The other morning I went into Wes’s room. All the coins from his front loader money bank with out on the floor. “I’m trying to make a volcanu,” he said, “but the coins aren’t stacking. How can we make a volcanu?”

I paused and thought. How can we make a volcano? Hey wait! There’s an abandoned newspaper next door! As luck would have it our next door neighbors went on vacation just the day before. We talked to Mr. Steve in the driveway as he canceled his newspaper. He told us he was too late to cancel his Sunday edition, so we could have it!

“We’ll papier-mâché a volcano today, Buddy!” I said. And he giggled. I love when he does that. He doesn’t really know what I mean about something but he can tell enough that I’m making something happen for him so he giggles in delight. It’s so great.

Sean did a decent amount of this himself, but he was happy to do it. We used a recipe that called for boiling the flour and water, so it was really hot at first. Plus, he wanted to get a good base going before Wes started to add things.

But Wes did help!

And it was a success! What a fun little experiment! I’m so happy our neighbors forgot to cancel their paper in time so that there was an abandoned newspaper on the morning Wes asked to make a volcanu! What are the chances!

An Earth Day Project

Earth Day was Sunday, April 22nd, and we celebrated!  We celebrated with an herb planting project.


Initially, we wanted these herbs to serve as natural bug repellents, not as herbs we’d use in the kitchen.  Our house backs up to some woods.  One day we will get a deck, and we don’t want to get too bug-bitten.  We also don’t want to risk killing any bees by having our yard sprayed, so this seemed like a great solution.  Despite seeming like a great solution, the project evolved.


I thought I’d done a great job of documenting all of our progress.  It turns out I didn’t.  So here are Sean and Wes doing other yard activities over the last few months, with the herbs in the background.  Above you have the sandbox Sean started to build last summer.  When Sean decided this project really made more sense as a regular herb garden, we decided this sandbox would be great as an herb garden.  The yard project you seeing happening here is Sean and Wes planting wildflowers to help attract bees.  We’re very concerned about the pollinators!


Above is a freshly-ish planted garden on Father’s Day, and then Sean and Wes digging a trench for a drainage pipe with our growing herbs in the background.

A few weeks ago we had so much basil!  Finally!  So we made a pesto for our Sunday family dinner.  I’d link a recipe but Sean was in charge and when Sean is in charge he just figures it out.

It was so satisfying to make the pesto entirely from basil from our own garden.  We have another surplus of basil now and in a few weeks hope to try this recipe.  Ice baths and cheese clothes are so up Sean’s alley.  Plus, we haven’t done anything with heirloom tomatoes yet this season, and it seems like something we have to remedy before the season is over!

A Family Portrait

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We used a version of this Paperless Post card to announce our pregnancy to family and friends last week.  A few friends and family members responded with questions like, “is that picture a graphic?” and “did you make that cross stitch?” so I thought I’d share a little more about that family portrait.

Cotton is the traditional second anniversary gift and I knew whatever I gave Sean would involve cotton.  I don’t remember exactly how, but one Google search must have led to another and I came across instructions for Martha Stewart’s cross-stitch family and immediately knew this was the gift.  Martha has a PDF of clip art templates that I scanned for inspiration.  She recommends building your pattern on graph paper, but who wants to buy a whole pad of graph paper for one small project?  I built out my design in Excel.  Excel worked well for me because Martha’s templates don’t include a pregnant lady, and there aren’t many Martha-inspired pregnant cross stitched ladies out there (at least not that I could find).  I had to play with widths and spacing to figure out how to make that bump and bent arm work.  It also allowed me to play with the colors.  Initially, I put myself in a lavender dress.  I can’t explain that to you.  I don’t own a single piece of lavender anything so why I thought putting myself in lavender made sense is beyond me.  To keep with the wedding/anniversary theme, I used this picture from the night Sean proposed as inspiration instead.

Engagement Picture

Sean’s outfit is the same and I changed my dress color to pink to match our wedding colors of navy and pink.

Martha’s dog templates just don’t capture Aiden at all.  I was happy to find the image below through Google and made it look as close to Aiden as I could.

