Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I feel like I have this long-term neighborly relationship with the state of Arkansas, having lived next-door to it my entire life. Not only do I live in neighboring Tennessee, but our city is perched right on the Mississippi river, with Arkansas directly across. Thus, I spend most of my days within a fifteen-minute drive of the place. Driving to Texas my whole life (visiting family / going to college), requires a trip across Arkansas that I have made countless (countless!) times. My siblings and I went to camp in Arkansas (on this very lake I am telling you about!) growing up, and my husband went to college in this state. We are so fortunate to be able to visit his parents' cabin in Heber Springs, which I've written about before several times)

There is so much natural beauty in that state (not to mention some great people very dear to us!).

We took the girls for a visit this past weekend (Molly's first time!), and had a wonderful weekend relaxing, fishing a little, enjoying the beautiful weather and back porch, and slower pace. We also had "Uncle T-Bone" with us, which is always fun. And we got to visit the Carpenters!

Thankfully, we made it home safely despite driving through blinding rain for most of the way Sunday (our hearts go out to those affected by the tornadoes that day/night).

As many of you know, it can feel like a lot of work picking up little people's worlds and transporting them elsewhere for a weekend (it seems like it's the same amount of stuff  required no matter how short a visit is). It was ALL worth every single minute to experience the joy they had just being with us, uninterrupted, and experiencing a new place. Really helps to recharge one's batteries.

Our place is all nestled up in the trees overlooking the lake. So serene.

Greers Ferry Lake, Arkansas is a beautiful place so special to my family. I look forward to seeing how this lake and all its magic carves out a spot in my children's hearts as they grow up visiting and enjoying God's creation.

Just so you know (I didn't!), April has been "Keep America Beautiful" month. The fine folks at Dropcam asked if I'd like to share a little about my "special slice of America," as I've done here. 

P.P.S. If you haven't, you still have time to enter my gift card giveaway to Langford Market! 

we dug in the dirt // a night making succulents-in-teacups

Friday, April 25, 2014

I don't know what a better term for these would be? What would be easier to say than succulents-in-teacups or succulents-in-cups? If you've got something, I'm all ears.

Monday night was our little event at Wish/Langford Market here in Memphis. It was so fun! (Look at those little squash and pepper containers up there! Killer.)

I'd picked up some cups and mugs from an estate sale a few weekends prior, along with one of the store managers finding a few things. We had our little containers of rocks for the bottom of the cups, dirt, and the vessels... we were set! (for a full-ish how-to, go to this link)

Unfortunately, our start time had been planned for exactly when the Grizzlies were tipping off Game 2 against the Thunder (go grizz!) We still had several people come enjoy the little project, and all who did had fun. It's always fun to dig in the dirt a little and make something. Plus, these things are just so darn cute (and easy!)

Speaking of cute, I love looking at the clothes in Langford Market. The store is set up into three sections, all connected, but all a little distinct from each other; first is Wish, then Langford Market, and then Addison. Our "craft" table was set up in the Addison side, which may have been my favorite section. Look at this, this, and cute. I'm excited about going back and trying a few things on! Their price point seems pretty reasonable to me, and they're always running promos.

Dainty little refreshments for the evening:

Funny-ish story, but I ran into Wish the night of my birthday party a few weeks ago, like an hour before it started, dashing around the store and grabbing things to try on at the last minute. I ended up with a cute multi-colored top (it's not online). Everyone was really helpful and most importantly, I was out of there in 20 minutes. Then, totally unrelated to my visit in the store, they emailed me about doing this event the very next week! Meant to be, I suppose.

Anyway, I have a $50 gift card to giveaway to Langford Market/Wish! Unfortunately, it cannot be used online, only in their stores.

They have locations in Memphis, New Orleans, Chicago, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. If you're local to any of these areas, please enter by leaving a comment below and telling me your favorite thing about spring time. If you don't want to do that, it's fine to just say Hi. I'll announce the winner next week!

I should say here that while they gave me the gift card for this giveaway, all of the opinions written above are my own. Thanks!

our anniversary is on earth day (4-22)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Yesterday was a normal Tuesday. We went to work, took the kids to school, ran errands at lunch, made dinner...but it was also a special day, remembering our wedding day 8 years ago. I emailed my friend Leanne yesterday, and was like, "8 years is long but also not," and she said, ", whoa, almost a decade, but whoa, you still have (Lord willing) 50 more years to go!"

