Christmas Home Tour

Today, I wanted to share our home decked out in Christmas decor! I realize almost all my posts revolve around the season, but it's truly my favorite time of the year. Also, I  L O V E grabbing a big cup of coffee, and taking online tours. It inspires me to try new things each year in my own home...


I just bought this tree off an online yard sale. The tree that we've had for 6+ years was falling apart, and the lights no longer worked on it. I found this blue spruce for $40 on an online yard sale. It fits perfectly in the corner that we've always used, so it was a blessing indeed.


I found the names of Jesus garland at Hobby Lobby last year. I love it it's simple statement.


Every year my mother in law gifts us girls with Christmas decor that we pick out. The table runner was from last year, and it' my favorite. It's a gold twine look with holly berries. I added the tress to the center and left it at that. I love the combo of gild & rustic for our home!


Oliver the Elf stopped by Monday night! So far, he has left behind Christmas jammies, and Christmas books for Evie to read. I love the idea of incorporating fun traditions into our daily routine, but didn't want to pay the $30 pricetag. I finally found one for $6 on Ebay.



I love our little home at Christmas time. Can you tell a toddler lives here (note the garland was moved around...I started to fix it, but hey, it's what our house really looks like). Messes, imperfections, and all... It's my happy place. Thanks for visiting!

32 Weeks Bump Update


The last few weeks, I've been savoring the time I have with just Evie & I. While I am very excited for baby sister to be here, there is also that bittersweet note on my heart that things will soon change. I think part of it is that Evie has changed so much these last few weeks. I'm seeing less, and less of a toddler and more of a little girl. She's learning to communicate better, and she has been very snuggly lately (rare...she is a very typical independent first born! ha). 

I've noticed that she will often stare at my belly, and then will walk up and pat it lightly. When she does that, I always tell her (excitedly) that she will be a big sister soon, and how a baby will soon live in this house. Honestly, I have NO IDEA if she really understands. Yet, at the same time, I think she understands that something is changing.

On Monday, I had a scare with really regular/strong contractions. They lasted for hours, and got rather painful. Finally, sometime before midnight they stopped completely. I still felt very anxious the next morning, and was thankful I already had a scheduled doctors appointment. Good news, is that I'm not in pre - term labor, and baby is just sitting very, very low. You see,  with Evie, I didn't feel contractions until I was already a 6, and being admitted to the hospital. So the fact that I felt any just scared me to death. 

It's also motived me to stock our freezer, finish a few little projects for the nursery, and stock up on a few random baby supplies that we will need. So, I'm off to finish tackling my to do lists! 

Happy Homemaker Monday Vol. 10



{weather outside:}

Chilly & Bright!

{around my home:}

The house smells like yeast, and I've sat our my ingredients to start homemade bread this morning. Evie is watching Curious George, and I'm catching up on social media. ;)

{menu this week:}

Monday: Pork Chops, Homemade Bread, Salad
Tuesday: Chicken Orzo Soup
Wednesday: BBQ Chicken, Salad & Mashed Potatoes
Thursday: Coca Cola Chili & Sides 
Friday: Breakfast For Dinner
Saturday: Frozen Pizza :D

{to-do today:}

~Make Bread
~Clean Out Toys
~Speed Clean
~Write Thank You Notes

{On the TV Today}


Christmas Movies
Gilmore Girls
Frazier

{making me happy:}

My family. Christmas traditions. A quiet week at home.

{thankful for:}

Salvation through Jesus Christ.

Hello December


The tree is up...with ornaments on only half the tree. A little toddler I know likes to take them off. We switched to plastic ornaments. ;) I wanted to add a few new designs around the house, but needed to do so on a budget. The last few weeks I scored several items that I wanted for a fraction of the price (thank you thrift stores!!). We have had so much fun watching "Christmas" through the eyes of Evie. She gets so excited when she sees Christmas lights. She dances to Christmas music, and we've kept the Little People Nativity out for her to play with. I realize she is still so very young to understand the remarkable beauty of the season, but I believe we are planting seeds.

Today, we made gingerbread men. Well, when I say "we" I mean mostly me, but I let Evie help stir, and to hold the kitchen spoons. It was a good lesson in patience for myself. Ha! But, I cherish these every day moments with her. 

Besides the year we were engaged (in December), I think this year is turning out to be the most memorable yet. I love this season of life with a little one. And to think next year there will be two little munchkins. 

DIY Mini Christmas Photo Shoot



My friend Kristina and I brainstormed our own Christmas mini photo shoot. She made the Christmas banner, and I pulled together the decor. The crates were my mom's, and they worked perfectly. I found the cutest little Christmas lollypops, which of course the kids loved and it kept them happy for pictures. We had a blast taking pictures of our kiddos, and the best part is that we saved a ton of money by doing it ourselves!

While my background is photography, I would be the first to admit that it has taken a much needed back seat as I adjust to being a mother. The last few weeks however, I've had a blast wearing my photographer hat for a few friends & family members. Just the way I like it.

I love this next photo, because it really depicts her personality!



Bumpdate 30.5 Weeks!



