6/17/17

Happy Father's Day to Our Favorite







Dear Herm,

I'm sure there should be a more eloquent way to start a letter like this, but I know you like things simple and straightforward.

There are many other good men out there, but never in a million years could I have imagined that the man who would father my children would be as good of a man as you.

Why you waited so long to get married; why you noticed me -young, only 19- and took a chance at a relationship, some days still baffles me. Yet I am sure grateful you did!

I recently heard a bit of advice given to someone still single: When looking for a marriage partner, choose someone who you would be thrilled to have your kids grow up to be like.

I can say, without a doubt, I would be proud of Carson and Brooklyn following in your footsteps.

There are so many things I love about the way you Father...

For instance:


  • I love how much attention you pay to what your kids are saying. When you walk into the room their eyes light up because they feel known and heard.
  • I love how you read, endlessly, to Brooklyn. Book after book after boring board book.
  • I love how you are teaching Carson to cherish the future Love of his Life by showing him through example what cherishing means. He's been bringing me field-picked flowers and I love you post-it notes, something he has learned by watching you. 
  • And... how you are cherishing Brooklyn as well, showing her what true love looks like. When working with money, bankers study the real stuff so that they can easily spot a fake. In the same way, because Brooklyn already knows that true love looks like it'll be a whole lot easier to sense someone who is looking out for their own interests and doesn't genuinely care for her. 
  • You are exceedingly generous. The kids and I, daily, feel that. 
  • I love your jokes, even if at times they aren't very laughable. Your sense of humor is something that was passed on to both of our kids. 
  • I love that you are consistent and steady, an extremely hard worker and integrous business owner, yet you always, always make time for us. 
  • And the daily rituals you have, of taking the kids on 4-wheeler rides, of waving to the little faces pressed flat against the window pane before you leave for work, of bedtime snacks and I love you kisses, they melt my heart.
  • You prioritize vacationing, often booking the next one almost as soon as we returned home from the last. My tendency is toward skimping to save money, but you are teaching me that investing time and money into making memories together as a family is always worth it. Always. Years from now, when the kids are grown and on their own, I am believing that we will reap the benefits of this because our kids will have a rich history of time spent intentionally working to deepen relationships and have fun together. They will always be siblings, yes. But because of this, I think they will always be close friends too. 
You, Herm, are a good, good Father. You're modeling to the kids the love our Heavenly Father has toward us, always looking out for our best interests, even when, at times it may not feel like it. 

You balance out my mothering in the best way possible, and remind me of the long-term perspective, which in the day-to-day moments I can so easily miss. You are the yin to my yang, and I am forever grateful to have a man like you be the Super Hero our kids look up to most.

Thank you for being YOU.

Happy Father's Day, Love!

6/6/17

Currently






Reading:

The Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd.

Written by the contributors of the popular blog, Coffee + Crumbs, this book is a beautiful collection of essays on Motherhood that will have you laughing one minute, then crying the next.

Reading through it, story by story, I felt myself feeling lighter and freer, as I realized I'm not the only one who has [far too many] days she wishes she could redo, who day-dreams of what life might look like if her world wouldn't revolve around toddlers, who can't wait for nap time and the peace and quiet it brings only to find that when they're sleeping she misses the noise.

It was as if I was having coffee with a friend, and during the conversation kept whispering, Really? You too? No longer feeling isolated or alone with the many emotions raising Littles can bring.

I've been a long time reader of the blog, and ever since I found out about the book, I've been eagerly awaiting its release.

It did not disappoint. This is a book I know I'll skim through again, and one that I think I will gift to every new mother I know.

I'm planning to pass my copy on to a few friend to borrow who I think will enjoy it as much as I did.


