FAMILY | weekend update: planes, trains, + graduations (oh, and a wedding too!)

This past weekend was FULL. Fully of family, fun, and fond memories (I had to keep going, alliteration is the most addictive of literary elements, agreed?). My in-laws flew in from NOLA on Wednesday night to attend my brother-in-law’s graduation from my alma mater! It’s crazy to think that he is already finished with his undergraduate career. I distinctly remember helping him move into his freshman dorm room and getting used to him being in Dallas. Now he’s living here and has two bachelor’s degrees to boot! Between Miss M and my nephew the graduation ceremony was definitely entertaining. Thankfully it was before dinner, and not during dinner, so snacks and sippy cups were our go to entertainment and when those ran out there was infinite amounts of people watching to keep the littles occupied.

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We spent the rest of the weekend just hanging out and spending time together as a family. We picnic-ed at our local park on Friday night and enjoyed a gorgeous sunset accompanied by cool breezes and baby giggles. Saturday we lunched on pizza in downtown Plano and visited the train museum that my dad has been working at for ages.

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Saturday evening, we had the wedding some old college friends to attend! The bride was a freshman when I was a senior and we have been able to witness the relationship with her now husband grow over the past few years. They are the epitome of adorable and their wedding ceremony + reception were a blast. We also haven’t been out without a little one in tow in quite sometime so THAT was extra nice.

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Happy Tuesday, y’all!

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Weaving into the lives of others

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It was around this time last year that I decided to stay home with my little one instead of go back into my classroom as a third grade teacher. The years I spent teaching and learning in my classroom are ones that I hope to never forget and contain lessons I intend to pass on to my sweet girl in the years to come. While there were undoubtedly long, hard days I can honestly say that I loved working as a full time classroom teacher. There was always at least one moment in my day that brought me light and joy and confirmation in my career’s vocation.

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This week was teacher appreciation day (or week for those districts that like to celebrate their teachers for more than one day – which I fully approve of:) and I always loved that teacher appreciation day/week usually coincided with mother’s day weekend because I always felt like a mother to my students. I was with them for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, and sometimes even longer if I needed them to stay for tutoring or after school events. By the end of the year my students and I would always develop this comfortable, familial rapport with each other. They knew about all of my daily, quirky habits like what days I would eat in my classroom and work through lunch, what names I would use in my word problems during math, my obsessive love for manatees, they even knew which afternoons I needed a diet coke. In turn, I learned about their funny little preferences and had the privilege of watching them grow and learn over the course of the school year. I was their school mom, and they were my 20 wild, crazy kiddos. The relationships that form in a classroom are just as in explicable as those with your family members. There is that sense of comfort and warmth and nurturing found in those walls and among those tiny desks.

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I think about the day that my little one will walk up the steps and meet her Kindergarten teacher and the relationship that they will form over the course the academic year. All of the learning she will do and all of the hard work, dedication, and patience her teacher will endure over those long day and short months. I think about the trust and encouragement her teacher will need. I think about the hours her teacher will spend grading papers, sorting through books, and writing my daughter’s name on name tags. My appreciation for my former coworkers and friends has grown exponentially as I have started my family. While I am no longer working 12 hour days in the classroom, prepping science experiments and writing lesson plans and I am working on a much smaller, part-time scale I still think about what a great calling it is to be a teacher. To get to be even a small part of a child’s life is such an incredible thing. To all my teacher friends out there – happy teacher appreciation day! I hope your students and families have showered you with words and gifts of encouragement because you have more than earned it.

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” -Pericles

Happy Wednesday!

FAMILY | weekend update: easy like a plan-free weekend

We didn’t have ANY plans this weekend! And guess what!? IT. WAS. GLORIOUS. The month of may brings with is weddings upon weddings, my brother-in-laws graduation, bridal showers & bachelorette parties…among our regularly scheduled family happenings. So needless today, we relished in this weekend and all it’s unplanned glory. I even took a nap on Sunday. That my friends is spontaneity at it’s finest.

