Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Coordinated Family Outfits

Hello there! Today I am sharing the coordinated family outfits that our family will be wearing for our fall family photos next month, plus a few other options. On Monday I compiled some tips for helping make family pictures run smoothly as well as some tips for choosing outfits, all of them being tips from local photographers here in Charlotte. A lot of planning goes into having family pictures taken and I know we all want them to be as stress-free as possible. Hopefully these outfit ideas are able to help get your creative juices flowing and make taking those family pictures just a little bit easier.

Color Palette #1:

Monday, September 20, 2021

Fall Family Pictures Tips & Tricks

 Good morning everyone! A couple weeks ago we booked a local photographer to take our fall family pictures. I know this is something many families do at this time of year, and figured many of us have "Fall Family Pics" on the brain. A few of the Charlotte family photographers have been posting some tips and tricks to help make family pictures go more smoothly and I thought I would share. These tips are NOT my own, so I take no credit for them. Also, for the kids tips, you know your own kids... some of these may apply to your family, some of them may not. Pick and choose what makes sense for you!

Family Pictures 2020

Friday, September 17, 2021

Friday Favorites

Good morning and happy Friday! This week did not go AT all as planned, and threw us for quite the loop (see below under Not-So-Favorite). 

Pranking Devin

I can't remember if I shared this on the blog or not last year, but last October I bought a life size skeleton at Wal-Mart and had been strategically placing it around the house to try to scare Devin. I'm telling you, Devin is NOT easy to scare! Well this week Devin was in Canada for work and I had the idea to pull it out while he was gone and hopefully surprise/scare him with it when he got back. My little helper suggested we put it in the shower, so we did!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Liam is 2!

 Good morning! Tomorrow our sweet boy turns 2 years old. This boy is pure joy personified. I cannot imagine our lives without him.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Not Just a Mom: Morning Routine

Good morning, I hope you are all having a nice start to your week. For all of us I'm sure, this weekend was a somber one. It is hard to believe it has been 20 years since 9/11. I was a freshman in high school, and walked into my algebra class to see the TV on. Our teacher told us an airplane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers. As freshmen in high school, we were naive enough to ask our teacher "how could that have happened?" "How on earth do you accidentally fly an airplane into a building?" Our teacher didn't answer right away, but paused.. and said "I don't think it was an accident". Shortly afterwards we watched as the second plane hit the South tower. 

It brings tears to my eyes to remember watching the fear, confusion, and flood of emotions as people left NYC and Washington. It brings tears to my eyes again to think of the incredible men and women who risked their lives to help strangers, knowing full and well they may die themselves. I cannot imagine the bravery it must take to walk up the stairs of a burning building, knowing you may not see your own family again. I hope and pray the 20th anniversary inspires Americans to once again display the unity we did after that day, that we remember the importance of working together rather than tearing each other apart. Where were you when you found out about the attacks on September 11th? I would love to know, feel free to leave a comment below.

Sorry to switch gears, but today just so happens to be the 2nd Monday of the month, meaning it's our Not Just a Mom link up today. This month we are sharing our morning routines.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Friday Favorites: Our First Week of School!

 Good morning and happy Friday! This week was our first week of school and it was a big success. Both kids were very excited to go, and there were no tears!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Fall Amazon Fashion

 Hi there, I hope you all have had a good week so far! This is our kids' first week of school and so far I haven't cried yet about them going back-- hah! Liam's first day was Tuesday and Lily Grace's first day was today. Tomorrow they both go and I'm thinking the second I walk into a quiet, empty house is when I might lose it. Luckily I have about a dozen errands to run-- I'm thinking if I keep busy I will have less time to miss them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A couple years ago I did some Amazon Fall Fashion posts and they turned out to be big hits. I decided to have a little fun with Amazon fashion again this year, and it turns out they have a lot of cute stuff. I'm excited to share what I found with you today!

