Dining Room Reveal

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As of late last week the dining room was officially finished. Yes, we’ve been working on it since early March  (paint colors can be found in that post if you’re interested), but it’s not like it was a construction zone or something–I’ve just been lazy about putting the finishing touches on it.  My daddy hung the mirrors (got them at an estate sale last year and just have been hanging on to them since) last week and I’m considering the room finished now.

dining room redo

My biggest conundrum with our dining room was the furniture. I love it because it’s C.’s great-grandparents (well, the china cabinet we bought at a local antiques store and it’s a pretty close match), but it’s dark. And I can’t paint it because it’s a family heirloom.  And the doors in here have their original (dark) stain and as C. (affectionally, of course, HA!) says I’m a “preservation nazi” I just can’t paint them either.

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So I decided to leave it as it were, but change the rest of the room–the walls, the fireplace paint, the rug, the drapes, and some of the chairs.

And y’all, it’s a drastic change!

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I replaced all the chairs except the end armchairs–they’re next on my list. I’m not necessarily a fan of the bench (and was going to return it), but all three kids want to sit on it together every meal…and how could I return THAT?!

dining room redo

Bench found here. Side chairs found here.

The drapes took the longest to find. Only because the sweet seamstress that did all the rooms in our house when we restored it has since retired. And I cannot find someone as talented, or reasonable, as Miss June. I finally found Sanya who is just starting out on Etsy who would make some custom pinch pleat drapes for me. I sent her the trim (on Monday when I went scouting for fabric it was $14/yard, when I went back to get it on Thursday I got a remnant–7.25 yards (just what I needed) for $10. It was meant to be) and she had the drapes ready in a couple of weeks and sent them back to me.

dining room redo

dining room redo

dining room redo

dining room redo

dining room redo

dining room redo

Other new things:

Lamps here.

Mirror (similar) here–I did get it at At Home though.

A couple of items: this wooden pedestal and this metal stand came from our trip to Waco and Magnolia Market.

Rug came from At Home. Similar here (5×7). Similar here (another 5×7).

{The china (transferware actually) displayed throughout the room is by Grindley and the pattern is called ‘Malta’. It’s from 1887 and I collect it one piece at a time off eBay. My Mama Grace gave me my first piece in high school–a ginger jar–that had been passed down through her family. The other old things you see in this post I find at antiques markets (Scotts in Atlanta) or Queen of Hearts antiques mall or on eBay.}

dining room redo

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Tour Massachusetts Series: Salem and Plymouth + a Printable Guide!

I’m combining our two day trips from our trip Northeast last week in one post. I didn’t think we did enough in each place to warrant a whole post on each and I definitely think you could do both places in less than eight hours each.

Salem

After we flew into Boston  we drove up to Portland, but stopped in Salem on the way up (it’s a 1.5-hour drive from Boston with traffic).

We took a tour with the Salem Witch Walk company because we thought we’d see the most of Salem in a short period of time that way–and afterwards I can say that was definitely the right hunch–I can’t imagine trying to see Salem on your own. The sites of the witch trials are tucked away in a modern-day city so it would be hard to find them on your own. The Salem Witch Walk boasts that all the tours are given by witches. We didn’t take the tour because of that though–our reason was purely that of schedule–we wanted a morning tour during the week (and in mid-May before “tourist season”)–this was the only company we found having one that Thursday morning. And it wasn’t busy, that’s for sure!, because C. & I were the only two people on the tour with our witch-guide. (As far as the whole witches thing: he was, uhm, interesting. He did a well-being spell and gave us some crystals…and a car tag. #random)

After our tour (spoiler: there’s very few original buildings/structures/graves/sites from the time of the witch trials left) we grabbed lunch at The Lobster Shanty. And y’all, those gigantic lobster rolls (I had the traditional cold lobster roll while C. had the Connecticut-style that’s warm with butter, both came with delicious homemade pickles) made the whole trip to Salem worth it. It is a Salem MUST.

My cold lobster roll with tots.

His warm lobster roll with fries. They were twice as big as they look here.

We each had our tarot cards read for fun. Then we did a little shopping which I totally forgot to add to the my cheat sheet at the bottom of this post. I loved Roost & Company–they had the cutest gifts (I got my grandmother a tire swing bird feeder and MM a goat tote bag) and Curtsy (where I got my mother-in-law a picture frame and my mother a pair of earrings). Both are on Front Street. Salem also had a fabulous retro-inspired dress shop called Modern Millie. Oh my gosh, I could live there.