Friday evening we ventured over to our new next door neighbors backyard and grilled + chatted + got to know our new friends! When we moved into our new house we were really nervous about neighbors and the neighborhood. We were really hoping to find a place for our young family to grow while meeting other young families and long-time residents alike. A few weeks ago we saw the “For Sale” sign vanish from the house next door and a new young family move in. The best part? I already knew the mom moving in because we see each other every morning at our mommy + baby bootcamp! Such a small, awesome world. We are so excited to have some friends next door to laugh and play with. Cheers to many more Friday night family grilling dates!

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The Blue Gin Fizz I sipped on while we enjoyed our dinner Friday night – go to my Instagram feed to see the recipe!

Saturday we ran some errands and planned an at-home date night. I was supposed to meet up with the lovely Amanda, but alas our mommy + beer date will have to be planned for another day because she came down with a bug – but honestly it worked out better for the day and we were able to spend some much needed family time together. Something Eric and I have been enjoying when we have a day like Saturday is making a trip to Central Market and planning a fancier dinner date after Madeline goes to bed. Doing this always takes me back to when we first started dating and cooking at home + movie nights were a staple date of ours. With the weather being so flipping wonderful we decided to grill up some beautiful rib-eye steak, portobello mushrooms, and artichokes. While we waited for the food to finish cooking we sipped on Mint Juleps in honor of the Kentucky Derby that was Saturday (even though neither of us are from Kentucky and I don’t think either of us have ever watched it…). It was a seriously A+ dinner and the best part was me not having to make much of it. 😉

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Sunday was the normal grind of leftover weekend errands, band practice and mass in the afternoon. As I mentioned previously, I even snuck in a nap while M slept in the morning and it was the most unexpected + amazing thing in the world. Sundays! You’re the best!


I hope you’re Monday is kicking off your week to a fantastic start!

FOOD | classic cold brew coffee

The temperatures are starting to rise as we welcome spring in the Dallas area and with warmer days I am less attracted to my standard hot black coffee in the morning. For the past few spring/summer seasons I have been brewing up a large batch of cold brew coffee to keep in our fridge and sip on when fatigue inevitably strikes. It’s nice to have the option on warm summer mornings or even in the afternoon during naptime when I usually hit a tired slump in my day and need the extra energy boost to make that time productive. I enjoy my iced coffee black or with a little half and half. I’m not into overly sweet or syrupy drinks unless they are from a coffee shop but I’m sure you could add a little vanilla simple syrup or honey to your beverage to sweeten it up a bit! I have added a little home made Kahlua (courtesy of an old teaching buddy) to my iced coffee during brunch and it was spot on.

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Recipe: Classic Cold Brew Coffee

Ingredients/Tools

  • 2 cups ground medium roast coffee (I use Costco’s breakfast blend – I steer away from flavored coffees because the flavor tends taste weird it steeps, that could just be my taste buds though!)
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 large mixing bowls
  • Chemex Coffee Maker + at least 2 filters (or any pour over/filtering system – this is just what we have)
  • 1 cup measuring cup

Instructions

  1. Put 1 cup of coffee grounds in each of your large mixing bowls. Pour 4 cups of water in each mixing bowl and stir water and grounds together, making sure that all of your grounds are completely soaked.
  2. Cover bowls and let grounds steep for 6-8 hours.
  3. After your coffee has steeped put your filter in the Chemex and pour coffee through the filter a cup at a time. I also you a small sieve on top of my filter to easily remove the bulk of the grounds while I am filtering the coffee. This is kind of overkill through and it’s really up to you and how many filters you want to use. I usually go through about 2-3 when I’m going through the entire process.
  4. After I filter through all of the coffee I put it in a large spout container that goes in our fridge. I let it chill over night and then the next morning (and multiple mornings after) I enjoy! (:

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See? Super simple! The waiting is the hardest part but I always make a large batch and it will keep in the fridge for about a month.

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This is the container we use to store it in our fridge. Pretty sure I got it at Target last year for less than $5. Also, like our top shelf? Beer + coffee. Priorities, people!

