Friday, February 27, 2015

Five on Friday: 2.27

{one} I downloaded Party Girl onto my Kindle on Monday.  By Wednesday afternoon I had read that entire book, stalked Rachel Hollis' website, downloaded and finished The Party Girl's First Date.  To say I enjoyed this book would be an understatement!  If you enjoy girly novels written in a clever, clean and classy style, this book is for you!  Both of the books are easy, engaging reads in which I found myself wanting to meet Landon and her friends for lunch!  Rachel has also written another book in this series called Sweet Girl that releases in May.  I may or may not have pre-ordered this book.... Okay, you got me!  I did pre-order the book!  I could go on and on about how much I like this author and these books, but I'll refrain and tell you again to get them for yourself!
{two} This week our downstairs was taken over with friends and their sweet kiddos.  A total of sixteen bodies gathered together in a cacophony of fun, toys and noise.  I loved every minute of it!!  The Mommas came in with blank canvases and left with worn out kiddos and pieces of artwork.  Winston and I had a fun time hosting our friends for the morning.  And we created our springtime canvas for the kitchen!  
{three} Little Bug's school encouraged all of the kiddos to wear their best western outfit in celebration of Go Texan Day!  Since Winston had grown out of his cowboy boots, Thomas was the footwear of choice for visiting the animals that came to the school for a visit.  The kids did a great job brushing and chasing around goats, sheep, a donkey and a tiny pig!  Winston loved brushing the pig.  I used this fact as leverage to convince Benjamin we need a teacup pig but.... he wasn't having any of it!  
{four} I wore my Skinny Shirt for the first time this week and fell in love with it!  If you are a fan of the collared shirt under the sweater look, you should probably take a look at investing in one of these shirts.  They will change your life.  
{five} I ordered Winston Little Praise Party: Taste and See for his Easter basket.  Well, it arrived this week and I just couldn't keep it until then.  I mean, Easter is still over a month away!!  I popped the DVD into the laptop while I was cooking dinner.  Winston was immediately captivated by the colorful music videos and catchy tunes of the songs.  He was bee-boppin' and clapping his hands along to the music.  Have you heard of Yancy, not Nancy?  I highly recommend checking her out.  Her songs are perfect for kiddos of any age {big and small!} with catchy songs that will have them singing Scripture and wonderful truths of God!  Plus, they are great songs to have suck in your head!  

This weekend one of the major roads out of our development is closed so we are going to have to get creative on how to get here and there!  What are you doing?  Any big plans or no plans?  :)  Wishing you a wonderful weekend whatever you are getting up to!

Linking up today with 5 on Friday: DarciAprilChristina + Natasha | Oh Hey, Friday: September Farm + The Farmer's Wife


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Skinny Shirt

We are avid Shark Tank watchers in my family.  My parents watch it.  My brother and sister-in-law watch it.  We watch it.  Each Christmas we normally get at least one or two items that have been on Shark Tank.  Simple Sugarspaint brush keepers, the Spatty Daddy and cleaning supplies are just a few!

This season there were two ladies who came on with their product Skinny Shirt.  It is the perfect shirt to wear beneath a sweater without looking all bunchy and awkward.  I remember telling Benjamin that I would totally buy one because who doesn't like to look sleek when wearing a collared shirt/sweater combo?
Weeks later, my Mom was wearing a cute sweater with a collared shirt under it.  She said, "Did you see the Shark Tank episode with Skinny Shirts?"  And we launched into a discussion about how much she loved them!  The body of the shirt is made with a stretchy lycra material that hugs the body preventing that bulky look that normally happens with a shirt/sweater combo.  The shirt adds a layer of warmth without being too warm when indoors.

This week the weather in Houston has actually felt like winter is supposed to feel, so I wore and sweater and my Skinny Shirt for the very first time.  I can't tell you how much I love it!  It totally works!  Sometimes I get skeptical that the item they are showing you on TV cannot be as good in person.  This was not the case!  I didn't feel bulky or unkempt.  I liked having the extra layer under my sweater but was still comfortable to move around and be on the floor to play with Winston.
Skinny Shirt offers sleeveless and long sleeve versions, rounded or pointed collars, and comes in a variety of color options.  While $70 a shirt it may seem a bit excessive, I promise you will love it and get your wears worth out of it!  

