Boston, Salem, Portland, and Plymouth

Last week C. & I spent five nights touring the northeast in celebration of our twelfth anniversary that’s this Sunday. We flew into Boston and stayed for a couple of nights before making our way up to Portland through Salem and New Hampshire, before driving south to Plymouth.

And it was really great.

I’m going to do small guides to each city–things to do, see, eat, and shop–over the next couple of weeks since my friends who’ve been there before helped me out so much (and my friends that live there–thanks Sarah!).

But before I do those I thought I would share just a few photos to tease you. ūüėČ

See y’all back here on Friday–hope you’re having a good week (we’re almost on summer vacation, hooray)!

 

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A Week With Two Chocolate Cakes

…and could that be any better?!

Last Friday night I was craving a chocolate cake that I had seen on a blog earlier that day. It was called Chocolate Sprinkle Snack Cake and looked dark, rich, and decadent. Basically, just how I like my chocolate.

I made it that afternoon–half with sprinkles, half without (Moseby is not a fan–crazy, huh?).

And here’s my verdict:

The cake itself was hands-down the best cake I’ve ever made. Moist and rich, and devils food-like. It was perfect. The icing was meh. Something about it just wasn’t right but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Maybe it wasn’t sweet enough? (And I love dark chocolate so that says a lot!)

So yes, I would definitely make the cake again, but would use my tried and true chocolate frosting recipe.

On Monday afternoon Moseby and I made my dad his favorite cake for his birthday–a chocolate pound cake. My whole life my ¬†mom would periodically make my dad a chocolate pound cake and he would nibble on it throughout the week. I didn’t use her recipe, but one I found here.

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And here’s my verdict:

It’s GOOD. Dare say, even better than my mom’s (sacrilege, I know!). I think it’s the buttermilk and the bit of coffee–they both really bring out the chocolate. I will say, you need to grease (I used Crisco) and flour your pan. I made a large bundt cake and a small one. With the large cake pan I greased and floured it, but with the small one I just used Baker’s Joy. Uhm no, it stuck. Big time. This is one of those recipes where a spray will just not work. And honestly, it’s not that pretty of a cake…but looks aren’t everything, right?

So would I make it again?

You betcha! (And Deddy says I better–he ate *three* pieces on his birthday!)

 

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Another Cooper Kiddo Graduates from Pre-K

Yesterday Moseby graduated from preschool.

He’s been itching to for weeks–telling us it’s Lawson’s turn for “baby school” and that he’s ready to be a ¬†“Buford Wooooooolf” (he howls in the middle of ‘wolf’).

Today when he walked in the door and saw nine of his favorite people there to see him graduate this is the smile he gave us.

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Oh, he was proud! He smiled and waved and giggled the whole time he was on stage.

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Afterwards we had cake and he got to pick a restaurant for lunch. He picked “cheese dip” (yep, ANY place with cheese dip), ha!

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And can I just stop for a moment and whine about how hard it is to get a good family photo with little kids?! You mamas know what I’m talking about. This one was the best of a dozen we took. The boys’ faces are hilarious (& pretty dang true to their personalities!).

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It doesn’t seem like it’s been three whole years since this girlie graduated Pre-K. Where has the time gone?! Look how little she (and he!) was/were! I remember it just like it was yesterday. CRAZY! Before I know it Lawson will be graduating Pre-K! #slowyourrolltime

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A Mother’s Day

I wrote this on my {personal} Facebook page yesterday on Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day is a brutal holiday for so many. For women going through infertility, for the women experiencing the grief of a miscarriage, for the women waiting for their child through adoption–I know those feelings.
For women whose children are grown and far away (or even in the same city but far away) or for women who haven’t seen their children in years (or ever) or for women whose children have passed away. My goodness, this holiday can be so very hard.
But you don’t have to give birth to be a mama. Nah, in fact that’s the last thing you need to do. This day is for celebrating all the women (& men) in this world who are nurturers. It doesn’t matter if you birthed them, adopted them, placed them for adoption, are their step mama, their teacher, their godmother, their aunt, their friend, or their grandmother–if you have ever loved and nurtured a child (or even if that’s just what your heart longs to do) you are a mother and I hope today you feel like the world is celebrating you. I know I am. Happy Mother’s Day.