Plymouth

We had about twenty hours from when we left Portland until we were to fly back to Atlanta. We took our time driving down the coast (our favorite beach town was York Beach–I’ll post about it in the Portland section) and got to Plymouth around 4pm. Now, I’m going to be honest here: the only reason we went to Plymouth is because I love history and I felt that it would be unpatriotic to go all the way to Massachusetts and NOT see Plymouth, you know?

Once in Plymouth we spent an hour or so walking along the jetty (breakwater? sea wall?) at the harbor. It was fun, but you do have to be steady on your feet–it’s just rocks stacked on top of others.

Afterwards grabbed an early dinner at Wood’s Seafood which served huge portions (C. and I split the fried seafood plate of fish, oysters, shrimp, and scallops) and had some yummy clam chowder…and a great view to boot.

The next morning we went to Plymouth Rock at 9am (not much to see, not going to lie). It seriously took ten minutes tops.

Afterwards we went to Plimouth Plantation right after they opened. And I liked it. I’m not sure if it was worth the $60+ for the two of us–we were in and out in 1.5 hours–but it was interesting to see structures the Wampanoags and Pilgrims had, as well as to listen and talk to them (they stay in character the whole time). I definitely would make sure I went AFTER 2pm during the week during the school year–I imagine that place is a zoo with school kids!

And here’s a little Salem and Plymouth Cheat Sheet/guide I made for the two towns.  (click on the link to download it)

 

salem plymouth cheat sheet

This week is a packed week here on the blog. Tomorrow I’ll post pictures of our (finally) finished dining room redo and Friday I’ll post about the one year anniversary of my tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) and muscle repair that I had on June 1, 2016. It’s going to be a “what I wish I had known”-kind of post and I’ll be more than happy to answer ANY questions you have–just leave them here or on Facebook or on my Instagram page by Thursday.

Thank you to my friend Sarah for her delish recommendations for Salem. That girl knows her stuff!

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Tour Massachusetts Series: Boston + A Printable Guide!

What to do and see and where to shop and eat for a quick 36-hour trip to the city!

Y’all, I might just have a crush on Boston. If their traffic didn’t completely stink (and I know bad traffic– #helloimfromatlanta), I would have a full-on stalker relationship with Boston.

It’s so pretty. And old (old being a very good thing). And tasty. And full of personality.

But the traffic? Oh, the traffic makes me say bad words.

So here’s what we did: we flew in late on a Tuesday afternoon and arrived just in time for dinner. We ate fried lobster (that were the size of chicken fingers!) at Tony’s Clam Shop that’s right on Quincy Bay on the way to our hotel. Nothing fancy (hello paper plates and plastic trays), but so good.

The next morning at 9:30 we took a Duck Tour (we left from the New England Aquarium stop). It was a blast and we got to see lots of Boston–by land and by sea (well, technically river). 😉 If you book a tour earlier in the day (which I recommend for the heat alone) you save like $9 a person.

After that we grabbed lunch at the Tip Tap Room where we had the best calamari I’ve ever tasted (and we eat calamari all the time). C. enjoyed his roast beef sandwich, but I wouldn’t recommend my BLT (the olive bread was overwhelming). But I’d go back in a split second for that calamari. Like woah.

The afternoon we spent exploring Beacon Hill and Harvard Square (see the cheat sheet below for a few of my favorite shops). Both areas are beautiful, especially Beacon Hill.

Don’t these pictures just scream Boston? So pretty!

That night we had pizza at Easy Pie in Braintree. They have subs and salads too. The buffalo pizza was some of the best I’ve ever had.

The next morning we left to go to Portland via Salem. We did come back to Boston Sunday before our flight home and ate brunch at the Beehive. It was hands down the best brunch I’ve ever had–I had Belgian waffles with mascarpone and chocolate and C. had a bacon cheeseburger that was the best burger he and I had ever tasted. We sat right in front of the jazz band in the basement and it was perfect. Definitely recommend it if you’re in Boston!

And here’s my little cheat sheet I promised! I’m sure there is so much more you could do (like go to Fenway Park!), but this is all we could cram into 36 hours. 🙂

full boston cheat sheet

Click here to download my boston cheat sheet (in better resolution than the one above).

Thank you to my friends, Denise & Jessica, for her tourist insight and to my friend, Sarah, for her local insight. Y’all ladies did not steer us wrong!

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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. 😉

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 😉


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. 😉

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. 😉

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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