A Pinterest-Worthy Family

Oh the Places 2
A few years ago, someone gave Salem a cloth-bound, slip-cased edition of Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! I had his preschool teacher sign it, and I plan to have all of his teachers inscribe the inside cover from now until he graduates from high school. Wouldn’t that be a special keepsake? Looks like I’m going to need an extra copy.


Today is Mia’s first day of preschool. Before I could even hang up her Disney Princess backpack, she said, “Bye, Mom. Thanks for coming!” Translation: “Get lost, Mom. You’re messing up my game.” This image captures Mia’s truest self– confident, social, independent… a party looking for a place to happen. If there were any First Day Jitters to speak of, they were felt only by Mom and Dad.


Caption might read… “Seriously, are these people ever going to LEAVE!”

I had high hopes of getting a Pinterest-worthy-first-day-of-preschool photo, but clearly it was an epic fail. Then again, we have never been a Pinterest-worthy family, and I have to admit… that’s one of the things I love most about us.

Happy first day of school, my darling Mia. I can’t wait to see all the places you’ll go!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Salem Valentine picture
I hope you are feeling the love around your house as much as we are feeling it around ours.

Salem went to school with these…
Salem Valentine
{Printable I Love You Munch Tags by Piggy in Polka Dots}
Teacher Appreciation gift
{Printable Measure Up Sweet Teacher tags by Capital B}
… and boy did he make out like a bandit today with all the candy and toys from his classmates. Mia didn’t waste any time picking her favorites.
Mia Valentine picture
As for Clark, I put together a bag of Valentines for him to open throughout the day. Each envelope contained a sweetheart note and a small gift. Just to give you an idea of how this has gone over, I timed it for him to open the first envelope during a breakfast meeting with one of his buddies. The card read, “If you really love me, you will wear this all day. And so you don’t feel too lonely, I’ve enclosed an extra one for you to give to the person sitting closest to you.”
Clark valentine pic
Dusty valentine
I can only imagine what the two of them looked like sitting across from each other at Einstein bagels talking about their jobs and their faith wearing these obnoxious hearts. When you stay home all day with a two year old, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to get in touch with your inner prankster. Valentine’s Day was the perfect excuse!!
We will finish the day with new valentine pjs and red velvet pancakes for dinner. Then it is off to the mountains for a weekend retreat! I don’t know about you, but I am loving this day!!

What does Valentine’s Day look like at your house?!

Guess Who’s Comin’ to Town?

For some it is hot chocolate. For others it is egg nog. But every holiday guest ought to have that warm and cozy creature comfort waiting for them when they arrive at their destination… something to make them feel right at home.

Welcome to the jungle, Mom. We are happy to have you with us this week!

For His Eyes Only

I took my new book down to Dean & Deluca’s this morning for a cup of coffee and a blueberry bagel. In Spoken from the Heart, Laura Bush includes this photo of her mother, taken for her father, who carried it with him across Europe while he fought World War II. Comme c’est romantique! (Sigh)

There is a very special birthday coming up next month in our house. The Head Beasley is turning another year older, and while he would be perfectly satisfied with a greasy Mexican meal and a Guitar Center shopping spree, I am tempted to throw a few boudoir photos into the birthday mix. Now ladies, help me think through this rationally. This can be done well and in good taste, or could be a blog-worthy train wreck that would make for a hilarious account of how I subjected myself to being photographed by a complete stranger in my underwear. For those of you that have done it, please tell me you stopped blushing long enough to pose for a few decent shots. For those of you that have thought about having it done, but lack the guts, you are in good company. I may just build up enough courage to have some boudoir pictures taken, but rest assured, any post-shoot blog posting will be done sans photos. These are for his eyes only, folks. Which brings me to a very crucial consideration in all of this. Where on Earth would one hide such photos so to ensure they would stay FOR HIS EYES ONLY? With my luck, we will one day host a missionary couple in our home who will accidentally stumble upon them while innocently fishing for a copy of the New Testament in a nightstand drawer or something. Now, I’m all for being hospitable, but that’s not quite what I have in mind.

At this present moment, I can either be talked in or out of this decision, so ladies. Fire away! “Yay” or “Nay” to the Boudoir Birthday?!


