons!
  • Miroco Milk Frother – Stuck at home and missing your fancy, on-the-go coffee? An electronic milk frother turns your morning coffee into something special with just the press of a button. The Miroco Frother is one of the best out there, and it’s 5% off on Amazon right now!
  • Life Flower – At eight months pregnant, Emily was achy and sore. A friend gifted her high-end, handmade CBD spa goods from Life Flower, including several luxurious bath bombs. Not only do they help aches and pains, they will make any bath beautiful as the dried flowers and crystals dissolve out of the rest of the bath bomb.
    Use code SANTA10 for 10% off!
  • Doterra Introductory Trio – Any essential oil lover will tell you, this kit of Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint is a solid foundation to start an oil collection on. If you already love essential oils, you’re probably eager to introduce your friends and family to the wonderful world of natural therapeutics. If you’ve heard the hype, but don’t know where to start, this kit would be a great addition to your own Christmas List. Click here to shop this kit and more!
  • Papergang – We first discovered this monthly stationery subscription on Instagram. Each month, they commission new artists to design all kinds of stationery, from note cards to notebooks and more. It’s fun to get a new box each month, but it’s been even more fun having a stash of cute cards and sticky notes to send to loved ones while we’re social distancing, or to make working from home just a little more glamorous. They also plant trees to counterbalance their environmental footprint, proudly support the LBGTQ+ community, and occasionally partner with other charities!
  • Emma B. Garcelon – Emma makes fabulous home textiles like tea towels and cloth napkins.  Based in Portland, Maine, this shop is new this year! Check out Emma’s amazing hand printed products or reach out to her about a custom order. Holiday drop coming soon! Use code HOLIDAY10 for 10% off your order! 
  • Scout & Bean – Lauren Beveridge started making cotton-rope baskets about three years ago. She now runs a small, one-woman shop where she dyes, sews, tags, and ships everything from her home in Lincolnville, Maine! Her baskets are beautiful and functional.  They’d make a wonderful gift on their own but would also be perfect for a gift basket. (I have been the recipient of The Pail, so trust me.) Use code HOLIDAY10 at checkout for 10% off!

New Year, Same Liz

January, 2019

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OK…  this post is later than I’d planned, but it’s still January, so I’m counting it as a win. 
I am committing to more selfcare in 2019.  I can hear you now “Oh, Liz, this is great! What kind of workouts are you doing? Have you picked a diet plan? I’ve heard Keto is great.”  SLOW DOWN. My plan does include physical fitness and, hopefully, weight loss, but my focus is broader than that. It’s the little things to make the normal days a little better for ME.  And, when things start adding up, I will be a better Liz. I think.

As the mother of four amazing, busy, active kids, taking care of myself isn’t always easy.  I’ve put my own self-care on the back burner for long enough, though, and I can’t continue to pour from an empty cup!  I’m not making promises that I can’t keep. No unattainable resolutions for me this year. I’m just setting goals to level-up my selfcare – which honestly shouldn’t take much effort since I’m basically starting at zero.  

So, what are my little things? Right now, the list looks like this…

  • Wash my face sometimes, like once a week would be a good start.
  • Shave my legs more often, when I feel like it.
  • Exercise, any at all.
  • Annual physical and blood work, revolutionary.
  • Meatless Mondays, for fun and variety.
  • Make more food from scratch / reduce the store bought snacks
  • Purge and organize my clothes
  • Get rid of shit (Another post coming soon, ish.)


I haven’t washed my face yet this year. I have shaved my legs once. No, twice.  (Wow. I’m killing it.) My kids were sick with various viruses so I’ve only gotten to the gym twice. (I squeezed in 30 minutes with a coworker today!)  I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for March. I’ve got two big laundry baskets of kids’ clothes to donate or sell. We have already had two successful Meatless Mondays.  

This isn’t a new year’s resolution, it’s step one. I need to take care of myself, for myself, and for my family. This won’t change overnight, but I’ve started. I’ve started.

“I just don’t know how you do it!”

