Is there really any gift we can give mom that expresses our love and appreciation for her? I have rounded up my favorite things that make my mama life so great. The little luxuries plus the things that made it onto my list this year as a little man treat!
Joe Malone scent, Gardening tote basket, Monogrammed overnighter bag, Straw crossbody bag, Seersucker sundress, Floral robe, Essential oil diffuser, Mama ring, Striped pjs, Gwenyth Paltrow cookbook, Hydroflask, Floral gardening gloves, Bamboo earrings, Juicer, Striped outdoor dining set, Camera, Initial necklace, Custom family illustration, Jade roller, UGG white sneakers, Cut flower book, Floral drink dispenser, Pom and striped blue throw blanket, Barefoot Dreams plush robe
Easter brunch is a must in our Easter plans and I keep our menu easy breezy so we can just enjoy the day! Something that is never not on our table is my “fancy salad”. Really any salad that has more than a couple ingredients is dubbed a fancy salad in my book but this one is so delish and my go to.
We get all hands on deck making our table lovely and ready for our family. The girls love to help adding their own special touches. Capri’s favorite part is to set the table and decide the napkin design. Peyton is in charge of flowers this year and she is all about it.
Kacee’s Fancy Salad
( all ingredients can be found at Trader Joes)
Green grapes halved
Grilled Chicken chopped
Candied Walnuts or fave nut
Dried cranberries or cherries
Crumbled goat cheese
Fig balsamic dressing
Assemble and enjoy!
Some other dishes that I love to whip up is a big batch of Kodiak Cakes waffles, a veggie packed frittata, bacon and a fresh fruit salad. You can’t forget the champs either! I have a variety of juices on hand for mimosas. For a kid friendly drink, we add frozen blueberries to lemonade so the kiddos feel like they are getting special treat too. The blueberries keep the lemonade cold and infuse a little blueberry flavor to the lemonade.
Nothing says Easter dressing like a floppy hat and floral dress! The girls are so ready to celebrate Easter in their sweet Spring outfits. I’ve rounded up rompers for the serious egg hunters and frilly dresses for the sweetest of Easter bunnies!
I love the smell of citrus and isn’t it just the cheeriest with it’s bright colors and fresh smell?! Nothing makes me feel more full of energy and springtime! I love hosting at our home and making things pretty for our guests. This spring I have a couple brunch gatherings I’m planning and thought a citrus inspired table would be a fresh take on this tables cape.
I started with a large floral print table cloth with multiple fresh spring colors. We have a crazy orange tree in our backyard and when the girls brought buckets full in the house the other day I got an idea to use them on our table. I love the bright orange hue and bringing the outdoors in.
For place settings, I found this soft tan straw charger which I feel like brings in an unexpected texture but still ties into the light tan flowers on the tablecloth. I always use my favorite white beaded plates and this time tucked in a bright orange napkin to introduce a splash of fun and tie in the oranges. Each setting was finished off with shimmery gold flatware and clear drinking glasses to keep things light and airy.
What’s a brunch with out the Chandon mimosa bar am I right? I love mixing and mingling out mixers and this time we are using fresh peach and cranberry juices. Don’t forget fun straws and the fruit garnishes. It’s the little touches that really make your guests feel like they are getting the extra treatment.
For our centerpiece I popped into Trader Joes to see what tickled my fancy. I knew I was using the oranges so wanted to make sure I was offsetting the colors with other options. I decided on shades of pink, yellow and whites. I hap hazardly layered the blooms in a glass pitcher to create height but also keep things full and whimsy.
I found some adorable wood wagons to fill with the oranges from our tree. The key is to leave a couple of the leaves on the stems to create a casual, effortless look. Makes it feel less cute and a bit more organic. Toss a couple oranges around the bottom of your pitcher to fill that space and bring some bright orange color into the middle of the table.
Brunch menus should be casual and absolutely easy breezy for the hostess. I love to make a big frittata filled with protein and veggies which is delish hot or cold. I plate up some fluffy waffles or pancakes for a decadent carb. Make sure to have a fresh green salad on hand and top your white serve ware with seasonal fruit. The menu is nice and balanced and a true taste bud pleaser for every guest.
