Thursday, November 28, 2013


I’m always on the lookout for fun, simple, well made, unique toys that allow Kensi to play without having everything coached to her. Our plan this year for Christmas was to give her an adorable buggy style doll stroller, but if you read our other posts, then you know that won’t be delivered until spring! Kensi enjoys doing lots of things mommy and daddy do. She helps us make our coffee each morning by placing the pod in the machine and pressing the buttons (this and our phone is as much tech toy-ish exposure she really gets). She also loves to help us prepare meals and even does a great job scooping, pouring and mixing. 
When I was little and I had my own play kitchen I loved my little coffee maker that actually let water run through when you pressed the button, or my plastic eggs that held an egg with yolk on the inside. Why did I love those toys so much? Because to me, they were as close to the real thing. 
I’m gushing over the appliance toys they’re creating for play kitchens such as the toasters, stand mixers and coffee makers. Kids love these items for the same reasons I loved my similar toys. Now I lean towards wooden toys because they are built to last. I’m usually not going to find bits and pieces of a broken plastic handle all over the floor when someone accidentally steps on it. 
Toy companies such as Hape, Plan, and Haba are leaders in the wooden toy era. However, I’m not always a fan of the bold colors offered, but they’re adorable nonetheless. I’m loving Pottery Barn Kids Wooden Appliances. Their neutral cream color palette will go with any playroom decor and like several of the other wooden toys by other companies, they’re gender neutral.  My most favorite attribute of Pottery Barn Wooden Appliances are the accessories. How can you not just explode with happiness over the little honey jar that goes with the toaster?? 
Of course kidlits don’t need every appliance for their play kitchen {if they have a play kitchen that don’t necessarily need one!} First of all, where are they going to store all of these appliances? Ha, same issue we all have right? But how fun it would be for them to have a gem like one of these to spark their inner-chef. Are these not the cutest play breakfast accessories you ever did see?

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013


So today I was so excited to get more of my Christmas shopping done especially since I received some discount codes via email from some of my favorite stores in anticipation of Black Friday. As I go to add the baby doll stroller I've had picked out for weeks for our daughter, I was devastated to see it's on back order.....until March! I was immediately saddened and my heart sank as I thought about how excited I was for this to be her 'big' gift for Christmas this year. Our holidays are already on hiatus because we're in the middle of building our house and will soon be moving in to it in just a couple weeks. As ridiculous as it may sound to some, I started to tear up thinking about how we're not going to have the perfect Christmas because I waited a couple days too long to purchase this item. My husband saw how upset I was. I was more bummed out than anything. He looked at me and said 'Rach you're missing the point!' He was right. 
I had built up this idea of a perfect Christmas in our new house and this perfect Christmas was unrealistic. He proved his point even further tonight as we ordered our pizza for Thanksgiving Eve. As much as I'm sick of being in the furnished apartment we're in, where we don't have our own furniture, we don't have our holiday decorations or anything else because they're in storage.....he created a Thanksgiving Eve tradition for us. He set up our table for din, gave each of us our drink of choice, pulled out a game of Farkle and turned on our favorite  thanksgiving episodes from Friends. 
In the middle of all this he looked at me and said, 'This may not be perfect, it may never be perfect, but as long as we have us...then it will always be great.' 
My husband completely shook my world today and I'm so THANKFUL! As much as I try to plan, I don't want to miss out on these moments. We have so much to be thankful for! Thanks babe, I love you. 

We hope everyone finds the time to spend tomorrow with family and close loved ones. May you discover something new you're thankful for this year, HAPPY THANKSGIVING! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Kensi has fallen in love with our bed. She loves to lounge in there and watch her morning cartoons. She has to stack two pillows on top of each other so she’s propped up just right and then pulls the sheets up to her belly. Her personality is really becoming apparent. She’s our goofy little girl with blend of our quirks and we fall in love with her more and more everyday. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Over the last few years I have really grown to love hosting thanksgiving for our close friends. Every other year we spend the entire week of Thanksgiving in California with my sister's fam and dear friends. I was so excited to contribute our turkey recipe last year and it was yet again loved by all! 
We love making our own Thanksgiving din; there’s something about lounging in our jams in the morning watching the Macy’s Day Parade, cooking all afternoon, diving into our feast and then ending the night kicking off the Christmas season with our favorite Christmas movies with some Eggnog! But before I get ahead of myself, I still have a turkey to make. We love love love our beer and when we saw this had beer and rosemary {Mike’s favorite} we thought BOOM! THIS IS OURS! IF you’re anything like us and will use any excuse to make beer part of your menu then this turkey is just for you.