First up, this white tunic is a knock off of this Free People one that's $128. It is SUPER soft and cozy. I love the bright white color, it made me think of fresh, powdery snow. They do have it in several colors though.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Amazon Purchases August

Happy Friday and Happy Labor Day Weekend!! I hope you all have something fun planned for the weekend. We are headed to Wilmington to see Dev's parents and hopefully have one last hoorah on the beach before the end of summer. The weather is actually going to be in the 80's all weekend, which is about 10 degrees cooler than what it has been-- I'll take it! Today I am sharing my Amazon purchases for the month of August. Let's have a look:

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Homemade Nutella Covered Bananas

 Good morning friends! This week is crazy busy for us and the week is getting away from me already. I don't normally do a recipe on a Wednesday, but it was all I had time for this week-- so we're sticking with it! This is one of our favorite plant-based desserts lately.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Books I Read in August

Hi there! How was your weekend? Devin and I spent Saturday at the lake with friends while my parents watched the kids, and then came home in time to celebrate my dad's 67th birthday on Sunday. It was a whirlwind of a weekend, but it was wonderful. I obviously loved spending time with our friends at the lake, but an unexpected bonus was getting to drink two cups of coffee consecutively, uninterrupted by our kids on Sunday morning. I cannot tell you the last time either of us was able to do that! 

Friday, August 27, 2021

Friday Favorites

Good morning and happy Friday! Do you have a fun weekend coming up? Today we are celebrating my dad's birthday and then tomorrow we are headed to the lake with friends. I am really looking forward to it! Today I am linking up with Andrea and Erika for Friday Favorites.. here's a look at this past week:

Favorite Activities:

One day this week after the kids naps we headed to one of our favorite parks ("The. Enchanted Forest" as Lil calls it ๐Ÿ˜Š) and hiked the trails. 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Air Fryer Roasted Garlic Hummus

 Hi friends! On Monday I wrote that we make hummus multiple times a week, and I figured it couldn't hurt to share our recipe. Sometimes we will add some cayenne, hot sauce, or other ingredients to mix it up... but this is the basic recipe we always start with. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

What's Up Wednesday

Good morning and happy hump day! Today I am linking up with Shay and Sheaffer for What's Up Wednesday. Let's get started! 

What We're Eating: A whole bunch of plant based recipes! 

Monday, August 23, 2021

Plant-Based Diet Grocery Haul

 Good morning friends and happy Monday! I hope you all had a nice weekend! We spent a majority of our weekend in our favorite place, the US National Whitewater Center. We got to kayak and paddle board, then lay in the hammock and eat popsicles. 

Friday, August 20, 2021

Friday Favorites

 Hello hello and happy Friday! We've had a busier than usual week around here which has made this week FLY by! Here's a look at our week:

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Protein Packed Acai Bowl

 Good morning! One of the questions we have been getting asked the most since we switched to a plant-based diet has been "how do you make sure you're getting enough protein?" This was my biggest concern with making the switch too and I am happy to share some ways that we make sure we are getting enough protein in our diets. The example I'm sharing today, an aรงai bowl, is nothing new.. but by making it a little bit differently we are able to pack as much protein into it as possible. Let's have a look:

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Life Lately Part 2

 Hello again! On Monday I wanted to write a Life Lately post and realized how long it had been since I'd done one. We have been busy and have an awful lot of pictures to show for it! Today I am picking up where I left off and am finishing with Life Lately Part 2. Starting with what most mornings look like around here...

Monday, August 16, 2021

Life Lately Part 1

 Good morning friends and happy Monday! My teacher friends in the public school system start back today (kids next week) and my friends in the Catholic schools have the kids' first day on Wednesday. One of the teachers at my old school is taking her child to college, so I get to sub on Thursday. It's going to be a busy but exciting week! 

I realized it's been awhile since I've done a "Life Lately" post and I have what feels like a million pictures to unload here and share with you. I am going to split this post into a "Life Lately Part 1" and "Life Lately Part 2" since there are too many pictures. Starting with...

Friday, August 13, 2021

Back to School Shopping: Kids Clothes

Hi there! Happy Friday! Today I am writing about some of the back to school shopping I've done for the kids, but I need your help! Where do you buy your kids shoes? My kids are hard on shoes and seem to go through them quickly. They both need to wear sneakers to school and I'm wondering if it's worth it to invest a little more in a better quality pair rather than buying multiple pairs that are only so-so quality. Thanks in advance for the help, let's get started!

