Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Treasury: Easter Basket Ideas for Tweens/Teens

Do you still put together an Easter Basket for your teenagers? I do. I think I'll continue doing this until they get married. Am I crazy? Don't answer that. I've tailored the list below for younger teens and tried to keep it fairly gender-neutral. What would you add?

1. Salty and Sweet Goodies: Don't limit the bunny to just candy. Teens like salty snacks too.
2. Pinch Me Therapy Dough: Comes in lots of great scents.
3. Gift Certificate for a Facial: Take the opportunity to get in front of acne with good info and healthy habits.
4. Beach/Pool Sandals: These always look fun in a basket and they're useful too!
5. Shape Shifting Box: I just heard about this cool new "toy" --it would be terrific for any fidgeters you might have.
6. New or Vintage Vinyl: Too bad Harry Styles' new album doesn't drop until May...  
7. Journal/Notebook/Sketchbook: Encourage the creativity, organization, and day-dreaming!
8. Gift Cards: Chipotle, coffee shop, donuts, favorite fast food... The list is long.
9. Soda/Beverage Treat: In NC, maybe it's Cheerwine or how about a Frappuccino? Make it fun.
10. Anecdote Candles: These are snarky and fun --plus they smell great!
11. "Get Out Of Chores Free" Coupons: For busy days or lazy days!
12. Book or Magazine: Thanks to TikTok, books among teens are having a field day again. If you don't have a big reader, maybe find a specialty magazine that speaks to your kiddo's interests.
13. Event Tickets: Go as big as you want with this (music, sports, movie, live theatre).
14. Ball Cap or Visor: Favorite sports team, clothing brand, luxury brand --it's a great way to encourage your kid to keep those peachy cheeks from too much sun damage.

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Things I Love Thursday // 3.31.22

Custom Converse

Seems like everyone has a cool pair of high-tops this year and I didn't want to be left out. I love the look with joggers, dresses, and jeans. Decided to go with a classic: Converse. I designed the perfect pair for me (off white with a neutral accent) and I'm so happy with how they turned out. This platform style runs true to size.

Orzo & White Bean Soup

Creamy White Bean Lemon Pesto Orzo Soup is another hit from Half Baked Harvest that my family absolutely loves. I make this every few weeks on Meatless Monday and the girls are able to take leftovers to school in their lunches (keep a little extra broth on hand to help with the consistency of next-day servings). 

Amazon Slides

These "house slippers" are amazing. And yes, I wear them outside of the house too. They are squishy and durable --I'm a big fan. Geneva calls them my Ojīchan sandals (which means "grandpa" in Japanese). I call them fun.

Free Little Art Gallery

I'm sure you've heard of a Little Free Library --but have you ever come across a Free Little Art Gallery?? My city is so cool! The basic concept is just like the little libraries: the Free Little Art Gallery movement invites passers-by to pause for an accessible and unexpected art encounter. Take a piece, leave a piece, or both! They're gaining popularity. Here's a Washington Post article about where the idea started and what's behind it.

Allergy Medication

Wow. This season has been off the charts. I'm grateful for modern medicine.

Coupon Gifts

One of my all-time favorite gifts (holiday, birthday, Mother's Day) is a COUPON from my kids. Most recently, I cashed-in a coupon for "Dinner" and Piper planned, executed, and (mostly) cleaned up a delicious meal of pork chops, jasmine rice, and green beans. Delightful!

Sweet Peas

If you've been hanging around here for long, you're sure to know that I love some simple stems in a vase. I've blogged about grocery store blooms, my appreciation for Trader Joe's flowers, and even cuttings from the yard. I'm so tickled with the way these sweet peas fan out from one of my favorite vases (a lovely gift from a great friend).

Oscar Party

I'm not going to comment on the drama (pun intended) --but I would love to share some details of the lovely party I attended Sunday evening (in my PAJAMAS). The hostesses went all out with the Oscar theme and the guests went all out with their contributions of appetizers, sips, and sweets. We met new people and visited with good friends, played games, made predictions, and laughed a lot. It was fantastic!

