Wednesday, July 31, 2013

School Days

This past week we sent Allie a back to school care package. Since she's homeschooled she actually began the 7th grade this past Monday. I know, crazy that she's a 7th grader now! AH! Anyways, even though she doesn't attend an actual school, we love to give her a small taste of the back to school experience we still remember from our childhood.

I love wrapping gifts with vintage style materials :) This time I used brown craft paper, lace print paper, twine, lace, and crochet ribbon.

Recently Paper Source started carrying this beautiful lace paper and I just had to get it for Allie. She loves lace so it was the perfect wrapping for her. :)
New first day of school outfit :)
 Seriously love this vintage floral dress!
New notebooks and a planner
Pencils, erasers, and a sharpener
With encouraging reminders

 And reminders of our love for her on each of the pencils.
A deck of new cards to play some after school solitaire or go fish
Oh and greeting cards from each one of us of course (Daddy's included $10!! She's rich now! Haha)
And everybody needs a tasty after school snack

Her friends Emma and Annie also sent her some lovely little gifts and notes including a Pippy Longstocking book, bath salts, lotion, a magnet, and more.
Good luck this year Allie! We are so proud of you and can't wait to see how you grow, learn, and become more like who God wants you to be during your 7th grade year! We love you :)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Night on the Town

This past weekend Zach and I were given an extravagant gift - a staycation at the Westin in downtown Charlotte and night out on the town. Ya know I've never done the whole staycation thing, but it was really fun and such a nice break from our regular life in South Park. :)

(Charlotte Westin on the far left)
The staycation actually started with some pops on our way to downtown (wahoo King of Pops!)

Our room at the Westin was a corner room on the 23rd floor facing downtown.
The view was great :)
Saw this on the bathroom mirror. I've never seen a hotel offer you gym clothes and shoes before, but I think it's a totally brill idea.
Since this past week was the Queen's Feast restaurant week, we decided to go to Chima, a brazilian steakhouse, for dinner. It was such a treat and a great way to celebrate our friend Justin's birthday with him and his wife Jenny.
Wow. And "yes please" is all I can say about our dinner here.
Afterwards we headed to Amelie's for some sweet treats. I know, shocking we had any room left after stuffing our faces at Chima. :)

The next morning I enjoyed yet another fabulous treat - breakfast at the Ember Grille. So good! (And yes, I need to skip a few meals this week to make up for all of this. Haha)

Waiting for our car to head to work on Monday :)
Words cannot express our gratitude to our friends for making this relaxing getaway possible. I am still so overwhelmed by their generosity and kindness towards us as we have gone through some difficult times this summer. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I hope one day we can do this for someone else and pay it forward. :)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hot Finds

Oh summer. It's such a fun time of year. The days are longer, the sun seems hotter, and the fun just seems to never stop. Summer isn't summer without swimming, cook outs, late nights outside chasing fireflies or watching fireworks... you know the stuff. This year, I've stumbled across some 'hot' stuff for summer (or really any time of year) that I wanted to pass along. First up, swimwear.

Swim Apparel
This summer a friend of mine sent me a link to this video called "The Evolution of the Swimsuit." (Thanks Ryan!) The video is posted below and in my opinion, is truly fascinating.

I am use to rockin' a standard bikini or one piece when I head for large bodies of water in the summer sun. Like most stylish women, I secretly wish all my swimsuits were vintage inspired delights from Anthro or ModCloth, but they are just so darn expensive that I end up settling for something from VS or Target. However, Jessica Rey's passion and vintage inspiration for creating her gorgeous (and tasteful) swimsuit line was so inspiring to me. If you are someone that is looking for fashion plus a little more fabric than the average suit (but not something made for a grandma), Jessica has hit the nail on the head.

Here are a few of Jessica's suits, inspired by Audrey Hepburn and other fashion icons. This suit is my FAV... Ah! Adorbs!
Second fav (and Allie's fav)

 Swim glam
I also have found some vintage inspired suits online that don't cost a zillion dollars like these-
(Macys, Guess? kids)

(Amazon, Seafolly kids)
but you gotta search to find them.

