Monday, August 31, 2015

Book Club: September

Happy Book Club Day!
Even though summer is winding down, we weren't quite ready to let it go just yet, and chose Yankee Doodle Dixie by Lisa Patton as our selection for August. Lisa Patton is a new writer to us and we hadn't realized when we picked this selection it was part of a series. We were drawn in by Yankee Doodle Dixie's fun description and peachy themed front cover. We will always be a sucker for anything southern. Can't wait to chat with you all about this one...

Carrie Beth's Review: 
I started this book and thought it was super cute, but life got in the way. Back-to-school is so busy and finding a moment to sit and read just didn't happen. Can't wait to settle into our routine and hop in the next one! 

Jen's Review: 
At the beginning of the book I was a little confused, but quickly caught on to the story and the fact that this was a sequel. Reading on I realized I wish I had read the first novel because I love how the writer told the story. It was just my kind of light and funny read. Perfect for summer.

I think my favorite part about the novel was when LeeLee was with her girlfriends. Their antics and conversations cracked me up. The banter and carefree times reminded me of some of my girlfriends and I love that. I found myself always rooting for LeeLee, was so proud of her character throughout several parts of this story - her decision about Vermont, her decision regarding the rock star, and was definitely glad she finally stood up to her boss.

Without spoiling it for those who haven't read it yet, the ending made me so happy and I was glad to see that the Peach Blossom ultimately never really fell under the evil spell of Helga again.

I can't wait to see what happens next for LeeLee, and will definitely be picking up Patton's third book in the series - Southern as a Second Language

Now to Discuss: Did you enjoy this month's selection? What did you think of LeeLee and her decision to leave Vermont? Or her decision regarding New York? Would you have sent the letters to Peter? 

September's Selection
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

From The Back Cover: 
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

February | March | April | May | June | July | August |

Happy Reading!

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Savvy Sassy Sunday: Mixing it Up with Annie's Homegrown

I don't know about anyone else's children, but mine snack a lot. I am always amazed at how much two little people can consume and not gain an ounce. Seriously, Cute hasn't gained a pound on his little body in a year and a half, but he eats all day everyday. I fear the teenage years.

With the massive amount of eating that The Cutes are doing, I try to make sure that their snacks choices are both healthy and fulfilling so that at least they are putting nutritious food into their little growing bodies instead of just consuming empty calories (something I myself am not always the best at doing). 

One of my favorite go-to snack brands for them is Annie's. Long ago when Cute was the only mini resident in the house, I was introduced to Annie's products by a friend. Cute was born with a few food allergies and still has to limit certain ingredients into his daily diet, and Annie's was one of the few brands that offered such a wide variety of kid friendly healthy snacks that met all his limitations. Not do I feel confident giving them to my children, but they are super yummy to boot (mommy has done her fair share of taste testing).

The fun thing about Annie's is not only do they have a great product line of snacks that are easy to grab and go for lunch boxes, sports snacks, and long car rides, but if you've ever been on their website they have a ton of fun recipes that they share that you can create with their products. From meals to snack modifications, there is a little something for every product they offer if you are craving a change.

One of our favorites is to make a trail mix with the Cheddar bunnies. Over Easter, I shared our Bunny Trail Mix , which is a fun mix of some of their sweet and salty snack products, but in the fall we like to switch it up a bit. I feel like in spring and summer we crave sweeter things and in fall and winter our family craves saltier meals and snacks. 

On Annie's Homegrown we came across this Spicy Bunny Mix recipe. It is delicious and has quickly become one of our family's favorite snacks. It's such a fun tasting twist on their already yummy cheddar bunnies. The few times I have made this I also like to include the white cheddar bunnies for a little something different. 

Everyone who has given it a taste has loved it and with football season just around the corner, I know that we not only be packing this for lunch boxes, but for our tailgates as well. 

I love that we have found a snack that everyone in the family can enjoy - and that is not an easy task! 

Do you have a snack that the entire family enjoys? 

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Friday, August 28, 2015

DIY Framed Cork Boards {Tutorial}

Happy Friday, Y'all!  Today I wanted to share a little project I completed this week from the VERY long (and often neglected) house to-do list.  You know, all of those projects that you think about, but never have time to get to?