November, 2018
IMG_3955Nic and I both work TWO full time jobs – our real jobs and the rest of the stuff.  From the start, our relationship has been based on teamwork.  We have four kids. In addition to their school and homework, the kids have extracurricular activities.  Lunchboxes. Housework. Dinners. Doctors and dentists and haircuts. The list goes on and on.  And in the midst of it all, people often say “I just don’t know how you do it!”  I think they mean well, but it just rubs me the wrong way. It sounds like an insult; don’t know how *you* do it.  Like they’re surprised everyone left the house with pants on today.  Recently though, I have found myself saying the same thing. How do we do this? How can we possibly do it all?

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We are running in every direction all the time.  Last Monday was the prime example. The dog, Rhoda,  had to go to the vet in the morning. I had already rescheduled her appointment 3 times.  Rocco had to go to the pediatrician for a follow up – ear infections, again. By the time I plugged in at the office it was noon, and Mondays are short work days for me – out early to get the kids at school at 2:35!  Sure, a 2½ hour work day. Great…

These kinds of days are getting more and more frequent as the kids get older.  I think we had assumed that once they were in elementary school, the routine would be simpler.  WRONG. We have managed to keep up our teamwork mentality. While we have fallen into a routine, we don’t consider anything “my job” or “your job.”  Nic does the majority of the laundry. I do most of the cooking. We don’t stick to a very strict schedule, meaning we are a “bedtime is around 8:00” and “crap, we’re gonna be late for school!” kind of family.  Sometimes the dishes wait. Rarely does the laundry get folded. I’ll admit that I don’t vacuum as often as I should. And, for a while, we pretended we were trying to change that. I think we’ve found contentment (happiness even) amidst our chaos.  We’ve accepted our more realistic approach since, honestly, this is all super fucking hard.

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So, how do we do it?  The answer I usually give is: “Not very well.”  That’s just my smart-ass answer because what people usually see when they look at my family are flustered yet smiling parents with silly, happy children.  They’re smart, cute, loving kids who brighten the faces of everyone they meet, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

“I bet you never imagined your parents were rooting against you sometimes.” Well, shit.

March, 2018
IMG_3395My oldest son, Calvin, is 9 years old. This weekend, he had a basketball tournament about an
 hour from home. The bracket didn’t make much sense, but was explained to the parents something like this “Saturday: If your kid wins, then they’ll play again soon. If they lose, you have to wait 5+ hours to see if they lose again. If they win any games, you have to come back tomorrow to do the same thing.” 

Of course we wanted his team to win. We wanted them to win the whole damn thing and bring home the trophy. (Was there a trophy? I don’t even know.) But what we also wanted, more than anything, was to go home. I talked to my dad on the phone en route to Calvin’s second game on Saturday.
“I bet you never imagined your parents were rooting against you sometimes,” he said.
Well, shit. The words were so true.  I was *secretly* rooting for Calvin’s team to lose, so we could all just go home.

The little glimmers of awesome:
Saturday, we left home at 6:30am for his first game, which started at 8:00. They lost. Then we had four hours before his next game, so there I was with two of my sons, and I was not excited. I toyed with driving an hour home, but settled on a 20 minute drive for lunch on the water with my oldest and youngest. Quality time is a simple delight for this momma.

Back at the gym, game two was a WIN!  Back tomorrow… yay?

Sunday’s first game was at 11:00am, which made for a much more manageable morning.  They won (proud momma), which meant we played our friends from HOME! The *other* Ellsworth boys. The friendship shined bright during this game. Opponents on the court applauding their friends’ shots. It truly did not matter who won this game. Perhaps the best part of knowing the other teams parents? It turns out we ALL wanted to go home. Calvin’s team won, but it was a close game. What happened afterwards was the highlight of my weekend. These boys, both teams, came together for a team photo.  “All the Ellsworth boys!” I won’t share that photo here because I don’t have permission from all the parents, but I want you to imagine 18 3rd & 4th grade boys smiling so hard their faces could crack, arms around each other, in two rows. One team, half in white shirts and half in maroon. Perfection.

We lost the next game, but no one cared. Our boys came in third overall. They played their hearts out and had FUN.

I was glad we lost. Calvin’s three younger siblings were glad to go home, too. We were all tired. I’ll tell you, though, Lucy, Eamon, and Rocco were champs.  No complaining. Little misbehaving. Lots of snacking and screen time. It’s all good.

Now on to soccer season.