Thursday, November 29, 2012


Christmastime is here. We squeezed as much Christmas spirit as possible into this past weekend since Andrew had to leave soon after Thanksgiving. I sent him off with Christmas tunes on his iPod and pictures of the tree to look at before bed each night. It's a little depressing if I think about that for too long, so let's move on.

Jack has been a bit of a daddy's boy lately. He all but leaps out of my arms when Andrew comes into the room and the other day he sat outside the bathroom door the entire time Andrew was in the shower. He just stared up at the door and waited patiently for him to open it again. Yes, it was as cute as it sounds. He's his daddy's biggest fan and I love that.

 So there was this time when I was doing too much. I pushed myself all day, mostly on house chores and projects, but I was on the go all day long. I felt run down in a big way. Now, my friends, I'm afraid the pendulum has swung in the other direction. I'm embracing this season of rest and down time and relaxed expectations. It feels good.

 It's cold, y'all. We broke out the puffy coats and toboggans this week and it's sort of hilarious how much Jack likes his winter hat. He would wear it all day long if I let him.

Thanks to you fine people, I've kept my mailman busy this week! It's been so fun to have a reason to make something pretty.

I'm going to go heat up a brownie now, scoop on some ice cream and tune into the Hallmark Channel where I'm sure I'll find a mega cheesy Christmas movie that will suck me in in no less than 5 minutes. Tis the season, you know.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

my beautiful new kitchen!

I finally got around to taking pictures of our (mostly) finished kitchen and I figured I'd show you before it gets all Christmas-y up in here. But before we get started, let's just take a look at what we had when we got here:

It was teeny. There was no counter space. There were green counter tops. And now...NOW!

Can you believe it? 

The storage! The counter space! The pretty glass-front cabinets!

There are still a few things to do, like add crown molding to finish off the space between the cabinets and the ceiling. I also want to make a window treatment and whiten the grout. New floors aren't in the budget, but I can at least brighten them up a bit. So far, we're loving the butcher block counters. I think they're beautiful and they're holding up very well. And the IKEA cabinets are great. They're so well-made and functional. I would absolutely recommend them.

For the back splash, we spent a total of $50. Beadboard, baby! We just cut the pre-primed paneling to size and painted it in Valspar's Carolina Inn Club Aqua. I love it because it reminds me of Chapel Hill and because it's exactly the color I had in my mind. It's like a smoky blue-green. Perfect.

I'm not lying when I say that I fix my coffee in the morning and just stand there, looking around and smiling. I love it.

Can you believe how far we've come?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

small business saturday // marvelous prints

It's officially the Christmas season, y'all. I have to admit that I was more excited about Jack seeing our decorated tree when he woke up this morning than I am about Christmas morning. He loves to point and ooohhh and aahhh at it, so I have a feeling that this might be my favorite Christmas yet.

But enough about that. I never showed you my Christmas cards! I didn't design very many this year because I was more focused on the blank sets, thank yous, etc. but I really love the ones I do have.

All of the Christmas cards are 4.5x6.25 and are flat, not folded. Just write a little greeting at the bottom and pop them in the mail!

I think these are pretty fun. I actually just dropped an order of these off at a stationery and gift shop in Mystic, so we'll see what the Christmas shoppers think :)

And the designs (for example, the lights in the one above) are cut out of heavy card stock and glued down with a thin, acid-free adhesive that keeps the paper from bubbling up. It's clean and crisp when it dries.

This one is my favorite:

I like that it steps away from the traditional red and green with a little bit of navy. It's also my favorite, favorite Christmas song.

While Etsy seems to be a difficult place to stand out, just because there are so many options, I've had some really neat opportunities with local shops and organizations. I'm still learning a lot and I have some things in mind for next year that I'm really excited about.

In the meantime, want to do a little shopping? Use the code THANKFUL25 from now until Wednesday to get 25% off of your order. And if you order two or more things from the shop, I'll throw in a little extra surprise :)

Head on over to the Etsy shop to get those stocking stuffers crossed off your list. Happy shopping!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

thanksgiving, then and now

We had a lovely little Thanksgiving up here in Connecticut. We spent the day with some sweet friends and it made me even more thankful for the relationships we've built up here. And then our guests left and I was eating pie and looking through some pictures and I would just like to know who replaced my baby with A LITTLE MAN.

It's the sweater vest, I think, but I'm dead from the cute. 

