Aug 31, 2015

Dear Talitha {two months}

Dear Talitha,

We took the newborn insert out of your car seat the other day. You are a big girl now. Maybe 15 pounds? And you were starting to look quite silly with that little cushion around your head. 

You sleep through the night. You like to go to bed around 8:30pm. Your eyes get droopy at that time, you fall asleep while nursing, and you transfer into your crib without a single fuss. For awhile, I was trying to dream feed you around 11pm each night, but you would barely eat. Now I just put you down at 8:30, slip out of your room, and I don't come back until I hear your gentle little hunger sounds in the morning.

You also rolled over the other day. I didn't see it, but your dad {who is in charge of your physical exercise such as tummy time and standing practice} placed you on your stomach and you rolled right over onto your back. You were so startled you cried, but we were all very proud of your unexpected accomplishment.

I ponder all these things you are able to do - sleep through the night, stay awake for an hour during the day, smile at anyone and everyone - and it seems like you are so big and advanced. But then I remember that you are two and a half months old. You are not a newborn anymore. With Zianne, the hazy, tired newborn days are etched in my memory. I remember napping on the couch with a baby on my chest, the pain of first time nursing, all the novelty of going out and about for the first time - to the doctor, to church, to the fair. But then the next few months are a blur. I honestly barely remember when Z was two, three, four months old. The fog starts to clear around month eight or nine. Then I can remember again.

But with you those newborn days flew by. They weren't novel. They were calm, peaceful, and productive even. We had lots of family visitors. We traveled. I finished a chapter of my dissertation when you were just two weeks old. I wore you on my chest and typed the afternoons away. And now suddenly you are over two months old and you are blossoming into a little girl. You have a tiny dimple when you smile. You love to be held. You have gone to swim lessons twice now. You are outgrowing your car seat and your swaddle. I've packed up all your tiny clothes.

I want to remember these days. I want to remember months two, three, four. I want to pay attention each day as your eyes become more alert, as you hold your head up higher, as your constant smile turns into a giggle. May the days of you being a big {yet tiny} girl be forever etched in my memory.


Aug 29, 2015

Saturday Snippets

What a modern day resume should look like...

I love these wooden watches...

Most popular emoji by state...

Ten rules to reduce email overwhelm...

The square is now optional...

I'm having a big fun sale in my shop The Curated Closet!

Wisdom on the Duggar scandal...

Aug 27, 2015

No-Bake Lemon Delight

What you need:
36 Golden Oreos {divided}
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 box {3.4 ounces} lemon pudding
3/4 cup milk
8oz. package of cool whip
1/2 cup lemon curd or lemon pie filling

What you do:
1. Place 18 cookies in a gallon sized sandwich bag. Seal the bag {except for one corner so air can escape} and roll with a rolling pin {or a can from the pantry shelf, let's be honest} to coarsely crush the cookies.
2. Place cookies and butter in a large bowl. Mix with a spoon {or your hands} until the butter has been worked through. Press into the bottom of a 9x9 pan. Note: this is not a crust in the traditional sense. It’s loose, not compacted.
3. Wipe out your bowl and add pudding mix and milk. Whisk until smooth. Fold in half the container of whipped topping. Carefully spread over cookies in pan.
4. Crush remaining cookies in gallon sized sandwich bag. Sprinkle half over pudding. Reserve the rest for the topping.
5. Mix lemon curd gently with the remaining whipped topping. Spread over pudding.
6. Sprinkle with remaining cookies. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving.

*Adapted from this recipe

Aug 25, 2015

Seattle Travel Tips

Every summer various friends will visit Seattle and ask us for for tips. I've copied and pasted and rewritten our Seattle travel advice email so many times that I decided it's finally time to get it down in blog form so I can just pass the link to anyone who is interested. So here it goes...

Seattle is a sprawling city with very distinct neighborhoods, so I will break it down by geographic area. If you are staying right in downtown and have just a day or two to sight-see, you might be able to get everywhere by walking, monorail, or city bus, but if you want to explore the greater city limits, I would recommend renting a car.

