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 😂)

- 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. 😊 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 😞), 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. 😉

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:
Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Let's Look: Bathroom Organization

 Good morning! Today's theme for Let's Look is Bathroom Organization and as lame as it sounds, I am actually really excited to see how everyone else organizes underneath their sink. All those bathroom products seem to take up so much space but are tricky to stack without getting in the way of each other. I am happy to share our approach to keeping it less messy, but it's nothing special!

Monday, July 12, 2021

Not Just a Mom: Home Tour

Hello hello! I hope you all had a nice weekend. Devin's mom had surgery this past week so we took the kids on down to Wilmington, NC to visit and help lift her spirits after her surgery. Our sweet girl had a tough time sleeping the first night and woke up at 4 am (😳). I tried everything to get her to fall back asleep but it just wasn't happening. Eventually we decided to stay up, and I asked her if she wanted to go watch the sunrise on the beach. She said yes so we hopped in the car and drove to the beach!

Friday, July 9, 2021

Friday Favorites

 Good morning and happy Friday!! This week flew by thanks to having Monday off. If only every week was a 4 day week, right? Today I am linking up with Andrea and Erika for Friday Favorites. 

Before we get started, if you missed my other blog posts this week I wrote about:

My Amazon Prime Purchases for the Month of June

The Books I Read in June

Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries with Cinnamon and Nutmeg (delicious!)

Now, let's have a look at the past week or so:

Favorite Moments:

We had such a blast at my sister's house in Georgia for the 4th. Any time we can get the family together and let the kids swim and play is always a great time. 

Half of us had just taken a big bite of food here before this picture-- hah! Not the most flattering of everyone, but this my family! I love them so so much and am incredibly grateful for how close we are. 💕

We have been loving spending our time outside. Lily Grace's preschool playground is a short walk from our house and has a few of these little Cozy Coupes that Liam loves. He can spend hours going from car to car and never gets sick of it!

Meanwhile this one is content to climb the trees and play with all the equipment:

We are going to be sad when summer comes to a close and we have less free time to spend outside!

Favorite New Find:

Do you have a LIDL near you?? LIDLs have been popping up left and right in our area and we finally went to ours for the first time. We really liked it! It reminds me a lot of Aldi since it is a German grocery chain. They have a lot of similarities, but the best part in my opinion is the prices. Super cheap, similar to Aldi, but our LIDL is much bigger than our Aldi so it has more options. 

Also, how cute are those kids shopping carts? She felt like such a big girl getting to push her own cart. 

And then these coconut medjool date rolls... YUM! There are only two ingredients: coconut and dates. No added sugar, but no added sugar is necessary! These have been my go-to dessert this week when I'm wanting something sweet. I grabbed them at Fresh Market since they are not available at our usual Harris Teeter.

Favorite Purchase:

My sister had this body pillow in the guest room at her house and I told Devin "I have to get one of those for our house!!" I get really bad acid reflux at night so I need to sleep on my side, and a body pillow is a great way to help with that. I ordered this online and at first when the plush pillow cover came I thought "oh no, that's kinda kitschy" but didn't have time to run out to the store that day to find an alternate. I put it on the pillow and am so glad I did because that cover is SOFT!! Soft and cozy, I swear it just makes me fall asleep that much faster.

Here's the link to the pillow, and here for the pillow cover.

Favorite Food:

I feel like I'm becoming that annoying person who only talks about food with my family and friends now that we've switched to plant-based diet. It has been going better than I thought it would! There are definitely times where I miss certain foods, but honestly the recipes we've been trying have been so good that I don't miss animal products. This week we had these stuffed zucchini boats and they were delicious, super filling, and healthy. They had quinoa, lentils, garlic, a diced bell pepper, tomato paste and some fresh herbs (basil, oregano, thyme). Add in a little nutritional yeast, which has a cheesy flavor, and we ate this right up! The kids too!