I'm already well into my 30th week of pregnancy! The last few weeks have flown by, as we began preparing for the holiday season with family. Heartburn has really amped up, and I've had a horrible cold for several days. Other than that, the little peanut is measuring right on track!

We finally made some head way with her nursery. We wanted to keep things simple, and budget friendly, so most of the pieces in her room were thrifted. There are a couple of amazing thrift stores in our area, and I was able to score several things that I've been looking for. My mom is making the baby quilt, and I can't wait to see what it will look like all together!

I've stocked up on bottles, newborn jammies, and the crib is set up. The only thing I'm lacking, is a place for baby to rest when she isn't sleeping. When Evie was a newborn I used the pack & play around the clock...but I'm thinking that might no work with a toddler. I can see her trying to pick her up when my back is turned. So either a pack & play or a bassinet is on my list of "to finds" before baby girl arrives.

Oh, and I FINALLY found their first set of matching outfits. They happened to be Carter's brand which was on sale, and I had a coupon. How could I resist? ;)

Happy Tuesday!

Happy Homemaker Monday Vol. 9



The weather:::
It's a bit cooler, overcast, and drizzly right now. I think that's the forcast for most of the week. I forsee lots of hot chocolate & Christmas movies in the future.


As I look outside my window:::
It's drizzling.

Right now I am::: 
Blogging & Thinking about so many things going on in the background of life. 

Thinking and pondering:::
My thoughts have been on Paris, and the heartache that so many people are going through. It makes my troubles seem much less potent.

On my tv this week:::

We usually watch Frazier, The Voice, and occasionally Fixer Upper. :)

Listening to:::
Curious George cartoon that's on.

On the menu for this week:::

Monday - Savory Roast, Homemade Bread, Mashed Potatoes, Salad, and Sweet Tea
Tuesday - French Dip Sandwiches 
Wednesday - Breakfast for Dinner
Thursday - Blackened Fish, Baked Brocolli (new recipe), and Mashed Potatoes 
Friday - Taco Soup & Pumpkin Poke Cake 
Saturday - Out
Sunday -  Leftovers
 
On my to do list:::


Laundry

Finish Putting Up Christmas
Clean Bathrooms
Put Away Laundry
Make bread
Edit Pictures

Happening this week:::
Lots of catching up around the house, and planning Thanksgiving side dishes. :)

What I am creating:::

Christmas pictures. I took a ton last night of Evie, and another family friend last night. We had so much fun, and the girls were being so adorable. Of course. Haha!


My simple pleasure:::
Pinterest for decorating & recipe ideas, sipping coffee with a treat. ;)  

Looking around the house:::
Well we got started on Christmas decor that way we don't have much to do come Decemeber. Lots of extra items still sitting around that needs to be sorted, and put away. I'll be posting pictures soon!


Linking up with Sandra today!

Home Tour: Evelynn's Baby Bird Room


When we started planning Evelynn's room (our first born), we both wanted it to be both a peaceful and beautiful place. We chose the traditional color of pink with white & green accents. It was so much fun planning all the details, and watching it come together. Both of our moms helped with painting, re-doing furniture, and helping us pick out several pieces. Josh put together the crib, and hung the chandelier. The lighting was the most important aspect to him!


We spent a lot of time in flea markets trying to find the perfect dresser. We stumbled on an antique dreser that needed a lot of TLC. My mom painted it with white chalk paint, and we replaced the middle handle with a beautiful parisian knob we found at Hobby Lobby. The nursery theme was baby birds, so I was excited to find fabric via Coursel! His mom found those tiny baby birds for me to use, and they were the perfect addition. The lamp was my favorite find from Target! I stumbled on it one day, and it was $30. I decided to wait and see if I could find something simliar for a better price. A few days later I was at Target again when I saw that it was on sale, so I snagged it up for $20! Talk about an elated feeling. I also found the mirror at a flea market for a steal. It was an oak color, so Josh painted it using the same chalk paint that my mom used on the dresser. It turned out perfectly.


On the day we found out we were expecting Evie, we had a date night. I picked out this build a bear, and named him Mr. Snuggles. She sleeps with him every night, and he has been very loved by our now hyper toddler. <3


Everything came together perfectly, and it's still our favorite room in the house. Yet, in just a few short months we will slowly be changing out a few things for Evie's new "big girl" room. So, I needed to document all it's sweet little beauty for my future mama heart.

Details:

Crib: Wal-Mart (Charlotte Crib by Fisher Price)
Large E Monogram: Gift
Sheets & Quilt Fabric: Carousel Designs
Crib Skirt: Target
Rocking Chair: Gift
Ruffled Curtains: Target
Glass Lamp: Target
Sheer Fabric: Hobby Lobby

Linking Up: I Choose Joy | Tuesday Talk | Create It | The Scoop | Sunday's At Home

Simple Things



The last few weeks have felt like a whirlwind of craziness. Of course, hormones tend to wreck havoc on my usual "cool as a cucumber" (as Josh & my dad call it) personality. I don't usually get myself in a tizzy, and can keep my cool. But lately, the littlest things have made me want to crawl out of my skin. I haven't been the most pleasant person to be around. Cough, cough. ;)

Quiet time, drinking water, and just a few minutes of exercise have made a huge difference. It's funny how easy it is to lose sight of daily rituals when you allow the "busyness" of life to invade. I've also invested in several new Bible studies, all of which are very poingent for me right now. Two devotionals by Beth Moore, plus I am reading through a wonderful book by Vicky Courtney. I feel like God has been teaching me to be greatful for the little things. Otherwise, how can He entrust me with the bigger things?