Printable Holiday Greetings

Remember the good ‘ole days when you went to your mailbox and discovered a handwritten note written in beautiful penmanship with thoughtful sentiments from a friend far away? Letter writing really has become a lost art hasn’t it? I am seriously considering bringing it back this holiday season. I’ve been playing with ideas for funny family photo ops that might make for a memorable pre-printed holiday card. Don’t get me wrong. Nothing says “I love you” more than Wal Mart one hour photo. But I decided to take a little time this morning to peruse some printable holiday greeting cards, and although this feels a bit like looking at presents before Christmas morning {because you just might find one of these in your mailbox from me}, I wanted to share them with you in the event you too want to bring back the handwritten greeting card.

Printable Christmas Card  by Mufn Inc. 

Bluebell Christmas Card by E.M. Paper’s Etsy Shop

Holiday Cards by Rosemary via Creature Comforts’ Blog

Happy Christmas from London by Hello! Lucky
{Ok, so it’s not a printable and I’m not from London, but if it were and if I was, this would be my holiday greeting of choice.}

Here’s one for the sassy holiday well-wisher…

Spiked Egg Nog Holiday Card by McKenzie Noelle Creative

And if you want to go the extra thoughtful mile, here’s a few added printable touches to put your holiday greeting over the top…

wrap-around Christmas card address labels by 517 creations

Holiday address labels by Iheart Organizing

Do you have a favorite?

Some of these are free printable downloads, which means I have no excuse for getting my handwritten greetings in the mailbox sooner rather than later.

I hope you enjoy the last day of November because it is about to get holiday crazy in the December blogosphere!

Create with Coffee Sacks

Whoever thought Daylight Savings Time was a great idea obviously never had children. My early-to-rise two year old is not only free from the confines of a crib as of last month, but ever since Sunday, he has been up and at ’em at FIVE. A.M. greeting me at my bedside. Needless to say, I have coffee on the brain these days. A girlfriend of mine recently snagged me a couple of burlap coffee sacks to reinvent into gifts and home decor. Have you ever thought of the many ways you can use a recycled coffee sack? Neither have I until I stumbled on these clever ideas.

{Image via Ordinary Meets Clever}
I’m sure you’ve noticed my affinity for interesting cork boards. I’ll have to add this to the list of great bulletin board ideas.

{image via Habitation Boheme’s Etsy shop}

{Image via Ballard Designs}
I have these cream colored fabric foot stools floating around the house. You could say they’re pretty drab. They were a hand-me-down from a designer friend of mine who has way cooler hair than I do. After seeing this, I’m convinced there’s hope for my second hand cubes. If you’re like me and you don’t want to spend nearly $300 on this ottoman {gulp!}, you can always create your own version of this Burlap Coffee Sack Ottoman with this tutorial by Knock Off Decor.

{image via Re-nest}
Coffee Bag Planter Pots… Brilliant!

{image via Paige of Design}
Oh, if I ever get my sunroom/craft space in my dream house, I will consider these coffee sack window treatments for sure!

{image via Maya*Made}
If you want to try making these yourself, you can purchase the sewing pattern pdf from Designs Maya Made Etsy Shop.

If you don’t have amazing friends like I have that will snag you coffee sacks whenever they stumble across them, consider contacting a nearby coffee roaster and ask if they have any for purchase. You may luck out and be able to take them off their hands for free! I’ve seen them at antique markets, architectual salvage yards, and of course you can always find them on ebay.

Thank you, Salem for the early morning inspiration. NOW GO BACK TO SLEEP!!!!!!

Silhouette Inspired

I was curled up on my porch swing yesterday beneath my winter coat with a copy of Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts in one hand and a cold PBR in the other. Nothing like a cold brew and a little domestic inspiration to start your week off right. Try it this Sunday afternoon. You’ll thank me. I was perusing Martha’s brilliance when this image jumped off the page….

I do not currently have any silhouette images in my house. In general, I can usually take them or leave them. Quite frankly, nothing screams “corsets and crinoline” quite like a profile silhouette. But when I see them featured in a fresh and mod way, all of a sudden, I want to silhouette every plain fabric surface in my house. Take today for instance. I began making preparations for a handmade Christmas gift by snapping shots of Mia and Salem’s profiles.