Beer Brine Turkey
1 Whole Turkey, Thawed {12-14 lb.}
1/4 cup Butter, melted
2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Rosemary, fresh & chopped {or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary}
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 can/bottle Dark Beer {12 oz}
1/2 cup Cold Water
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour

Preheat oven to 325’ F. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey {save this for added flavor when making your gravy, simply cook & brown gibbets/neck in a pan and use the pan with its drippings for your gravy that you’ll finish once your turkey is done} Rinse the turkey inside and outside with cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Fold wings across back of turkey so tips are touching. In a shallow roasting pan, place the turkey breast side up.
In a medium microwavable bowl, stir together melted butter, mustard, rosemary, salt, pepper & beer. Microwave uncovered on HIGH 1 to 1-1/2 minutes, stirring after 30 seconds, until well mixed. Brush about 1/3 of the mixture evenly over the turkey. Fasten the drumsticks together with bakers twine. Insert an overproof meat thermometer so tip is in the thickest park of the inside thigh and does NOT touch the bone.
Roast uncovered 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Brush with additional beer mixture and pan juices every 30 minutes. The turkey is done when the thermometer reads 165*F and drumsticks move easily when lifted or twisted. If necessary, cover turkey breast with foil during last 1-1/2  to 2 hours of baking to prevent excess browning.
When the turkey is done, remove and let it stand 15 to 20 minutes before carving. This makes it easier and allows it to stay juicy. Remove skewers and twine before slicing.
While the turkey is sitting, measure drippings and enough water to make 2 cups. In 2-quart saucepan, heat drippings to boiling. In small cup, stir together cold water and flour until smooth. Stir flour mixture into boiling drippings. Continue stirring 2 to 3 minutes longer or until gravy is thickened and bubbly. 
I love to garnish the bird with orange slices and sprigs of rosemary. 

This was our first Thanksgiving in Maryland. We spent our day serving dinner at a nursing home, came home & made our own din, and Skyped with Trish and Walt in AZ. It’s now a tradition when we’re not together in Cali.
Hoping you have a Happy Turkey Day All!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


It’s finally starting to cool down a bit here, which makes wearing everything cozy so much better. We often claim Friday night as our movie night, but now that Mike doesn’t work on Friday’s, we use Thursday as our late night date night. No matter what we do, we find ourselves on the couch curled up with a movie more often than not. 
Even Kensi is beginning to cozy herself up on the couch for a movie with us and it melts my heart. I love our little family.

Cozy Throw - It’s been said, I hoard blankets. Mike knows I have a huge weakness and so do others in my family. Our favorite blanket is Pottery Barn’s Ivory Grand Chenille Throw. It’s so cozy, my sister calls it the coma blanket. You can literally wrap yourself up like a cocoon and you’re not going anywhere.
Popcorn - We always make our own popcorn using our Stir Crazy and usually dress it with olive oil and a little salt, sometimes even parmesan cheese...yum! But sometimes we need a sweet fix. If it’s not caramel popcorn from a local shop, we’ll make a popcorn mix depending on the season like puppy chow. There are hundreds of mix recipes especially on Pinterest and for every season & holiday imaginable!
Individual Bowls - If it’s just Mike and I on the couch sharing popcorn, then we dive into one bowl, but if we want different things or if there’s multiple people we will often do individual bowls. This works great because everyone can dress their own bowl with different goodies. Not a popcorn person? Fill your bowl with a combo of sweet candies just like the movie theatre....gummy worms, Skittles, M&M’s, nuts.
Jams - Are you really that comfy sitting on the couch in your jeans? I know I’m not and I love wearing sweats or some flannel jam pants in the cold months. My current crush is J.Crew’s Flannel Pants.
Paper Straws - We keep these on hand most of the year. Kensi loves playing with them, but they’re so cute and make everyday a little festive.

Since it’s the beginning of the festive holiday season here are some of our can’t miss movies.
The Holiday
Love Actually
Christmas Vacation
The Christmas Story
Miracle on 34th Street
The Grinch
Home Alone 1 & 2

This list could go on and on....

