Thursday, June 11, 2015

Things I Love // 6.11.15


  • Our "Star Writer" ~ I'm just bursting with happiness over the recognition G received this week honoring her love of writing. This girl. Honestly. If her nose isn't in a book, then her pencil is scratching furiously across the page. My wish is that she always identify as a "writer" and an "author." 
  • Getting a night away with this handsome fellow ~ Greg and I had the pleasure of celebrating a terrific couple in a beautiful NC mountain setting with tons of fun people last weekend. It was so much fun! Cheers to the Greenes! 
  • Making the LAST school lunch of the year this morning ~ Goodbye alarm clock. See you in the fall!
  • The neighborhood block party that my friend (and neighbor) Jenn just organized last weekend ~ There are so many new families in the 'hood that our 2+ years here makes us almost vintage (not really). In any event, I'm so happy about all the kids (babies too!), great families, and fun folks all around us! Cheers to new friends! 
  • The new lamp I scored last week ~ Found this gem at Home Goods and couldn't have been more thrilled to replace the IKEA stand-in we'd been living with for too long. I did adjust the position a bit since the picture (turned it toward the bar cart a touch) and I am working to implement my friend Amy's solution for the cord exposure--just haven't located the right clips yet. Overall, I LOVE it! 
  • These sandals for little girls ~ So stinking cute. They are great in-person. Just enough of the "fringed" trend--but not over-doing it. AND the way the straps work out, even my pickiest little girl could not complain about anything rubbing her skin in an irritating way. WIN.
  • The sweet little "Thanks for Helping Me Grow" terrarium that each little Jonesie made for their teacher this year ~ We had a lot of fun. Check out the tutorial here
  • The Cardinal Lane Bookfair Summer Warehouse Sale ~ If you live in the Charlotte area, you must check this out! They do two warehouse sales a year (one before the holidays and one at the start of summer break). They feature preschool, children's, and teen books and activities at 40% off the cover price. The sale is happening NOW through June 16th. 9:00am - 5:00pm Weekdays, 10:00am - 3:00pm Saturday, (closed on Sunday). EVERYONE is welcome. If you're anywhere near Southend, check it out: 327-B West Tremont Avenue (look for the sidewalk sign). 
  • Learning that cucumbers do NOT go in the refrigerator ~ Seriously. Ever since reading a recent article about storing cucumbers at room temperature, my cucumber shelf-life has more than doubled. It's amazing! Now I'm almost never short on cucumber slices to shovel Root's Thai Coconut Curry Hummus into my mouth with. Yahoo! 
  • My new summer shades
  • Geneva's favorite song on the Taylor Swift 1989 album ~ I Know Places. Good stuff.  My favorite song too. Plus, when she went to the concert with her girlfriend this week, she chose to buy her sister (left at home) a souvenir t-shirt too. (No prompting!) 
  • These great pants ~ Super lightweight and easily paired with some platform sandals and a cute top. Effortless and fun. AND on sale!
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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Things I Love Thursday // 6.3.15

  • Sanctuary Day Trip Jacket ~ From none other than… my latest Stitch Fix delivery --This jacket is lighter than it appears online, so versatile, and super flattering. I'm looking forward to adding it to my spring/summer easy go-tos. 
  • Magnolia | Firefly Season ~ This is our 3rd early summer in the southeast and I still get absolutely giddy over the first firefly sightings of the season. Coinciding with this amazing occurrence is my second most-favorite of Mother Nature's southeast delights: magnolia blossoms as big as my head! 
    A little shy and not fully bloomed, this beauty needed some coaxing to show you her heart.
  • This quick-dry/top-coat polish ~ Thank you to my friend Gretchen for gifting me a bottle of this magic potion. You would not believe how great it works! Typically, my at-home (or even salon --for that matter) manicures last about 2 days before I manage to chip the first nail. Since using Seche Vite, they have lasted a minimum of 6 days, chip-free. You can use it with any polish and it comes off easily with standard polish remover.
  • Winning a $50 gift card to one of my favorite small jewelry designers (I've posted about them before here) ~ I wasn't even trying to win anything. Ex Voto Vintage automatically runs their contest every month. So fun! I already have the Woodley Cuff and the Wrapping Bracelet (made from a vintage necktie and pictured below). Wonder what I'll pick next…?  :) 
  • Philosophy's Purity Made Simple one-step facial cleanser ~ I have been up and down the beauty aisle and back again trying all kinds of (much more expensive sometimes) face cleansers. I've finally settled on the fact that this product really is just right for me. The best part is how easy it is to use--just a small amount massaged onto a damp face for about 1 minute, rinse, and pat dry. Done. On top of that, the results are amazing. I can't believe that such a gentle cleanser can remove so much more product than anything else I've ever used. And because it's toning and hydrating, it leaves my skin softer and brighter every time I use it. 
  • Futo Buta ~ The new ramen place in Southend is absolutely delicious. We went as a family on Sunday afternoon and enjoyed a tasty meal on the sunny patio. The Low Country Smoked Pork Belly Buns, Kurobuta Pork and Golden Scallop Gyoza, and both Ramens we selected (Shoyu and Miso) were devoured. If you get a chance, I highly recommend that you give it a go. I can't wait to get back and try everything else! 
     