{This post was not sponsored.  I just really liked this shirt and thought everyone needed to know about it!}

Monday, February 23, 2015

Meal Planning in Reverse.7

Ranch Chicken Pockets with crumbed green beans
{This was the second time to make these pockets and they were delicious!  I didn't put the broccoli inside since we were having veggies as a side.  I also just squeeze enough ranch into the chicken to make it mix together.  It still gives the ranch flavor without being overpowering!  These pockets are easy to make and delicious even as warm-ups!}

Baked Parmesan Pork Chops, Trader Joe's fettuccine alfredo and baked zucchini
{These pork chops were delicious!  The flavor was intense and tasty!  The outside was nice and crisp with the pork chop remaining tender and juicy.  A definite keeper!}

Fish sticks, mac & cheese and corn

Pasta and broccoli


Date night at Houston's

Hodge podge of this and that!

Another good weekend in the books!  Benjamin came home from traveling for a conference, we had a date night out on the town, Winston played to his heart's content with our sweet babysitter, and we had a lovely day on Sunday consisting of fried rice and family nap time!  How was your weekend?  What are you looking forward to most this week?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Five on Friday: 2.20

This week was the start of Lent and I have intentionally set aside time in my day to kneel at the feet of Jesus in preparation of Easter.  I have been a Christian for many years but this is the first year to actively participate in Lent.  Do you participating in Lent?

My buddy and I eat froyo once a week.  When Winston started school last fall he was pretty well potty trained.  Froyo was one of our ways to celebrate an accident free day at school.  And then it just turned into our Tuesday thing.  I walk into his class, get a very big hug and the next thing I know I have two small hands on my cheeks and his sweet little voice whispers, "Froyo Mommy?"  Of course!  We have gone so often he now gives me directions from the school parking lot.  Winston takes his frozen yogurt with strawberries, sprinkles, M&M's and gummy bears!  Normally we have the place to ourselves.  We talk about what he did at school that day and what he learned.  I am thankful for our froyo dates and wish them to never end!

This is the swimsuit I used all of last summer and I loved it!  It washed well and wore well too.  It was a great style for swimming with a little person who was learning his way around the water!  It is from Kingdom and State.  Have you heard of them?
I can't quite remember how I came to find out about them I am just glad that I did!  I ordered my second swimsuit from them this week and I am looking forward to receiving it in the mail!  

#gorillaart is taking over Houston in preparation for the arrival of seven gorillas in May!

We really had another decent week of weather.  It was a little on the chilly side but compared to what folks are experiencing up North, we had nothing to complain about!  Forecast is showing that we will have no sunny skies for the next five days as the rain and cold are coming back.  Thank goodness we got some outside play time in before winter says its final goodbye!

Linking up today with 5 on Friday: Darci, April, Christina + Natasha | Oh Hey, Friday: September Farm + The Farmer's Wife

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lent: Preparing for Easter

Growing up, the Baptist churches I attended did not put a large emphasis on Lent.  The emphasis was always on Holy week and the stations of the cross, walking through the death and resurrection of our Lord.  I remember my Catholic friends talking about Lent because they were required to give something up for 40 days.  I have always treated Easter and the days leading up to the celebration as a time to remember the sacrifice of love and the miracle of the resurrection.  Easter for me is the reason I believe.  My God loved me so much that he sent his only Son to walk on the earth, die for my sins, and to conquer death so that I may live a life rooted in Him! 
Since one of my personal goals is to be more intentional in spending time in the Word, I felt an interest in participating in Lent.  This year I am excited to be participating in the Naptime Diaries Lent devotional, Follow.  It is a forty day study designed to guide the reader through Lent in preparation of the celebration of Easter.  There are eight sections each with a devotional and Scripture to read and meditate on throughout the week.  

Through Instagram I found out about the Children's Lenten Guide designed by OodlesDoodles Print Shop.  Complete with coloring sheets and accompanying Scripture, the downloadable files also come with memorization cards.  While Winston is a bit small for the memorization and will more than likely not quite understand the full meaning of Lent and Easter, I am excited to spend time telling him the story of Jesus and the wonderful gift he so freely gives.  I feel that it is a great time to be intentional about speaking these truths into his little life.  My goal is for us to do the color sheets and one craft that ties in each week.  

But more important than my goals, is my prayer is that this season will be a special time of worship for my family as we intentionally focus on the life and ministry of Jesus, the road to His death on the cross, and His miraculous resurrection from the grave triumphant over death.  I pray that Winston's heart will be soft to the Scriptures that we will read and that our conversations would be on a level that he can start to understand.  

Since Lent starts today, you are not too late to jump into a study.  You can purchase {for $12} the PDF version of Naptime Diaries study here or you can participate {for free!} in the She Reads Truth study through their website, app on your phone or iPad.  And for your kiddos, check out OodlesDoodles for your own copy of the Children's Lenten Guide.  

