Thursday, November 30, 2017

monthly recap vol. 50~ November 2017 & my trip to Seattle

This was a great month.

I can honestly say I feel 100% invigorated after a lovely NOvember month and Thanksgiving spent in Seattle with my sister, her family, and her friends {friendsgiving there was everything I hoped for and more, as their house is gorgeous and their friends in that city are just the best}.

I read some good and great books this month. #libraryfinds Four in total, one still in progress.

If I'm honest, I hated Truly Madly Guilty  by Liane Moriarty. It is long, drawn out, and utterly boring.  Normally, I love this author. If you've only read What Alice Forgot and this one, I HIGHLY recommend reading Big Little Lies next. It is SO MUCH BETTER than many of her other/more recent books. I was fanatical about it when I finished it. Her ability to weave an intense plot together and come out utterly surprising comes to a pinnacle in this book.  I'm honestly surprised I stuck this one out to the end. :-0

Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg

This book is gripping, and it is about a serious medical situation (a coma-- not a spoiler) without hitting triggers and scaring the crap out of you.  Her writing is sensitive, and the tone is daring and bright.  I will definitely read more by this author!

Possession by Byatt

I'm still not done with this, but it is meaty, engaging prose. I'm enjoying it! :0)

The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion

This book was all over the map and nothing like my favorite book by her The Year of Magical Thinking. The stuttering prose is hard to get into and it sucks you dry. I am just going to come out and say I do not recommend this book. I felt like I went into a coma reading it.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

I have so many strong feelings about this book. It is a novel about global warming and a somewhat or seemingly lost individual named Dellarobia who lives in small town, poor Southern USA.  She discovers monarch butterflies who have mistakenly migrated to her town for overwintering (staying the winter) and although I'm not sure if this premise is completely true, her philosophies are incredibly interesting (endangered species, carbon emission, etc).  Loved: Her ability to capture this economic bracket (and culture, definitely) with depth, sensitivity, and wit. Hated: her plot weaving, which reminded me of that old 90's cartoon Fern Gully. ("Don't cut down the trees!") It just stumbled and plodded along. Nothing was gripping enough to totally suck me in.  Even The Poisonwood Bible was more interesting, less boring than this book (and that book felt Looooong to me).

the maple syrup latte.... was yummy.

also read this ... on the plane to...

(yes! i actually went there.... :)

{photo by Ivey} :0)

Let's see... what did we do?

Coffee Shops Galore!

Bookstores/ KEXP (Bucket List= CHECK!)
They have a coffee shop, a stage with live music, and a CD/record store to peruse. fun!

Seattle Center (Fish Market and Pike Place Market)

We attended Church; together we went to Mass at St. Therese parish

Lots and lots of play time with my niece and nephew 😂

In Seattle, Little Free Libraries are shrink-wrapped haha :) #seattlestyle

What we didn't do:

 get a reservation at DELANCEY b/c it was already booked until the week after I left!!!! #singletear

renovate the inside and outside of our house... {and totally ruin it in the process } #what


With all of the heavy holiday food, I'm taking respite in green smoothies. I can make the Bolthouse Strawberry and Banana juice last all week by combining it with any of the following: bananas, juice, frozen mango, frozen berries, yogurt, or even a dash of milk, vanilla, or a little bit of ice etc.I just pour all in our vitamix and run Smoothie program. I love making it last all week for my kiddos. But my *favorite* addition is a cup of spinach. It is delicious!


Stranger Things

I absolutely loved- no, adored- binge-watching this with Stephen.  We laughed, we cringed, we screamed in terror, and we may have cried-- I'm not saying.  I loved having someone to put his arm around me during the watching of this show.  Someone's leg to squeeze-- required! :) #majorpropstohubby #babes


Yeah... nope. Stephen and I really didn't enter fandom really at all for this movie. I guess I'm glad I saw it so I could see *why* there was hype, (and the street child theme wuuuuuz much-appreciated) but it didn't ring true for me.

uno episode of The Walking Dead
it. was. disgusting!!!!
"so gross and so dumb!" - my friend Libba 


I'm so impressed by Adele's impeccable style
Very American, no?
And I'm obsessed with her office 😍😻

nada much this month.

listening- My Seattle playlist {inspired by KEXP best songs of all time}

~what's keeping me going~

-the Riverwalk in town.... I have found steps! I run from a tennis club to to the Bluff View art district, do the steps, go up and down 5 times (it's a long flight!) and turn around and run the half mile back to my car!  My legs feel like rubber at the end every single time.