Pike Place Market - Seattle's bustling outdoor market sits above the Seattle waterfront. It's an iconic Seattle spot and home to the first Starbucks, the famous flying fish, and lots of pretty flowers. Whenever I give friends tours of Seattle, the market is always one of their favorite stops. Don't forget to buy some freshly made donuts! Where to eat: The Crumpet Shop, Pike Place Chowder, Piroshky Piroshky, The Pink Door, Matt's in the Market

The waterfront - You can walk down from the market to the Seattle waterfront. Here you will find lots of piers and shops, the Seattle Aquarium, the Great Wheel, and amazing fish and chips for lunch {but beware of the birds!}. Where to eat: Ivar's Pier 54 Fish Bar, Elliott's Oyster House, The Zig Zag Cafe

Downtown shopping - A few blocks up from Pike Place you will find the downtown shopping district {Westlake Center, Pacific Place, and adjacent shops}. Most of the stores are just common chains {Macy's, Urban Outfitters, GAP, Anthropologie, etc.}, but you can also visit the flagship Nordstrom and some fun local shops as well. You can also catch the monorail from here to zip across town. Where to eat: Purple Cafe and Wine Bar, Umma's Lunchbox, Caffe Senso Unico, Calozzi's Cheesesteaks, Dahlia Bakery, Lola

The Seattle Center - The Seattle Center is a few miles across town from the shopping district and the monorail links the two areas. This is where the Space Needle is located as well as a bunch of fun museums. The Space Needle is quintessential Seattle, although it's expensive to go to the top these days. Right next to the Space Needle is the EMP Museum, which is full of exhibits on music and pop culture. You will also find the Chihuly Garden and Glass here, which is ranked by many as the best attraction in Seattle. The Pacific Science Center and the Seattle Children's Museum are both in this area too. The Pacific Science Center is great for people of all ages. Be sure to pick up some Seattle Fudge from the Seattle Center food court. Amaretto is my favorite! Where to eat: Tilikum Place Cafe, Holy Cannoli, Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar, Toulouse Petit

Pioneer Square - This is Seattle's historic district on the south end of downtown. This is where you will find the Mariners and Seahawks arenas, an array of sports bars and pubs, and some fun art galleries as well. Overhead you will see Smith Tower, which now seems short against the Seattle skyline but was once the city's tallest building. Beneath the streets, you can take Seattle's famous underground tour. Where to eat: Tat's Delicatessen, Il Corvo Pasta, Shawn O'Donnell's American Grill and Irish Pub

GreenlakeThis is the cutest little neighborhood just north of downtown. The lake is a 2.6 mile loop, and you will find people walking, running, or rollerblading around it at all hours of the day and in any type of weather. There are places to stop for ice cream or coffee along the way. There are tons of recreational activities at the lake. You can play pitch and putt golf. You can rent kayaks, pedal boats or stand-up paddle boards. You can swim and jump off the high dive or you can hang out on the lawn where people are constantly playing soccer or tossing a Frisbee. Where to eat: The Butcher and the Baker, Bongos, Greenlake Bar and Grill {for happy hour}

Wallingford - This is a cute area on your way to Freemont or Greenlake. It's the home of the Woodland Park Zoo, which is great for kids and they sometimes offer rainy day discounts, so don't let Seattle weather deter you from this attraction. Where to eat: Molly Moon's Ice Cream, Bizzarro Italian Cafe, Dick's Drive-In {on 45th Ave.} for the best burger and fries

Freemont - This little neighborhood is home to many cute shops and restaurants. Here you will find the famous troll under the bridge, the Freemont Sunday Market, and Theo Chocolate where you can take a tour of the factory. Nearby the Burke-Gilman Trail runs along the shore of the lake beckoning you to take a stroll or jog. On your way to or from Freemont, you can check out the iconic Gas Works Park and have a picnic while gazing across the lake at Seattle's skyline. Where to eat: Paseo Caribbean Restaurant, Royal Grinders, Uneeda Burger

Ballard - There is where you will find the historic Hiram M. Chittenden {"Ballard"} Locks, where boats are transported from Salmon Bay to the Puget Sound. This area includes a fish ladder where salmon migrate from freshwater to the ocean and back again. Next to the locks is a beautiful botanical garden. The Ballard area is historically a Scandinavian community so you might want to check out the Nordic Heritage Museum. Golden Gardens is a huge public park that runs along the Puget Sound, where you will find hiking trails, beach access, and wetlands. It provides gorgeous views of sailboats by day or stop by in the evening for a sunset campfire on the beach. Where to eat: The Walrus and the Carpenter, Bastille Cafe and Bar, Ray's Boathouse