Loving:

My new mop.
Over the winter we replaced the flooring in our house from carpet to laminate. Before the only sections of floor I needed to wash were the kitchen, entryway and bathroom. It wasn't a big deal to get down on my hands and knees and scrub them until they shined. But going over my entire house weekly on my hands and knees... I did that all of two times and decided it was not worth it.  Ideally I would have loved to purchase a Norwex mop. I use to clean for someone who had one, and the quality of theirs was superb, but the price! I couldn't quite justify that.
Enter e-cloth; it's very similar to Norwex, though without the silver woven through it, which is what makes Norwex stand apart. The price point was more within my range, so I purchased it. And I love it. I think the only thing that would make it more lovely is if it were self-powered instead of Sarah-powered. (Is it ironic that I clean homes for other people but at times wish I could have someone come in and clean my home so I wouldn't have to?)

Carol's Daughter Hair Milk
Over Memorial Day weekend we went to Lancaster, PA, to visit family. My week was fairly busy, and even though I thought I was on top of packing everything, I wasn't. I completely forgot all my hair products save a comb. I figured I could manage without them, I would simply wear my hair in a ponytail all weekend. Herm didn't agree. So off we went to WalMart in search of something to manage my mess of tress. I typically use Deva products for my curls, but since WalMart doesn't carry that, I picked Carol's Daughters Hair Milk out of the very limit selection of curl friendly creams and gels, and hoped for the best. So far I really like it. It detangles my hair, which means I don't feel the need to run a comb through it after washing, and seems to give my hair softer, shinier curls. I do use a gel along with the cream for better hold.
It's been almost a year since I decided to fully embrace the fullness of my curly and often frizzy hair. It was a bit of a learning curve but I think was completely worth it. Seeing products, like Carol's Daughter, become more mainstream is exciting to me.  I plan to try more of this line after I finish off my current supply of Deva things.

•Kate's Instagram Challenge
My sister is currently in the midst of a 100 Days of Illustrated Journal challenge. Her feed is looking fabulous, and every day I check it multiple times to see if she's posted. You might enjoy following along too...


Dreaming:

Do you remember this post where all I could seem to talk about what that living room makeover I was dreaming up in my head? Guess what?! Instead of just being in my head, it's currently in progress! You might remember that I mentioned wanting a large area rug (check), a leather couch (check), and white walls (to be checked).

Can I tell you a little story about dreaming and persistence followed by prayer?

I love quality things, and often that comes with a high price tag. In addition to that, I am not a spender. Wants quality but hates to spend; that doesn't always works so well. In this case, however, it did.

After spending hours and hours on Craiglist and Facebook Market place, I thought I had finally found a couch. It was leather, and from Article, the company whose couches I was most drawn to. I messaged the Facebook seller, and after conversing for a bit, made an offer. Instead of counter offering, he came back with a few names, calling me cold and heartless. That couch was a sentimental piece he wasn't ready to part with, and I wasn't willing to pay the asking price. No deal.

I was feeling discouraged about the search and prayed. Prayer is always worth a shot, no?

Several days after I prayed, the kids and I went yard sale-ing. Herm dropped us off in a town that was having it's bi-annual community sale, while he went to meet with clients for two hours. One of the very first sales that I went to had a huge area rug. It was rolled up tight, so I couldn't see the entire rug, but I could tell it was very well made. I began asking a few questions about it --it was wool, and in great condition, the owners were ready for a change-- and asked for a price. Hesitantly, a lady working the sale suggested $60, acting as if that was perhaps a bit much. (I later found out from her husband it cost well over $2,000 new... they hadn't communicated well what the selling price would be) I knew I wanted it but couldn't take it at that moment because I was without a vehicle. I told them not to worry about holding it, but if it was still there when I came back I would buy it. Two hours later it was still there, being admired by a growing line of potential buyers... but as soon as I walked up the owner said, "Here she is, I've been holding it for her". As we loaded it into the truck he mentioned that I got a really good deal, I already knew that, it could have been sold for more than triple what I paid. 

A few weeks later I notice the same couch on Craiglist but for almost $500 less that what Mr. Sentimental was selling his couch for. I sent another email, fully expecting it to be an awkward haven't-we-talked-before moment... but it wasn't, and this seller was a bit more professional. 

