“She did not need much, wanted very little. A kind word, sincerity, fresh air, clean water, a garden, kisses, books to read, sheltering arms, a cozy bed, and to love and be loved in return.’

-Starra Neely Blade


I came across this quote in one of my favorite Instagram feeds last week. A sigh left my body and mind, with only the word, ‘yes’ coming to mind. Simplicity. Basic needs met with love and peace. Fresh air, a garden and books. It’s all there in those brilliant words.

Somewhere, within the realm of those basic needs, also falls my morning routine. My alarm chimes at the slightly crazed time of 4:50am, to run, to move, to break a sweat.  The ensuing exchange begins in my head, as it does every morning.

“You can do this. The first five minutes are the worst. Get up.”
“This bed is so warm.”
“Every morning you feel this way. After five minutes you’ll be fine. GET UP!”


The drill sergeant in my head wins. It’s always better after the first five minutes, this I’ve come to know. Giving in to the warm covers, rarely means rest. The morning just doesn’t seem to go as smoothly, my mind missing that hour of peace and endorphins before the sprint of wrangling three boys and the day.

Post workout means a cup of hot chai tea and a couple slices of my favorite blender bread with a generous smear of maple almond butter. I catch up on the visual feast of my Instagram feed while the stirring of my sleepy faced children fills the previously quiet kitchen.

I savor the last sip of spicy, warm tea, a bite of toast, and begin to engage the day.


At the first sign of leaves changing, my youngest son breaks out the hot cocoa recipe. For this recipe, I combined our two loves; my chai tea, and his beloved hot cocoa.  The result is a mug of gently spicy cocoa, sure to warm you on the coolest of fall days.

Chai Spiced Hot Cocoa


  • 3 tea bags Vanilla Rooibos Chai Tea, or favorite chai tea
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups whole milk or half & half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Boil 1 cup of water.
  2. Steep tea bags in hot water for 5-10 minutes, to create concentrate.
  3. In a large pot, pour tea concentrate, cocoa powder and sugar.
  4. Stirring gently, over medium high heat, bring tea/cocoa combination to a boil until sugar is dissolved.
  5. Add vanilla extract and milk.
  6. Warm cocoa through to preferred temperature, stirring occasionally.
  7. Serve hot.
  8. Any remaining servings store in an air tight container, in the refrigerator.

This post was sponsored by Equal Exchange.  While they provided the product for this recipe, my words, opinions, love a good chai and morning routine are my own. Enjoy!

In my life before children, I was a voracious reader.  Books would be stacked on my nightstand, waiting to be devoured. My library card was nicely worn and a trip to the bookstore was soul filling treat.

In my first pregnancy, when I couldn’t sleep, I’d go through a book every couple of days.  It was almost as if there was a premonition to get in as much as possible.  The years following the birth of my children, held books about trucks, animals and trains than subjects of my own choosing.

Apple Nachos

Read More

If you’ve followed along here for awhile, you know that running is a pretty central part of my life (you can read about that here).  It began as a way to be active in high school, and in college morphed into the ultimate way to shed stress from nursing school, and clear my head.

No Bake Energy Bites

For most of the years I’ve run, the miles have been solo.  As a mother with young children, I wanted my miles to be quiet. I wanted to revel in the bliss of a runner’s high. Talking and running felt like a chore, and I had plenty of those awaiting me at home. Read More


If you’re still here, thank you for hanging in with me during my summer hiatus.  Life has been full and adventurous over the last few months.  Vacations, trail races, photographing for a cookbook and magazines, along with the everyday hustle of our three boy household meant prioritizing any extra time.  The view away from my laptop became so appealing, that I decided to take a break.  My creative juices were tapped and time away seemed just the way to replenish them and find my direction.

Moab, Utah

Read More

There are some experiences that stay with you long after they are over.  I recently had just that.  About a week and a half ago, I ventured east to New York City for the weekend.  It was my first trip to the Big Apple, and within minutes of arriving, I knew it would not be my last.  While I love the wide open spaces I come from, the vibrancy of the city left me feeling inspired and energized.

What brought me to New York?  Well, I had the privilege to photograph a cookbook by my friend Laura, ‘The Best Homemade Kids Lunches on the Planet’.  She was having a book signing at Barnes & Noble that weekend and graciously invited me to tag along.  We have a second book (!) coming out in just two short weeks, so this was a chance to celebrate that, the beginning of work on a third book and a time for us to collaborate face to face.

Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast with Cumin Salt

Read More

This Homemade Life
Designed by Wooden Spoons Kitchen
© 2012 thishomemadelife