Last night, Josh re-arranged our living room for me. I was hankering for a little change, and it was EXACTLY what I needed. I enjoyed cleaning the living room this morning simply because the new layout made my heart sing.

I'm so thankful for our growing family, our little home, and every tiny blessing that God has given us. Life is truly a gift.

Toddler Approved Finger Paint



We've had a rainy/drizzly couple of days, so I knew we needed a fun activity for this morning. I spent over an hour scouring different homemade recipes. I wanted to use ingredients that we already had, plus I wanted a toddler safe formula. Also, I didn't have food coloring so I used jello. I found one that used potato flakes of all things! Here's the recipe for anyone that's curious:


  • Instant Potato Flakes
  • Jello 
  • Warm Water
Just mix equal parts potato flakes & jello (the more jello the darker the color), and add water slowly. Mix until you get the desired consistency. I left it pretty thick so it would be a little more fun to play with for Evie. :) The texture is very different from traditional finger paint which made for a great sensory play time, too. 


Needless to say, she LOVED it. Messy, but fun!

Sharing: Whip It Up Wednesday | Titus 2sDay | One Project

Bump Update!


The last two weeks were quite the doozey! I was eating a sub sandwich when I felt crazy intense pain in my back molar. The next morning, I was able to get into the dentist right away. Ended up having an emergency wisdom tooth removal, plus the wisdom tooth had cracked my back molar. Oh, the pain! I was feeling pretty good for a couple of days, then all the sudden the pain came back pretty intensely. I ended up getting dry socket (oh the joy!), which of course led to a migraine. I'm a pretty independent gal, and don't like asking for help, but I confess all that pain led to nausea. My parents happily helped with Evie so I could catch up on rest, which was a huge blessing!! I'm thankful that's behind me. :)

We are crusing along now at 27 1/2 weeks. The time has simply FLOWN by! I seriously cannot wrap my head around it. Ha! We worked on Ella's nursery this weekend, and I found some cute things while out thrifting. My find of the weekend was the cutest vintage dress that I will hang on her wall collage. I also ordered fabric for her baby bed blanket, and was able to pick out a couple other things.

Some of my dearest friends (Anna & Kristina) hosted a diaper shower for me yesterday. I told them to keep it simple, but they surprised me with a pumpkin themed shower! It was adorable, and oh my goodness...such a huge blessing! I came home with enough diapers to open a store! Haha!! ;)

I'm starting to feel that third trimester blah...it slowly crept up on me with Evie's pregnancy. Honestly, this pregnancy has been eerily similiar with timing/feelings/pangs/etc. I'm uncomfortable, starting to gain in my face, and just feel drained a lot. Ahem. But otherwise, doing well.

She will be here before we know it!! <3

Fall Swap Reveal!!


I participated in the First Annual Blogger Fall Swap Hosted by Johannah, Bri & Desiree! I've never particpated in one before, so I was excited to do so. My blogging swap partner was Justine from Full Hands Full Heart. Check out her blog!! Tons of great posts!!


My package was full of wonderful goodies! A gorgeous wrap scarp from Eleanora. The blue color is just gorgeous. A set of notecards (always useful!!), and of course my favorite part were the goodies from Bath & Body Works. I LOVE anything Pumpkin, and anything coffee related. The smell is amazing!!!! Definately a new favorite scent for me.

It was fun choosing goodies for someone else. Kinda like Christmas in fall, hehe!! ;-) Happy Wednesday! And a huge thank you to Justine for my lovely gifts!!

Goodnight Manger (Review)



This was my first book by Laura Sassi, and I was pleasantly suprised. It's written in rhyming form, filled with beautiful images,  and it is an excellent storybook for children of all ages. I love how she takes us from the moment Jesus is born and gives a little glimpse in what may have taken that place that night. It would make a perfect gift for the little ones in your life!

I'm excited to share this book with Evie on Christmas Eve! Many thanks to BookLook Bloggers for allowing me to review this book in exchange for my honest review.

9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage (Review)


I truly enjoyed Shela Wray Gregoire's fresh take on sprucing up our relationship with our spouse. She takes nine very hard hitting subjects, and gives us simple "take away" tips to apply to those areas in our life.

For example, one chapter was on communicating with our spouse. She points out that women are geared for "face to face" chats, while men are more geared for talking while actually doing something together or "side by side" talking. At the end of the chapter, she shares different challenges to find ways to better communicate by finding activities to do together. That way our female need for talking is satisfied, and our husbands are more relaxed and open to sharing their hearts.

