gift guides: what i bought

Since we’re doing Christmas a week or so early this year I have been hustling to get it all done, but I can actually show you what we’re doing which is sometimes more helpful then a bunch of abstract ideas! Here’s what made the cut:

Favorite Things + White Elephants 

Small Fry Gift Guides 2019

You all know these are my actual favorite sunglasses that I have bought, lost, replaced no less than 6 times. Quay “After Hours” Matte Black (a few girls at our party tried them on and they looked amazing on everyone!!)

I love Urban Decay’s shadow palettes. Naked 3 is the most versatile for the most range of eye colors. Creates beautiful everyday looks, smokey eye options, a good mix of matte and glitter. Safe Bet for sure!Small Fry Gift Guides 2019

I have a book swap this year with my book club and bringing  What Alice Forgot. I have lent it to so many friends of all ages and circumstances and it’s loved by all! Entertaining, thought provoking read that stayed with me solidly for weeks and I think about it often still, years later.

This company Prank-O is new to me and I died when I saw it the other day! If you need to package up a white elephant gift they make the funniest gag gift boxes! This one cracked me up.

RUSS – age 35, music + sports lover, works in construction

Small Fry Gift Guides 2019Russ is a simple man and rarely asks for anything so I have to seriously listen up and take note basically all year. He dropped 3 hints –

Record Player – I researched and this American made U-Turn Audio player made the cut for both quality, sound and aesthetic . Isn’t it so rad looking? I love the lucite turntable and think the white backdrop will make every record pop!

Weekender – He doesn’t have any luggage that is “his” so he’s often found traveling with my girlier bags so I found this amazing Franklin coated canvas bag from State and think he’ll love it. Super masculine and expensive looking!

Always sore, always asking for a massage, so I took this one upon myself and got a massage gun! All the attachments and reverberations play a different role in athlete recovery and he does manual labor full-time so I think it’s a must! There are so many versions out there so I just went for ratings and a good warranty. This one is 30 day money back guarantee + 2 year warranty!

Hayes, 10 years old, lover of sports, being creative, reading facts and the color turquoise.Small Fry Gift Guides 2019

Hayes asked for a Nintendo DS but we were told they’re phasing those out and to go for the Switch Lite. I would much rather my kids play those than a smart tablet anyday and that was basically his budget right here! Merry Christmas, Hayes! 😉

A Telescope – loved the idea of this and we have amazing starry sky views in the country so thought it would be fun for the whole fam, too!

He asked other family members for Twins apparel (I opt for ‘47 brand stuff, but whatever comes in time!) this football throwing trainer, and fun stuff to do in the car for our roadtrip! Brainquest flip cards or National Geographic Books are his fave. 5000 Facts // Almanacs // Book of Why

CALLUM – age 8 loves all plushies, action figures, Nerf Guns, basically anything for imaginative play.Small Fry Gift Guides 2019

Cal’s requests are random as usual, but also so affordable. Love him for that! He asked for anything Imaginext (I found a used bag of Imaginext Figures which he specifically asked for on ebay) Squishmallows, Hatch and Grow Dinos, Nerf Blaster Gun (on sale until today!), Plants vs Zombies (another lot I bought on ebay!), Yo Kai Watch + Medals.

RALEIGH – age 3, has stayed firm on the following requests – a red jeep he can drive and dumptrucks.

Easy enough! I know as soon as he sees This ride-on Jeep that’s all he is going to care about! It is still half off from when I bought it! Comes in 4 colors, too! Small Fry Gift Guides 2019

In case he wants other toys to open, Driven by Battat makes my favorite toy vehicles – so lifelike and all working parts, lights, sounds- so we added to that collection with a fire truck and dumptruck and a few smaller sets! Target has them on sale today! Here’s some we have and love:

I hope this helps in your last minute shopping trips!! Merry Christmas!!

easy neighbor gift idea

Several years ago I was given this as a neighbor gift and LOVED it! It is the handiest kitchen tool around and a definite must-have for any family. Especially around the holidays when I am brought an orange to peel every 15 minutes. $1 Neighbor Gift Idea | Orange Peeler Neighbor Gift

Have you seen this tool? It scores the orange and then you flip it around and the little scooper peels up the rind in the nicest full pieces! No juice all over, no pith in your fingernails. My kids can easily peel their own, too! It’s the greatest!$1 Neighbor Gift Idea | Orange Peeler Neighbor GiftThese 6 packs put them at about $.80 each and then you can scale the gift up with as many oranges as you’d like, or what fits in your budget!