My brother-in-law drove over an hour, one way, to pick it up for me, since I found it on the Philadelphia Craigslist. (I married into a pretty cool group of people.) And a few weeks later, over Memorial Day weekend, we were able to pick it up and finally bring it home.

The living room now needs a coat or two of white paint (and a fiddle leaf fig tree), to feel almost complete. This winter Herm might build a TV cabinet/bookshelf too... but until then, it, slowly but surely, is feeling more and more like I imagined it would.


Wishing:

I would feel a bit more motivated with my 25 Before 26 list this year. I've got a lot of catch up work to do if I am planning to come even close to accomplishing it. I managed to learn a headstand, but haven't blogged about that. That's about the only thing I've managed in quite a while from that silly list.

Thinking About:

Signing up for a subscription to PrepDish, an online meal planning service, or learning to batch cook.

When we went to Quebec this past winter we took most of our own food. I spent several hours preparing all of the meals we were planning to eat in while we were on vacation. Once we were there the work to finish the meals was so simple. We ate healthy and it felt good to still be able to truly vacation, and not spend hours cooking.

It seems like more often that not I don't have a plan, and that makes cooking no fun. (Not that I exactly love it to begin with.) I have been writing down meals I make each day to come up with a list of ideas to go to when I really don't feel inspired. But the idea of batch prep, that does sound appealing to me. I don't know that I would do it a week at a time though, perhaps every four to five days, to keep the food more fresh tasting.

If this is something you already do, do you have any tips you'd be willing to share?

Listening To:


How I Built This by NPR. Ever since I discovered this podcast I've been binge listening to it. Guy Raz interviews well know business men and women about how their companies were started and became successful. I find it very interesting and inspiring.

The other day I listened to the show about Chesapeake Bay Candles. I bet you can't guess what brand of candle I snatched up today while shopping at TJ Maxx. Yeah, you got me. The founder, Mei Xu, basically feels like an old friend now that I heard her story, and of course I want to support old friends through my purchases (at TJ Maxx).

6/1/17

A Trip to Oak Hill + the World's Best Granola

This post is was made possible thanks to the generosity of Oak Hill Bulk Foods, who supplied me with ingredients needed for the recipe below, as well as photos of our shopping experience.





It didn't take much, just a set of baby teeth and a small girl, one bound and determined to figure out the logistics of reversing what her mom had said was a final no.

When there is a will, there is a way.

My will was to have a bag of Gummi bears, and my way was to chomp a hole right through the packaging. Once the damage was done, I knew my mom would have to buy the bag she had said I couldn't get.

I can still remember the plastic-y taste of the polypropylene that stuck to my teeth but, unfortunately, the Gummi bears, though she was forced to buy them, never made it to my lips. I'm almost certain my siblings benefited from my ingenuous plan much better than I.

This is one of my very first memories of shopping at Oak Hill.

Years later, I am the mom wandering the aisles with her kids. (Silently praying they don't get any silly notions in their heads about ways to take Gummi bears home.)




We shop at Oak Hill almost weekly, often stopping by Oak Leaf Cafe & Bakery first, for a cookie with sprinkles (Carson's favorite), before picking up our groceries. 

Every Saturday morning throughout the winter, when Herm's business isn't as demanding, we go there as a family for breakfast too. Herm always get a raspberry filled donut and I always ask for just one bite. They only make and sell donuts on Saturday, and if you get there early, the donuts are still hot and so fresh tasting.You're going to want more than one bite, so please get your own. Don't be like me and try to share.

During the summer the kids and I regularly meet friends at Skipper's playground, which is right next to the store. While I get to catch up with friends and enjoy a good latte from the cafe (currently loving lavender flavored over ice) the kids run themselves weary playing with their friends. Nap time on those days can last for hours. And if you're a mom, you know the worth of a long nap time. Glory, hallelujah!