I hope you are all having a wonderful well-caffeinated Monday! (:

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FAITH | the man in the mirror

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I guess technically that this post should be entitled “the woman in the mirror” but then my Michael Jackson lyric-inspired title wouldn’t sound nearly as awesome so we’ll keep it as is (and I’m just going to leave the link to the music video right here, you’re welcome;).

Lately, I have been feeling a little crisis-of-faith/identity-crisis-y. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way this past year or ever in my life for that matter. I think I can say that we have all felt lost at times and continue to ask God for guidance and direction in our lives when we feel at a loss. Especially in this world where we are so driven by labels and associating ourselves with certain groups, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and really want to cling to a certain identity. The feelings and stress of all of the thoughts and emotions always sneak up on me and leave me mulling over all of them for longer than I would really like. It’s just that lately, I’m not sure what I want. I’m not entirely sure what God wants. Out of the two wills, I usually have a hint of knowledge towards at least one of them – God’s or mine. But right now? Neither, and it is frustrating, concerning, saddening, maddening, and irritating all at once.

For so long I have have followed these little standard benchmark points in life. In high school you are just trying to make it to graduation. In college, you are not only trying to make it to graduation but then you are either looking for a job, or applying for graduate programs. Then after college (at least for me) there was surviving that first year post graduation and in the big, real world. Then after that you are trying to meet certain timelines to achieve different opportunities within your career. And that is only the professional/education side of life. Personally speaking, you date someone for a while, then you get engaged. You wait and plan to get married. Then you’re married, you wait and plan and then you have kids. You’re pregnant, you wait and plan and then you go into labor. Then you’re a parent and you discern more children and start planning your children’s little standard benchmark timeline, etc. etc. Then last year I decided that I would at least stay home for a year. I would give being at home a chance and I would make the sacrifice. Well, we’re here. I made it and I’m not entirely sure what is next.

As much as I denied it, and didn’t want to give in to His plan, I knew I was supposed to stay home this year. It was by far the best choice for our family and honestly, my mental sanity as well. I needed the “break” and the distance from the classroom to figure out some things and devote this special time to my family. What am I supposed to do now? I have been praying this prayer for weeks now and I feel like nothing is resulting from my unending pleas (although it probably is and I’m just to human to realize it, yadda yadda). I always think that I am experiencing all of these feelings myself but it’s been made apparent that I’m not because I have read two different blog posts about similar subjects this week. (Which can be found here and here.)  It’s been reassuring to know that other women doubt themselves in motherhood or feel the same daily struggle as I do. Honestly, reading their words this week could not have been better timed and I’m so thankful for the blogging community and the women who are so openly sharing their hearts.

Yet, I’m still left here thinking. Who am I? What am I doing with my life? What am I SUPPOSED to be doing with my life? I know that I am supposed to be home in some capacity. I need to be here for my family and my girl. I can say that much has been such a huge blessing (whether or not I recognize it on the daily) and for right now this is where I need to be. But I want more. I want to pursue more and I’m just not sure what to pursue. Am I supposed to look for additional part-time work? Am I supposed to pursue some sort of creative endeavor? (This question usually stems off into the internal debate that would be starting a creative business of some sort – what would I do? what am I good at? everyone is already doing everything on Etsy right now and I would get lost in the shuffle so why even bother, etc.)  Am I supposed to continue to haphazardly blog whenever nap time allows? Or am I supposed to invest more time here and grow through my writing? Or am I supposed to shut it down all together and accept that I am exactly where I need to be and stop asking questions? But then why would God place these desires for more in my heart…

Are you exhausted reading through all of this yet? I am and not only am I writing about it (and rereading it after I’ve written) but it feels like I have been constantly bouncing all of those opposing thoughts off the walls of my brain to only come back to the same starting point… what is God’s will for my life right now?

I guess I will have to keep pondering upon that. I hope you’ll pray for me and I’m praying for you all too. Like I said before, this community of women, blogging, sharing their souls for the world… it’s not going unnoticed or unappreciated because my (wo)man in the mirror, who is struggling and searching right now, appreciates it more than you probably know.

Happy Tuesday, y’all.