I like being at this stage of our marriage/adulthood where we can enjoy any old activity, so long as we're together. And ha! That we did (as I posted on instagram last night), since we attended an urban planning lecture last night (this, if you're that we're staying in Memphis, I'm excited to dig our heels in even more and see what we can do to help improve our city). Not a super romantic date, I know, but we are planning some other fun/out-of-the-ordinary stuff for the weekend.

Um, child bride alert, as you can see! If you're good at math (I just turned 30 two weeks ago), you'll realize that we got married two weeks after my 22nd birthday. Eeee! Wouldn't change a thing though. Everyone makes their own decisions, obviously, but I love that I've shared my entire adulthood with Jonathan. Learned how to do stuff alongside him. Struggled. Paid bills. Saved. Traveled. Worked terrible jobs. Made big decisions. Worked some great jobs. (Almost) got one of us through professional school.

We've developed who we are as adults together, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I like to think one of the strengths of our relationship is that we give each other room to think through things...form opinions...and then love to come together to discuss and either agree, or support each other in our differences.

I love this man and the family/life we've made together. Everything is of course not always perfect (not even close), but I think it's a good sign when I'm only excited about all of the adventures that await us.

* Can we talk real quick about how nice it is to not care about weddings anymore? I don't mean this in a snotty way....I just mean, we had our wonderful / fairy tale / beautiful / fun wedding day, but it's now far enough in the past that I couldn't really care less about any decisions we made about anything for it. I love weddings and looking at beautiful images of them, but the trends are like, three cycles ago by this point so who cares. I'm just glad to be married!

Anniversary posts of yore: 
7th anniversary // 6th year // 5th year post // 4th year post // 3 year (none, whoops) // 2nd year post // 1st year post


Monday, April 21, 2014

We had a fantastic Easter and wonderful three-day weekend as a family celebrating Christ's resurrection. With residency looming, I am trying to be super cognizant of the blessing that is having Daddy home with us multiple days in a row. It's so nice. Being together as a family is really my very favorite thing, as cliche as it sounds.

Friday we took a picnic to the park. You should've seen Juliette's face light up when I said the word "park." She was so excited. We played for a while and then spread out on the grass to eat our lunch. Across the field, we saw our across-the-street neighbors with our former next-door neighbors having a little picnic of their own. It was so good to see everyone, with 8 kids between us in varied ages (my two being the youngest), all out enjoying the lovely weather. Molly was toddling around, and Jules was playing with some of the other kids' toys (can't remember what...balls or rings or something). Anyway, she was on a play-mission and happened to be walking over their picnic her current walking path, she looked down slightly at the box of cupcakes on the blanket, but tromped right over them anyway! Oh brother, I was mortified! To be fair, it just looked like a bright green box from the outside (you couldn't see the cupcakes), but oh, those poor two squashed strawberry ones! That girl, my lands. So sorry, sweet Louise, that your birthday picnic cupcakes were a little smushed (to say the least).

Thursday night, one of my favorite parenting moments ever occurred. It was 5:45 PM, and just one of those horrible times you hear about..."the witching hour" and all of that. This may sound a little wacky, but through the power of positive thinking / being oblivious, in my mind we've largely avoided too much chaos and meltdowns during this time of day (or maybe because of our schedules? I don't know). But this was not one of those days. They were both crying, crying, crying, about everything. This doesn't happen too often, but when it does, Jonathan and I just grit our teeth and try to get through it. We finally decided to just go ahead and put Molly in her high chair and just let her sit there and cry, so at least she'd be contained while we finished up fixing dinner. Jules was wandering around crying after a little potty accident (while in time-out, of course), just crying. We were both head down, trying to finish up dinner and we look over to the sweetest sight--they had just found each other. Juliette had wandered over to Molly and they were hugging it out, just crying and hugging. When they finally pulled away and looked at each other, they both immediately smiled and started laughing. Jonathan and I just laughed and tried to memorize the sight...this miracle of comfort they found in each other. I hope it is the first of many times this happens in their lives! Though, I never would've thought to try it at 13 mos and 2.5!

Easter photos were next to impossible. They were never still, never looking at the camera, never smiling at the same time. This is the best we got, with them looking in the same general direction, and I'm so glad it was with my pretty mommy/their Grammy, and their sweet cousin Jane. Can you hardly stand the matching smocked dresses, because I can't!

It's sort of late, but don't forget my craft night, TONIGHT at Langford Market in Cooper-Young, if you're local! 7 PM!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Here I go again, doing a demonstration of something that's more akin to common sense. Apologies but we're going for it anyway.