I'd love to know if you are participating in a study and if so, which one.  Also, share if you are doing anything intentional with your kiddos in the weeks to come!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

#gorillaart in Houston

Have you heard that the Houston Zoo is getting gorillas?!  It happens in May and we are super pumped about it!  To raise awareness of the arrival of these awesome apes, Houston Zoo partnered with five artists to take it to the stress guerrilla style!  Painted all around Houston, the murals depict beautiful pictures of gorillas.  

Starting at the beginning of February, I kept seeing these beautiful in progress photos of the murals going up around town on my Instagram news feed.  I mentioned it to Benjamin and he thought they were neat as well.  Since we think it's important for Winston to have an appreciation of art and of the city we live in, on Saturday morning we loaded in the car and headed downtown on a scouting trip!
Since we were scouting these out on a Saturday, there were cars parked directly in front of the murals.  If you went on a week day in the middle of the week you probably would be able to get a picture of the walls in their full glory.  This particular mural is done by Mr. D.  The artistry and detail of the gorilla is amazing.  His eyes are stunning and my favorite part of the piece.  You may recognize the texturing as Mr. D is the same artist who did The Biscuit Paint Wall.  Yes, this one!
Next on our list was this mural depicting a gorilla family.
The little baby was my favorite thing about this mural.  Winston was super cute about seeing the walls!  We told him we were going to see gorilla art and he exclaimed, "APES!"  We explained to him that these pieces of art were in preparation of the gorillas arriving at the zoo in a few months!  We are now pumped and ready to welcome the seven gorillas to the largest gorilla habitat in the United States, their new home in Houston!

We plan to see the remaining three murals once they are all complete!

For a list of the murals and their locations, please click here.

Hall Around Texas

Monday, February 16, 2015

Meal Planning in Reverse.6

I hope that you had the best time celebrating Valentine's Day with your favorite people!  We had a fun day of exploring Houston, napping and being moors at home.  A wonderful way to spend the day!  Wishing you a wonderful week!
Pei Wei Take Out

Udi's Lasagna, honey cinnamon roasted sweet potatoes, and garlic bread
{I really like sweet potatoes.  Winston really likes sweet potatoes.  Benjamin...not so much.  Imagine my delight when I came across this recipe!  I figured it would be a win with ingredients like honey and cinnamon.  Sure enough, I was told they were yummy and I could add them into the mix of side dishes!  Hooray!  The recipe is quick, easy and delicious!}

Trader Joe's Halibut, Buffalo macaroni and cheese, broccoli

Chicken Fries, chips and fruit

Foundation Class Social - Potluck
Winston and I made Chocolate Covered Wafer Cookies.  He was aces as being my sprinkle dipper and making them reminded me how much I love a fresh wafer cookie!

Heart shaped pizza from Papa John's!

Breakfast for Dinner

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

I can't quite remember how I found out about Big Love Ball, I just know that I did and I needed one in my life!  In brainstorming ideas for Valentine's Day photos, using the ball came up as an option that both Benjamin and I really liked.  We invited Noah, Salem and Penelope to join us for the photos and was pleased as punch with how they turned out!  
These cousins are to precious!  I am thankful that they live close that we can not only take cute photos together but that they can play and grow together.  Winston is quite taken with Penelope and remembers to be gentle when he is near her.  And she just coos right back at him when he talks to her.  We didn't grow up near cousins and I know how much I love mine.  I am eager to watch them in the years to come!
For me celebrating Valentine's is a time for me to pause and offer thanks to the One who gives love unconditionally.  
"We love because he first loved us."  1 John 4:19
Jesus' love is immeasurable and swallows all of me up.  He loves me despite of my unloveable parts.  And because of that I love and follow Him with my entire life.  He is the reason I wake up in the morning and for that I will sing His praise!  He has given me everything I have and for that I am thankful.  
I couldn't imagine my life without Benjamin and Winston.  I found myself thinking back to my college self and trying to remember what I thought life would be life when I was married and had a kiddo.  All I know is that it is better than my 20 year old self ever hoped it could be.  God is faithful and just.   He is generous and loving.  He has given me more love than I ever thought my heart could handle and on top of that I get to do life with these two.  Blown. Away.  My days are full of Thomas the Train, snacks, painting, crafts, singing in the car, in the house, in the yard.  Full of jokes and laughter.  My days have times of tears and frustration, of tantrums and hurt feelings.  Times of teaching and soothing, of cuddling and reading.  With each of these words I have precious memories attached.  I try my best to be thankful for each stage of life we are in appreciating what we have yet looking forward to the excitement of the next!
And because Elmo is never far from where we are...  
Hope that you are able to spend Valentine's Day with the best people in your life!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Five on Friday

