Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Busy, Busy Week!

{This turned out way longer than I thought.  Next week I will try not to save all my adventures for one post! haha}

I feel like I practically traveled all over the states of Rhode Island and Connecticut this week!  It was a fun week but honestly a little tiring and I’m kinda glad it’s over and I have NOTHING else on the agenda except special music for church tomorrow with Chris.  Chris and I really try to be intentional about staying at home a lot, especially in the last two years since we have had Luke.  That has meant saying “no” to lots of other commitments (most often from people who need help at church).  Don’t get me wrong, we have always been a part of the church body, but there comes a point where church commitments can supersede family and marriage time and that's just not for us.  We just don’t desire to be busy non-stop 24/7 – we don’t see that as healthy for our family or marriage.  So anyway, my week might seem lame/tame to some of you who constantly have to be on the go, but to me it was chock-full! 

Monday night my sister called and wanted to know if i wanted to go to the outlets with her (about 40 minutes away).  It was a fun girls’ night out (we got Five Guys! yum) but the outlets were a total BUST as my sister would say. :)  We went to two different outlet malls and this was literally the only thing I found that I liked/was willing to pay for:

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That’s right, a plain ol’ white tee from J. Crew.  Borrrrring!  Honestly, I was really happy about it because it was on clearance for only $5 plus change, and I needed a new white t-shirt because mine was kinda ratty. 

On the way home, we stopped at Pier 1 because I had seen through Money Saving Mom that Pier 1 was giving away $10 coupons.  We both printed them out and had fun searching through the store for items that would bring us as close to $10 as possible.  We are either cheap or smart depending on your perspective, I guess! I found this girly oven mitt, which I loooove, and a hefty white platter (actually I think it’s technically a dinner plate - that’s American appetites for you!- but I’m going to use it as a platter).  My total was only $1.11! Whoo hoo! 

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Then we came home and watched Bachelorette like I mentioned in my last post. Still thinking JP for sure!  (Was it killing anyone else how she told JP that her and Constantine had come to a “mutual agreement” that they shouldn’t be together? Jill and I were like, “Honey, actually he left YOU!”  lol I do respect him for that, but I did feel bad for her.) 

Tuesday I drove to Newport, RI to visit my friend Abby (if you haven’t ever checked out her blog, you should definitely do so!)  I’m pretty sure I was like her 2nd follower and now she’s practically world-famous.  :)  She has the cutest outfits and she has really good decorating taste (as well as awesome recipes).  And since it’s no secret that I am obsessed with all things Southern, I just love listening to her talk with her drawl and the way she says “y’all” all the time.  hahaha!  We met a few months ago and we’ve hung out a couple times since.  She made me an awesome lunch and I loved seeing how she decorates in person.  

Unfortunately, my child was literally the spawn of you-know-who that day (think running in front of cars, throwing fits, spitting in the house, you name it!) so we had to cut our visit short.  I was so frazzled I only took like 3 pics – so here is her son Graham with Luke in the playground behind their house.  I’m pretty sure Luke threw that chalk immediately afterward. 

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Wednesday I ran errands and then at night I went to a Wildtree tasting way up in Cranston, RI.  Wildtree is the company I just signed up to be a  part of (I really will do a post all about it someday!) and so I drove up there to watch my “sponsor” (we don’t have bosses, we have to call them sponsors but that makes me feel like I’m in AA) do a tasting.  It was a good experience and made me feel a lot more confident in having my business launches in two weeks.  I have actually never been to Cranston before, so on the way up I was just driving along when I noticed a sign for “Garden City Center.”  Then I saw smaller signs along the highway: “Chipotle.  Whole Foods.  Anthropologie.  Pink Berry.  Starbucks.”  Ummmmmm hello mall you are speaking my love languages!!!!!!!  lol

It really is a beautiful outdoor mall and if you live anywhere near Cranston, RI, I highly recommend  you go!  They have live music on Wednesdays nights in the summer, apparently, and my friend said in the winter they have caroling and stuff.  I felt like I was on vacation there, no joke.

