This show. My love for Grace and Frankieis still going strong. The eponymous leads are marvels (and I’m a little in love with Brianna), the writing is superb, and the fashion is exquisite. (I’m kind of living and dying for the marigolds and red.) Daniel and I finished the latest season, and, not to sound like a Sad Sally, but it’s been nice to have a show to laugh over…you know, since a lot of the stuff we hear about in the news is a Choose Your Own Catastrophe.
This article about NYC. This fantastic article features pictorial comparisons of NYC buildings on 5th Avenue in 1911 compared to 2016. Take a look!
These cards. All hail the $1 section at Target. I bought these for Sam’s stocking last year and we started playing recently. He forgets/bends the rules on occasion, but 95% of the time he plays this game like a champ. Selfishly, I love having someone else in the house who likes games (Daniel does not). And it’s actually been really cool/sad/exciting from a parental perspective, too. I even get excited for him when he makes a match (though I can't say that he 100% shows me the same courtesy).
This weather. I’m pretty sedentary by nature (obsessed reader here!), so on a typical winter day it's easy for me (notice I didn’t say reasonable or healthy) to burrow under blankets and neck to toe fleeces. That's all well and good, but then add in the fact that I'm pale in a non-Nicole-Kidman-kind-of-way and also have hermit-like tendencies, and I can start to feel a little blah in the winter. Within the last week we’ve had a string of cold days and really cold nights, and then these balmy spring-like temps rolled in and we’re all loving it. Every day we’ve been heading outside to ride assorted tricycles/motorized vehicles, feed the chickens, and sit on the grass in the sunshine. We even managed to fit in some time yesterday to investigate the suspicious destruction of two pumpkins we had previously discarded in a brush pile; Sam has determined that it's the work of a pink bear, so naturally we remain on edge and alert to all threats, pink or otherwise.
This planter. My amazing friend Stephanie gave me this absolutely gorgeous planter recently, and I crush hard on it every morning. It’s the color of vanilla bean ice cream—you know, the fancy kind that’s white with black flecks—and it’s been a cozy spot for the Trader Joe’s succulent I bought last year.
Other Things I’m Loving: I think we can say that Sam is approximately 85% potty trained (a million exclamation points). Also, Raymond’s walking, and I'm thrilled because for the longest time, when we tried to stand him on his feet he promptly turned boneless and sank to the floor. (A good limbo strategy, but not so great for gross motor skill development.)
This pillow. While in an optimistic mood, I ordered throw pillows for our window seat. I found thisAnne of Green Gables one on Etsy, and I immediately recognized a “kindred spirit.” I am determined to keep my two giant dogs and their giant jowls off of it, because if they mar the pristine white cover “my life” will be “a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.” There. That’s not too dramatic, is it?
This game. While visiting my family in Kentucky, Daniel and I played Scrawl, a drawing game that’s hard to explain but is basically a game of telephone using an initial drawing instead of a whispered phrase. I am an atrocious artist, and when I first got a card that instructed me to draw “a Centaur crossguard,” I thought, ****. But I persevered, and so did my cousin, Joey, who had the misfortune of always receiving my horrible artistic attempts but who didn’t complain very much (and whose complaints were always very reasonable when he did).
This article. Sarah Zhang details a recent discovery of lapis lazuli in tarter (like the stuff on your teeth); just by studying this, researchers have more insight into the role that nuns played as scribes of medieval books. That summary sounds really dry (my fault) but I’m all about any article that tells us a story of forgotten women.
These panties. *Overshare alert.* One day I woke up and realized that I was wearing some not-very-cute matronly panties--all because I wanted something that covered most/if not all, of my butt. (Tushy for any toddlers reading out there.) There had to be some middle ground, I told myself, so I debated where to buy panties and after a couple of embarrassing Google searches, I stumbled upon these from Amazon. I'm planning on trying more styles, but I grabbed this bikini style first, and I really love them. (And yes, I recognize that the bikini style isn't exactly wild and free, but I just really wanted that style. Also, is anyone even wearing thongs anymore?)
