Thursday, April 15, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 4.15.21

BIG BEN, this Target Dress and Hat, and Fran's Lemon Jelly Sandals

Would you just look at this guy? He's growing like a weed. He's 12 weeks and almost 35 pounds. We are all smitten. He is having some health issues --so it seems like we might have some longterm (simple) care to throw into the mix... I will keep you posted. We've just done some preliminary tests so far. In less-stressful news, how cute is this outfit? HA! I love a dress that you can throw on the makes you look like you put way more effort into it than you actually did. That is this dress. I wish I could tell you the dress was still available; however, I bought it in the fall when I under-packed for a few weeks on the west coast and it is no longer online. But this one is similar and from the same brand, as is this one. The simple knit hat is easy to pair with nearly anything and you can't beat the price. I love having a hat for when the weather in wet. No matter the effort I put into styling my hair I can count on lots of frizz and tons of not-so-good volume even if the air is barely damp. I borrowed these adorable sandals from my friend, Fran, (as we were heading to a soggy outdoor gathering and every wedge I own has a very porous heel). I'm thinking I might have to pick up a pair of my own --they were incredibly comfortable and super cute! Necklace and bracelet stack are favorites too!

woman in a red dress and tan hat holding a big puppy

Planting the Garden

We put the garden in over Spring Break. It's been just under 2 weeks, it's already coming along so nicely! Last year we harvested tons of tomatoes, radishes, squash, and banana peppers. We had less success with the pole beans, carrots, strawberries, and kale. This year, we skipped the carrots and kale, planted a couple different onions, went for peas instead of beans, and are trying our hand at cantaloupe. I'll keep you posted!

side by side shot of a raised garden bed
Progress shot!

two teens talking in the garden

A Visit from Simone and Coco

One of my besties and her sweet tween, Charlotte (aka, Coco), came out from California to spend some of their spring break with us and to explore the Carolinas. We were so happy to have them --though it wasn't for nearly enough time! We dined, played, relaxed, sipped, and shopped. Simone also had this lovely plant potted into a perfectly-matched-to-my-kitchen-island pot when we visited the PlantHouse (formerly known as PlantBar).

two women posed with big smiles

bright green houseplant in a blue and grey vessel

Riverbend Retreat

Later, during our break, we had the pleasure of spending a couple days with our friends at their mountain retreat in Todd, NC. Their home is located on the New River and we passed our time playing games, kayaking, taking walks, watching our puppy torment their older and less-enthusiastic older dogs, hot tubbing, and snacking. We intended to stay a bit longer but as I just mentioned, we brought our new puppy along so it ended up being more work than we had in mind.

woman on a lawn chair with a puppy underneath sitting by a river

bernedoodle puppy


This movie is a beautiful look at what defines family and what makes a home. We laughed out loud throughout and during the in-between times, fell in love with each of the characters as they worked through their individual struggles. It's a quiet movie so if you're looking for big action and weighty drama this one might not be for you. 

Minari movie poster

Chicken Braised in Coconut Milk with Sweet Potatoes and Rice

An oldie but a goodie. This flavorful dish from Half Baked Harvest is one I will continue to come back to. It manages to be both hearty and bright. The Instant Pot method results in fork-tender chicken and sweet potatoes that are swimming in coconut milk seasoned with fresh cilantro, spices, shallots, and lime juice. Over rice and with a toasted piece of naan --this dinner is a winner! 

bowl of chicken recipe

Cupcake Surprise

I saw an amazing post on Instagram from a favorite follow: @Flourdeliz. In celebration of the quickly-approaching Derby, Liz had created a Bourbon Peach Sweet Tea cupcake. I mean, come on! I shared the post in my story and invited anyone to bake me a few. To my ultimate delight, the doorbell rang yesterday evening and our amazingly thoughtful friends were standing on the porch with a tray full of these cupcakes! I'm not even kidding. I was thunderstruck --and then I was very full (because I had to have TWO). Thank you, Sara, for your kindness. I mentioned at the top of this post that Ben has been having some health issues and yesterday was a doozy of a day. Sara could not have known just how much I needed a little sunshine in my day --and boy did she deliver!

peach cupcake with white frosting
Normally, the blooming azaleas would also make my "love list"; however, now that the sticky blossoms adhere to Ben's feet and bumbum like sap, they are struggling to make my list.


