dear isla.

(notes to her at summer camp)

At drop off . . .

For the first time ever, the girl is away for a whole week! And for the first time ever at summer camp! We miss her so. I have enjoyed preparing and sending her a daily note via snail mail. I hope she is having a blast (but also missing us just a little)!

P.S. – So many simple yet sweet memories have been made these last couple of months. Being “in the thick of it” is exhausting but so spectacular. I feel as if this chapter is one of the very best – so much gratitude for this life right here, right now.

may ‘19. some favorite random moments.

A few random tidbits and photos I want to remember about this “full of all the things” May.

We’ve almost made it through “birthday season” – whew! The last celebration is this evening. We now have a 13 year old, 10 year old and 18 month old. Reference the above photos for what a new 10 year old does while in front of a mirror.

My husband is from St. Louis and a huge sports fan! Tate’s new favorite song is now “Gloria”. If you’re a Blues fan you’ll understand. (wink, wink!)

The last day of school was yesterday. The remainder of this week will be full of rest and freedom, but I’m hoping for a bit of relaxed order to start happening next week. I’ve got a list of house projects I’d love to complete this summer!

It’s also been “peony season”. I can’t seem to keep myself from picking one or a bundle of them every time I walk past.

And the last 6 months (months 13-18) of Mr. Tate . . .

Our 13 year old, who isn’t real fond of pictures (unless there is a fish in his hand), let me get just a few. Baseball in Memphis got cancelled for the weekend of his birthday so he got to go to dinner with cousins and fishing that evening. Not exaggerating when I say fishing is his first true love!

And for a Mother’s Day photo, cooperation just wasn’t happening . . .

I have so many things that I’ve been wanting to share but first a few days of rest.

XOXO!

a visit to the Alabama coast and Easter.

This past week/ weekend we celebrated Easter and the two biggest littles spring break. For the first time since moving back to Missouri, we road tripped down to the shores of Alabama to visit family and enjoy the beautiful weather there this time of year. The gulf waters are still a little chilly but other than that the spring and fall times in southern Alabama are picture perfect (without all of the crowds and chaos of summertime).

Our favorite things this trip . . .

The beach. Of course! There are a few we frequent on our visits to Gulf Shores/ Orange Beach/ Fort Morgan areas, but there are plenty of public and private beaches to choose from. The beach is always a favorite for me, but this visit was especially fun for Tate. The never ending sandbox was like a little piece of his heaven.

The Pier and fishing. Always so full of life, creatures, and learning. Our oldest became fishing obsessed when we lived in the south and if you have the right equipment The Pier is such a wonderful place to do so. From high above the gulf, we often spot small sharks swimming in the waters below.

Bike riding on the trails of Gulf State Park. You could easily ride all day and not pass over the same spot twice. This is such an enjoyable and active way to take in all of the additional beauty (other than the beach) that this part of the southern coast has to offer. We stopped for lunch here. I highly recommend the brussels sprouts and mac n’ cheese 🙂 but everything was really delicious and fresh.

Shopping.

Eating. This visit, we ate at Lulu’s. The kids love it because of the large sandbox/ play area. It can get a little crazy during the summer season but this time of year the wait was nil. And if you like cold (abundantly) sweet treats, The Yard is worth at least one visit.

The road trip. Perhaps my favorite part! Having all of my people together for a long period of time yes, almost too crazy to be bearable at times. But the BEST! Even during that late at night six hour stretch of no civilization in Mississippi.

Easter Sunday. Although not our traditional Easter, we love visiting the church in Foley. And the weather was really breathtakingly beautiful! So much so, that we spent Easter afternoon at the beach.

Early A.M. swims. Throwing on a bathing suit and hitting the pool first thing in the morning.

A few of our other favorite things to do while in the Gulf Shores area are . . .

  • The National Naval Aviation Museum. It’s free admission and parking. If you are able, watch one of the practices of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels!
  • The Fort Morgan historic site. A really beautiful place to explore.
  • USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. This is in Mobile, but is worth the drive if you have the time.
  • Bon Secour, Alabama. If you are up for a short drive and just want to see some local scenery, this small community is so quaint and cozy. There are also a few places nearby to purchase some fresh seafood!
  • Fairhope, Alabama. Such a quaint, beautiful and inspiring town off the coast of the Mobile Bay. Spend the afternoon shopping, eating, and admiring the beautiful homes and cottages. Also, a lovely place to ride bikes!
  • Alligator Alley.
  • Burris Market. We used to stop here on our way to the coast. They have the best pies and pecan cobbler.
  • Scoops Ice Cream.

We returned to Missouri mid week with the dogwoods in full bloom, Easter baskets, and for me, more than the usual amounts of coffee.

(after they had been rummaged through)

It’s so nice to be home. The littlest guy and I went to two estate sales yesterday and one of our purchases was a new chair for the back deck. I am hoping to do some relaxing and refreshing there this weekend. May you find your “spot” and spend as much time there this weekend as possible. Enjoy!

birthday weekend. the food.

(Saturday Breakfast of Greek/ Mediterranean Omelet with gyro meat & Vanilla Lattes – from a local coffee shop)

My birthday was Sunday and the weekend was both beautifully festive yet wonderfully casual. We had dinner out Friday with friends, then I had breakfast with a friend on Saturday and lunch with a friend on Sunday. For my actual birthday, I just wanted a no fuss day to do some cooking and relaxing and such a sweet day it ended up being.

I tried my hand at a couple of new recipes.

For breakfast, I made Joanna Gaines’ Orange Scones. The scone itself is lighter and more cake-like (not as heavy and less dense) than other scones I’ve had. The combination of the maple and citrus flavors in the glaze is amazing and compliments the “lighter” texture of the scone perfectly.