Other Things I’m Loving: Sam has picked up the phrase “Never, never!” which sounds very dramatic anytime I ask him to do something and that’s his reply. I finally got my life together and moved my iPhone pics to my external hard drive, and praise God, I have available storage again! And both of my kids have been into singing “Hakuna Matata” lately. This is adorable, in case you were wondering.
Christmas tins with chocolate and peanut butter fudge.
This photo of Rachel McAdams breastpumping has been making the rounds lately. I think that despite her clothes and make-up (and extreme natural beauty ha), a lot of moms can relate!
My favorite breastfeeding pic. Pretty much the same ;). This serene feeling/appearance lasted for approximately two minutes.
A still from SOMETHING GOOD-NEGRO KISS.
Excellent lighting for this pic.
This fudge. For over eight years, we’ve had to travel multiple hours to visit our families, and, as a result, we usually end up showing up at family functions with shamefaced expressions and store-bought goods. This year, we made chocolate and peanut butter fudge and it’s amazing and everyone (read: the four of us) loves it. I don’t want to belittle my accomplishment but I’ll say that it’s super easy to make and also delicious.
This picture. I have never looked like this breastpumping or breastfeeding, but I have felt like this. Like a freaking warrior woman using my breasts for good. I have heard the swish of the pump in the darkest hours of the night. I have negotiated breastfeeding covers and a squirmy baby in lots of parking lots in a four-state area. I’ve skipped out on some meals because he had to eat first. I've been his favorite person in the whole world because I've been everything to him: comfort, food, warmth. I’ve had mastitis (twice) and sore nipples and nipples that I tried to pretend didn’t exist when he wasn’t breastfeeding because I just wanted to buy them some peace and quiet for a while. I’ve been proud of my baby’s rolls because I knew that I put them there and I’ve felt guilty when I called breastfeeding quits when he reached 1. And now these breasts are all mine again and I’m happy about that too. (For the record, I pumped for my first-born Sam and supplemented with formula before switching exclusively to formula when he was 6 months old, so I’ve experienced some of both sides of the baby-feeding life. I believe that breastfeeding is best but that sometimes that even look different for different people, anddddd there are lots of other reasons why formula could be the way to go, and that a mom trying to preserve a little of her sanity/happiness is not a small one. Let’s support each other, moms. There are lots of other things we can feel guilty about, like all the tv you are letting your child watch, Jessica, or that time you said camel-toe and your child repeated it).
This article. Scholars recently discovered this film clip, featuring an African American couple kissing, and determined that it’s “the earliest cinematic depiction of African-American affection.” Read on for more deets about how they determined the film clip’s age and why it’s notable, given how African Americans were commonly portrayed in films of the time. And you can also watch the film clip!
These bookshelves and this window-seat. I posted about these on IG last week (you can follow me here if you aren't already!) but I have to write about them again because they’re so amazing. For almost a year, our books were boxed up; within the last couple of months, I moved them to a weird gray bookshelf in a random storage area of our house. (I can’t say enough: this was a weird space for my books.) But Daniel finished these bookshelf beauties last week, and it is the most glorious feeling to see my books (I mean our books, honey) every time I’m in the living room. Annnnnd, he also finished cushions for this window-seat. Now I need pillows and a babysitter, and I’m all set!
This woman and her music. I’ve loved Dolly Parton and her music for a long time. Her voice is so pure and beautiful, tender and powerful, and it reminds me of my childhood and all things lovely. The soundtrack to the Netflix film Dumplin’ has given me another reason I’m happy to be alive. The song “Here I Am” with Dolly and Sia gives me the same feelings that “Stand by Me” or Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from My Friends” give me. Only better. (*cue gasp). Also, let’s please toast Dolly’s literacy efforts. Her charity Imagination Library sends free books to kids every month. As of March 2018, they’ve donated 100 million books!