There are staples that I pick up at Oak Hill, and only Oak Hill, one being oatmeal. We eat a lot of oatmeal, I use it weekly when I make granola and protein bites, and on occasion for cookies too. (It's a very rare occasion I bake cookies, but none the less...) Oak Hill has the best price I have found, even beating Aldi, whom I've heard is impossible to beat. 



If you stop by, I'd also recommend you try their fresh ground peanut butter, amazing coffee, and delicious hard cheeses. The spice corner is vast, and equally amazing. 

I could go on and on... just know, if you've never been to Oak Hill you might as well visit. And if you have been there before, goodness, go again.

***

Like I said earlier, I make granola weekly. 

Before I married Herm I use to eat granola for breakfast (always), lunch (often), and supper (sometimes). Most of my friends laugh as my obsession, and just last week a friend I hasn't seen in ages came to visit. Her hostess gift: homemade granola bars. Yeah, she knows me well. 

As a new wife, I was eager to start making granola for the two of us, but Herm mentioned he wasn't really fond of it, so, disappointingly,  I thought I would be making it for just myself. Somehow though Herm learned to love it, eating at least one bowl daily, and I learned to limit it to maybe once a week. I feel better not having it daily. All things in moderation. I'm trying to learn that.

Even though I now limit it, my love for a fresh batch of crunchy, homemade granola is still strong.

There are several recipes I use, but this one is my all time favorite. I got the recipe from my mom, and honestly, I have never had a better granola. Bonus, it's tasty and healthy too!





I went a bit extravagant with the parfaits, Usually I make my own yogurt, this time, however, I picked up a container of maple flavored Brown Cow Yogurt. It's rich and flavorful and has a thick, decadent layer of cream on the top that nobody else gets to enjoy because I love it so.

To make the parfaits, simply layer granola, yogurt and your choice of fruits into a cup or bowl.




The Best Granola Ever

INGREDIENTS:
5 c. oatmeal
1 1/2 c. coconut
3/4 c. wheat germ
3/4 c. pecans
1/2 c. melted butter
1 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. sesame seeds
1 t. maple flavoring

METHOD:
Mix dry ingredients thoroughly. In a small bowl whisk syrup, butter, and maple flavoring. Pour it over dry ingredients, mixing well. Spread onto a cake sheet and bake at 325* for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. 

Tips:
•Consider doubling or tripling the batch, then freeze the extra granola until you're ready for it.
•Try not to eat the entire batch of granola in one sitting. 
Feel free to send all large, unwanted clumps my way. Clumpy granola is the best snack ever.

***

Oak Hill Bulk Foods is located at 3173 Route 14A, just two miles south of Penn Yan, NY. The store is opened Monday - Saturday from 8 - 6 pm, and the cafe is open Monday - Saturday from 7 - 4 pm

You can follow Oak Hill on Facebook, or visit their website to learn more!

5/1/17

When I Most Needed to Retreat


I started posts and I've erased posts, again and again, trying in vain to make words flow so that I can keep up with my goal of blogging regularly-ish. It's number 25 on my birthday bucket list. I thought I created an easy goal, only needing to check in here every other week. Turns out I was wrong though, because when one doesn't have anything to say, trying to come up with something to say is difficult. And most likely the perfect recipe for a very boring post.

Hang on, this one is going to be a rambler.

I basically forgot about the blog and the list, both of those trampled on by more urgent things calling for my attention: My toddlers (Plural? How is it possible that I already have two toddlers?), the grass that has been growing under my feet (literally), weekend escapades -- one to PA to visit my sister, another to a town 15 minutes from Niagara Falls to spend some time with one of my dearest friends, and everything else that the start of spring brings with it. I am convinced that days in the spring and summer months are only half as long as days in the winter, but with double the amount of tasks to accomplish.



We've been spending hours and hours out-of-doors, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

I'm choosing to cross Number 14. Take a Personal Retreat off the list. I didn't completely get away by myself, but I did manage to spend some time away with just one child, and honestly, it was a piece of cake in comparison to having two trailing me. (Although, it's most times the other way around. I am the one desperately trying to keep up.)