-the beautiful fall leaves big and small, here and there, West coast, right coast

-The light... the best time to walk is in the afternoon, but right now I'm doing it in the morning some and skipping the steps.... I can do hills multiple times though! It is so pretty walking with the stroller -- before the trees are naked!

-the Happiness podcast with Gretchen Rubin is >>>> the only podcast to me right now that doesn't feel like a sermon or a commercial! So, major props to her!!!

-the refreshing experience of getting on a plane, traveling to the home of relatives, being received with hospitality and Christian/Christ-like love by my sister and her friends

It has been a good month! An absolutely wonderful month, friends. :)

Hi, Leigh!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Very Merry Advent {Shopping Guide}

So, wait?! I can't start celebrating Christmas right now? ....Well, I guess I'll twiddle my thumbs.

No! >>Don't Jump The Gun.<< Some people have all their bases covered, even an Advent playlist (!!!). But what if you're a newbie to the Advent game? It starts in two weeks!  What is needed?

In honor of the fact that I'm going out of town, today is a special post! Here are 20 things to kick off your Advent celebration and observation.  

and.... joke time.
Stephen: Why does Sufjan sound so sad when he says "Rejoice"?
Me: He's happy, but he's expectant.  #laughcry

1.  Silver Advent Wreath

Here is a pretty wreath that is simply that: it holds your candles.  I have searched every where for an Advent wreath like the one we have, but I actually found it at a Lutheran thrift store during our Annapolis days. It is wonderful for adding living greenery!

For so long, I celebrated using red candles, because that felt seasonally appropriate to me. I have finally- I'm proud to say- converted! *yay!* And I use the pink and purple candles, now.


These are pretty purple placemats to Advent-up your table during the season.

To be honest, I have never done Jesse Tree observaton. But I think this would be a good one to start with. It would be great for kiddos who want to be involved in the celebrating!

5. St. Nicholas movie (A Story of Joyful Giving)

This Veggie Tales classic is a must-see for our family during this time of year. Try a Chocolate Brunch on St. Nicholas Day. (This year-- It's December 6th-- coming soon!!!)

It is a tradition to place coins, candy canes, and maybe a little gift in some shoes for the Feast of St. Nicholas. Here's a good place to start.

7. Tomie dePaola Books

Joy to the World: Tomie's Christmas Stories is wonderful and I have already sung the praises of our family's favorite Christmas/Advent book author and illustrator in this post.

My Mom has a collection of these gorgeous dolls on her mantle.

These are adorable and little hands will want to grab them and interact with them.  Fun!

I have not bought these yet, but I simply adore the idea of this and I'm putting it on our wishlist.!

11. Chocolate Coins

Tuck these in some shoes on the morning of the Feast of St. Nicholas!

This version is quite expensive, but we have this on our shelf and we absolutely adore getting it down every year!

13. Jesse Tree books

This would certainly be helpful to add to your collection.

14. Books for The Legend of St. Nicholas and St. Lucia

Read them on the Feast Days and celebrete a special Brunch with your children.

15. Our Lady of Guadalupe

This book of feasts around the world looks like it would be helpful (although I cannot vouch for sure as we do not own it ourselves).

16. Playmobil Nativity Set with Manger

This sweet set would be the perfect playing pastime for kids celebrating the season in December.

17. Little People Nativity

18. Advent Tablecloth

19. Advent Door Wreath

20. Advent Garland

I hope that helps!  Now I'm just waiting for a Charlie Brown Advent movie to come out.  👅#justintimeforchristmas

God bless you!!! :0)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Advent Planning~ Why Celebrate and What's to Come

Have you bought your Advent candles yet? Soon it will be time to pull out our Advent wreath as we anticipate Christmas and remember the coming of Jesus in our hearts. I've long been an advocate of planning and observing Advent in our homes.  Like the analogy I offered last year, celebrating Christmas before the 12 days is like popping in some sugary bubblegum right before you brush your teeth, or eating a bunch of sticky candy right before you hop in the Dentist's chair.

Don't jump the gun, if you're tempted to say it is already Christmas on December 1st (or sooner!) It may be common or popular to decorate for (celebrate) Christmas early. Yet, but we cheapen the "joyful expectation" when we stuff ourselves full of shopping and sweets and cookies and Christmas carols this time of year.  There is a purpose for the expectation and the waiting!