  • Ulta's Twice as Nice mascara ~ Here's what I love: it doesn't smudge or clump, it lengthens and thickens my lashes like crazy, it has two applicators -a large one for upper lashes and and very narrow one for bottom lashes, it's relatively inexpensive.
  • Celebrating Sarah's birthday at the spa ~ Any excuse to visit the spa is a good one. It's especially nice however, when the occasion is to honor a great person and to revel in a whole day of relaxing, sipping, talking, and laughing. We even extended the celebration to an impromptu birthday toast to close out the weekend. Happy birthday, Sarah! Thanks for spending your special day with me!
  • Using the iPhone app Mosaic to create memory books ~ There's not a whole lot of photo printing that goes on in my house anymore. Even less common than the printing, is organizing and putting together photo albums. On top of that, 99% of our pictures live on our smart phones. I don't remember how I came across it, but someone introduced me to Mosiac and I've been trying to utilize it whenever appropriate since then. The app helps you create a stunning little (7 x 7) coffee table book that arrives 4 days after submission. The books are beautifully packaged for gift-giving (or keeping for yourself). One of the best features of the software is how simple it is to use. You are strictly limited to 20 photos--which I find is a really good thing. There's even an option for adding text. I have made Mosaics for family trips, special events, and birthday presents. Grandparents love them too! 
  • The new badminton set I found at Costco this week ~ We set it up in the yard on Monday and it has seen a lot of action since then. With the girls in the "sweet spot" and now that the weather is nice (when it's not thundering), it's the perfect weekend or evening activity for the whole family. Plus who doesn't love to say "shuttlecock"? 
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Things I Love Thursday // 5.21.15

  • Geneva reading The Hobbit ~ Not just any ol' paperback, but the "picture book style" copy that belonged to my grandmother. She left it to Geneva right before she died. It's an 11" x 11", fully illustrated, unabridged, hardback that was published in 1977. I can remember seeing it on my grandmother's bookshelf when I was a kid. Geneva was only 3 when her "GGMa" (great-grandmother) inscribed it to her, but she already loved books and my grandmother knew it would be greatly appreciated someday. It was the perfect gift. We've kept it high on the bookshelf since then, until Geneva pulled it out the other day. She's been engrossed ever since. It definitely brings a smile to my heart to see it in her hands. 
  • This jumpsuit from the Gap ~ I ordered it online--so I couldn't be sure… Turns out, it's great! Very comfortable, just the right length, and easy to dress up or down. Fun, fun.
  • Progress ~ That is, the progress I was inspired to make on my new gallery wall project in the living room. Real inspiration arrived when I agreed to host a neighborhood wine gathering at our house (after I had halfway begun and stalled out on the new "look"). Nothing like a deadline to get you motivated! It's currently about 85% finished. There are 2 empty frames and 3 empty spots… but it's coming together the way I envisioned it would and I don't want to rush it or force pieces in that I don't LOVE. So… it remains a work-in-progress. (But the progress has been good!) 
  • The Thai Coconut Curry hummus from local (Asheville) purveyor, Roots ~ Wow! The flavor is very authentic and so delicious. I'm a huge fan of Green Curry whenever I have Thai food and this hummus has all the flavor without the guilt. It's satisfyingly complex. You can taste the coconut, lemongrass, lime, basil, curry… I did enjoy it on cucumber slices and crackers but was definitely tempted to just eat it with a spoon!
  • The new gold-finish MacBook ~ Swoon.  
  • Our little athlete ~ Last Saturday started with an early soccer game and rolled right into a quick wardrobe change, followed closely by a jazz/tap combo recital. It was Piper Day and we had so much fun watching our girl do what she does. :) 
  • Trader Joe's Toasted & Salted Truffle Marcona Almonds ~ OMGoodness. If only I could live off of Roots hummus and these nuts. Please try them--unless you're not a fan of truffles, of course. (In which case, I might have to reevaluate our friendship.) 
  • My new wallet ~ I've been carrying around the same wallet for several years and I finally got upgraded on Mother's Day. My new wallet is bright and cheerful, spacious and organized, and very versatile. Because it's a poppy-orange/red color, it goes with everything: my favorite navy bag, brown, black… Ta-da! Fun and "neutral" too.  
  • The cooking class I took with my friend Sarah last night ~ We had so much fun (and yummy food) at Chef Alyssa's Kitchen in Southend. We made Banana Leaf Wrapped Wild Caught Wahoo with Ginger + Cucumber Salad, Yucca Chips with Cilantro and Lime, and Raspberry Mousse with Almond Crumble. So fresh-tasting and delicious! I can't wait to steam something else in banana leaves soon. Stay tuned… 
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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Things I Love Thursday // 5.14.15

