Friday, August 11, 2017

Westport 2017

Another year at Westport is in the books. 

I know I've already shared majority of these on instagram, and if we're being real, I am the worst blogger ever these days. But I still want to jot up a little post with a few pictures to help us remember this adventure. It's not one we want to forget!


We arrived in Westport on July 29 after three long days of traveling. It felt so good to get out of that car though and feel the cooler air in the Adirondacks.

Sunday morning we woke early and after breakfast we hiked to Rose Point. You can see below that M's Moana doll came too!




On Monday, we hiked Merlin's Peak. Grampy and our big cousins came too.


M spent as much time as she could on a paddle board with either myself, Granny, or a cousin. She loved it. Even though she's a great swimmer, we bought her a new life jacket before the trip which gave us all so much more freedom for her time on the lake. I never feared her paddle boarding across the bay with her cousins.



We rented a boat from the marina on Wednesday and had fun cruising the lake and it came to no surprise that M loved tubing.



We visited the town library for reading and fun one morning



 M spent a lot of her down time coloring and writing and giving "spelling bees" to any and everyone who would participate


T discovered the barn on the property that held green canoes inside. On day one he decided those green canoes were alligators and every time anyone would talk about the barn, he would super seriously "chomp" at you to tell you about the alligators. 


A highlight for M was playing with second (I think?) cousins who are a tad older than her and learning all their ways in the art of frog catching!



We hiked up Coon on Thursday morning. Poor T was NOT happy to ride in the pack on the way down, but as you can see from his face here, he loved the view at the top!


It was a truly a memorable and fun week. I would definitely not call this trip a vacation like we once did for a week on the lake, but we still had a ball making memories with cousins and J's family. 


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

2017 Reads So Far...

The year is halfway through, and instead of waiting a full twelve months to do a book post, I thought I'd check in now and share what I've been reading since January...


I went into 2017 with a book goal of 15 books, which honestly is pretty high for me. But by about mid April I had breezed past it, and by the end of June my book tally was up to 25 books and I'm still going strong. My whole perspective on reading has changed and evolved so much over the last six months, and I'm going to try to write about that later this week or next. Reading has gone from something I would try to squeeze in for a few minutes before bed 3-4 times a week to something I crave during my day. I'm loving the change it has brought in my life, and I'm hoping to squeeze in at least 15 more books before the end of 2017! 

I'm not going to do a write up on each book here, but I will share each book title with the stars I gave it on goodreads, and if you want a more thorough review, go to my goodreads page HERE and you can read what I had to say about the book! I left written reviews for almost all of these!

So...let's begin! I'm going to list these in the order I read them:

The Mothers by Brit Bennet 4/5 stars
The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner  5/5 stars
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi 4/5 stars
Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs (audiobook) 3/5 stars
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley 4/5 stars 
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner 4/5 stars
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid 4/5 stars overall, 5/5 for chicklit
Grownup by Gillian Flynn 3.5/5 stars
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi 4/5 stars
Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist (audiobook) 5/5 stars
Commonwealth by Ann Pachett 3/5 stars
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 4.5/5 stars
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena 2/5 stars
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch 4/5 stars
Columbine by Dave Cullen 5/5 stars
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (audiobook....highly recommend audio version!) 4.5/5 stars 
This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel 3.5/5 stars
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum 4/5 stars
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead 2/5 stars
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (audiobook) 3/5 stars
The Dry by Jane Harper 4/5 stars 
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 3.5/5 stars
Bossypants by Tina Fey (audiobook) 4/5 stars
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 5/5 stars
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins 2/5 stars

So now you're probably wondering, "Okay, this is a nice list, but Rachel...what would you recommend from this list?" And the answer in short is MOST of these! Really anything I gave 3.5-5 stars are books I'd recommend. And if we're being honest the only two books I wouldn't recommend from my list are the three books I gave two stars to. Let me break down my favorites for you...

Non Fiction:
Columbine...it's a  HEAVY read and it's long, but it's fantastic. One of the best nonfiction books I've ever read that wasn't a memoir. This book revealed so many truths to me about the Columbine shooting that I never knew about before. It's excellent. 
 The Sound of Gravel...I gave this one five stars for a reason. I LOVED it. This is a memoir about a woman who grew up in a polygamist compound in Mexico. I can't say enough good things. I couldn't put this book down. It's so sad but it's also powerful and inspiring. And if you do read, visit the author's webpage for more info and photos when you're done.
Bittersweet...I love Shauna Niequist after hearing her podcasts and doing her bible study this past fall, but this was my first book of hers to read. It's one of her older books, but y'all. It's great. Don't get hung up on the fact that she's a "christian author" if that's not your normal read. I think this book is great for any woman in her late 20's to late 30's. It's wonderful. Bonus points if you like food!