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I stopped at Anthropologie on the way back from the tasting to look for knobs for our new kitchen island we found off Craigslist a month or so ago.  The knobs were all mis-matched so we knew we’d have to get new ones.   I found these knobs on clearance for $2.75 each and immediately fell in love with them (If you are gasping for air right now, Anthro knobs run anywhere between $8-$14 each so that really was a good deal :).  They SO do not match the island AT ALL and Chris keeps making fun of me but I told him I didn’t care; we don’t have a girl (yet!) and I’m in the kitchen all day sometimes and I deserve something that makes me happy to look at.  And they do. :) In case you can’t tell, they are PINK crystal. :)

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Thursday was an at-home day, just spent doing household things and spending lots of quality time playing with Luke.  On Friday I did more errands all morning and met my sister at Target (aka the happiest place on earth) and then had lunch with her.  She is moving to Nashville in September after she gets married, so I am trying to soak up every minute I can with her when she’s not working!

And, FINALLY, the weekend.  I spent the morning getting my bridesmaid dress hemmed at the seamstress and then ran up to a craft fair my friend Kathy was having (another blog you should read – you will want to be just like her when you grow up.  Or maybe that’s just me?! lol).  I ended up buying four of her ADORABLE flower pins for only $11 (the one with the pearl is dark purple even though it doesn’t look like it here) and then Kathy’s friend was selling burp cloths so I bought 3 for $5 for my bff’s baby boy due in August.  Linds I know you are never going to do this in a million years but look away now if you don’t want to see the burp cloths!  hahaha

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On the way home I was able to stop at a yard sale and picked up all these boy clothes for $7, plus a belt for me for 50 cents.  Yay!

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So anyway, WHEW here I am.  Hope the rest of your weekend is fabulously relaxing!

Come back MONDAY for a giveaway!! :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Miscellany Monday {13}

Side note: When I was a hostess at a local restaurant in high school, I had people who would flat-out REFUSE to take pager number 13 when waiting for their table.  I find that crazy.  Guess what number our new house is?! :)

I have brain-overload this morning.  Hang on tight!

{1} I can’t even tell you how relieved I am to have my sister’s shower over with!!!! Seriously, it feels AWESOME.  Everyone said they had a nice time, nobody choked on any food, and my sister said she loved it.  I consider it a success!  My only “theme” was white – here is a sneak peek until I do a real post about it later in the week:

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{2} Of course, now that the stomach-ulcer inducing stress of my sister’s shower is over, I find myself in a new realm of anxiety:  this week is the week that the state of Connecticut is supposed to license the adoption agency we’d like to work with (Bethany Christian Services). 

Bethany Christian Services

We’ve already been delayed by two months because the state is dragging its feet.  We were told in April that it would come in June, and then in June we were told end of July.  I am praying that God would allow the licensure to come through and we can finally get this party started!  It’s more nervous excitement that I feel.  We are really ready to bring the next member of our family home and so we are hoping the state is on the ball this time!

{3} My blog friend Sarah reminded me this morning that The Bachelorette is on tonight!!!  I just watched it for the first time with my sister last week, and I am HOOKED! We don’t have tv, so I’m going to go over and watch it with her tonight and next week. 

Definitely one of those shows that is more fun to watch with a girlfriend.  They definitely played it up that her and JP have a huge fight…but who knows what will happen?!  It showed Brad and Emily fighting on the Bachelor, and then he picked her.  (Although clearly that relationship went downhill fast.)  Anyone else out there hooked?

{4} I keep thinking I want to do a post about fashion.  I am so curious to see what all you other stay-at-home moms wear everyday!  I would love to have some kind of link-party where we could all show a few typical outfits for the day (you could just photograph the clothes, not have to be wearing them).  I just feel like every time I shop, everything is way too “fancy” for wearing to the grocery store or Target.  If I was still working, that wouldn’t be a problem, but if feels so frivolous to buy a lot of clothes in the stores right now, because they just don’t fit my life-style.  Does anyone else have the same problem?

{5} Last but not least, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the direction I want to take my blog.  I have been reading old posts from Kelly’s Korner, because a)I am nothing if not awesome and b) I followed her blog late in the game and I wanted to get a picture of her whole story.  I have been struck by how much God used the tough things of her life to impact others for him and also by what a wonderful family legacy she is leaving for her daughters.  I wish I had that for us.  I keep a baby/toddler journal for Luke to remember his milestones and sweet/funny things he does, but I don’t have any kind of family journal. 