My first stop when back to school shopping for the kids is usually the outlet mall. We have two outlet malls in Charlotte, and there is one in Blowing Rock near my parents. When we were there this past weekend, I went to go grab the kids some clothes but was disappointed to see some of my favorite stores had not survived COVID ๐Ÿ˜ž. We were still able to get a little shopping done, mostly for Liam. I hit up the Polo Factory Store and usually head straight to the sale section. On top of the current discounts, the store was offering 20% off, then an additional 20% off that. Most of these shirts were less than $10!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Let's Look: Phone Apps

 Good morning friends! Today's theme for Let's Look is phone apps and such... except I already wrote this post back in March for our NJAM link up. I thought about whether or not there are any different apps I'm using since March, but they're all the same. So today I'm phoning it in, and straight up copy and pasting my post from March onto today's post. So here are my favorite phone apps-- still the same from March!


I broke down my favorite apps into categories because I know we all have different interests. Some of you may be more interested in health/fitness apps, while others may be more interested in organization/daily life, etc. 

Reading Apps:

My reading app folder is definitely one of my most used folders. I keep a list of books on my phone and then as I am getting close to finishing one, I'll add a few more to my wait list at the library. Since the pandemic started books seem to be taking a lot longer than they used to, so I check out 3-4 at a time and hope that one is available when I'm ready for my next book. 

Monday, August 9, 2021

Not Just a Mom: Daily Must Haves

 Good morning! I hope you all had a nice weekend. We got to head up to the mountains to visit my parents. It was a perfect weekend getaway and I'll share more about it in a separate post next week.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Another Year with The Happy Planner

Good morning and happy Friday! Last week we got the email from Lily Grace's preschool with her calendar for the year. I went to go add the dates to my calendar and realized "uh oh, my calendar ends in December 2021!" I needed a new calendar and because I am such a creature of habit, it had to be a Happy Planner. I attempted a non-Happy Planner at the beginning of this year, but it just didn't do it for me. I am a Happy Planner person through and through. I know I am not alone on this because so many of you have commented over the years that you are Happy Planner addicts too!

This is the one I went with:

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Books I Read in July

 Good morning friends! Happy book day! Last month I read 3 books and while I liked all 3 of them, there was 1 that really stood out. That book will possibly make my "top books" list at the end of the year. I'm excited to share all 3 with you today.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Thoughts on Plant-Based Diet

 Good morning everyone and happy Monday! A little over a month ago I had written that we were going to try switching to a fully plant-based diet for the month of July. You can read that post here. Today I am here to report back on how it went and our plan moving forward. 

First of all, I have had so many friends and family members ask "what exactly is a plant based diet? Vegetarian? Vegan? What's the difference?" Now after having done it for a month I have a much better understanding of it! I have watched documentaries, read countless articles, and plant-based magazines (Forks Over Knives is my fave!). Plant based is most similar to vegan, but they actually have quite a few differences. A plant based diet is about eating more whole foods and eliminating meat, dairy, and processed foods from your diet. A vegan diet eliminates meat and dairy, but not processed foods. Basically I could live off of Fritos and Swedish Fish and that would technically still be considered vegan. A plant based diet would recommend having carrot sticks and cucumbers as a snack instead. This infographic sums up some of the differences pretty well:

Friday, July 30, 2021

What I've Been Priming: July

Hi there! We made it to another weekend! I don't know about where you live but it has been hotter than hot here this week. As I type this it is currently 90 degrees ("feels like" temp is 99) and still climbing-- ugh! It always gets this way in Charlotte at the end of July but we've actually had a pretty tolerable summer so far so this took me by surprise. Thank goodness next week looks to be cooler!

Today for Friday Favorites I am sharing my Amazon purchases for the month of July. 

 Washable Stamp Pad: I have a bunch of stamps leftover from being a teacher and figured they would make a fun activity for Lily Grace on an afternoon she didn't nap. I only had regular stamp pads, so I grabbed this washable one. Better safe than sorry... I didn't want ink on clothes, hands, God forbid anywhere else!

Magnetic Letters: I grabbed these as another rest time activity. I give Lily Grace a cookie sheet and a paper with some sight words and she spells the words using her magnetic letters. The magnets stick to the cookie sheet which she thinks is fun. She also spells her name, our names, etc.

Elastic Hair Ties: We were starting to run low on elastic hair ties so I grabbed a new container. Lily Grace and I both use these. 

Shampoo Bar: I know this is a weird one, but I love this thing! I keep it in my gym bag (wrapped in a paper towel) and don't have to worry about refilling my little shampoo bottle. I was nervous it might not work very well but I have been pleasantly surprised. 