Basically, all of it. :) I bought these ankle-length, "90s Cheeky jeans" from Everlane (my first pair from there) and they exceeded my expectations. What I love: the waist is high enough to be current but not so high that I look and feel like an idiot; the pockets are set on the higher side which creates a more flattering look, the waist fits AND the hips fit too (hard to accomplish). The tank is as comfortable as they come --but the cut makes it feel a little more "elevated" than it really is. I bought the one pictured here at a tiny boutique in Bend, Oregon a couple summers ago but this one is similar. This "oatmeal" cardigan (named by me for the texture and color --though, it does come in a dozen other colors too) is perfect for the in-between season we're in (mine is a medium). These plastic sandals from Old Navy are cute and ridiculously easy to wear all day long (even with my high arches). Even the sunglasses are an inexpensive favorite --and they have a coupon code available at the moment!

woman posed in front of a brick wall
What is she looking at? What is making her smile? No one really knows.
(Foreheads in image are smaller than they appear.)

Easter Festivities 

You may have noticed that I skipped posting last week. Spring break plans, the Easter holiday, guests from out of town, and Ben seemed to fill up all of my days and I found I just didn't have enough time set aside. I did want to note how nice it was to spend the gorgeous Easter holiday with Greg's mom (who has recently relocated from California to Charlotte and now lives about a mile from us). After a delicious brunch to a newer restaurant in town, The Artisan's Palate (oh my gosh, GO! if you're in town), "Grandma Lulu" spoiled us with outdoor games, prizes, and a delicious ham dinner. We are beyond grateful to have her so close --especially knowing the girls will be heading off before we know it! Also, Ben was super handsome in his borrowed bunny ears, don't you agree?

Signage from The Artisan's Palate Restaurant

a mom with two teen daughters at brunch

bernedoodles puppy wearing bunny/carrot ear headband
"Bok bok"

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, April 1, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 4.1.21

More Progress on the Study

The walls are filling up and the shelves are getting styled! I found some simple black shelves at Marshall's last week and have been playing around with getting them styled. I just ordered a small piece of art so they will likely change again before I'm "done" --and really, I'm never "done." I also (finally) found a narrow shelf unit for under the window. I wanted a home for some books, cocktail accessories, plants, and photo albums but was having a hard time sourcing something vintage/second-hand that was the right size. The unit I ended up getting is from Overstock and it was very easy to put together. It looks quite handsome too. We picked up a couple small beverage tables from West Elm and plan to use the window sills for cocktail rests too. Most of the time, the middle of the room will remain empty for ease of traffic through the space; however, when serving appetizers or dessert in this room, I have a "deconstructed" coffee table solution I look forward to showing you soon.

plant propagation, my paternal grandparents, Mr.&Mrs. vases from my MIL, and some odds and ends

The console table is unavailable; however, this one is similar as is this one.

Greg's maternal grandparents on their wedding day... sorry about the glare.

An heirloom painting (and featured vase below) from Greg's family at the bar cart might be my favorite.

The Cutest Linen Cocktail Napkins

What a lovely surprise to ring in Spring! My sweet and thoughtful friend, Amy, just gifted me these super-fun cocktail napkins from August|Morgan by Kate Hersch. The detailing is perfection and the sentiments are right up my ally! I cannot wait to put them to good use. That ram is full-on Capricorn and I am here for it!

Our Dogwood Tree

The bloom never lasts long enough --so if you blink, you might miss it! If I were more clever, I might attempt something along the lines of my friend, Laura (CityStems) with these amazing branches. Just look at this arrangement she posted today in her Instagram account! She's too damn good. Sorry non-Charlotte readers... she offers local delivery only --but definitely follow the account for some eye-candy.

Ben the Bernedoodle

The puppy has nearly doubled in size and he's still figuring some things out... like how to be a good passenger in the car. (No worries, we were not moving when this picture was taken.) He is playful, sweet, NIPPY, and is getting so much better in his crate (though he still thinks 5:30am is a good time to wake up). My favorite time is when he's sleepy and/or altogether asleep --though, he does fart when he's snoozing and that is definitely not awesome at 26 pounds --so I hate to imagine what it's going to be like closer to 80 pounds.