FOOD | Mexican Vanilla Cupcakes + Buttercream Cream Cheese Frosting

As I was planning my child’s first birthday I vowed to myself to keeps things simple. I promised myself that I would not stress out over a birthday party that would only be remembered by her father and me. I swore I wouldn’t even consider creating a Pinterest board or homemade treats… well all of that was thrown out the window as the day approached and I realized just how much this celebration meant to us as parents, as well as grandparents and friends who were there for us this past year. The whole “it takes a village” thing is so unbelievably true. It takes a village to raise a child and keep her parents sane. Well, needless to say I did create a (secret;) Pinterest board and did in fact make some treats…from SCRATCH!

Something I really wasn’t intending to do was bake a cake from scratch. Honestly, homemade made cakes to me are from a little red box with a spoon on the logo. I feel like boxed cake mixes can be tough on their own and for special occasions I will throw together a homemade frosting. Well after looking at several recipes online I realized that baking a cake from scratch really wasn’t that intimidating and if all else failed… I had a vanilla bean cake mix hidden away in the pantry that could always be my stand in birthday centerpiece.

Just putting this out there, I got several compliments on these delicious little morsels and the only two that were left were the two connected to the name sign. I opted for cupcakes because tiny human = tiny bites and I’m really not one to waste an entire cake on a baby smashing it when more of that cake can be eaten by others. (: I hope you all make these cupcakes and eat your weight in them (it is Easter season after all, time to celebrate!). They are seriously that good.

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Recipe: Mexican Vanilla Cupcakes

Recipe inspired by the Vanilla Cupcake Recipe from http://www.littlehouseliving.com/vanilla-cupcakes.html

Ingredients (makes about 30 cupcakes): 

  • 4 c. cake flour (I used Swan’s Down Cake Flour)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 c. softened butter
  • 1.5 c. white sugar
  • 4 eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • 2 tsp Mexican Vanilla Extract (I honestly probably put in more like 3-4…)

Cream your butter and sugar together in stand mixer until well combined. I find that not completely melting my butter – but softening it helps. I used to think soften = melted. I actually prefer leaving it out to become room temperature and then creaming in a tbsp of butter at a time. Add in vanilla and milk until well combined. Then add in each egg one at a time until well combined. In a small, separate bowl sift together flour, kosher salt, and baking powder. After you have combined those three ingredients add flour mixture to your wet ingredients by the 1/2 c until you have created a thick cake batter with little to no lumps. I turned my stand mixer on high for about 30 seconds to “whip” the batter and make it a bit more airy.

Line muffin/cupcake tin with cupcake liners and fill each cup 3/4 of the way full. Bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes. (And if you’re not like me you will make sure your oven is actually on when you start baking…because otherwise you will but a batch in there and wonder why an hour later nothing has baked:).

Recipe: Buttercream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup of slightly softened unsalted butter
  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese (don’t skimp and get nonfat/neufchatel cheese)
  • 2-3 tsp of Vanilla Extract (I used Mexican Vanilla again)
  • 4-5 cups of powdered sugar or until you get the consistency you desire

In a stand mixer combine butter and cream cheese until well combined. I pulsed between a moderate speed and a whipping speed. Add vanilla until well combined and then start adding powdered sugar by the 1/2 c until you reach the consistency you are looking for in a frosting. I whipped for about 30 seconds at the end to have a lighter frosting. I let it sit for about 5-10 minutes and then I scooped it in a gallon sized ziplock bag. Zipped it up and cut off one of the corners. Then I piped it on in swirls on the cupcakes.

Happy eating!

The big ONE.

I’m just going to come right out and say that this post will be filled to the brim with sappy, overly emotional oh-my-gosh-my-firstborn-is-one mom-ness. So if you’d rather skip right on past this, be my guest, I understand.

This past weekend we celebrated the little life that has made our world a brighter, louder, cuter place to live in. Family and friends came over and between the BBQ, beer, and abundance of babies it was the most perfect celebration. We really could not have asked for better weather so most of the time was spent outside enjoying M’s new sandbox and our beautiful backyard. The birthday girl was a real trooper through the whole celebration so I completely understood when she just couldn’t take any more attention when cupcake time came along. It’s a lot of pressure for a tiny human when a ton of people are staring at you, singing some crazy song and taking pictures of your little face!