Years ago, in what may very well be the smallest town in southern Indiana, I met a Canadian. She was intimidating to me. She was smart and beautiful and organized and fun to be around and popular and knew how to write good term papers and could read music and spike a volley ball like nobodies business. Way out of my league. 

But seven years later, and here we are, still very good friends. 

Anyhow, not too long ago, she text me a link to a deal she found on Groupon. It was to a hotel and spa in Lewiston, New York, a town about 15 minutes from Niagara Falls, and almost the exact half way point for us to meet. 





We've been meeting in the quaint town, for I think, almost six years, every time dreaming about someday staying there. 

And it finally happened.

We were just there for one night, but it was wonderful! And I came back home feeling so refreshed. It was just what my heart needed it couldn't have been more perfectly timed. 

The rest of the week was a bit of a whirlwind, our dog wasn't feeling well, so I took her in to the vet. Lymes disease is rampant this year, and after explaining how she has been acting, they immediately tested her. It was positive. Thankfully we did catch this early enough, but goodness, I wasn't exactly relieved to hear the diagnosis. (If you've been a longtime reader, you might remember we lost a dog to Lymes several years ago.)  


I also pruned my neighbors vineyard and readying it for spring, mowed the yard maybe twice, planted a few flowers, hosted guests for the weekend, and 25 people for dinner Saturday night. (Don't be too amazed, I married a man who surely can man a grill. He did most of the work.) 



Herm and a team of six other friends, ran the Seneca 7 on Sunday. They were speedy this year, finishing 7th overall... that is 7 out of 380 teams. I was highly impressed. (Also, if you are a longtime reader, you probably recall that I use to run on that team. Last year, however, I was very pregnant, barely able to even manage a waddle... Last year was the year they placed 3rd. Without me. I'm expecting to never be invited to run with them again.)

Today was mountains of laundry, and lots of cleaning, and hours of cuddling a restless child. Today was tornado warnings and heavy rain and beautiful skies.



And before it turns into tomorrow, I'm going to call it a night.

Thanks for listening as I rambled.

4/11/17

Maple + Cheddar Popcorn (And a bit on Quebec)



As a family we try to take two vacations every year -- one at the tale end of winter before spring hits, and with it the rush of busy season for Herm's business, and the other as summer makes way to autumn and we finally have Herm back again.

For our end-of-summer vacation we often visit new places. So far we've traveled Route 1 on along the rugged California coastline, visited friends in please-take-me-back-again-I-loved-it-so Portugal, and Myrtle Beach, where we were evacuated much too early due to a tropical storm, but loved our time there nonetheless. We've got a really exciting trip planned for our summer getaway this year. I can't wait to tell you all about it.

But that's not what this post is about today, so moving on...

People, especially those who live in the north, look at us a little cross-eyed when they discover that we don't head south in the winter like most do, but instead, always travel north. (As if upstate New York isn't north enough.) 

Every year we head a bit farther into the frigid tundra -- first was Lake Placid, NY, then Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and this year, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.










Our thought process behind this is that we want our winter vacation to be a time of rest, where we don't feel pressured into constantly being out-of-doors and active, like we know we would, if we were say, somewhere south. We do get out and enjoy the snow quite a lot, but we also plow our way through books and play games and watch movies, cozied up, hot drinks in hand, in our Airbnb rental.

Of all of our vacations north, Quebec City was our favorite location. We stayed in the old part of the city, which was founded in 1608. The architecture of the city is amazing. It felt as though we were visiting a country in Europe, rather than our neighbors to the north. I'm sure the fact that everyone speaks French added to the European feel. 

We are already talking about visiting Quebec again, though next time we would like to go in the summer, as I'm sure the city is just a charming, and slightly warmer, than it was in February. 