Live-Edge Shelves

I absolutely love these wall shelves from Anthropologie. Each one is unique (and so freaking heavy). Unfortunately, one of the sizes I purchased is back-ordered --so it will be some time before they get installed. I'm planning to put them adjacent to the large round mirror in the living room and style them with terra-cotta potted plants (as the window there is one of the few that gives great light). 

This one is size small.

This is the idea... (from the Anthro website). I ordered these sizes + an additional small.

Planning to arrange the shelves in this space.

Ben's Playpen

My friend, Tracie, loaned me this giant playpen for Ben and it's been wonderful. As he is still only 10 weeks old, he must be under constant supervision. When Ben is in his pen, we can all still enjoy movies together in the evening --or even porch time when the weather is cooperating. This is a game-changer and he doesn't seem to mind it at all.

Ben's Tag

Ok, ok! It's a "Ben-Heavy" post... but can you blame me?? Just look how handsome he is in this sweet tag I had made on Etsy. When he was at the breeders, he was called "orange male" and we've kept the orange theme going --because he's so handsome in orange, obviously. 

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 25, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 3.25.21

Ben Snuggles

Our new addition is growing by the day. Ben, our F1 Standard Bernedoodle, is 9.5 weeks and I swear he's nearly doubled in size already --but he still thinks he's tiny and he loves to be held like a human baby. It's really too much. He's usually very sleepy all day because he doesn't sleep as soundly in his crate at night. He is making huge strides with his crate training --but it's far from easy yet.

man holding a large puppy on his shoulder (3 picture collage)

Lenten Roses (Hellebore)

With the coming of spring, so comes the bountiful blooms of Lenten Roses in my yard. I had never seen this flowering plant before moving to Charlotte from the west coast. West Coasties, do you have these where you are? Thank you to the person who planted these beauties years ago when this house was yours. While there is likely a great way to cultivate, prune, and fertilize these thriving plants --I haven't done any of that in the over 8 years we've been here and they continue to multiply. Cheers to little vases full of free flowers!

vase of lenten roses on a small table


With the coming of spring and Lenten Roses (along with everything else that's blooming right now), so comes the season of my red-rimmed eyes and sniffly nose. I heard that allergies are going to be off the charts this year. A friend of mine said that even with the masking mandates loosening --she'll likely wear hers every spring going forward --just to cut down on the pollen exposure to her sinuses. Brilliant. The only way I know how to deal with the increased redness in my already too-red complexion is by blending it out with a creamy concealer (on my upper lids and dark circles). My favorite drugstore brand is Maybelline's Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Multi-Use Corrector. (It's a mouthful of a name.) What I love about it: the price, consistency (moisturizing and smooth), sponge applicator, variety of shades available, and that it doesn't settle in the crepe-y creases of my under-eyes. For a splurge, my favorite concealer is Tarte's Shape Tape. (You'll spend 3-4x as much as Maybelline; however, the size is a bit larger.) I heard people rave about this product for years before giving it a try. Now I understand the hype. It's slightly more pigmented than the drugstore brand and I think it has better coverage overall (but they are very close). What I love about it: the variety of shades, the ability to layer this product for more full coverage, the matte finish is nice though not as moisturizing as the Maybelline (however, Tarte is now making this product in a "creamy" version which I have not tried), the smell (funny, I know --but it's really nice). Below, you can see what a huge difference a little concealer makes for my "allergy eyes." 

2 tubes of concealer

collage of 3 photos close-ups of a woman's eyes

Foodie Night

My Foodie Night text group continues to delight. We are not cooking as many novel recipes these days but we still share our meals via pictures and recipe links on the regular. You all know what a fan I am of Half Baked Harvest. In Tieghan's recent newsletter, she promoted the idea of keeping a well-stocked pantry. It's great advice (not sure I would categorize it as a "secret" like she does). I couldn't help but share the tip with my Foodie Night ladies as way of thanking THEM for keeping their pantries well-stocked --as they have each come to the "rescue" of my family's dinner on multiple occasions when I text, "$hit. Elbow deep into dinner prep and just realized I'm out of _____." Without fail, one of these lovelies has just what I need and it's no more than half a block away! Cheers to my village. What's your latest recipe discovery? I'm needing inspiration.