This article. I’m a sucker for articles about random historical artifacts, and this article details a Thames River construction project that revealed a 500-year-old skeleton wearing thigh-high leather boots. Can you imagine finding something(/someone) like that?
This wall hanging. I would like to go on record saying that best friend gifts are magical. Every time mine get me something, I feel flushed with happiness over the gift itself and also the awareness that they truly know me and what I would love. One of my favorite recent gifts is this wall hanging from mb Art Studios, which features a beautiful quote that assures me that this best friend is as obsessed with me as I am with her.
This coffee. I think that Starbucks Christmas/Holiday Blend has a distinctive flavor that I love, but I’ll be honest and say that it’s probably also a name thing. (Marketing peeps: names suggested for future products include Wedding Blend, First Spring Flower Blend, and Quiet Morning Blend.) This year’s binge coffee purchase coincided with weaning Raymond, so every morning I’ve been drinking more coffee than I have in the last two years, and it has been marvelous. I’m really a much happier person on coffee.
These eggs. Dan has thirteen chickens, and within the last two months they started laying copious numbers of eggs. We’ve started eating egg sandwiches on his days off, and they are delicious. Another benefit of having chickens? It’s really cute seeing Sam help Dan take care of them.
Other Things I’m Loving: a new sweatshirt made by Mary Catherine Starr (see pic above); a new coffee mug; my Christmas tree; andddddd we're looking forward to our MEXICO trip WITHOUT the KIDS (whom we love dearly and also need an adults-only break from and return to).
This article about an 18th-century doodle. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’m really into old stuff, especially old books and such. And for me, marginalia in old texts is almost the equivalent of winning Ellen’s Twelve Days of Giveaways. Almost. The specific doodle discussed in this article is of a trouser-wearing-chicken, and it’s amazing. I hope the boy that doodled this over two hundred years ago had a long, happy, and creative life.
This book. My best friends sent Sandra Boynton's Are You a Cow? for Raymond’s first Birthday, and what makes it even sweeter is that it’s customized with Raymond’s name and photo! And what an adorable photo it is, if I do say so myself.
This goal. I love to tell a good joke about how much I love chocolate, Half Baked ice cream, etc., but for the last few months I’ve been trying—and overall, succeeding—in eating less sweets. What’s happened as a result: I feel healthier; we’re all eating less sweets because I’m not bringing them into the house as much; we’re saving money (Ben & Jerry’s isn’t cheap, you all); and I’m wearing cuter underwear (insert woman-shrugging emoji here). I’m already looking forward to over-indulging in desserts at Christmas, but for now, I’m enjoying making less sweets on a daily basis a dietary priority.
Other Things I’m Loving: the adults only vacation Dan and I just booked for early next year; wrapping presents; wearing regular bras again because Raymond is weaned (*knocks back three sips of a margarita in celebration.*)
This Lou and Grey sweater. Just before we left for our Thanksgiving vacation, I was thinking to myself—as I browsed the too many clothes that I already have—how I could really use another neutral cardigan. (Sexy, right?) Only hours later, I was holding this beauty, a Birthday present, in my hands. This Lou and Grey sweater is oversized and soft and the color is amazing (even if I do walk around with the fear of an impending stain. It’s happening people. It’s only a question of when).
This boy’s first Birthday. So Raymond turned one on the 25th, and we had a series of Birthday celebrations to mark the occasion. I wrote already that he has brought so much joy to our family, and that is the truth. We all cherish him—couldn’t imagine our lives without him—and it has been so amazing watching him grow up and seeing how he and his brother Sam play with each other. My two boys have so much wonderful-ness and happiness and potential inside them/about them, and I’m happy (and crying on the inside) that my baby is 1.
This article about Eiffel Tower steps. During an elevator renovation at the Eiffel Tower in 1983, 24 steps were removed from the illustrious tower, and they’re now being put up in an auction. On November 27th, you could purchase those steps—provided that you have a lot of money, of course.