You girls asked and so we delivered! We took a little poll on which place I’d do our next try on sash at and Anthro was the pick!! This week’s “What to Wear Wednesday” was taken over by a Anthopologie try on session and I found some GEMS! Anthropologie has a bit of a tricky sizing situation for me but I played a bit and figured out that really I size down on most everything. Major fake ego boost right?!! I was on the hunt for fun easy breezy outfits that are great for Spring and Summer.
Polka Swing Dot top: wearing a size 0 , Pintucked Chino Pants: wearing a size 0 ( probably could go with a 2)
Oona Utility dress: wearing a size 4
Pommed sweater top: wearing a M ( think S would be a better fit) , High Rise skinny angle jean: wearing a 27
Button front dress: wearing a 4
Chelsea romper: wearing a XS
Garden party dress: wearing a S
Harloe Belted top: wearing a size S, High rise skinny ankle jeans: wearing a size 27
Harloe belted top: wearing a size S, Oasis Striped pant: wearing a size 2
I shared this genius and super simple life hack last week on Instagram and you girls had such a strong response so I decided to do a more thorough run through of how amazing this binder is and how you can create one for your household. Show that paperwork who’s boss!!!!
Here is what you will need:
A large 3 ring binder
Nothing makes me feel more in charge of my gig than having my paperwork organized like a maniac. Anyone with me?! Mom’s really are the command center for all the moving parts in our family’s lives and it’s so important we keep tabs on all the info to keep ourselves sane. With that though, our family should be able to find info for themselves too. Anyone in our home can find what they need because we have adopted the Home Management binder. No more paper shuffling or lost info.
When it comes to breaking down your binder into categories, I have a couple suggestions but really it’s up to you and your family’s activities or your personal projects.
Some suggestions of categories:
Front pocket: most pertinent projects ( bills, rsvp, grocery list, etc)
Pouch for gift cards
Personal paperwork: workout plan charts, mom related projects ( your business’, side hustles)
Kid’s School: Hot lunch schedule, School year schedule, class projects, fundraisers, field trip info
Kid’s activities: Dance, Sports, Girl Scouts, Music lessons,
Home projects: Business cards of your home laborers ( landscaper, dog groomer, plumber, electrician etc) All contracts, flyers, brochures for home projects big and small
Recipes: recipes or food ideas that you want to try when you are stumped for weekly meal planning
Vacations/parties: vacation bookings and itineraries, party invites ( wedding, baby shower, kids parties etc)
With Spring around the corner, I’ve been itching to add some Spring pieces to refresh my closet a bit. I was on the hunt for work wear and some casual items to elevate my day to day outfits. Knowing I could hit two birds with one stone and find things in both of those categories, I headed to LOFT. Cutest Spring stuff. I all about lost my mind for this blush pink blazer and leopard top. I also found some great basics, like this striped tee and scalloped shorts. I also adored this sweet sweater with bow detail. I wanted to share how I put together each of my outfits and how you can mix and mingle to pieces to maximize the possibilities.
See!!! I told you the blazer was to cute to resist!!!! I love the tapered fit that really makes it universally flattering, the soft blush tone of the pink and it’s oversized buttons on the sleeves. I topped this super soft striped sweater with the blazer and added a great pair of distressed denim. To complete the look I cuffed the blazer to give a casual feel and added a long necklace. This is a great outfit for brunch with friends or running around town.
This next look is great for the office or really any occasion that merits a bit more of a polished look. These tie waisted pencil pants are so comfortable! They have stretch and the highwaist is so flattering for nipping in the waistline with the cute bow detail. I chose the denim color but there are other options which were so cute. I added a tucked in pink and blue blouse for a polished look that again helps taper the waist and show off the pants cut. I accessorized with some blush pink tassel earrings to give the look an unexpected more modern feel. You could add nude heels like I have done here or swap them out for some flats or sandals too. These pants are so versatile!
This next look is hands down my staple look. I love a stripe and the settle grey and white combo of this super soft sweater are just perfect. I love the tunic style of the cut and it has side slits to allow for room at the waist. I paired the sweater with a chunky marbleized chain necklace to elevate the casual feel of it. I also love fresh white jeans! I wear them all year round. This pair has a cute expected frayed detail at the ankle which I love.
