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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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, April 22, 2015

Recipe Review | Pork Tenderloin Medallions + Blistered Broccolini

This latest recipe came out of the May 2015 issue of Cooking Light magazine. The actual recipe calls for broccoli rabe which I could not find in my supermarket so I substituted broccolini. If you're interested in knowing the difference, look here
I love making pork medallions because they are so easy to prepare, always stay juicy, and offer a great lean protein alternative (enough chicken already!). The whole family is fond of any roasted vegetable, making this meal a home run.
Pork Tenderloin Medallions + Blistered Broccolini
(via Cooking Light, May 2015 issue)
What you need:
about 1 pound broccolini
cooking spray
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, cut into 8 slices
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
lemon wedges
What to do:
  1. Preheat broiler to hight.
  2. Arrange broccolini in a single layer on a jelly-roll or rimmed baking pan; coat with cooking spray. Broil 8 minutes, carefully turning after 5 minutes. Set aside and squeeze lemon juice on top. 
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle pork with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 
  4. Add pork to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove pork from pan. 
  5. Remove pan from heat. Add reamaning 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and vinegar to pan, scrape pan with a wooden spatula to loosen browned bits. Drizzle sauce over pork and broccolini. Serve with optional extra lemon.
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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 ;)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Spring Break 2015 | Exploring Washington, D.C.

