Weekend Recap





We started the weekend off with swimming! My parents live in a resort community where there are a plethora of pools to choose from. This was is so pretty with it's tree lined background. Also, I forgot what a great workout swimming is! I should schedule this into my week on a regular basis.


On Saturday, Evie woke up begging to go to a museum, so we did. This particular children's museum has tons of fun things to do for kids of all ages. I love that she has such a passion to learn and explore already! I'm also looking forward to starting Pre-K with her in the fall, as I've already narrowed down our curriculum.


Then on Sunday we celebrated Josh. He's truly an amazing father, and it's always fun to see the girls interact with him. He hung the stars and the moon in their book. ;) We also had a chance to visit with both of our dad's. The day will filled with lots of fellowship, pizza and more swimming!

It was a fun weekend! Hope you had a lovely one, too. Happy Monday!

My Girl



I feel like I blinked and this little girl changed overnight. Her toddler days are slowly melting into the pre-school stage. She loves to keep up with big sister: She works hard on learning the alphabet, she loves her PJ Masks (Catboy is her favorite) and she would eat chocolate all the day long if she could. She loves to walk around the house roaring like a dinasour (thanks to George from Peppa Pig).

They say she looks like me...but goodness, does she act like her daddy.

She's my wild & precious one. I love her so.

Simple Street Steak Tacos


There's a little whole in the wall taco shop that makes the most mouth watering tacos. I'd eat there every day if I could. I tried my hand at street tacos earlier this week, and they were so easy to make! I love that you can adjust the seasonings any way you want to fit YOUR taste buds.

Easy Steak Street Tacos

2 Cups of sliced fajita cut steak (I buy mine pre-sliced to save time!)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Garlic, chopped
1 Cup Onions, diced

For the sauce:
1 Avocado
1 to 2 tsp. Fresh Lime Juice
Sea Salt & Pepper (to taste)

For the sauce, you'll want to mash & whip the avocado until creamy. Then, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of fresh squeezed lime juice. Add sea salt & pepper (start with about half a teaspoon). Set aside.

In a large skillet, sauté garlic & onions until tender. Add steak. Cook until meet is cooked thoroughly. Immediately serve on tortillas with Avocado cream sauce & fresh cilantro. I added a touch of creole seasoning for an added kick.

Hasta luego!

Monday Pretties


Our hydrangeas were late bloomers this year! At first, we thought we may have pruned them back too early thus voiding out this years flowers. Alas, they finally came around!


I love having fresh flowers around the house. Makes me happy! Josh keeps my vases re-stocked. I've also managed to keep my hybrid cactus alive, which I'm pretty proud of. Ha! It's the simple things. ;)

Hope you all had a restful weekend. Happy Monday!

Four


One minute, I'm cradling you in my arms, the next you are climbing trees and twirling in your princess dresses. They say that it goes by so quickly, and I'm inclined to agree. It really does!

I'm so proud of the sweet young lady you are becoming. You have such a passion for learning and being with other people. My social butterfly.

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank our Lord that I get to be your mommy.


Things to remember: She loves wearing ballet shoes & jelly sandals. Her favorite foods are cheese pizza, peanut butter sandwiches, Nutella sandwiches, and fruit. She really love popsicles and getting "Ice Cream Corns" (yes she says corns instead of cones...I don't want to correct her, it's too cute!). She is obsessed with Unicorns right now! She is still very much a mommy & daddy's girl, Ella is her BFF, and loves to be with her grandparents and cousins. She is such a little mommy, and has such a tender and sensitive heart.

Happy birthday, sweet girl! I love you.

California Road Trip Part II


When we rented a car while staying in La Jolla, I knew that we would want to drive up and down the coast visiting other areas. But, I have to say, one of the best parts of the trip was an early morning near Shell Beach (still in La Jolla). The color, the other worldly beauty! It honestly felt like I was back in Ireland.


Yes, so much beauty.


Another drive we took was to the Cabrillo National Monument. There are two sections of the area, and the back side was very remote. With views for miles, it felt like we had found the ends of the earth! Breathtaking, really.