So my goal is to start writing personal posts at least once or twice a week, so that in 40 years I can look back and have a record of how I spent my days. :)  I will still post about decorating and clean eating and frugal living….just with some family posts mixed in.  I understand that I have people following me for all different reasons, and I promise that at this point, This Blessed Life is not going to become a personal diary blog with only pictures of Luke everyday.  (Although clearly I have the right to do that in the future if I decide that’s what I want for my blog). 

Anyway, I just wanted to give you a heads up and let you know where I’m coming from.  I’m excited about becoming more diligent about keeping track of our lives.

Well, I am off to get some MUCH needed groceries!  (I actually love grocery shopping most of the time, because it’s a challenge to spend my money as wisely and healthfully as possible!  I know, total dork. :) 

Have a fabulous Monday!

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July at our House

I don’t know about all of you, but the month of July has been non-stop for us over here.  Between working on house projects, planning for Luke’s birthday, planning my sister’s bridal shower this Saturday and preparing to start a home business (more on that another day!), I am BUSY. 

Added to that that I’ve been thinking about a lot of heavy things (adoption and bringing another child into our home, our goals as a family, the purpose of my blog {okay not nearly as important as the other two, but still!}), and I just haven’t felt like blogging.   There are too many thoughts swirling in my head, and trying to pick one of out of the whirlwind and pin it down just seems too overwhelming at the moment. 

Right now it is just more relaxing to me, when I have down time, to sit down and read other people’s blogs, rather than write up my own posts.  Does that ever happen to you?  We don’t have a tv, so when I have time to relax, reading other people’s blogs is like my own version of the Food Network, TLC, HGTV, and Lifetime all rolled into one. :)

Of course I will be back soon…hopefully I’ll be able to do some posts showing you Luke’s birthday dinner party, my sister’s shower, and even some of my summer decorating (which uses of lot of the elements from my mantle last summer, shown here.) 

In the meantime, thanks for sticking around!  Be back soon… or later. ;)


P.S. I love summer, but on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is it that all I can think about is the fall?!  lol

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Clean Eating: Super-Easy Homemade Bread Crumbs

My original goal with starting this clean-foods journey was just to start replacing unhealthy items in my kitchen with their healthier versions.  I’ve come a long way since then!  I’ve changed my whole philosophy of food and eating, and I’ve also realized that some of my favorite items simply didn’t have a good replacement, and that was okay.  (As in, I used to eat Cool-Whip by the spoonful, straight from the container, frozen or not.   It used to be one of my favorite things…now that thought makes me want to gag! lol  Fresh whipped cream is great, and I’ve made it lots of times, but it just does NOT set up like Cool-Whip, and that’s the way it goes.)

Sometimes, I’ve found a great replacement recipe, but realized that in actuality, the replacement recipe takes so long to make that I’d rather just go without the item.  Case in point: homemade tortillas

They are fabulous and they are SO much better than their chemical-filled counterparts (go stand in the tortilla aisle sometime and breathe in - it’s not a natural smell!), but they take soooooooo much of my time that I’ve only made them twice.  So we forgo enchiladas and tortillas and usually go with taco salad when we need a Mexican fix.  No big deal. 

However, I am happy to report that homemade bread crumbs ARE a good replacement, and they DON’T take a lot of your time to make.  Can I get an amen?! :)

I gathered information from a few different websites for this recipe, so I can’t credit any one source….except Google.  Thank you, Google. :)

(Remember, these will look so dark because I used 100% all-natural whole wheat bread.  They are not going to look as fluffy as the ones you buy in the store….that have about a bajillion ingredients, like dough conditioners, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, and other icky-for-you additives in them.  Dark is good! :)

I don’t know about you, but this is WAAAY too many ingredients for me:


Homemade Bread Crumbs (Plain or Italian variation)


Old bread (you can use fresh bread, but why waste it?  I used the ends of two loaves of bread, and a package of wheat rolls that Chris only used two of.)


Cookie sheet(s)
Food processor*
Freezer bags or jars

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees (you’re drying out your bread, not toasting it or cooking it).  Tear your bread into chunks, to speed up the drying process.  Spread over the cookie sheet(s) and put into the oven. 

