Thursday, March 25, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 3.25.21

Ben Snuggles

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

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

Lenten Roses (Hellebore)

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

vase of lenten roses on a small table


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

2 tubes of concealer

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

Foodie Night

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

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

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 3.18.21


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

teen girl with a Bernedoodle puppy in her lap

Richard Parker

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

Ragdoll cat on a couch


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

Bog Boots

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


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

bowl of chili with shredded cheese and sour cream

The Girl with the Louding Voice on Audible

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

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

Clairol Root Touch-Up

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

box of clairol root touch-up

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

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 3.11.21

Dating Again

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

couple in masks at an outdoor event

girl with braids in a mask holding a flute

More Progress in the Living Room

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

Large wooden-framed circular mirror

living room with gallery wall and large circular mirror

More Consistent In-Person Learning

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

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

Table & Twine

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

shrimp pasta in a white bowl

table & twine recipe card and packaged ingredients on the counter

Spring Sunshine

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

sunny front porch with sitting area and plants

small lemon tree in the backseat of a car

Justine Gilbuena

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

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

Fredrik Backman

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

cat on a couch with a book titled Beartown

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

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 3.4.21

Used Book Stores

I went in my favorite used book store, The Book Rack, here in Charlotte this week. They had received a book I had placed a "hold" on. Of course, I left with more than just the one I went to retrieve. Here's the stack I came away with. As you can see, I have very eclectic tastes when it comes to genres. I'm pretty stoked to jump into Wifey by Judy Bloom. Somehow, I missed this title when all my peers were reading it in the 80s and 90s. If you've been here in the blog for awhile, you might remember that I only recently read Forever, as well. I might very well be late for the party --but I'm here now and enjoying the piña coladas. Also in my new stack The Duke and I, (on which the hit show, Bridgerton, is based), Ann Patchett's Commonwealth (I've only read two other Patchett book and I LOVED them both: Bel Canto and The Dutch House), Britt-Marie Was Here (I'm on a new roll of Backman books right now and am about to finish Beartown), two new-to-me Rainbow Rowell novels: Fangirl and Landline (if you've not read any Rainbow, you are missing out), and finally: A Dog's Purpose. I'm into dogs now.

stack of books

Meatloaf and 'Taters

We've had this exact meal twice in two weeks. It's that good. The meatloaf recipe is not new. It's an Ina Garten classic that has outstanding reviews --for good reason: Individual Meat Loaves. Don't change a thing! The potato dish is greatly updated from the traditional mashed that used to accompany every meatloaf dinner. These Braised Sweet Potatoes with Orange and Olives are from Milk Street Magazine (March/April 2021 issue). Milk Street does not share recipes online but I am happy to share this one with you if you reach out. The best way is through Facebook messenger via my SourJones Blog page. These braised sweet potatoes are incredible. Combined with red onion, orange juice, and crushed coriander, then finished with bright and briny green olives --my goodness, you'll want to eat these potatoes again and again! The two recipes serve about 6 generously.

dinner: meatloaf and sweet potatoes

Tulip & Daffodil Season

Spring, spring, sweet spring! The daffodils are pushing up through the ivy and Trader Joe's is well-stocked with fresh tulip stems. Happiness. Treat yo'self!

tulips atop a dining table

Thrift Culture

I mentioned Mimi Miller and her new online shop, Thrift Culture, last week. Wouldn't ya' know, I found another treasure! These fun napkin rings are perfect for spring and I love the way they work with the chargers and placemats I bought before. If you haven't yet, do follow her on Instagram and visit her website to see all the good she's doing for nonprofits in tandem with her new venture.

woven feather napkin ring with colorful napkin on a wicker charger

Treasure Hunting

Speaking of thrifted goods, I am so pumped about the mirror I found this week at Classic Attic, a consignment store near me. It's huge and heavy. Hanging it might prove challenging, but I am so excited to get this sucker on the wall!

cane and bamboo edge of a round mirror

wood, cane, and bamboo-framed circular mirror


Always. Cheese. I love making charcuterie boards almost as much as I love eating them! Best tips: 1. Shop at Trader Joe's (they have everything you really need); 2. CROWD the board (I can't emphasize this enough); 3. Offer lots of color by adding dried/fresh fruit, colorful crackers, olives/nuts, and cured meats; 4. Try to include varying textures in your cheeses (soft, spreadable, sliced); 5. Throw in some different surprises like honey, jam, marinated/pickled antipastos (olives, artichokes, peperoncini, mushrooms); 6. Use whole fruits to help fill the platter (fig, small apples, mandarins, strawberries), and something sweet (truffles, dark chocolate, small candies); 7. Add height variations by standing breadsticks or tall crackers in a small jar or glass and/or sticking a cheese knife into a soft wedge.

charcuterie tray of cheeses, crackers, meats, and fruit

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 ;)