Lemon Juicer: We love this! We had another one but after years of daily use it finally broke. We replaced it with this one and honestly like this one more than our old one. The part that holds the lemon is bigger which is great because we used to have to cut our lemons if they were too big. This one is the perfect size. 

Perfect for squeezing lemon or lime juice into a recipe without getting the seeds in your food.

Today I am linking up with Andrea and Erika for Friday Favorites. Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

What's Up Wednesday

 Good morning everyone and happy What's Up Wednesday! July is coming to a close which means that all things Back-to-School are about to be starting up soon. Isn't that crazy? Summer feels like it flew by. My nephew's first day of first grade in Georgia is Monday! When do you all go back to school? Today I am linking up with Sheaffer and Shay for What's Up Wednesday. Let's get to it!

Monday, July 26, 2021

Weekend Highlights

Hello and happy Monday! I hope you had a nice weekend. We had another great weekend at home and were able to do something really fun together as a family. 

Early last week I took the kids to Discovery Place, a kids science museum in our city's downtown. They had fun at Discovery Place, but had a surprising amount of fun on the walk from the parking deck into the museum building. There was so much for them to see and watch in the downtown area. After visiting the museum for a few hours, Lily Grace asked if we could drive around and "see more of the city". This honestly blew my mind. In my mind, I thought "umm.. there's not a lot to see? It's just buildings and cars.. but okay whatever, why not." But after driving around for a bit with them and seeing it through their eyes, the busy city is pretty cool for an almost 2 year old and a 4 year old. 

We saw:

- the train (our city's version of a subway is called the Lightrail, it's an above ground train)

- people on Segways (my kids loved this, I hadn't even thought of how odd/unique/fun this would seem to them ๐Ÿ˜‚)

- people on electric scooters

- MANY cranes and construction vehicles 

- a tunnel

- stadiums where the Hornets, Panthers, and Knights play

- some unique statues/art 

That night I got home and Devin asked how the museum was. I said "you know, they liked the museum but honestly I think they liked just walking & driving around to see the city more." And then an idea was born... we decided on Saturday morning to take the train into the city and have a "city day" together as a family. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Friday Favorites

Hi there! Happy Friday! This week flew by for us-- I can't believe it's already Friday. We had such a fun week over here, trying some new activities and new foods. They say time flies when you're having fun and this week proved that statement! It also helps that we are pretty easily amused-- it doesn't take a whole lot for us to have a good time. ๐Ÿ˜Š Let's have a look:

Favorite Moments:

Trying New Foods: Since we decided to try a plant-based diet for the month of July we have been having a blast trying some new and outside the box fruits and vegetables. 

This week we made purple sweet potatoes (above) and jackfruit. Both were unique (to us) and the kids both loved trying something new. 

Which bring me to our next favorite: the Asian Food Market! 

When I saw I needed jackfruit for a recipe, the blog I found the recipe on said "try to find an Asian market in your city". Luckily Charlotte has a few, so we went to one near Devin's work on his lunch break so he could join us. WE LOVED IT!! It reminded Devin and I of visiting grocery stores in China or the market in Indonesia. So many fun, unique food items we can't get at our typical grocery stores in Charlotte.

Here is some jackfruit (what my recipe called for, but I got canned jackfruit because I had no idea what to do with a whole jackfruit).

Chinese Eggplant

Lily Grace and I grabbed some oyster mushrooms for a recipe while Devin and Liam went to go check out the fish.

I was surprised by the amount of live seafood they had at the market. Like these tilapia above, they had live crabs, lobsters, eels, conch, clams, turtles (this one made me sad ๐Ÿ˜ž), and more. Needless to say, the kids loved seeing all the animals. Thank goodness they don't quite get the connection yet of why the animals were in the grocery store. ๐Ÿ˜‰

This KitKat piqued our interest but we didn't buy it. Maybe next time.

My next favorite has been getting back into yoga again. 

I go through phases where I'm really into it for a year or so, then I take a break from it, then get back into it again. I love everything about yoga. I love that I can have a slower pace practice that feels calming and restorative. I love that I can have a faster/harder practice that works up a sweat. I love how I feel both afterwards, both physically and my emotional/mental health. I just love, love, love yoga.