This year for Advent, I'm taking that to heart, and I will be blogging less. In fact, going to only post twice during Advent.

Last year, I posted what was probably "my best" and most thorough Advent recap of all of our Christmas traditions and the things our family is dedicated to doing! Because I'm pretty sure I can't top that, I will just link to them here.

Christmas and Advent Books
Christmas and Advent Movies

Week One (Preparing Our Home)
Week Two (Family Traditions)
Week Three (Seasonal Celebrations)
Week Four (Christmas is Here-- includes Christmas carols)

Instead of trying to recreate that this year, I will post two Advent recaps (total) and stay more involved, over on instagram, to share seasonal traditions with my followers! :)

Expect more of the same around here-- celebrating the Church's feast days (St. Lucia, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and St. Nicholas), Seasonal celebrations (School Christmas Program, Breakfast With Santa, Family Christmas card photos), and Family Traditions (Making Spice tea, Glitter playdoh for the holidays, Christmas tree, baking cookies!)

And of course, lighting the Advent wreath and observing the season with an Advent calendar!

All of that, plus a giveaway and also-- look for a post detailing how I shop, how to celebrate the `12 days, and then....  Epiphany!

Some posts I have found helpful around the internet in preparing your home/house/heart for Advent:

Planning For Advent and Christmas @ Catholic Icing

A Brunch For Our Lady of Guadalupe @ Shower of Roses

Brunch for the Feast of St. Nicholas @ Catholic Cuisine

How We Try to Celebrate Things In Their Proper Order Without Feeling Like Total Jerks @ Catholic All Year

Friday, November 10, 2017

weekly minutiae vol34-- just checking in + stuff!

I'm joining up with 7 QT today "I can have one, since I quit"*  philosophy (from Cigarettes and Coffee) to share my weekly ramblings.  Nothing original here, just a report of recent thoughts and doings... reading, buying + what I'm prepping for!  Christmas/Advent prep is just a brainstorm away here in these parts. #pumpkinfog
I call this photo "I should be a retarded food blogger" (i know that word went out of style in the very early 90's)
because I burnt a chocolate cake, then set it on a hot stove and it exploded literally everywhere


I think, you guys, that I have finally learned (maybe mastered?) the art of reading several books at once.  Ever since I can remember, I have struggled with multi-tasking, reading included.  I'm not sure why, but the most I could handle was one book on my iPad and one hardback.  I have never been a bedside table reader. Usually, I was a "devour" type reader who would be All In a series or novel or even novella. Loved binge-reading The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agencry.  But you guys! I am finally reading three books-- parallel synchronization-- total right now and I'm really enjoying it. I've been pondering it, and I think the key is that they are all differently paced. One is slooooow but rich and good (Possession, recommended by Fountains of Carrots), one is quick, fast-paced and rather simple (Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg), and the other is dense and thoughtful and meaty, but not quite as slow-as-molasses as the first (Flight Behavior by Kingsolver).

I'm really happy I've made this discovery ... as I have always envied those who seem to have twenty books going at once (How *do* they do it?!)  #passthepizza


So this week. Ya'll, despite what you might think and despite my actions to the contrary (definition of hypocrisy? I think yes).... I have been saving money.  I am sticking to a budget and we are getting so much better at hardcore saving (Dave Ramsey, yada yada... cough cough... EMERGENCY FUND people!!!).

I am doing a cash-only policy. So when I saw this beauty at a consignment store marked way down from the original price, (owers were sooo good to it, too!) I checked and I didn't quite have enough cash to buy it.  I said a quick prayer, then searched my wallet for my VISA credit card and then remembered I gave it to Stephen over the weekend. I was upset but I put it on hold. Came back the next day, and tried to write a check, but learned they don't take checks!  So.... I called my Mom.  Aaaaaand, suffice it to say I basically asked her for an early Christmas present!  And yes- epic!- she agreed to buy it.

Isn't it lovely! Just perfect for our perfect baby. :) (ha ha) :0)


I don't get too much into Christmas prep (I don't start buying presents until December- seriously, ya'll) but this post and youtube video (short!) are really helpful.  @ >> Come Home For Comfort<< This is one blog/channel I have actually really been enjoying over the course of the past year. (really really!!!)  Whitney is thoughtful, very organized, and best of all extremely real and honest. refreshing totally so go check her out.

I call this photo "joyful hope"

I am excited about it.