Kensi has become quite the little popcorn snitch!
Happy Movie Night!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


It’s hard to believe we’re already in the season to go shopping for Christmas. One of my favorite things to shop for are stockings. In the past Mike and I have only done stocking stuffers for each other, but now with Kensi I think it’s even more fun because I look back on all the different things my stocking was filled with on Christmas Eve. Growing up I only really remember opening my stockings with 2 of my older brothers. We were the last few in the house because everyone else was married and moved out. My brothers would find pocket knives, batteries, Butterfingers, card games, socks and underwear. I would find chapstick, a doll, a CD, festive socks, and colored pencils. 

Sometimes it becomes difficult to find different things to fill stockings. I know for me I hate spending money on junk that’s going to break. There are some things that Mike always looks forward to having in his stocking like the candy cane filled with Reese’s candies because it’s a tradition that he always got on Christmas. Last year for Kensi’s stocking she found teethers, binkies, bows and headbands. I also made her a winter themed tag blanket. She was only 6 months old and didn’t really understand or really care what was in there. She was more into holding her soft stocking. 

I’m really excited this year because Kensi is so much more aware of whats going on, she probably won’t remember it, but Mike and I will. Her stocking isn’t going to be filled with junk either, I talked to Santa already. So many of the moms I know have been gathering ideas for stockings; so here’s a list to get some of you started on your lists.
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| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |

I strongly suggest a doll or a plush toy for both boys and girls. Dolls are not just for girls. My nephews took care of my baby doll when they were growing up. It helps them learn how to care for a person. It also helps them develop a nurturing personality and teaches them how to be a good gentle dad. 
We’re getting very close to the potty training stage and why not get them excited about underwear that they will love to wear!
Kidlits love art. They love painting, drawing and creating.  So be sure to toss crayons, paint or play dough in their stocking. You can also put in some plastic cookies cutters; these are great for tracing with a crayon, stamping with paint and cutting play dough. This helps them build on their fine motor skills that will later help them learn how to write.
Like dolls, cars and trucks are not just for the boys. Kensi loves scooting cars across the floor and watching them glide. 

Need more suggestions for kidlits....
Plum Snacks
Sippy Cup
Snack Cup
Magnetic Letter & Numbers
Little People
Christmas Ornament
Bath Toys
Winter Hat

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


There are so many things to love about fall, November is one of my favorite months because it's my birthday month! Today we started my birthday week celebration with a family lunch date at the delicious Epic Food and a dessert at Apple Annie's, our go-to bakery in Wilmington. 
Kensi started running once she saw the door to Apple Annie's and literally jumped  when she saw her favorite little butter cookies. There's nothing better than walking with your loves, breathing in the cool crisp autumn air, nibbling on a chocolate covered macaroon. For me, that's perfect. 

As for some of our other favorites for fall...
1} Eos Lip Balm - I go through lip balm as if there's no tomorrow. I have multiple different kinds floating everywhere because I lose them all the time. I'm currently crushing on Eos. I love the shape because it's different than every other one I've had in the past, my only problem right now is I often confuse it with the 6 clementines I carry in my purse for Kensi's snacks!

2} Headbands - Headbands have often been my accessory of choice. Kensi now wears some old ones that were falling apart, but now are destroyed. I love the many different styles to wear your hair, it makes the basic down or ponytail not so boring too. Some of my favorites are from Ulta & Target.
3} Banners & Garlands - Last year I made a burlap banner that I hung on our fireplace mantel, but it can be hung across a dress, window, mirror or doorway. I'm always digging a lot of glitter and several shops carry glittered banners that are adorable. Check out Yellow Bird, Yellow Beard you'll love them! Once we move into the new house, each of our festive holidays will be glittered up!
4}Slippers - h to the yes! Bring out the slippers! Mike and I got each other slippers a few years ago for Christmas....I actually bought his first, he saw I had ordered them, then bought mine. It was an exciting disaster of a surprise at the time, but my point....they're super comfy, warm and wear well. I love the all white faux fur ones at Baby Gap for littles.
5}Vests - As you can see even Kensi is sporting a vest this year, her’s came from Target. I prefer vests over heavier coats because I'm constantly in the battle of hot and cold. I recently purchased a faux fur vest from Brickyardbuffalo {another favorite for deals and steals!} check them out, once you do, you'll be hooked!
6}White & Gold Pumpkins - always one of my favorites for fall and especially thanksgiving. They are classy, neutral and timeless. I love all the ways you can decorate them too.....monograms, glitter, patterns...the possibilities are endless.
7} Belts - Chunky brown belts are a must for fall. Sometimes I’ll buy my skinny belts a size smaller so I can wear it around my tummy instead of my waist, this is one my favorites to do especially with a belly bump growing.