There is nothing more classic than a sheath dress. I find the cut of this style of dress to be so feminne but also power suit adjacent. This little number has a great textured tweed and frayed edge. The fit is so great for really any body type because of the nipped waist. I wear a petite in most stores in dresses because I find that the hemline hits my 5”4’ frame better. I added the blush pink tassel earrings and nude heels with a pop of pink on the lips. This dress would be great paired with the blush pink blazer too! Perfect for church, the office or Easter!
I paired the blazer with this soft floral sweater and navy blue shorts. These shorts are so beautifully made and have a nautical inspired gold button detail on the hips. This look paired with nude heels and tassel earring is super sharp for the office or any more professional event. It could be super cute for date night or drinks with friends. You could even kick off the heels, swap the earrings for simple pearls and add some sandals for running around town.
We are about three weeks out from our back yard hardscaping being done! Now onto the fun part of decorating it all! We love a fresh, inviting, cheery coastal feel. We are continuing our pallet of neutral tans, fresh white and blues from the inside to the outside. We are excited to entertain and have focused our hardscaping on lots of seating options. We will have bench seating in the bbq, barstools at the countertop, a long family style table, smaller dining table and chairs for coffee sipping, fire pit with bench and comfy loungers. Lots and lots of seats! We envision packing the yard with our friends and family all eating yummy bbq and kids frolicking and playing yard games all summer! We can’t wait! I’ve rounded up our inspiration and all the links to each item that we are eying!
You guys! I have been in the biggest winter rut and to be honest, not all that sad about it. I have been all about the cozy, snuggly weather we have been having. This then equates to the most comfortable, warm clothes and very little effort in much else. While I’ve made progress on some house projects like organizing, cleaning and decluttering, I’ve been way to lazy on myself. So it’s time to get it together! Here is the plan!
Get dressed- like actually dressed. Pants, top, coat the whole thing. I was in a heavy rotation of not so cute workout clothes and sweaters with UGGs and it wan’t my best look to say the least. So simple but each morning I am getting an outfit on and putting some effort into it.
Upping my water intake- this seems time and time again to be a struggle for me. I am just never ever motivated to drink nearly enough water. This of course leads to me feeling sluggish and totally dehydrated. So I’m starting with 1 32 oz bottle a day this week and next week upping to 2 32 oz. I’ve got my Hydroflask basically strapped to my hand to make sure I’m forcing myself to do it. For some reason the straw lid totally helps. Who knows why!
Start a structured eating plan-guys, my eating habits have been so fat and happy lately! I can’t even for one second lie and say I haven’t loved just eating what I’ve wanted when I’ve wanted to. The problem with that is that I am just not a body type or person that can do that and keep the portions in control. Bowl of ice cream after pizza/movie night? Yep! And don’t even get me started on the Girl Scout cookie consumption party I’ve been on. Now it’s been all fun and games until my system is just not loving it anymore. I am so bloated and yucky feeling and just have no energy. Enough is enough! I get really motivated by a structured eating plan and have jumped back on the balanced/healthy eating of Tone it Up. The meals are super yummy and I get to eat all the time which is my favorite!
Get that booty moving- All of the above combined has nearly extinguished my excericise consistency. So I’m forcing myself ( somewhat unhappily) to get back into the program! Because I am on the shorter side, any excess fluff really shows. So it’s time to get this booty moving. I’ve committed to 4-5 days of exercise in some form. This for me is looking like short bursts of Tone it Up, walks in the neighborhood ( I am highly energized by the sunshine and being outside) and classes at my favorite gym T3 like barre, piloxing and yoga. I’m not going to beat myself up over it but definitely need to get a consistent mindset of daily exercise. Aiming to get it be mindlessly just part of my routine.
Spice up my beauty routine- this is my favorite one! I got myself a new cleanser and toner to revive my dehydrated skin. I also added in Collegen to my diet to help hydrate from the inside out. I am making a point to apply some self tanner once a week cause everyone is happier with a tan in my mind. And lastly bleaching my teeth and favorite face mask once a week. It’s all in the little things! I may even get ambitious and give myself a mani/ pedi.
These are all such small, easy things to do but I’m already feeling the benefits! I have my pep in my step back and feel so great to be on the move again!
