Inspirational women: Jesse Hufft

Ahhh, Jesse Rose.  Where to even start with this one?  Jesse is one of those people who walks into a room and everyone turns to look and listen.  She has style, charisma, spunk, intelligence and wit to make anyone want to step up his or her game.  She's also (no accident here) one of the owners and drivers behind the hugely successful, influential and downright genius Kansas City, MO based architecture and design firm, Hufft Projects.   Oh, and she's mother to 3 darling children, Rock, Cash and Clover and wife to the architect behind Hufft Projects.

Below is Green & Plenty's interview with this true beauty who I'm lucky enough to call one of my oldest and dearest friends.

You and your husband, Matthew Hufft have built an amazing business in Hufft Projects, an architecture, design and fabrication collaborative. Tell me about your role there.

Well I've really handled all business matters for Hufft Projects since the beginning, with a special focus on directing the PR and marketing team where I've been influential in getting Hufft Projects in magazines like Dwell, etc.  My role has a broad reach and my day to day changes, but I'm involved with all divisions of the company and I love that!

Speaking of Dwell, the home the Hufft's built for themselves and their 3 young children is featured in this month's issue (April 2015).  The Showhouse is SO awesome (I'm lucky enough to know from experience).  

Check out the feature on the Hufft's own home in Dwell magazine.  
Impressive job!  And SUCH a stunning home...especially for entertaining!  Tell us about your entertaining philosophy?
I love to entertain.  It's a great way to really get to know our clients.  We entertain about twice a month and so my philosophy is "keep it simple".  I serve no-cook apps like smoked salmon with toasts, capers and creme fresh.  Other hits are quick and easy pickled veggies and deviled eggs.  I love recipes from Bon Appetit and have been using them for 15 years...they're always reliable.  Plus a nice "proper drink" to start never hurts.  We've gone classic lately with cocktails, and again, simple: Bourbon rocks or with a splash of ginger is a favorite or tequila (or vodka) with lots of fresh citrus and mint.

How do you feed a lot of people an impressive meal without losing your mind and still finding time to really chat and entertain?
Again, I think simple is best.  For the main, I like one big meat dish that I can make ahead like braised sort ribs or rack of lamb served over polenta or this twice baked sweet poatotes with bacon sesame brittle.   I'll serve a seasonal and interesting salad of baby kale or lettuce with lots of fresh torn herbs, goat cheese, blueberries or grapes and a simple lemon vinaigrette.  Finally, a great bread from local KC baker, Farm to Market Bread.

Dessert is usually a carrot cake I make or a pie from Upper Crust Bakery and ice cream from Glace.

You always look put together and fresh, especially with a full-time job and 3 kids.  What's your style and beauty philosophy?
I would say I have a pretty classic style but I do like to put some sort of edge or current fashion element to it.  I love having a basic uniform especially for work: neutral colors and basic, classic pieces.  It helps me get ready quickly and without doubt.  Items from KC based brand Baldwin and Madewell speak to my basics persona and Kansas City boutique Standard Style and Anthropologie are fun for keeping it fresh.  I feel like I’m re-finding my style after having kids; for 6 years I wasn’t buying things I wanted bc I was pregnant, or going to be.

For beauty, I've recently started using RMS beauty products and am now very focused on my skin.  I love Malin and Goetz lip moisturizer, Deva products for my curly hair and an eyelash tint always helps make me feel better (I go to Hoopla for that)!

So if you had $50 to spend on style or beauty, what would you buy?
I'm much more focused on my face and skin now so I would probably spend it on a peel with my aesthetician or an oil.  I also need a great hat!

A few years ago you and architect husband, Matthew designed your own home.  What are some of your "must have's"?