This new nephew. When I was in Louisville, I had the chance to meet my sweet new nephew, Azrael, born on November 19th. This is the first child my biological siblings have had, and it was so special to meet the little guy, feel his warmth cuddled against me, and hear the sweet, soft noises that a newborn makes. Ahhh. This baby is perfect!
This Christmas tree. Since we travel for Thanksgiving, we put up our Christmas tree before we left this year. Exciting Christmas feelings aside, there is so something so aesthetically magical, peaceful, and warm about a lit Christmas tree to me, and this one has some ornaments on there that are emotionally significant (engagement presents, baby presents, a hot rod car that Sam painted, etc.) And Sam helped me put it up. <--I actually mean that. Sometimes we say that about toddlers and don't mean it, but I do in this case!
Other Things I'm Loving: Sam, Raymond, and I have started listening to Christmas music. I don’t want to start a fight with anyone, but I’m prepared to say that Kelly Clarkson’s “Underneath the Tree” is now my favorite Christmas song—though others still hit me right in the feels. Does anyone in this world agree, or does it feel disloyal to Mariah Carey and the years we spent singing “All I Want for Christmas” to say so?
No fall foliage in this pic but this was one of the most beautiful mornings I remember seeing.
This article. A 19th-century woman who lived in an asylum “stitched her life story onto her jacket.” I am a little blown away by this story; you have to read it and then see the photos of the jacket itself. So much of what we know about Agnes and her life seems very sad, and yet, there’s something incredibly beautiful—and to me, rebellious—about how she recorded bits of her life (and that she did it at all).
This massage. My amazing friend Stephanie treated me to a Birthday massage at Spa Visage. The word magical would not be a hyperbolic word to describe the experience. Sitting in a robe and sandals and having a sustained conversation with one my closest friends before the massage; having a personable and skillful massage therapist who also appreciated my desire to be quiet and relaxed. It was all so good. (And before that I went to Barnes and Noble and then out to eat at a place that only serves chicken salad. So. Best day ever.)
This dry shampoo. I’m never more unreasonable than when it comes to my hair. I’m not sure if it’s plain foolishness or unflagging optimism, but I expect amazing results with nearly zero effort. But now that my hair is growing out, I’ve been using this dry shampoo to perk up my lackluster locks just enough to pull my hair in a stubby ponytail and not be embarrassed to step out into society.
This game. I’ve written before about how we’re finally getting to the stage in life where Sam can handle playing an age 3+ board game. It’s not very relaxing (much of the time is spent repeating instructions and threatening to put the board game away if he doesn’t listen), but it’s also been surprisingly fun. Sequence for Kids is a new favorite.
This season. I’ve written before about how much I love fall. I’ll go ahead and admit that part of the reason is probably (read: most definitely) because I was born in the middle of October, and I’ve always been a little too excited about my Birthday. But having kids really makes this season even more special for many reasons. First, there was Halloween, which as one of my closest friends, Mary Catherine Starr, noted, is so exciting with a toddler. And then there are the changing leaves, which always fill me joy (especially when I win an anonymously submitted three-person “best leaf” contest judged by my picky husband). And the mild afternoons and cool mornings and evenings. It’s the best.
Other things I'm loving: planning Raymond's first Birthday parties (!) ; seeing Dan's progress on our fireplace renovation and bookshelf construction; almost being done with the rough draft of my second book.
Do NOT buy the creamy Caesar dressing. Unless you want to.
Robin reading her memory album.
