Thursday, February 25, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 2.25.21


After much deliberation and so many choices, we finally decided on a rug for the study refresh. We wanted something with a fun but understated vibe. I'm always drawn to color so many of the first considerations were quite LOUD. I'm so pleased with where we landed. This rug is interesting in its asymmetrical design. I like the boldness of the black markings against an ivory background. It has fringe on only one side (cool!). Plus, it's super soft (just ask Richard Parker). I love how it's helping to pull the room together. Already, it feels so much warmer and "finished" (almost) in there. The company was great to work with and the shipping was swift between Morocco and the US --but then there were a few delays due to weather. No complaints, really. No one is coming over now anyhow!

peach colored room with green chairs and a black and white rug
Please note the piles of STUFF still unorganized and NOT put away just outside the archway.

big Ragdoll cat on a black and white rug

close-up of wool rug


YAY! It's finally happening. My mother-in-law (in California) has received both of her shots already --though, the second one knocked the wind out of her sails for about 2 days. Then today I got the best news! My dad has an appointment to get his first shot (Oregon, VA Hospital) next week. I hope your loved ones are having as much luck --or better, in finding available doses. I feel like we're making strides.

pic of two teen girls from 1988
Big hugs to the safari-rockstar on the right who secured dad's appointment!
BTW, this is what I looked like at the end of 8th grade.

Kids Are IN School

Speaking of making strides, my kiddos got to go to school IN PERSON this week. It's the first time they've had classes at school in nearly a year. Our district is working on a 1 week on, 2 weeks off rotation and my girls were placed in the first of three groups (there is a fourth group who has selected to remain full-remote for the rest of the school year). Both report that things feel safe and they certainly have new springs in their steps this week. Had you asked me last week about how school closures were impacting them, I would have reported they were holding up fine and had transitioned well --which is true. BUT seeing their energy and happiness spike this week has really opened my eyes to how much they've been missing out on. Next week, back at home, will likely be a little rough.

teen in a mask holding her phone
Health Screen? Check.
Mask? Check.
Rocking 8th grade WAY smoother than her mom did? Check.

Ginger Cumin Beef Bhuna

The recipe for this South Asian curry dish is from my latest issue of Milk Street Magazine. We've enjoyed several recipes from this issue already and we will definitely repeat this one. It simplified things that it was made in the pressure cooker, though my husband would remind us, "The 'instant' in InstantPot is very misleading." The dish still takes almost 2 hours from start to finish --but aside from the cutting board, there's not much else to clean up along the way. For us, there were plenty of leftovers to make the investment of time worth it --as it provided lots of lunches too. Do watch out for the whole peppercorns when you're eating it (just push those aside) and if you're a little heat-sensitive, reduce the serrano peppers to just one.

Beef Bhuna in a bowl over basmati rice

A Touch of Spring

Yo. The sun came out this week and everyone rejoiced. Seriously. We live across the street from a college quad and it's suddenly full of frisbees, footballs, picnic blankets, and music. The plants are greener and the birds are nearly delirious with song. It won't even last through the weekend but we are soaking it all up with enthusiasm while we can. Look at the happy new growth on one of my City Stems babies:

vibrant green plant with new leaves forming

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Damn. This book. I listened to a copy on Audible and it was outstanding. I'm planning a longer review in my Instagram account soon. If you're not following SourJonesBlog over there, you're missing out (she said so herself)! Have any of you read The Midnight Library yet?

The Midnight Library on a Kindle in the grass

The Crispy Bits of Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Seriously. These are unintentionally created in every batch next time. Whenever I pull out a tray of roasted brussels sprouts, I eat all these little crispy bits before I even transfer the rest to plates. I just stand over the oven and snack. Tell me you all understand the level of delicious I'm talking about here! I need to attempt to make a whole tray of just individual leaves next time. Is this a thing? Do people already do this? 

baking sheet of roasted Brussels sprouts
Could also be those giant salt crystals that help make the whole dish extra tasty!

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

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 2.18.21

We've had another tough week in the news and our hearts are with those suffering in the cold. I keep thinking the moon or mercury or something must also be up to some nonsense because I've had some inexplicable angst. In any event, thanks for stopping by for your weekly distraction (and mine too).

Thrift Culture

MiMi Miller is onto something here. I first started following "WarmlyMimi" on Instagram about a year ago. Back then, she was sharing some of her amazing thrifted finds and how she used them in her lovely home. This talented woman has so many gifts and she's reimagined her career a few times along the way. In the latest version of her dream, she has created a cool and thoughtful company: Thrift Culture --where she sells thrifted goods for a cause. Did you hear that? You can shop sustainably and support charities at the same time! Please visit her website to read more about how she has paired her passion for thrifting with a passion for doing good works. I was thrilled with my first purchase and look forward to many more!

dining table with placemats and terrarium
new-to-me placemats and wicker chargers

cardboard box packed carefully with note card on top
Everything came carefully wrapped.

