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 ;)

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Things I Love Thursday | 12.2.21

Happy December! As always, I'm both pleased and overwhelmed that we have reached this point in the calendar year. I hope this season brings you an abundance of love and peace to help counter the inevitable moments of stress and unhappiness. Here are a few ways that love and gratitude have shown up for me.

Thanksgiving Holiday

Our family enjoyed a supremely relaxing and indulgent Thanksgiving in Palm Springs this year, hosted by some of the kindest, most generous friends. We spend the whole week in the sunshine laughing, lounging, reading, playing cards, sipping, and devouring delicious food! It was just what we needed and we returned to the east coast rested and happy. 

Rosemary Shortbread

I'm not sure I can overstate how absolutely delicious this recipe is! You MUST try it. I love to make it for family and friends during the holiday season. I have a blog post about it and you wouldn't believe how easy it is to execute. If you give it a try, let me know!

Trader Joe's Nuts About Rosemary Mix

Speaking of rosemary, if you're a fan, you MUST try these mixed nuts from Trader Joe's. I was gifted them by my friend, Sara, right before the Thanksgiving holiday. Holy moly. These are dangerously delightful. It's impossible to eat just one handful. You've been warned!

My Soccer Player

Piper wrapped up her fall club soccer season the weekend before Thanksgiving with an out of town college showcase event. Her team went 3 for 3 and had a ton of fun on and off the field. I'm not sure what the spring season will look like yet (because of her age bracket and high school tryouts) but I sure hope to have a lot of opportunities to continue to watch her do something she clearly loves.

Reindeer Cookies

Making these reindeer cookies with the girls for the first time in 2013 continues to be a sweet holiday memory. I love this activity for little kids. At the time, we packaged them up and delivered them to teachers and bus drivers. They were so proud of their creations --and they're delicious too. Here's a whole blog post about them with some bonus content of squishy Jones Girls. :)

Haagen-Dazs Bourbon Vanilla Bean Truffle Ice Cream

The title is a mouthful --which is fitting, as (if you're a bourbon fan like me) you will want a mouthful of this followed by another, and then another, etcetera, infinity. Do be warned though, it is decidedly boozy. Both of the girls tried it and were not fans. Geneva asked, "Why would you willingly eat something that tastes like cough medicine?!" Haha! Because I'm an old person.

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Wow. This book. If your holiday list includes a reader who enjoys suspenseful psychological thrillers --you must pick up a copy of The Push by Ashley Audrain for them. Goodreads has this summary, "A tense, page-turning psychological drama about the making and breaking of a family --and a woman whose experience of motherhood is nothing at all what she she hoped for and everything she feared." I loved it! 

Our Advent Calendar Tradition

Since the girls were little, I've been doing this wooden advent calendar for them. The compartments are just big enough to hold two pieces of candy. Most of the doors have just that behind them --but every few days, the girls will have a (very silly) clue instead of candy that leads them to a small(ish) treat. December 1st is usually a matching pair of holiday pajamas to wear throughout the month and on Christmas morning. I found these amazingly soft striped ones at Target this season (already out of stock) --but the green pair is super cute and this set from Amazon has amazing ratings and so many colors! The whole family could rock this buffalo plaid set --if you can talk everyone into it (and if you do, please share pics)! 

Other advent calendar clues might lead to lip balm, nail polish, an ornament, or their annual wooden nutcracker (to be added to the collections I started for them a decade ago). One year, the final clue on Christmas morning lead the girls to an upstairs bathtub where a pair of hamsters were waiting to be adopted. Big fun!

Similar advent calendars are easy to find. I love this one with the little drawers. This cheerful guy is very cute! You could even go very fancy with something like this, if you're so inclined.

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, November 18, 2021

Things I Love Giving | Holiday Gift Guides

The holidays are upon us. Here are a few gift ideas in case you're stumped. Prices listed here reflect the sale price upon publishing this blog post. Cheers to a happy and healthy holiday season!

Gifts for the home bartender, cocktail enthusiast, or savvy entertainer. If you happen to be in the Charlotte area, just skip this list and head over to The Cocktailery at Atherton Mill on South Boulevard (tucked behind Anthropologie and Living Kitchen with an interior door front). Tamu Curtis has you covered and her selection is incredibly gorgeous, varied, and original. Several items of hers that can be shipped are listed here for those who are reading from afar. 