Do you have any idea how many episodes of Curious George it took to captures these images?
Surely this has to be the most difficult part of DIY silhouette art.

In addition to Martha’s cross-stich silhouette tote, I have also had my eye on these other silhouette-inspired gift ideas…

Custom Silhouette Pillow by Homemade by Jill

Le Petit Enfants Etsy Shop
{Isn’t the contrasting ribbon just darling?}

Thanks to Jones Design Company silhouette tutorial and of course Martha’s painted, cross-stitched, and iron-on silhouette tutorials, I think I have enough inspiration to get me started.

I will be featuring a series of DIY gift ideas over the next several weeks leading up to the holidays. Feel free to submit some ideas so we can share the homemade wealth.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Date Basket

This clever idea has been making the rounds on Pinterest, but every since I saw these pre-planned {and pre-paid} monthly date envelopes, I’ve been coming up with ideas to make my own. Shannon Brown made these as a Christmas gift for her husband, but how cool would it be as an anniversary or a wedding gift? Each month of the year would have a different theme and a different adventure for the special couple. It would certainly take thought, originality, and quite a bit of planning, but it would surely be a gift they wouldn’t forget. And, if you’re a really good friend, you could slip a “free childcare” coupon into each envelope for couples with small children. Oh, please won’t you be my really good friend?

Cheer Up Basket

I received a message today from a tired friend reaching out for some comfort, prayer, and support. She is what I like to call my “3 a.m. friend”. That doesn’t mean we stay out partying after the kids go to bed until 3 a.m. {although we have considered it once or maybe twice.} No, she is a friend that I would call at 3 a.m. in the event that something goes down and I need someone to be there for me that I know isn’t going to curse me under their breath for disturbing their rest in the wee hours of the morning. One time I casually mentioned to her that my blender broke and I wasn’t able to make my favorite morning smoothie. A few days later, she shows up at my house with a brand new blender–  not just any blender. It was, if you will, the cadillac of all blenders and not only that. She brought over the ingredients to “blend” one of our very favorite adult beverages. Now that’s friendship. Next time I find myself in a blending crisis at 3 a.m., I know exactly who to call!

But she doesn’t need a blender. She needs a week at the beach. Unfortunately, I can’t show up at her front door and whip up a solution to all of her problems. I wish I could, but instead, I paused for a moment this afternoon to think about what I would appreciate most if I was in her shoes. There is always the usual gestures… a hot meal, child care, margaritas. All of which are smashing options, and I would gratefully receive any one of them. But today, I found myself assembling a few of my favorite things to make what I like to call a Cheer Up Basket.

Some magazines and bottled wine, a couple of gift cards for coffee and spa treatments, a bottle of scented body lotion, an assortment of herbal teas, a silly coaster, a pair of comfy socks, a bookmark, a wine cork magnet my personal favorite…. some cash envelopes meant just for her labeled, “Fun”, “Gifts”, “Clothing”, “Misc” {because she may very well be an even bigger budgeting nerd that I am}.

I spent almost the kids’ entire nap time putting this together, but I couldn’t help it. I was having way too much fun. And if I ever get too busy to tend to a friend in need, I give you full license to call me at 3 a.m. and tell me to get over myself.


New Mommy Survival Gift Guide

You might remember a last month I hosted a coffee themed baby shower for my friend Ginny. Well, allow me to introduce…

{drumroll please}

Charlotte “Lottie” Anne Gum.

I saw this picture last night and I almost stopped breathing. Not only do I get to brag on my friend’s gorgeous kid, but allow me to take this moment to feature the photo genius of my dear friend Emily Chidester. She’s brilliant and inspiring and almost as much of a Harry Potter nerd as I am. Be sure to check out her blog for her latest work.

I have so many friends getting pregnant and having babies that I’m beginning to think there really is something in the water. All of these babies got me thinking about creative gift ideas. What does every new mother need but can’t afford? The correct answer is: time and sanity. Unfortunately, you can’t exactly register for either at Babies R Us. So, I did a little brainstorming on my morning run, and this is my best attempt at what I like to call a New Mommy Survival Gift Guide.