Jergens Natural Glow FACE Moisturizer

Such a little thing that, for me (a child of the 80s), makes a big difference in how I feel. Being TAN was critically important for me at an impressionable age. Some of that has stuck. While my first paycheck job was working at a tanning salon (YIKES! I know.), I have gotten wise to the damaging effects of both UVA and UVB. I'm a daily sunscreen wearer --especially on my face, and you'll hardly ever catch me outside in the sun without a wide-brimmed hat; however, I still like to have a little color on my face and in the days of "no makeup motivation," I have an even greater respect for one of my all-time favorite drugstore gems: Jergens Natural Glow Daily Face Moisturizer with SPF 20. Please don't let the "daily" fool you! This product works really well and I'm sure if I used it every day, I would end up looking like an Oompa Loompa. Also important: do not forget to wash your hands with soap after you apply. It comes in two versions "fair/medium" and "medium/tan." I use medium/tan once or twice a week at bedtime (negating the bonus of sunscreen) when I simply substitute it for my nighttime moisturizer/serum. If anyone is curious, my bedtime usual ritual goes something like this (skip ahead if you don't care): makeup remover wipes (mostly for mascara and eyebrows), favorite brightening cleanser (that leaves my skin feeling post-facial-polished), toner with glycolic acid (sometimes --but always with these luxurious pads), under-eye treatment, then either Jergens Natural Glow OR this hyaluronic acid moisturizer/wrinkle-repair serum combo. Followed by a calcium supplement, 1 mg melatonin, and two sprays of this on my pillowcase. Boom: bedtime, book, boonzies (that means snuggling --aren't you glad you didn't skip ahead? LOL). 

jergens natural glow tube and face
please enjoy this giant picture of my naked (but tan-looking) face

Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen

Michelle Icard is a treasure for parents --especially those with tweens and teens. Her focus is middle school and she wrote one of the defining books of my parenting journey through these years: Middle School Makeover. I have had the pleasure of hearing her speak professionally on several occasions, attending two of her mother-daughter conferences (once each with both of my girls as they started 6th grade), and being mistaken for her in public (she cute). I'm now enjoying working for her in a small capacity and in that role, I've had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of her new book, Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen, that will be released on Tuesday, February 23rd (join me at the virtual book launch that day? 7PM EST). Fourteen Talks is so so good! What I love best about it is the practical/real-world advice that actually works. (And let me tell you --this book has already helped me to better navigate conversations with ALL OF MY PEOPLE --not just the teens --so please don't think you've missed the boat with your kids because of their age. It is never too late to start having great conversations. Consider ordering this book for yourself or someone you love who has tweens.

Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen book


I'm not even the person TikTok teens are attacking when they say that side parts, skinny jeans, and the crying-laughing emoji are for old people. Turns out, I'm too OLD for their radar, even. In some ways, forty-seven is hard. But in more ways it's amazing. It's self-assured, fulfilled, capable, and joyful. This week, it's enjoying my sentimentality. I took this picture of my finished puzzle the other day and then realized the best thing about the photo is the ratty-beautiful card table underneath. To be sure, it's not "beautiful" in the traditional sense --but it's lovely to me with all of its stains and blemishes because it was my grandparents' and now it lives with me. When I use it, I remember some of the card games, casserole dishes, and even ashtrays that have adorned its surface and that makes my heart full.

Anxious People 

I love to be surprised by a book. Fredrik Backman writes lighthearted novels that are full of quirky humor and bursting with humanity. I absolutely loved his book, A Man Called Ove (a remarkably good movie too). Friends have raved about Beartown (and it's definitely on my my list to read before I look into the HBO limited series based on the book). I enjoyed My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry (but it admittedly wasn't one of my favorites). When I started Anxious People for my book club. It was scattered, confusing, and more than anything else, I was completely annoyed by the characters. What was going on?! But I kept reading (listening, really) and low and behold, I fell in love with all of those annoying characters. This book sneaks up on you. Don't let it sneak by you. What's your favorite Backman?

woman holding a book in a pumpkin patch
(This has been poorly photoshopped. Unfortunately, books don't actually grow in pumpkin patches.)

