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. 😉

Day7

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.

Friday Five: the Homeschool Shenanigans Edtition

Well, wouldn’t you know it, despite all my good intentions, another three weeks has sped by without a single word posted. I’m sure by this point no one even checks anymore, but for those loyal few who do, here are a few things we’ve been up to in the great homeschooling adventure lately.

  • First up, I’m just going to admit that last year totally overwhelmed me and I spent the last half of the year pretty much in panic mode until I finally had to cut back on anything but the bare basics. Piano, projects, art – they all had to stop for a few months while I searched for my sanity. Thankfully I seem to be a little more in control of our schedule this year (so far) and we’ve been able to get back into the fun stuff a bit. (Although, let’s be honest, teaching piano will never be a fun thing for me. Ever.) I even added in a few new goals, like teaching cooking and sewing on a semi-regular basis and the girls are loving it. Here’s Susannah’s first creation. Behold, the monster cookie:  IMG_3961 edit IMG_3962edit They were cute and fun and bright and colorful, just like her.

 

  • I saw a similar cake on Pinterest a while back and Mad and I had fun re-creating it. This kid loves anything that roars. She’s SO LOUD. Don’t let the innocent face deceive you. She’s an instigator, always ruffling everyone’s feathers. I don’t know where she gets that from. 😉 IMG_4034 IMG_4048

 

  • A couple of history related projects:We learned the difference between fools gold and the real thing and experimented a little by testing it’s malleability. IMG_4044 IMG_4045  We also attempted to dig for gold without collapsing our flour mines on top of the poor Incan slaves (imaginary, of course, although Madeline wanted to put her Prince Hans figurine in there…!!!). IMG_3918 IMG_3920

 

  • We took the girls to a musical production of Fancy Nancy and let them dress as fancy as they pleased. As you can see, they aren’t girly at all. It was a lot of fun and Susannah made sure to meet and get everyones signatures, but Mad said it was too embarrassing. She’s the least shy, least embarrassed kid I’ve ever met, so I have no idea what that was about. IMG_3981edit IMG_4001edit IMG_3994 Susannah’s favorite, surprisingly, was Bree. IMG_4002edit

 

  • And finally, a question. What are some good field trips to take kids on? I really want to plan some out so they actually happen this year and we have just about anything you can dream up somewhere in the the DFW area. Suggestions, please!

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July/August Goals Update

You guys, no joke, September has flown by faster than any other month of my life. I keep thinking it’s still August, but next week we’ll be into October. OCTOBER. (I blame the still-high-90’s weather.)

Annnyway…accountability really seems to keep me motivated so here’s the latest update of my yearly goals.

Creativity Goals:

  • Complete one sewing project each month – I made two small zip pouches in July and put together my first quilt in years in August (it’s all done except the binding). Done!
  • Document each month in my Project Life album – Total fail. I haven’t done this even once this year.
  • Made weekly entries in my Documented Faith journal – I got a little behind on this over the summer, but I’ve been steadily working on it and I’m within a week of being caught up now. Done!
  • I’ve also still been working in my art journal every now and then although I gave up trying to follow the weekly Documented Life Project prompts. Sometimes things just don’t end up being what we think they’ll be, right? So even though that wasn’t a good fit for me, I’ve still been experimenting and having fun trying new things so I’m not going to call this one a total fail.
  • The girls art and piano lessons are just now starting back up after taking the summer off so there’s not much new to report on that. Done!
  • The serger is actually unpacked and has it’s own place now. I’ve spent a bit of time recently trying to rearrange and purge my craft nook so hopefully now that it’s out and in my face all the time I’ll get the courage up to try to thread it and see what it can do. Progress.

Personal Goals:

  • Keeping in touch with friends via email/phone/etc. – I’ve done better about this for sure this year, but I still have a ways to go. I actually managed to corner my sister into a regular weekly call time recently, so I’m going to call this a success. Done!
  • This next one is such a bummer to me, but through no fault of our own our 5K isn’t going to happen this year. I signed up way back in January for the Color Fun Fest run and they’ve now rescheduled it three times, changed the venue, and refused to refund us our money after we got fed up with the changes. It’s a very sore subject with me, so I just wanted to warn anyone out there that may be thinking about signing up with them – don’t! Definitely find another color run to participate in, as this seems to be a common issue with this particular organization. Blech. Fail.
  • I’ve completed all of my travel goals this year except for our anniversary trip, which will happen in December/January. I explored Austin in July and visited grandma for a week in August, which was super fun and awesome (always – I have the best grandma ever). Done!
  • Working on the master bedroom – I’ve made a tiny bit of progress here, but still have a lot to do. Still, the fact that I’ve even made any attempt is better than what I’ve done in the last…you know, ten years. Done-ish.

Reading Goals:

  • Read 50 books in 2015 – Honestly, I’ve already read waaay more than 50 books this year. A bunch of them have been really lame (why is it hard to find good books?) but even counting just the ones I’ve at least semi-enjoyed I’m on track. Unfortunately another part of that goal was to read at least 12 of the books on my own to-be-read shelf, and I haven’t done quite as well with that goal. Maybe when I finish my current stack from the library I’ll force myself to only read my own books for the rest of the year… (Good luck to myself on that one.)  IMG_3928 51H8x07Fd7L

A couple I’ve read recently are The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, which I’ve heard zillions of people rave about in the past few months. I usually enjoy decluttering books and this one was pretty good, although I don’t really understand what all the fuss is about and some of it was just plain weird. Thanking your socks for doing a good job? Um, okay…            The idea of only keeping items that truly bring you joy is a good one, but not really new, although I did like her instruction to physically pick up each item before deciding whether to keep or toss it. All in all, I would recommend it, but not rave about it or anything.

Go Ahead and Like It by Jacqueline Suskin is a book I received from Blogging for Books to review a few months ago and have been kind of putting it off because the book is just so strange. From the description I thought it would be a book about list-making (which, hello, I’m a total sucker for), but it ended up being mostly a weird compilation of the authors own lists of likes without much else included. She did have a few suggestions, like using your time in traffic to make a list of likes, but mainly it was just really odd photos and lists that kind of grossed me out, including things like bruises and disorders. What can you even say to that? Definitely would not recommend this book unless you like to collect very odd, pointless books.

  • Read 12 books aloud to the girls: I think we’re one book behind on this goal, but we’re almost through with Treasure Island and have really been enjoying reading together lately. I’m fairly confident that we’ll catch up by the end of the year. Progress.

I think that about covers it. I’m feeling highly motivated right now so hopefully I’ll push through some of these final goals by the end of the year. How are your goals coming along? I’d love to hear!

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