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Things I Love Thursday // 3.3.22

Spring-Like Weather

Which means front porch-sitting, one of my favorite pastimes. Our neighborhood is lively with cyclists, students, and all of the dogs out walking with their people. Nothing better than cool sips, background music, conversation (or a book), and warm sunshine from the best vantage point. We've had two of these patio sets for a few years now and while the cushions have had to be replaced, they have held up so well and I just love the way they look. Cheers!

(Indoor/Outdoor Rug)

MLS Soccer in our City

This weekend is the Charlotte FC home opener and the stadium is sold out. The weather should be fantastic and the Joneses are pumped. It's time to start learning the chants (Banks, Beer, and Soccer is already my favorite). I'm all in.

They haven't said dogs are allowed in the stadium yet
but we're all hoping the announcement is coming soon! 

The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

I rated The Flatshare 5/5 stars because it was delightful on all fronts. It's maybe not the best book I've ever read (I actually listened to it and the accents were brilliant --highly recommend) but it's certainly one of the books I've most enjoyed. The characters were fun, layered, and likable. There was tension and story. I cared about what happened and was humored and entertained the whole way through. Check it out.

Hoisin Ginger Noodles (Milk Street Magazine Jan-Feb, 2022)

I've made this recipe so many times that I know it by heart and make it by feel. It keeps in the fridge for several days and it's easy for the girls to pack for school lunches. I've added browned ground chicken and shredded rotisserie chicken on different occasions --but it's delicious without meat as well. (I liked the ground chicken better and when I add a protein, I just increase the sauce by a bit.) Boil a package of linguine noodles according to directions. While cooking, make the sauce in a large bowl by mixing: 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce, 1/4 cup chili-garlic sauce or sriracha (this adds a LOT of heat --reduce the quantity, if needed), 2 tablespoons sesame oil, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon grated ginger (or a giant squeeze from the bottle). Drain and rinse the noodles and add to the bowl, tossing with the sauce and 3 green onions --thinly sliced. Garnish with 1/4 cup salted, roasted, peanuts. Enjoy!

{image via Milk Street}

Playing Dress-Up with my Friends

My girlfriends have a hilarious Instagram account where they dress up like the characters of some of their favorite television programs. Seriously good fun. Occasionally, they invite a guest to appear in one of their posts and last weekend it was ME! If you've not watched The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window yet --look away! But if you have, please enjoy my Buell! LOL

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Things I Love Thursday // 2.24.22

I hope February has been treating you well! Here's a little recap of some recent loves.

My New Haircut

When I tell you this is the best haircut of my life, it is not hyperbole. Granted, the "before" picture is pretty awful. It was wash day and I'd been wearing it up --so don't ask me what was happening with the whole front section... but look at that "AFTER"! There is literally nothing different about my makeup in the after pic --I just legitimately look that much better. LOL! The magician who did this is Dhiran Mistry. New(ish) to Charlotte and taking appointments at Charles Proper & Co when he's not traveling back to NYC monthly to continue servicing his clients there. I'm so very sorry if you live someplace else. Call me to plan your next visit and we will work around Dhiran's schedule. ;) 

Super Bowl LVI with the Best of Friends

Over the top much? Always with this crowd! The football was amazing (though, not the outcome I'd been hoping for), the halftime show was insane, the boutique hotel was perfection, the restaurants and destinations were incredible (the WINE!)... but the laughs, late night visits in the courtyard, and CARaoke sessions with these fantastic people were the ultimate. So appreciative of the generosity and once-in-a-lifetime experiences --and absolutely grateful for the friendships.

A Well-Stocked Mini Bar

Cheers to indulgences. Did I mention the boutique hotel in Los Angeles? Well, Hollywood to be exact. The Prospect Hollywood was on-point with every single detail. If you're planning a trip anywhere near there, I can't say enough about the property, finishes, and management. They spoiled us rotten.