We were so happy to have the opportunity to see Washington, D.C. over our spring break. Taking advantage of our new east coast address--we were even able to drive there. For me, this was a first visit. Greg had been once before (but not sightseeing) and obviously, the kids had never been. We felt like the girls were at a great age to enjoy the sights, put up with all the walking, and be interested in the history at every turn.
We asked a lot of questions before we left, did some research online, and got in touch with our district Representative in the House for tips and tours. Unfortunately, our name did not come up in the White House Tour lottery--but we did get to see a lot of other amazing places, documents, and monuments during our week-long stay. 
On Monday morning, after checking into our hotel (we decided to stay near Georgetown--just a short ride on the Metro to the center of DC), we tackled the public subway and made our way to the National Mall. Here we had our first sight of the Washington Monument in one direction and the Capitol Building in the other. We then made our way to our first stop: the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. After a couple hours of exploring and a snack, we walked next door to the National Museum of American History. Having just done a school project on Sacagawea, Geneva was pretty impressed with compass used by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. 
(Monument, Ice Cream, Bones, Compass)
After a full day of exploring, we were happy to relax and enjoy a nice dinner out with our friends who live down the street in Charlotte and who were staying at our hotel in DC! 
The next started with a trip to the National Archives to see the Charters of Freedom which include: the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. We were all very impressed! If you decided to visit, I encourage you to request a timed entry online well before your trip. We waited in line outside for 45 minus to enter the building where we made our way immediately to the Rotunda--where we waited another 20 minutes to see the documents. (No photos allowed--but if you follow the link for the "Charters of Freedom" above, there's a great picture of the Rotunda.) 
After the Archives, we had a fantastic lunch and then walked over to the International Spy Museum. Some things to note about the Spy Museum if you decide to go: it costs money, you should buy your tickets in advance and get an "entry time" (know that you'll likely wait in line anyway), there are fantastic installments, artifacts, interactive opportunities, and intriguing information at every turn, and the girls LOVED it. The museum is currently featuring a big exhibit on James Bond movie villains (which I personally thought was a waste of space and time). 
(Archive Selfie, Code Breaker, Archive Seal)
After this full day, we ventured back to our hotel for a couple hours of relaxing, followed by a nice dinner together in the lobby restaurant before we embarked on our evening highlight: a private twilight monument tour. The tour was highly recommended on Trip Advisor and I had an easy time communicating via email about the sights we wanted to see during our 3-hour excursion. The package included pickup and drop off from our hotel, a big comfortable car, a driver, and a tour guide (in this case, George) who accompanied us the entire time--filling us in on history, stories, trivia, etcetera. George was well-informend, engaging with the girls, energetic, and fun. 
(White House, Sisters at the Capitol, MLK, Cherry Blossoms, Lincoln, Korean War, Iwo Jima, Vietnam War, Joneses)
Wednesday we slept in, had a late breakfast in the other hotel restaurant, and then headed to the Cannon House Office Building to meet one of sour State Representative's assistants who would take us on a 90 minute tour of the Capitol Building. We met three other Charlotte families on the tour and saw a lot of amazing statues, architecture, historic rooms, artwork, and heard so many great stories from our tour guide. 
(Representatives Jones & Jones, Flag, Badasses, Pretty Light, Me & Abe, Crypt, Indoor Freedom, Sacagaweas, My Loves) 
After we finished our tour, we headed through the tunnel (it sounds more dramatic than it really is: an underground hallway) that lead to the Library of Congress (and more specifically, the Thomas Jefferson Building). We took a breathtaking one-hour guided tour of the library highlights. I highly recommend it --but Piper probably would not. She was done before it started. ;) I wish I could link better pictures and more information for you in about the pictures below, but the website for the Library of Congress is frustratingly set up like a library website and therefor not especially jazzy when it comes to showcasing the treasures of the architecture. If you're so inclined, here is a general link to google images.
Main Reading Room, Sidewalk View, Tunnel, Pretty, Pretty, TJ's Books, Pretty, My Loves Among TJ's Books, More Pretty)
 After our third full day, we headed to Annapolis where we enjoyed the comforts of our friends' second home (they were away near the other coast). Greg got up Thursday and golfed with friends in Baltimore. The girls and I slept in and had a lazy morning. We finally manage to get out around 1pm and we headed over to State Circle and Maryland Avenue for some treats, treasures, and fresh air. When we got too cold (and the parking meter had run out) we headed back to the condo to hang out until Greg got back and we all had a fun dinner
(Southern Belle, Strangers' Homes, Graffiti Artist, New Baubles, Capitol, Galway, Paca, Ice Cream, Cutie Pies)
After breakfast and leisure on Friday morning, we drove back to DC and met Greg's childhood friend for a quick lunch (he was working that day). It was a great visit and I loved listening to them catch up and hearing about all of the interesting places he's lived since leaving California. 
Then we headed over to the Newseum (an interactive museum of news and journalism). Wow! It was incredible. I hadn't even heard of it when I was planning our trip and our itineraries. However, several people along the way mentioned it and said what a great job they had done with it. Some things to know: it costs money (but you get a 2-day pass) and several of the exhibits are graphic and may not be appropriate for children. In fact, we pulled ours out of the Pulitzer Prize Photograph Gallery about 10 minutes. The 9/11 Gallery was challenging but we sat with them and watched the featured film "Running Toward Danger" and then talked about it afterward. The Berlin Wall Gallery was amazing--as was Today's Front Pages Gallery and the view from the Hank Greenspun Terrace (however, the Capitol Dome was under scaffolding during our visit and we don't have any great pictures). The girls had the most fun in the New Media Gallery with all of the interactive components. We were there for almost 4 hours and only saw a fraction of the compelling material.
(9/11, First Amendment, Front Pages, New Media Fun, Beauty, Great Books, Berlin Wall, Pulitzer Gallery, World News
After the Newseum, we headed back to Annapolis for the night. We got up early and drove home. The 14 hour roundtrip car ride was made enjoyable by listening to a completely entertaining, unabridged (11.5 hours) reading of The Hobbit. We all loved it (though Piper needed some convincing early on). The best part of the adventure was sharing it with this guy!
Obviously, there is so much more to see and experience in DC. Which sights, museums, restaurants, or attractions should we put on the list for our next visit? Your suggestions (in the comments below) are greatly appreciated!
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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 16, 2015