Monday, November 4, 2013


There are many things I’m obsessed with, baby shoes, socks, coffee mugs, fabric, paper, anything small, books and pajamas, pajamas, pajamas. Especially for Kensi. She spends a lot of time in jams, they’re easy to play in and they’re comfy...all perfect for us since we stay and play at home most of the time. Some of our favorite brands of jams are Baby Gap and Carters. They wear well and last longer than most I’ve experienced. 
We are super excited because all the holiday jams are filling up the racks in the stores, which means we have to have a few pairs to be festive at all times of the day during this holiday season. Earlier this week I was catching up on some of Marissa’s posts over at The Simple Swan and on Instagram, she mentioned Target had their Christmas jams of course I made stop earlier this week and picked some up for Kensi. I was a little apprehensive about purchasing fleece jams because Kensi can get so hot, just like her daddy, but she wore them last night to bed and she slept great! I’ll give the jams credit.  Some of our favorites this year...

Saturday, November 2, 2013


If you ever read our story and how we got to North Carolina, it seems pretty simple. But there’s so much more to that story, so here we go...

The back story...I am the baby of nine, yes nine brothers and sisters. I have 30 nieces and nephews. Mike has one brother. We come from two very different families, but we were raised with the same values. Having a very large family means lots of different opinions and just like any other family, not everyone is going to get along and that’s okay. Every family, big or small, goes through troubles. Mine is no different than yours. Nearly eleven years ago, my family didn’t agree about a situation and it really divided us up. People were mad and hurt and some still can’t let it go. I truly believe my family is being see if we can work through tough times or just call it quits and walk away. To be honest, some have walked away for awhile. Since the first ‘issue’, we’ve had two more tests. Some of us have learned from our mistakes and some don’t think we’ve made mistakes throughout all of it. But there is a reason and season for everything. 
5 years ago when Mike and I started looking for jobs before we graduated college, we both felt we were suppose to be in North Carolina. We felt that’s where we were suppose to be, but we didn’t know why. No jobs panned out for us there and with a little confusion we pushed forward and moved to Maryland. During our time there, my family was on the tail end of dealing with issue #2. 
After awhile, we felt it was time to move home and find our house we’d make our home with our first Little Baby Braden on its way. Funny thing is, God had a much bigger and different plan for us. We moved home, but didn’t buy. We stayed with my parents which turned out to be a blessing because while we were there issue #3 began. It was hard and once again people were hurt. Those who tried to stay neutral were accused of not being supportive because they chose to not choose a side and that was hard. Again after a little while, we felt the need to move for a better schedule, better job and better all around situation that would allow Mike and I to be on our own again and be stable. Mike went on a few job interviews and received an offer from Texas. I remember when he was waiting to hear back to see if he had an interview with NC and he was just ready to take the TX job. I asked him to wait and I’m so glad he did. Not only did he get an interview they offered him the job. When he called me to share the news I cried, because I knew there was a reason we needed to be in NC, we just weren’t sure why yet.
The first weekend we were here we wanted to find a church as soon as possible. We belonged to our Catholic church back home which we loved, but we wanted to find a church that we loved here too, not just go to church to go to church. We were actually just driving through the neighborhood and literally drove by a non-denominational church that was planted four and half years ago. Making sure it wasn’t ‘crazy’ we decided to try it out the next weekend. Our first visit was rough, we brought Kensi with us and Mike spent most of the service outside letting her explore and run around; that’s when he met Ashley, the lead pastor’s wife. When I met her, she invited me to get connected with other women in the church through their women’s Bible study that met weekly. I don’t normally dive right into things, but something was different about this whole move and I did. The first night I attended they were wrapping up their study and were reading The Bait of Satan by John Bervere. I was so moved by the message of the book, author and how it’s impacted these women that I knew it was something I needed to read, every one of my siblings needed to read, and for that matter...everyone in general should read. This book is about letting go of offense, not holding grudges and healing relationships....exactly what my family and so many other families need. 
The following weekend I bought the book and recommended it to my sister in AZ, who recommend it to my sisters back home. My mom also bought the book. Change isn’t going to happen over night, but change is happening. 
I recently shared my story with Ashley and I really do believe there’s a reason and a season for everything. Five years ago, we felt the push to be in NC.....we held on to that and stepped out when He wanted to move us. We’re learning quickly that when you follow where God wants you to be, incredibly AWESOME things happen. 
In an earlier post, I shared I was anxious about our trip to Kansas City, why you ask? Because four of us started to read the book and I was curious as to how the whole weekend would go. At the beginning to the weekend I was very worried, because some came guarded, and they had opportunities to embrace or walk away. They chose to embrace. Everything wasn’t smooth sailing, but everyone was respectful and that was huge. God is working in us, especially our family. If moving to NC was a way to heal the broken hearts within our family, then it was well worth every battle, every moment of confusion, and every tear. 
The books we’re reading in our Bible study have taught me so much, if Ashely had not stepped out and introduced herself to me, I would not be sitting here writing this post. She has helped me become a better person even in such a short period of time, she has given me tools that we hope with heal us and make us into better people. I believe God whispered North Carolina to Mike and I five years ago because he had a plan for us to meet Ashley and her church. The best part...this is just the beginning.
I will be sharing our books that we read with all of our readers. Mike often reads them with me. So in the right column on the blog you’ll see ‘CURRENTLY READING.' We will also start a new tab to share all of our books and look for a new book to be posted next week as we will begin a new study.