That's our week in a nutshell-- thanks for reading along today! I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Cinnamon and Nutmeg Sweet Potato Fries (Air Fryer!)

 This is Lily Grace's new favorite food-- she told me these sweet potatoes tasted like candy! I also made them for my family at the beach and they were a big hit there too. If you give them a try, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Books I Read in June

Hello there! I had big plans to read a ton of books this year (41) but it is not looking like it's going to happen. Life has been a lot busier than I anticipated and I am finding myself struggling to get through the number of books I used to. Maybe once the kids are both in school this fall I might have a chance to play catch up? I genuinely liked all of these books, but finding the time to read them can be tricky!
Tuesday, July 6, 2021

What I'm Priming: June 2021

 Good morning friends and happy Tuesday! I hope you all enjoyed the long weekend as much as we did. We had a wonderful time with family-- all 10 of us! The kiddos came home exhausted but in the best way. Now we are doing all our chores/errands to get ready for the week ahead. Today I am linking up with Tanya for Prime Purchases. 

Friday, July 2, 2021

Friday Favorites

Hello hello friends! I hope you are all excited about the long weekend ahead and have fun plans to celebrate the 4th. We are currently en route to Georgia to spend the weekend with my family at my older sister's house. I can't wait! 

Today I am linking up with Andrea and Erika to share Friday Favorites. Let's have a look:

Favorite Moments of the Week:

All our time spent by the pool! I am loving getting to soak up these fun summer memories with my kids.

Favorite Mom Fail of the Week:

Ice painting

If you follow @busytoddler on Instagram you know she posts all these fun activities for kids to do. For the most part they look peaceful, easy, and like mom can put up her feet and relax for long enough to drink a cup of coffee... not the case in the Darrell house this week! I gave the kids some paint, some brushes and some ice cubes and let them go to town with it. LG had fun for about 30 seconds before she got frustrated that the paint kept slipping off the ice. Liam on the other hand had a BLAST-- but it looked nothing like the activity was "supposed" to. He ended up painting his leg, his arms, his clothes (it was washable thankfully!) and then he tried to stick some in his mouth. So... just in case you think everything is easy peasey, sunshine and rainbows over here... it's messy as heck behind the scenes 😂 That being said, I got a good laugh out of it and at least he was occupied for a solid 30 minutes. Could've been much worse!

Favorite Fun Activity:

One of my best girlfriends hosted a girls Paint & Sip Brunch over the weekend and it was a blast! One of the other teachers at her school has a side business leading paint & sip classes so we all pitched in and hired her to lead one for us. It was laid back and so much fun. 

We were laughing the whole time and giving Allie (one of our friends) a hard time about how much better her painting was than everyone else's. Can you tell which one is Allie?

Favorite Recent Purchase:

Blackout curtains! I don't know what on Earth took me this long but I finally got some blackout curtains for Lily Grace's room. With it not getting dark until almost 9 pm, it's hard for her little body clock to know when bedtime is. I grabbed these blackout curtains (currently on sale!) at Target and they are the best purchase I've made in a long time! Liam doesn't seem bothered by the sun still being up when he's headed to bed, but I should probably go ahead and get some for his room anyway.

Favorite Food:

I didn't take a picture of it but one night when it was 91 degrees out I made gazpacho for dinner and it was soooo nice. If you aren't familiar, gazpacho is a cold tomato based soup originating from Spain. It felt perfect on a hot summer night. Liam kept calling it a smoothie, which kinda made sense for a 21 month old!

That's a glimpse of our week! Thanks for reading along today!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Strawberry Watermelon Lime Slushie

Anyone else a big watermelon junkie in the summer? We love to buy a big ole watermelon and snack on it throughout the week. Sometimes on a hot afternoon we throw some into a blender and make it into a slushie. The kids love them, the adults love them, and they're healthy! It's a "win" on all accounts. For an "adult" version, scroll all the way down to the bottom!