Here's a few other things that I really loved:

  • We are not in competition with our spouse. Remember you are on the same team!
  • Make it your goal to focus on the postitive aspects of our husband rather than negative.
  • She reminds us the importance of intimacy within marriage for both our sakes.
  • She reminds us that we are to be a peacemaker not a peacekeeper within our marriage. I found this specific chapter very riveting. I've never thought about it within those terms before.
Lastly, I felt she really drove home the importance of marriage via the last chapter, and I quote:

"You cannot be a good mother unless you are first a good wife, because the best gift you can give your children is to love their father."

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. I'm looking forward to reading more of her work in the future. Many thanks to Blogging for Books for my copy.

Autumn Days


Last week we loaded up and headed out to our first pumpkin patch visit of the season. Evie loved it!! The patch we visited offers play areas, and a petting zoo. She really loves animals, so I think that was probably her favorite part. She was excited to see all the pumpkins, and kept saying "Ohhhhhh". Well, we let her pick out a small pumpkin to take home, so I handed it to her for a picture. At first she holds it looking at me for the picture, then all the sudden she chunks it like a baseball! That got us tickled, because we seriously didn't even think about how she would react to holding one. Ha!

Five For Friday

Oh, TGIF! For some reason, I'm really looking forward to this weekend. Nothing big planned, but time with friends & family is always a must on my list.



...Right now, I"m loving my Verismo from Starbucks. We received it as our Christmas gift last year, and it has been such an AWESOME way to save money when it comes to our coffee addictions. My husband claims I'm the only one that's addicted, but we know that's not true. He drinks more than I do on average! Ha. Anyway, we are able to make latte's at home for a fraction of the cost! I usually spend $10 on a box of pods that usually lasts us for about 1 to 2 weeks. I've been "sweetenening" my coffee just a tad with the Cinnamon Brown Sugar or Pumpkin Pie Syrup from Torani's Syrups! They have such amazing flavors, and I just LOVE them.

...I'm also loving the fact I've downloaded a new show to watch on Netflix. Several of my friends told me to give "Call The Midwife" a try. I was a HUGE fan of Parenthood & Hart of Dixie, and had been pinining for another fun show to watch. I've also been watching random documentaries!

...I'm loving this stage that Evie is at. She's is so hilarious! She just chatters all day long, and it's the cutest thing. She learned to say "red" last week, and how to open our drawers. Round two of child proofing has taken place.

...I'm loving that I stayed home a lot more this week. I was able to REALLY deep clean the house. It feels SO good to have that finished for the weekend. Also, I was introduced to Gain's room spray. Um, how did I not know this existed? To say I'm in love with be an unerstatement (I wasn't paid to write this). It just makes our bathrooms and hallways smell so good.

...I've been enoying listening to Carla Bruni. It's the perfect background music for when I'm typing. I love her voice, plus I just enjoy listening to French once in a while. ;-)

Linking UP: Five at Love Made My Home | Five on Friday

Ties That Bind (Review)


I've been a fan of Cindy Woodsmall since Ada's House series. After reading that trio, I moved onto reading Amish Vines & Orchards series. Both were amazing storylines with powerful undertones. I devoured them with much gusto, so when I realized she yet another series out, Ties That Bind, I was excited to dive in the new book.

The book starts out at a slower pace than what I'm used to, but eventually picks up as the mystery surrounding Ariana's family begins to unravel. Told in true Woodsmall style, she's not afraid to share nitty gritty details of Amish lifestyle, while incorporating hard hitting topics.

Ariana's parents have both been harboring a secret that is eating them alive. Now, that they realize they have to address the deceit of their past, doing so will threaten to tear their family apart. In doing so, Ariana's first love is commited to shielding her from the pain of rejection. But, she's moved on to someone else, so sparks are starting to fly as jealousy descends.

While I've enjoyed this book, I found it hard for me to identify with Ariana on any level. Which is crucial for me to "fall in love" with the characters. It may be that the storyline is still new, or maybe I'm just trying to compare Ariana to Rhoda (My favorite Woodsmall character). Needless to say, the book was a good read, just not quite my favorite (yet).

Many thanks to Blogging For Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Thank You Lord for Everything (Review)


This book arrived a few weeks ago, and it quickly became Evie's favorite. She may be only 1 1/2 years old, but she has already shown an interested in books (read: she likes to pull alll the books off the shelf all day everyday...haha). Needless to say, she also understands that some books are hers to carry around and play with. With this book, we have both found her sitting on the floor turning the pages. To say that the colors and pictures really stand out would be an understatement.

She also loves to listen to me read it to her. The storyline is just long enough to keep her entertained, and short enough that she doesn't lose interest. Out of all the children's books we've reviewed this year this one is my favorite. It's just a precious book, and one that we will refer to again and again as we teach the importance of giving thanks.

The topic is simple: Giving thanks to the Lord for everything. It's a great book to begin planting seeds of character development, and introduce a simple devotional reading to younger kids.

I received our copy in exchange for an honest review from the kind folks at BookLook Bloggers.