Was watching Sex and the City movie just recently and nothing get’s me like when Charlotte wails on Big after he doesn’t show up to the wedding to marry Carrie. Ugh! Saddest but also the whole movie really shows the power of female friendships. How when one is down the others rally. When one keeps hitting a road block the others take up their sludge hammers and help her tear that wall down.
I got to thinking about my friendships and how they became to be. Why are my specific friends my friends?Adult friendships or any friendship that isn’t surface level really takes a lot of work. I’ve had some really incredible friends and to be honest haven’t been sure I’ve been the best friend in return. I am horrible at remembering birthdays and this past year, totally forgot my best friends birthday. I felt awful! I rarely take time to call to catch up with my friends and I’m an awful gift giver. I have close friends that are so good at these things and really help me want to be better to. I have friends that never forget a birthday and always make it special. I have friends that plan times to regularly get together and make that a priority. I have friends that have held my hand when I was low and cheerleader me super hard when the good times where back. I’ve learned to try and pay attention to what is important to each of my friends. What is their love language? How do they like to be cheer leaded or left alone when dealing with things. When to get in there with them and when to back off. And I for sure can say that whatever is important to your people should be important to you. It’ something I have to work on. Granted a load of grace comes in too. We all have full, busy lives packed with priorities. The majority of my friends have businesses of their own and are all trying to be present in every aspect. We are all in the same boat of busy. The thing that I think helps my friendships work is that we all understand each other and understand that we have a million things going on but try our best to make time to connect when we can. Again, grace and we don’t take things personally.
I tried to take note of what the commonality in my awesome friends was. What did they give me and others that made me feel like I wanted them closer. Or what made them feel safe for me to dive into closer friendships with them. I was asked this recently… What do you need out of a friend?
When I sat down and really thought on it. The common thread I found was that I am drawn to people who are self deprecating, honest, know themselves, and are willing to be 100% real with me and let me be 100% real in return with no judgement. Secrets are safe and protected and we watch out for each other and cheerlead each other constantly. I also really like to laugh! Wit is one of my most favorite characteristics. I don’t think I need a lot from a person outside of them being real. Now that is loaded because it takes quite a special relationship to get to the “real” doesn’t it? We all put up a facade of what we are willing to share. We all have hidden fears of what others may think or how others may perceive our actions.
So I’m going to ask you to my friend…..what makes a good friend to you?
I got all fired up this year about date nights. Erik and I really have to work at getting date nights. With his work schedule being a real beast, we typically use his time off to be together as a family. This year, we want to mix it up a bit. We decided to each pick 6 date night ideas. It can be anything!! The rule was that it had to be anything that sounded fun to do with each other and we can’t say no to the other person’s idea. We alternate our ideas each month. Here is what we came up with…
Kacee’s list: ( and yes there are 9 because I get excited- I’m still making him do 6)
Speakeasy ( must have secret door)- This was my February pick and it was such a blast!
Sky diving simulator
Cooking class ( Erik will hate this one- but it’s my date pick so I’m the boss )
Drawing class ( Erik is a really good artist and I’m not to shabby myself)
No kids night in ( oo lala)
Pro basketball game
Lazer tag and pizza
We also, try and get away together once a year. Last year was an epic trip to Grand Cayman for a wedding/work trip for me. This year I thought it would be fun to take the trailer somewhere and camp just us two.
We don’t make a huge fuss in our house over Valentine’s day but we do love to spend the day loving on each other. Nothing to show your love more than a little treasure right?! This week I threw together some sweet things for my closest girlfriends and played Cupid with special deliveries to each of them. Here are some simple yet thoughtful fun ideas for anyone you want to love on on Valentine’s day!
Special floral delivery- toss together a simple bouquet from Trader Joes super pretty flower selection ( you know you are already there at some point this week anyway, so you can grab a little bundle) Tie up the flowers and greenery with a cute ribbon and note. Deliver the bundles to your loved ones or friends in person and don’t tell them you are coming.
Write a list of your top 10 favorite things about them and leave them a note or a text to share.
3. Bring them their fave coffee with a little love note written on it. Or put a gift card for coffee in an empty travel cup like this cute idea from Handmade Modern Home.
4. Tie a balloon to their car at school pick up or for your hubby before he leaves for work. No one can resist a smile when they find a surprise balloon.