Fiction (non YA):
Station Eleven...disturbing in some ways, but a great story. A page turner I couldn't put down.
Small Great Things...I'm sure the written version of this is good too but the audio version is amazing. It's classic Jodi Picoult in formula, but the content is something EVERYONE needs to read. Go to goodreads and read the description of the book and I can almost guarantee you'll want to read. This is one book I've recommended to almost everyone I've talked to since reading it this year.
Homegoing...it'll tear your heart apart but it's wonderful. An amazing piece of fiction that will haunt you and educate you.
One True Loves...if you want light and fluffy but not total brain mush, this was so fun! I loved this one!

Fiction (YA): 
The Hate U Give...possibly my favorite book I've read all year, only to be tied with The Sound of Gravel. I loved this book. It's 450+ pages but I read it in under 3 days. It is one of the most timely books I've ever read (I could say the same about Small Great Things), and it is a must read for everyone living in America today. It is YA, but don't let that stop you if you don't usually like YA. In fact, I feel like it almost had to be a YA book for the story to work. Go buy this one today if you're looking for a contemporary fiction book to get lost in. 

So....what is the best book you've read in 2017?
 Please share! I'd love to find some new reads I don't have on my list already! 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Random Recent Favorites!

Long time no blog. That's just how it goes these days.
Jumping back into the swing of things with a few recent favorite purchases I've made. 
Warning...these are all over the place! This is a crazy mix of things!

1. This Pottery Barn Kids style pool towel from Amazon for $7 cheaper and free shipping with prime!


Here it is on Amazon for $16, and here's the exact same towel at PBK for $29! We have several PBK towels and the quality is the same. There's a mermaid version of the Amazon one too!

2. This jersey swing dress from Old Navy. I have it in 3 colors and I love it. It's so light and airy on a hot day, is the perfect length, can be dressed up with a cute necklace or can be worn with flip flops around town for errands with my kids. I love it. And it's cheap!!




Up until a few months ago, M could hold the tablet in her lap for road trips and watch movies happily for hours and hours, but within the last 6 months she has started to feel a little sick on road trips when looking down at her lap (just like her mama!). We bought this mount for the car and it's actually working really great on road trips for BOTH kids. We put up T's rear facing mirror so it's angled at the tablet, and they can both watch a movie or a show together. We tested it out this past weekend on a trip to Tennessee and it worked like a charm!



I am LOVING the ease of this sunscreen stick for my kids faces and necks and ears before the pool or a playdate outside. It does go on pretty white, but rubs in very easily. The price has gone back up on Amazon, but two weeks ago I got a 2 pack for $15. I keep one in my diaper bag and one in the pool bag. It smells so good, and as a bonus it gets a 1 rating from the EWG. 


I know. This is a weird one. But if you have dogs who are prone to getting filthy outside, get one of these! We put it in our utility room off the patio where the dogs come in and out and it has been a game changer. It absorbs any water they carry in, it cleans their feet a little, and it's so durable. I wish we splurged on this sooner.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

This is four and a half

M turned 4.5 last week (which J claims half birthdays are dumb and made up...but whatever), and I know moms say this at every age, but right now might be one of my most favorite stages with her. The last few weeks have just been good and I'm seeing a big change in her.


A few little notes from this age...

The other night J was out at a work thing, so I was putting both kids to bed myself. There was a moment when it was clear that everyone needed my help and attention at the same time, and M just looked at me very matter of fact and said, "You know mom, it's really hard having two kids when they both need you at the same time." True fact, kiddo.

Current job aspirations...a horse rider who also works in the tall buildings uptown. And maybe a part time chef on the side.

Mastered riding a two wheeled bike this past weekend. Three cheers for the balance bike we bought her back when she was two! Her ability to balance on that made the transition to the pedal bike so much easier. We never even put the training wheels on. If you have a little one and you're debating a balance bike...do it. They're 100% worth it!

