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OK... here's the deal. I'm a mom of three boys - ages 10, 13, and 16. They eat a lot. Constantly. When I cook dinner, I try to make too much. My goal is to have a refrigerator FULL of leftovers. Our family lives on leftovers... and they never go to waste. Honestly, I think it's the way I store them. Whether it's lasagna, enchiladas, meatloaf, or homemade soup, all leftovers get divided into small glass containers and stacked in our refrigerator. These single serve portions act as delicious nutritious snacks mid-day, after school, and even before bed.

In the midst of this COVID_19 pandemic, keeping food on hand is more important then ever. With our entire family stuck at home, it's been amazing just how much food we actually go through.

Last night I made a big pot of white chicken chili... a family favorite around here. I love this recipe because it's easy to make AND it makes a lot. Say hello to a refrigerator full of leftovers!

After I let my chili cool down, I was ready to fill all of my Pyrex containers for leftover snacks and meals. For my chili and soup, I like to use Pyrex 2-cup containers (linked here). They are the perfect size for a bowl of soup. To heat them up, we just pop the lid, gently lay it on top, and microwave until warm. Ahh... the beauty of glass containers! This 2-cup container also offers just enough room for any toppings - super critical when you're having chili!

I also fill up some 1-cup Pyrex containers for smaller portions perfect for my 10-year-old and snacks. (linked here) AND - if you are interested, the rectangular containers I use for lasagna, enchiladas, and more are (linked here).

I hope your leftovers go as quickly as ours do! Happy cooking.

Remember to check out my Instagram @smalltownme

Love Emily.

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I'm back from an awesome week in Maui! Packing for a vacation is one thing... you have all these plans in your head... narratives of what you THINK your trip will be like. Items you're so excited to wear...

And then reality. Here are my top 5 things I'm SO HAPPY I packed.

First and foremost... drumroll please: Bacterial wipes. When we left for our trip, people just started talking about the COVID-19 scare. Hand sanitizer was just starting to become scarce, and the aisles of Target were beginning to look empty. At the last minute, I decided to load up a sandwich bag of sanitizing wipes for each member of my family - probably the best impulse move I did the entire trip! We used these wipes at the airport to wipe down the self check-in kiosk, on the plane to wipe down our seat armrests, trays, and tv screens... even in our hotel room for counter tops and our phones. 10 wipes per baggy was more then enough for my family of 5 - THAT's 50 WIPES! We all used these sanitizing wipes so much, that I think they will become a staple for each future trip we take.

Next is my Nikon D3500 camera (linked here). I am not a professional photographer by any stretch. Fancy cameras are so confusing to me - my brain just doesn't go there. I probably use my iPhone for 80% of my pictures... but for that other 20%, this camera is an absolute must! My Nikon is a fancy point and click camera that allows me to take crystal clear action shots of my kids - very rarely do any of them ever turn out blurry or out of focus. For me, this camera had a small learning curve - it has a great automatic function which I use for almost everything. It also has a 'sport mode' that allows you to rapidly take pictures of action shots, 'portrait mode' for an awesome professional look that even I can capture, and a handful of other modes that I'm not an expert at, but enjoy playing around with.

If you have small kids as energetic as mine, PLEASE invest in a good camera - you won't regret it!

Third is my Eric Javits 'Hampton' Straw Sun Hat. I got this one at Nordstrom (linked here). This hat packs really well - I lay it upside down in my suitcase and just pack around it. I think this was the third trip my hat has been on, and it still looks like new. Pretty sure I wore this every day! It kept me shaded from too much sun - and BONUS: looked so cute! Please invest in a good sun hat - your skin and hair will thank you :)

Next up - my Dyson Air Wrap (linked here)! This was an investment, but I seriously use it every single day! I didn't pack the entire kit - only the two 1.6" barrels. I would shower and let my hair almost completely air dry. Then, in less then 10 minutes with my Dyson, I was ready to go with perfect beach waves. I am not a hair stylist what so ever (gasp), but the learning curve with the Dyson Air Wrap is so easy, even I can do it! GET ONE! you won't regret it. #totalgamechanger :)

Lastly, I always pack my Aveda Beautifying Composition Oil (linked here). I add this oil to the hotel lotions for a fragrant spa-like moisturizer. It keeps my sun-kissed skin moisturized and glowing. I also put it in my hair for piecey beachy waves. It's super small and easy to pack. A serious must-have!