I've sprinkled this blog with these over the years (here / here wow, old), and thought maybe it was time to resurrect. This is one of my favorite tricks for house plants and old / pretty cups.

Get you a pretty teacup or coffee mug, put some rocks in the bottom, sprinkle in some dirt, and plant your succulent plant of choice (avg $2 at Home Depot or Lowe's).

C'est tout (that's it)!

I'll actually be at Wish/Langford Market in Cooper-Young this coming Monday night to host a little "craft night" and make some of these in honor of Earth Day Eve! Also they're running a cool promo where a portion of sales from 5-7 PM that night will go to benefit the Overton Park Conservancy.

 Pretty fun! If you're in Memphis, I hope you can make it.

on weaning and stovetop popcorn

Monday, April 14, 2014

I weaned Molly this past week. It was a hard decision. Around her birthday, we'd gotten to the golden stage of only nursing first thing in the morning and before bedtime. No more pumping. No more bottles. It was ideal. These were the some of the sweetest times of the day for me. And my snuggly girl loved it too--never showed any disinterest.

The tip of the weaning iceberg was our Nashville trip when she cut four teeth and eeeeowww. Biting. My poor little gal had a tough couple of days (we both did).

But real talk for a minute: the main reason I decided to wean was that I'm ready to have my body back. I think my body just holds on to the extra while I'm nursing, and I'm ready to get rid of it. I've realized that most of the time I feel like I'm dressing to hide in my clothes. That is dumb (and I know more of an attitude problem than anything). I don't want to be living in this waiting-to-feel-like-myself limbo anymore. It was a bit of a struggle feeling like vanity was beating down maternal instinct but ultimately, I just decided it was okay to stop.

I am so thankful for these past 13 months nursing my Molly. I realize this is not everyone's experience with nursing, and I'm glad to have been able to enjoy it so much. There are times (mornings especially) when I miss it so much my heart aches a little. On the other hand, Molly has done great with the transition, which has made it much easier. She's been content with a little bottle of thawed frozen milk at bedtime (3-4 oz), and a sippy cup of whole cow's milk in the mornings with breakfast.

In the meantime...who loves popcorn?

There's one hundred million of these popcorn instructions on the internet already, I know. Juuuuust in case you hadn't seen one of them, here you go.

We started making our popcorn on the stovetop about a year ago and have never looked back to the bagged stuff. Then my friend Lauren wrote a great post highlighting some of the health benefits of homemade popcorn, and that made us feel even better about things (always nice).

We try different variations depending on which one of us is making it and what our mood is, but here's the general concept:

- Get out your medium saucepan with lid and put it over high heat.

- Cover the bottom of the pot with some kind of oil. Tonight, I used a spoonful of coconut oil and let it melt in the pan, and then added a tablespoon of (real) butter or so. Sometimes we do olive oil or canola oil if that's all we have...just need some oil.

- Pour in 1/3 cup popcorn kernels (we use generic Kroger brand at this point) and kinda shimmy them so they cover the bottom. You could sprinkle on something like garlic salt on at this point if you like.

- Put the lid on and let it start popping over the high heat. You need to be pretty vigilant to make sure it doesn't burn. This amount of kernels fills up the pot to the top of the lid of my 2 quart pot.

- Remove immediately once it's done and transfer to a large bowl. Here's where we add salt to taste, sometimes a little black pepper, and sometimes shred parmesan or asiago cheese over it with my microplane zester. yum. I have yet to make kettle corn-type popcorn this way, but I know you could very easily. I just never want to give up my savory snack by the time it's ready!

Does everyone already make their popcorn like this? If you do...isn't it GOOD?

Ffffriday / packing away winter

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wrapping up a fun birthday week over here, and settling into my thirties...aaahhhhhh. Crazy to say that.

We are staring two days of gorgeous weekend weather in the face and I can't wait. Besides being outside a lot (with our new double jogger that we just bought through facebook!), I have a major date with the kids' clothes. I feel like we are swimming in little girls' clothes and something has to be done. Unfortunately, you can't organize the kids' clothes while they're napping. I can't envision it working well while they're awake either, so I may have to ship them off with their daddy for an hour or two while I can pack away the winter things and get out the spring stuff for little sissy (and their little cousin!). The natural shopper in me loves "having" to acquire new clothes for Juliette every season, but there is a twinge of sadness coming across things she'll never wear again. On the bright side, I think the girls' ages/sizes have finally caught up where Molly will be able to wear most of Jules' things from here on out (I hope, majorly hope). She's a little smaller in general, so I think it'll work. Maybe. The different-seasons birthdays were tricky there for a minute. Yay for cute clothes redux.

