That’s Sooooo Unprofessional

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That’s Sooooo Unprofessional

Hello Friend,

I have a confession. Writing personal things on this blog is hard for me. I have a fear of being unprofessional–which for tends toward being buttoned up and more serious, or at least not sharing anything really meaningful.

I remember clear back when we started Sprout Shell, how concerned we were with being professional–right from the beginning. Instead of letting things grow naturally, and being truly authentic, we put up a front of professionalism. We didn’t have a clue what we were doing–other than that we had to be professional to be taken seriously. From our website to our business cards to our enormous amount of product, (because it would be “unprofessional” to be out of stock right away) we were professional.

When I look back now I laugh–and almost cry–that I thought having a pretty website and “professional” 1-800 number was the key to building a business. Really!?

But, the madness continued. For a long time I really struggled because I couldn’t imagine sharing personal things on Sprout Shell’s Facebook Professional Business Page. I mean, what would people think? Well–not much that’s for sure. No one but my mother Liked us, because there wasn’t much worth liking!

And while a fear of “unprofessionalism” is at the heart of it, I’m just really not a sharer in general. I don’t even share much on my personal Facebook page. Heck, I only posted a Happy Birthday message to my husband–at like 11:30 pm– because when I asked if he felt bad he said no (but his tone said yes.) I guess my basic mentality has been “Why would anyone care?” And, if I can’t answer that question, I don’t share it.

But I was wrong. It isn’t a choice between professional and personal–it can be both. It must be both! We take your orders seriously and process them with care. We source materials and manufacturing in the USA as a way to build our nation’s economy. We have eco-friendly packaging and ship using reliable methods. When you have a question or problem we pride ourselves on taking care of it as quickly as possible in the best way we can. Professional.

When you’re having trouble with an order, or you comment on something we’ve shared, or you send us a photo of your little Sprout, the response you get is from the heart and directly catered to you. Personal.

Now, I’m going to work on bringing that personal to the forefront and not just in behind the scenes interactions. It’s people like you that we love to connect with and people like you who make it worth doing. I care deeply about making our customers and fans happy. I want you to feel good when you interact with our brand because you know you matter. Our email subscribers aren’t called VIPs for nothing!

But, I know I need to lead by example. Why would you open up to me if I don’t open up to you? 

So here goes, my pride and joy and the loves of my life. You’ll be hearing more about them, since they’re involved in most of what I do. Now, don’t worry–this blog isn’t going to get all personal, all the time. Just a few bits here and there. But I want you to know we care, we’re real people, and love having you around.

reeder family There are lots of ways for you to connect with us. Join in by leaving comments on our Facebook page, follow us on Instagram, share our blog posts, become a VIP, or shoot us an email with questions or comments you have.



PS–Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of this idea.

10 Must-Follow Blogs and Websites For New Moms

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 10 Must-Follow Blogs and Websites For New Moms

When you’re a new parent, the never-ending list of things to do, learn and buy can be overwhelming. And the number of places to go to get the information can be intimidating. As a mom who’s been there a couple of times, I’ve listed below a collection of sites that I love (and subscribe to for the most part) because they always have helpful info, useful resources and great information.

These are in no particular order–

1.–They call themselves a “Weekly email for city moms with kids under 3″ (their other website, is for bigger kids). There are specialized emails for different cities around the country, but there is also a national newsletter too that’s great no matter where you live. There’s news about new products, parenting articles, tips and ideas and mostly anything else to do with parenting.

2. Red Tricycle–Similar to StrollerTraffic in that it has targeted emails for certain cities, but with more of them. It also gets pretty specific with updates about activities and events in your community. I love getting my emails about the “Best apple orchards for picking in the Bay Area” or “10 activities for the family this weekend.” Plus it has tons of other info of general interest for everything kid related.

3. weespring–A baby/kid product review site with a nice twist. You can add products to the site, write short reviews–think Twitter–or read reviews and recommendations from people that have the products. You can also follow people, have them follow you, and keep all of the recommendations in one place. They even have a new feature called “weelists” where you can gather all the products you want in a certain category, like “newborn” or “nursing” or “sick baby”

4. BabyCenter–This was probably the first site I went to when I got pregnant the first time. It’s a great source of knowledge regarding all things pregnancy and baby related. There is also a huge online community of moms going through the exact same things you are that can offer support and advice. You can sign up to get weekly emails during pregnancy and beyond to help you navigate the confusing parenting waters. You’ll get size updates, milestone info, advice from doctors, game/interaction suggestions and much more. I still get emails weekly like “Your 5 year old This Week” that I read to help me understand what’s going on in my son’s little boy brain.