I remember Mother’s Day 2008–C. & I had been trying for a little over a year for a baby. Just a few months earlier I had gone from the “Gee, this is taking longer than I thought…” to the “Oh my gosh, there’s gotta be a problem!” (I only have 1/2 of one ovary left due to cancer and have PCOS so we knew I had a problem, but it took a while to sink in just what that meant). That day I found out my sister-in-law was pregnant with my nephew unexpectedly. It was the first time I ever experienced infertility grief–the crazy mix of happiness for someone you love having a baby with the soul-crushing realization that for whatever reason you are not good/healthy/perfect enough to have a baby.

I remember Mother’s Day 2010 grieving a miscarriage and feeling so hurt every time someone said, ‘Well, you can get pregnant¬†again!’ (note to oneself: don’t EVER (ever!) say that to a woman who’s had a miscarriage; I didn’t get pregnant again for five years)

I remember Mother’s Day 2011 waiting, praying, wishing, dreaming about getting chosen by a birth mother. I wondered if I would ever get chosen.

Those three years were the hardest Mother’s Days. Oh, there have been good ones–the first one as a mama, the first one as a mama of two (and we did get chosen!), and so on…but all the good ones don’t make up for those hard years.

So I get that Mother’s Day can hurt–hurt so very bad. And please know that I’m thinking about you if you had one of those days yesterday. Hugs, sweet friend.

As for my Mother’s Day, I think it might just be the best yet. Yes, there was some fussing (what day with three kids would be complete without it?), some rushing (#churchprobs), but I got doughnut holes for breakfast, didn’t have to change a single poop diaper or wipe a single bottom, and Moseby even told me “Happy Mother’s Day” on his own (HUGE Y’ALL!) while MM showered me all day with hugs and Lawson gave me kisses anytime I asked. We spent the afternoon on the boat and it was just an all-around lovely day.

Doughnuts on the stairs

The kids (aka MM) gave me a gift basket. Man, MM knows me WELL. (Uhm, other than I’m 36, but thanks.)

C. & the kids got me an electric blanket because I’m cold 100% of the time and a necklace.

Yes, yesterday was a good day. A great day. My heart is so very full this morning.

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Need Teacher Appreciation Week or Teacher End of Year Gift Ideas?

I thought I would share my standard end of year gifts for MM’s teachers ’cause I think they’re pretty cute.

And I’m a teacher (finishing up my 13th year in a couple of weeks…how am I¬†that old?!) so I think I have a pretty good idea what teachers like. I haven’t been a classroom teacher in like eight years though so I just fantasize about end of year gifts now, ha!!

First what *I* don’t like (and have received): apple-themed items, cheap pens, jewelry, strange/out of date candy, wooden painted pins (or really any pins), cheap heavily scented lotions or candles.

Now what do I like: personalized anything, gift cards (even $5 ones), scratch off lottery tickets, fun-colored Sharpies or felt-tipped pens, handmade cards from kids

At the beginning of every school year I send all of MM’s teachers a questionnaire to fill out. I ask them their favorite snacks, drinks, stores, hobbies, etc. to get a list of their preferences. Then throughout the year I try to send them one of their favorite things each month. (I even make a spreadsheet and keep it in my purse; I’m such a dork)

Anyway, here’s my go-to end of the year gift–a summer fun bag:

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  1. A personalized tote bag
  2. A personalized beach towel
  3. Some kind of personalized cup

Then I also add either sunscreen, a magazine, sunglasses, favorite candy, or something else personalized. (This year we did sunglasses, a personalized cosmetic bag, snack, and homemade flower arrangements too).

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For MM’s specials teachers, counselor, assistant principal, and principal we did $5 gift cards to Starbucks, their favorite candy, and flowers (for the ladies). I never leave out the specials teachers because I know what it’s like to not get any gifts {do I need some cheese to go with my whine?!}.