Visiting my Dad

Look at this handsome lunch date! Oregon is not nearly as close to North Carolina as I would like it to be. We get back as a family at least once a year but it's really not enough. I made a quick trip to visit my dad at the end of January. It's been hard on everyone since my stepmom died and I needed to spend some time and check in on Papa Clyde (as the girls call him). We walked and talked (in frigid wind), had a delicious dinner at my sister's new house with more of the family, got him his Covid booster, Wordled together, and enjoyed our favorite pastime: eating sushi! I miss him very much. We text every single morning to brag or whine about our Wordle score and lament in the fact that we can't spend more time together. Until June, Dad! I love you.

Gingery Cabbage Rolls with Pork and Rice

Wow. These are a new favorite of ours. Four out of four Joneses approve! This 5-star recipe from NYTimes Cooking is easier than you'd think. I was a little intimidated at first about handling the cabbage but the process is simple and fairly fail-safe. Even though there's a little rice inside, I've come to serve them over white rice because it's great for soaking up the velvety sauce and drizzle of sesame oil that you add to the top. Even without the rice, these are surprisingly filling and taste even better the next day. Note: assembling the rolls is simple and quick --but then they bake for 45 minutes (so plan for that, unlike me, unless you want to eat LATE).  Let me know if you try them!

The Ordinary: Peeling Solution

Don't let the color turn you off --or the name... this stuff is amazing. Technically a chemical peel, this solution is a wash-off mask that gets rid of dead skin cells and debris. When used correctly (not too often and not left on your skin longer than recommended), the result is absolutely and immediately noticeable. It leaves my face feeling fresh and bright but I never use it more than twice a week. So effective is this treatment, that used incorrectly, you might end up looking raw and red-faced (even after you rinse it off). The best part? It's like $8 at Target, Sephora, and Ulta and a little bit goes a long way. If you'd like to read more about it from the company, click here. (I find the website a little sciencey and dry.) I loved this article in Glamour which quickly convinced me to try it myself.

The Produce Box

I've done these before and they've been both great and also overwhelming (What does one do with all of these turnips?) but it was time to try it again. Piper had an assignment at school recently in which she calculated our family's carbon footprint. Turns out, the Joneses behave as though we have 8.5 Earths --instead of just the one. Greg's electric car arrived last week so I'm happy to check sometime big off the list. Additionally, we're making a few small changes around here to both have (a small but) immediate impact and also keep our minds on environmental issues. Two big changes (besides the car): we are going meatless on Mondays and ordering a majority of our produce (and meat) from local sources. So far, we've had 3 deliveries from The Produce Box. The best things about this service are the email reminders and ease with which I can build a box based on personal meal planning, or make simple swaps from the boxes readily offered. Everything so far has been tasty and beautiful. You wouldn't believe the strawberries we got yesterday --incredibly sweet and juicy! If you're in NC, I encourage you to look into this service --unless you're already an avid shopper of the farmers' markets. If you're elsewhere, these services are pretty easy to find!

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

I never read Eat, Pray, Love and I don't think I ever will. I'm not sure how Elizabeth Gilbert's 2019 novel, City of Girls got on my radar --but I'm so glad it did. The tag reads, "a delicious novel of glamour, sex, and adventure, about a young woman discovering that you don't have to be a good girl to be a good person." I loved listening to (on Audible) the story of 19 year old Vivian Morris in 1940s NYC --recalled by her at the age of eighty-nine. Five stars! Have you read this one?  

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Things I Loved Over the Holidays // late-December to early-January

Halfway through January?! It's been a minute since my last post. Our holidays were relaxing, quiet, indulgent, and Covid-free. Who could ask for more? The following is a shit-ton of sweetness that I had planned to share several times and never got around to... until now.

Cake in a cup

Take a peek at this sweet surprise! Piper joined a club at school this year that is a part of a larger, national organization "Cookies for Kids' Cancer" which hosts bake sales in support of  pediatric cancer research centers. She scoped out Pinterest and came across this sweet idea to make a mini-cake trifle in a plastic cup. They turned out very cute and were so simple (though, a little time consuming). With the re-rise of positive Covid numbers this season, keep this idea in your back pocket for occasions when individual servings would be appreciated. They're incredibly versatile with different flavors, toppings, and even baked goods (consider brownies, crumbled cookie chunks, or pre-bought angle food).