  • Spending a fun-filled weekend with friends at the lake ~ We we so grateful to be invited to spend Mother's Day weekend with some of our friends at their lake house in the mountains. Our kids all get along terrifically and the grownups do too! We had gourmet food, lots of laughs, sunshine, adventure, and relaxation. 
  • Having Grandma Lulu here for a visit ~ When we got home from the lake on Sunday evening, we picked Greg's mom up from the airport and have enjoyed her company this week. We've had such a great time catching up, visiting, and loving one another. 
  • Finally spraying down and wiping away most of the tree pollen so that we can enjoy both the front porch and the screened patio ~ One of the best ways to spend a spring evening is sipping a glass of chilled wine in the lovely Charlotte outdoors. (It's always a bonus when the Olympic swimming team is practicing across the street too.)
  • Our recent neighborhood dinner at Lumiere ~ Four couples, at least as many bottles of wine, pre-dinner Derby-watching/Julep-sipping, foie gras, scallops, soft-shelled crab, creme brûlée… It was a decadent evening for sure! 
  • Purging ~ I've been on a bit of a spring-cleaning kick around here and it feels pretty good. So far, I've tackled half my closet. There's still a lot to accomplish but I'm trying to be really thoughtful and thorough --so it's taking some extra time. I can't wait to get started on the girls' closets! I'm sure my husband would prefer I focus my energy on the basement. We shall see… 
  • Artful Kiddos 
  • The fact that my indoor plants are doing so well ~ I think I might be growing up (or at least growing a bit of a green thumb in my older age). I've managed to keep alive (and thriving even) a large fig tree, a gorgeous plant arrangement (sent to me over a year ago), and my latest craze: the terrarium. Yahoo!
  • My new take on veggie (or charcuterie) trays ~ I recently read someplace that veggie trays and cheese boards should be "messier" than they are usually presented. Let the elements mix together a bit and the result will be more pleasing to the eye. I tried it yesterday and I'm never going back to my A-type presentation. 
  • Introducing the kids to Virgin Strawberry Daiquiris ~ Remember what a treat these were when you were kid? (Maybe that's just me because my mom was a bartender?) They're the ultimate slurpee. Apparently, given the size, ordering them from our favorite Mexican restaurant was a great idea too. 
  • Rosé, rosé, rosé ~ Needs no explanation. #summerwater
  • My new Rombauer Winery Govino wineglasses ~ A delightful surprise from my friend Betsy in California (this girl really gets me), these will get some serious use this spring/summer on the aforementioned porches. 
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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Recipe Review | Lamb Burgers + Feta-Mint Spread

From the April 2015 issue of Cooking Light magazine, this recipe is a great dinner for outdoor dining on a warm summer evening. Feel free to modify the cooking method based on your preference (outdoor grill, grill pan on the stovetop, or sauté pan on the stovetop). 
Lamb Burgers + Feta-Mint Spread
(via Cooking Light, April 2015)
~
What you need:
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon graded lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
8 ounces lean ground lamb
8 ounces 90% lean ground sirloin
Cooking spray (if cooking indoors)
4 buns
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup baby arugula
~
What to do:

  1. Combine first 9 ingredients in a bowl, stirring just until combined. Divide lamb mixture into 4 equal portions; shape each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.
  2. Heat a grill pan or saute pan over medium-high heat (or get your outdoor grill heated up). Coat pan (if using) with cooking spray. Add patties and grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Set patties aside and toast/grill buns in the pan or on the grill (about 1 minute--I skipped this part because I used a sauté pan). 
     