Little Mama has a pin-board hanging over the desk in her room where she hangs special pictures, notes, awards, etc.  Blondie has been asking for a pin-board in her room for quite some time and I kept telling her I'd try to find one that matched, but never really came across anything (and, if I'm being honest, never really even looked.)  However, she has had two empty picture frames hanging above her desk since we moved in.

Usually, I will not hang frames until they have a picture in them, but these frames were not regular frames. I bought them at Hobby Lobby while we were building our house because they were so pretty and I knew they would match her lavender room.  But, in my quickness to throw anything purple in the cart, I didn't realize they came without glass, or a backing, or anyway to actually put a picture in the frame.  Hence the reason they sat empty for over a year.

When I got to thinking about a pin-board for Blondie I realized I could use those pretty frames and turn them into cork-boards, giving her the same functionality and use as a pin-board like her sister has.  I started by purchasing cork tiles from the craft store (also available on Amazon, HERE).   They generally come 4 to a pack.  

The tiles are 12 inch squares, so I cut them down to size and set them in the frame.  Because these frames did not come with any sort of latches to keep pictures in place I just used tape to hold it in place.

And that was it!  Seriously, the quickest and easiest project I have ever completed.  I just wish I had done it months ago.

Blondie was so excited and got to work right away picking out things to hang up on them like special pictures, awards, and crafts that she wanted to display.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Meet Miss Maddie

Well after announcing our big news on Tuesday, you would think life was chaotic enough in our household. 

No, we apparently thrive on chaos.

Last month, on a slow Sunday morning, I was just lounging in my pjs snuggling on the couch with The Cutes watching cartoons. I decided to hop on Facebook for a quick sec and happened to see this adorable face pop up on my feed. One of my neighbors works with a local rescue and posted that this dog was currently up for adoption. 

We sadly lost both of our dogs with in the last year and had been missing having a dog around the house. We had originally planned to wait until Christmas or until next summer to get another one, but something about this sweet face (and the awful back story), mixed with what I will blame on my pregnancy hormones, led me to text the photo to Mr. Cute. 

Mr. Cute was diligently taking care of the lawn on this fine morning, but saw the text and immediately knocked on the front door and said "Call about her."

I was shocked. Mr. Cute is pretty picky about what dogs he wants. Later I learned he thought she looked like a Brittany puppy, which is one of his favorite dogs. 

Well fast forward through one house visit, a whole day later, and an interesting/expensive trip with The Cutes to the pet store for supplies, she is now ours. 

We knew very little about Miss Maddie other than she was approximately 8 weeks old, potty trained, crate trained, and has some sort of spaniel in her. 

The kids instantly fell in love with her, and have not stopped getting in her face showering her with their affection since. 

Miss Maddie we have learned has quite the personality. She knew just how to turn on the charm those first couple of days, but oh man have we loooooong forgotten what it is like to have a puppy. Once she got comfortable with us and our house, she has definitely decided she runs this place. She and Little Cute continuously compete for who can win the "Most Mischievous" crown each day. 

Some days it is a tag team effort and some Miss Maddie plots all on her own. 

The Cutes find her antics quite hilarious, and do what they can to encourage her adventurous side, while mommy is wondering why she doesn't hasn't bought into the whole European approach to pregnancy where wine drinking is encouraged. 

She has a strange need to unroll and tear up toilet paper. 

She apparently feels like Mr. Cute, and felt our house needed a little redecorating. Supposedly dupioni silk is out this Fall, and I need to find more suitable throw pillows for the office. 

While she enjoys car rides, she feels that they should best be spent erratically looking out each window as fast as you can, and has no problem launching herself into the drivers seat from the back seat to ward off any approaching driver with her high pitched ferocious bark. She must have some Pomeranian mixed in there...or Chihuahua. 

And while we were told she was 100% potty trained... the verdict is still out on that. (I will spare you the pictures I continually text Mr. Cute through out the day). Miss Maddie does not like her feet to touch wet or dewey grass,  it must be perfectly quiet as to not distract her from her business - breathing is not even encouraged, and with in the entire 4 mile trek around our neighborhood only two spots have been appropriate "business" handling locations. Preferably between the hours of 1am and 5:30a.m. 