Related, but I am loving so much of what Tea Collection has put out for this spring! Their clothes are really great quality and the few pieces we've had have withstood tough days at school and on the playground (since I've put them on the girls every time they're clean!). I'm an absolute sucker for one-pieces/bubbles, isn't this ridiculous?

I also love this, and this for my oldest. (Can't resist also mentioning that one of the founders of Tea Collection went to my high school. Turkeys, represent!)

Not a giant golf fan, but there's nothing like watching the last round of the Masters on Sunday afternoon after a good nap. Looking forward to it. Happy weekend!

Little-Biscuits! and portrait door signs

Thursday, April 10, 2014

If you follow me on instagram or facebook, you may have seen my post about this already this week but here goes.

This is a big week for my friend and pen pal, the ever-talented Hannah Carpenter, who has launched her portrait site, Little-Biscuits, after months of hard work (and more hard work).

I am among the very lucky (I know!) to have had Hannah draw my children for her site... not gonna lie, it's pretty exciting going to her site and seeing my little chickies staring back at me!

Isn't Hannah's talent breathtaking? I am pretty obsessed with how she captured my little cuties.

There are really a million ways you could use your digital portrait! Little-Biscuits cleverly offers 8 downloadable templates when you purchase your portrait (I wanna get some of those dress-me notepads done for Jules sometime soon)! I have already used Molly's portrait for some cupcake toppers and on a banner at her birthday party, as well as on the invitation and thank-you cards.

But I was looking for a way to hang them on the wall and be able to look at them every day and thought of this door-sign idea.

Back-story because I can't help it: in typical first-time mom excitement preparing a nursery, I made a yarn wreath for Juliette's nursery. It moved with her to her big-girl room, but Molly's nursery door has sadly been blank her entire life (#secondchildprobs). I'd already been brainstorming how to remedy this, when I realized these portraits were the perfect solution!

When picking up a few supplies for the birthday party at Michaels, I grabbed these 5x7 frame-less frames (not sure the technical term?) for maybe $3.99 each (cheaper if you have the 40% off coupon on their iPhone app....or yeah, a paper coupon). (Please pardon the following iPhone pics, I was too excited to stop and get out the other camera at this point.)

Then I laid out the portraits in my design software at a 5x7 size, adding their names below and then printing on photo paper so it would look a little shiny.

Used my paper cutter to cut them out and frame...

And voila! Now that I've written all that out it feels silly because this isn't even really a craft it's so simple. Oops. 

We have hollow-core doors (boo), so I didn't want to attempt nailing them into the doors. I had some of these 3M command strips lying around, so I just stuck one to the back of each of the clips holding the frame together (4 total), and then stuck to the door with some force. They seem surprisingly sturdy on there.

This hallway has zero natural light so I wasn't able to get a good photo of them hanging side-by-side on their respective doors. Use your imagination. (And those ceiling fans...gah.)

I love how clean and simple they look on the doors. The girls love to point at them, Molly especially.

Assuming you utilize a 40% off coupon, you could complete this project for around $3ish/pop.

Thank you again to Hannah for capturing my "little biscuits" at ages 2.5 and 1, respectively. Such a sweet snapshot of them at this stage of life -- I know we will treasure them always!

Our 2012 Christmas card by Hannah / amazing Knight family portrait / more illustrations

The night before 30

Monday, April 07, 2014

March 26, 1984. That was my mother's due date.

Thirteen days later on April 8, through the aid of forceps, I entered the world.

So here we are: the eve of a decade change for moi. 30. Being an avid blog reader I've been reading turning-thirty posts for years (what does this say about my generation?)....and now it's my turn.

they got me birthday cups/swag!

Thirty had always seemed far away until all of a sudden it wasn't. When Jonathan started medical school, I would think to myself, "I will be thirty when he graduates." ie, that is so far away still. And here we are by gosh. Graduation is staring us in the face and so is the completion of my third decade on the earth.

Honestly I don't really care too much? I don't want to be 20 anymore. I know who I am. I don't need to be the youngest, or the skinniest, or the prettiest, or the richest. I'm over all the "-est"s in a lot of ways. I love the life that my husband and I have made together.