01 12-piece Bartender Cocktail Shaker set in silver ($55) I love the look of this set. I like the sleekness of the chrome tools against the warmth of the wood caddy. The price point is excellent for all of these pieces.
02 Olives & Pimentos cloth cocktail napkins ($40) These olive and pimento napkins by Spoonflower give off a midcentury vibe that would be perfect on your bar cart.
03 Infuse - Mezcal and Tequila Infusion and Tasting Set ($103) Know any tequila fans? Check out this gorgeous mezcal and tequila infusion set. I love it!
04 Camp Craft Cocktails in a Jar ($25 - $100) These are so fun! I just picked up one of these jars for a girlfriend's birthday. One jar makes 8 cocktails and the variety of flavors is excellent!
05 4-piece Stemmed Glass Mixing Set ($75) Wow! This set is absolutely stunning and so sophisticated. All your basic essentials --elevated.
06 Insulated Wine Tote ($12) These are so cute and affordable. Consider picking up several to gift-wrap a bottle of wine or spirits to take along to the holiday parties we might all get to enjoy this year. *crossing fingers so hard*
07 Complete Cocktail Smoking Kit ($105) Have you had a smoked cocktail yet? The fad came into fashion several years ago and now you can accomplish this stylish choice at home. You fancy!
08 The Drunken Botonist by Amy Stewart ($14) I had the pleasure of hearing Amy Stewart talk about writing this lovely book several years ago. It continues to be a favorite and is a staple among any home bartender's book shelf.
09 Palm Leaf Beverage Stirrers ($18)  Plants and sips. What's more to love? Follow the link to check out the sweetest pineapple version of these stirrers as well.
10 Subscription to Imbibe Magazine ($22/year - 6 issues) Does the cocktail lover in your life already have everything stocked? How about a subscription to Imbibe magazine? Talk about inspiration!
11 Gold-Plated Liquor Flask ($47) Not the same flask you tried sneaking into the prom way back when... this beauty is next-level. She'll look stunning in your coat pocket, purse, or displayed on the shelf.
12 Hamptons Golf Course cloth cocktail napkins ($40) Swanky, baby. I love the classic elegance of these fun cocktail napkins. Sure to elevate any gathering!
13 Mulling Spice Set ($65) Swoon. Mulled wine and spirits are an absolute favorite during the winter season. If you've never tried it --now's your chance. This would make a gorgeous gift!
14 Disposable Cotton Cocktail Napkins ($18) The perfect stocking stuffer for your entertainer! Who knew a little toilet paper roll of cotton napkins could be so charming and useful? Now you know! Get some.

Gifts for the hostess or home chef in your life. These thoughtful and beautiful gifts would be perfect for someone who enjoys hosting others, cooking, baking, or just relaxing in the kitchen. As with each of these lists, there are hundreds of specific choices for patterns, materials, and price-point. Use these suggestions as jumping off points or to trigger ideas of your own.

01 Turkish Kitchen Dish Towels ($17) These beauties come in several color choices and it was hard to pick just one to use in the graphic above. For this price, you could pick up a few!
02 Teak Wood & Marble Serving Board ($55) There are so many shapes and sizes of this style board on the market. This one is nice because it's a medium size and great for a gathering of just a few. You can have plenty of cheese and charcuterie on the board without it looking too empty.
03 Cheese Knives & Charcuterie Serving ($16) This simple and stylish set of every tool you need is a great price and could be nice in a stocking as well.
04 Lenox LX Remix 4-Piece Tidbit Plate Set ($60) Please, please, please, somebody buy these for me. I'm smitten.
05 Salt Cellar ($25) Do you have a salt cellar? Easily filled with kosher salt for cooking and finishing. This one from Rachel Ray is stacked so you can have several seasoning salts at hand.
06 Linen Dinner Napkins ($30) Obsessed. This mustard color is a favorite of mine --but really, it's the texture that is so lovely.
07 Sonder Los Angeles Oversized Walnut/Cherry/Maple Wood Board ($70) Wow. This board. Oversized this time --wonderful for larger gatherings.
08 Mango Wood Salad Bowl with Servers ($60) Again, this is a style of salad serving bowl that has been around for ages. There are lots of styles and colors on the market. I love the blue in this version and the price is nice.
09 Terracotta Pinch Bowls ($17) Such a great vessel to have on hand. You can fill these with dips, sauces, nuts, chutney, honey, or jams for your charcuterie board. If charcuterie isn't your thing, use them for soy sauce, coins, jewelry, or safety pins. You get the gist, these are useful!
10 Subscription to Cooks Illustrated ($27/year - 6 issues) Does your cook already have everything? The cupboards are overflowing?? How about a subscription to Cooks Illustrated?
1Gold Cheese Markers ($12) So cute! The bulky chalkboard markers are out. Time to update with this playful and delicate gold-scripted option.
12 Recipe Card Box ($30) While it's true that most of us are turning to our iPads and computer screens for recipes these days, there will always be a need to store those most-loved recipes and the old standard still holds up. The tin recipe box has come a long way from your grandmother's kitchen. 
13 Double Oven Mitt ($38) This print. I'm dead. Must have. Also... the functionality of this double mitt looks promising.
14 Half Baked Harvest Cookbook: Recipes from My Barn in the Mountains ($18) If you've spent any time around here, you already know I'm a big fan of Half Baked Harvest recipes. This book was one of the best sellers in 2021. And no, for anyone wondering (looking at you, family) I do not have a copy.

Do you know someone who loves to read? Well you know me --so the answer is YES! Here is a small sample of ideas to celebrate the person in your life who loves the written word --or having the written word read to them via audible selections (yes, please!).

01 Amazon Kindle Paperwhite ($139) I know your reader might be saying that they prefer the smell and feel of an actual book. Believe me, I get it. However, with the backlight, the look, and weight of this Kindle Paperwhite --traveling with a stack of books is a breeze! I love mine. And I still read plenty of "real" books too!
02 Colorful Mug for Tea or Coffee ($14) The perfect accompaniment to a great book? A steamy mug of tea or coffee. Also: WINE. You can put wine in one of these adorable mugs too! 
03 A Book Journal ($18) If your reader isn't already tracking and logging books they've read and titles that have been recommended via Goodreads, then this journal would be perfect. It's also just a beautiful way to catalog the stories that have had made the biggest impressions.
04 Printfresh Flannel Sleepset ($148) You know I love my Printfresh jammies. They are pricey. They are awesome. Now, there are flannel options! Follow the link for tons of fun prints and style options: short sleeves, nightgowns, sleep shirts, camis, shorties, and robes.
05 Bookshop Jigsaw Puzzle ($17) A break from reading to enjoy a puzzle that features more books?? I'm in! This jigsaw puzzle might be frustrating for some (maybe even me). 1000 pieces is ambitious for most. There are lots of great choices out there. So relaxing.
06 Cozy Socks ($13) Curling up with a good book? Make sure your toes stay warm. My family bought me these socks a couple years ago for Mother's Day. I love them. In case you can't see the image clearly enough, they read "Fuck off. I'm reading." Ha! The best.
07 Jane Austin Clothbound Classics ($115 - 7 books) A stunning addition to anyone's book shelf. These clothbound classics are timeless. The Jane Austin set is just one option of many. Check them out.
08 Reading Light ($20) A 4.7/5 star rating with almost 50K reviews! Let your spouse fall asleep when they're ready and you go ahead and just finish that chapter (or book!). However, if you had the Kindle, you wouldn't need this.
09 Apple AirPods Pro ($197) I know. I know. So steep. However, when I use these on the noise-cancelling setting as I'm listening to an audible book --it is incredible. I can blow out my hair with the dryer right next to my head and still have an excellent experience. I can't gush about these enough.
10 Golden Leaf Bookmarks ($10 set of 4) Great for the stockings of those "real" book lovers in your life!
11 Candles (set of 2 $34) Book? Check. Cozy socks? Check. Mug of something delicious? Check. Fantastic jammies? Check. Now... light a candle and get to the story.
12 Book Ends ($30) Beautiful. These geode book ends will make a statement: "I read books!" Just kidding. Well, not really...
13 Gift Certificate to a Favorite Indie Bookstore ($?) This one might be my absolute favorite on the list. I hope you have a independent book store in your neighborhood. Ours is Park Road Books. It's a sure thing.
14 Cozy Blanket ($33) How could I almost forget the cozy blanket? The ratings on this blanket are through the roof. Over 12,000 people love it. What's the deal? Does it massage your feet while you lay there? Let's get one and find out. I love it in pink.

Odds are, the teen in your life has a list going of some very specific items they would love to unwrap this holiday season. Here are a few more gender-neutral ideas to fill in the gaps or share with grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Again, I hope these ideas inspire some great gift-giving. Links are for convenience and ease.

01 The Original Comfy ($35) Hilarious and honestly worth stealing from them from time to time. Great for post-soccer games, watching TV on the couch, or throwing something warm over pajamas to lounge around in on the weekends. Several colors.
02 Portable Speaker ($50) Great for get-togethers, listening on a bike ride, or just hanging out in their room.
03 Delivery Box Subscription IPSY cosmetics ($12/month), Munch Addict snacks ($13/month), Escape the Crate puzzles/games ($26/month) There are so many great options on the market these are just a few ideas get the ball rolling.
04 Custom AirPods Case ($13) The font here is decidedly feminine; however, a quick Google search turns up lots of options. Be sure to order in time for the customization. 
05 Tickets (movies, theater/show, concert, sporting event) I love this one and the teens do too. Consider even an amusement or trampoline park season pass near you.
06 Games What Do You Meme ($20), Ticket to Ride ($36), Cards Against Humanity Family Edition ($25) Our family got way into games during quarantine and there's a reason why they've always been a standard family pastime. So many of them stand the test of time. Here are a few newer option on the market. Also: if you haven't already, teach your kids to play poker. It's a life skill.
07 Headphones ($20 -$100) I do value chatting in the car but sometimes silence in nice. These headphones are sure to come in handy for lots of situations --maybe even when the ear buds are just too uncomfortable from overuse.
08 Spirit Wear from school, favorite college or professional team (prices vary) Again, a great option with lots of choices. I love this idea for 5th and 8th graders especially because you can grab a sweatshirt from the school they're about to attend. Very cool move. 
09 Baggy Sweatpants ($24) or Sweatpants ($30) Boys or girls. These are the ''it" item of late, bruh. 
10 Iron Flask water bottle ($33) Try not to be put off by the name. The size of this insulated water bottle + all the color options and lid choices make it a winner.
11 Magazine Subscription Sports Illustrated ($20/year), Smithsonian ($12/year), National Geographic Kids ($30/year) I love a gift that keeps on giving. For younger tweens, try Sports Illustrated Kids. Branch out and find a magazine that covers a specific hobby or interest of your teen (baking, skate boarding, crafts, music). Again, endless possibilities.
12 Portable Phone Charger ($25) There's little more aggravating than when my teens are out and about and their cell phone dies. While the portable charger is handy to have --they have to remember to charge it up too. LOL Not sure it solves all the problems but it does solve some. 
13 Gift Cards (fast food, experience, favorite retail) No brainer.
14 Mini Projector for Phone ($80) This is just cool --especially for the kids who don't have TVs in their rooms. You can project the screen from your phone onto the wall for a movie theatre-like experience. So fun for hangouts and sleep overs.

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, November 11, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 11.11.21

Our US Military

Today on Veteran's Day and everyday, I am grateful for the service and sacrifice of those who have served and are currently serving our country in the armed forces. A special shoutout to these stud-muffins, from left to right: my grandpa Dale Gowin (WWII, Tank Commander - Normandy), my grandpa Robert Purse (WWII, Radio Reconnaissance - France & Belgium), and my dad Clyde Purse (Military Police K9 Unit - Korea).

Gertie & Elliott

We went to an amazingly fun 80s Halloween party this year! All the appetizers and food were from the 80s as well: spinach dip in a bread bowl (revolutionary!), loaded potato skins, Stoeffer's french bread pizza, sloppy joes... Gertie, Elliott, and E.T. left very stuffed and aching with all the belly laughs!

Frasier Fir Season

As soon as Halloween is over, Frasier Fir season begins. My friend Megan (Happy Anniversary, Megan and Thomas!) introduced me to this scent by Thymes and I'm forever ruined for any other holiday/winter scent. While it is definitely pine-tree-scented --FF is so much more than that (think: clean, crisp, layered, and perfect). I'll be burning these until Valentines Day! If you're at all interested in trying it or this is your reminder that it's time to restock --don't delay. These sell out every December!


My little meyers lemon tree is actually ripening! I'm over the moon. Now, if I can just harvest these cuties and transfer this baby to the screened porch before our first frost --I'll really be celebrating. Please send all your best wishes that this lovely is able to survive our winter on the screened porch. Where are my gardening friends? Do you think a little sheet over the top will do?

Lasagna Soup

The first time I had lasagna soup was in my friend Gretchen's dining room over ten years ago. It was a sensation that evening, and continues to delight my family today. The best thing about the soup is how easily it can be varied to suit your preferences (add veggies, serve without noodles, use beef or Italian sausage, kick up the spice, skip the cheese, DOUBLE the cheese...). Here is a fairly simple recipe you can use as a jumping off point. I like to double the protein and prepare my noodles separately. You do you.

Revlon's Hot Air Brush

Fascinated by some of the extremely pricey options of these blow-drying brush/wands, I read and watched lots of reviews before deciding to try this super-affordable Revlon version. This tool boasts a 4.6/5 stars on Amazon with almost 240K reviews. I bought it several weeks ago and wanted to test it out before deciding if I would recommend. And here it is. I love it! It even works beautifully on Piper's hair and she has a TON. (At the time of publishing this post, the price has been reduced from the $60 I spent to $35.) Tips: 1. Let your hair dry naturally until about 70-75% dry and then piece out small sections to wrap and smooth with this brush; 2. If you don't have a lot of time to let your hair dry naturally, use your traditional dryer to quickly rid most of the moisture from your roots before switching to this brush; 3. Pump up the volume between washes by using this on your dry hair at the crown; 4. Instead of winding the length of your hair around the brush, just lift from the root and roll over once as you drag the brush to the end.

The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit

We finally made it out to see the immersive Van Gogh show hosted by Blumenthal Arts. In Charlotte, the show is being held out at Camp North End --a very cool venue in its own right. Once inside the actual "performance," the 30+ minute movie runs on a loop with images shifting, alighting, and dancing across multiple screens and surfaces accompanied by music. It is a bit of a pricey ticket at about $50/adult and $30/kids up to 16YO but we were all captivated and felt it was worth the price of admission. The exhibit has been extended in Charlotte to run through January 2nd --so consider a family outing over the holidays.

Mossy-Green Floral Maxi Skirt

Loving this pocketed floral skirt with boots and sweater or t-shirt and sneakers. I wasn't sure about the fabric and it was hard to tell in the link what it would look like in-person. However, the reviews were numerous and positive so I thought I'd give it a try. Very happy that I did! I love the pleating and the elastic waist. It comes in several prints and colors. I'm tempted by the tiny polkadots in both coffee and pink!

Charcuterie-Building Class

It was a great night with friends learning some hot tips for putting together a beautiful charcuterie plate with one of the city's best: Queen Brie. I was over-served at the event (it happens) but did manage to recall a few key points: use both hard and soft cheeses; never stack your meats (instead, fold them for volume and texture); always think about adding color to your plate with the use of dried and/or fresh fruit, mustards and/or chutney, and edible flowers; fresh herbs like sage and rosemary add aroma and interest... and lots of other cool hot-takes that I missed or forgot due to the being over-served situation. If you're in the Charlotte area, you can sign up for her next workshops at this link.

(before we began --when my memory was still excellent)

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, October 28, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 10.28.21

My berneMOOdle

Howl-O-Ween is right around the corner and sadly, my kiddos are past costumes and dressing up this year. Thankfully, I have Ben to entertain myself with. I saw a shark version of this crocheted "hood" while scrolling through Instagram and toggled right over to Google to start my search. It didn't take long to find several choices and landed on ZooSnoods on Etsy. After much deliberation (Dinosaur!, Shark!, Rhino! and Yoda!), I decided on this COW design because it went so well with his handsome coat already! Doesn't he look ready for tricks and treats?

Surprise Visit

We got to do the most fun thing last weekend: surprise Piper with a visit from her sleep-away camp bestie! The two met during the summer between 2nd and 3rd grades --now they are both in high school. Merritt and her sisters travel to camp from Colorado every summer and we've always talked about making plans for a visit between summers. Finally that day came. Greg and I picked Merritt up on Friday evening while Piper was at a football game. Once I got her inside, I texted for Piper to come check in with me quickly. I wish I had my camera ready to capture the look on her face when she saw her camp bestie! The two were off and over the next few days, we delighted in their shared company when they weren't busy thrifting, eating, exploring, shopping, baking, and soaking up one another's company. Such fun!

Spoonflower Cocktail Napkins

I finally decided to be grownup enough for cotton-fabric, everyday napkins that can be pulled out as coasters, used for small casual gatherings, or family meals. What I love most about these are the size. I have plenty of cloth dinner-sized napkins and they never feel quite "right" (unless the occasion is more formal). With these new 10x10 cuties, grabbing them feels festive and simple. The best part is knowing how much softer they will become over time from multiple washings. I chose two sets of four napkins to make a mixed set --the choices are endless! (These were so tempting. As was this collection --you can't go wrong with mudcloth. And the cranes and swans in this collection too!) Spoonflower is a sustainable manufacturing company in Durham, North Carolina. Every order is custom cut and stitched and made from the design of an independent artist from around the world. Pretty cool. They do fabrics, wallpapers, bedding, decor and more! Follow them on Instagram here.

Marc Jacobs Lip

I just noticed that one of my absolute favorite lip "glosses" is on sale. I love the creamy texture and shimmer of this lip gloss stick by Marc Jacobs. It feels like a lip balm but has a lovely tint and shine that elevates it beyond your average chap stick. Supplies are limited across the board... for a neutral shade, try "One Mauve Time" direct from the website at half price. A fresh pink hue "Wet Your Lips - Apricot" is available at Sephora as is a clear version called, "Enamored (With Pride)"

{image via}

Embrace Justice Mural

Our neighborhood got a legitimate "glow up" last week when Shepard Fairey of Obey Giant graced Queens University's Gambrell Center for the Arts & Civic Engagement building with his gorgeous "Embrace Justice" mural. I must admit, the first step of this huge project was painting the red-bricked building a BRIGHT turquoise blue. I was a little confused about what the university was thinking... Very quickly though, it began to take shape and WOW. Come have a look and pop over for a sip on the porch!

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, October 21, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 10.21.21


Meggie Sullivan owns and operates this cleverly-named service here in Charlotte. I've blogged about her before (a gift certificate would make a lovely gift) and had the pleasure of serving one of her gorgeous and delicious spreads this last week when some friends (and generous volunteers) joined me to help wrap gifts for The Children's Theatre's annual gift-giving experience for children, Winter Wonderland (formerly known as Santa's Bag). Meggie and I had a brief exchange of ideas and she executed to perfection on this brunch-themed board. Not only was everything delightful to look at --the quiche was the best I've ever tasted and the details were amazing! Even if you're not in the Charlotte area, give her a follow on Instagram and enjoy her creations for eye-candy and inspiration!

Gillian Stevens Art

Gillian Stevens is the designer and artisan behind Dewdrop Designs, a female owned, local-to-Charlotte, enterprise that offers original canvas art, leather accessories and jewelry, and wonderfully textured pieces made of wood, clay, beads, and glazed ceramics. I fell in love with The Last Drop. This leather knot wristlet is made from reclaimed leather and is a perfect little day or evening bag. I had a hard time choosing --but came away with the creme-colored bag.

{image via}

Walking Ben Letting Ben Just Walk

Confession time. Ben has been through some rigorous training. Knowing he was going to be a huge dog, it was important to us that he have nice manners. For a 9 month puppy, he's doing pretty well. Even though we were told in advance, we were unprepared for how much work it would be on a daily basis to reinforce and support all of the formal training he had (when we sent him to "boarding school" at 5 months). For sure, he is still sleeping in his crate --though, that was certainly the biggest battle. He is excellent when asked to stay on "place" and his recall is strong (as long as he's not distracted by something he finds interesting LOL). Having said all that, I must confess that we have stopped insisting he be held to a very high (or any real) standard on walks. Honestly, it just wasn't all that relaxing or enjoyable to have to constantly work through his multiple walks a day. Now we give him the lead to sniff, explore, (PULL), and frolic. He's still required to move aside and stay in a "sit" when other people and dogs pass us on the sidewalk --but otherwise, he just puppies around. It's so nice to be able to listen to an audio book, sip a coffee, or enjoy a conversation with whoever is walking with us --now that correcting him is not a full-time job. 

Home Bartenders

There's little I love more than a delicious cocktail that has been made with friendship and care. My friend, Anne, is famous for this. She loves mixology and has an impressive array of ingredients (and ideas) for serving her guests amazing sips. Don't get me wrong, I love a simple glass of wine or an ice-cold beer (from time to time) --but there's something extra special about the thoughtfulness that often goes into mixing a featured cocktail for an in-home evening of celebration or socializing. Enter my friend Amy. Amy hosted our neighborhood "Foodie Night" group (formed during quarantine 2020 to share recipes, inspiration, and support --and still going strong) for appetizers and drinks last week. To toast this first indoor gathering of five, she mixed fresh-squeezed juices and secret* ingredients to create perfectly refreshing margaritas and palomas. Can't you almost taste the citrus just by looking at this picture?! Cheers to that! (*Maybe the ingredients weren't necessarily a secret --but I wasn't paying enough attention to share what they were.)

Chilly Fall Evenings

We are currently experiencing "I Left My Jacket at School" weather here in Charlotte. Mornings begin in the low to mid 40ºs and as the day continues, temps rise to the high 70ºs/low 80ºs. However, for a brief evening last week, it stayed chilly enough to talk ourselves into a festive little fire pit. We ate dinner "camping style" in our laps and then enjoyed some toasted marshmallows afterward. It is such a little thing that brings us all so much happiness. I look forward to many more fire pit evenings this season!

Jane Harper

I just finished my second audio book by Jane Harper. Have you read anything from this author? Her stories are set in Australia and she writes murder/mystery. The first of her books I read was, The Lost Man --about the death of a seemingly successful and happy man in the remote Australian Outback. He is survived by two brothers, and his wife and kids. Family secrets, unexplained circumstances, and suspicion give rise to a slow-burning and suspenseful story that I didn't want to put down. The novel I just finished, The Dry, unravels the mystery surrounding the brutal murder/suicide of a family man in a small Outback town facing great hardship and draught. His childhood friend, Aaron Falk (now a federal agent), reluctantly returns to attend the funeral and gets caught up in an unofficial investigation. Again, a fairly gripping plot that kept me guessing until the end. I found both books incredibly entertaining and very well done! Listening to Steven Shanahan perform The Dry with an Aussie accent just adds another enjoyable layer to the experience. The character, Aaron Falk, from The Dry is featured in what's sure to be my next book by Jane Harper, Force of Nature. Eventually, I'll get around to reading her latest novel, The Survivors.

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, October 14, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 10.14.21

Celebrating Lulu

My mother-in-law, Linda (who we call "Lulu"), moved to Charlotte from California in March. We are so lucky to have her near after all these years on separate coasts. Her new place is less than a mile from our house and visits are often. She comes to soccer and volleyball games to watch the girls, takes care of them when we are out of town, invites us over for brunch, happy hour, and dinner... it's just really lovely to be able to take her out to celebrate her birthday. Cheers to another fabulous trip around the sun!

Pocketed Long Skirts

I just bought two new skirts from Amazon. They are light-weight, elastic banded, and a great length. I love the (faux) tie at the waist and the large pocket details. I've already worn them a few times and they are easy to pair with a t-shirt, a french-tucked button down, or a light sweater. I bought one in black and one in sunflower yellow. (They definitely needed to be steamed when they arrived.) You will also need to wear a slip with them, as the fabric is a thin blend with a light linen texture. I have no idea how well they will wash but I have no intentions of putting them through the dryer! I though the slight difference in hem (from front to back) might be a little weird --but it's not at all. My rear end manages to make a nice shelf that balances everything out. LOL The thing that's weird is the name of the company! What the heck??

Travel Steamer

To get my skirts looking great in just a few minutes, I busted out my new travel steamer. This little iSteam is awesome! We own a big Jiffy J-2000 (worth every penny) that we've had for a decade; however, our current house has no laundry room and the washer and dryer are two floors away from the bedrooms. Our big steamer is supposed to live in the guest bedroom closet but every time I pull it out to use it, it ends up living in my master bathroom (right in front of the door) or on the second-floor landing outside all of our bedrooms for literally MONTHS (possibly 8-9 in a row). So I decided that, because we could use a travel steamer anyway, this smaller one could serve double duty: travel and small jobs. In other good news, it fits nicely on the shelf in our under-sized master closet! I can't believe I waited 8+ years to buy one this size. (p.s. I don't know why there are towels in this ad. Please don't be a person who steams your bath towels. If you have that much free time, pick up a good book.) 

{image via}

Clog Sandals

To go with my new steamed skirts, I bought some cute clog sandals. I have a difficult time with the traditional mule style, as my arches are too high. I saw this peep-toed pair of Swedish-made Mia "Greta" Mules last weekend when I was out shopping with Staci and fell in love. Unfortunately, the boutique did not have my size --which was probably for the best because I didn't really need another pair of heeled, neutral, peep-toed sandals. But THEN... Ben chewed one of my favorite shoes that very night! I took it as a sign from the universe and set about trying to find the boutique shoe online (at the time, I didn't know what brand they were). It wasn't too hard to find the exact pair --but it was really tricky to locate my size in the color I wanted --sold out everywhere. And then I checked Amazon. Yahoo! While poking around there, I saw THESE Sandgrens in a soft gray "stone" color. #willpower

sandals, shirt, pants, sunnies

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

There is something so intimate and enjoyable about listening to an author read their memoir --unless it's Matthew McConaughey reading Greenlights, which I just could not get into. (But perhaps that's a story I'll save for the day I start cataloguing Things I Hate Monday.) Anyhoo... this wonderful book, Crying in H Mart, was published in April of this year and has received a fair share of attention. Zauner, singer and guitarist of the indie rock band Japanese Breakfast, is a Korean-American who grew up in rural Oregon. She writes of grief, family, food, and identity with unflinching honesty that is somehow both brutal and tender. I loved it!

{image via}

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, October 7, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 10.7.21

Old Friends Making New Memories

It's always the best when you get to spend time with the peeps who've known you since "way back when..." Staci and Greg go back to elementary school and attended the same schools through college. Rusty and Greg go back to junior high (remember who we used to call it that?) and also went to college together. Fun fact: Rusty and Staci have been together for 30 years. I actually met Rusty in a college class a couple years before I met Greg. I have a thousand stories about our friendship and if you searched the archives on this blog, you'd have a chance to read about a lot of them! We were lucky enough to have them out last weekend for the member-guest golf tournament. The weather was perfect, the food was indulgent, the drinks were delicious, and the shopping was successful. I don't think the golfing was nearly as positive, overall --but I heard it was a great time anyway and the betting outcomes made up for some of the (Greg's) shortcomings on the course.