Happy Homemaker Monday (Vol. 8)

My silly toot. ;)


The weather outside is:
Starting to cool down a bit. The mornings & evenings feel wonderful! 

On the breakfast plate this morning:
English Muffins with Pumpkin Spice cream cheese, and an iced latte sweetened lightly with brown sugar. It was delightful. ;)  

As I look outside my window:
Partly Cloudy. I'm hoping it will rain soon. We need a good rain, and another round of "falling leaves". 

Right now I am:
Blogging, finishing my coffee, and thinking through my days activities.  

As I look around the house:
I need to do a top clean, and work on the bathrooms. I also have two loads of laundry to put away, and several items that need to be put away.


On today's to do list:
Wrap my brothers gift.
Put away laundry.
Clean Evie's room.
Clean bathrooms.

On my mind:
We have a few things to take care of around the house. Mainly the final touches in the nursery, and I have a load of items to donate to Goodwill. I feel like I'm getting better at staying organized as I type out these lists for myself. At least, I tell myself that. ;)

On the TV today:
Josh, and I have started watching Murdoch Mysteries. I'm surprised at how good it has been to watch. I also finished watching the Secrets of Highclere Castle. It was pretty interesting to learn about! 

On the menu this week:
Monday - Out to eat with family
Tuesday - Sub Style Sandwiches 
Wednesday - Taco Soup
Thursday - Breakfast for Dinner
Friday - Leftovers


What I am creating at the moment:
Hopefully, memories. I'm trying to choose new photos to print, and frame. I've also been thinking about putting together a gallery wall in our hallway.

Happy Monday!

5 For Friday!


Reading: I started "The Best Yes" yesterday, and I've already been convicted. You know it's gonna be a good read when the second chapter steps on your toes. I may do a full review when I finish! I've also got my heart set on reading a couple of biographies this fall. Any suggestions?

Listening: I've been trying to scale back on our TV time, and instead turn on some music while Evie plays in our living room. I discovered the disney children's channel on Pandora and it's great!! As always, I listen to adult contemporary a lot (think Henry Connick Jr., etc.) by myself.

Smelling: Oh, I had to talk about fall scents. I'm a HUGE scentsy addict. Just ask my friends! I have a giant zip lock bag that I keep in our laundry room, and generally rotate scents out every other day. I'm waiting for some new scents to arrive, and I'm going to  party next week. I should be stocked and set up until spring!

Thinking: About simple ways to better myself, and take better care of the time that's been given to me. I know that each moment is a gift, and I don't want to forget that.

Decorating: We have a fireplace that is VERY rustic. I have struggled with decorating it for years, but decided to just embrace the rustic look. Here's a vidoe of my fall decor. I'm trying to step out of my comfort zone and have a little more fun with blogging...hence the youtube video. Don't laugh!
;)



Happy Friday! Linking up @ Friday Favorites with Andrea!

21 Things To Do This Fall {My Bucket List}



My blogging friend, Stephanie, posted a fall bucket list, and I just loved the idea. I've written a Christmas bucket list before, but not one for fall. Since it's my favorite season, it only seemed natural to write one, as well. So here's my list of 21 Things to Do This Fall...


  • Watch the Anne of Green Gable Series (for some reason this movie just screams fall to me!)
  • Go on a nature walk collecting different colored leaves.
  • Do a fall deep cleaning around the house...and sell unwanted items on ebay.
  • Make homemade hot chocolate to sip on the back porch. 
  • Go on a wagon ride at the pumpkin patch. 
  • Go through a corn maze with friends!
  • Find a good pumpkin bread recipe to make.
  • Take fall themed pictures.
  • Start a Christmas shopping list & wish list.
  • Go to the Zoo!
  • Watch "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown".
  • Collect fall themed board books.
  • Make A Candy Corn Volcano (using Playdough).
  • Make a Craft Turkey with Evie.
  • Try Leaf Rubbing for the first time.
  • Find a new recipe to make for Thanksgiving.
  • Visit the neighborhood yard sales (fall has the best ones in our area)!
  • Try making gingersnap cookies.
  • Try fingerpainting with fall colors.
  • Make Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie! 
  • Go to an outdoor concert.
So there's my list! What would yours look like? I love getting ideas for fun activities.
Linking Up: Roses of Inspiration | Pin Wednesday | Friday Favorite | Gallery Party |

Paris: A Trip Down Memory Lane

It's been over six years since we tied the knot and headed to France for our honeymoon. It was truly the trip of my dreams, and I am FINALLY getting around to putting together life albums for our family. I just finished Evie's first year album, and now I'm working on our wedding & honeymoon albums. Doing so requires me to dig up pictures, and sort through them, figuring out my favorites. I thought it would be fun to share some of them here.