The Cabrillo National Monument is part of the US Parks. You can still view/tour the lighthouse that is there. I love history and anything that is considered a "step back in time", so definitely right up my ally. Not to mention, you can get an amazing view of San Diego from that vantage point.


Also, getting to travel alone gives me a little time rekindle my love for photography. I forget how much I enjoy until I take my camera out again!

Today




Today, did NOT go as planned.

We were parked downtown when a large work truck ran into our back door while Josh was putting Ella into her car seat. I have to say that was five seconds of...well, you know. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. But, I'm a mom and a wife, and all I could see was my husband and baby girl just a few inches away from what could have been a horrific disaster.

Two Words: Angel Guardians.

I was okay until we got home, and then I had a good cry in the bathroom. Then I went back outside to give the girls popsicles. They were okay. They were happy to be home. I was happy to be home.

I know I try to post positive stuff, but, sometimes, life happens, and you just need to vent.

So ,that's my vent for the day. I'm ready for some R&R for the rest of the weekend!

How To Make Money as A Stay At Home Mom




One of my favorite things about being a work at home mom is that I'm able to create a balanced schedule. I taught myself how to earn an income by working at home long before the kiddos came along.

My goal was a) I wanted to know how to generate income so that I COULD stay home, and b) I knew that my personality would need a creative outlet.

It has been a huge blessing to my family, and for that I am thankful.

How Do I Work From Home?


The first few years that I started working from home I focused on freelance writing. There were ample opportunities through various web sites and it gave me the most flexibility. 

What I Used: Freelancer.com & Textbroker

Other Ways to Earn Cash at Home


However, my favorite way to earn additional cash isn't so much a job as it is a hobby: consignment sales! I feel like this is such an untapped resource for moms...especially new moms! Very few of my friends take part in this, so I thought I would share a few of the benefits.

Every year, I participate in 2-3 consignment sales. I clean out kids clothes, shoes, toys, books, movies, games, outdoor items, etc. I price according to the sales guidelines. The money I make from each sale then can be used for the next season of clothes, date nights, etc. I earn money and clear out clutter: what's not to love?

I have also used sites like Ebay & ThredUp to earn extra money from time to time, too. 

Have you participated in any of these outlets? If so, I'd love to hear!

Taco Tuesday: Fish Tacos with Garlic Lime Aioli



If I had to eat one meal for the rest of my life...I would pick tacos. I mean, how can you go wrong with tortillas? I don't think you can.

Last week, I made Aioli sauce for our fish tacos, and thy were a hit! The first time I heard someone talk about fish tacos, I thought they were crazy. But, then I had some, and there's no going back. ;)

Also, whoever invented Taco Tuesday can be my friend forever. *wink*

Fish Tacos with Garlic Lime Aioli

2 Tilapia Steaks, cooked to preference
6 Hard Taco Shells
1 Avocado, sliced
1/4 Cup Shredded Red Cabbage
Cilantro, chopped (to taste)

For the Aioli:

1/4 Cup Mayo (use the real thing!)
1-2 teaspoons of lime juice
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon Siracha

Chop pre-cooked tilapia. Layer cooked meat inside the hard shells. Bake at 400 for 10 to 15 minutes. Immediately  add cilantro, cabbage and avocado to the tacos. Top with Aioli sauce.

The Royal Wedding...Did you watch?






I had fun watching snippets of the royal wedding via YouTube an Instagram...a few things to note...

I thought her dress was very simple, yet elegant.
The veil was stunning!
I was surprised at how small the bouquet was, yet it was gorgeous!
Overall, everything seemed understated than other royal weddings.

It was fun to watch! I think the girls will enjoy watching playbacks with me throughout the week. I'm tempted to watch Kate & William's wedding again, too. I think their's will always be my favorite. ;)

Five Things Friday



Drinking: This week, I've been sipping on Iced Thai Tea. It's a smooth, fruity drink, and I enjoy it with a splash of cream. It's the perfect afternoon treat!! I'm also obsessed with flavored sparkling waters. 