Other than saving, I have been a little busy trying to take on a new challenge. New, for me.. which is to be a little more involved on instagram (grow a following, yada yada).

I participated in the #onedayhh hashtag yesterday and it was fun!



I'm just thinking about how grateful I am for irl community. It is so important to stay afloat in the midst of the muck and yuck and jealousy that is early motherhood (your thirties), and all that goes with that. To those of you bearing a particular burden or cross, know that others look at you and think "Perfect life"! We are so impressed by what you do. And you should *never, ever* sell yourself short or think you aren't capable of something. Harness that creativity baby baby and GO for it! Whatever "it" may be... an etsy shop, a book, a painting, a poem, whatever your "it" is.  Do it and don't let the world miss out on your genius!  In the mean time, stay connected where you are and don't forget the light you are to those who feel they may be missing out (on something).  I think the key is to slow yourself down and take care of that human being first (you you girl)... get therapy or irl community at the very least!

Have a good week ya'll!

*I gave up link-ups a while back :0)
Hi Kelly!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

How I DIY-ed My kids' 6 Halloween costumes

This year, I decided I wanted to DIY my kids' Halloween costumes. It was so much fun (if stressful) and they turned out great!  This process had 2 purposes-- both working for me! One, when you DIY you can really do the costume your kids are really itching to be. Second, it is much cheaper and easier on the budget not to buy brand new costumes for everyone. As you'll see I definitely could have kept the DIY costume tradition cheaper.... but it will work for now, and hopefully down the road, I'll learn the art of keeping traditions affordable.

Let's start with Madeleine and Annabel, my two youngest girls, because that's the easiest to explain.  Madeleine wanted to be Mal from Descendants with a fiery passion. I knew the decision was easy, but pulling off the look would be harder.  Mal wears a leather vest and jacket in many scenes of the movies.  I found some metallic-looking leggings, a purple belt, and black boots at Walmart.  When I was looking for a little owl/owlet costume for Annabel, I happened upon a 4 T butterfly costume that included the blue dress Madeleine ended up wearing. And of course, hair spray-painted (using special  wash-out spray we already had from Claire's). For Annabel's costume, I bought a black dress that fit her, and I used fabric paint to add a pretty butterfly to the front of her dress. She simple added black leggings, and the wings and headband that came with Madeleine's dress. Done! and Done. Simple!

Anders knew right off the bat that he wanted to be a big, green lizard. He loves finding lizards and bugs in our yard, so this was perfect for him!  I ended up buying a dinosaur costume from Walmart, who I soon beheaded, because Anders specifically said he didn't want to be (riding) a dinosaur.  At first, my Mom added some button eyes. Later we decided to get him a green shirt and simply safety pin the lizard belly to his shirt.  I made a green mask using green fabric, white felt, and a glue gun.  It tied in the back like a ninja mask. DONE! And he absolutely loved it! :)

Frances may have been the hardest costume to pull off. She explicitly requested Evee from Pokemon. This is a hard look-- it's sort of a cross between a deer and a fox!  I knew brown would be hard to find because it isn't one of the trendy colors right now. I found a gold and grey dress from Target, and I simply sewed a brown collar, tail, and ruffle to the dress using a size 2T deer costume that we found at Walmart.  This costume came with a deer headband, and we cut off the antlers and simply left the deer ears-- perfect! It was quite a bit of sewing to cross two store-bought items, but I call it re-purposing. (I had to completely cut apart the deer costume!) BUT--  to say Frances was pleased was an understatement!  She wore it around the house for 3 days straight playing Pokemon with her siblings! It was a huge hit! This was her favorite show to watch this past Summer, so she was all in!

Molly is last but definitely not least. I have to say I *enjoyed* the process of DIY for her costume the most! It was such a cute look to do Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson books/movies, and it was so much fun to make.  I bought the orange t-shirt and fabric paint from Hobby Lobby, (which is also where I found the materials to make Frances' tail).  We bought a horse stencil and letter stencils and pained the shirt ourselves, although it is available to purchase on Amazon. We did buy a dagger/Roman sword, and to complete the look she got black Chucks (she needed new shoes for school anyway!) and an owl necklace and simply wore it with jeans.  We actually already had the hat on hand, so didn't have to buy it! :-0 :)  I am so happy this worked out, because Molly is a huge, huge fan of these books and movies. Rick Riordan anything is right up her alley!

And Conrad was yoda!*

I hope this encourages you on your journey of DIY *and* repurposing! :)


Win, win, wine!