Asks BIG questions. Her mind is like a million little gears that are constantly turning and moving, and she's asking questions all the time to keep those gears oiled and moving. Questions about how we're made, about animals in the deep sea and how they communicate to one another, about death, about how America became America, about what our brains look like and are made of....I love her inquisitive little mind and I hope it never changes and she continues to search for answers and ask her questions to the people she trusts in her life.

Feeds the dogs all on her own for us. This is her biggest chore that she helps with regularly, and honestly, it really is a huge help in the mornings and evenings when we're trying to get food on the table for everyone. She's also been getting herself dressed in the morning if I help her pick out her clothes the night before. This has been a big help on school mornings! 

Favorite new food of the moment....hard boiled eggs. We have my mom and dying Easter Eggs at her house to thank for this one! 

...

I can't believe we're more than halfway to FIVE. 
The rate at which babies and kids grow and change is pretty amazing!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Five on Friday....beauty favs

Yay Friday! It's been a long week and we're looking forward to a beautiful weekend here in Charlotte. J has been working HARD to spruce up our backyard over the last few weeks and it's looking so great. We're almost done with a little project that I can't wait to share. Hopefully this weekend we'll finish it up!

I'm linking up with April today and sharing my five "beauty" favs of the moment. 


I say beauty and kinda chuckle to myself, because I am NOT a beauty product guru. Like not even a little. But I've recently started using all five of these in the last couple of months and love them all!


1. DryBar Triple Sec - I LOVE this stuff. I was looking for a good texturizing spray and tried this on a whim. I bought the smaller size to sample it, but I'll be buying a larger can when I run out. This stuff is amazing at adding texture, volume, and even works as a dry shampoo. I love it. It's worth the price tag and helps me stretch my hair to 4 days between washes!

2. NYX Bright Idea Illuminating Stick - I bought this at Target last week (for way cheaper than the price on Amazon, fyi) and it adds such a pretty glow to the apples of my cheeks. I bought the color Pearl Pink Lace, but you can go for others to add a touch more color. I can wear this with my CC cream (see below) only and feel like I look so put together. 

3. NYX Butter Gloss in Strawberry Cheesecake - I feel like so many glosses I have add minimal color, but this one is the prettiest pink that actually keeps my lips pink! I have been using lipsense too, and I do like it, but sometimes I don't want an all day color. I want some color, but only something to last for a few hours. This is my favorite!

4. Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer - I have seen others blog about this or talk about it on snapchat, and I don't know why I waited around for so long to try it. It's cheap and it WORKS. I have a few other concealers that provide more coverage but they're so cakey. This one is still good coverage to cover circles under my eyes but it's light and not cakey. It's an awesome drug store find!

And last but definitely not least....

5. IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream - I have bought and loved many CC Creams. I truly love this one from Aveeno and still use it some days. But for whatever reason, I gave this IT one a try, and guys....it lives up the hype I had heard about it. It's light but covers so well. It's pricey, but one worth splurging on in my opinion. I could live in this and the NYX illuminating stick above! They are the perfect amount of makeup without looking like you're wearing makeup!


Have you tried any of these?
What beauty items are you loving these days?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Look around, look around! [NYC March 2017]

Time for a trip recap. If you don't like pictures of yummy food, Hamilton (blasphemy), boat like hotels, or other broadway related things, then I apologize in advance!

So let's see...let's start with last June. When we planned this trip. I had recently been bit by the Hamilton bug a few months before this, and we were on our family vacation in Hilton head watching the Tony awards. I had said to J previously that I thought it'd be fun to make a trip to NYC to see the show, but we both knew tickets were either outrageously expensive or just flat out impossible to get. About 15 minutes before the Tony's ended, I got an email alert letting me know they'd be opening a new set of tickets when the show ended. I hopped on the laptop at 11:01 and got to work. It was not easy (ticketmaster, you are the worst), but we got our tickets....for nine months later in March!

So after many many MANY more listen throughs of the soundtrack, we eventually made it to March and our trip was here! But now we also had 2 kid free days in NYC and I got to work planning a fun trip for us!

J actually flew up to NYC to work on Monday with his team there, and I joined him late Wednesday night. When I got there, we went to dinner in Little Italy, but took a quick detour on our way to the subway station so I could see this...

"She is buried in Trinity Church near you" (all the crying eyes)

This is where Alexander, Eliza, and Angelica are all buried. 