Reading: I just picked up Louis Lowry's latest republished novel, and read it in a matter of two days. It's a mix of coming of age, learning about life type novel. It was pretty good, but had more "stuff" in it than I would have imagined. 

Watching: Honestly? Unless it's Hawaii-Five-O we haven't watched much TV. We've been outside for HOURS every day this week. It's been fantastic. ;) However, we are hoping to see the latest Avenger's at the theater ASAP.

Listening: The Greatest Showman Soundtrack. Haha. On constant repeat. I need some new summer tunes! Care to share what you've been listening to?

Cooking: This week I made a new taco recipe, and they turned out super yummy. Recipe coming soon!

Happy Friday!!!

Your Guide to La Jolla California


For our anniversary, we wanted a relaxing, extra long weekend. While looking up places to visit in California, I stumbled on the web site for La Jolla, California, and I was sold. We also wanted to rent a convertible. When we arrived in San Diego, we headed to the Payless Car Rental desk, and the young man on duty was extremely helpful. He spent several minutes working out details so we could get the car that we wanted, printed off maps for us, gave us personal recommendations (which ended up being one of our favorite stops!). I wish I had taken time to write the young man's name down, because I was very impressed. In a world where customer service appears to be fading, you REALLY notice companies who go above and beyond. We are new fans to Payless!


We stayed at the La Jolla Cove which was directly across the street from the ocean (stunning views from our balcony). While it was an older hotel, it had been remodeled in a chick beach theme, and the lobby was STUNNING. Besides the fact it smelled like heaven (seriously, I should have asked about the candles they were burning), they had snacks, drinks, a sitting area, and a beautiful fountain. What really sold me on staying there, however, was the fact they offered complimentary breakfast on the roof! So every morning, we sat on the roof taking in views, and enjoying the breakfast. I fell in love with the Mango juice, and yogurt parfaits. Best granola EVER.



Another reason we chose La Jolla is the wildlife that is located directly across the street from the hotel. You can walk right up to the Sea Lions, Seals, and tons of tropical birds. I knew Josh would love it, and I was right! They also have gorgeous cliffs, walkways and beaches to enjoy.


The views were absolutely stunning.


My favorite thing in the whole world is taking walks along the beach, coffee in hand. There's  nothing quite like it, and honestly, it's such a simple tribute to the beauty of God's handiwork.



We took time to visit the SALK institute in La Jolla. My husband works in architecture, so we generally look up cool buildings to see. Oddly enough, I think I was more excited than Josh to see it. It's extremely modern, but very unique. It's worth stopping by for a photo op!


The town is very charming...it's full of boutique stores, art, architecture, coffee shops, and the best Gelato shop we've ever visited. It was also home to one of the best meals, ever! I'll be doing a separate post all on that, too.


We can't wait to visit again, but next time, I think we are gong to make it a family getaway!

Travel Love: SoCal Anniversary Style


Josh and I booked a trip to California via Southwest Vacations. It was my first to book through southwest, and honestly, it was SO easy, and very affordable. I love that you can research everything on your own, plug in your destination then fine tune the trip to fit your budget and vacation needs.



Also, I am always impressed with Southwest Customer Service. I've flown pretty much every airline within the US, and nothing compares to their friendliness and ease. Basically, they are the Chic-Fil-A of Airlines. Ha!


I visited California with my parents when I was a teenager, and I still vividly remember all the things that I fell in love with then. They are still my favorite things now as an adult. The weather, the coast, the small boutique beach towns. Everything feels tropical right down to the food. We arrived late afternoon and hit the ground running. First stop was visiting the Sea Lions & Seals located just steps from our hotel.


We tackled In & Out Burger on our second night. Josh grew up eating there regularly (he's from California), and I've heard about it a LOT from his family. It didn't disappoint. The person in front of us ordered extra sauce, so I copied them and did the same. Wise. ;) My only regret was not ordering a shake. I've heard rave reviews on their ice cream, but I'll be sure and try them again next time. ;)


Another foodie location that I was dying to try was Salt & Straw. I had heard about their ice cream via another blogger, and ya'll...it was LIFE CHANGING. There are simply no words. Okay, I have lots of words, but without further ado, my favorite flavor was Peanut Butter Stout Ice Cream. Part of me wants to cry that this ice cream is only available via West Coast...