Since I was sending this to my own neighbors I figured I’d share the printable here, too!   $1 Neighbor Gift Idea | Orange Peeler Neighbor GiftI can never seem to make the right amount of neighbor gifts and then there’s always a neighbor that you weren’t planning on that brings you something sweet. So having the bowl on hand to make them quick is always handy! Just grab cellophane bags, linen ribbon, the orange peeler tools, a hole punch, and then right click the printable below and you’re set!

$1 Neighbor Gift Idea | Orange Peeler Neighbor Gift


Orange Peeler Neighbor Gift Printable

hayes’ room update

Sponsored by ABRAMS Books.

We read Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball, the newest book in Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid series, on our road trip for Thanksgiving this past week and suddenly, both Hayes and I were itching for a little room makeover!

Hayes' Room Update | Small Fry In Wrecking Ball, Greg Heffley’s family is given the chance to make some big changes to their house after an unexpected inheritance. But problems start to crop up – rotten wood, toxic mold, unwelcome critters, and something even more sinister – that make the Heffleys wonder if the renovations are worth the trouble. But no matter how many things go wrong and how many times they wanted to give up, the Heffleys kept going and, of course, had lots of laughs along the way. The story of the Heffley’s home renovations sounded so much like what we’ve been going through the last bit that it inspired us both to get to work and get Hayes back into a space he loves!Hayes' Room Update | Small FryI haven’t spoken about this publicly because it’s been a complete disaster and was potentially going to be resolved in court, but we had a flood in our basement caused by a neighboring property a few months ago! (Cue sobs!) The water came in overnight and my boys slept right through it.Hayes' Room Update | Small FryThe Flood Response team estimated over 10,000 gallons of water came into our basement and it traveled all the way to Hayes’ room from the guest room hitting two bathrooms a laundry room, and all 3 boys’ rooms. LUCKILY we have tile so the damage (with the exception of the decimated guest room) was really just to the baseboards, drywall, and a few rugs.Hayes' Room Update | Small FryWhile we waited for things to resolve with the parties involved the boys were basically camping with all their belongings ripped out for repairs. They were such good sports about the whole thing, but now that our insurance has paid out, we can get things back on track. To celebrate we’re doing a little room makeover for each kiddo. Hayes was up first, and he loves his new additions!Hayes' Room Update | Small FryAnother part of the book that inspired me was how Greg loved (hoarded? Ha!) his mementos from years past. He loved to stash them and look at them and that is JUST like Hayes. I haven’t had a good way for him to access those things until the book convinced me to figure it out! He now has a whole section of his dresser devoted to his artwork, pictures, schoolwork, and other fun things he can pull out and look through anytime he wants. Now that his room is to his liking, he is ALL about planning our yard! Trampoline, dirt bike trails, tetherball, basketball court, pool, and lots of apple trees he can snack off of. I love seeing him dream big! Dirt hills are definitely doable right now with our grass-less yard! 😉 Hey at least it’s not a skating rink on the second floor a la Greg, right?Hayes' Room Update | Small Fry

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball is in stores now, so be sure to grab a copy!

New Rug // New Dresser 50% off right now! // Bed // Sidetable // Pennant Flags – Do Your Best + Hike Utah via Letters & Laurels – Stay Gold and Bear Lake via Everbear (they do custom pennants, too!) // National Park Print via FELL// Gold Foil Print via Robert and Stella // Macrame Plant Holder // Stuffed Instruments (old Crate and Kids) // Globes  // Print of Hayes’ first time swimming solo // Custom art piece by Colett Yarro for Hayes // Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series

10 roadtrip essentials!

Today we are heading out for our Thanksgiving road trip to visit my sister! It’s about an 8 hour drive to Reno which will be a good warmup for our big 18 hour trip to Wisconsin next month for Christmas! I am always on the hunt for ways to make road trips more fun (more bearable for me because, real talk, I don’t enjoy them. I GET SO ANTSY! AND also! Unless you’re driving, it’s like a cardio workout grabbing every little thing the kids need. Shotgun = the short straw.)