  3. Combine yogurt, cheese, mint, and juice in a small bowl. Place patties on bottom halves of buns; top evenly with feta mixture, arugula, and top halves of buns. 
Enjoy!
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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Things I Love Thursday // 4.30.15

  • My Girls' Weekend in Boston ~ The best part was spending time with my girlfriend, talking, laughing, sleeping in, talking, exploring, talking… Other highlights included some amazing meals (O Ya was hands down my favorite of the trip; however Figs, Neptune Oyster, Bronwyn --and even our room service were all pretty fantastic!), a little sightseeing, shopping, and… (my next favorite thing). 
  • The Laura Hooper Calligraphy Workshop ~ It lived up to all the expectations I had set. We were in an amazing space, surrounded by lovely things, sipping prosecco and nibbling treats while learning the basics of traditional calligraphy. Our instructor was very informative, helpful, encouraging, and paced the lesson very well. It's ok if you think I'm a nerd because I am. 
  • Watching the monkeygirls have fun with the throwback Cap Bombs I found for them in Boston ~ I brought a few little treats home for the girls and the old school cap bombs were the biggest hit. Literally. Especially fun in after the sun sets and you can see the spark!
  • The new terrarium I made for our living room ~ The girls and I made Greg a terrarium for his birthday a while ago. If you ever decide to make one, you'll find out that you end up with a lot of left-over supplies. I finally got around to putting them to use. I'm so pleased with the way it turned out. A great tutorial can be found here
  • Lipstick ~ Inspired by a story Gretchen told me on our trip and coupled with the fact that I received an article from Real Simple called The Best Drugstore Lipsticks to to Buy Now, I decided to give it a go. I have pretty much always been a lip gloss kinda girl. However, I'm pleased to report that I selected two new sticks and I love them both! This one is a nude. This one is a pink
  • Watching Greg play football with the girls
  • Piper's Rooster ~ Isn't he adorable? Admit it. You love him too. 
  • The new used light fixture that now hangs in our narrow (previously dimly lit) staircase ~ I found this lovely brass light fixture used and bought it for $15. It needed cleaning up and new cap piece. (The original had been run over in the garage where it lived for many years, I was told.) It replaced the bare bulb that used to light our way. Yay! 
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Things I Love Thursday // 4.23.15

(Consider this the "Speaking of…" issue. It wasn't planned at first. Then I started writing and it started happening --so I just went with it. I don't know. Apparently, I'm in a mood.)
  • Plenty of shampoo ~ Every once in awhile I'm struck by how fortunate I am, how beautiful my life is, how differently my kids are growing up than I did. I could go on and on. I'm most struck by this feeling sometimes, in a moment of clarity, when I realize that I don't have to add water to the end of the shampoo bottle to make it last a few more days until my paycheck comes. The life I've built with Mr. Jones exceeds any expectations I may have articulated to myself that go way beyond a full shampoo bottle (Think: healthy children, meaningful relationships, embracing adventure, enjoying one another and valuing our true partnership… ); however, a fresh bottle of lovely shampoo waiting under the bathroom sink really knocks me off my feet sometimes.
  • Looking forward to a girls' weekend in Boston with my hysterically funny, witty, spontaneous, fun-loving, wine-sipping, creative, lovely… (Are you barfing a little bit in your mouth yet? Really though, she's something else.) friend, Gretchen ~ Yahoo!
  • The weather lately ~ Sunshine, sunshine, sunshine. And speaking of throwing up… Spring has thrown up all over our yard and it's absolutely lovely. 
  • Flonase ~ Speaking of Spring… I'm delighted with the fact that not only is Flonase working fabulously for me and my nose this season, it's also available over the counter and at Costco! Hurrah! I think the real secret is to get ahead of the season. I started taking my Flonase regularly in March. I know the season is still young… but I'm more hopeful than I've ever been to enjoy a mild allergy season. 
  • Our recent afternoon with these West Coast Boys ~ A few of our great friends from Oregon and California were on this coast last weekend for a golf trip with the hubby. While the girls and I didn't get to spend nearly enough time with them, it was fun to have a few hours Sunday afternoon to catch up. 
  • Being invited to dinner ~ Speaking of Greg being away for the weekend… It was so nice that our friends invited the girls and I to their house on Friday evening for an amazing meal. The company, food, wine, and patio were delightful. 
  • This La Cornue Chateau Range ~ Speaking of incredible meals… Imagine what I could make with this! Swoon. Of course it's never going to happen but a girl can dream, right? 
  • Pedicures ~ It's not very often that I sneak away for an afternoon pedicure but when I do, I'm always so relaxed and I enjoy every moment. (Especially now that I've found a place that does not do the weird calf-punching thing. Seriously. Stop that.) 
  • This new stationery design ~ Speaking of punching… Look at this punchy little peony note card I just came up with and listed in the shop. (Ok. That was clearly a stretch--but I'm at the end and the ball has already rolled away!) 
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