We stayed in the heart of Paris during our 9 days in France. We decided aginst renting a car, so we could take the underground train system wherever we wanted, and we were also able to visit the coast of France via car tour. Our first day in Paris was slightly overwhelming. Talk about sticking out like a sore thumb! We were dropped of (via Taxi cab) right in front of the Opera House. We spent a few minutes walking around before deciding we should probably drop our luggage off before taking on the full role of tourist. ;)


We took a day to visit the Palace of Versailles. This took most of our day mainly because of travel time, but also there was so much to see. The Architecture was astounding, as was the ornate detail. I honestly can't fathom what it would have been like to actually live in a palace like that. The only we thing that we didn't take the time to do was to tour the gardens. By the time we finished the inital tour, we were exhausted and headed back to the city for food. Funny thing? We met two other couples from Arkansas during the train ride to the palace. Small world!


We of course had to visit the Louvre, but it was closed to visitors that day. We toured the outside grounds, went underground (they have large windows where you can see some of the artwork), and then ate at the small cafe. It was a beautiful building. We thought about arranging another day to visit, but we had so many other locations to cover we decided against it.


I think the favorite part of the trip was visiting the Arc De Triomphe. We took our time getting there, as the area is a beautiful shopping district. We saw shops like Louis Vitton, Nespresso, and the like. We stopped for a Nespresso, and the little store was literally guarded at the front door. We had no idea how expensive the coffe would be! I think the barista took pity on us, and offered a sweet treat with the espresso. We ended up only ordering single shots, and boy were they powerful. When I say single shots, I mean literally single shots. No cream, no fluff. And each shot cost $7. We still laugh about that espresso to this day. To make for the lack of what us Americans consider "true coffee" we stopped at a nearby cafe and enjoyed traditional latte's, and pastries. We met a french woman who asked us what we had seen, where to go, etc. She also offered advice on where not to dine in order to avoid the high dollar tourist traps. We took her advice that evening and enjoyed a fun pizzeria!

Anyway, the Arc De Triomphe was just amazing to view from the streets. I didn't take enough pictures to capture it's grandeur in my opinion. Another neat thing that we learned, is that you can actually climb to the top! The views were breathtaking, and we waited for sunset to capture a few more pictures. It was worth all 1,336 steps. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but the climb was not for the faint of heart. There I am again, talking like an American. ;)


The view from the top!


As we headed back to our hotel, we decided to just walk the streets for a while. We folled the Eiffle Tower, and were able to watch it "dazzle" . It was magical!!!! <3


We hope to go back in a few years. I hope to see most of the same tourist sites, but I would also love to hunt down a few of the lesser known attractions. I would also love a day to just shop, and hunt down the quaint antique shops.

Giveaway! Count My Blessings



Evie is finally at the stage where she will sit and listen to short story books that offer lots of picture and interaction. This vibrant little hard back was a perfect tool to share about the importance of blessings.

While she may still be young to fully understand, I firmly believe we can never start too early in planting seeds in the hearts of our children. I really enjoyed this sweet book that also provided learning opportunities for both shapes, colors & numbers.

It would make a great stocking stuffer for the little ones in your life!

Want to win a copy? Just follow one of the steps below to get your entry in:


  • Leave a Comment Telling me what you are thankful for this week.
  • Pin this Giveaway to Pinterest. 
  • Follow me on Instagram .
Giveaway closes  at noon! 9/24/15 Open to US residents only. Void where prohibited.

Chocolate Face & Menu Plan Monday



My brother, Shaun, brought brownies over the other night, and wanted Evie to have one. Needless to say, I think she rather enjoyed it. We may have another chocolate lover on our hands...can't say that I mind much. Haha. ;)

Menu Plan for the Week:

Monday: Crock Pot Orange Pork Chops with Asian Salad
Tuesday: Tacos with Homemade Salsa & Chips
Wednesday: Turkey Hot Dogs
Thursday: Chicken, Broccoli & Rice Casserole
Friday: Leftovers

Are you trying out any new recipes this week? The Pork Chop dish is new to me, so I'm hoping it turns out yummy. Happy Monday!

Linking Up: Menu Plan Monday

Who's Coming to Dinner?


I haven't done a "Just for fun" post in a long time, so I thought I'd link up with Momfessionals today. The topic is who you would invite to your "dream dinner"...


Laura Ingalls-Wilder

Oh my, I just love, love, love the Little House books. I loved learning about her life, and her legacy. I visited her home (the one she built with Almanzo) when I was a kid, and it's my dream to go back one day. I can't wait to read her books to my girls when they are older!

My Great-Grandma Eleanor

She lived well into her 80's so I got to spend time with her each year when we would visit during the summer. She was a funny lady with a LOT of wit!! I wish I could sit down and talk to her now. I feel like her era had SO MUCH CLASS. I miss the days of elegant women.

First Lady Laura Bush

I have always been enamored with the Bush family legacy, but even more so with First Lady Laura Bush. She always seemed so poised, and graceful. I also loved that one of her main platforms was literature. I'm passionate about reading, and loved that she encouraged children to embrace books!

Esther

I have always loved the story of Esther. I think she must have had incredible courage to stand up for her people, and to be used by God in such a powerful way. I would love to glean from her wisdom and hear her first hand account of what it was really like to be queen.