And then for dinner I made Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers and for desert Secret Ingredient Chocolate Fudge Cake. This cake was definitely a special treat for all. Each bite was comparable to eating lightly sweetened pieces of fudge – so delightful! We celebrated extra by giving Mr. Tate his very first few bites of chocolate cake.

If only, the dirty dishes on your birthday would magically disappear. The only unenjoyable bits of the day.

Orange Scones Magnolia Table Cookbook – Joanna Gaines

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Fudge Cake – Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients Cookbook – John Whaite

*I used dark chocolate cocoa for the icing. The original recipe calls for regular cocoa powder. I also added truffles (from Aldi).

Now, tis’ the time for a sugar detox. 🙂

Happy Monday!

“birthday season” & confetti pockets.

Four out of five (5 out of 6, if you count the pup) of us will celebrate birthdays within the next two months! Therefore, I tend to refer to these weeks for our family between March 31st and May 20th as “birthday season”. It’s a season full of so much busy (but so much fun), lots of celebrating and of course so many sweet memories (& treats).

In honor of “birthday season”, one of my favorite simple paper projects – confetti pockets! I have customized and done so many of these over the years. You can’t help but feel at least a little “happy” when making them and what a sweet gesture they are for the recipient!

Supplies:

  • Scraps of cardstock (whatever color combo you wish)
  • Vellum (clear transparent-like paper)
  • Various punches or even a good hole puncher will work
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine (or you could hand stitch)
  • Printer
  • Scissors

Instructions:

Step 1: Make your confetti. The more, the merrier! From rainbow to pastels, be picky about your color palette or just use whatever paper scraps you have lying around. I love using various textures and/ or throwing in a few pieces of metallic or glitter here and there. I have collected a variety of punches over the years, but even a hole punch will do the trick. OR to save time, feel free to use store bought confetti (so easy, but still so pretty). One of my favorites was a New Year’s greeting that I did several years ago – the pocket included a Polaroid and metallic store bought confetti.

Step 2: Print & cut your pockets. Make your own or feel free to use one of these:

confettipocketsyay.pdf

confettipocketshooray.pdf

For the above pdf’s use an 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of vellum. I have set it up so that two pockets will print per sheet of vellum. Once printed, cut your sheet in half so that you have pockets 8.5 inches by 5.5 inches (before folding). Then fold your pockets in half so that your finished pocket is approximately 4.25 by 5.5 inches in size.

Step 3: Sew your pockets. Pick your thread color, set up your machine and zig zag stitch the side and bottom of your pocket. Then fill the pocket with your confetti and whatever else your prefer. Once filled, zig zag stitch the top of pocket closed. Knot and trim your loose ends.

*You can also hand stitch if you don’t have a sewing machine.

The End!

In a few short steps, you have a fun-filled pocket that makes the perfect party favor, birthday greeting, invite or decoration! Tis’ the season for all of these around here!

As the years pass, the celebrating becomes less but the things to appreciate are so much more! Here’s to pockets full of confetti this “birthday season” and every season!

~ xoxo ~

saturday morn. vanilla-pear muffins.

Happy Saturday! It’s a foggy and rainy one here. Perfect weekend morning weather! It’s also another weekend morn with exactly nowhere to be. That’s a couple in the last month which feels amazing! So with some time and pears on hand I thought I would give these a try. They did not disappoint – the taste nor the smell that’s still lingering throughout our home.

(I left the topping off of a few for the babe.)

(birthday present for isla’s friend. lovely hand lettering by her cute nine year old self.)

The dishes and laundry have been gathered. But first, I sit and enjoy the rest of my coffee while the littlest takes his first nap of the day. Delightful!

Have the BEST weekend! XO!

Recipe:Williams Sonoma Vanilla-Pear Muffins

saturday morn. popovers & lemon curd.

(Meyer lemons)

Even Saturday mornings come early with a one year old in the house. However, I found myself laying awake anyway with anticipation of the possibilities of a slow Saturday that involves no extra curricular activities and no certain plans – perhaps just coffee with a friend this afternoon. The sun is beaming this morning (despite it being very cold) but increasing clouds and a wintry mix are supposed to take over the afternoon and night.

Speaking of Spring (my last post), I’ve been craving a lot of citrus and lemon these days. So with having plenty of time this morning, I thought I’d make one of my favorites – popovers. And in the early morning light, try my hand at making lemon curd to tag along with them for something different. The finished curd tasted rather good but I definitely need more tries to get this one right. Mine was far from spectacular when it came to thickness. It was more the consistency of a heavy cream vs a jelly. I’m blaming it on the little guy I had on my hip the whole time. 😉

Both of the popover and lemon curd recipes were from the Joy of Cooking cookbooks.

The Lemon Curd recipe was from the newer 75th Anniversary edition.

The Popover recipe was from the 1964 edition and is slightly different than the newer 75th edition’s Popover recipe (just in case you were wondering 🙂 ).

Joy of Cooking – Popover recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 450°. Beat together all ingredients except the eggs just until smooth. Then add eggs one at a time. Do not overbeat.

The batter should be no heavier than whipping cream. Fill the buttered muffin cups about 3/4 full. Do not overfill. Bake at once. After 15 minutes, lower the heat to 350° and bake 15-20 minutes longer. Don’t open the oven when lowering the temp. You can test for doneness by removing one of the popovers – make sure the walls are firm. If they are not cooked long enough, the popovers will collapse. (Joy of Cooking – 1964 edition)

*Serve immediately with a variety of toppings. You can make them savory or sweet depending on your cravings. The kids enjoy just a little powdered sugar and maple syrup.

Happy Saturday!