  1. Mud room: the holding chamber for backpacks, shoes etc. with lots of storage and ways for kids to reach their own things, hooks shoes etc.
  2. Storage everywhere so everything can be clean again quickly.  We have lots of cabinets.
  3. Flor carpet tiles, especially because we have 3 kids and 2 dogs.
  4. Big glass doors that open to the backyard so I can see the kids play. 
  5. Smaller bedrooms for the kids leaves more room for the laundry and playroom on their floor. 
  6. Having the playroom on second floor makes bedtime more seamless and they’re starting to wake up in the morning and just go play rather than come bug us.  It will become the homework room eventually.
Any wish list items?
  1. A butler’s pantry kitchen with dishwasher
  2. Another bathroom in the mudroom, especially with 2 boys who don’t always keep things where they need to be...
  3. A bit more separation between the living and kitchen area

One focus of Green & Plenty is finding balance in our hectic lives.  How do you find yours?  
It's different every week.  I make sure one week isn’t too heavy with work stuff, entertaining etc. I get really stressed when we have a constant week of going.  So I work hard to balance our calendar between down time and social obligations, which sometimes feels like a job in itself.  I feel lucky to work with my husband.  While we don't work side by side all day, it's nice to grab lunch or a coffee together.  And with the kids being 2, 4 and 6 now, we are really finding our groove how to hang as a family, and that is incredibly fun.  We haven't quite made it through the crazy years, but that light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter.  It's our family business- we really eat, sleep and breath it, but we love it.  I like to think that I provide a little balance to the "family side" of the family business so that it still feels more like a small business even though it has grown to over 45 employees.  It's fun to be around all the people with such a passion for design and talent in their various areas.  It's the job I never knew I always wanted.  

You and Matthew lived in NYC until 2006.  What do you miss most about it?   
Definitely the insane amount of great restaurant options.  The last time I was in NYC we went to Blue Ribbon for was the best sushi meal of my life.  But we love Kansas City and it has so much to offer.  

Jesse and her family have proudly called Kansas City home for almost 10 years now.  Stay tuned for Jesse's KC favorites on Green & Plenty....

Thanks, Jesse Rose!!  I'm amazed, inspired, proud and lucky!!!

4 ingredient chocolate brownie bites

Oliver is currently telling me he "need more brownie"....done!  These chocolate "brownie" bites contain protein, healthy fats and no refined sugars making them an ideal snack or breakfast.

I know we've all seen a million recipes for this kind of "ball", but I really like this recipe from Fit Foodie Finds (check out all her great recipes and ideas).

Here's why I like them:
1.  They require only 4 ingredients that I already had in my pantry and are easy to make in about 5 minutes.

2.  The dates give a nice balanced sweetness, but they're not too sweet.  Plus, the dates provide lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals that sugar lacks.  I used organic pitted deglet noir dates.

3.  My husband and kids love them.  While Oliver will pretty much eat anything, the other two are picky!

4.  They satisfy my never-ending need for a quick and easy healthy snack for all of us.


back to school breakfast: protein packed granola is a great alternative to store bought cereal

I have a love-hate relationship with cereal.  I love it because it's easy- my 4 year old can make it himself and my kids really like it.  And I hate it because it lacks real nourishment: it's typically low in protein, processed, and high in sugar.  It also goes right through my kids leaving them hungry 30 minutes after eating.  I've spent my fair share of time in the cereal aisle and have yet to find anything that's a great choice.  Sure, there are some fine choices, but nothing that comes anywhere close to this recipe for real nutrition and staying power!

This recipe for Nut Butter Granola is super nutrient's the breakdown:

  • 15 grams of protein and only 6 grams of sugar per 1/2 cup serving!  
  • healthy fats including omega-3s and lauric acid to boost immunity
  • 1/2 cups meets the recommended daily amount of zinc and magnesium for young children (2 nutrients most kids AND adults don't get enough) 

And here's the recipe:

2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup butter (ideally grass fed, like Kerrygold)
1/2 cup nut butter
1/4 cup real maple syrup (plus or minus depending on your family's taste preferences)
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 cups oats
1/2 cup pistachios*
1 cup cashews*
1 cup pumpkin seeds*

1. Combine the oil, butter, nut butter, maple syrup and vanilla in a sauce pan and heat on low until combined
2. Pulse the cashews, pumpkin seeds and pistachios lightly until some are broken up but some remain whole (I only do this because my 2 and 4 year old prefer the nuts to be broken down).
3. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir adding cinnamon and salt
4. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and cook at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until it begins to dry (the timing may vary depending on your oven and taste preferences).

* You can use any nuts and seeds that you like but I use these because they're some of the highest in protein, magnesium and zinc.