But then all is forgotten when I see sweet moments like this. 

Or this. 

This kids love her and she has quickly found her way into everyone's hearts. I know the puppy stage won't last long and in a few years we will look back on this time and laugh just like we did with our two other dogs.  

This week Miss Maddie officially became ours. She had her surgery and we officially made sure that this personality can't be passed down to future generations, all her shots, and was microchipped. The day that she was gone everyone missed her terribly, and The Cutes were so excited she was home. They also felt the cone of shame was hilarious and requested their own. 

We look forward to the upcoming joy Miss Maddie will bring to our home (and to the moment when she keeps her other "joy" completely outside), and can't wait to share more of her fun adventures with you all. Until then say a little prayer for me and tip back an extra glass of wine in honor of my sanity.

Do you have a pet at home? What fun have they brought into your life? 

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Transitioning Hair from Summer to Fall {CLEAR SCALP & HAIR™}

As soon as the kids start back to school we start looking forward to the change of seasons and everything that fall brings.  From cooler temperatures, to football season, the changing leaves and everything pumpkin, it's one of my favorite times of the year.  If we can't be enjoying the pool all day then I'm ready for the temperatures to cool off.  That's when I start browsing new fall fashions and dreaming about the days I can start wearing boots and puffer vests.  The past day or two the weather has been glorious and it's such a tease!  It will be a while down south before fall is in full force, but one thing that I'm not waiting on is getting my hair fall ready.

Most days in the summer my hair ends up in a ponytail because it's just way too hot to have it down.  In the fall though, I wear it down a lot more and so I want to be sure it is looking it's best.  I recently learned that weather can have a strong effect on our scalps.  Just as season changes do to our skin cells, the hair cycle can be the same.  In fact, studies have shown that seasonality can cause shedding, especially in the fall. I have really fine hair as it is, so shedding is the last thing I need.

I was happy to be introduced to CLEAR SCALP &  HAIR recently and have been using it for over a month now.  It's intense hydration nourishing shampoo and nourishing daily conditioner leave hair beautifully strong from root to tip.

For years most of us have probably been focused on the ends of our hair, but CLEAR SCALP &  HAIR encourages women to focus on the scalp, where 99% of hair's natural strength and beauty come from.  Hello!  I never would have thought about this, but it makes total and perfect sense!  It's kind of like soil is to a tree...a well-nourished scalp is the right foundation for strong, beautiful hair!

I really love the way it makes my hair feel and I feel good using it knowing that not only is it cleaning and conditioning my hair, but it's also working hard on my scalp.  Most women spend a lot of money on their hair whether it be on cuts, colors, etc.  I know I spend a fair chunk of change to keep my color looking great, so not having to break the bank with hair products is such a refreshing change!  Hair care is something we all take really seriously and I promise y'all will love CLEAR SCALP &  HAIR!!! Your summer hair will thank you when fall rolls around!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

3.0 - A Teeny Tiny Surprise

Life is so funny sometimes, and often at times I am reminded that as much as I would like to be able to predict the future and plan everything to a tee, I am ultimately not in charge. And that totally is a good thing!

The last few months have been a great blessing and reminder of that. Somewhere during our Jamaican vacation the course that our little family had been planning took a turn. Midway through the week, I began to feel a little odd and had this continuous nausea.

My thoughts varied:
- "Hmm...had I imbibed in too many of those delicious fruity frozen drinks by the pool?"
- "Maybe I have food poisoning?"
- "Could I be sick?"
- "Am I dehydrated? It is rather hot out."
- "Something in the pool water? Looking around there are a lot of kids here..."
- "Maybe it was the water on the island? I've heard about those things. Maybe I should stick with fruity frozen drinks."
- "Wait a minute...what was really in that coconut filled with rum?!?"

I shared my concerns with Mr. Cute, and we both denied to ask the question we were really thinking... "Could I be pregnant?!?"