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And that’s our gifts for the year! What are you getting your kiddos’ teachers? …or if you’re a teacher anything I should add to my no-no list? haha ūüėČ


Oh, and guess who’s last preschool Muffins with Mom I attended yesterday? This big guy. Oh, how the years have flown!

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And he filled out the annual Mother’s Day questionnaire about me. He got some of them right (I drink water 99% of the time and I hug him constantly and I love me some yoga) and some of them wrong (I am NOT 50 years old and birds scare me to death).

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My Dad’s Birthday Fun Days Continue & Georgia O’Keeffe Costumes

I mentioned recently that we are doing weekly outings for my dad for his 70th birthday (which is next Wednesday). The first week we went to a Gwinnett Braves game, the second week we went strawberry picking (so I could make him a strawberry cobbler), and this week we went and did bumper cars/laser tag/arcade games. We were supposed to go fishing last week, but it was crazy cold & raining so we took a raincheck {literally}. We also have to squeeze in a quick trip to Mayfield Dairy to grab some ice cream–my dad LIVES for his daily evening ice cream treat (I wish I could eat as much ice cream as he does and not gain weight #geneticsarentfair).

The reason we did bumper cars yesterday is because Daddy had such a good time with MM and Moseby doing them on vacation this past summer. I Google’d nearby locations for bumper cars and I only found one place near their house–Stars & Strikes in Dacula. But I found something pretty cool–on Tuesdays you can play all the arcade games (but you don’t win prizes), laser tag, and bumper cars you want for $9.99/person¬†(or you can do all the bowling you want + shoes for the same price). Y’all, that is a STEAL. We spent almost three hours there yesterday afternoon and everyone–even Lala who spent the time being carried around on my back in the Tula–had a blast.

Here’s a few pictures from our day from my¬†phone.

These two are the best of buds. So much so that if Pops (who Lawson causes “Dah”) is around he’s all like ‘Mama who?!’.¬†

The kids (& my dad too) are having a blast with these weekly celebrations–they love getting to do something fun on a random weekday night and we all love celebrating this special guy.


In other news, MM is doing a wax statue museum next week–basically she dresses up like a famous person and pretends to be them as “museum goers” walk around from famous person to famous person. She chose Georgia O’Keeffe (girlfriend LOVES art) and she’s just a tad bit disappointed that her costume will be baggy jeans, a white button down, and a long black cardigan…and a severe-looking bun. I did tell her she could wear lots of my silver southwestern jewelry so that made it a little better (she likes to accessorize!). I can’t wait to see her all dressed up and acting like the famous painter. (We bought a large print of this painting to put on an easel behind her.) Stay tuned. ūüėČ

poppy

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My Latest Quilt: Giant Vintage Star

In 2016 (yes, a year ago) I told my mother-in-law I was going to make a quilt for her birthday. I picked out the pattern, I bought all the fabrics {fabric acquisition is my favorite part of the whole process}, and then it sat in my sewing room until 2017.

Oh, the shame. Oh, the horror.

In January of this year MM decided she wanted to learn how to sew a quilt and I showed her the quilt pattern I was making for her grandmother (it uses half triangles so you can get two quilts out of the fabric you cut since you only use one of the two triangles the pattern creates, if that makes sense) and she liked it. She chose a couple of different fabrics for hers, but for the most part they are the same. So that month we spent cutting out the fabric–actually I cut it out–I don’t trust her with a rotary cutter just yet. In February and March I pieced the front and created a back (while MM moved on to some other project–her quilt is my next project). In April I dropped it off at the quilters and finally in May (this past Wednesday) it was ready for me to pick up (I had them quilt it¬†in an abstract rose design in the lightest shade of pink, by the way). I worked like a maniac hand sewing the binding on the past few days and yesterday I gave it to her at lunch (ignore the fact it was a year and 9 days late, m’kay?).