Read more about why zinc and magnesium are such important nutrients for our kids and ourselves here.

the best vitamins and supplements for children

Do you give your child a multivitamin?  What about other supplements?  Since school is back in session and we have less control over what and who our child is exposed to (aka less than ideal food and germs), it's a good time to consider your child's diet and potentially supplements.

Most children don't eat perfectly balanced diets most days (if any).  In fact, less than 20% of kids get the required 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.   Additionally, a child's diet, appetite and affinity for healthy food can change daily- every day is different around here!  So when I'm asked if I give my children a vitamin and if I think it's necessary, my response is "most of the time it can't hurt, and can really help."

So what is the right multivitamin for kids and what other supplements do kids need?

Getting ready for baby

Preparing for the arrival of a baby is exciting!  Your life is about to change in a major way whether this is baby #1 or #6.  I've found there are a few unique things you can do for yourself, your family and your home that will make the last few weeks of pregnancy more relaxing and help you survive and even thrive in the days after baby comes home.

1.  Get a chair massage (aka take time for yourself):  
Chair massages have been such a great treat for me these last few weeks.  A full prenatal massage is also a great option if you have the time, can find someone with the right table and have the funds, but for me, a 20 minute chair massage once a week has helped me relax and feel "treated" without disrupting my schedule or bank account too much.  I also suggest getting your hair and nails done :)

2.  Practice Yoga:  
Maybe it's because I'm not getting any younger, but this 3rd pregnancy has been tougher on my body and I've been crabbier than ever. Yoga has helped with both the body and mind issues of late pregnancy.  And it's a nice little escape from the rest of the world.

3.  Consider your gut health via probiotics:
When a child is born and when you hold him in those first moments, the baby's gut is colonized with your bacteria so it's important to do your best to make it healthy.  Also hospitals are nasty, germ infested places.  Having a healthy gut helps you to be equipped to fight any bug you might encounter.  Here are some ideas for how to get your gut healthy with probiotics.

4.  Get in the water:
Similar to yoga, being in the water has felt great on my joints.  And there's just something about being in and near water that makes you feel refreshed.  Who doesn't need a refresher after 8-9 months of pregnancy...

5.  Have a "bringing home baby" outfit for yourself:
There will be lots of photos in the first few days and weeks, and most of them will be of the baby, but have someone take some photos of your new family on the day baby comes home.  A nice shot at the hospital or in front of the house is a great keepsake.  Find something you can breastfeed in (if you're choosing to breastfeed) and something loose fitting....there will still be a bump (the Duchess of Cambridge had one, and you will too).  Here are some ideas for cute and comfortable postpartum style.

6.  Buy baskets:
Babies have so much stuff.  Keeping a few extra baskets around the house helps keep that stuff organized.  Toys, dirty clothes, clean clothes, diapers, pads, etc. etc.  Put it in baskets and help keep your sanity.

7.  Prepare for the pain:
You'll be sore after birth.  A former colleague introduced me to the idea of soaking pads in witch hazel, wrapping them in foil and putting them in the freezer.  This will feel great for the first few days home after me!  And on that note, there are serious uterine contractions even days after the baby is born, especially when breastfeeding and especially with each subsequent baby.  Stay on top of your pain meds (if you're taking them) or brace yourself and your family.  I didn't realize this with my second and was wailing on the couch the first night home...thank goodness my mom was there.

8.  Buy gifts for the other children from the baby and vice versa:
My 4 year old has been talking to my belly requesting his new toy for weeks.  The baby will take a lot of their attention away, but they also need to accept that and learn to give and welcome this new little member.  I can't wait for the gift exchange in the hospital!

9.  Think about food and water.
Prepare a few extra meals for the freezer, stock up on trail mix, bars, good cheese, smoked salmon, hard boiled eggs, frozen fruit and veg for smoothies etc.  Most days when you're the only adult in the house, you won't sit down to a meal but maybe grab a handful of trail mix, an apple and some cheese.  And regarding water, your thirst level if nursing will be out of control.  Treat yourself to an extra large glass or stainless container with a straw.  It will be your new best friend!