The odds of that actually happening were so small looking at past history, but this wasn't my first rodeo and I had felt similar feelings before. Five times before to be exact, so it was hard to deny. With both of our children we experienced fertility issues. Not to the degree of some women out there experience, but in its own sense it was a long devastating road before we were blessed with either of The Cutes.

So clearly, I couldn't be pregnant. Could I???

The moment we stepped foot back into our home from our tropical vacation, Mr. Cute did a reverse in the driveway and headed out to buy a pregnancy test. We were both only home for a day before I left for a beach trip with my family so the suspense was killing us. If I wasn't pregnant we needed to figure out what was wrong.

Well a mere 15 seconds into the two minute wait we got our answer.

Huh? Well, this is new. We did nothing to get here. Well, you know what I mean...

I was leaving in less than 36 hours, so we decided I would still go to the beach with the kids and not worry. Whatever happens will happen, and we will see what our doctor says when we get back.

The Monday after we arrived home, we made our way to my doctor. We sat in his office, and he joked with us about how he was just as surprised as we were when he received the phone call requesting an appointment. The joking ceased for a brief moment when we received the results from my in office test and it came back as negative. We prepped ourselves - we had been down this road before, and again counted our blessings as this was a surprise and we already have two children we are very thankful for at home.

Well five seconds later, during the ultrasound he then said, "Must have been a bad test because not only are you pregnant, but you are really pregnant."

The looks on our faces must have been priceless because he quickly said, "I mean pregnant as in farther along that I thought - there's only one."

While twins would be so fun the thought that we could be surprised with two babies instead of just one was mind blowing in those few moments. My type A personality instantly did a multitude of planning on those mere seconds ("We'd have to move or do a renovation.", "We can name them rhyming names - wahoo!", "Holy cow we are going to need a cargo van...well really matching Suburbans."). Mr. Cute's thoughts probably reflected more of, "Don't pass out. Don't pass out."

Now here we are a few months later and have confirmed multiple times that The Magnolia Mamas will be expanding by one this winter.

The Cutes are very excited about 3.0's pending arrival and can't wait to see what he or she will be. Cute has been very vocal that he would like a big brother to be born who will camp with him, play baseball, and wants to chase animals. Last I checked giving birth to five year old instant play mates wasn't possible...but then again, I'm not in charge.

I can't wait to share this journey with everyone, and we are beyond excited to see what is in store for our little family over the next few months.

{ At the 16wk mark. Ignore the tired hot mess look, but seriously...I'm a tired hot mess. }
Now I'm off to re-purchase all those baby items we got rid of last year...

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Luke Bryan {Kick the Dust Up Tour}

Happy Monday Friends.  We hope you all had a fantastic weekend.  Ours started off with a very rare date night out and we had the BEST time!

Last week the Mr. was offered tickets to the Luke Bryan concert and I immediately said that I'd love to go.  We had two extra tickets and knew that Jen and her Mr. Cute would love to come with us.

We both arranged for babysitters, threw on our boots, and hopped in the truck for a fun night out.  See, not only do we like to dress our kids in theme wear, but we love it ourselves, too.  Boots were a must for the country concert and there was no doubt that we'd take one of our hubby's trucks. ;-)

After stopping for a quick dinner on the way downtown, we made it to the concert and made our way to find our seats.  We were totally shocked when we kept walking down and down and down to find our seats in the very front row.  Seriously!  Such great seats and such a wonderful view.

We missed the first opening act, but did get there in time to see Randy Houser, who was also opening up for Luke Bryan.

Then it was time for Luke to hit the stage and the crowd went wild.

He is such fun performer and puts on a great show.  He has everyone on their feet, dancing, singing and having a good time.  He dances a lot, moves all over the stage and really engages with the crowd.

I love all music and being able to see performers live makes music that much more fun.  We also love the people watching.  Everyone there was having a good time and you can tell some people are die hard fans.

By the time we got home, it was WAY after my bedtime and my ears were still ringing from the loud music, but the fun night was one I wouldn't have traded for anything.  While I love being able to have some adult time with the Mr. and friends, I always love coming home and seeing my kiddos the next morning.  I was happy to see these sweet notes and pictures they had left for me.  They had a fun night with Gigi, we had a fun night out, and it was a win-win all around!

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