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Here is the finished quilt. My eight year old assistant took these yesterday¬†morning and these were the only two that didn’t come out blurry. So I’m sorry about the lighting. Here’s a couple of phone photos I’ve been taking a long the way that may show the details a little better. ūüėČ

Laying out the pieces–some of them¬†ending up changing.

The front all pieced together (with a Lala photobomber).

Lala loves to roll around in my quilts. It’s his thing.

Sewing on the binding in bed.

Two of my “assistants” Friday afternoon while I finished the binding.

Hope you like your quilt, Ms. Kathy! Lots of love and little hands went into it–Happy Birthday!

Fabrics: a little bit¬†of Cotton and Steel, but a whole bunch of Brother Sister fabric from Hobby Lobby. Quilting done by Betty Sue’s Quilts.¬†

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My Experience with Laser Hair Removal

I’ve mentioned before that for my birthday every year I try something new–either with fashion or hair style or skin care, etc.–whatever is tickling my fancy at the moment.

For my 36th birthday I decided to try laser hair removal.

Now, this is the point you need to stop reading if you’re my dad. Or if you don’t want to hear about the in’s and out’s of it. Or if¬†you’re a creepster.

Oh, and I’m going to talk in code because using technical terms for anatomy on here makes me blush so I’m sorry if it’s gets confusing or I sound like a fourth grade boy.

You’ve been warned. ūüėČ

So right before my 36th birthday¬†I purchased a laser hair removal package. I found a place with good reviews near my home on GroupOn. I actually just looked and she’s still on GroupOn right now (click here to view the three specials). I chose to do laser hair removal on my hooha and therefore it’s considered a “large area” and six sessions cost $269.

I went for the first time in November and just finished my sixth session this past week. Kimberly, the laser tech, suggests getting a treatment every 4-6 weeks and I did that. She says the best hair/skin tone for getting good laser hair removal results is dark hair on light skin. (Check.)

These are my before and after results of a very small area (sorry y’all, you ain’t seeing the full monty, HA!!) after one week of not shaving. ¬†Pretty big difference, huh?!

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Here’s the 4-1-1

I know the first thing you want to know about is the pain level. On a scale 1-10, with 10 being your fingernails being pulled off with pliers, I would rate it anywhere from a 5 to a 9. The, ahem, top and outer areas are a 5 if you are properly prepared. When I say “properly prepared” I mean you need to ice that area for a minimum of ten minutes before they start on you. Ice packs stuck in your underwear while you drive works great…or so I’ve heard, HA! Now the, uhm, “inner areas”? Well, I’m going to be honest–it’s a 9.¬†Someone described it to me as rubber bands zapping you over and over again. Nah, that’s not what it’s like to me. To me it’s kinda like getting your hair pulled through one of those caps they used to use to give you highlights (remember those from the 80s and 90s??)–like a tiny knitting needle (on fire of course) pulling/zapping/burning tiny pieces of my (very delicate) skin over and over.

Buuuuuuut the maximum length is ten¬†minutes a session, usually more like five minutes. And then it’s completely gone–there’s no residual pain or anything.

And that fact is the only reason I came back for my next five appointments after the first one.

I’m sure the next question is: just how effective is it? Well, it definitely decreases the hair. FOR SURE. But is my yoohoo hairless after six treatments? Definitely not. Kimberly says I’ll need six more sessions (she says everyone needs at least twelve) and a touchup every 1.5-2 years¬†(I didn’t know that going in).¬†With that being said, I definitely have to shave a lot less.

But I do still have to shave. Boo.

Would I recommend it? Yes, I think so. But you need to go in knowing you’ll need to have a treatment every month for a year. And that it hurts. But I am happy with the results so far and am anxious to see just how much hair¬†six more months of treatment will remove.

(If you have any questions feel free to ask and I’ll answer them in the comments, by the way.)

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Coconut Cake & 85th Birthdays

Yesterday my grandmother {who we call Mamaw} turned 85.

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We are all just pretty dang lucky to have her in our daily lives. She’s loving and loyal and the most giving woman I’ve ever met. Some of my very best memories have her in them and I know my own kids can say the same thing. Being with Mamaw makes you feel loved and secured–just being around her is like a warm hug, if you know what we mean.