After our dinner we headed back to our hotel and I gave J his "heart" M had made for me to bring on the trip. I love that kid.


The next morning, J had to head into his office for most of the day, and I was left on my own. I booked myself a ticket for a Foods of NY walking tour. I opted to do a morning tour at Chelsea Market, and my friends, it didn't disappoint! J likes to give me a hard time and tell me I'm a bit of a "tour guide snob" (it's true, I totally am), but my tour guide here was fantastic and wealth of knowledge! Chelsea Market was a really fun place to do a food tour because the building is packed with adorable and delicious establishments, but unless you're a resident of NYC, you would never sample them all on a trip. but with the food tour we stopped and tasted something at about a dozen of the places in there, and we got some good tips on what to order in pretty much every place we didn't stop to grab a bite. I can't recommend this tour enough if you're looking for a low key and fun NYC activity!




::funny tour guide note...we had a young couple on the tour from England. We had a "biscuit" and jam at one place, Sarabeth's, and the guide asked the couple if they had ever had a biscuit and then they went on to talk about scones vs biscuits. The guide then said "Do you want to know why we call them biscuits?.....Because we won the war"...this was an excellent start to my Hamilday!::

After the tour which ended with a fun little stroll on the highline and then a few neat views in the meat packing district, I walked over to the flat iron district for an appointment I had made at a dry bar, RPZL. I knew I'd have a little more free time before J would be done working, and it was too cold to just hang out on the high line or in a park, so I thought I'd treat myself to some pretty hair and pampering...something I pretty much never do but want to do all the time now! My stylist was SO sweet and gave me such pretty waves. We had a wonderful chat about being a stylist in NYC vs a stay at home mom in Charlotte, NC. I wish I had taken a picture in here! I have pictures later down that show my hair!

I went back to Chelsea where our second hotel was (we opted to move out of the financial district for our last two nights since J wasn't working on Friday). We stayed at the Maritime Hotel here, which overall, we really did love it! It was a fun boutique hotel that really stuck with their "nautical" theme. Our room was beautiful, relatively spacious for NYC, had a beautiful bar downstairs and a great complimentary breakfast, and the location was fabulous. I'd definitely return here!


We got ready for our 7PM show and 5PM dinner plans with the other theater district early birds. We ate at Becco in the theater district and it was a great choice. Fast since they know they're catering to theater goers, but really good. If I'm being honest, I really wasn't THAT hungry since I was so anxious and excited for the show, but I still managed to eat. I knew if I didn't I'd be starving by the end of the show. About half way through dinner, I told J I felt the same way I felt the day we drove to the hospital to have our babies. That's how jittery and anxiously excited I was!


So now...on to the big event. Hamilton. Siiiiiigh. There just aren't enough words. I am still processing it 2+ weeks later.



Let's start with the serious deets for the serious fans. 
Here was the cast we saw on the night we were there.


The show itself was truly everything I hoped it would be and just SO much more. Is that too cliche? I don't even care, it's the truth! Walking into the Richard Rogers theater at 6:30 with the rest of the crowd was one of the craziest and coolest moments of my life. EVERY person in that line seemed to have the same level of excitement and nervousness that I did. Everyone there either had been waiting for MONTHS like us for this trip, or they had paid a small fortune for this night. There was just an energy in the air that I can't compare to anything else. It was special. 

So the actual show...what do I even say other than it took the most genius piece of art and music I've ever experienced and seeing it in the flesh with the dancing and the strategic staging and the spinning circles on the stage and the actual facial expressions made by the actors, it all just amplified the layers of this show. It took something that I knew by heart and completely turned it all around and showed me new pieces and things I didn't notice before. It was beautiful. I thought for sure I'd be sobbing through out the whole thing, but I really didn't. I got a lump in my throat when Phillip died and Eliza ran to him, and then I shed a few tears in It's Quiet Uptown and Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story. My favorite numbers on the stage were actually My Shot (I loved when they started the "Rise up!" here) and Satisfied. seeing this one in person was just cool how they made it "rewind." My favorite cast member we saw would be a toss up between Lexi Lawson as Eliza (I found her to be so endearing) and Taran Killam as the King. But I was truly impressed by everyone. And even though I know the OBC and their unique sound so well, I didn't miss anyone. I thought everyone was perfectly suited. And Javier as Hamilton...he was perfect. I love Lin, but Javier's voice is definitely better!



Are you still with me? That was a lot of words! 