10.  Consider placenta encapsulation:
If you're worried about postpartum depression, low energy or low milk levels, placenta encapsulation might be a good idea for you.  I've read about this a lot lately and a friend and acupuncturist just told me that she did it and it helped her immensely with energy levels and balanced emotional health.  It's touted to help ward off postpartum depression, balance hormones, increase milk supply and replenish nutrients lost during birth.  I haven't tried this before but am considering it this time around.  This article about placenta encapsulation on For The Love Of is very informative.

Good luck and ENJOY!!!  This will truly be one of the most amazing experiences of you life...soak it all up!

Also, the power of touch: skin to skin contact 

How to get a healthy gut: probiotics

affordable and comfortable style after baby: the mom uniform

Style after baby (especially in the first few weeks and months) isn't typically glamours, but that doesn't mean it can't be sometimes.  Here are a few stylish, affordable and washable mom uniform looks that you can breastfeed in anywhere, anytime and still feel a little cuter than you do in your yoga clothes -without sacrificing the comfort.  Just add an oversized scarf and/or favorite cardigan and you're all covered...literally :)

Loft * J.Crew * Zara * Madewell * EverlaneShopbop * Bloomingdales

And what I'll probably be wearing most days: a favorite oxford or denim shirt (PS, try J. Crew, Old Navy or Gap boys department) black jeans or leggings and of course dark sunglasses!

And if you're still dressing the bump, check out Maternity Style, Best Dressed Bumps

One-On-One Time with Your Children

When you have multiple children, there's probably few opportunities to spend real, quality time with them individually.  Sure, there's the time when the older one is at school and you rush to the grocery store, doctor and park quickly before pick-up time.  But what about real quality time?  We recently had the opportunity to spend 4 full days and nights with our 22 month old while our 4 year old was away with his grandparents.  Here's what happened...

1.  I identified my weaknesses as a parent:
Many of the frustrations I was feeling with both of my children had to do with time management,  and specifically not having enough time to do the things I felt I "had" to get done and also my need for alone time.  So I learned that I need to make more time, get up earlier, get more day-time sitters and schedule less.  I'm a better mom when I have fewer expectations of the way the day is supposed to go and I take a little time to enjoy my kids and spend some time alone.  I also had the time to really pay attention and notice what makes Oliver laugh, what makes him frustrated, when he's overwhelmed (and thus likely to lose it) and how he engages with his toys.  I think those observations will help me appreciate him more... and they say gratitude is a key to happiness.

2.  I noticed how I can help better one of my son's weaknesses:
As the second child, Oliver will probably benefit from us sitting down and talking to him more often without the distraction and background noise of his older brother, TV, music or chores.  And I should probably be reading him more books!  All of these things seem to have helped with his speech delay in just 5 short days!

3.  I was able to really pay attention to who Oliver is right now:
Oliver, or "Crash" as my husband calls him, is probably the one who starts more of the trouble than I thought.  He's all boy.  He would probably love a more active day than he's getting lately as he's being shuffled from doctor's appointment to Sam's camp to the grocery store etc.  He also did great playing on his own which he doesn't get a lot of time to do with big brother in the house.

4.  It's good to shake up the routine: 
I don't mean changing up nap time or bedtime, but just looking at the day with a different perspective can be refreshing for everyone and a fresh learning experiences for kids.  Some simple ideas: eat breakfast outside, take time to let your child wonder down the street and pick up sticks, stop to watch the trains go by, throw coins in the fountain and take a long walk after dinner.

5.  It's a nice break for your marriage:
Let's be honest: fewer kids can mean less work which means more time and energy for your spouse.  My husband and I went to brunch, watched movies, chatted and cooked with fewer distractions and enjoyed our younger son together.   Obviously I wouldn't wish for any fewer kids, but every once in a while...

And with all this being said, I also realized how much I love them as brothers and how great it is that they have each other.  When Sam got home he gave me a quick hug and raced to find Oliver!  Sam is so thoughtful and cares so much for Oliver and Oliver looks up to Sam and follows his every move.  It's such a joy to watch their relationship grow and see how much they really do love and enjoy one another....most of the time :)

And to help foster that relationship, check out this great article by Joanna Goddard of A Cup of Jo about Sibling Rivalry, 5 tricks and tips.

And a few more thoughts on parenting...
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