5. What to Expect–Similar to BabyCenter in that they both give pregnancy and child information. They both have weekly update emails about your baby/child’s development, and there is an online community. But, I find that What to Expect has more general parenting articles and stories.

6. Power of Moms–Being a mom is an amazing thing. And a hard thing, And a powerful thing. But sometimes we just don’t know WHAT to do. Or how to deal with certain situations. Enter Power of Moms. It’s all about helping you be more joyful as a mom, more purposeful and deliberate. To do things intentionally to be happier and make your family run more smoothly. There are articles with great info, but also a podcast, classes and retreats too.

7.–A deal-a-day site with awesome baby gear at awesome prices. They’ve been doing this longer than most, have a beautiful site and make it easy to buy some of your favorite brands. Having kids is expensive, saving money on top-quality goods is always a good deal. I buy things for my baby and kids from there on a regular basis. And, yes, Sprout Shell has been featured there too. It’s also expanded into kids, scrapbooking and women’s products too.

8. Parents–You’re a parent, going to is a great source of info, parenting advice, tips, ideas and knowledge and all things “parent.”

9. Clothing Website–Like OldNavy, Children’s Place, Gymboree, Carter’s, Tea Collection, etc. Kids grow. They grow a lot. You’re going to go through a lot of clothes. I’m not a fan of spending a lot of money on them because of the above. So, these are some of my favorites. On a side note, I know there are several resale sites where you can send in your used clothing and get money or credit for them. I’ve used, but also just heard about, so those are good things to check out too.

10.  giggle– They’re baby product experts. It’s both an online store, and there are physical locations around the country where they make it fun to shop for baby and kids gear. They’ve even created an entire book about the best products and services for babies and kids. Need help with your registry? They’ve got you covered.

So, that’s it. I really hope these are helpful for you. I’d love to know if you have any that you’d like to add, or what your favorites are!



Valentine Crafts For Little Ones

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Valentine Crafts For Little Ones

We’re getting close to the big day–and there are absolutely no Valentine decorations in our house. This needs to change–pronto! So, my goal this week is to get our craft on and put some love into this house. Here are some fun things I think we might try.

Wax Paper Crayon Hearts–Easy and pretty

Wax paper crayon hearts

Paper Heart Wreath–This can be done with any paper you have on hand, which makes it a winner to me!

paper heart wreath

Conversation Heart Graph–We’re totally doing this one…I printed it out and everything.

conversation heart graph

Don’t Eat Pete!–A super simple game that I’m sure will keep the kids busy for a long time, especially since there’s candy involved!

don't eat pete

Heart Flowers–Cute and easy, great for preschoolers.

heart flowers

Check  out more ideas on our Valentine’s Day Pinterest Board!

DIY Valentines

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DIY Valentines

I always say I’m not crafty–and compared so some I’m not–but I do like to do a bit of easy crafting because I like the look of homemade things and sometimes it’s just cheaper and better to do it yourself.

So, when it comes to Valentine’s I am all about making them at home. They’re so much cuter than those little boxed ones (that I used when I was a kid because we didn’t have Pinterest and a million blogs showing us alternatives).

I’ve been searching around for my son’s project this year, and found some pretty great options. I try to find a few, then let him decide which one he likes.

Let me know what you think–and feel free to add any ideas in the comments below.

You’re Tearin’ Up My Heart–While I usually try to do ones without candy, I really like this one; and will admit I hope it’s the one he chooses!

Tearing up my heart

Cereal Valentines–Super fun and easy to do. Plus, who doesn’t like cereal?!

cereal valentines

I-Heart-You Valentines–Cute, easy, and a place to write a personal note. My daughter LOVED this idea.

eye heart valentines


Paint Swatch Valentines–This site/post also has other ideas that are pretty cute too.

paint swatch bookmarks

You Rule!Pretty easy, and they actually have something useful in the end too!