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

Monday, November 19, 2012

still thankful (while sick and sort of alone)

Saturday night, I got to spend 3 hours in the ER waiting on an antibiotic for mastitis. My weekend was FUN, y'all.

I'll spare you the details of how it all went down (because I'm pretty sure if I start talking about my boobies, my dad would just die right there on the spot) but after diagnosing myself via Dr. Google and then talking to our on-call doctor who insisted that I be seen immediately, I found myself at the local ER. Surrounded by some questionable (and possibly drunk) characters and wishing I could just be at home with my son.

Andrew's gone, by the way. I probably should throw that in there.

It's not fun at all to be sick when your husband is gone and your family is far away. I may have cried a few tears over that in the heat of the moment, but that's nothing a good night's rest and a heavy dose of antibiotics can't cure. But that's not the point. The point is, I've been reminded of so many things that I should be thankful for.

A Navy family who will drop everything and be at my house in 20 minutes to stay with Jack.

Good healthcare that took me away from that visit with not even a co-pay for the medicine.

A very sweet and patient and content little boy who was just the right amount of cuddly on Sunday to make it easy for me to rest.

Chinese takeout.

Friends who understand when you have to cancel that Tuesday play date because your house is trashed and your grocery shopping isn't done and you're hosting a bunch of hungry single sailors for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.

And I was basically forced to stay in my pajamas and watch movies all weekend. I'm thankful for that because HELLO I finally got to watch The Hunger Games.

See? Silver linings all over the place, people.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

jack's sweet potato birthday cupcakes

I know it's a month late, but I thought maybe you'd want to make these in honor of Thanksgiving? I'm not saying you should bump out pie, but if you're looking for a little pre-Thanksgiving treat that's still festive, I'd totally recommend these.


I modified a Food Network recipe, found here.
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, baked, peeled and pureed
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg. In a larger bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs. Add the dry ingredients. Whisk in the sweet potato puree. Fill cupcake liners and bake for about 20-25 minutes.

For the icing, I just used a basic cream cheese frosting (found here.) I originally thought that I would top them with a caramel drizzle or candied pecans but I decided I'd keep it simple. And they were a hit!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

giving thanks, day 13: grace

I've talked a lot about grace, specifically here and here.

But today I'm thankful for the grace I can give myself to stop writing every day this month. I thought I'd have time to write more thoughtful posts (ha!) but instead I have a major case of writer's block because I forget until it's right before bedtime and then I'm exhausted and rushing and it's just not going well. So I'm just going to take it off my plate. I feel so much better already! Thank you, Self.

I'll be back later with the stuff that I feel more inspired to write, mmmk?

Monday, November 12, 2012

veteran's day

You probably knew what I'd be thankful for today, right?

But it's so true. That man works hard. Last week, he worked 6 days straight. He had to stay overnight for three of them. And the other days, he worked 12-15 hours.

As you can imagine, it feels like a vacation (for both of us) when he gets a weekend at home. Thanks to Veteran's Day, we actually got two days together instead of one. It might as well have been Christmas.

Andrew and the people he works with do a lot for us. The collective us, of course. They're away from their families for most of the time, working in a high-stress situation and they go, go, go with very little rest.

When you hear someone thank a serviceman and/or their family for their sacrifices, know that the sacrifices are real. These guys miss everything. They miss the big things like birthdays and anniversaries and holidays and milestones in their kids' lives. But they miss the little things, too, like walks with their family on a Saturday morning and home-cooked meals and the Carolina game and getting to see the flowers bloom in the spring.

It's a lot, you know?

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that my husband works hard and gives up a lot to make sure that we (his family) have our basic needs taken care of and that we (the collective we) are safe and free. And then he jumps right back in to help with Jack and dishes and projects around the house because he wants to. "You haven't had a break all week," I say. "You haven't had one, either," he says back.

Sorry, ladies. He's all mine. And I thank God every day for that.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

mmm, cracker barrel

Things I miss about the South:
  • Sweet tea
  • Corn bread
  • Fried things
In no particular order and yes, I miss other things (and people) as well. But I really miss those things.

So sometimes you just have to drive an hour to Cracker Barrel to feel like you're actually sitting off of I-40 in Raleigh or I-26 in Summerville. They all look the same from the inside, you know? It's a very home, sweet home kind of moment and I appreciate those.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

bath time

When you ask Jack if he's ready for a bath, he sprint-crawls down the hallway to see if the water's running yet. Then when you strip him down, he flails and giggles as we carry his nakey little body to the tub. I think it might be the best part of his day. In fact, I asked him if he liked his bath and this was the response:

Yes, he clapped.