5. This adorable nail polish goodie from Tomkat studios is just too precious! You can never have enough red nail polish too.
If you have been here for a while you know that my mom, myself and the girls head off to our annual girls trip each fall! We have made a tradition out of it and it really is one of our most favorite trips. 2018 made for our 5th Disney cruise but this year we tried a new ship, the Disney Dream. We have traveled on the smaller ship Disney Magic for our last handful of trips but wanted to try something a bit different.
We head into Florida a day early to get settled and be ready to board the ship the next morning. My mama is a master travel wizard and always plans our trips to perfection. I get to be a kid again with my kidlets and literally follow along like a baby duckling. The girls sported their new cruise Minnie ears the whole travel day and were so spoiled by our flight crew! They got a special invite to the cockpit to sit in the Captain’s chair and push all the buttons. I was so giddy for them!
The next morning we get in our nautical gear and head over to board The Dream. In true Disney magic, the sweetest crew makes special announcements when each family arrives on the ship. It never gets old! We have our routine of hitting the buffet first, obvi! Then we are off the explore! Since this ship was twice as big as the Magic we wanted to get our lay of the land. Vanelope’s Candy store, check! Pool, check! Waterslide, check! Kids club, check! Scavenger Hunt, check! Ice cream cone, check! After an hour or so, our bags arrived and we were able decorate with our door magnets and check out our room and look at the itinerary for the rest of the day!
First up was Mickey’s Bon Voyage party! This party is so fun! Mickey and whole gang come out for a super fun dance party full of confetti canons! We absolutely love this party! All the cruise vibes and we can never resist a good dance party. This is also when Capri locked in to her new friend! She introduced herself to an adorable little 9 year old Jolie. Jolie and her family were cruising from Ohio and the girls were immediate besties. They were the cutest little clones in every way! Jolie’s family (daddy Donnie, little sister Maylynn, and little brother Kempton) were just as precious as she was and me and Jolie’s mama Amy became friends right away too!
That night we were super excited to meet our dinner crew. These guys are our buds for the whole trip and follow us from dinner to dinner. We love making friends with them right away! In true Disney fashion the wait staff are the most fun! Each night they make dinner special with treats for the girls, magic tricks and jokes. They are simply the best! Capri was on a mission each night to show off her magic skills.
We hit the Bahamas for our yearly cruise and have to be honest only get off the ship once the whole time! Our first morning, we sleep in and then head for breakfast and pool time. The Dream has a super fun waterslide that the girls were so excited to try out. With Jolie in tow, the girls danced their booties off at the Deck the Halls dance party, hit the AquaDuck waterslide on repeat, ate endless ice cream cones and were fishies all day. Mom always treats them to something super special each year. Last year was the Royal Tea party, the year before that was swimming with Dolphins in Nassau and the year before that was Bippity Boppity Boutique. This year it was braids on deck. Very fancy! They were feeling themselves to say the least!
Our second day we woke up at our favorite stop Castaway Cay which is Disney’s private island. This is our must stop port! We LOVE it so much! We jump on the trolley and find our favorite spot on the beach by the shipwreck floating waterslide. The girls partied all day on the beach with Jolie, Maylynn and Kempton. We had the best ever beach bbq complete with our favorite characters and soaked up the most fun day!
That night was the Pirate Party! This is a DO NOT miss party! Everyone gets in full pirate costume and hits the deck for music, Mickey zip lining from the smoke stacks and fireworks off the ship! It blows our minds every year! The Disney Magic had their party all in one show but the Dream breaks it up into two. One early show for a younger kids crowd and then a later party for older ones and adults. Both are super fun no matter the age!
On our last day, we did more pool fun and endless waterslide runs. I got down it a couple times and it was a blast. That afternoon, I took Jolie and Capri to see the ship’s magician. The shows on Disney cruises are unreal! Full Broadway style productions with the most incredible music, costumes, stage design and stories. They are some of our favorites! Outside of the musical based shows is an amazing magic show that we never miss! We hurried over to see the magician show us some sneak peaks into how he performs some of his magic tricks from the night before. We left with some super good tricks to try out on nana and Jolie’s family.