Things I Love Thursday // 4.16.15

  • Having a decidedly enjoyable, entertaining, educational, and enlightening spring break trip to our nation's capital with these lovely people 
  • Celebrating Easter so festively even though we were away from home ~ Nothing better than great company, excellent food, lovely weather, and lots of laughs. 
  • The amazing bacon cheeseburger I had at Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, D.C. last week ~ I'm still thinking about this little gift from Top Chef Chicago contestant, Spike. Remember him? 
  • Listening to an audiobook of The Hobbit on our roundtrip drive ~ I always enjoy listening to a good novel and The Hobbit was exceptional. Eight enthusiastic thumbs up from the Jones Crew.
  • These sweet stacked initial rings I found in Annapolis ~ I picked them up at Lilac Bijoux but they are not available through their online store yet. Similar. SimilarSimilar
  • My new photo app, Rookie ~ I used it to enhance the picture above. {fancy}
  • Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt ~ WOW! At 100 calories or less each, these are a terrific treat. We have tried Mint Chip and Sea Salt Caramel--both were delicious. If I had to choose I would pick Mint Chip--which is fantastic because they sell them at my Costco.
  • Sisterhood (and thumbs ups) ~ 
  • This Sizzler commercial from 1991 ~ Dude. This is bananas. I dare you not to watch the whole thing (Really. Even the last second is magical).
  • The Tequila Cucumber Mojito that I enjoyed at Paladar in Annapolis ~ If you imagine that a mojito and a margarita had delicious baby--this is what it would taste like. Instead of rum, it has silver tequila, tons of fragrant mint--plus cucumber, lime, and a stick of fresh sugar cane to sweeten it up. So refreshing! Cheers! 
  • A spontaneous invitation on Thursday late-afternoon to join your girlfriend at the local fresh fish market for  an oyster tasting ~ This is especially lovely when said friend has a teenaged daughter who happens to be available to watch your monkey girls for a quick hour. Yahoo!
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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 2, 2015

Things I Love Thursday // 4.2.15

  • Greg Jones ~ Not only because it's his birthday… but also for a thousand other reasons. To name a few: because he holds my hand, makes me coffee, cuddles me every morning during our "snooze-button intermission," texts me to say "hello," always kisses me hello and goodbye, is generous with the compliments (both in quality and quantity)… I could literally go on and on… 
  • My Letter & Stone post earrings from Anthropologie ~ These magically appeared in my stocking at Christmas. (Thank you, Self. Does anyone else stuff their own stocking?) I've worn them at least once every week since then. They can be a little confusing for some folks--but that's fun too.
  • Zofran ~ Honestly. It's been a challenging season of the stomach flu for the Jones girls. I'm not sure if we'd be fairing nearly as well without this miracle pill that wards off vomit for 6-8 hours at a time. (Too be used only in SEVERE situations.) The pediatricians don't make a habit of just handing it out. We only discovered it a couple years ago when both girls ended up in the ER with IV fluids for dehydration after 5 horrific days of rotavirus. Thankfully, we've not been hit THAT hard this year. However, the Zofran has certainly come in handy.
  • Celebrating my friend Carmen's birthday in Birmingham over a recent weekend ~ We had a great time catching up, celebrating, and indulging. The party was spectacular (blog post pending) and the company was excellent. Plus, what's not to love about a little getaway: visiting friends, seeing a new place, meeting new people, blackout shades, room service, sleeping in…? 
  • "Running Behind" by Holychild ~ Sun shining, windows rolled down, the girls and I singing along… It's my Spring Anthem. (The jury is out on the video.)
  • My Level 99 jeans ~ These just arrived in my most recent Stitch Fix and I am a big fan! They are a good fit around my waist without being belted--yet offer a loose, "boyfriend" style cut through the hips and thighs. I also love that they are perfectly cropped for a rolled cuff which looks great with a casual top and flats or dressed up with a blouse and heel. Fun!
  • One More Thing by B.J. Novak ~ I found this book of short stories to be delightfully entertaining. I giggled out loud through the whole thing. 
  • The WomenOn20s campaign ~ I especially love that it was my 3rd grader who clued me in to the fact that this campaign even existed. The idea is to take Jackson off and put one of many amazing American women ON the $20. You can follow the link to make your choice known. (Geneva would like to see the honor go to Rachel Carson, though she was assigned to debate in favor of Patsy Mink. I'm told she would be thrilled with any woman making it on to the $20!)
  • The amazing flower crown that G got to wear to her school dance ~ The dance was a luau theme and Geneva was hoping to wear a lei of some kind. Our sitter, Lily, whipped up this crown from the flowers in our yard. It was stunning! 
  • Getting together with some of the other women in the neighborhood who have elementary-aged kids ~ Hoping to make it a monthly event, my friend Jenn reached out and hosted a group of 9-10 of us for light snacks and wine the other night. I was so nice to take an evening to relax and get to know a few of the faces I see around the 'hood. (And also fun to have an excuse to hang out with the "other" neighborhood faces I see often!)
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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 ;)