The U-District - This is the college area surrounding the University of Washington. The college campus is gorgeous and the football stadium is right on the water. "The Ave" {University Way NE} is the main street to the west of campus and it's filled with vintage clothing stores, dive bars, and bookstores. It's kind of grungy but with a hip, smells-like-teen-spirit vibe. Nearby, the Agua Verde Paddle Club is a fun place to go for happy hour or dinner. It's a fun Mexican restaurant {with a healthy PNW twist} and you can rent kayaks and go out on Lake Union before or after your meal. Where to eat: Portage Bay Cafe, Morsel, Aladdin Falafel Corner, Teriyaki 1st, any hole in the wall Thai place on the Ave {Thai Tom's is the most famous, but Pinkaew or Araya's Place are also good options.}

West Seattle - If you want to hang out on the water, it's fun to watch the sun set over the city from Alki Beach. Where to eat: Pizzeria 22, Marination Ma Kai, Moondrop Coffee and Tea

Other neighborhoods of note - Capitol Hill, Queen Anne Hill, Chinatown-International District

If you have a few days in the Pacific Northwest, here are a few recommendations of things to do outside the city.

Take a ferry ride - The Seattle area is unique because it's surrounded by water almost on all sides, and the state operates the largest ferry system in the USA. I highly recommend taking a ferry ride out of the city to catch some breathtaking views of the Puget Sound. You can walk on or drive onto most ferries and visit places such as Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, or Vashon Island. You could also consider an overnight trip on Whidbey Island or the San Juan Islands.

Drink some wine - About 30 minutes east of Seattle, you will find a cute little town named Woodinville which is home to some of Washington's best wineries. The most famous is Chateau Ste. Michelle, but there are many to choose from in the vicinity. Most of them have tours and tastings daily.

Hike or ski - Seattle boasts mountain ranges to the east and the west. You can ski or snowboard at Stevens Pass or Snoqualmie Pass {typically November - March} or hike various trails in the Cascade Mountains year round.

Visit a waterfall - If you travel eastward into the mountains, you will come to a tiny town called Snoqualmie, home to a gorgeous 270 foot waterfall. You can grab something to eat at Salish Lodge or bring a picnic to the two acre park. You can also visit the Northwest Railway Museum if you have any train-obsessed children with you.

Pick some berries - If you visit in the summer, berry-picking is a fun Northwest family activity. Depending on the time of year, you can pick strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries.


Foodies - Here is a quick list of upscale restaurants you might want to try if fine dining is your thing...
American: Canlis, Lark, Art of the Table
Italian: Spinasse, Serafina, How to Cook a Wolf
Pacific Northwest: Dahlia Lounge, Sitka and Spruce
Steak: Metropolitan Grill
Seafood: Palisade

Recreational - If you like to run, walk, camp, or climb, check out these spots...
Discovery Park
Burke-Gilman Trail
REI climbing wall
Visit Mt. Rainier

Theaters - Seattle has a vibrant entertainment scene. You can catch a Broadway show at the 5th Avenue Theater or the Paramount Theater. Both are gorgeous inside. There is also live music all over the city. Check out shows at The Showbox, Benaroya Hall, or El Corazon.

Bookworms - If books are your thing, Seattle is full of independent bookstores and beautiful libraries... Seattle Public Library Central, Lamplight Books, Lion Heart Book Store, Left Bank Books Collective, Elliott Bay Book Company, Third Place Books {Ravenna location - visit the Pub in the basement}

Good for kids - I mentioned these above, but here are some of the best spots to visit with children...

Pacific Science Center, Seattle Children's Museum, Pike Place Market, Greenlake, Ballard Locks, Woodland Park Zoo

Best spots for pictures - Seattle is gorgeous. Here are the best locations to get photos of the skyline or the water... Alki Beach, Kerry Park, Gas Works Park, Golden Gardens

So there you have it... way too much information about one of America's best cities. Obviously, you could not even visit half the places listed here on a single trip, but peruse the recommendations and pick a few places that sound good to you. Whether you are eating thai food with college kids in the U-district or bustling around Pike Place with other tourists, you really can't go wrong if you are spending your day in Seattle.