When my kid found out what my blog post was going to be about, he said "I know your kids are the most important thing you packed." Yes. Hands down, my boys were the most important thing I brought with me to Maui. They make my entire vacation unforgettable!

Remember to check out my Instagram @smalltownme

Love Emily.

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In a couple days, our family is headed to Maui - I'm so excited to leave this Minnesota weather and step into the hot sun! I wanted to share my top five items I'm most excited about bringing on my trip...

First - my new shades! I don't know what it is, but every time I travel somewhere warm, I need to purchase a new pair of sunglasses. I feel like it's an easy way to make my outfits feel fresh, new, and updated. When shopping for sunglasses, I look for sunnies that are both on trend and timeless. I want to know I can wear these shades now AND 10-years from now. I always feel much better about my purchase knowing it's not a wear-once-and-done item.

I found these cute Dior sunglasses at Nordstrom on the clearance rack... SCORE! And the cute Chanel shades my husband surprised me with for Christmas... also from Nordstrom. So - I'll be taking two new pairs to Maui... bring on the sun!!!

Second is my new swimsuit. I ALWAYS pack that one swimsuit that makes me feel confident, sexy, and cute. My all-time favorite 'it' swimsuit of 8+ years bit the dust this past fall. It was a leopard print Dolce & Gabbana bikini - perfect fit and compliments every time I wore it. That suit traveled everywhere from Barbados to Hawaii to Minnesota Lakes. I went to pack it last September for our Disney Cruise, and the elastic was completely out of the bottoms. I'm still super heartbroken over my loss... BUT, I did find a fabulous replacement suit at Nordstrom - another D&G.. The fit is fabulous and the print is perfect! PLUS I love that it came with a little matching bag. I'll be tucking that into my beach bag to use as a clutch at the poolside bars and restaurants.

Of course I'll be bringing more than one suit. One of my favorite swimsuits is the Seersucker Ruffle One Shoulder Top by Vineyard Vines. I actually own it in black and in white. The fit is super flattering and the bottoms are not too skimpy. It's cute and stylish for hanging out but still secure enough to run around and swim with my boys. My only struggle with this suit is finding a coverup that works with the ruffled top.... until now!

My Nordstroms stylist helped me pick out this super cute Missoni fringe cape which works perfectly over my black suit.. Throw on a pair of cut-off shorts and I'm ready for whatever my family's daily adventures may be. And for my white suit, I threw on a Burberry wool and silk blend scarf. These outfits feel trendy, cute for my husband, and mom appropriate for my boys. My coverup struggle is over!!

Next up - my bucket hat! I love the bucket hat trend. I wore bucket hats all the time in college, and I'm so excited the look is back. PLUS my 13-year-old just picked up a couple bucket hats of his own for our trip - they were at the top of his packing list... so now I feel extra cool and on-trend. Ha!

Lastly, I just picked up the Louis Vuitton Bum Bag. This cross body is such a convenient size. It effortlessly fits my wallet, lipgloss, Doterra peppermints (my addiction), sunglasses, and phone. It looks so cute worn as a cross-body or just flung over your shoulder. Effortless and easy - two of my favorite things. Plus, I LOVE the coated canvas Louis Vuitton uses - it seriously wears like iron. I purchased my LV Neverfull forever-ago and it still looks fabulous. Honestly - I truly believe you get what you pay for.

So there you have it. My top 5 favorites for my Maui vacation. Hopefully I've inspired you to try some new trends for your upcoming getaway. Happy travels!

Remember to check out my Instagram @smalltownme

Love Emily.

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