Now on to Friday...not nearly as BIG of a day, but just as much fun! We slept in and then went to have breakfast at Friend of a Farmer in Gramercy Park. It was delicious, and a quiet, child free breakfast out is probably my favorite way to start the day. 


While at breakfast we were debating how we wanted to spend the day. I had made us dinner reservations for the night, but we sorta wanted to ditch them and see another show. After a quick texting session with my sister who just moved out of the city last May, J and I headed down to the South Street Seaport TKTS box office for their 11AM openeing to see if we could find a deal for a Friday night show. My first choice was to see Waitress (it was still Jessie Mueller's last week), but there were only partial view tickets for a 20% discount, BUT they also had Amelie tickets for 40% off and in the third row. SOLD! More about the show later!

We hopped back on the subway and headed to The Met (thanks for the suggestion Mallory!). J also gets free tickets to a large number of museums in the city for him and a guest, so this was a free trip, but I'd definitely pay to return. We had fun strolling around for about two hours. We grabbed a bite to eat afterwards and went back to the hotel to rest for a little bit before the show.


After some naps and showers, we walked back over to Chelsea Market and grabbed dinner and a beer at a sushi bar in there. We weren't starving, so this was the perfect dinner before the show.


We got to the theater a little early, so we took a quick stroll over to Times Square to snap a picture for M since this is what she remembers most about her trip to NYC in 2015! 



Amelie and Pippa! So one of the main reasons I was itching to see Amelie was to see Philippa Soo in the role of Amelie. And my friends, she didn't disappoint! She was so good. The whole show was just so fun. I had never seen the movie Amelie that it is based on, but it really didn't matter. I'm so glad we ditched our dinner plans and squeezed in one more show. It was 100% worth it!


 We ended the night at an Irish Pub in Hell's Kitchen with a plate of nachos and two beers, and then we got back to our hotel and CRASHED! I logged close to 20,000 steps this day on my fitbit, and we slept well that night.

So there you have it. Was that enough detail? I only rambled a little bit, right? NYC never disappoints. We had a ball, we ate well, we enjoyed one of the best 3 hours of our lives, and it was nice to step away from parenthood for a few days and feel like real grown ups (thanks mom and dad!).

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

odds and ends

I'm gonna pretend it hasn't been a full month since I last blogged and just jump on in here with a random odds and ends post!

If y'all are looking for some high end fashion finds, keep moving on...but if you want some cheap kid bargains I've found lately, this might be right up your alley! I've recently bought M these cartwheel shorts at WalMart for $3.88 a pair! I had looked in a few other stores but couldn't find them in her size this season, and then WalMart came through for me with awesome prices and her size. WIN!


I also snagged her this pool zip up cover up for $8.84 and these adorable shorts for $4.88 a piece. She's been wearing them with tshirts on our warm days the last few weeks and I kinda want to go back and buy more patterns. They're perfect!


Unrelated to little girls fashion, I snagged this tray at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago for next to nothing since it was 50% off. Anyone else always losing remotes or just us?  That darn apple TV remote is SO small. T still hides our remotes, but this tray on the coffee table has been helping a lot! 


And because they're both so cute! M painted toast at school a few weeks ago and the teachers shared this one with me. I love seeing pictures of her in her classroom!


And T just being a happy go lucky toddler and demanding his breakfast with two forks in his hands! Also...bravo to those of you with clean kitchens. Does anyone else feel like your counters always look as cluttered as mine?!


This is so random, but I'm gonna share! I bought these wool dryer balls and gave up dryer sheets back in January, and I haven't looked back! I'm loving them. My laundry is coming out so fluffy from the dryer, and I can also use them with my cloth diapers. I don't know why I waited so long to switch to these. 


Last month I met up with a friend who is a Beauty Counter rep and I was so impressed with what she showed me. I am really not a "skin care regimen" kinda girl, but I want to be better. I am loving my products that I got from her. This is week 3 with them, and so far, I couldn't be more pleased (again...I don't sell them...an honest review!)


And last...I'll just leave this here for now from our trip last week. I still have SO MANY THOUGHTS and not the right words to use to describe our evening at the Richard Rogers Theater last Thursday. I'm going to do my best to recap eventually!



OKAY! This is enough of a random post for one day. I really do want to come back soon so I can share all about our NYC trip. I love having our trips documented on here so I can remember anything we loved to share with friends later!