Survival gift idea #1: Meal coordination. New mothers are oftentimes less concerned with cooking than they are with eating. After I had Mia, all I cared about was if she was getting enough to eat. If someone didn’t remind me to grab some grub, I would have opted for a long nap instead. I have world-class friends who arranged for home cooked meals to arrive every two days with left overs to spare. True story. I don’t think we bought groceries for a month. Takethemameal.com allows you to coordinate meals online and it does most of the work for you. This is priceless. Literally.

Survival gift idea #2: A housekeeper. I’m not pregnant nor do I have any desire to be in the near future, but I still fantasize at least once a week about a fairy housekeeper gracing my front doorstep. I never wanted one more than right after I had my babies. I knew it was bad when I noticed that Clark’s bare feet were sticking to the wood floor. Seriously, I thought he was going to strap on a biohazard suit before entering the shower– that’s how long it had been since I gave it a good scrub. If you’ve got the money, do your friend a favor and pay for a couple of visits from the housekeeper. She may just name her unborn child after you. Oh, and don’t forget laundry. Do a little research to find a local wash & fold service that delivers, or for major friend points, opt to provide laundry service yourself.

Survival gift idea #3: Counseling. Don’t furrow your brows at me. Baby blues don’t lift after 2 weeks for every mama. Take me for example. I wound up on the shrink’s couch 3 months after Salem was born after I woke up from a nightmare where I had confused him with the oven pot roast. I wish I was making this up. Postpartum depression is a terrifying thing for mommy, daddy, and baby, and sadly most women don’t seek help when they should because they are either embarrassed or they simply can’t afford it. I’d say, if you are a family member or a close enough friend, perhaps include a voucher in her baby shower card that says, “Redeemable for post-delivery counseling and/or margarita therapy”.

Survival gift idea #4: Child care. Babysitters are not cheap, and most likely after a few weeks, mom will be ready for a little break to go out shopping or to have tea or to have a good cry {refer to survival gift idea #3}. Again, slip a couple of coupons for “free babysitting” into her shower gift. Follow up a few weeks after delivery to remind her that you still intend to make good on your gift. Then again, if you’re my friend, you won’t have to remind me.

Survival gift idea #5: Stamped and addressed thank you cards. Speaking of shower gifts, this is a thoughtful and inexpensive one. Showers are wonderful. Mommies and babies are loaded up with diapers and burp cloths and onesies and nipple shields. {Okay, perhaps the nipple shields are not that wonderful.} But, how many of you post-shower mommies took months to tend to the seemingly insurmountable task of sending gift thank you’s? I know I did. And who has time to go buy stamps when you’re too busy with nipple shields? {I just want to see how many times I can say ‘nipple shield’ in a blog post and get away with it. There ought to be a limit, right?} You can make the task less daunting by putting together a little basket complete with cards, envelopes, stamps and a pen. You can even go the extra mile by having some return address labels printed with baby’s name included. Again, friend-points will be awarded.

Survival gift idea #6: Professional newborn photo session. {Such as… Ahem… Emily Chidester Photography}. Just think, a little piece of your thoughtfulness frozen in time on their living room wall or above the fireplace. I believe there’s a few things in life that you shouldn’t get for a basement bargain such as Lasik or plastic surgery. Photography is one of them. Don’t skimp. If you have the money to get a quality gift, opt for a family photo session with a professional, not your cousin Ralph who promises to give you a “sweet deal”.

Survival gift idea #7: Moms on Call. I’ve said it before, these ladies are God’s gift to mothers everywhere. If you live in or around the Atlanta area, they will come to your home and give you a personal consultation on everything from feeding, to bathing, to getting your newborn to sleep. If you have to choose between the fairy housekeeper and Moms on Call, take it from me. Give the gift of Moms on Call. If you’re not fortunate to live within driving distance, they offer online seminars that are just as helpful. You mama-friend will thank you.

If you want to treat your loved one to a housekeeper or a photographer, but you don’t want to break the bank, perhaps you can invite a few friends or relatives to go in on the gift with you. The best gift is one that you’ve always wanted, but you’d never splurge to get it for yourself.

Let’s add to this list. What are some of your favorite new mommy survival gifts?

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