To celebrate her birthday I made her a homemade coconut cake–it’s her favorite. I tried a new recipe by Ina Garten. It’s tasty (but remember I’m not a cream cheese OR a coconut fan so I can’t give you a personal opinion, haha) and the almond flavoring in the cake &¬†icing adds something unusual…but good! The one thing I would suggest doing is chilling the cake after you put the icing between the two layers–if not the layers kinda slide around (don’t look at these pictures too close, m’kay?).

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This is the bottom part of my retro cake carrier I got a couple of months ago. It’s now on sale for $7.50 (YES! $7.50–that’s 75% off!). If it’s sold out in the link here’s a few¬†more cake carriers I like here, here, and here. I love cake carriers because you can store them on the counter or take them with you and the retro vibe is on point.

We also got her a few gift cards to local restaurants (she loves eating out) and I potted up some flowers {asparagus fern, marigolds, zinnias, and creeping jenny; #horticulturenerd} in a hen planter I found at at home for her front porch.

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We love you, Mamaw. So so so much.¬†I hope you had the happiest of birthdays because you really, truly deserve it. Thank you for all you do for my kids & I–we are so much better with you in our lives.

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Tour Texas Series: What to See & Do and Where to Shop & Eat in Dallas

I’m doing this last post on Dallas before I forget all¬†the fun things we did, ate, saw, and shopped there.

To Do, See and Shop:

The reason we went to Dallas in the first place is because two of C.’s jobs are there. One is in an area called Bishop Arts District and one is an area called Deep Ellum. Both are technically in Dallas, but they are on opposite sides of the city and have different vibes for sure.

For the kind of shopping where you park and go to multiple stores along a sidewalk, I love Bishop Arts District. We also ate at Hattie’s while there and it was yummy {I had an onion tart}. DIRT Flowers there is amazing. And Emporium Pies looked delish.

The other things we did while in Dallas were to go to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science (read my review here and DON’T go there before 1pm during the school year). ¬†We also went to Klyde Warren Park first thing one morning and it was dead (but it’s super cool–the interstate runs right under it!) so I would recommend going to lunch and eating a burger at Savor Gastropub (you can order from a takeout window or sit inside) or go at lunch on Saturdays when they have food trucks. ¬†Another thing MM really enjoyed was the Reunion Tower–a giant tower (you ride an elevator up) that allows you to see all over Dallas.

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One thing MM said she wished we had done was go on the trolley. It went right by our hotel (we stayed here and it was great) and every morning she would talk about it, but we never got a chance to do it.

My favorite souvenir shop we went to was Buzzerk in Lower Greenville. We got the coolest Dallas t-shirts (some shirts were not little kid appropriate, but most were) and coasters. While we were¬†in the neighborhood we ate at Toasted–an entire restaurant/bakery/cafe built around different types of toast. The peanut butter-honey toast was GOOD.

To Eat:

Probably the best place we ate was a small hole in the wall/kinda fast food restaurant called Velvet Taco (they also have restaurants in Ft. Worth, Austin, and Houston). The roasted corn side was amazing. They also have artisanal sodas (MM love the grapefruit one). It’s a definite ‘must do’ in my book and will be my first stop when I go back to Dallas.

We also ate at the Shake Shack one day.

I’ve heard great things about Pecan Lodge (BBQ and sides) from C. in Deep Ellum, but we didn’t go there.

And that’s it. This is the last post about our Dallas trip even if we did get stuck there for an extra two days and had to drive allllll the way back home. #thanksdelta


I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. We don’t have much going on (YAY!) other than MM’s artwork is being featured in a pretty prestigious art show for our school system’s K-12 annual art show. We’re all going out to eat lunch before we go on Sunday and she is on cloud nine that all the people she loves will be there celebrating her. Art is where her heart and passion are and she was over-the-moon to be chosen for this exhibition. It’s so amazing/interesting/thrilling to watch as your children find their passion.

 

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