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 18, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 3.18.21


If you're following along on Instagram and/or Facebook, you've already heard the big news: we got a puppy! May I introduce you to, Ben Stewart Jones. Ben is an 8 1/2 week old Bernedoodle. His mom is a Bernese Mountain dog and his dad is a standard poodle. Ben is the biggest of 9 litter mates and weighs 18 pounds, 4 ounces as of Tuesday (but I assure you, he's grown since then). He is expected to top out between 70-80 pounds. He loves his sisters, treats, sleeping, meeting new people, and riding in the car. He is not so in love with his crate but we are getting there.

teen girl with a Bernedoodle puppy in her lap

Richard Parker

If you've been around for any amount of time, you've already "met" our 20+ pound Ragdoll cat, Richard Parker. He's about 9 and half years old and adjusting well so far to his rambunctious brother. Thank you to everyone who's reached out and specifically asked about how RP is doing in light of the big change to his domain. He's doing well. Because Ben has been confined to the kitchen/kitchenette area, we've been able to manage their introduction carefully. We kept them strictly apart for the first 24 hours. Then, when Ben was outside, we let RP explore all of Ben's things and his scent. After another 8 hours of separation, we have given Richard Parker the option of entering the kitchen space at will (our baby gates have cat doors in them). While RP can come check out Ben, Ben cannot get too close to RP if the cat doesn't want him to. So far, there have been one or two curious barks and the closest encounter was within a few inches (Ben was crashed out at the time). 

Ragdoll cat on a couch


Have I mentioned Ben's feelings about his crate? Nighttimes around here are not so peaceful anymore. It's been a long time since I was so sleep deprived. Each night gets a little better than the one before so I feel as though we are making good progress. In the meantime, I'll look back on this pic of Greg and I from the morning we picked Ben up (in Ohio) --it was taken after my last solid night's sleep. May it continue to give me hope that the dark circles under my eyes will not always look so dramatic!
tammy and greg jones looking rested and excited

Bog Boots

Potty training a puppy in wet, cold weather is a bummer. We had such a lovely spring tease last week. This week has brought rain and cold to Charlotte. In fact, as I type this post, we are expecting a huge storm and possible tornado-winds. Did you know that puppies have to go outside to potty about every 20-30 minutes during waking hours? Tromping through the saturated lawn and muddy puddles is, in fact, quite fun for a puppy. The outdoor conditions have made me newly grateful for these little rain boots I picked up some time ago. FYI: some reviewers have complained about them rubbing uncomfortably on the ankles but I have not had the same experience. They are true to size and come in black, orchid, and sage (very cute with my millennial skinny jeans). 
bog low-top black rain boot for women


Wet cold weather calls for chili. This is the perfect no-bean chili recipe that provides a depth of flavor with little simmering. Despite the lack of beans, it's still very filling. Of course, if you enjoy beans, just add some to the pot. I always serve chili with cornbread (from a box) and a green salad. Topping my serving with a generous dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheddar is a must. If you think it sounds strange to add sour cream to your chili --trust me, that's only because you haven't tried it yet.

bowl of chili with shredded cheese and sour cream

The Girl with the Louding Voice on Audible

Highly recommended by my friend, Tracie, listening to The Girl with the Louding Voice on Audible has been such an incredibly rich experience. The novel, beautifully written by Abi Daré and exquisitely pread for Audible by Adjoa Andoh, is "the unforgettable, inspiring story of a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village who longs to get an education so that she can find her 'louding voice' and speak up for herself... [it is] a simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams." Admittedly, it took a bit of time to get used to the unusual sentence structure. This authentic rendering --paired with Andoh's performance lends a deep cultural and emotional layer to the story that cannot be overstated. While I have no doubt that this novel is wonderful in print, I hope you'll follow this link and listen to the Audible sample to hear what I'm trying to describe.