My twenties were for learning how to be an adult, how to be a wife, how to become a mother. I suppose I'll spend the rest of my life learning those things, but maybe without so many growing pains? I've had jobs I hated and learned how to be resourceful and move on. I've budgeted vacation days. I've learned (sort of) how to cook. I've learned how to get life insurance. I've GC'd a home renovation. I've gotten up every day and gone to work. I've grieved: loss of a dear friend and a close grandparent, mourned the loss of a pregnancy, had a major health scare with Jules. We've celebrated the birth of two healthy children, success at work, sold our first place and bought our first house, celebrated accomplishments, deepened friendships and made new ones.

Though not handling everything always so gracefully, I do recognize God's kindness to me in it all. This is something Im always learning too--it's all just grace upon grace.

I'm excited to be thirty (besides, Jonathan has been doing a great job blazing the trail, for several years now :) ).

It seems like the best years are ahead. Let's go.

I don't scrapbook

Friday, April 04, 2014

Every April, my girls' school has "teacher appreciation week." Let me tell you, I'm appreciative. Through God's grace (truly), we are fortunate to have our kids able to be at a wonderful place during the day while we work. I hesitate to use the term "day care" too often because every aspect of the place feels more like a school (and it helps assuage my mom guilt a little too, let's be honest). The teaching, environmental, and even nutritional philosophies align so well with the kind of environment we want for our girls--lots of focus on play-based learning, lots of time outside experiencing nature, nutritional lunches and snacks with an emphasis on fruits and veggies. It's been a really great fit for us.

That's why, in April, when parents are asked to make scrapbook pages for their teachers--an endeavor outside my realm of normal activity--despite my hemming, hawing and procrastinating--I am happy to do it. We really do appreciate their teachers immensely, day in and day out...and it's always a good exercise to go back through the previous 9ish months and curate a collection of photos of my favorite girls.

This was my first year to make two sets (Molly was but one month old this time last year!). So here's where we ended up:

I make one master and then just copy it for each individual page. (At the end of the "school year," I'll do a more personalized note for each teacher. That's still four months away so I've got some more time.)

Intricate, detailed crafty activities like this with potential for a million trillion options usually make my selective-OCD tendencies surface; ie, I want things to be perfect but they can't so I get paralyzed and want to never start too many decision options and I just like to make one decision blah blah blah. I try to keep this project simple or stickers, photo borders and paint pens would surely overwhelm my senses. Just printed copy paper and double-stick tape, thank you very much.

ANYWAY this project is done for the year, so high fives all around!

Hope you have a fantastic weekend. It's my last one in my twenties!!! More about that next week. Peace.

The Fresh 20, saving my sanity

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Jonathan made FRIJOLES Y HUEVOS RANCHEROS the other night. I don't even know how to pronounce that out loud (only ever took French).

I have The Fresh 20 to thank for this.

Meal planning has never been my strong suit. Or my suit at all. I first learned about this genius subscription service on Hannah's post several weeks ago. I signed up for the free mini-week trial; we followed the shopping list and loved all of the recipes we made. They were running some sort of promo for St. Patrick's Day (?), so I took the plunge and signed up for a 6 month subscription!

Here's how it works:

  • Every week you get a downloadable meal plan and shopping list. 
  • Every meal plan comes with 5 recipes that require purchasing no more than 20 ingredients total (for all 5 meals!). There is a pantry list you are to keep stocked every week, however.
  • All of the ingredients are "real food" - fresh / unprocessed.
  • There's a cost estimate for all of the groceries on the ingredients page, which is then broken down into cost per meal.
  • There are several plans available: "classic," vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free... they've thought of it all.
You'll end up making things like FRIJOLES Y HUEVOS RANCHEROS. Delicious and nutritious!

(This consists of a corn-wheat tortilla topped with black beans/red pepper/fennel mixture plus a poached egg, topped with cilantro, cheese, a little plain Greek yogurt, with sweet potato fries on the side.)

So so good. Everything we've made has been good! I love being able to offer this kind of food to the girls, to broaden their palettes and not rely on hodge-podge standbys night after night.

Each recipe takes about 30ish minutes to prepare. This would be greatly shortened if we would take the beginning-of-the-week prep advice clearly laid out for you on page 1 (most of the chopping, roasting, shredding, etc.). If you already had all your stuff prepped, these meals wouldn't take long at all. 

Many thanks to my dear husband for preparing most of these meals (he has been getting home early for the past few weeks). We'll enjoy this while we can! 

Having the guesswork taken out of dinner has been huge for us, as well as knowing we're preparing fresh, healthy foods that aren't the same week after week. I highly recommend!
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