Anyway, here’s what we’re bringing and BONUS! lots of these items have sweet deals this week! Would love to hear what other musts you guys love before our big trip in December, hit me up.

road trip essentials| SMALL FRY

  1. KIDS KINDLE! This is a new product Amazon just launched and I love that it is pre-stocked with thousands of titles like Harry Potter, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and more! One less thing to do for mom. Regularly $110 — $80 this week + $5 Kindle Credit!
  2. PURO HEADPHONES! I love this brand because they’re made for kids and have built in protection so the volume never gets too loud for their sensitive ears. I make sure every kid has their own pair. Again, one less thing to monitor slash worry about while they’re in the back seat. These are $10 off right now and only $20! Love the monochrome look, they have lots of colors!
  3. BACKPACKS! “EMILY20” for 20% off! I always let the kids pack whatever they want in their backpacks and then leave the actual suitcase/clothing/necessity packing to me. I don’t try to control it I just heavily warn that they should pack whatever they need to not get bored. We love State Bags, they give backpacks to American students in need with every purchase! You can see my favorite picks here and get 20% off with EMILY 20.
  4. ACTIVITY BOOKS! We do specific blocks of time for screens and then screen-free travel so I like to have activity books on hand for them. Here are several we love! — Mad Libs // GO! My Adventure Journal // Brain Quest Flip Books // Rainbow Scratch Paper // Laugh out Loud Jokes for Kids // Kids Awesome Activity Book
  5. SEATBELT PILLOW! Of course we want the kids to be as comfortable as possible and also safe, so this seatbelt pillow does the trick. Entices them to stay properly buckled, is $7 and has great ratings!
  6. COOLER! Love that this isn’t TOO huge, easy to transport with the straps and has the YETI stamp of quality. Packing snacks is a must and keeps us from stopping at inopportune times.
  7. CAR VACUUM! 4000 4 star ratings on this baby and only $30! (Save $4 with their coupon!) Comes with all sorts of attachments all connected to your cigarette lighter. Get all the nooks and crannies and grab spills as they come! The kdis love it, too! Put ’em to work.
  8. GO GIRL! Being pregnant and the only girl in the car means a lot of potential bathroom breaks. I can’t just pee in a bottle like the rest of my crew, but this thing is amazing. It’s just a funnel to help you pee wherever your boys might be able to. I HATE stopping when everyone is content or sleeping and refuse to be the reason a napping child wakes up, or we lose time.
  9. CAR TRASH! Roadtrips do a number on our cars so we do our best to keep things under control. This trash sits over a seat back, holds quite a bit of garbage, liquid too (3 gallons!) Hinged shut to keep the odors at bay and easy to clean!
  10. QUAD SUNGLASS CASE! This *is* my favorite product of the year so its going to be showing up in a lot of posts. A must for any travel but even better when you have lots of family members to keep track of. My kids are old enough to see the value in wearing sunglasses, but they’re not that great at keeping them out of harm’s way, this helps!

Christmas Cards 2019

Sponsored by Minted. Get 15% off holiday cards until 11/19, and a free foil upgrade today valued at $99.

Christmas card season is here!! We went with Minted this year and it was SO hard to choose. They have a HUGE selection of letterpress, metallic foil, photo cards, regular greetings (lots of good options for a company greeting!) and every color scheme under the sun! I love that they bring the attention to detail to ALL the elements of the card with return address labels, stamps, envelope design inside and out!

These grabbed me while I was on the hunt and I’ll share our winner below!!

minted christmas cards 2019

Retro stripes // Roxy Marj Looker – love all these illustrations! // I think this style might be new this year but I love that it doubles as a Christms ornament! Comes with their pretty linen ribbon, too! — Holly Berry Ornament // Foil Ornament // Love the easy graphic appeal of this MERRY card // Also love the retro floral pattern on this one! Bold Floral

Ultimately I can’t ever resist orange anything and this “Joy Scout” card caught my eye big time! I LOVE the matching stamps, too. Tempted to get a year supply to use for all my mail!Small Fry - Christmas Cards 2019

Stamps, pre-addressed envelopes, hand-packaged cards.

Small Fry - Christmas Cards 2019Also get yourself a 9 year old with good attention to detail. Hayes made our card stuffing a breeze this year! Such a good helper! I love the little touches you can add to your card to make it feel even more personalized. Our return address stamp (Minted will do this, too!) and this fun clear confetti tape to seal the envelopes did the trick for me this year. I’ll pop these in the mail after Thanksgiving so I don’t startle the recipients (ha), but man I am relieved to have them all ready to go!

Want to see ALL our cards from years past? 10 years of cards in this post!

fryday update!

It feels like it’s been so long since I’ve shared what’s going on around here lately!

PREGNANCY! 22 weeks now and still dealing with afternoon/evening nausea, but it has let up tremendously which I am so grateful for! I’m just throwing up a couple times a week and as long as I can get enough sleep (and exercise, too!) I am so much better off! I have an anterior placenta this time around which accounts for why I haven’t felt him moving around as much as my others. There’s more padding between us, but now moving into the 5 month arena I am feeling him several times a day which is so comforting! He’s over a pound already and everything looks perfect. New and fun (sarcasm) to this pregnancy is tinnitus, anyone ever had that? Ringing in my one ear and it has been constant for a few weeks. I have a few remedies I’m trying this weekend, but would love to hear if any of you have experienced it!! We’re down to two baby names which we might just mash them together and use both so we’ll see if it sticks until the due date.Fryday Update

COAT (40% off today!) // Full Panel Pixie (wear them pretty much daily) // Old Sweater but very similar and 40% off as well HERE. // Boot // RALEIGH: Coat // Jeans // Boots

Raleigh is killing me in these.