screen shot of the Audible version of The Girl with the Louding Voice

Clairol Root Touch-Up

I blog about this product every few months and I will continue to do so. It's inexpensive, easy to use, and the results, while not professional-level, are very good. Even if you've never colored your own hair, this application process is super approachable. It's no longer full coverage for my multiplying grays --but it is certainly a terrific "quick fix" between salon visits or more saturating over-the-counter undertakings.

box of clairol root touch-up

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 11, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 3.11.21

Dating Again

After my second baby, I experienced postpartum depression. Thankfully, my case was identified early. I had amazing support and was in privileged circumstances. I met with my OB and interventions were quickly put in place. One of the best pieces of advice from my therapist at that time was to hire non-family sitters (a roster of them) and plan regular date nights with my husband (and coffees, lunches, workouts, etc). Again, very privileged. What I'm getting at is that Greg and I have consistently enjoyed dating one another for a century --ok, maybe not that long --but certainly a long-ass time. Obviously, when the world shut down a year ago, so went date night. Finally, gratefully, Date Night is making a small comeback. Here we are at our first high school football game together (which could be an entire stand-alone post about nostalgia). What a delight to sit outside and listen to one of our musicians add the soundtrack for the game!

couple in masks at an outdoor event

girl with braids in a mask holding a flute

More Progress in the Living Room

Remember the gorgeous (and enormous) mirror I found last week in the consignment store near my house? The sucker was so big that I had to call a friend to borrow his truck to get it home. It's also VERY heavy. But look! It's up. I love it. There were a few scuff marks on the wicker that these awesome furniture markers took care of with almost zero effort. I even cleared out the stacks of misplaced things that had been poorly hiding behind the couch since we demo'd the built-ins in the study. (Yes, I did move some of it to the hallway --but still...)

Large wooden-framed circular mirror

living room with gallery wall and large circular mirror

More Consistent In-Person Learning

Our district just voted to approve a more consistent in-person learning schedule for our middle and high school kids. At first, I thought it might mean fewer days that look like this (below) --but it turns out that it actually calculates to only ONE additional day of on-campus instruction. However, the kids will be on campus every week moving forward and I am thankful for this tiny step toward returning to normal. Still a long way to go...

girl at the dining room table with a laptop; cat at her feet

Table & Twine

Wow. Thanks to my neighbor's mistake in planning her meals for the week, we ended up the grateful recipients of a meal kit from Table & Twine that she wasn't going to be able to use for her family. I cannot overstate how effortless it was to prepare this meal. It came together beautifully in under 10 minutes: no cleaning, chopping, or measuring. And it was delicious to boot! If you're in Charlotte or Charleston, you can try them out for yourself.

shrimp pasta in a white bowl

table & twine recipe card and packaged ingredients on the counter

Spring Sunshine

According to our local meteorologist, it's too early to plant the garden because we can expect another late frost; however, the temperatures have climbed into the 70s this week and my allergies (along with everyone else's) are going nuts --which only means one thing: time to buy more plants and prep the front porch for evening sips.

sunny front porch with sitting area and plants

small lemon tree in the backseat of a car

Justine Gilbuena

I came across Justine's artwork on Instagram. Her illustrations feel simple, warm, generous, and full of friendship. They remind me of my childhood in a very Mary Engelbreit way. (BTW, Engelbreit is an active Instagrammer and fun to follow.) I ordered three little sticky note pads from Justine's online store (she also sent a delightful bookmark): the tea and cookies for Geneva (my little old lady in a 15YO body), the propagation bottles for Piper (who's attempting this on her bedroom gallery wall), and the plant gifting for me. So sweet! It didn't take Piper long to put hers to good use!

3-photo collage: small package with bookmark, an array of three sticky note pads, a note taped to a doorknob

Fredrik Backman

I just finished Beartown. My friend, Tracie, mentioned loving this book "almost as much as A Man Called Ove over a year ago. I added it to my list and only just got around to listening to it (because I had finished Anxious People and was reminded of how much I appreciate and adore Backman). If you haven't read any of his novels yet, I encourage you to do so. Like, now. His characters are layered and his storytelling is superb. I keep saying, he will break your heart and then he will put it back together again --with an extra sprinkling of beauty and grace.

cat on a couch with a book titled Beartown

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 ;)