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Bake about 20 minutes (if yours is still really fluffy, leave it in there longer), until the tops feel dried out.  Turn the pieces over, return pan to the oven, and continue cooking for about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  (Picture above is after they had cooled.)

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Once cool, break bread into small chunks and place in food processor.  Blend or pulse until bread crumbs are your desired thickness?chunkiness?

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Place into freezer bag and keep in freezer.  From what I’ve read, these will keep for several months (maybe a year??) in your freezer.

luke birthday 177{I decided after the first bag that it was a liiiiittle over-kill to write what year on the bags.  I mean really, if we haven’t eaten these by next July…they’re getting chucked! lol}

Seriously….SO easy.  If you wanted to make Italian bread crumbs, I would add a little Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese to the bag.  It it tastes too bland, then add a little more. :) I intentionally left mine plain so that I had the option to season later or not.  We had these last night with our dinner and it was fabulous!  You’d never know the difference. 

This definitely works for me!  Happy eating! :)

Linked to these food parties:

Tasty Tuesday @ Beauty and Bedlam
Tasty Tuesdays @ 33 Shades of Green

*You could definitely put the cooled, baked bread into sealed ziploc bags and then smash it with a mug or other heavy object.  It just goes a lot faster with a processer!

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Letter to Luke on His 2nd Birthday

My sweet boy,

I can’t believe that today you are TWO.  TWO!  As many times as I say it, it still doesn’t seem real.  

I will never forget the day I found out that you would be in our lives.  On November 17th, 2008, we found out that someone would be changing our lives forever, but it wasn’t until March 2nd, 2009, that we found out it would be YOU.  I had been praying so hard that God would let me be a little-boy mommy the first time around, and I remember crying such tears of happiness when the technician told me that you were undoubtedly a boy.  It was then that I knew you were my “Luke” and not just “baby” anymore.  I was so thankful and overjoyed that God had given me the desire of my heart! 

We found out on Monday, July 6th, that we were going to get to meet you in two days – quite a bit earlier than we expected.  07-08-09 was our “let’s go get him” day and we thought that it was so neat that your birthday was going to be such a memorable date.  I knew you needed to come out, and I was a little nervous for you, but mostly excited – so, so excited.   Even though we had SO much to quickly do, those two days just seemed to drag on and on and on.  We went out to eat the night before, and I ordered a meatball grinder as my last pregnant meal.  I wanted to go out right. :)

And then the day came!  I hardly slept at all the night before (how could I?!).  We got to the hospital at 4:30 and started the journey to meet you.  I was tired and people kept telling me to rest, but again: how could I?!  Today I was meeting my Luke and I was just too excited. 

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07-08-09 ended up being the longest, scariest, most emotion-filled day of my life.  By the time you are old enough to read this, you will probably have already heard Mommy and Daddy’s stories of what that day held for all three of us.  It did not go at all like we or Mommy’s doctor had expected or hoped. 

Sometimes when I think about that day, I still cry a little.  It was a hard day – much harder than I ever thought it would be.  But then I stop and think about what would have happened if you were born in 1909 instead of 2009 or if Mommy’s doctor hadn’t been so fast-moving.  You probably would never have made it to come out and meet us – or your little brain and lungs would have sustained a lot of damage.  Maybe too much damage.  So when I start to feel sadness creep up, I think about those things, and I am beyond happy and grateful that God chose you to be born when He did and to whom He did. 

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Because in the end…we got YOU. 

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And you were beautiful.  From the moment you were born, right up until today, I have had no end of people stop me – in stores, in parks, in church, wherever - and tell me that you are honestly the most beautiful boy they have ever seen.  And I believe them, of course, because I think it is true. :) Mommy had told everyone and their brother AND their mother how much she hoped you had hair and you did not disappoint.  (Although we did think it would be blonde, not black – that was such a surprise!). 

You were such a little peanut, and so helpless and teeny-tiny and precious.  You had a whole bunch of fuzz on you, from coming out early, and we jokingly called you “Esau.” 

I could not get enough of you. 

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We stayed in the hospital for four days to help you and Mommy heal from a few things, and then we came home and started our real life together as a family. 

We watched you grow…..