The weather here in Houston has been fabulous all week which means spending time outside in the afternoons!  There has been water table playing, lots of sandbox playing including digging and moving dirt, and playground time.  I am thankful that we have been able to see the sun and soak up some Vitamin D!
Husband and I went on a mid-day lunch date.  We both love Chuy's but Winston isn't the biggest fan. When we have lunch out together just the two of us that is normally our go to place!  I am thankful that we are afforded the opportunity to have the time together just the two of us.  We adore having Winston with us but it is good for us to get back to being just two every once in a while.  
One of our projects on the to-do list for February was install new light fixtures and frame the bathroom mirror.  Major kudos to Hubby {and our friend Brian} who worked to make the goal a success!  When we moved into the house the only light over the bathroom mirror was a builders grade light with three bulbs.  Sad.  We found these amazing fixtures and promptly purchased the 5-bulb replacing the old one the same day.  It was amazing!  Then we took a step back and decided we needed to add a 3-bulb fixture over each sink.  The amount of light we now have in the bathroom is fantastic and I love being able to really see when I get ready in the mornings.  Framing the mirror also completely changed the look of that side of the bathroom.  We just love how it looks and are making plans to do the same to the spare bathroom.  Our master bathroom is almost complete, just one wall that looks kinda sad and we have plans for that too!
We have been invited to a black-tie {optional} wedding.  I have yet to attend to a black tie event and am excited to get all dolled up!  I'm not really digging a long formal dress so I thought I might wear and long skirt like one of these from Shabby Apple {1 || 2 || 3 || 4} with a top and some statement jewelry pieces.  What do you think?  Would that be acceptable?  Have you ever been to a black tie event before?  Which skirt is your favorite?
Wishing you a very Happy Valentine's full of lots of love from the special people in your life!  

ball || smile shirt

Hooking up this week with the girls of Friday on Five and Oh, Hey Friday!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Best {Water} Buddies

The weather this week in Houston has been quite spring-like.  We have shed our heavy jackets and traded them in for spending time outside in the sun!  After playing with the sand table Winston meandered over to the water table which was void of water and full of leaves and dirt.  We hauled it over to the hose and gave it a good rinse down.  Lulu was ecstatic that the water was flowing and chased the streams like a wild thing!  The water was chilly but it did not stop these two buddies from having a good time {read getting absolutely soaked!}
On this particular day the pirates were on a boat that had a crash where they fell into the water and had to float to dry land.  I just love listening to the stories that he concocts and the gusto with which he acts everything out.  Lulu was just too happy to be right beside him the entire time.  
She is his buddy and he is hers.  He loves to give her treats when we leave the house, making sure that he gives her a pet and that she is tucked in.  He runs to her bed when we come back exclaiming, "Hi Luli! We're home!"  He cheers for her when she poops outside and loves when she chases him and the ball around the yard.  
She is fiercely protective and sweeter to him than I ever could have hoped.  She loves to cuddle up next to him and can usually be found curled up under a blanket by his feet while he watches his shows.  They both respect each others toys.  Winston drops Luli bits of breakfast, lunch and dinner to which I am sure has only increased her affection for him!  She gives him kisses and he giggles with delight.  
I am thankful for the relationship that they have.  Silly as it may seem to some, it has been an important one to me.  Lulu is a part of our family and Winston treats her as such.  Lulu was one of Winston's first words.  She has taught him how to be gentle with others, that we are soft with animals and that everyone needs a cuddle now and again.  I believe that she has helped us teach Winston to be mindful of others, to care for others.  She has helped us teach him how to share and how to set boundaries.  He frequently asks her how her day has been.  He calls her Girlie.  These lessons and this relationship is shaping his little heart to be sensitive and kind to others.  I thank God that Lulu has been around to love our little guy!
And if I know the two of them, they are more than ready for spring weather and pool time to be here so that they can continue their best buddy adventures!

Our Favorite Outside Toys

Monday, February 9, 2015

Meal Planning in Reverse.5

Another week in the books!  We move into the week celebrating love!  This is such a great week to celebrate the relationships you have with the special people in your life: family, friends, spouses.  Enjoy loving on others this week!

Now that I'm on week five of the meal planning in reverse, I have decided that I quite like doing it this way.  I have referenced my previous plans and I like that I can now remember if I loved, liked or never want to make a recipe again!  What are your thoughts?  Is it helpful to you?

