Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Fashion—?

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What gives you inspiration when you're drawing a blank in art, and life? I don''t have much to offer in the way of "fashion" today, but here are a few lovely things for you. Here's to an inspiring weekend.

If you haven't yet, head on over to Inspired to Action and take a look at the Maximize Your Mornings Challenge and E-book. I can't thank Anna enough for introducing all three to me! I've been working on my morning goals today, and I'll confess, it's hard not to get discouraged even before I begin. But I'm determined to do it, and encourage you to join in!

Happy Friday, friends!

Friday Food—Onions

Can I just take a moment to share my newfound love for onions? Ask Cody, if I'm cooking, I'm using onions. I always shied away from them because I didn't want bad breath, but how did I not realize that the bad breath factor is minimal, if not non-existent, when one cooks them! So basically, here's a great big shout out to the ever so fabulous onion.

Trying to cook on a tight budget? Onions are your friend. Not only are they inexpensive, but it is easy to fore go expensive fresh herbs and still have a meal packed with flavor when you use onions.

I made vegetable soup last week, and the flavor was incredible. It was the best soup I've made—and I make a lot of soup! The secret to my success was a Cajun seasoning mix + curry + of course, onions. You can use this combo to taste in practically any soup. Never made vegetable soup? It's so easy, and the perfect solution when you have soon-to-go-bad vegetables sitting in the crisper.

Mary's (read: Mom's) Vegetable Soup:

1 large pot
Base: Tomato soup or juice
Various vegetables
Filler: Rice, beans, potatoes or pasta (I like to combine beans with any of the other three)
Meat, or bouillon cubes for a meat flavor (I love to use ground hamburger)

Pour tomato base and water into pot, and turn burner on high.
Add fresh or frozen vegetables to the pot.
Brown hamburger or other meat in Cajun seasoning, or other choice.
Combine meat with vegetable/tomato/water mix and then add your filler item(s)
Season to taste with curry, salt + pepper, and more Cajun seasoning.

As you may have noticed, I didn't provide you with any amounts/measurements. This is the beauty of vegetable soup! You can make however much or as little as you want, and vary the amounts according to your own taste. If you're not great at experimenting in the kitchen, vegetable soup is a great thing to start with.

And now back to onions... although they are great even in small quantites, here are some "go big or go home" recipes to try:

Smitten Kitchen French Onion Soup
Smitten Kitchen Roasted Stuffed Onions
Onion Rings or try a baked version here.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Finger Foods: Look Mom! I can open my Puffs all by myself!

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Check out my little hungry monkey! He discovered his Puffs, opened and dumped them on the floor. Soon, they were devoured. How can one argue with those puppy eyes?

Disclaimer: I didn't let him eat all of them, in case you were worried. ;)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Books: Update

For those that have been waiting with bated breath, I have finished Winter's Tale! Check out "The Books" page for a mini-review and to see another fabulous and scandy vintage Hanes ad. If ever I have a library in our home, this is going to be on the wall.

Do you have any suggestions for what I should read next?

[view photo source]

DIY: Make it, stitch it, sew it

It's been a while since I've posted any tutorials, but these were too good to pass by. I hope you enjoy these links and find something lovely to make. Or something lovely for your super-crafty mom/sister/friend to make for you. My birthday is just a few weeks away, and I've asked my mom to make me a couple floor pillows for our new place in N.C. Can't you just see Sebastian lounging on them while he watches Veggie Tales?

Ruffled tee [via]

Doodle stitching, Spring sampler [via (I think...]

Toiletries bag [via]

Pom pom bib necklace [via]

Men's tie [see Kaite's fab version]

If you're in the crafting mood and don't see something here I would recommend going to say YES! to hoboken. It is the best place to find amazing DIY projects and crafts. And a site my mom found: KOJODESIGNS.

You won't even believe it, but you can make your very own Anthro style bedding. I am in awe. Thanks, Mom!