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Thinking back over this past year, it’s hard not to well up with emotion. I know it’s cliche, but I didn’t know just how much my heart would change when I became a mom. I think about all of the lessons I have learned and continue to learn and I am amazed at what such a small little girl has been able to teach me in twelve short months. Humbling doesn’t even begin to describe it.

The night she was born I didn’t know if I would be able to endure it. Labor was so hard and so trying and so everything that I had never experienced before. But we did it. By the grace of God we did it, and that beautiful night I held my sweet girl in my arms for the first time and it was incredible.

A week into having a newborn, I didn’t know if I would be able to handle this new life style. This tiny person needed me constantly. I was sleep deprived, exhausted, and in completely unfamiliar territory when it came to breastfeeding. But again, we did it. By the grace of God and an exorbitant amount of caffeine, we did it and I learned and she learned and her father put up with my teary-eyed post-partum meltdowns and we made it.

Then all of the sudden I had a three month old, who still refused to sleep longer than 4 hours at a time and once again, I just didn’t think I could handle this. My baby cried so much, needed to be held so much, and I began comparing myself so much. That’s when I realized that my relationship with her, my child, were things that couldn’t be compared. I was a mom for the first time and she was just a baby. I learned about a type confidence I didn’t know I had, and we did it. We continued to grow.

Six months came and I felt like we hit the biggest milestone. I had a solid food eating, sitting up by herself, crawling and mobile baby girl. Then month seven came and we found out that her lack of sleeping habits could have to do with ear infections. I had to learn how to give antibiotics and Tylenol to an infant and that was hard. Once again, I didn’t know if I could do it. But we learned and we made it and I honestly felt like more of a real parent after having to take the responsibility it takes to pick up your child’s prescription late at night, measuring the right dose, and giving them their medicine. (Also, giving an infant any medication via syringe can be equated to giving a cat medicine. My honest opinion.)

Now here we are, twelve months young. Walking, talking (mama, dada, mo = more, and no no no are her favorite phrases) and sleeping twelve hours a night. We did it. We kept our child alive for one whole year. While that may seem like an insignificant amount of time and later in life when I read back on this I might laugh. I’m just going to say that – we kept our child alive while sleep deprived, living in a tiny apartment, looking for a house, moving into said house, transitioning jobs, transitioning out of jobs, and so much more. Like I said, this girl has taught me more than I could have ever imagined (cliche again) and it is only by the grace of God that we have made it. But the most humbling thing about this journey of parenthood is that she’s not mine. She’s His and she’s here to do His will. How amazing is it that I get to watch over this little person as she grows and learns and becomes the person God is creating her to be? The most incredible thing in the world, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Happy birthday to my little monkey and congratulations to my husband. We made it and I absolutely loved getting to experience all of the above with you and can’t wait for what’s next. (:

FAMILY | weekend update: crawfish boils + wedding showers

This weekend was wedding shower madness. We are in that season of our lives where every spring/summer is drenched in nuptial bliss. I love weddings so this is by no means a bad thing. Just makes for a busy time. (:

On Friday I was able to catch up with one of my best friends from high school. She has been traveling all over the place for work/family so it was nice to finally be in the same state for more than a few hours. One of my favorite things about our friendship is that we have a regular date planned when it comes to hanging out which usually involves pedicures and or manicures and dinner/coffee. There is never any debate or stress on what to do and we always feel like there is sufficient time to catch up with each other. I want to say we have had this routine going for 5 years or so? It’s pretty much the best thing.