Papa John's Pizza {$6 pick up!}

Brown Sugar Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, crumbed green beans
{Y'all this meatloaf was made just like my momma makes it with the addition to the sweet sauce!  The recipe is super easy to do and it turns out deliciously!  I didn't put the onions in mine.  I also took the advice and made double of the sauce to put onto of the meatloaf before serving.  It added another level of sweet deliciousness!  This recipe would also be great made as meatballs.}

Creamy Swiss Chicken Bake, rice and broccoli
{This was our second time to make this recipe and it was just as yummy as the first!  Again, another quick to make recipe that delights the tastebuds}

Shake 'n Bake pork chops, cous cous, and corn

Out to eat with Ortho Residency Friends at Underbelly

Dinner on the grill with home made zucchini chips
Chicken fries for Winston


What have you made that has been extra scrumptious?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Personalizing the Pillars

When we picked our house plans, we really liked about the openness of the downstairs living area.  The bar is situated in the middle of the rooms which I like because I can be in the kitchen working on dinner while Winston plays with cars or in his own kitchen.  There are two pillars on either side of the bar.  We had extra outlets put in so that we could use appliances on the counters.  

We are still in the process of personalizing our house {I mean, who isn't?} and these pillars are the next things for me to tinker with.  I am happy with the way the first one has turned out and am excited about adding new things as we create them or get them from our travels!
The 2015 sign idea came to be in January.  You know I love a hand and foot craft.  I think they are the best way of capturing how little {or big!} the tiny people in your home are.  I used a pre-cut wood piece from Michael's.  JoAnn's also carries them.  Using black paint, I painted the face of the wood leaving a boarder to see that wood grain.  Winston was more than happy to squish his hand and foot into white paint for the 15 part of the sign!  I then hand painted the 20 and voila!  A cute, personalized 2015 sign!

Wreath: The Magnolia Market \\ similar 
Squirrel: Primitives by Kathy \\ I purchased mine at Nordstrom but it can be found here and here.
The lily of the valley photo and the drawing of Union Street are souvenirs from travels to Aberdeen.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Meal Planning in Reverse.4

Another successful meal planning week completed!  I will have to say that the Chicken Parm Sloppy Joe's were a pleasant surprise to this week's line up.  I saw them on Mix and Match Mama's blog on Monday and made the swap.  I am happy I did!  Have you tried anything new lately that have delighted your tastebuds?

Papa John's Pizza
{Did you know that Papa John's does 1 topping, $6 carry out pizzas on Mondays?  It is one of our favorite Monday meals!}

Pioneer Woman's Fried Round Steak, mashed potatoes and parmesan zucchini

{Y'all.  This was taaaaasty!  And fairly quick to put together.  The recipe calls for Italian seasonings which I realized I had none of until I was making the meal!  In lieu of that I used Season All, Garlic Salt and Basil.  I also used Hunt's Garlic and Basil tomato sauce to add flavor.  Instead of hamburger buns, I sliced french bread.  No matter how you make it, I'm sure it will be a winner with your family.  It was with mine!}

Breakfast!  Scrambled eggs, bacon and Trader Joe's Hash browns
{I love Trader Joe's hash browns because you can get them extra cripsy!}

Taco kit and yellow rice

Salad and Spaghetti

{Lunch} PF Changs Take Out
{Dinner} Super Bowl Party

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Goals Recap: January 2015

In my thoughts about the New Year, I mentioned that I was going to make my goals a little differently this year.  Instead of making blanket goals to cover the entire year, that sometimes overwhelm me, I planned to do month by month goals.  I created a few different buckets where I wanted to make sure we had at least one planned activity.  I am happy to report that January was a successful month!

We hosted a Girls Night Out/Boys Night In event for our Sunday School class.
Scheduled and went to lunch with Mom's from Winston's class at school.
Scheduled a Mommy & Me craft day to be had in February.

Attended Monster Jam!

Planned {and made!} January crafts
We went to Baby Power for the first time.  
We went on a really rainy, wet, cold, windy Friday at the beginning of the month and it was the perfect venue for burning off some extra energy!  We followed it up with a trip to CiCi's and Baskin Robbins!
Winston LOVED the ball pit!  He jumped in over and over and over and over again!  
I completed my embroidery project!
I blogged more!

There were a few things that I didn't get a start on but the great thing is I can roll them over to February's list!  I have my February goals all ready to go.  Benjamin contributed to it as well.  We also completed a few projects around the house that we weren't really expecting to however the timing just worked out so that we got them knocked out!  Having these little lists are helping us to be more intentional about spending time together and building relationships with others.  

How do you make the time to be intentional with your days?
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