Last, but not least, we rented a Camaro convertible for the trip. I had no idea I was a Camaro girl until now...oh me oh my...want a FUN car to drive. I think we could have drove the entire time and I would have been happy.

What's Up Wednesday!



I am slow moving this week...we just returned from a wonderful vacation (which we booked through Southwest...I'll have to share more on that later!). Anyway, I've got the proverbial post vacation blues. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to be home! BUT, man, it's always nice to try new foods, see new things, and reside in a tropical paradise for a few days. ;)

The girls got to visit the lake yesterday, and they attempted to build a sandcastle with their daddy. But, sand castle plans were set aside in favor of jumping in the water. Of course. ;)

Today, I'm trying to buckle down and get caught up with unpacking, laundry, and deep cleaning the house. Always fun, especially with a giant coffee in hand.

Happy Wednesday!

A Mother's Heart


I love watching her grow up. She is full of creativity, and her imagination amazes me.

Actually, I think the whole of motherhood amazes me.

Our hearts get turned inside out on a daily basis as we watch our children grow.

We see those tender moments, we see them make choices: both good and bad. We see their happy moments and sad.

We watch them become the person God created them to be...and I think it may be one of the sweetest gifts of all.

Travel Love: Visiting Northern Ireland (Flashback Post)

Sharing a few of my favorite memories from our trip to Ireland a few years back...


Be sure to visit the Carrick A Rede Rope Bridge...

The views are stunning, you'll get a nice workout, and you'll have visited one of the most iconic bridges in N. Ireland. But, in all seriousness, pictures simply don't do justice to this area of the world.

My favorite part of this area was the opposite side of the bridge. Just a short hike down o the water where you could see nothing but rugged beauty for miles. The Carrick A Rede Rope Bridge is located near Ballintoy in County Antrim.



Order an Irish Coffee...

Have you ever watched the original Herbie movies? Well, in the scene where he makes Irish Coffee and shares it with Herbie, I always thought it looked so good. Ha! So, while visiting N. Ireland, we stopped at a pub for lunch (where else? ha!) and had my first "real" Irish Coffee. It's creamy, stout, and unforgettable. 


Visit The Giant's Causeway...

Another favorite stop was the Giant's Causeway, and not for the reasons you'd think. While the basalt columns are quite the sight to behold, it's the views leading to the columns that took my breath away.

Not to mention, it makes for a great photo op.


And those are just a few of my favorite memories from Northern Ireland!

Five Things Friday



Drinking: This week, I tried an Iced Strawberry Latte. Oh my goodness! Match made in heaven. ;)

Reading: I just finished reading two of Jennifer L Scott's books from the Madame Chic series. They are so good! She shares her experiences from living with a family in France.

Watching: We watched the new Hawaii-Five-O thanks to Netflix. If you like detective shows with a dash of sarcastic humor, check it out. We've enjoyed them so far. 

Listening: The Greatest Showman Soundtrack. We watched the movie last weekend, and while the movie was good, the music was even better! 

Cooking: I made homemade lasagna for our anniversary dinner. We had salad, sparkling cider, and Josh brought home chocolate cheesecake to boot. The cheesecake is from a local restaurant, and the crust tastes like a chocolate cake, so yes, good. So good. I need more, I think.

Happy Friday!

Nine




Nine favorite memories for nine years of marriage:

Exploring France on our honeymoon.
Becoming foster parents to Little J.
Finding out we would be birth parents.
Watching you hold Evie for the first time.
Watching you hold Ella for the first time.
Remodeling our little dream home together.
Exploring all of Ireland and North Ireland.
Late night carriage ride through Central Park.
Waking up every morning with you by my side.

I love you. 

Things I Want To Remember



Whenever I finish reading a book to the girls Ella always says "Amen!" instead of "The End!".

Evie Grace loves to plan out her outfits. She picks out her shirt, skirt, shoes and socks and then lays them out.