[image credit]

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Where we're going, or why I love Dogwoods

I wrote my thesis on Louis Comfort Tiffany, best known for his flora and fauna inspired stained glass windows and lamps, as well as a breathtaking chapel. One of his favorite elements to employ in his designs was the Dogwood flower. The state flower of North Carolina(!) is none other than the Dogwood. And completely unrelated, but equally exciting is that it is also the home of Andy Griffith! (Okay, I'm fully aware of how ridiculous these reasons for NC's coolness are, but I've never been there! After we move I'll give you some substantial reasons, besides beautiful weather.)

We are very excited about our plans to attend school in this lovely state, but it is so bittersweet, as we will miss our friends and home in Michigan. Not to mention it is twice as far from our families in Ohio. We have full confidence that God will provide time with our families, as well as bring friends to us in North Carolina.

[both images (one & two) are of Louis Comfort Tiffany creations]

Easter Joys

This Easter weekend was wonderful and refreshing. The best, I think. It was so fun to share the joy of Christ's resurrection with Sebastian and to spend time with our families during the most important holiday of the year.

The Dells
My brother, sister, Cody, Sebastian and I drove down to my family's house on Friday afternoon, and spent the evening at my Aunt and Uncle's for a mushroom fry. Saturday morning, amidst delicious green fields and cloudy skies, we continued our long-time tradition of a scavenger hunt for our Easter baskets. My mom is amazing when it comes to making us play silly games and inventing hilarious clues, like "Go milk the cows. Don't worry! I already tied their tails so they wouldn't smack you in the face." Imagine our delight when we found "cowtails" the candy tied up in the milking parlor.

looking at the kitty with aunt b

jumping on the trampoline with uncle isaac

The Streckers
Saturday afternoon took us to Cody’s family’s house. We spent the evening enjoying the open windows that allowed the breeze to move in and watched Sebastian play with his new toys from Mamaw. We went to church as a family on Sunday morning (Seb got to play in the nursery with his auntie!). Cody's brother and his girlfriend came over Sunday evening for dinner and then we spent the rest of the night playing a sweet new scrabble game and Funglish. Have you ever played? It is amazing and really fun. I highly recommend it.

chillin' with auntie

mamaw knitted seb a bunny!

rocking with mamaw. is this not the most precious picture?

sleepy sleepy and watching veggie tales easter

I love our families, and am so sad to be away from them again. I hope your Easter weekend was filled with as much joy as ours!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

  1. We sang the song Jesus Paid It All in church this morning, and I wanted to share it with you as it really spoke to my heart. We serve a truly great God. Cody and I have been talking the last couple days about how Jesus' followers didn't know what was going to happen on Easter morning. They just waited, wondering what God was going to do to redeem such a horrible situation. Imagine their joy when they discovered that Jesus is risen! I pray that these words will bless you on this most special of days.

    I hear the Savior say,
    “Thy strength indeed is small;
    Child of weakness, watch and pray,
    Find in Me thine all in all.”
    • Refrain:
      Jesus paid it all,
      All to Him I owe;
      Sin had left a crimson stain,
      He washed it white as snow.
  2. For nothing good have I
    Whereby Thy grace to claim;
    I’ll wash my garments white
    In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
  3. And now complete in Him,
    My robe, His righteousness,
    Close sheltered ’neath His side,
    I am divinely blest.
  4. Lord, now indeed I find
    Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
    Can change the leper’s spots
    And melt the heart of stone.
  5. When from my dying bed
    My ransomed soul shall rise,
    “Jesus died my soul to save,”
    Shall rend the vaulted skies.
  6. And when before the throne
    I stand in Him complete,
    I’ll lay my trophies down,
    All down at Jesus’ feet.

    by Elvina M. Hall, 1867

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mama | On being "Mom"

I often share Mom and baby related things, photos of my sweet little guy, and little anecdotes of our life, but seldom go deeper. This is mostly because I don't have the time to sit down and write out a lovely little post, but also because it's hard to put into words what I do every day, and the struggles and triumphs that come along with it.