When we vacation we often rent an apartment and try to make most of our meals there. It helps keep costs down, and also is a bit more relaxing for us with the kids being so young. Plus, it means we can splurge a little bit on coffees and treats... like the Maple + Cheddar Quebec-style popcorn we bought several times. It was the perfect marriage of sweet and salty, and when we got back home again, I worked hard to recreate my own version of it.

I can almost feel the cold wind that blew through the city, and hear the crunch of snow beneath my boots with every bite.

Enjoy!


Maple + Cheddar Popcorn

Ingredients:
1 cup popcorn kernels
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup cheddar cheese powder
2/3 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon maple flavoring
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Method:
Preheat oven to 250.

In a large kettle with a lid, pour in oil and three kernels of corn. Begin heating. Once corn kernels pop, pour in the rest of the kernels and continue heating, shaking constantly, until all the corn has popped. 

Removed from heat and divide corn into two large bowls. Pour the cheddar cheese powder over one of the bowls and mix well. Set aside.

Melt butter with maple syrup, sugar and salt. Heat mixture to boiling point, then continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add maple flavoring and baking soda. Stir well. 

Pour mixture over the remaining bowl of popcorn, mixing thoroughly. Divide corn into two glass baking dishes and bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Remove corn from oven and mix both flavors together in a big bowl.

Grab a glass of grape juice and cozy in for a while with your favorite movie or a good book.

Try your hardest not to eat the entire bowl yourself.

4/6/17

A Few Things for Your Weekend

Alternatively this post could be titled Things That Distract Me When I'm Trying to Blog. 











This week it has felt like all creativity was emptied out of me, for every time I sat down in an attempt to write, words wouldn't come. It felt awkward and forced, which resulted in me being very distracted. 

Distracted by what, you might ask? 

Imagine with me, if you will, a morning of slight chaos and maximum noise, Carson morphed into a firetruck again, and his sirens are blaring; imagine a grumpy 10 month old Brooklyn who is on the verge of cutting two new teeth, and if that isn't bad enough, just face-planted into the wood floor, again, her balance hasn't quite caught up to her daring feats; imagine their Mom, still in her yoga pants (Who are we kidding? Let's just rename those house pants, for I never change out of them anymore, unless, say, I'm leaving the house.) who has managed to make the beds and wash breakfast dishes, but has already forgotten about the laundry waiting to be folded or what she was going to make for dinner, and is distracted and kept busy with her precious children, the ones who use her for a human tissue, wiping their noses against her while simultaneously begging her wipe their rears. Now imagine a blow-out that turned those classy house pants into toilet paper. Yeah...

Now that that scene is painted fresh in your mind, I'm sure you can truly understand why I look forward to nap time every afternoon.

***

Both kids have finally fallen asleep, and I sit down to write...

But, if I am writing a blog post, won't an iced coffee accompany that well?

Distraction number one: 

Herm's Aeropress coffee maker. I bought it for him for Father's Day, and now it's the only coffee maker we use. It makes coffee so delicious, in fact, that I've already made myself coffee to take along to a cafe. (Almost as classy as wearing house pants in public, something I will never do! I am ashamed.)

To make iced coffee, I fill a tall glass with ice cubes, all the way to the brim, then drizzle just a touch of real maple syrup over it. I brew a shot of coffee in the Aeropress directly onto the iced cubes, give everything a stir, and top it with homemade whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Delicious!

Herm gave me this whipped cream dispenser for Mother's Day. We tag-team gifts fairly well. :)

Distraction number two:

Craigslist. Perhaps you read the post previous to this one, where I rambled on and on about a living room makeover I've completed in my mind? It's still going full force. I've narrowed down the style of sofas I'm excited to welcome into our home, but nothing has been purchased yet. I've got to find a good deal, I can't help it, I'm both German and Mennonite!

Distraction number three:

While trying to find words for that blog post I intended to write, I remembered it's now April, the month Artifact Uprising usually gives away some free prints. I check their site... and guess what?! They're giving away a free Instagram photo book. Instead of writing, I compiled and ordered an entire album, all I paid was the cost of shipping.