Fryday Update

WORK! I have taken less and less time online because our venue building is crazy busy right now. I was worried at the beginning of the Summer (we opened officially in April) because we weren’t booking as much as I had hoped. Either that was due to it being Summer and people wanting to celebrate outdoors, or that we were just so new, but I wasn’t sure this venture was going to work!!

Now that it’s gotten colder I can see that it is in fact working, and trying to navigate the man-hours it takes to keep things running smoothly… growing pains for real! Grateful to have a business partner to split it with, but ready to hire out yesterday. This was from a shoot we put together with other vendors, we styled 5 different wedding scenes and loved how it turned out!

State House Venue - Orem Utah

The handmade market I run at the venue Bijou Market is next weekend! I love seeing so many of you there and it’s a great line-up this year! 70+ vendors selling home decor, accessories, jewelry, clothing, toys, food, and so much more.Bijou Market

I’ve been thinking a lot about focus lately — as a mid-thirties adult I feel like you acquire a lot of work experience and skills and then other people’s opinion of what we should be doing pulling us in a million directions. I’ve had to really buckle down and focus – after taking care of my family and home I have to constantly recalibrate “Where is my time best spent right now?” People never really talk about pivoting jobs and careers and it is tricky and uncomfortable, but also exciting, too!

FAMILY!  Earlier this Summer Russ took Hayes to Minnesota to see their team play (the Twins.) Russ hadn’t been back or seen a lot of the family he got to see that trip and he came back on cloud nine. They were all so kind to him and he and Hayes got that big, hearty uncomplicated family welcome that is hard to come by in our regular lives. He was so touched by the experience! I think we both get so focused on the absolute chaos and dysfunction of our immediate family life (siblings/parents) we forget to look further. Trying to navigate around the many rifts – who’s talking to who – is like Christmas trigonometry, and I just can’t deal this year! Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, step-family want us in their lives and this holiday we’re making a better effort to return the love. So we’re hitting the road this holiday season!

Small Fry : Fryday Update

HOLIDAY TRAVEL! Heading to my sister’s in Reno for Thanksgiving and then taking my first trip to where Russ grew up in Wisconsin and Minnesota! We have lots of family to visit while we’re there so we’re staying for a good chunk of time and I’m excited!! Somehow I’ve been married to him for 14 years without this and it’s long overdue! If any of you are from the Twin Cities, Woodbury, River Falls area I’d love recs of fun things to do with the kids or places to grab lunch etc. We’re also driving there (thinking of taking the South Dakota route to stop at Mount Rushmore) so if you’ve made the drive and know of good stops, we’re all ears!

Have a great weekend!!

mine + ours: books #15

The monthly series where I review books I read on myself and books I read with my kids! Find the whole series of posts here!


November 2019 Book Reviews

You can see I am definitely on a kick of sorts!

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone — I picked up this one on a whim because it had such high reviews! It’s the memoir of a therapist and she weaves her own personal stories of therapy through the stories of her patients and fact-based research type points throughout. There were some really heart warming parts, and then some that dragged on. Her personal relationship with “boyfriend” was a big theme and I see why it was good to humanize her, it started to wear on me. — 3 stars!

Being Mortal — The last few months Russ and I have been faced with his grandparents’ health decline and he’s been put as the executor of their wills. The situation is so complicated and the problem solver in me is so frustrated. It’s had me thinking about end of life care, and although it’s easy to say what I think I’d want in their shoes, I truly have no idea. This book is a must read for all humans. You can’t know until you’re there and this book maps out the highs and lows of end of life care, what works statistically, and anecdotes from actual people. So well written and held my attention the whole time. — 4 stars!

Talking to Strangers — I am a HUGE Malcolm Gladwell fan and heard his interview with Oprah on her podcast and that convinced me to read this book in about 5 minutes. Gladwell does what he does best. Weaves seemingly unrelated points/stories together and in the process changes perspectives and initiate change. This book covers the three ways we as humans get each other wrong. And how these fatal flaws are keeping us from learning from our mistakes in some of the hottest political topics we hear about daily. I loved this on Audible because it’s more like a podcast. He uses actual audio files from the interviews and stories he includes, it’s captivating and so EYE-OPENING. Changed my whole perspective in so many areas. His chapter on our misconceptions about alcohol (8) alone had me sending links and quotes out like a mad woman. — 5 Stars!


small fry book reviews

Big Cat: A cute little story about a grandma who can’t find her glasses and some funny situations they get in while she’s looking for them. The illustrations are bright and vibrant and there is  lots to look at on each page!