First I will say that there is nothing I'd rather be doing than being a mom to Sebastian. Second I will say that I can't think of a harder, more tiring job. Those that see me on a day to day basis can attest to this I think. I've had some friends tell me that when they see me and Seb, they want more than anything to be a mom, too, but at the same time, are reminded of how blessed they are even without children right now, and it is a reminder to be content. Do you sense the tug of war that is going on here? I can attest, both from experience and the testimony of friends, that this desire for the love and responsibility that comes with having children is irresistible, but at the same time, we don't want to lose ourselves in the midst of dirty diapers and wakeful nights. After all, wasn't I a 21 year old college student finishing a thesis and studying for comps just two years ago? Is that person gone or just temporarily obscured by the fog of a busy life? I'm sure you have or will have a similar story. It's up to you how long that person will be MIA. And I can promise you, she will be for a little while, but not forever.

How much you struggle with this varies, I'm sure. Some are really good at taking care of themselves. Some, like me, tend to wash a load of diapers instead of drinking a glass of water, feed the baby and nibble on some pretzels (like that's enough nourishment?!), and get the little one dressed instead of paying attention to basic dental hygiene. Of course, all these things must be done for your baby, but what I am learning is that Sebastian can stay in his P.J.'s a few minutes longer while I get ready for the day, and it's alright if he munches on some cheerios while I eat a real meal. And drinking water? It's a must. You are probably laughing at me right now, but it's the truth! I struggle with the most ridiculous things!

But sometimes the things we struggle with as new moms aren't so ridiculous. I wanted more than anything to make matching ties for Cody and Sebastian for Easter, but that didn't happen. Whenever we leave for the weekend, I want the house to be spotless, but that is yet to happen, and surveying the state of our living room right now, I don't think it's going to be an Easter miracle. A few things I remind myself daily (other than to stay hydrated!) are...

1) Have expectations for your day, but don't be crushed when they aren't met
2) Don't get lost in your tasks and forget to enjoy your child(ren)
3) Being a mom is a high and worthy calling
4) "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." -2 Corinthians 12:9

At the beginning of the day, God is good, and at the end of the day, God is good. If he is glorified, that is all that matters. It is easy to get caught up in the often overwhelming nature of being "Mom," but when my identity is in Christ, the me that I was two years ago is not lost. In fact, if what Romans 5 says is true, my little sufferings are producing perseverance, and that perseverance, character, and that character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, my friends.

No matter what stage you are at in life, remember Christ's sacrifice this Easter weekend. For no matter what our trials and sufferings, "we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." What a promise.

And so, I will go through each day and take joy in my sweet little Sebastian, and all the duties that come with being "Mom."

[Photo: For Maundy Thusday I read the stories of The Last Supper and The Garden of Gethsemane to Sebastian from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. It is such a wonderful way to start teaching Seb about the sacrifice Christ made on our behalf. I highly recommend it.]

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Busy Man

Too busy to turn around for the picture.

Things I hear myself saying repeatedly:

"No no sweetie, you can't put your hand in the VCR..."

"Oh honey,  please don't lick the wheels on the stroller..."

"Pumpkin, I'm sorry but you can't eat that plant..."

I'm trying to dress Seb after his bath. He drops the remote control I gave him to help keep him still. He strains with all urgency to reach it. I let him. Me: "Wow, It's a good thing you got that remote because it wouldn't have been there in two seconds"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shoe storage solution

It's an ottoman. And it store shoes. I know a few people that could use this... And me? I want to need to use this. Do you have a shoe on your summer wishlist? I'd like some neutral wedges to wear with pretty dresses to summer weddings.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Going to the Mattresses—my mattress, to be exact.

Our new mattress arrived today, which is why I'm going to make this short and sweet. I want to take a shower, cuddle up on my new bed, and read a little Helprin (see photo below) and fall asleep dreaming of light, love, bridges and a labyrinth of magical city streets, all before 10:00 p.m.

Ready, set, go.