That deal ends tomorrow! (4/7/2017) Visit this page to create your 5.5 x 5.5 book, then use code GPL397A at checkout.

You're welcome.

Distraction number four:

The Magic of Motherhood, a book I've been very excited to get was just released... I head on over to the black hole of Amazon, to see if it's there.

Distraction number five:

Chairish -- a site similar to ThredUp, in that it's second hand, but maybe even better, because it's home furnishings and decor.

Speaking of ThredUp, have you used my referral code yet? If not, click through this link and you'll get $10 off your first purchase. Go buy yourself something fun, after all, it's SPRING!


And that, my friends, is why the blog post I was planning to write --the one with a whole lot more depth and value to it -- did not happen this week.

3/28/17

Currently





reading:

All things home design. Once I get a notion in my head, I have a really hard time forgetting about it. Our sectional sofa and reclining couch are both in much need of being replaced. Herm had both of them before we got married, and even though I never exactly loved them, they fit the need at the time. A few weeks ago, though, as I was cleaning the sectional, I noticed how pilled the fabric had become. I started cleaning it with my sweater stone, which worked wonders... the only problem being that it worked too well. The twenty-plus year old fabric was worn so thin in spots that as I removed the snags and pills suddenly there was nothing there anymore, except stuffing spilling out. It's an unsightly mess, and I've been scouring Craiglist in the hopes someone will list a like-new leather sofa for about 75% off its usual retail value. I've found a few I liked, but I'm holding out for one I love. (Anyone selling a couch like this or this?)

I've also been looking for a living room rug (which might involved a quick trip to Turkey to find one at a market, that is, if Craigslist doesn't pull through), and if I'm getting new couches and a new rug, I might as well paint the walls a new color too, right? In my mind I have the entire living area rearranged and revamped. 

I promise, this does bring us around to what I've been reading... Books like Old Home Love and STYLED and Young House Love. All things home design. If you're interested in this too, I would especially recommend STYLED by Emily Henderson. I spent a few hours pouring over it, and found inspiration to use things I already own, in a new way. It's a book I borrowed from the library but I think it'll be added to my wishlist of books I want to own.


loving:

Dates, which my brother's mother-in-law brought with her from Dubai as a gift. I thought I liked dates in general, but these are so much softer and more flavorful than any other dried date I've ever eaten. Good thing I can't read the nutritional label, because I'm sure I exceeded the amount per serving several times over.

Also loving Quebec style popcorn. When we vacationed there this winter (still need to post about that trip!) we got a bag full for a movie night, and then bought another bag for the trip home. It's a mixture of cheddar cheese flavored corn and maple glazed corn. The sweet and salty-ness of it is perfect! I tried to recreate it yesterday, using cheddar cheese powder and real maple syrup, and goodness, is it more-ish. (Meaning, I can't stop because I want more.)

dreaming:

Um, does it sound sort of obsessive if I mention the living room makeover? Here is my Pinterest mood board, and I've been tweaking it ruthlessly.


wishing:

For new living room furniture. Okay, now I'm really going to sound obsessed. In addition to that, I'm wishing for an afternoon or two where the kids both sleep for hours and hours, so I can tackled a few painting projects I've been putting off. (For the past three years! Ever since I painted our entryway two-toned. I never actually liked it that way. Lesson learned.)

thinking about:

So as not to completely bore you, I'm choosing not to mention the living room makeover. I recently read two really good blog posts -- that's what I've been thinking about. You can find them here and here (if you read this one, also read part two).


listening to:

Option a.) Java with Julie. About a month ago I asked, in an Instagram story, for some new podcast suggestions. I got lots, but one that really has interested me is Java with Julie. It tackles a lot of taboo topics, often dealing with relationships and sexuality. Something that I think needs to be discussed in an honest and frank way more often.

Option b.) The sound of birds chirping. It's what I woke to this morning, and is a sure sign spring is here, even if there are still patching of snow on the ground.