Family Portrait Sample

I can’t find the link to this exact image, but I believe credit goes to this Etsy shop.  (Our last name and 2014 are below our images, similiar to the photo above but in a cursive font.  But, I won’t be showing or talking anymore about that here.)

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It wasn’t until just a few days before I gave this anniversary gift to Sean that I decided this would be the image for our announcement. I’m happy it worked out so well for both occasions.

So all of this is a long way to say, if you’d like to create a cross stitch family portrait of your own and you’re comfortable with cross stitching, use Martha as your base, Google for inspiration, and adjust your design accordingly.  Or, go to Etsy and you’ll find lots of crafters who will do it for you.  Better yet, contact me and I’ll help you put your design together!  I’ll even stitch it for you.  I think I’ve got one friend in line already!



This weekend Sean and I went pumpkin picking!  I didn’t want to go all the way to a farm for pumpkins this year.  Luckily we found a local church that hosts an annual pumpkin festival and picked out pumpkins there.

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Initially I didn’t plan to carve that small pumpkin in the center.  I thought I could display it as is either on our dining room table or a side table.  Then I realized we could carve our family in pumpkins!  So the small one became Aiden’s pumpkin.

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photo 16Our family as pumpkins!  Sort of.  I’m not sure why Sean’s is crying because he’s not a sad guy.  His pumpkin is also yelling and Sean’s not angry.  Such an emotional pumpkin, but at least with great detailing and depth!

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I’m so happy fall is here!

The Art (& Anxiety) of Expressing Gratitude

In the blogs and magazines I frequently read a reoccuring topic is the hostess gift and how to shake it up.  A traditional bottle of wine is lovely, of course, but every now then it’s nice to give a host or hostess something a little different.  A few partners in Sean’s practice area are hosting the rest of the group at their beach houses this upcoming weekend and soon after we received the invite I started to think about how to shake up our hostess gifts.

Initially I thought I would arrange flowers.  I’ve taken two floral arranging classes this summer and was happy with the result both times.

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In both classes, my instructor emphasized the importanace of having a flower recipe to map out the number of flowers and greens needed along with an idea of where the stems should be placed within the vase.  For my hostess gifts I wanted to use a pitcher as a vase.  But how would I replicate the recipe for a short vase (left picture) or the recipe where flowers are poked into foam (right) into a pitcher?  Expressing our gratitude became stressful as I questioned how to make it work, how to keep the flowers vibrant on the 2+ hour car ride, and whether we were giving enough of a gift to show our thanks.  Providing shelter, food, and a good time to a whole department of people and their families is quite a bit of effort.  Are flowers in a pitcher an adequate toke of appreciation?

Looking for something shaken yet appropriate for such effort, I scanned the internet.  A dangerous game.  This woman baked cherry pound cake to include with a gift of cut flowers. Lovely.  A pinterest search brought me to cookies which brough me to an internet search of beach themed baked goods which brought me to these adorable cookies!


After much debate (in my head) and a few emails seeking the advice of my mother and friend, it was settled.  Beach themed sugar cookies, at least in my mind, seemed more appropriate.  More effort on my part to thank them for their’s, and something personal with the beach theme.  Plus, sugar cookies are a Christmas staple.  They can’t be that hard because everybody’s doing it.  They are hard.  Maybe I made my dough incorrectly or maybe it was because our air conditioner was on the fritz making the dough soften so quickly, but just the first step of cutting out the cookies, getting clean edges, and getting them to the cookie sheet was so difficult.  I had had a bad day on Monday.  I needed a victory and foolishly thought baking these cookies would be it.  I was wrong.  I cried.  Poor Sean.  He really wasn’t expecting me react in this way.  But he handled it so well.  He Googled and suggested. With his calm and help I got through it and made some adorable cookies of my own.

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I’m mostly happy with they way they turned out and am trying not to be too hard on myself.  But I know where the flaws are, and I’m concerned that the air conditioning problem caused them to get a little stale and chewy.  It’s done now and here’s hoping they are well received as hostess gifts.  Despite the fact that this was a bit more of a project than I anticipated, I’m excited to make Christmas cookies now!  Christmas in July, anyone?  Maybe I can make that next week’s project.  (Just kidding, Sean.)