After another super fun day of pool fun, we gathered up our trading pins for the Officer’s Pin trading event. Last year the girls were chosen to be Honorary Officers Pin traders which was a super big deal! They got to stand in line with the Officers of the ship and trade pins to the crowd. This year we were on a mission for some super special edition pins.
For dinner, we headed to Animator’s Pallette which is a totally different design and theme as the one on the Magic. This is one of our favorite dinner nights! Crush from Finding Nemo interacts with the crowd and really took a liking to Peyton who was right next to him. They chatted it up for about 5 minutes! Disney is just too good!
We were sad to be heading home! We had full bellies, another trip packed with awesome memories and family of new friends to keep in contact with when we come home. We had already planned for a Disneyland trip with them in the near future!
I was having a conversation with a friend recently and the topic came up of how frustrating it can be when you have friends that just don’t seem to “get it”. To clarify, there is no real “it” here. I guess the “it” would encompass whatever things you may have stacked on your ever rotating plate. Frustrating kids, exhaustion from running kiddos to and from activities, feelings of isolation or on the positive end to have opportunity to travel or lunch with friends. You know, just stuff. We circled on the topic for a bit about how it can feel frustrating when you aren’t in the same season as your peers or friends. It can make you feel like you are missing out or doing something wrong because you aren’t living life as busy or fully. The comparison trap can be a REAL beast. I remember feeling a loss of my identity in a way there for a bit when Capri was little. My mom would remind me of my “season”. Seasons come and go. We get the Summers full of fun, the Fall full of contentment, the Winter of struggle and the Spring where new growth comes. It’s all a cycle. It’s just how we look at it. I remember laughing with a friend when the girls were little about how we secretly “hated” our hubbies so much when they would act even the smallest bit tired. I wanted to crush it at my business and have the freedom to do that but then had the crushing mom guilt of leaving them. I had a totally messy house all the time and being so bored of watching Mickey Mouse club house. I remember being so envious of friends who could go on a “kids free” lunch date. I was in that exhausting season of running after toddlers and keeping up with housework, growing my business and trying to keep my marriage in a solid place. I so remember feeling stretched. Kids took a lot, hubby needed a lot and my biz demanded me. It just was A LOT. It was a tough season. I didn’t know it at the time because I was just in it. I wanted things to be easier but I just wasn’t in a season that allowed ease. I saw my friends lunching and shopping and really just couldn’t wait for that time to come. If I’m really honest, I also remember wanting to rush the kids to grow up sooner so I could get to the next phase where the load lightened up just a smidge. Then feeling awful for not savoring their littleness. Ugh the mom guilt back and forth.
Fast forward, to the next season. The girls were now both in school and I had some freedom but we were really working hard on our marriage. We were leaning in to date nights and really trying to reconnect. Career changes, personal goal changes, growth in business changes, moving changes caused stress for us. Just a time of change. Nothing we wouldn’t get through but it was just gonna take time and work. That time was very challenging for me. I had a lot of personal self induced growth during that time. I firmly believe that if things don’t change then things don’t change. I was on a war path to change myself for the better. I knew our struggles wouldn’t ease unless I worked on myself first. It takes two right but it started with me!
Final and current season…. today the hard work has paid off in our marriage and we are in a consistent place of happy. Now I’m in the season of raising up these girls to be women of God. I work hard every day to foster confidence, kindness, hard work ethic etc in them and it’s really hard! I’m in a time of self sacrifice for them but this time is SO sweet! I hustle as quickly as possible during the day to make sure I’m all theirs starting at 2:30 when I pick up from school. I sit with them at dance for hours each night because they both love when I’m there. I’m their safety net. They are changing rapidly and demand a very tuned ear to their feelings. I’m up against the hard talks of periods and peers. I may not be changing diapers and exhausted, now I’m giving long hugs and cheerleading like I’ve never done before. It’s just a different pressure. I feel very much that the next season of Junior high and High school are going to be potentially challenging as our world changes and the demands on our kids becomes different than we were used to. I’m trying to lay down some super strong foundations for that next season and secretly pray my current one stays as long as it wants.
I share all this to encourage you ladies that are in a season that seems to be taking a long time. A season that is tough. A season that feels isolated. You don’t know there is another season ahead until you get to it. I do however hope you can find so much joy in your current season. The simple pleasures of playing at home with your little one before they are of school age. The sweet time in the car with them before their practices to catch up with them their day. The long prayers for patience or guidance. None of us know if we are doing this thing right. We just have to try our hardest to our best in the season we are in.