Your Rule Valentine

You Blow Me Away–And many other choices with these free printables

You Blow Me Away

Valentine’s Day Treats

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I can barely believe that it’s February already…though at the same time it seems like January took forever. Time is so crazy sometimes. Anyway, in an effort to get a little teensy bit ahead this year, I’ve been scouring the internet for some great ideas for homemade Valentines, yummy treats, and fun crafts for the kids.

First, we’ll start off with treats. Because really, they’re the best part! More ideas will be coming throughout the week, so be sure to Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss out!

Conversation heart cupcake! So cute and easy to do, but it looks pretty cool.

conversation heart cupcake

Valentine Pie from Nap-time Creations. This one is super easy too–but way more delicious than Conversation Hearts. With just 4 ingredients and an hour, you’re in for a treat your kids will love!

Valentine Pie from Naptime Creations

Pink Sandwich Cookies–perfect for V-Day because they’re 1. Pink and white 2.  A cookie and 3. Super easy and delicious.

Valentine Sandwich cookies

Easy Valentine Treat Mix–Put some of your favorite snacks together, and you have an even more delicious treat to share!

easy valentine treats


Conversation Heart Cheesecakes–Adorable and delicious, but maybe not so easy. I am really thinking I have to tackle these though.

Conversation Heart Cheesecakes

Valentine Pretzel Crunch–I LOVE chocolate covered pretzels, and this adds even more goodness. Definitely a favorite in my house!

valentine pretzel crunch

White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn–Here I go with the white chocolate again. But this one combines another of my loves–air popped popcorn. And chocolate. How can you go wrong?

white chocolate peppermint popcorn

Valentine’s Sugar Cookies–It’s tradition at our house–holiday sugar cookies are a must! This is an extra twist that could make me go a little more fancy than usual. Especially since my kids are getting older and better able to handle decorations.

Valentine's Day sugar cookie bar

Conversation Heart Rice Krispie Treats–My kids LOVE Rice Krispie treats, and the fun shapes and extra candy on these is sure to he a hit with kids all around.

conversation heart rice krispie treats

There are lots more ideas on our Pinterest page on our Valentine’s Day Ideas board. Check them out, and follow us for more ideas!




Super Bowl Sunday Dinner?

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Super Bowl Sunday Dinner

Sports aren’t a big deal in our house. I’ve never cared about them much at all, and having a came on at all is still pretty new for my husband. He claims that in LA there wasn’t a team to root for, but in SF there is. If he says so.

So, when I invited some friends over for dinner this Sunday I had no idea that it was “The Sunday” But now that I do, I feel like I should have some kind of Super Bowl menu and snacks. I’m pretty sure this friend isn’t expecting to watch the game, or even cares what we eat, but I’m weird like that.

With a special themed dinner in mind, I knew I could hit Pinterest and be inundated with a million choices that would look amazing…


Like, seriously?

So, I went to one of my favorite places to find good meals, The Brown Eyed Baker. And, she didn’t let me down! A whole post dedicated to Super Bowl recipes. They’re even categorized by type–drinks, dips, appetizers, main dishes, etc. So helpful.

I finally decided on these yummies:

Honey-Balsamic Pulled Pork with Asian Slaw

honey balsamic pulled pork and asian slaw


We love pulled pork around here, and this recipe looks fancy enough for company, but casual enough for game day.

Then I think I’ll pair it with these Baked Beans because they go well together.

Boston Baked Beans

And, luckily my friend is making dessert, because narrowing down that decision is practically impossible!

What are you serving this Sunday? I’d love to know!



30 Minute Kitchen Cleaning Timeline

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30 Minute Kitchen Cleaning Timeline

I feel like I am always cleaning the kitchen. Even when it’s clean, it’s not clean. There is constantly something to put away. Not that it’s too surprising since there are 5 of us, three of whom spill enough on the floor to feed another person.

But, I found this kitchen cleaning timeline that may prove quite helpful. In just 30 minutes your kitchen can be sparkling. Though, no guarantees how long it will last =)

Home Made Simple 30 Minutes to a Clean Kitchen

kitchen cleaning timeline

Lemon Jell-O Cake

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Lemon Jell-O Cake

 Lemon Jell-O Cake

I love this cake.  I’ve actually even posted about it before. But today’s batch was different, so this isn’t just a repost.