And finally, we got to go on a double date with some of our best friends for the first time in years, literally years. Between both our families having babies and the pandemic, it has been way too long since we have been able to get together as just the adults. We all love our children dearly, but it was so nice to get to spend uninterrupted time with the adults and carry on full conversations! The only pic I have is from before we left:

Dress/Earrings (from a local boutique, but similar here)/Shoes (old, but similar here)

Favorite Recent Purchases:

We have had one of these lemon juicers for awhile and use it almost every single day. Our old one finally broke so we grabbed this one on Amazon. I really like it! It's a bigger size than our old one so it holds bigger lemons. Great for squeezing some lemon juice into your water or onto a recipe without getting the seeds. 

Liam's Backpack!

Liam's backpack came in the mail this week and it was such a bittersweet feeling. I know he will love preschool and will do very well, but holy moly he's still my baby! You all know how much I love L.L. Bean. We bought Lily Grace's backpack from there 3 years ago and it is still in great shape. I still have several L.L. Bean bags from high school-- and I won't mention how long it's been since I've been in high school! These bags hold up for forever. Both kids have the junior size backpack and the lunchbox. The lunchbox fits their Bentgo or Yumbox and an ice pack. I can't say enough good things about L.L. Bean!

Favorite Way to Spend Our Free Time:

Last but not least, we have hit the ground running with planning our trip to Europe next spring! I've been Pinning, reading, and researching like crazy.

Every night before bed we've been watching an episode or two of Rick Steves' Europe.

Do any of you love Rick Steve's? Before we went to Italy we must've watched 10+ different videos of his. They were very informative and helpful when trying to plan our trip. When we plan a trip we usually get our information from:

- Travel blogs we know and trust

- Guide books from the library

- If possible, talking to people we know who have been to our destination

- Rick Steve's or other travel TV shows (I used to love Samantha Brown's shows when I was in high school!)

- Pinterest! I usually find ideas that look intriguing and then research them further to see if they're a fit for our family.

- Trip Advisor (I love to read other people's reviews-- we found some of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Rome by using Trip Advisor!).

What do you all do when you plan a trip? Do you have a travel agent? Do you like to plan yourselves? Where do you get your information when traveling? My friend Stephanie is a big traveler and she is a part of a travel private Facebook group. It sounds like such a cool idea to me. The people all write about their trips and what they would recommend vs not recommend. I think that sounds like such a cool idea and love that they keep it private. I think you need to know someone in order to get into the group-- that way someone can vouch that you've actually been there and know what you're talking about.  

I'd love to know how you plan your trips! 

Today I'm linking up with Andrea and Erika for Friday Favorites. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Gym Childcare/What's In My Gym Bag

 Good morning friends and happy Wednesday! I had a different post planned to go out today but I just wasn't really feeling it. I started unpacking my gym bag from heading to the gym this morning and thought "our gym, gym childcare, etc. is such a big part of my life... why don't I write about that?" Also, at the end of last year I did a survey asking what types of posts you all would like to read here and fitness was one of the top ranked categories on the survey. This fits that category, so I decided to switch it up!

We are members of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, which is wonderful because it gives us access to all of the branches in our area. This means we can use all the pools, take classes at different gyms, and the kids can go to the different child care locations-- all of which have been great (at least the ones we have tried). 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Weekend Highlights

 Hello hello and happy Monday! I hope you all had a nice weekend and are looking forward to a nice week ahead. This week we have no summer camps on the agenda, so we will be filling our days with play dates at the pool/park/playground. It'll be nice to get to spend more time with LG after her week at camp last week.

This past weekend we were lucky enough to have very little on our schedule. We woke up without plans and were able to do whatever we were in the mood for. We haven't had a weekend like that in what feels like forever! Despite not having official plans, we actually somehow ended up doing a lot of activities together. The kids were worn out, took GREAT naps, which meant for some great relaxation time for Dev & I. All in all, a great weekend! Let's have a look:

Friday, July 16, 2021

Friday Favorites

Hello hello! We made it to another summer Friday. I am happy to report that we are staying here this weekend and have zero plans. We haven't had a weekend without plans it what feels like forever! I am looking forward to a couple (hopefully) slower days, and going into next week feeling rejuvenated rather than tired. We had a wonderful week and I am looking forward to sharing it with you! 

Favorite Moments: