March Happenings

Peoples, March has been insane. It kind of makes me sad that we’re down to the last few days because I love March in Texas. There’s bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush and wisteria everywhere and it’s super green and the sun isn’t set to “scorch everything in sight” quite yet, but it’s warm enough to go out and do whatever for however long you want without being either too cold or hot. BUT I’m also kind of glad it’s almost over because I AM TIRED. April probably won’t be any better, but I’m not gonna think about that.

So here’s a quick(ish) rundown of the insanity that was our March.

#1 – We roadtrip to Missouri to get the girls a dog.

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We can't help it. We're dorks and perfectly fine with it.
We can’t help it. We’re dorks and perfectly fine with it.

So here’s the thing. I adore road trips. I will not turn a road trip down. I want to take a million different road trips.

Just no more for at least two or three months. (Although if Jerm suggested one, you know I’d be in the car two minutes ago…) We’ve traveled every month this year so far and it’s beginning to take it’s toll. (Plus school is hard when you only have three days every week to work with.)

The trip was fun, we got to hang with Jerms aunt, uncle, and cousins, several of which I’d not met yet. It was cool getting to know them a little, plus they lived on an honest-to-goodness farm, which Mad LOVED. I swear, she ran out to check the henhouse for eggs at least twenty or thirty times every day. So stinkin cute.

Unfortunately she also had the worst athsma attack ever while we were up there, which was scary and led to another round of doctor appointments when we got home. I think she’s finally getting the meds she needs now, though, so that’s good.

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And we are now dog owners. Meet Blossom (the girls named her, of course).  I am so NOT an animal person, but I’ve got to admit that I’m kind of attached to her already. Not enough to like, roll around on the ground with her like Madeline does, but enough to pet her and walk her and stuff. So long as I don’t see any ticks on her I think we’ll be great friends.

#2 – We throw a pirate party

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We were actually in Missouri on Mad’s birthday so we celebrated a few days after we got home. This year she requested a pirate party, which was surprisingly easy to throw together, especially with the help of the wonderfulness that is Hobby Lobby and Amazon. I didn’t have the time to do much handmade this year, but she was happy with her party anyway. And all prejudices aside, I think she makes a pretty cute little pirate. 😉

#3 – We host our friends from North Carolina for a long-awaited girls weekend (minus the weekend part)

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My friend Amber brought her little daughter to Texas for a visit and we had a wonderful time together. The time went by too fast, but we’re so grateful for the days we had together. Susannah and Harley have been pen pals for a year or two now and it was so fun watching them get to know each other face to face. We shopped and took them to the Rainforest Cafe for lunch (which, to be honest, we enjoyed even more than the kids did I think)  and had an impromptu tea party and laughed and talked and watched Mockingjay (where’s Lanae and a creepy theater when we need them?!) and laughed and talked some more. Mad cried when they left and I don’t blame her one bit. Come back to see us again, Amber/Harley!

There were so many other things crammed into this month, too, but I think I’ll stop here. I sadly did not get any Easter dresses made for the girls this year. In fact, I didn’t get any Easter pictures either (total honesty here – we haven’t even had our egg hunt yet…put it off until this week). Susannah’s been begging me to sew her something, so maybe I’ll make them April dresses instead. But I’m not holding my breath on that.

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Let’s Talk About Adult Coloring Books

So, I was an awkward teenager. I definitely never fit in very well. And for a long time I was embarrassed about this, but I colored until I was about 16 or 17. Like…in Disney coloring books. And I always wished there was something else out there for me to color in, but trust me, I looked, and I never could find anything. (You should remember that this was before the internet!) And after all these years I find out this wasn’t as uncommon as I thought because apparently adults like to color, too. And a lot of them, if the trend of adult coloring books says anything. So even though I haven’t colored in quite a few years (except for a few pages with my girls here and there), I’m pretty thrilled with the selection available now. Now I can color without feeling like a total dork!

So. I now possess four coloring books, a few that were given to me, and a few I picked out myself. I thought I’d go through some of the pros and cons and share my favorite pages in case anyone had any of the same questions that I did. And because I like them and want to talk about them. 😉

Adult Coloring Books

So the first book I received was Fantastic Cities, and Jerm bought it for me off Amazon (a thousand brownie points to the hubs for knowing what I like without even asking!!). This is by far the most intimidating, intricate book of the four. The detail is AMAZING. Also, scary. Like…I don’t even know where to start. Check it out.

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I’m guessing that colored pencils will work best for this book. The pages are thick but the details are so tiny that I don’t know that paint or markers would do very well unless you’re extremely patient and steady.

Next I got the Extreme Wonders Color Art. You can pick this up from Walmart for under $5 and they have a variety of different designs to choose from. I either bought this for myself or it was gifted from maybe Heather. (Sorry, can’t remember.)

Extreme Wonders

The patterns are pretty detailed and each page has a blank back so even thought the paper is on the thinner side, markers would work. I’m not sure I’d try paint on these books because the paper isn’t very thick, but you may be able to get away with it.

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The Joyous Blooms is probably the book the I like the most. Every page is gorgeous and full of flowers, birds, nature scenes, etc.

Joyous Blooms

The paper is very good quality and thick enough to use watercolors on, which is my current favorite medium. (I should point out though, that’s it’s NOT watercolor paper). It also takes marker very well and although the pages are double-sided I haven’t had any bleed through issues.

Joyous Blooms 4 Joyous Blooms 3 Joyous Blooms 1 Joyous Blooms 2 Extreme Wonders 1

There are also really cool two page spreads like the butterfly above, which seems to be a unique feature (none of my other books do this). Most of the pages are not abstract, but I just adore the one above.

My last book, Whatever Is Lovely, was sent to me by Blogging For Books to review.

Whatever Is Lovely

I love the idea of a worship coloring book and had high hopes for this one. The con to this book is that it’s a compilation of many different artists/authors so I found many of the pages don’t really fit with my personal style preferences – but I do really like some of them. Overall I think I’d rather pick a book by one or two artists that I really like, but I can see how a lot of people might enjoy the diversity. The pages are really thick and the back of each is blank except for a small note about the song, reference, or author. I’ve worked with both watercolors and markers in this book and both worked beautifully.

Whatever Is Lovely 1 Whatever is Lovely 2 Whatever Is Lovely 3 Whatever Is Lovely 4 Whatever Is Lovely 5

(While I did receive this book for review, all opinions expressed are my own.)

So, what do you think about the adult coloring book trend? Which style is your favorite? Do you have any on your wishlist? I’m crushing on all of the Johanna Basford books (check them out here).

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10th Anniversary Trip

I can’t even believe that Jerm and I have been married for an entire decade. We agree that it doesn’t seem like that long and also that it feels like forever. Like…we almost can’t remember NOT being married. 😉

So we went to Florida to celebrate our 10th and took a little trip up to Georgia and South Carolina while we were, you know, IN THE AREA. If I lived on the East Coast I would be constantly hounding him to take me to see just one more thing/place/historical site because after having lived in Texas and Alaska for so long it’s incredible to me that you can cross that many state lines in just a few hours.

So anyway, here’s a quick(ish) recap of our trip. I told myself I would only share one photo per day but that was too hard, so I settled on one collage a day instead.

Friday – so even though it took most of the day to get to this point (packing is the worst!), we didn’t actually leave until about 5pm. I told Jerm from the start to steel himself for all the picture-taking and he was mostly a great sport. We learned that we’re pretty bad at selfies. I’m not going to say who gave us the most problems, but he/she can’t even look in the right direction apparently. 😉 We got to Ft Lauderdale around 9 and by the time we got our bags and car and found our hotel we were ready to call it. Exciting first day, right?

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Saturday – we spent the entire day in Ft Lauderdale and it was beautiful out, which was awesome since Jerm wanted to spend it snorkeling. This is the only day we spent a lot of time on an actual beach (although we visited lots of others during our trip). I’m not a strong swimmer (understatement) so I didn’t try to swim out to the reef but Jerm spent quite a few hours snorkeling and then we spent the afternoon walking through all the cute shops around the beach. We splurged and went to Texas de Brazil that evening – the food was awesome and the service was awful.  So..yeah.  Day 2

Sunday – we had a lot of fun this day and headed down to Key Largo after attending a local church for morning services. We took our time going down, stopped at a farmers market and tried rumbatan for the first time (super weird looking fruit, but actually pretty good). We were a little worried about our hotel down here, because the reviews were pretty awful, but we actually loved the place, mostly because it had it’s own tiny private beach and hammocks that we pretty much had all to ourselves. And there was a restaurant next door (called Snooks – had to take a photo for Mad!) that had live music every night that we enjoyed while in “our” hammock. 😉

Day 3

Monday – We took this day to drive out through the keys all the way to Key West. A lot of it was unimpressive, but seeing the key deer on Big Pine Key was pretty awesome and the views  were pretty great. We also found a really cool little beach right outside of Key Largo where Jerm spent an hour or so wading out in the extremely shallow tide while I huddled on the beach in my sweatshirt. Key West reminded us too much of New Orleans and since we’re not party people we were largely unimpressed. The architecture was pretty cool and I loved the whole southernmost point thing (Jerm didn’t care. Whatev.) so we’re glad we went once, but probably wouldn’t do it again. I did finally get to try macarons, sold by a true Frenchwoman, and they were just as fun and tasty as I imagined. Jerm does NOT recommend the rose flavor, by the way. Public service announcement there. 😉

Day 4

Tuesday – this day was largely spent in the car as we drove all the way from Key Largo to Savannah, Georgia. We detoured to Miami Beach, which was mostly deserted and gorgeous (it was kind of a cool, windy day) and worth the stop (I thought). Jerm had to take his shoes off and get in the water at every beach, but I usually just took pics and searched for shells for Madeline. We also stopped in Jacksonville and had dinner with Hannah (yay!) which was awesome since I missed seeing her over Christmas. We were suuuuper ready to be at our hotel by the time we pulled in to Savannah.

Day 5

Wednesday – You guys, I adored Savannah. It’s such a pretty city and I love all the history. We stopped at Wormsloe to take the tour and see the awesome oak-lined lane with the Spanish moss. Totally worth it. Then we wandered through the city for a few hours (Jerm played Forrest Gump in Chippewa Square) – saw the historic houses on Jones St, tried pralines for the first time ever, because duh, it’s Savannah, and checked out all the pretty squares (seriously, we don’t have parks like that down here). Then we headed to Tybee Island where we climbed the lighthouse and I learned that I now posses a decent fear of heights (huh? since when?), hit the beach (again) to wade (Jerm) and search for shells (me). We tried conch fritters and fresh shrimp and found a church on the island to visit that evening. One of my favorite days of the trip, for sure.

Day 6

Thursday – We headed to Charleston and stopped first to see the Angel Oak, which seriously is the hugest and most beautiful tree I’ve ever seen. Then we went to Folly Beach and you guys it was cold that day but it was my favorite beach stop we’d made so far (I even took my shoes off!). There were starfish all over the beach and tons of shells and it was just pretty and so different from the Florida beaches. Then we headed into Charleston and oohed and aahed over the awesome buildings (okay, mostly that was me) and took the Fort Sumpter ferry and tour, which was really cool. Everyone we talked to spoke of how awesome the food scene was in Charleston but no one gave us recommendations and we ended up at a BBQ place by the water (not a normal choice for us, even being Texans and all) and I personally hated the food (the only real food disappointment of the trip). So bummer. I guess I’ll have to go back someday to get some good Charleston food. 😉

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Friday – we had to be back to Ft Lauderdale for an early Saturday flight so we spent a good portion of the day driving again. We stopped to see Hannah’s farm and got to spend a little time checking out her work, which was fun and then we spent a few hours wandering around St Augustine, which we really enjoyed also. It’s got all these old, narrow cobblestone streets that I pretty much want to live on. We didn’t see the fountain of youth, although we could use some. 😉  We weren’t planning to stop on any more beaches but it was a little stormy out and we couldn’t resist one final wade in the water and I don’t know if it was because we knew it was our last day but I had more fun on that beach than any other day (Folly Beach was a close second). It was BEAUTIFUL and the big stormy waves reminded me of the Pacific. We finally made it back to Ft Lauderdale and fell into bed for a few hours before flying out at the way-too-early crack of dawn the next morning.

Day 8

So there you pretty much have it. We had a fabulous time together and even though we missed the girls it was good to get away for a while (besides, we got to FaceTime with them every day). Happy 10 years to us.

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Shop Handmade: Naptime Diaries

One thing that I really started to love in 2015 was supporting small businesses. I’ve been meaning (and meaning…and meaning) to share some of my favorite handmade shops with yall, but I never seemed to quite get around to it, so I decided to start a new series on my blog where I can show off the pretties I’ve been accumulating.

It took me a while to really get into shopping small because honestly, you do pay a little more than you would at a big box store, but I think the quality of the items, the personal touches, and the fact that you’re supporting a real, live person (some of whom share the same interests/beliefs/etc. that we do) more than makes up for it. I’ve met some really sweet ladies while purchasing their items and love knowing that supporting them helps them stay at home with their kids or fulfill a lifelong dream of selling their art or fund an adoption.

I chose Naptime Diaries as my first shop to share with you guys, because I’ve been buying from them for several years and honestly, I just love their work. Their prints and canvases are so pretty and I’ve used their advent devotionals for the last few years and loved them.

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I actually won this canvas in a giveaway and I adore it. i always have it on display somewhere in my home.

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I need to find a home for this one, obviously, but it’s another favorite print.

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These mini prints were part of the advent devotional that i used this past holiday season. They’re amazing quality and I don’t know exactly how I’ll use them now, but trust me, I will find a use for them. 🙂

And my current favorite from their shop right now is this beauty:

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Be sure to check out their shop if you’re looking for some scripture-based wall art for your home. And right now you can take 10% off your order by using the code NEWYEAR10 when you checkout!!

I’d love to hear about your favorite local or online handmade business – I’m always on the lookout to find new makers to follow and support.

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A Fresh Start

Well, helloooo 2016. I think I’m going to like you. Even though things are already NOT going according to plan, I’m okay with it. This past week has been kind of busy and weird and full of sickness and family visiting (not necessarily a great combination, right?), so I haven’t had the kids fill out the annual Year in Review/Goals for the year sheets yet, but we’ll get to it for sure. I love, love, love having those to look back at and I want to make sure I have the kids participate for as long as they’re willing (or as long as I can force them to).

So, like always at the start of a fresh new year, I’ve been thinking about what my goals are for 2016, and although I won’t bore you with all of them, here are a few interesting things that I’d like to commit to trying:

Unlike the previous few years I’m not going to aim for just a certain number of books to read; instead I’m going to try a couple of different challenges that will force me to expand to other genres and books that I probably normally wouldn’t even consider.

http://modernmrsdarcy.com/2016-reading-challenge/
via Modern Mrs Darcy

First up, I definitely want to join this reading challenge  hosted by Modern Mrs Darcy. I don’t have a lot of trouble meeting my reading goals each year, but I love the direction this challenge gives me. Plus, it just sounds fun.

2016BooksFinal I’m also considering this challenge hosted by Bringing Up Burns, because it’s quite a bit different from the first one and I just can’t decide between the two.

Another goal of mine is to continue working on some form of journaling/memory keeping for the entire year of 2016. Last year I did keep up with my Documented Faith journal, and while I don’t think I’ll continue with it this year, it did introduce me to that form of record-keeping and I loved it. The past few months I’ve been experimenting with guided challenges and list challenges and I have really enjoyed myself, so I plan to stick with that for 2016. I’ll include a couple of photos below because I’m sure that my explanations would just confuse everyone. 🙂

This was from a challenge I completed in November - this was actually supposed to be my life as a comic strip, but I can't draw, so this was my improvise.
This was from a challenge I completed in November – this was actually supposed to be my life as a comic strip, but I can’t draw, so this was my improvise.
Another challenge from Nobember, this was a gratitude journal with guided prompts.
Another challenge from Nobember, this was a gratitude journal with guided prompts.
Another page from the gratitude journal - I won't ever attempt to do two challenges in the same month again!
Another page from the gratitude journal – I won’t ever attempt to do two challenges in the same month again!

On that note, I’m pretty stoked to tell you guys that I’ve been asked to be part of The Ink Road’s new design team! I’ll be sharing my journaling/list challenge projects via my Instagram account, although I may share them here once in a while, too.

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Like I mentioned before, I don’t really have my act totally together yet, so most of my plans are still in-progress, but I’ll try to share more soon. I just love starting a fresh, new year! I know i say that every January, but seriously. How about yall? Any big goals or dreams for 2016?

 

Hello World, Remember Me?

My blog has been a little quiet lately. A lot quiet, actually. To be honest, I’ve been seriously considering deleting the whole thing for about a year and half now. I kept asking myself what I was trying to accomplish with it and WHY I was still writing. See, it started out as a way to keep in touch with all my far-away friends and family, and was a sort of family journal. Then it was all about the crafts and projects I was trying out and eventually I even started writing sponsored posts, which was sometimes fun and sometimes…not. So I’ve just kind of floundered this year, trying to decide what exactly I wanted to DO with this blog or if I even wanted to do anything at all. I cut way back on my posting (like, I could count the number of posts in 2015 on two hands…if I was the 6-fingered man and had five hands), sticking mainly to the occasional update on what the kids were up to in school and a few book reviews and goal updates. I didn’t participate in the October daily blogging challenge for the first time in years and it was both sad for me and also very freeing. Why did I feel like I needed to do that every year anyway?

So I’ve decided that I do want to keep writing. But I don’t want to pick a category to blog in. Maybe I’ll share a craft or recipe that I’m enjoying. Maybe I’ll post a ton of photos of my kids. I’ll probably write about the books I’m enjoying or hating. I might lose all my readers (if I haven’t already, because seriously, it’s been boring around here). But that’s okay, because I want to write what I’m interested in and not worry about the rest. I want to write for me and I’m cool if I’m the only one who reads it. (Except, let’s be real, if you’re related to me I’ll probably expect you to read it, too, and throat-punch you if you don’t.)

I refuse to box myself into committing to a certain number of postings, but I will definitely TRY to be more consistent and post at least weekly. I’m excited to share some new things I’m trying and discovering and I’m happy to be writing again. I’ll probably be back in a few days with a recap of my 2015 goals and a fresh new list for 2016, because goal-setting and goal-achieving makes me happy.

If you’re still here reading after all this time, I’m happy to have you here, too.

 

Book Reviews: Trim Healthy Mama Plan and Washi Tape Crafts

Hey buddies, I know it’s been forever since I’ve blogged, but things have been crazy around here and I’ve been contemplating whether or not to continue writing (pretty much for the whole year) and where I want to go with this thing. I think I’ve made my decision, and I’ll be writing more about that soon, but today I wanted to share a couple of thoughts about two fun books I’ve read through in the past few weeks (okay..months. Like I said, crazy around here.)

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The Trim Healthy Mama Plan is the newest of the THM books, but I’d never read the original so it was all new to me. It’s been one of those books I kept intending to read and just never happened, but I’ve been hearing about it for the last several years and finally got around to it at the recommendation of my sisters, two of whom are following this plan successfully. Honestly, I’ve tried a lot of fad diets and I’m still not completely convinced about this one, especially since I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I like their simple approach, which is basiically: Don’t mix carbs and fats when you eat. Let me tell ya, I’ve been struggling to lose weight for several years now and I’m really, really tired of counting calories and not seeing results from my efforts, so I do plan to give this plan a try as soon as I get more familiar with the menu. I thought the book was well-written, easy to follow (not a lot of technical jargon that’s impossible to follow like a lot of diet books), and seriously, the recipes they’ve included actually sound really appetizing, which is a huge plus. (Seriously. Cilantro-Lime Burst Chicken? Yes, please!)  I’ve also talked to (and read about) quite a few people who’ve had great success on this plan. So overall, definitely an interesting read. I’d like to pick up their new cookbook as well.

The second book, Washi Tape Crafts, is a cute little craft book by the author of Mod Podge Rocks (Amy Anderson) and is filled with projects you can complete with washi tape. A super cool thing about the book – it comes with TEN rolls of washi included to try out some of the crafts yourself! I’ve been using washi for a few years now, mainly in journaling and papercrafting, but she has all kinds of cool ideas in this book. My favorites are the following:

I love this tumbler!
I love this tumbler!
The awesome thing about washi is that it doesn't leave residue behind and is repositionable, which makes it perfect on walls.
The awesome thing about washi is that it doesn’t leave residue behind and is repositionable, which makes it perfect on walls.
Make your keyboard pretty!
Make your keyboard pretty!

This book would make a great gift for someone who loves crafting, especially because of the washi that’s included.

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**I received the Trim Healthy Mama Plan from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion and Washi Tape Crafts from the author, Amy Anderson, also in exchange my honest review.