Monday, April 18, 2011


We bought a bed! A perfect and delightful bed. It is, in my mind, the ideal combo between a Tempurpedic and a pillow top, made by a Michigan company called King Koil. It arrives on Tuesday and I couldn't be more excited. In the meantime, I'm already sleeping much better thanks to my Tempur-Cloud Pillow, and thanks to Cody's mad skills at striking a bargain, we got a great deal. Now if only I could get this gorgeous 1910 bedframe. Beautiful, isn't it? I ran across it by accident when I was looking for DIY ideas for a bedframe. Do you have any tucked away?

However, that's probably a pretty distant project, and that's okay. Until then, I am so thankful for a new bed and pillow. God is good.

[image source]

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Good HEAVENS, Good Ties

This small South African company, Good HEAVENS, makes the loveliest ties. I'd love to get Cody one of the Liberty prints for Easter. Do you buy/wear something special and new on Easter Sunday each year?


Friday, April 15, 2011


Don't you love these sheets? I've been spotting some great home and family related things online lately and wanted to get them all together to share. I hope you enjoy and find something useful or inspriational! Tomorrow we're going bed shopping! I'm not excited for the hunt, but I'm so ready to sink into a good bed and start getting some quality sleep.

I really like this baby website.

This book would make such a great gift, especially for a soon-to-be-married couple. Can't buy the book? Check out the blog.

The most beautiful and intricate baby basics.

16 energy boosters. I think we could all use these!

DIY pom pom garland. I'm trying to figure out how to incorporate this in an American West themed nursery! Ha! [via]

Attention pregnant mamas! I can't believe I've never heard of this website!

A.G., the queen of organization, printed these e-books and gave me a copy! I've started reading them and they look great. I can't wait to get started on a new routine. Thanks, Anna!

Friday Fashion—Make A Spectacle

I love plastic frames. They are so old Hollywood.

I got my first pair of glasses when I was about 13 (or 15?) and have always thought I looked like a granny in anything other than plastic frames. Of course, I also enjoy the quirky/artsty/nerdy look they give, but more than that, to me, they seem so classic and decisive. There is no hiding behind a pair of horn-rimmed glasses.

Do you wear glasses? What kind do you like? I’m in the market for a new pair because of a mishap during my freshman year of college. It was a pile-up for a picture; my glasses perished. I only wear them at home now, and even then avoid them if I can. I tried a few recently, and think I might go a little crazy and get some bigger ones. I thought they would look bad, but I actually think they looked way better than the small ones! Cody needs new glasses as well(!), and I’m hoping to convince him that he would look sweet in plastic frames. Maybe if I told him he would look like Michael Caine...

My inspiration. Probably the cutest woman in the sweetest glasses.

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Friday Food—Sweet potatoes. Not just for babies.

Seb has had a terrible cold, his first significant one, making my days very busy with this sick little sweetheart constantly in my arms. So here are a few quick bullet points to briefly introduce you to Sweet Potato Ravioli, one of our new favorites.

-A huge thanks to Kaite for finding and sharing this recipe!
-I made the butter sauce sans most of the herbs and it was still amazing.
-Make this. It’s delicious.

And then after you make it, tell me what you would think of a sweet potato sauce for pasta instead of spaghetti sauce. Gross... or brilliant?

Another sweet potato recipe that I'm dying to try.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Baby Sandals


With that sudden burst hot weather we had on Sunday, I suddenly realized that we have no sandals for Seb. In addition to that, his little shoes are getting really small. Of course I get extremely excited every time I realize that I "need" something new for my little one, but I'm having a hard time deciding what one pair of sandals to get. I firmly believe that when buying the essentials for my baby, I should keep 2 things in mind.

1. Is it gender neutral? Items like shoes and outerwear tend to be a bit more of an investment (at least with my taste...), and since we can't predict the number of boys or girls that will be born into our family and during which season, I like to keep these essentials classic and neutral.

2. Will it last? We could get loads of gender neutral baby items, but what good will they be if they only last for one child?

Now to decide...