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and learn…..

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and giggle…..

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and eat…..

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and be a silly monkey. :)

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You turned ONE and then we got to start experiencing the joy of toddlerhood with you.  You learned to walk, run, and jump, you learned to eat with a spoon and a fork, you learned to put on shoes, your vocabulary started taking off, and you grew much more independent in so many ways. 

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We fell in love with you as a baby because you were ours and you were so teeny and smelled so good. :)  It is fun to fall in love all over again with this new little boy that you are - growing up right before our eyes!

Over the last two years, I have learned so many things about you.  I know that when you climb up into your highchair, you are ready for me to feed you RIGHT now – no matter what I’m doing at the moment.  I know that when you are tired, you like to have your paci (yes, still!) and a head of hair to play with, whether it’s yours or someone else’s.  I’ve learned that you are fascinated by animals, of all kinds, and you like to hold a matchbox car in each hand as you walk around the house.  You love to read books (alone and with us) and when you watch Curious George, you get so excited and pump your right arm so hard it makes us all laugh.   

I know where you are ticklish and what can make you smile and what will scare you.  I know that you love to line things up in rows and organize things and that you are so observant; you notice things in pictures and fields and stores that Daddy and I would otherwise have completely missed. 

You sing all the time for us, and Daddy and I love it – we hope you will be musical like us, someday! (But it’s totally okay if you aren’t.)

I love that you have a little lisp on the word “s” sometimes and I secretly hope it stays around for a while, because I think it is the cutest thing in the world. 

I love that you are still sweet and innocent – I can’t remember a single time when you have ever tried to push or hurt another little boy or girl.  (Although I think once you did put sand on someone’s head. :) And you have not yet started the “mine” phase, for which I am thankful. 

You recently started saying “hi” to inanimate objects (like your stuffed animals), and people in stores, and it is just too cute for words.

Your most favorite food in the entire world is milk – you just can’t get enough of it, even though you usually only get it at morning and night.  You were calling it “mosh” until just a week ago, when you finally started calling it “melk” just like your Auntie Lindsay. :)

I could go on and on and on, sweet boy.  You are my little buddy, and since we spend all day, every day, together, Mommy knows you inside and out.  Every day your brain makes new discoveries and new connections, and I love being here to watch it all happen. 

You are the light of my life.  I love you so much it makes my heart actually ache.  I would do anything in the world for you, sweetheart.  

My deepest and strongest desire for you is that you would grow up to love God with your whole heart.  Daddy and I pray over you every night with that request, and that you would be a man who loves others and who does great things for Him.  Right now, as I type this, I am praying that at whatever point in the future you are reading this, you have already given your life to Jesus and and want to be a part of His mission for the world. 

I love you, I love you, I love you.  You are my most favorite boy in the whole wide world.  I hope when you are old and you read this blog post and my other journal entries about you, you will be able to catch just a glimpse of how much my heart was filled with love for you.

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.

I love you to the moon and back! Happy 2nd birthday!

- Mommy

Friday, July 1, 2011

our fourth of july weekend plans

don’t you just love fourth of july weekend?! i think it’s second only to thanksgiving as my favorite holiday.  everyone’s happy because it’s beautiful outside and everybody gets out of work on the crummiest day of the week.  you get to eat picnic food and love on your country and see fireworks and wear flip-flops. 

ahhhhh, american holidays. :)

our weekend plans are as follows:

friday night: date night with my man (luke is staying OVERNIGHT with my parents!!!!! overnight people! as in, i don’t have to use my son as an alarm clock!  as in, mommy and daddy can sleep AS LONG AS THEY WANT TO!  did ya catch that?!!! lol)

chris and i will be eating here:

and then doing a little of this:


and eating a little of this (coconut or almond joy for me, probably mint chocolate chip for him:

ice cream cone


saturday and sunday will be laid-back, at-home days (besides going to church), before glorious monday rolls around. 

at 7 am you will find me here with my mom and sister for a 50% off sale:

then at one of these:


then home for luke’s nap before a big picnic, where i will be bringing this food of the gods and trying desperately not to rub my face in the pan:


and HECK no, it’s not clean or healthy. but this is an american holiday, after all! ;)  

happy fourth, everyone – have a blast!