This dressing. When you find a really good salad dressing, you hold it close and never it let go. At Centre College, a lovely private college that I attended in Danville, Kentucky, I discovered a delicious Caesar salad at the Old Café. (RIP—also, I know this wasn’t its real name, but it was what we called it after the New Café was built. Also not its name). This was one of those salads that would have been included in a “Least Healthy Restaurant Salads” article—right next to the Wendy’s Taco Salad and probably a salad from Chili’s—but I didn’t care because we were in love. Crispy chicken, asiago cheese, mounds of croutons, the best salad dressing, and…lettuce. The Old Café closed, and then this salad dressing was at Three Babes and a Monkey (RIP again), and then I lost it for years, until somehow miraculously finding this taste again in Newman's Own Caesar dressing. If you frequented the Old Café or Three Babes, try this dressing for a walk down memory lane. Otherwise, just try it because it’s really good.
These shoes. I bought another pair of black and white tennis shoes, but these are theoretically for exercise. I’ve been trying to make exercise more of a priority lately because it hasn’t been one since I was heavily pregnant with Sam. (In other words, for a long time.) These shoes were cheap, but they’re cute and comfortable, and I’m willing to take any bit of help I can get in the exercise department—like the good feeling I get from putting on new shoes I like.
This movie. As far as I’m concerned, the golden age of the contemporary rom com was the ‘90s. Give me a scene with a feisty, independent, and also, uptight Meg Ryan—her short, flipped-out hair nearly bristling with outrage—any day of the week. But. I heard about the movie Set It Up on Netflix—hailed as a delightful rom com from some acquaintances—and I was intrigued. Though some moments made me roll my eyes (a prerogative I might over-indulge when I’m in knee-deep in ice cream after my kids are in bed), there are also lots of funny moments in this Netflix original, and there’s a sweet HEA that gave me that rom com high I crave. Zoey Deutch was a stand-out in the lead female role—affable and charming, but not afraid to stand up for what she believes in when she needs to. Watch it and tell me what you think!
These shirts. Colder weather is finally here, and I’m enjoying these blissful two-three weeks before we get into full-on winter territory. As such, I’ve finally embraced my jeans and flannel shirt combos, which I’ve added to with a few selections from TJ Maxx (ahhh, adult Birthdays). I’ve been wearing flannel shirts since the aforementioned Meg Ryan rom com heyday, although these days I’m accessorizing less with gold chain necklaces and more with my fave Kendra Scott earrings I keep on standby.
This gift. When my mother-in-law was turning 60, I went on Pinterest to look at sweet gift ideas and found this gem that I’ve done three times now: for my mother-in-law, my mom, and this September, my step-mom, Robin. Here’s what you do: you send out inquiries to friends and family, asking them to write down (or tell you and you can transcribe) their fave thing/memory/qualities about the giftee, and then you collect them all in an album. It turns out to be pretty much a yearbook, chock full of wonderful things about that person, and without all the “see you next year” and “I was the first to sign your crack” nonsense. You can ask anyone I love and/or have drunkenly cornered at a party—I believe in telling people how you feel and how wonderful they are. (I don't have a specific link to recommend. Just search for memory book on Pinterest.)
Other things I’m Loving: my Candleberry candle, my new pajamas (the tag actually referred to them as butter knit?!), and our new routine with Sam and Raymond: collecting eggs from the chickens and then searching for ripe garden tomatoes.
This Roomba. The iRobot Roomba has not changed my life, but my floors have definitely been cleaner than they were before I received it as a Mother’s Day gift. Two kids, two humans, and two dogs (weighing a total of approximately 190 pounds) mean that my floors are pretty much always covered in crumbs, dog hair, and now that we live on a little land, leaves and beggars lice. It’s not great, I’ll say that much. I’ve found that the Roomba cleans about 2.5 to 3 large rooms well on one battery charge, and then it’s (eventually) sent back to the charger. Other things to know: our dogs mostly leave it alone, our toddler enjoys attempting to get as close as possible to it without letting it touch him, our baby likes chasing it, and I get a sweet thrill every time I empty the canister.