They are the best of friends, and while playing, they will often stop what they are doing and say "I Love You!" to each other.

Ella still calls Evie "Sisters" instead of sister. I will cry when she stops saying that.

They love to peek through our fence to see what the neighbors are up too. Sorry neighbors! ;)

Evie Grace will only wear one of two shoes: Either her ballet slippers or her rain boots.

I love being their momma...

Simple Garlic Butter Shrimp


Originally published 2017

I really love shrimp. And butter.

It just says classic spring meal to me...made even more perfect when served out on the back patio!

Garlic Butter Shrimp

1lb. Shrimp
1/4 cup Butter, cubed
1 Tablespoon crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon steakhouse seasoning (I used Colton's All Purpose)
Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper (to taste)

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and mix well. Let simmer for a few minutes to meld flavors.

Next, pour garlic butter over shrimp. Make sure to evenly coat each piece. Then bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350.

Broil for an additional 5-10 minutes. Watch closely.

Serve with a little cracked pepper, seasoning of choice and voila!

So easy. So good!

Five Things Friday




It's Friday! Finally! We've had head colds this week, so I need a slow paced weekend to recuperate. Basically, all the more reasons for extra coffee, finishing up a good book, and watching a few of my favorite shows via good 'ol Netflix.

Here's five things that I've been loving this week:

Drinking: Iced Lavender Latte's from my (newish) favorite coffee shop. It's flowery, light, and a bit on the fruity side. I'm honestly shocked that I like it so much...

Reading: All The Light We Cannot See So, I wanted some great literature to devour over the last few weeks, and this one caught my eye. I can't wait to see the movie when I'm finished!

Watching: We stumbled on a few British shows recently that caught my fancy. Sarah Beeny being one of them. Also, The Great British Gardens. So fun!

Listening: The girls and I have been listening to Chopin throughout the day. I found several play lists via YouTube. It's been the perfect background music for cleaning and doing school together.

Dreaming: Of finishing up scrapbooks. I always seem to get behind in this area! I need to get my act together.

What's on your favorites list this week?
Happy Friday!

Master Bedroom Makeover



Our room was looking a little frumpy and worn, so I switched things up with a new duvet, curtains, and then shopped my house to re-arrange our accessories. I'm loving the new look and feel! I don't think I kept it to any one style, but it looks relaxing and that's what I was going for.  

Happy Wednesday!

My Baby



The other day we were eating breakfast at the table, and I asked Ella, "Are you a big girl, now?"

She smiled, pointed to herself and said, "No, I baby".

Forever my baby you'll be, little one.

Blueberry Maple Scones




We had a little tea party with a few friends last week, which prompted me to make a batch of scones served with real whipped cream. I've tried many scone recipes over the years, and I always prefer the more rustic variations. Slightly brown on the edges, soft and bursting with berries! I confess, this recipe uses both maple syrup and sugar...yet it doesn't taste overly sweet. The trick here is to make sure you cover them foil while baking so they don't get too brown. Maple syrup tends to do that in baked goods. 

Care for the recipe? Pour a cup of tea, a pot of cream, and enjoy!

Blueberry Maple Scones

3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Maple Syrup
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Cold Butter
1 Cup Fresh Berries
2 Large Eggs
2 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1 - 2 Tablespoons Milk

In a large bowl combine dry ingredients and butter. Cut the butter up and mix with dry ingredients until mixture becomes crumbly.

In a separate bowl, mix eggs, vanilla, maple syrup and sour cream. Pour into dry ingredients and mix well. Add 1 - 2 Tablespoons of Milk or until mixture becomes moist and sticky. Very gently add blueberries. 

Using a large ice scream scooper (or 1/4 cup scoop) gently plop onto baking pan.

Brush with a bit of milk and sprinkle course sugar on top.

Bake at 325 for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. 

What's in My Diaper Bag?




Well, I dusted off the 'ol YouTube, and did a "What's in my diaper bag?" Video. I love these, because it always gives me a glimpse into other people's personality and lives. Maybe I'll make a "What in my purse?" video next. ;)

Also, if you are an Anglophile, you may enjoy my new (and first) Cath Kidston bag!