Baked Oatmeal

We had a version of baked oatmeal for the first time when Greg was recovering from surgery last year. Our neighbors spoiled us absolutely rotten with delicious deliveries. My friend, Lydia, brought an elaborate breakfast by and one component was a generous dish of baked oatmeal (that lasted an embarrassingly short amount of time). Since then, I've made a similar dish on a few occasions and always think afterward that I should do it more often because not only is it delicious, it's also warm, wholesome, and super easy. Everyone loves it. Is baked oatmeal new to you or something your family has been feasting on for ages?

dish with baked oatmeal, yogurt and fresh blueberries


I understand that Timberlake is problematic. If that is something you think you can get past, I encourage you to watch his new movie, Palmer (Apple TV+) and we all agreed it was a great story about redemption, acceptance, and grace. It's not a blockbuster. It's a quiet story with a big heart and all four of us fell in love with Sam (and who Palmer became when he opened his heart to Sam too). 

screenshot from the movie Palmer
{image via the internet}

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

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 2.11.21

Happy Thursday! 

Here's a quick list of delights since my last post. Enjoy!

Pilot Cove

Thanks to one of the few opportunities to socialize lately: the soccer sideline, Pilot Cove came on our radar. This little gem is about 2 hours from us in Charlotte, just outside Asheville, in the tiny town of Brevard. Our family is familiar with Brevard because the girls attend summer camp there. However, we've never visited during the winter and we were overdue for a getaway. Happily, a last-minute cancelation on someone else's part resulted in our being able to book a spontaneous 3-night stay. While Pilot Cove is literally walking distance to the convenience of big retailers and groceries, it sits on the edge of the Pisgah National Forest and boasts hiking trailheads right on property. The way the "cabins" are situated, you feel nestled in the treetops. Each unit has a well-appointed kitchen, spacious balcony, and thoughtful extras. We hiked, ate well, read a ton, slept in, watched the Super Bowl, enjoyed the snowfall, and recharged our batteries. Before we departed, we booked another stay for the summer.

family posing on Looking Glass Rock

Tammy and Greg

mom and 2 teen girls hugging on a hike

snowy evening view from the balcony Pilot Cove

teen sitting in the sun

book: The Vanishing Half in the snow

Beast Slippers

While shopping around adorable downtown Brevard, I immediately fell in love with these slippers. Greg could tell from the look on my face that I was in love. Without any hesitation he asked, "Do they have your size?" They did. You too could have an amazing pair! These are very similar. Don't hold back.

giant brown fuzzy slippers against an ice chest

Milk Street Magazine's Harissa-Spiced Beef

This recipe ticks all the boxes. It's quick, flavorful, and prepared simply. Most of the ingredients we had on-hand. Harissa can be found in the international aisle (in a jar). It's nice to have in the fridge, as it mixes with hummus for a little kick and can be used to dip grilled meats, or spread on a sandwich for an extra bite. Don't skip the dried fruit. I had dates but the golden raisins would have been very nice too. The savory, sweet, spicy, and briney olives all come together like magic. You should definitely consider subscribing to the magazine (it's ad-free!). In the meantime, here's the recipe from the March-April 2021 issue, not available online (skip ahead if you're not interested): 1 1/4 cups couscous, 3 tablespoons olive oil (divided), 3 tablespoons harissa (divided), 1 1/4 cups boiling water, 1 bunch green onions (thinly sliced, whites and green separated), 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 pound 80% lean ground beef (or lamb), 3/4 cup pitted dates (roughly chopped or golden raisins), garnishes: fresh cilantro, pitted green olives, pistachio nuts, and lemon wedges. In a large bowl, stir together the couscous, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 tablespoons each oil and harissa. Stir in the boiling water; cover and let stand while you prepare the beef. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, green onion whites, and cumin, stirring, until the green onions brown. Add the beef, remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons harissa, dates, 3/4 cup water and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Simmer and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally while breaking up the meat, until the mixture is saucy. Stir in the green onion tops and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh cilantro, chopped pistachios, chopped pitted green olives and/or lemon wedges.

harissa-spiced beef over couscous in a bowl

Leopard Cardigan

I found this cozy cardigan at a little boutique in Charlotte several weeks ago. I love it. It pairs nicely with jeans, a black dress (not that I'm wearing one anywhere), leggings, and even pajamas. Ha! Mine is beige. While looking around to see if I could link the sweater for you, I discovered that it's also available in grey. You can find them both (on sale) using the links under the photos.