The Nutcracker

What a JOY it was to see the Nutcracker this year! I haven't taken the girls to see this show since 2013 when Geneva famously said upon leaving the theatre (in her 7 year old voice), "Ugh. Please tell me we don't have to do THAT again. I can't believe they tried telling a story without using any words!" Ha! Well, with maturity comes a new appreciation. We all absolutely loved the show. It was especially amazing to watch Piper's sweet friend, Mary, in the role of Clara.

Dinner Parties and Gathering with Friends

'Twas the season for dressing up and indulging! After months of low-key to no gatherings, it seemed like everyone was ready to get after it this holiday (pre-Omicron, that is). I certainly was and I did! Thanks to the gracious and lovely hostesses who put on the most delightful soirées --giving me a reason to get out of my jammies.

Can we always just tie our napkins like my friend, Loren?

Lifter Gloss

These have been favorites for a long time --ever since my friend, Gretchen, introduced me. These "holiday" colors were a go-to this season and are honestly super sheer and versatile for any time of year. Here I have three wrapped to gift in a "White Elephant Favorite" exchange I had with girlfriends. Affordable and luxurious. Who doesn't love that?

Telling Her Stories

This girl has always been great at providing a debrief of her day. Here she was on the verge of tweendom and in the second shot, on the verge of 15. She sometimes still confides in me --but for the sensitive stuff, she has her dog. :) In all seriousness, if you're looking to find ways to start conversations with your tweens and teens (or improve conversations with really, anyone) look no further than Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen by my friend, Michelle Icard. It's developmentally appropriate for kids to start pulling away during middle school on their journey toward becoming fully functioning adults --and it might seem like it's easier to just stop trying to talk to them altogether, but they really DO still want you to engage. Figuring out a "new language" and approach for continued and better conversations is what Michelle specializes in teaching parents everywhere.

Anniversary with Michelle

Speaking of my friend, Michelle Icard, in December of 2020 she came to me with a crazy idea: to help her out with her social media platforms. I was like, "I don't do that." And she was all, "Right... but I think you should." It's been such a fun job and my boss is so cool! We share as many laughs as we do strategies and plans and she never (outwardly) expresses frustration when I miss every single typo. Cheers to her continued success --because, as I've already mentioned, parents everywhere gain so much wisdom and insight from her work.


Holiday Concert

What a pleasure it is to listen to the Myers Park High School Bands perform! My freshman French Horn player is in the Symphonic band and my sophomore flutist plays in the Wind Ensemble. Their band teacher also directs a super impressive Jazz band that is really something else! For those of you listening to your little ones squeak out "notes" on their new instruments of choice, do grit your teeth through the early stages because the quality grows with the kiddos and before long, they will knock your socks off!

The One by John Marrs & Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Wintrop

Here are two quick reads that I found totally enjoyable and entertaining through the holiday break. In The One, John Marrs presents a story in the not-so-distant future where DNA technology allows a simple cotton swab of the cheek to match you with your scientifically accurate romantic match. Sounds too good to be true --but it's not --until it's true but no longer good. I didn't want to put it down. Very Sincerely Yours was a sugary-sweet romance that read like candy and was just what I wanted for the moment. I enjoy a variety of stories and this one fit the bill for light and fun just right!

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 12.9.21

I hope these last few weeks before the end of the year find you with ample time to enjoy the things that bring a smile to your face and some happiness in your heart.

Easy Peasy Family Photo Sessions

Last time we had our pics done as a family was mid-2020 during the height of quarantine. My friend, Lillian Shamy (an amazing teacher at our former elementary school and fabulous part-time photographer), came to the house and sat us for some "porchtraits." Loved them. However, some of us had side parts and braces then so obviously we were due for some updates.