Happy Homemaker Monday (Vol. 7)



On the weather front:
The weather has been slowly changing to fall. The mornings are cool & crisp, but the afternoons still tease with heat. The weather change has brought on a serious hot chocolate craving...including extra whip cream. When I ordered one yesterday, the above picture is what the waitress brought out. It was lovely. 

On my bedside table:
Glass of Water

Vitamins
Books

On my TV:

Walker Texas Ranger
Frazier 
I Love Lucy (I love watching re-runs...)

Favorite Youtube Video last week:
Hmmm...I don't think I've watched anything recently. However, I'm a sucker for homemaking videos, especially anything to do with organization. :)

News story that caught my attention:
Local stories of petty thefts, violence and car hijacks. I just don't understand people. This world is NOT my home. I have to remind myself of that.


On the menu for this week:

Monday: Homemade Chili

Tuesday: Sub Sandwiches 
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Brocolli, Chicken & Rice Casserole (one of Josh's favorites!)
Friday: Out to Eat

New Recipe I tried or want to try:
I am looking for a really good pumpkin bread recipe. I tried one last week that turned out horrible! If you know of a good one, feel free to send it my way. :)

On my To Do List:

Speed Clean

Laundry
Sweep/Swiffer
Dust
Vaccuum
Bathrooms (5 minute wipe down)
Put Laundry Away
 
In the craft basket:
Finish Evie's Baby Book

Looking forward to:
A shopping trip to finalize big items we need for baby girl (Crib matress, baby bath, etc.)

What I plan on doing for myself this week:

I would like to give myself a facial, manicure, and pedicure. Been feeling a bit "blah". Those things usually help me feel a bit better about myself. ;)


Lesson learned the past few days:
True friends are few and precious. I'm very thankful for mine.

We're Having A...



So last week was the "big reveal". It actually took a while for the doctor to get a good look, but we are most definitely having another GIRL!!! Since then, we have painted the nursery, finalized her name, and have a crib being shipped soon. It's starting to feel very "real" to me that we will soon be adding another little one to our home. 

I'm nearly half way finished with this pregnancy...and if she's anything like Evie, then I'm over half way done. Haha! I really wanted to have little details finished and in place before Thanksgiving. I know once the holidays arrive there won't be as much time to prepare....not to mention I'll not be feeling as chipper. 

On Saturday, we went yard selling. It had been a while since I'd had any luck, but had noticed there were quite a few adds featuring baby items, and toddler clothing. We ended up hitting an amazing yard sale. Tons of quality, like new baby clothes. I bought roughly 30 outfits for about $20. Not bad! So baby sister has her own little wardrobe started. I went through a lot of Evie's newborn clothes, and while man outfits will work, I needed to invest in warmer outfits. Evie was born in the dead of summer, while baby sister will be born in the dead of winter. 

Last night, Josh took me to the city next door to take care of a few things. We ended the night sharing a pumpkin spice latte (which was DELICIOUS), and on the way home it started POURING rain. It was insane. When we finally got home we all sat on the back patio and listened to it hitting the tin roof. It felt so good to feel the temperature drop. I think fall is finally making her appearance around here. I went to bed feeling very happy, and thankful for our life. God is very good, and gracious in all the things He has done to remind us of His love.

Capture The Moment (Review)


I was expecting a more "step by step" book on photography, instead I received a delightful book filled with images, and simple tips to better your skills. Sarah Wilkerson touches on a variety of topics that range from natural lighting, to embracing modern art, and steps to visual storytelling. It's a great way to softly introduce yourself to photography, or to give your rusty art a good 'ol boost (that would be me). The book is filled with dozens of images that give you a visual insight to her tips.

It's a simple read for a rainy afternoon with a cup of coffee...or camera in hand. I would give it a hearty 4 stars. Many thanks to blogging for books for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

A Thankful List

Last night was delicoius: crisp, cool, overcast, and you could just feel fall sneaking into summer's end. I love that. I wish I could bottle up that zesty feeling and keep it in my heart forever. I always feel relief as summer ends. I'm also feeling very, very thankful for so many things...


  • God's provision last month (He always knows just what we need WHEN we need it). 
  • Reading a passage of scripture that fit my "current state" of life.
  • Warm mocha latte's with a single pump of Raspberry. Delicious! 
  • Watching Evie explore and learn new things.
  • Long walks.
  • Trying new recipes that hint at the change of seasons.
  • Finding good deals on children's clothing...espeically when it's a favorite brand. ;)
God is good. 

Random Post on Pumpkins & Other Things



My favorite time of year is fall. Hands down. There is no comparison to that crisp feeling in the air. I bought my first can of pumpkin, and now I need to bake something yummy. Pumpkin muffins or pumpkin bread?

I received the sweetest package from a new blogging friend, Arlene. I stumbled on her blog a couple of weeks ago, then won her giveaway. The basket was filled with lovely goodies, but my favorites were by far the Citrus Jelly Beans! I crave citrus during pregnancy, so they really hit the spot! :D

We had church yesterday, and boy was it stressful on this momma. Evie does NOT want to go to nursery at all. I realize it's just a stage that's she's going through, but it breaks my heart that she cries so much. I really want her to have fun and learn to play with the other kids. So, boo hoo, and all that...it's rough!!!!