Saturday we ventured down to Houston for a couples shower for my sister who is getting married in Mexico this June! Compared to the 8 hour haul we usually drive (by we I obviously mean Eric;) down to NOLA, the 3.5 hours both ways (while definitely tiring) didn’t feel too bad. I haven’t had any crawfish yet this season and the friend who cooked did a phenomenal job. Honestly, they may have been some of the best crawfish I have ever eaten. I feel like I have to come out and say: I don’t peel my own crawfish. First of all, I’m married to a NOLA boy who does a great job peeling them and secondly, for three years straight I had live crawfish in my classroom for a science unit. Once you deal with a little critter ALIVE (this included feeding them, picking them up every day, and naming them) it makes it hard to deal with them dead. But my husband knows this, so he’s pretty much the best and just peels them for me now no questions asked. Miss M ate her fair share of the little red guys too. Any time Eric would put some on my plate I would see a little hand start to reach for more. She’s definitely her daddy’s girl! Before heading back to Dallas, we were able to stop by and visit with some friends who just had a little baby boy a few short weeks ago. It was really refreshing to see them and between our visit with them and our time spent at the shower we headed back to Dallas with smiles on our faces and happy hearts!

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sign copy  IMG_2485 copy   Sunday we switched up our normal Mass routine and went to church in the morning where our child was completely thrown off her rocker and decided she wanted none. of. it. So Eric and I took turns walking her around during Mass and I think between the two of us, we probably got an hours worth of prayer in. In the afternoon I was able to go to a bridal shower for one of the girls from my old college ministry group. This girl was a freshman my senior year and it has been wonderful to see her and her fiance grow into such a lovely couple. The shower was also ice cream themed so there plenty of sweets to go around! Sunday evening we were able to take my dad out to dinner to a local BBQ place that we love. After we finished up dinner we walked around and found a park nearby where we let Miss M burn off some post-dinner energy. We were also really close to the train museum my dad works at on the weekends and were able to get a close up look of the old train they have restored. IMG_2547 copy

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It was a busy weekend to say the least and this coming one doesn’t look like it’s slowing down either with a birthday party to finish planning + execute AND Easter!

Happy Monday!

7 quick takes: better blogs + baby days (and happy birthday dad!)

Happy Friday everyone! We have been pretty lazy this morning (and by we I mean me + little, but we wish daddy was able to be bummin’ it with us!) and it has been fantastic. Every day this week has been filled to the brim with errands and activities so after breakfast this morning we skipped out on our usual bootcamp routine and played with a new (to us) Little People Zoo/Jungle and I was able to leisurely drink my coffee. We did eventually make it out to Trader Joe’s to get a few things, but back we came for naps and more lazing around. Mornings like these always recharge me and I never really realize how badly I need it. I hope you’re having an equally refreshing Friday, and if not that’s ok because Saturday is right around the corner. Here are a few quick takes from the week including but not limited to: blog links + my overly emotional self thinking about my child turning one year old next week (cue welling up of tears).

1. BLOG | I really enjoyed Elise’s blog this week about marriage, obedience, and vocations. As someone who has always struggled with identity and my plan vs. God’s plan this post really rang true for me. It reminded me of this time last year when I was really going back and forth on whether or not to stay home and what God wanted me to do vs. what I wanted to do. Really good stuff!

2. BABY | We are gearing up for party things next week. I need to get a few things but for the most part it’s going to be a lot of family and friends and babies hanging out and eating good food. My favorite kind of celebration. I am on the lookout for some simple yet entertaining things for the kiddos to do. Any and all recommendations on baby friendly activities/toys to have out during party time are greatly welcomed! I don’t want to go overboard but I also do want kiddos to be bored/cranky due to boredom. We went to a friend’s birthday last week and she had a bunch of balloons for the babes to play with which I thought was a really good idea.

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3. BLOG | Something I have been trying to do as we have been unpacking and settling into our new home is to purge a lot of the unnecessary. We have made great progress throughout our cleaning endeavors but still have a LONG way to go. It’s keeping in theme with my word for the year and I think will help us to have a more organized + happy household in the future. Kelsey is an inspiration to me in the organization overhaul and has really been able to pare down and live a more simplistic life style. Teach me your ways!