So as silly as it may seem, I'm thankful for a little boy who gets this jazzed about bath time. It usually comes at the very end of the day when I'm running on fumes, but he makes it enjoyable and something to look forward to.

He's sweet like that.

Friday, November 9, 2012

giving thanks, day 9: funny things on pinterest

Sometimes I go to Pinterest for some inspiring home decorating idea or a yummy recipe and sometimes I go for a good laugh. Today, on an especially cranky-pants and toddler-ish day, I'm thankful for the things that make me laugh. Happy Friday.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

puppy love

This dog has been feeling a little (a lot) neglected lately. He loves that Jack is noticing him and trying to interact with him, but sometimes that interaction is cut short when Rudy's response to that interaction is a little more enthusiastic than we'd like (i.e. excessive licking and/or slight tackling). We're working on that.

And Rudy is a pouter. We try to make him feel included and loved, but he takes the slightest reprimand as a huge insult. He's never acted aggressively toward Jack, but if he's shooed away because he keeps swatting him in the face with his tail or eating Cheerios out of his hand or licking him RIGHT ON THE MOUTH, he gets his feelings hurt and slinks off to the corner to curl up and flash his sad eyes.

Nonetheless, whether Rudy chooses to feel our love or not, he's a good dog and he's our favorite dog. I'm thankful for his kind nature and his snuggliness. I'm thankful for his patience with Jack. I'm thankful that he detects a stranger before I even see them coming down the driveway. And I'm thankful that as long as we put Jack to bed at a decent time, he still acts like he likes us. 


And for the record, as gross as it is that Rudy licks my kid on the mouth, Jack crawls toward him with his mouth wide open, trying to kiss him on the snout. And then he laughs hysterically when he gets licked. So it's kind of not Rudy's fault. (But it's still gross.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

trader joe's love

Can a person be thankful for Trader Joe's? Because I totally am.

I made the 45-minute trek today IN THE SNOW to the closest store and stocked up on enough goodies to last several months. I swear, I get in there and I just go insane. It's like a drug that I can't (and don't want to) quit.

So please do allow me to share with you some of my favorite things to get at Trader Joe's. You're welcome.
  • Coffee. Their organic fair trade breakfast blend is my favorite. I'm not a crazy person about buying organic, but I do try to avoid the "dirty dozen" and coffee's on that list. This is the cheapest I've found AND it's tasty. Win!
  • Dried fruit and nuts. I'm always adding nuts and dried fruit to our salads and we like to throw them in baked oatmeal, too. This is another usually-expensive-but-not-at-TJs item on my list.
  • Maple Pecan Granola. Best cereal ever. The end.
  • Nutty Chocolate Granola Bars. I usually buy 7-10 boxes of these and I'm not kidding. Andrew stashes them at work for those days that he misses lunch and I keep them in the pantry to throw in my purse when we're running out the door to church or a doctor's appointment.
  • CHEESE! They have an insane selection of cheese and they have really unique kinds, which I like to snag for parties or dinners. This time of year they have their cranberry chevre. Perfect for Thanksgiving.
  • Frozen mandarin orange chicken. Cook it up with some broccoli and rice and it's a super easy/fast dinner.
  • Frozen roasted corn. I always like to have several bags of these in my freezer because they're a nice addition to all kinds of soups and chilis. We had it in our tortilla soup this week and somehow the flavor is just better than regular corn.
  • Flowers. They have the prettiest flowers and I always have to pick out a bunch to bring home. Today, I grabbed the hydrangeas because they remind me of Charleston and it was my way of rebelling against this nor'easter. I'm feisty like that.
 Do tell. What are your TJs staples?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

election day

Predictable, right? That I would post something about being thankful for the right to vote?

But I am. And I'm deeply grateful for everything that has happened up until this point to secure that right.

I'm also thankful that my hope is not in either of those men on my TV tonight. I like that even though the political/social/moral/economic issues that these men talk about have often kept me up at night because how can one man be completely right about all of it? I know that I can set my heart and mind on things above and that gives me so much peace.

Also. I read this last night and it's stuck with me all day. Happy Voting Day, friends.

Monday, November 5, 2012

giving thanks, day 5: the bedtime routine

It's rare that this kid sits in my lap for any length of time, without trying to lunge after something on the ground with no regard to gravity. But at bedtime, it's like he knows that we're winding down and he's content to just hang out for a few minutes.