Can You See Me?: Think of this one like finding shapes in clouds or constellations. All the shapes make different animals and you read through to guess! A fun book that you can spend time on each page using your imagination. Raleigh loved it!

Language Theater: This author offered to send this title and I jumped at it because I think having a good understanding and intuition on grammar is priceless. This book is all about teaching the rules and intricacies of grammar in a bedtime reading style.



two girly gift ideas

This post is in partnership with Nakturnal. All opinions are my own.

I am starting to think about the Holidays and meaningful gifts for friends, sisters, and duh — myself! 😉


As I get older I really want timeless pieces that are made with excellent quality materials that I know will last. Top of my personal list is a nice pair of
gold earrings I can wear 24/7. I love the look of a huggie earring and how tight it fits on the lobe, super comfortable, too! So I can sleep, shower, and they’ll go with everything! Here are some inspo pics:

gold jewelry

I love this brand because the pieces are guaranteed for life and all ethically sourced. Making an investment like this should be backed, right?

Here’s what I have my eye on!


One gift that I can see being a hit with ALL the women and some fashionable men on my list is this sunglasses case! It solved all my sunglasses woes and I will be gifting to ALL! The outer shell is stiff so it protects them all from being squished or sat on.sunglasses case WIN It takes up a little bit more than a typical single sunglasses case and this holds FOUR. I love that I can have options in the car without taking up real estate. Amazing for travel, toss it into your bag or carry-on with confidence. This case has the velcro strap to hold them in place and a cloth wipe to keep them looking fresh and clean! It doesn’t hold ALL sunglasses, your  super oversized ones might not fit, but everything else does!
sunglasses case WIN

Shop here!

maternity pants that aren’t awful

First things first – find out which type of panel you can tolerate. For me there isn’t a demi panel on this earth that I like, so I stick to Full Panels. I know lots of you hate the full panel, but hear me out!5 maternity jeans that aren't awful

(Sweater // Jacket // Pants // Shoes)

  1. Without a full panel there isn’t enough grip for my body and all pants end up sagging, sliding, being ill-fitting and making me rage.
  2. I love the coverage of a full panel also because it extends my options for tops. The more material covering my stomach/butt that my top doesn’t have to. No tank tops or extra layering. I am super active at work and home and don’t want to be worrying about readjusting everything after I bend over. 5 Maternity Jeans You Can Tolerate

(Jacket – old target// Tee // Pants // Boots //

Some side panels work for me because the actual pants material on the waist and back areas has a little more grip, but they’re also typically digging into my belly (have actual metal non-working buttons — the worst!), so not as comfortable.

So! If you’re like me with maternity fit, here are my (and the top votes from YOU!) actual tried and true favorites for this pregnancy. When I polled Instagram SO many people said the Madewell jean is the best there is. So, take that for what it’s worth! If I was on pregnancy #1 I would have for sure bought them and saved/passed them around to other pregnant loved ones, but now it feel like an investment I won’t see a return on.5 maternity jeans that aren't awful

(sweater // pants // shoes)

  1. Madewell Full Panel (other panel options and washes!) // 2. My all time favorite and most worn: Full Panel Pixie (other panel options and prints!) // 3. Coated Pants – these have that leather-effect, a full panel, and a totally separate free-moving waistband with adjustable sides. So you can truly wear it, comfortably, ALL pregnancy long. A lot of ASOS maternity has this format and it’s my favorite! //  4. Another ASOS option with the aforementioned waist + panel in a trendy seasonal appropriate cord flare crop. // 5. Full Panel work out leggings. The material slides slightly, but I think that would be nearly impossible to avoid! // 6. Side panel option that doesn’t slide really, but does have the button that digs. Just an option if you really want a trendy straight leg pair to rotate through.

Outside of ASOS Maternity (20% off today!), Madewell Maternity, Old Navy Maternity — Other big votes were for Gap Maternity, Blanqi leggings, H&M Maternity, or going into maternity specific stores like Motherhood where the brands just focus on fitting pregnant bodies. Another tip I’d share is to go to thrift stores. There are SO many maternity options there that you could re-work. Add holes to knees, cut off hems, turn into shorts etc, etc.

Solidarity sisters, it’s a rough world out there for the jean wearing pregnant person. I hope this helps!