Happy Wednesday!

Homeschooling Preschool: Charlotte Mason Method




When Evie was just two years old, I remember people asking if we were going to enroll her in preschool. I have to admit, it surprised me that preschool was even available for children that young.

I knew long before she was born that we would more than likely home school. Its something both my husband and I wanted. Family time and having the ability to instill the belief and character virtues that we find important were vital to us. At the same time, we also believed in giving children freedom and flexibility to find their learning styles to better suite their individual needs.

I spent months pouring over web sites, reading books and studying curriculum. The thing that really stood out to me was the "out of the box" thinking that many Montessori and Charlotte Mason educationist shared via the web. One article in particular that stood out to me reiterated something I had felt all along: we put too much pressure on young toddlers and preschoolers.

So, I put away thoughts of curriculum and spent time reading, playing, coloring and simply enjoying my children.

But, as with anything, there comes a time when a little structure is necessary.  I waited for the cue's that I felt were necessary to really dive into preschool with my oldest.

Now, we follow a very light-hearted schedule and focus on areas that come natural to curious preschoolers: numbers, letters, drawing, art, nature, etc.

My focus is nurturing their heart, head, hands and home with simple and fun based learning.

Here's a simple breakdown:

Heart: We rotate between Psalms 121 & 23 every morning and an age appropriate Bible story or devotional. This is our "Morning Basket" time, and my oldest loves it!

Head: We read inspirational books together following a Five in a Row method. We also watch videos and talk about character building lessons from each story.

Hands: We use this time to inspire their creativity through play dough, coloring, drawing, building forts (with daddy), painting, etc. This is also the time I choose to play hymns, classical or jazz music.

Home: I believe children should take ownership of their home so that home is more than just a place to rest their head. They help me decorate, clean, bake, and make things cozy (all age appropriate of course). They love helping and it gives them a since of pride over their space. It's just a few minutes sprinkled here and there, but it is so worth it.

The rest of their day is filled with free play, being outside and quiet time. We also love watching movies and dancing to silly music. There is time for blocks and My Little Pet shop. When it comes to these methods of learning, to me, it is all about balance and finding what works best for YOUR family. I'm a Type A, introvert/extrovert and I NEED schedules and routines. Following this loose schedule and channeling the CM/Montessori style has given me just the recipe that works for US.

What are your methods for schooling children? I love learning new ideas!

Travel Love: Walking In Memphis



We took the girls to Memphis for an overnight trip, and they loved it! When we arrived at the hotel, Evie gasped, "Oh, Thank you so much!!". She was so excited, she couldn't settle down enough to sleep until well after midnight. But, I'll take less sleep when I end up with sweet pictures of happy girls. They really are so much fun at this stage because EVERYTHING is amazing and new to them.



On the first night, we ate at the cheesecake factory (Seriously, one of my favorite places on earth!), took the girls on a carousel ride, and then Ikea. Our hotel was across the street from Ikea! Perfect.



The next morning, we headed to a local donut spot, Howard's Donuts. I always spend hours researching places to eat. The donut shop got rave reviews, and I can see why. I thought they were super moist and melt in your mouth. Evie and Ella loved it, too! I had the coconut donut, and it literally tasted like a giant slice of coconut pie. It was that rich and delicious!


After that, we headed to the local Botanic Gardens. I had no idea that Memphis had a gardens, so I was pleasantly surprised. I wish we had spent more time there, and I would love to visit again. It was such a fun outing! Besides the usually garden fan fare, they had a built in playground, tiny play houses, swings, and fun little areas for kids to play in. They went crazy!!


We also stopped at the Bass Pro Shop, walked along the river, and hit up Ugly Mug Coffee. I had an iced Salted Caramel Latte, and it was SO good. A bit more on the sweet side, so next time, I'll have to order half sweetener.

Places to note:

Howard's Donuts - Cordova, TN
Ugly Mug Coffee- Memphis, TN
Cheesecake Factory-Wolfchase Mall