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 1, 2013


Last night was awesome! Kensi's first official Halloween with trick or treating was so. much. fun! Of course she decided to cut her afternoon nap short and was a bit of a crankster, but she willingly walked on her own and rang the doorbells. We made it to about 5 or 6 houses before the hunger pains set in and we walked back home. 
She was more excited about touching and seeing everyone's yard decorations more so than getting the candy, but that's okay. 

I literally finished Mike's costume about 20 minutes before he came home yesterday. All of our costumes were created with items we already had and some fabric I bought from the store. 
My Costume: I already had my boots {that killed my feet and my back}, my white shirt and my buckled belt. 
I made my skirt by guess and by golly as my mom says. I cut two squares of fabric, laid them on top of each other making a star-ish shape and cut a circle out of the middle; roughly the size of my waist. Then, I sewed the pieces together and added elastic and I called it done. 
For my corset/belt I simply wrapped a long piece of black knit fabric and did the same for my headband. I added gold hoop earrings and extra black eyeliner to finish the look. 

Mike's Costume: I was a little nervous about his costume because this was the first 'guys' costume I have created and I didn't know how it was going to turn out. I knew the key pieces for his costume were the shirt and vest/coat. I looked at the Salvation Army and Goodwill stores for weeks and couldn't find anything that was his size, but I always start there first. I ended up buying his very inexpensive black sweatpants and a white long sleeved tshirt. I didn't mess with te pants at all. For the shirt I cut out the collar around the neck and cut a v-shape down the front of his chest. Then, I hot glued lace trim {from the fabric store} down the v of the neck and around the cuffs at the wrists. It worked perfectly! 
His vest was a little tricky. I bought faux leather fabric and used one of Mike's t-shirts as a guide for size and used this pattern just for an idea to draw my shape. Then, I sewed the shoulders together and up the sides. I also added a few gold buttons to the front. 
Mike's bandana was just like mine, just in a different fabric and his black dreads were made from the extra black knit fabric I had and they were just braided and stuffed into the bandana.  

Kensington's Costume: This costume took a little time since I had to pin the feather boas around the entire onesie. I actually did it twice, the first time it was too tight and she freaked out when I put it on. The great thing about this costume is you can really do anything with your colors. I found a basic picture of a parrot to use as a guide. {Click Here} to see the earlier post for the parrot costume. 

Is it weird that I'm already thinking about our costumes for next year with the hope of adding a newborn baby costume into the mix?!!? Hmmm....

We hope all of you had a great Halloween, it's a little sad to say adios to October, but I'm so ready for November! 


I find it important to use a product or brand for awhile before I list it as one of my fabulous finds. We’ve been using some Boon products throughout the last year and absolutely love them. I seriously cannot find anything to complain about! The one product that I use literally every single day is the Boon Grass Drying Rack. I love adore this rack and actually bought a second one because we use it so much and I wanted another for more drying space. I love the grass design, it’s fresh and not so ugly to look at like so many other drying racks. We also use the Boon Twig Accessory, I went way too long without it! 

I think Kensi is almost ready to start the process of potty training, so as soon as we’re in the house I plan on ordering the Boon Potty Bench. I love the design of the bench just as much as their other products. It’s chic as much as a potty chair can be and there are no characters splattered all over it, that is unless Kensi covers it in Minnie stickers some day.

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