When it comes to Saturday mornings, my favorite thing (well second favorite thing to sleeping in) is to visit yard sales and have donuts for breakfast. I scored quite a few home decor pieces, and summer outfits for next year (for Evie). Not bad! I even found a few gender neutral onsies for the little chicken nugget that is still baking away. ;)

I've been in a reading funk. I usually read 2 - 3 books at a time, but this month, I have had zero motivation to read anything. I'm beginning to think the summer heat has taken it's toll on me. The heat index was 115 last week! Just walking out to the car left me in a puddle of sweat. I hate to sound winey, but ahem, I am so ready for fall! Or did I already mention that? Ha!

Hope ya'll have a wonderful Monday!

First Baby Bump Update!



I thought I'd finally get around to posting about this pregnancy. I'm actually 13 weeks now, but this picture was taken at 11 weeks. The one thing that stands out about this pregnancy is that in a lot of my symptoms are very similiar. My nausea happened at night like with my first pregnancy and it lasted about an hour or so. Weeks 4-8 were the worst. The only thing that helped reduce the nausea was lemon water! And I craved lemons my entire pregancy with Evie. ;)

I think the tougher part of this pregnancy is that I gained a few pounds right at first. I think most of this was the fact I didn't do much of anything...the exhaustion really took the wind out of me! That has been the main difference. I don't remember being tired during my first pregnancy at all.

Thanks to my hormones, I am very, very bloated. I pulled out the maternity pants at 10 weeks. I tried the rubber band trick, but I thought it made my pants look funny. Most of my non maternity shirts & skirts still work so that makes me feel better. Haha!

We already picked out names. One night Josh and I sat down with a baby name book and they just clicked. We both loved them right away and decided we were good to go!

I'll have my next ultrasound in about a week. I can't wait to see that little chicken nugget and hear that sweet heartbeat.

Happy Homemaker Monday Vol. 6



On the weather front:
Very hot and humid.

On my bedside table:
A Bride Most Bedgruding by Deann Gist
The Marriage You've Always Wanted by Gary Chapman

On my TV:
We rented Paddington Bear to watch later tonight. :)

On the menu for this week:
Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
Ranch Chicken & Veggies
Pot Roast & Mashed Potatoes
Lentil & Ham Soup
Breakfast Casserole

On my To Do List:
Laundry
Sweep/Swiffer/Vacuum
Clean Bathrooms

New Recipe I tried last week:
I made a new pot roast recipe. I tasted pretty good, but I think next time I'll add onions for spice up the flavor a bit!

In the craft basket:
Just my Project Life album

Looking forward to:
Making a list of items for Evie in preperation for the big consignment sales headed our way. It's my favorite way to stock up!

Homemaking Tip for this week:
Invest in a wax melter! I love mine and it always makes the house smell inviting. :)

Be The Best Mom You Can Be Review



I just finished reading "Be The Best Mom You Can Be" by Marina Slayton, and I can equate it to a "breath of fresh air". So many parenting books seem bent on telling you how to parent, and which type of parenting is best, rather just sharing Biblical truths. I found Slayton's book to be of the later sort, and it was greatly encouraging to my heart.

Instead of a traditional review, I thought I'd share a few things I learned from reading:
  • She reminds us that as parents our greatest parenting tool is that of prayer. When you are discouraged or not sure how to approach a situation simply ask for God's direction. 
  • She reminds us that our role of parenting is not just a hat to wear, but more importantly it is a ministry. One of the most important ministries that we will ever have.
  • She reminds us that there will be days when we fail as mothers and it's important to accept God's grace and forgiveness when this happens. Doing so provides a model and basis to your children that no matter how many times they fail they too can have grace and forgiveness.
  • She addresses the issues of "synthetic parenting" and getting so caught up in "busy" that we no longer operate as family units. She shares insight on how this is leading to depression, drug usage, etc in our young adults. An eye-opening issue for me, and has reminded me that I need to be more careful with our time as a family.
There were many issues that she tackled, but these really stood out to me. If you are looking for encouragement in your role as a mother, I highly recommend this book. Many thanks to Book Look Bloggers for my copy in exchange for my honest review.

Linking UP: Mommy Moments

Reflections


You'd think I'd have a book to write on all the things I've learned as my first year as a mom.

The one thing that really comes to mind is grace

Oh, how He gives grace. Grace on the late nights when you are so tired that walking across the floor hurts. Or how He gives grace when you have a sick baby, and quickly have your fears calmed thanks to those after hour phone lines. Or grace when you snap at your husband because your HORMONES aren't quite back to normal. 

But, also, I've seen God's love for us through our role as parents.

I love her so much it hurts. I would do anything to protect her. 

The amazing thing is that my love for her is just a tiny reflection of God's love for us. Just a tiny drop in the ocean. He's our heavenly Father. He loved us so much He sent His only Son to die for us. 

The cross and resurrection have taken on a whole new level of sacredness to me.

It's a humbling reality of love, redemption, and grace.