We'll read a book, look at pictures of Andrew if he's gone or working, maybe have a tickle fight or two. He'll give me kisses, which I love. He'll wave or clap and try to make Indian sounds with his hand over his mouth, except he can't move his hand fast enough so it just sounds like, "uuuuuhhhhhhh." Recently, he learned what a belly button is, so he likes to find mine and point it out. He can't find his on account of the rolls. God bless him.

I've been loving those moments more and more, especially since he switched into hyper-drive the day he turned one. Hello, my busy little toddler.

And then there are nights like tonight, where the day just sucked every bit of energy out of him and he fell asleep on my shoulder before 7pm. He'd just had a bath, too, so his little head smelled all sweet and fresh.

He's a keeper, no doubt about it.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


That's what I'm thankful for today.

I used to be embarrassed to call myself a creative person. I felt like I was claiming a talent or skill that could only be evident if someone else saw it and they said it, not me. And then about two years ago, I heard a pastor say that there are things that stir your heart and give you joy while you do them and they are God-given passions that should be fostered, because seeing that joy in us gives Him joy as well. It was the permission I needed to claim the fact that, yes, I am creative.

This morning, while Jack was napping and Andrew was doing yard work, I stayed in my pajamas, sat down with my second cup of coffee and got started on a little design work I'm doing for a custom order - a mission statement and bible verse that this family claims over their home. It basically says that they promise to love every person who walks through their door, without question or judgement. And when my fingers were moving around, changing up colors and fonts on the computer, I felt so full. To be able to create something like that, knowing it will be on their walls and (hopefully) blessing others who read it - it was a little overwhelming.

And it feels good to know that my Father got joy out of that, too.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

dating my husband

As soon as Andrew and I got married, we instituted Friday date nights. Sometimes we went out, sometimes we ordered in and ate in front of a movie, but we always set aside that time. We manged to maintain that for the first three-ish years that we were married, even when he was in Prototype and only had a few days off each month.

Then, Jack. And submarines. Womp, womp.

We still try to get those dates in, but it usually looks like us nodding off in front of the DVR at 10pm. We miss each other when we don't get real time away, so we both know how important it is. But really, the cost of a babysitter is no joke.

So when our friends offered to keep Jack today to give us some time together, we practically dropped him and ran. We got away for three whole hours (THREE!) to go to lunch and meander around town. I didn't rush through my meal, we spoke in complete sentences and we even got to hold hands. Magical, I tell you.

So today, I'm thankful for generous friends and a husband worth dating. Both are incredible blessings if you ask me.

Friday, November 2, 2012

giving thanks | day 2

Every year, I see people on blogs and on Facebook listing something that they're thankful for every day for the month of November. I like the challenge of blogging every day, but I also like the idea of remembering to give thanks. So let's do this, shall we?

And as for Day 1, let's just say I'm thankful for little boys in dinosaur costumes.


Today, I'm thankful that my little family is back together again.

Andrew was delayed coming back because of the storm, so to know that we're all here and safe and dry is an especially sweet feeling.

And! Miracle of all miracles, he doesn't have duty on Saturday OR Sunday! Besides the weekend of Jack's party, which he actually had to use leave for, I can't remember the last time that he's been in Connecticut and been home all weekend. I'm not even kidding. We have a little lunch date planned, but the rest of our time will be spent doing lots of family-y things. Probably in the form of lazy mornings, PJs into the afternoon and walks to the park.

What are you thankful for? Let me know if you're doing something similar because I'd love to read along!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


We're back to normal after Hurricane Sandy blew through our neck of the woods. It was a scary 24 hours, but losing power was the worst of it. Jack and I walked around the neighborhood on Tuesday and I was tearfully grateful that we made it through the night without any damage to our home or ourselves. We felt every single one of your prayers.

Last year, Jack was little more than a two-week-old blob on Halloween. I had no intentions of dressing him up - I just wanted to make it through the night without anyone ringing the doorbell so that I could collapse into bed after he did. Around 7:30pm.

But this year, even though we weren't sure if Sandy had ruined Halloween, we embraced it. We dressed up and went trick-or-treating to the few doors that left their lights on. We tagged along with some friends and even though Jack just hung out in the stroller, his friend Addison asked every person for "a piece for Baby Jack." Needless to say, I have a nice little stash of candy. Easiest Halloween ever.


And for the record, I full intend on him wearing that costume a few more times before it's too small. I mean, really. Did you see the tail?
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