We’ve had the recipe in my family for as long as I can remember, probably as long as my mom can remember too. I’ve been wanting to make it for some time, but making a whole cake for no reason just didn’t seem like the best idea. So, I was thrilled that friends came over last night and I was in charge of dessert.

This cake is moist, a little tart and a little sweet. The best part is the glaze that you pour over top–that sinks down deep inside the cake and makes it extra moist and lemony.

When I lived in places other than California the cake would always sink in the middle–much to my dismay–until I realized that those thinner pieces had extra glaze and were the best part. Now, it doesn’t and I’m a bit bummed.  But, yesterday’s cake  was nearly ruined! I set the timer, 5 minutes less than the recipe calls for. As it baked it started to smell delicious…then done, then maybe a little too done. I ran in to check it–and it was a bit browner than I’d have liked–with 7 minutes left on the timer!

Whew, that crisis was avoided. But the recipe wasn’t totally saved yet. I realized that I only had about a quarter of the powdered sugar that I needed for the glaze! The most important part!

Check out the recipe to see what I did to save the day, and our company dessert.

lemon jello cake ingredients

Lemon Jell-O Cake
1 box Yellow, or Lemon cake mix
1 small box Lemon Jell-O
4 Eggs
1/2 cup Vegetable oil
3/4 cup water

2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 to 1/4 cup lemon juice

Alternative Glaze
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/8 to 1/4 cup lemon juice

Pre-heat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients together. Add remaining cake ingredients and beat on medium about 4 minutes.
Pour batter into greased 9×13 pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until lightly golden

To make glaze–if you have the full amount of the powdered sugar, then mix it with enough lemon juice to form a thinish glaze.
If you don’t have enough, make the alternative too. Combine sugar and water in small pot. Bring to a boil stirring constantly so the sugar dissolves. Boil about 5 minutes, or until it becomes a little thickened. Add lemon juice to taste.

When cake comes out of the oven move to cooling rack and poke holes all over. I use a fork. This is so the glaze can get into as much of the cake as possible. Wait about 5 minutes. hen pour your glaze over the entire top. If you used the sugar-water method, top with any of the powdered sugar/lemon juice version you made to make the top white and cover some holes.

Serve and enjoy!

Let me know what you think. What quick fixes have you had to do in the past?


Getting to know you!

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Getting to know you!

I spend a bit of time on this blog letting you into my life and helping you get to know me better. But, today I’m excited, because it’s “Get to know your customer day.”

get to know you


Apparently it comes around a few months, so we may visit this again this year, but for today I really hope that you’ll take about 30 seconds and answer one of the questions below–or something else you want to share! We’d love to get to know you a bit better!

Where do you live?

Do you have children? If so, how many?

What’s your favorite color?

Where do you live?–Either the city, or state, or what kind of town (big, small, rural etc.)

What’s your favorite food?

Where did you hear about Sprout Shell?

What tv shows do you like to watch?

What types of posts are you most interested in?

Anything else you’d like to share!

I’m excited to get to know you friends.




Mushroom, Leek and Potato Fritatta

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Mushroom, Leek and Potato Fritatta

So, this is my second attempt at a fritatta and it worked out pretty well. My husband who won’t eat eggs was gone for the night, so I figured it was a good time. My kids ate it up. The 5 year old declared, “It looks gross, but it tastes really good!”

mushroom leek fritatta

Here’s the recipe I used, modified from here. Oh, and sorry the amounts aren’t exact–but that’s the beauty of it, they don’t have to be. I made it to just feed the 3 of us.

2 tblsp olive oil
2 small red potatoes
1 leek, small chopped
6 mushrooms, sliced and (smaller chopping optional)
1 cup spinach, chopped (optional)
6-8 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme

Heat oven to 400.
Heat oil in skillet. Add potatoes, leek, mushrooms. Cook until soft. Add spinach. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and beat until well mixed. Pour into skillet. Cook until edges begin to set. Top with your choice of cheese (I used parmesan, but cheddar would also be good.) Cook 6-8 minutes until cheese is melted and eggs are set.