Please be as delighted by our photo-bomber as we were!
I edited this live pic to capture the best moment of his little hop into the frame. :)

Pistola Pants

While shopping, I found a new pair of pants that I (mostly) love so much! These Archer Crossover Joggers from Pistola are a terrific fit. I love the belted waist, the flattering pleating, the length, and gathered ankle. They are so stinking cute... when you're standing (or dancing like Janet Jackson in her Rhythm Nation video). However, because of the "crossover" button-fly, they pucker out in a weird way when you sit down --like, I can slide my left hand into the opening and pull my tucked shirt down (kinda handy --but not completely awesome). So I guess I would say that they are perfect for standing occasions, sitting with your legs under a table, or dancing like "Miss Jackson, if you're nasty" --but I would not recommend them for barstools or lounge chairs --unless your photographer is far away and he captures you at the right angle (above).

Healthy Ben

Ben has finally gotten the all-clear from his vet to be off leash in the yard to enjoy running, jumping, playing, digging, destroying the monkey grass, and generally spazzing out (though, I wish he'd just skip the last three). His friend, Sarah (of the amazing panzanella salad), gave him a new toy that makes a fun noise --so wow... he's in heaven.

Children's Theatre of Charlotte

I've been volunteering at the Children's Theatre of Charlotte for about 8 years. Again, if you searched the archives around here you'd get an eyeful. The Theatre productions would seriously blow your socks off. We've seen tons of shows, ushered performances, attended fundraising galas, and visited the wonderful (attached) library on many occasions. This week, as a volunteer perk, I had the distinct pleasure of a "behind the curtain" look at the process that brings a show from concept to stage. To say it was impressive would be a huge understatement. If ever you have an opportunity to experience this level of children's theatre with a child --I would encourage you to do so. To see them experience the wonder of this art form live, will surely have you falling in love (again) with live theatre. If you're in our near Charlotte and would like to find out more about volunteer opportunities, click here (or get in touch with me).

On the set of My Wonderful Birthday Suit

The Arts in Charlotte

Speaking of fantastic arts in Charlotte, I was able to attend a great luncheon with my mother-in-law this week to hear from a panel representing several of the prominent art and cultural organizations in town. We heard about surviving the early stages of the pandemic and how these teams made creative and interesting pivots to sustain audiences and talent through the past 18 months. Moving forward, many of the organizations are keeping some of these new program features that allow virtual and modified experiences. The decision to continue offering some streaming, outdoor, and socially-distanced ways to engage with their offerings was easy to make --as many patrons have expressed their appreciation for alternative ways to enjoy the content --not to mention the organizations' ability to reach wider audiences through some of these formats and more accessible/interesting venues. 

"Hands on hips, Ladies!"

Coming soon from The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, I'm particularly interested in viewing the Annemarie Schwarzenback: Departure Without Destination exhibit (running April 2 - June 19, 2022). The brief summary of this work that was shared at the luncheon was fascinating. Visit the link to read just a snippet about Annemarie Schwarzenback --a real trail-blazer!

{image via}

We just missed Charlotte Ballet's 50th Anniversary Celebration (which closed last weekend); however, Nutcracker opens on December 3rd and tickets are on sale now. In fact, one of Piper's best friends is dancing the role of Clara this year and we couldn't be more excited to watch her shine! 

{image via}

We also heard about a ton of offerings from JazzArts Charlotte, a nonprofit organization that celebrates community enrichment through education, live performances, and musician support. In addition to youth education in the form of JazzArts Academy, summer music camps, and in-school programing, they also offer adult workshops online in partnership with UNC Charlotte. Join them in The Jazz Room --a monthly jazz concert series in uptown (with a full bar) or catch a session of The Set from home. This online, live performance happens every 4th Thursday. 

{image via}

Blumenthal Performing Arts has an absolutely incredible season lineup with something for everyone! On the theater end of things, Wicked just closed; however I'm looking forward to (the 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour of) RENT!, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Mean Girls. They're also bring Stacey Abrams and Neil deGrasse Tyson to the stage... plus a ton of music and comedy too! And if you're like me and haven't made it out to Camp North End for the immersive Van Gogh exhibit, you still have time! Additionally, I've just learned of some very cool (free and outdoor) things happening in and around our city RIGHT NOW: Intrude: Bunnies at the Park is back and will remain installed at First Ward Field through October 12th. I'm told you should see it (at least) twice; once during the day and once at night. Of Earth and Sky is a large-scale installation of poetry, ideas, and statements (from Charlotte locals) curated and installed across multiple locations through uptown forming a temporary sculpture trail through center city. This exhibit runs through October 31st. WOW... I can't wait to do it ALL! Join me?

{image via}

{image via}

{image via}

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 ;)