To kick off our Life with Lipstick On book club properly, I thought I’d review my January read. The Nightingale was hands down one of my top 5 favorite reads ever! I literally couldn’t put it down ! To be honest the size of the book would have intimidated me probably right off the bat. I knew that it was a historical fiction which also seemed daunting. The book was highly recommended from my cousin as being one of her all time faves so I picked it up.
I was quickly swept into the 1940s during the WWII German occupation of Paris. A time in history that I should know more about but just didn’t. The story of the women’s war. I have never been a history buff but this book really took you quickly into the that overwhelmingly scary time. The story is of two sister Vianne and Isabelle. They were shuffled around as young girls after their mother had died and their father in his despair became a drunk. Vianne married her great love Antionne and Isabelle was obsessed with becoming a part of the war. She could think of nothing else than how to be of help and make a difference in some way. Yet, she was young, defiant and reckless. In her desperation to aide the war efforts, she finds herself in the throws of danger that she just isn’t prepared for. She is eager to prover herself as important and capable. She begins secretly dispersing notes amongst the town debunking the Nazi propaganda that was being splashed about. This mission creates a bravery and skill that no other woman had possessed. She then was introduced to a larger opportunity to aide in rescuing downed American pilots by leading them through the treacherous mountains to safety and escape. She became what was known as the Nightingale. The heroine to the war efforts to her people. I sat on the edge of my seat while she trudged through the scariest of interrogations and the most impossible seeming missions. Back home in their village, Vianne’s own mission of bravery was under way. She fought tirelessly to keep her family and friends safe as their homes and town was overcome by Nazi’s. A German Captain moved into their home which made for a very intense daily life mixed between fear and rage. The climate became even more dangerous and the Nightingale’s efforts became more successful. Vianne’s daughter Sophie became her beacon of light while Antionne was away in the war. She took into two other orphaned children as their parents were seized and taken to camps. That became her war cry. To save the children left behind. As the story of love, bravery, unbearable struggle and reality of life at that time envelops the reader you begin to feel every nuance as you are there yourself.
Kristen Hannah’s writing transported me instantly into that scary world. I read in tense suspense, cried at the despair and felt the wave of overwhelming love as the conclusion of the two women’s lives reveals itself. Ugh! You guys! The BEST!!!! I would recommend it a million times over! You don’t have to be interested in history to get swept up into this story! It was breathtaking!
So as promised we are officially starting our Life with Lipstick On book club!!! I can’t wait to book worm it with you girls! Here is how it gonna work. I’ve created a Life with Lipstick On Book Club Facebook group. Make sure you are signed up there to follow along with our announcement of our February book coming soon and for the date of our review on Facebook Live. It’s going to be so fun! Make sure to send in any reading requests too! I plan to keep our genres really diverse!
As we get closer to the end of the year, I wanted to look over what my goals and visions were for this past year and see what came to fruition. Remember how fun our Goal Setting Gathering was this past January?! I was blown away when I sat with my vision board for a bit and really absorbed how amazing putting my goals into vision. Some of these images and thoughts seemed so impossible and so big. I can’t even begin to describe how cool it is to look over this vision board and see literally everything that I felt like was so unattainable come to reality.
I wanted to focus on traveling this year as family. I wanted to make camping a priority specifically. This year we spent almost a week at Newport Dunes and had one of our best family vacations yet. The girls rode bikes for hours, Erik and I unplugged a bit and we just soaked up the summer sun. We also had been saving and hoping to get a travel trailer at some point in our future. We have been renting trailers up to this point which we found a bit limiting financially. We were eager to get our own and be able to adventure whenever we wanted. Last month, we found a perfect trailer and snatched it up! We are off to our first camping getaway in a couple weeks. We have at least four more trips on the books for 2019 in our cute little trailer.
Marriage was a huge focus for me this year. I wanted to build our marriage up on a foundation of love, consistency, faith, investing in each other and simplicity. With two kids and a lot of changes in our personal world it was getting hard to stay connected and keep our relationship easy and consistent. This year has blown me away in our marriage. I feel like the work and dig in we committed to has paid off ten fold. Not without a huge amount of prayer, humility and grace.