4. BABY | I have been having SO many overly emotional moments this week (not pregnant). Just yesterday M was cruising between the coffee table and the couch and would walk over to a box of toys we have in the living room. She would pick one up and slowly toddle over to be and bring it to me. I would act so surprised and happy and give her a huge hug and she would break into this cheesy, toothy grin and then repeat the entire toy-to-mom-make-mom-happy transaction again. UGH. RIGHT IN THE HEART STRINGS, BABY GIRL. STAY LITTLE FOREVER.

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5. BLOG | I met Amber at The Hundred Event back in August. Not only is she the sweetest person you’ll ever meet, but she is a registered dietician and twin mom (with another little one on the way!) and is ALWAYS posting about delicious, healthy, smart and most of all actually do-able recipes and ideas for families and kids. I really enjoyed her recent Toddler Snacks post because I feel like my child has recently started really snacking during the day and I was running out of good + healthy snacking ideas (and I’m sure she was tired of her 100th cheese stick I had given her for the day).

6. BLOG | Katrina has been a regular read/blog friend for quite sometime now and she has always had a way with words where I find myself nodding in agreement at my computer screen. She has really been knocking it out of the park lately with some posts about family + pregnancy. Here are two that I really enjoyed reading: click and click.

7. DAD | This past Wednesday was my Dad’s birthday so I thought I’d wrap up with post with a little shout to him. Happy birthday, Dad! Thanks for being a constant source of humor in my life + a great grandpa to M. We love you! (and below, quite possibly my favorite photos of me and my dad before my wedding ceremony – photos: Jessica Renee Photography)

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Happy weekending!

FOOD | rustic lemon cupcakes

Last week we celebrated the feast of St. Joseph, one of my absolute favorite Saints. There have been so many times that I have prayed novenas to St. Joseph and always, I am given reassurance and answers through his help in those prayers. He is also my husband’s patron saint so between all those times St. Joe has helped me out + to celebrate my husband I thought it was only appropriate to bake up a sweet treat in honor of the day.

In New Orleans St. Joseph altars are apparently huge thing (but not surprising since I feel like any excuse to celebrate down there is welcomed with open arms;). I was seeing friends post about them on the feast day and so I did a little research on my own and found out some pretty interesting information. They are a Sicilian tradition and are a grand presentation of food and thanksgiving to St. Joseph for answered prayers and devotion. Lemons are frequently found on these altars, and it is believed that a woman who steals a lemon from a St. Joseph altar will get a husband.

Well I am a sucker for traditions and anything hopelessly romantic. So inspired by the lovely lemons, I decided to make some (super easy!) lemon cupcakes. I am calling them ‘rustic’ because they are a little rough around the edges and I did a quick/not piped icing job on them.

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Recipe: Rustic Lemon Cupcakes

Ingredients for cupcakes:

  • 1/2 a box of Trader Joe’s Vanilla Cake + Baking Mix
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4c + 2 tbsp cold milk (I used whole)
  • juice of 1 whole lemon
  • zest of 1 whole lemon rind

Ingredients for flour buttercream frosting: 

  • 1c milk
  • 1c granulated sugar
  • 1c unsalted butter
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 1tbsp lemon zest
  • 4.5 tbsp all purpose flour

1) Instructions for cupcakes: 

  • In a stand mixer combine egg + milk + lemon juice + lemon zest and beat until well combined. Slowly add in cake mix until smooth consistency. Pour into a greased (or lined) muffin tin until each cup is about 3/4 full and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (I checked on them at 20 minutes and they needed a bit more time – just keep and eye on them.) Remove from oven and let completely cool before icing.

2) Instruction for flour buttercream frosting: 

  • Combine flour, milk and sugar. Whisk over low heat until the ingredients come to a boil. (You will need to continuously whisk until it comes to a boil to avoid lumps, clumps and over heating your milk)
  • Turn off heat and continue to whisk while warm for about 1-2 minutes.
  • Transfer to a large mixing bowl/stand mixer and continue to beat until cooled to room temp.
  • Add butter one tbsp at a time until eat tbsp is completely combined into your liquid, then add the vanilla.
  • Add lemon juice and then fold in your lemon zest.
  • Frost cooled cupcakes immediately + enjoy.

Happy eating!