This music. So I guess I’m really into ballads now? I’ve always had a soft spot for the genre (90s Celine Dion, I’m looking at you), but I’ve been particularly excited about recent and upcoming releases. Have you seen this performance from A Star is Born? Or heard this song from Kelly Clarkson? And Christmas is quite some time away—I get that, and I respect it—but I saw an advertisement for this John Legend album, and I’m adding it to my cart right now because life is short and love is forever and can you put a price on happiness, Daniel? Can you?
These mums. Continuing this very adult “Things I’m Loving” post: these mums always feel like fall to me, and I love how luscious the ones from Costco are. I’ve been trying to make our entryway less sterile, and these were a good step forward.
This game. We are somewhat on the verge of being able to play like three board games with our 3-year-old, Sam, and this is one of them. It’s actually a fun game, and it was going so well--until Daniel said that Sam tried eating some of the acorns. But let me start at the beginning: this is a game in which the objective is to feed a cute little squirrel lots of acorns. My favorite part: the squirrel tongs in the box. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a gift for 3 or 4 year olds (thank you, Stephanie!).
Other things I’m loving: sending my toddler Sam to preschool; fresh tomatoes from the garden (Daniel planted ours late so they’re still coming in); Sam saying “it’s my favorite!” a million times a day and also, “mom, you’re the best!”; watching Raymond stand on his own.
Pic from Mary Catherine Starr's Etsy page (click for link).
Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron. That paintbrush is looking a little rough.
National Muscadine Festival. That cotton candy was gone fassssst.
Pic courtesy of Southern Grace Mercantile's Facebook page.
This required reading for October. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know that October is my jam. How about making October even more special by reading this list of recommended books with witches?
This monumental event. Sam had his first day of preschool yesterday and it had me feeling mildly untethered the entire day. Since Sam was born, he and I have stayed home together. There have been the occasional hours of rare, random days when I’ve slipped away—and maybe 6 days where I was gone on trips—but other than that, we’ve been together pretty much 24/7. Two occasional frenemies/mostly best friends who have been sharing the same story for three and a half years, even if we maybe would have told it in different ways. Now we’re living somewhat different stories, and that has thrown me for a loop. Yes, I’m happy for him and for me—we both need this—but I missed my little guy (which proves my first point. This is good for us).
These chips. If you know me, you know that I will inhale a bag of these within 48 hours of opening. Plus-side: these chips never have a chance of getting stale. Negative: I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that.
This sweatshirt. My amazingly talented best friend, Mary Catherine Starr, has designed these beautiful French terry sweatshirts, and I took advantage of a 5:00 am breastfeeding sesh to order my very own. I have a couple pieces of clothing from her Etsy studio, and they are so comfortable--especially this pullover. Supporting a best friend + buying something I love and would have wanted no matter what = winning all day long.
This paint. After you have kids, getting anything extra done—like painting the exterior doors of your house—feels like a monumental achievement. This is why: first you orchestrate childcare for your children, then you complete part of the task, take an extended break for childcare related things, complete the task, and finally, you try to ignore the million other things that you didn’t complete as a result of achieving the first task (the dishes, the laundry. Oh God, the laundry). Before I painted these exterior doors, they were faded white (and also gray and black. Come on, Jessica, clean your doors already). Now they’re Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron, and I’ve caught myself sneaking glances at them at least ten times a day.
This wall décor from Southern Grace Mercantile. Last weekend we traveled to the National Muscadine Festival. The views of the mountains were marvelous; I tried edible cookie dough (as in the kind not made with raw egg) for the first time; and I spotted these amazing pieces of art, perfect for the bibliophile in your life. Each piece features a beloved quote, and I could see one of them (ten of them) hanging in my house. I picked out the Anne of Green Gables piece and gave a halfhearted effort to convince my husband that we needed it. I let him think that I’ve given up, but you know my secret.
Other things that I'm Loving: the Armchair Expert podcast (I listen to podcasts super infrequently but always love them when I do); making progress on a rough draft of my second book; the movie Deadpool 2.