Our home projects were on my list this year. I firmly believe that your home should be your safe place. It should reflect all your favorite things and give you energy. We finished our built in, living room, fireplace, chicken coop and dining room this year which really changed the whole feel of our home. It’s such a happy, cozy place for me.
I made 2018 my year of strong connection with the girls. We have always been really close but as they get older I want to make sure I am all theirs and they know it. I wanted to continue to build our bond stronger and stronger. We have had so many fun adventures, hard lessons, belly laughs, sparkles and snuggles this year.
Self care and self talk is a struggle for most of us girls right?! I’ve always been confident but as I settle in to my mid thirties I wanted to lean into myself and grow. I wanted to tap into what made me anxious or stressed. I wanted to try and learn about what motivates me and what makes me stop in my tracks. What makes me beyond giddy or super content. I wanted to make exercise in some form a regular habit and did so by rejoining my favorite gym T3 Fitness. I dove into self growth podcasts, bible studies and books.
I wanted to learn photography this year. Now, I can't claim any real talent in this arena but I did really get some new skills under my belt. I learned how to work my fancy DSLR for the most part and learned how to edit in Lightroom. I still have super long way to go but made some major progress this year.
Lastly, I wanted to host. I wanted friends and family around our table. I ended up hosting around 10 different fun soirées with my friends this year and loved every second.
There is nothing I love to serve more at a gathering than a gorgeous chartruterie board. I feel like there is an anatomy to creating a well rounded and beautiful board. Here are some of the tips and tricks I’ve found make the process super simple!
To start, you need to decide how large of a board you are going to fill. I have three different sizes on hand. It’s nice to have a couple to feed larger or smaller groups. For this particular gathering I was hosting I wanted my largest board. I love this one because of it’s handles to make serving super easy.
There are countless pairings you can do when it comes to what you add to the board. I like to include a couple staples and favorites or at least categories.
You will want to have a variety crackers, meats, nuts, dry and fresh fruit, pickles, olives and garnish. I like to have around 3 types of each category.
I included every day finds all from Trader Joes.
Here is your shopping list to replicate this exact board:
Crackers: Trader Giotto's Rosemary Italian Style Crackers, Fig and Olive crisps, Sharp Cheddar Sourdough Cheese Sticks
Meats: Salami, Prosciutto and Capocollo
Nuts: Sweet and Spicy walnuts and Fancy mixed nuts
Fruit: fresh pear, pomegranate seeds, dried apricots and dried cranberries
Cheese: Smoked Cheese, White Stilton with apricots and Creamy Toscano soaked in Syrah
Pickles and Olives: Cornichons and Marinated Olive duo in lemon and herbs
Garnish: fresh Rosemary and Sage
Place three white ramekins in a triangle shape in the center of the board about 2 inches apart.
Stack each type of cracker in a star shape next to each of the ramekins
Add the cheese next to each cracker pile. I like to make sure the lighter colored crackers are paired with the darker cheeses to make a contrast in color. For example, pair the Stilton next to the Fig and Olive crisps and the soaked Toscano with the plum edges next to the Rosemary crackers.
Next add in the meats. I like to fold and twist the slices to make them look less stiff. Tuck in the pieces next to the cheeses.
Divide the pear slices and fan them in a pile on opposite sides of each other on the board. Do the same with the dried apricots. The fruit will create a cross if looking down on the board.
You should be getting fairly full by this point with just a couple holes. You can easily fill the holes with little clusters of nuts and dried cranberries.
Fill each of the ramekins with the olives, pomegranates and pickles.
Tuck in the rosemary and sage for pops of green.
We have a lot of little guys we shop for this time of year. A total 6 boys in all ages. We love gathering some fun ideas for our cousins. The girls love outdoor activities so we keep our focus on outside fun for our picks. We imagine lots of puddle splashing in these rain boots and camo vest. They can set up a fun backyard camp complete with walkie talkies and camping story book for boys night. The girls have this laser tag set and we think it’s hilarious! It’s one of Erik’s favorites. This kids size golf set is perfect for the little budding athlete. Lastly the endless fun to be had with this kids razor and helmet.