Mouse Pad

I guess big cats are trending and I'm all about it. It started with the tiger rug. Now I have the sweater and this adorable cheetah mouse pad. Have you examined your mouse pad lately? Ours was pretty gross. What started out as a lovely white and grey marble design ended up stained and discolored. I decided a darker color would be much better... I found this new beauty on Etsy. There are so many great designs!

cheetah mouse pad

starting a new puzzle

I love starting a new puzzle --and I'm not sure why I don't have one going at all times. I intended to get started on a puzzle during the holidays, as that is a typical tradition for me, but somehow got too caught up with other things --so I was definitely overdue. I received several new puzzles for Christmas and my January birthday. This one I just started is a favorite! Do you puzzle? Anything over 1000 pieces is a non-starter for me. I think 750 is my sweet-spot but those are a little harder to come by.

puzzle box: plants, dogs, posters

puzzle pieces on a folding table

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

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 2.4.21

February! We made it. Feels great, right? I hope this month finds you healthy, happy, and taking some time to enjoy the little things. Here's a list of some small doses of happiness I've appreciated this week. 

Younger + Co. Chill Sofa

Our couch is enormous. We love it. This is all five of us sitting lounging across one side watching 60 Minutes --which has become a great way to spend some time as a family on Sunday evenings. (Don't worry, we watch plenty of brain cell-sucking content from right here too.) For almost eight years, this space was much more formal in terms of layout and I can count on one hand the number of times we all sat in here together. I am so grateful that we had the means and the time to reimagine this space as a place for all of us to do exactly this: lounge and relax. Shoutout again to Carrie Yorker (Interiors) who listened so well and then pointed us to this sofa and specific configuration.

four people and a cat on the sofa
Good for a group

cat and a girl snuggled under a blanket
Good for a smaller snuggle

Special Delivery

A surprise package landed on my doorstep this week and then it landed (or was placed) on Richard Parker. I purposely invaded his space for this photo. He should start getting used to it. Can you find any clues to help understand why?

cat and a wrapped gift
Big news on the horizon!


Even the freezing, soggy kind. Last weekend marked the first soccer games of the spring season for us in Charlotte. Our tournament games were split between CLT and South Carolina. Can you tell where our opponents were from? (Yes, I'm making a mask reference.) We were wet and frozen and didn't come out with the win but we were grateful for the opportunity to watch the girls get to participate in an activity they love. I know not everyone has even that right now. 

teen girl in braids playing soccer in the rain
You can't see the downpour in this pic but I assure you it was happening.


Charlotte Peeps, have you heard of Dr. Joe? He's a bit of a legend around these parts. I believe his application of "Chinese Torture" (his words, not mine) has been incredibly helpful in treating my Adhesive Capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder Syndrome). For those who won't bother following the link, here's one of my favorite quotes, "The condition often resolves over time without intervention but this may take several years." No thanks. I've tried many things to help improve my mobility (anti inflammatories, cortisone shot, tons of physical therapy, chiropractics, deep tissue massage...). Once I started seeing Dr. Joe, I had a huge leap forward. I'm not better yet but I'm getting there. As I don't have a "control group," it's hard to say for sure if this is what's actually making the difference --but again, I believe that it is so I continue to put myself through the torture every week (for cash payment only--under the table).

foot reflexology session
(BTW, I love these joggers. I have them in black and navy and I live in them.)

Turkey Egg Roll in a Bowl

This is an easy recipe (made easier with a few shortcuts) that our whole family loves! I found the recipe using the Mealime app (free version) but I don't think you need the app to get your hands on the recipe, try this link to access and print. BTW, the Mealime app is worth looking into: my favorite feature is adding shopping ingredients to my Amazon Fresh order. For this recipe, which I hope you'll try, I use pre-shredded carrots, pre-chopped onions, and ginger from the squeeze bottle (of which I've tried several brands --the ONLY one worth your time is Spice World, use generously). Please don't try to sub pre-minced garlic --ever. I've tried it all and nothing compares to the real thing. Geneva hates eggs so I remove a big portion for her before doing the last step. Tips: Use your biggest skillet. The cabbage is considerable before it cooks down. Be sure to remove (with a big spoon) the excess liquid before adding the eggs. Don't skip the green onion garnish but the toasted sesame seeds are totally optional. The spicy mayo is amazing!

Turkey Egg Roll in a Bowl

Paper Source Wall Art Calendar

If you've been following along for any time at all, you already know that this calendar is one of my all-time favorite things. Just look at February! Isn't she sweet? Cozy chair, sweet kitty, and tons of books! What's not to love? I know it's a bit late to shop for a calendar; however, Paper Source has them for 30% off right now and January isn't a total bust with this Wall Art calendar because the back side of each gorgeous page is covered in templates for paper crafts. Using the January page will yield 6 gift tags, 2 large flat cards, and a bookmark! You've still got 11 months left to enjoy. Get you one!

calendar page featuring a cat on a chair surrounded by books

back of a calendar page depicting templates for cutting

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 ;)