Aug 24, 2015

In the Kitchen: No-Bake S'mores Bars

Since we're roasting away in 100+ degree weather in Arizona, I'm all about no-bake treats. These s'mores bars are super easy and extra delicious. I subbed raw honey for corn syrup because it felt right, but I haven't figured out a way to make marshmallows healthy yet... sorry! 

What you need:
4 cups Golden Grahams cereal
1 cup Chocolate Chips
3 cups mini marshmallows {divided}
1 tablespoon raw honey
3 tablespoons butter
1 tsp vanilla

What you do:
1. Grease a 9x9 inch pan. Measure out 4 cups Golden Grahams cereal into a large bowl and set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, melt butter, vanilla, honey, chocolate chips and 2 cups mini marshmallows on low heat, stirring constantly.
3. Once marshmallow/chocolate mixture is completely melted, pour mixture over Golden Grahams cereal and stir until the cereal is evenly coated. Stir in 1 cup of mini marshmallows {and I added a few uncoated cereal pieces for the aesthetic factor!}
4. Press mixture evenly into pan. Allow to cool for one hour until set {or put in the fridge if you live in the desert where it's never cool}. Cut into bars. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Recipe adapted from here: Smores Bars Recipe.

Aug 22, 2015

Saturday Snippets

Your friends don't have cable either...

Just got these white bloomers to use under dresses for Zianne. Such good quality and super affordable! {The XL fits like a 2T/3T.}

Remember that kindness leads to repentance...

This dress is classic and flattering...

I didn't think "attractive one-piece" was a thing, but it is...

This top is neutral but fun, super comfortable, and on sale...

Aug 15, 2015

Saturday Snippets...

Loving these crossbody bags...

An interesting read on domain names...

Use "I side with" to find out which presidential candidate you most closely align with...

Cute tee that transitions from spring to summer to fall...

When success leads to failure {an education read}...

This versatile skirt is in heavy rotation in my closet...

And a few other cute skirts as well { A // B // C // D // E }...

All the {horrifying} Planned Parenthood videos in one place along with helpful resources...

Aug 13, 2015

August Goals

Sharing a few achievable goals on my blog each month has been incredibly beneficial for me. I feel extra accountable to get things done when I know I will report back to my readers in this space. I don't always get everything accomplished on my monthly list, but I'm usually able to knock out the majority of my goals, and I consider that a very good thing. You can see my BIG 2015 goals here.

Last month's goals:
Encouragement notes to Micah and a friend
Finish Z's baby book {I worked on it, but discovered I still need a few more photos}
Start Talitha's baby book
Fall syllabus {This is finished now, but I did NOT get it done early as I was hoping to}
Organize Dropbox folders
Memorize Romans 8:12 {worked on it, but struggling!}
Record prayers and answers
Read a book for fun {Y'all, I am officially two months behind on reading a book monthly for fun!}
Date with Micah
Date with Zianne {I took her to the gym alone, but I need to step this up!}
Send out Talitha's birth announcements

This month's goals:
Encouragement notes to Micah and a friend
Date with Micah
Date with Zianne
Weekly girlfriend visit
Order pics for Z's baby book
Talitha's two month letter and two month update
Finish Glitter and Glue
Read Girls Like Us
Memorize Romans 8:12
Write down prayers for Micah, Zianne, and Talitha

Aug 8, 2015

Saturday Snippets

Etsy launches crowdfunding. This must be added to my dissertation...

A sweet {biblical} reminder on why it's bittersweet to send your kids back to school...

Why we're tempted to look away from abortion...

And why our stance on abortion is too flimsy...

Some items I'm salemarking... petal shorts / swing tunic / crossbody bag

Also, I splurged on this one-piece swimsuit and I don't regret it...

If you thought the movie San Andreas was scary, this is worse...

Netflix binges and the Gospel...

Talking to your kids about sex...

Some great reminders about grace and marriage...

Why no one in Zimbabwe is crying over Cecil...

Aug 1, 2015

Saturday Snippets

To help Christians navigate discussions on abortion...

Exploiting a writer's first draft...

Trying to get Talitha used to nursing with a cover but...

My favorite jeans are on sale...

I'm all about elastic waistband shorts...

These mid-rise cutoffs are great...

When the baby isn't healthy...

A fascinating look at how a Twitter parody account came to be...

The power of attention with your toddler...

Inspiring motherhood post of the week...
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