Walks (Pulls) with These Guys

The days are getting chilly but so far, we're managing to stay mostly dry. Ben is absolutely terrible on his leash (totally our fault for not being consistent) but we traded constant monitoring and corrections in favor of being able to enjoy each other's company, carry a beverage, and walk side-by-side. Worth it.

Building a Charcuterie Board

I think this is becoming my jam (pun intended). There is something so satisfying about putting together a beautiful platter of deliciousness. It's almost as fun as eating it. Well, ok... maybe not THAT much fun --but still a lot. I feel like my boards get a little better every time. I have a few hot takes from professionals I've picked up along the way. Use a combo of cheeses (soft, semi-soft, and hard). Use a platter that has a bit of a lip or edge so you can really crowd everything together. Spread the color around. Add a few dishes with yumminess inside. Use fruit. FOLD or roll your meats. Use fresh herbs for fillers and color. Here are the details of this board (90% is from Trader Joe's). 
Meats: calabrese salame, prosciutto, capocollo, 
Cheeses: toscano drizzled with truffle oil and cracked pepper, sharp cheddar, Boursin, cambozola, cranberry-rolled goat cheese
Fruit: fresh grapes, dried apricots
Nuts: spicy pecans, rosemary marcona almonds
Crackers: beet crackers, pita chips, gluten-free nut crackers, fruit and nut crisps, truffle + black pepper Parmesan crisps, baguette
Dishes: sweet gherkins, Greek olive mix + pepper drops, Mike’s Hot Honey
Garnish: fresh basil, rosemary, and sage

Decorating the Tree

As is our tradition, we bought our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving but then we didn't end up have any time that matched up in all of our schedules to decorate until the last weekend. I'm so happy that my kids still want to decorate the tree with us. They're certainly a lot more helpful than they were when they were shorter! Another thing I love about decorating this year is how little else I did. After the tree came together, we hung the stockings from the mantle and put a wreath on the door. I think that's it for me this year. Of the 8 giant boxes my family carried up from the basement, five and half went back down full. Don't get me wrong, I am totally feeling the holiday spirit this year --I'm just passing on a lot of the work and all the extra STUFF. Besides, where on earth would I put all the houseplants to make space for Christmas tchotchkes? 

Richard Parker Here & Richard Parker There

If you've been around here lately you know that Ben (or covid puppy) has dominated the attention of nearly everyone in the household. He and Richard Parker are not friends yet. We're working on it... slowly. When Ben came home, Richard Parker almost immediately retreated to the basement (it's a cat palace down there, trust). He was fairly out of sight unless it was breakfast time or dinner time. Now, he's suddenly living his best life in all the places Ben is not allowed unsupervised --so literally anywhere except the kitchen. He spends his days sprawled out on one of the beds upstairs, lounges in the living room, and finds laps wherever he can. Welcome back to the rest of the house Richard Parker! We've missed you!

Organic Cotton Napkins

What is it with me and cloth napkins these days? Is this a side-effect of being almost 48? Honestly. I'm delightfully baffled. But every time I see images like these of adorable cotton or linen napkins I'm like, "Oh wow. YES. I need those." Let me tell you how often my family uses cloth napkins: two times a year. That's it. But I'll tell you something else: that better change soon because I'm not sure I can hold out much longer without these in my life.

Exploring Charlotte

My friend, Anne, is always up for a new experience. No idea how it got on her radar --but she threw out an invitation to join her on a holiday tour of "Historic Rosedale" on Tuesday. Her email to a few friends went a little something like this, "Hey, does anyone want to check this out with me? Tomorrow works on my end. Sorry for the short notice." Four of us were able to make it! We met up about 10 minutes outside of Uptown on the 9-acre property of Rosedale. It was a chilly but beautiful day and we had a guided tour of this family home built in 1815 that had been decorated throughout by Christmas scenes spanning the decades. The grounds and gardens are plentiful and I'm sure a visit in Spring would be beautiful. Thanks for your spontaneous idea, Anne!

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)