Skin Care
Our Allie has a heck of a time with bug bites and subsequent scarring from scratching the bites. Her poor arms and legs are spotted with wounds. This summer I discovered she was scratching in her sleep which explained why they take so long to heal! My friend Christy told me about these two products that have made a huge difference in our war against the itch.
Both are available at WholeFoods (or online), but the Redmond Clay First Aid is almost magical in it's itch reducing power. The Neem lotion (comprised of oil from the Neem evergreen tree) is for healing wounds and scars. I highly recommend both products!

I also have almost fully transitioned to using Arbonne skin care and make up in an effort to use cleaner and healthier products. Arbonne uses:

Yes, it is more expensive, but to me it is worth it to know I am not putting nasty chemicals and animal byproducts on my body every day. Now if you can't go all in on Arbonne, I suggest buying a few products that affect your whole family, such as sunscreen. Sunscreen is usually full of all sorts of crap. This year we got the kids sunscreen for our whole family (I bought the kids versus the adult product cause it was a slightly larger bottle for less $)

Our family is constantly surrounded by music as I am sure you can imagine. Ha! Zach is always playing or singing something and it's not unusual to find Allie or myself singing along. This... living in a state of music is normal to us, but I recently realized it has caused me to actually listen to music a lot less. However, this past week I came across a new artist that has rejuvenated my need to listen/dance/and go into a music trance and his name is Dillon Hodges. His southern indie folk music is on repeat in my mind and playlist.

This song makes me wanna take a road trip. With the windows down. And with a glass of lemonade.

And summer wouldn't be summer without some tasty treats. I have mentioned them a few times before, but King of Pops has recently rocked my world (thanks Amy!).
These natural, local, handmade pops are the PERFECT treat on a hot summer day. What's my favorite pop flavor you ask? Right now it's banana pudding followed by key lime pie and blackberry cream.
Yeah that's right. These aren't your every day pops. To find out where you can catch the pop stand, go to their website or follow them on Instagram. A few flavors are also available at WholeFoods if the pop man and the pop stand are unavailable. :)

My friend Brenae also sent me a lovely care package of gluten-free mixes from Front Porch Sweets, a gluten-free bakery run by a mutual friend Courtney Lee.
When we went to bake cookies at the Ronald McDonald house I mentioned making the sugar cookies. I also have used the pizza crust and it tasted great!
photo from Front Porch Sweets
I had a little trouble with the recipe proportions/texture, but I know I will work it out the next time I get some. This week I will be whipping up the slap your mamma pretzel bites for my DGroup and I can't wait to see how they turn out!

And now for something decadent. Before the summer is over I hope to whip up a nasty treat called chocolate cake waffles.
Yep. It's exactly what you think. Chocolate cake mix made into belgian waffles and served with ice cream. A perfect way in my opinion to toast the summer and say farewell to the lazy, hazy, crazy days and hello to fall!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summer Sum Up

Wow. Has life been strange lately. My sister's memorial services were last weekend and before I get into all that, I wanted to sum up the rest of our summer with Allie. It does my heart good to remember these precious times with my family. 
This summer Zach and Allie had A LOT of Daddy-Daughter time. Every Monday night they would go do something while I hosted my discipleship group. The last D-D date of the summer took them to the golf course so Allie could drive a cart for the very first time. Oh what fun :)

These two had loads of fun and Allie even snapped some stellar photos on her camera (which I would have posted, but I haven't uploaded them yet).

Summer wouldn't be summer without some fro-yo.
Allie playing solitaire while I worked from the dining room.
Allie and her partners in crime, Emma and Annie, playing in the computer lab :)
Justin and Jenny's dog Moose has grown quite a bit since they got him last fall. That doesn't stop Allie though. She loves to play in the yard with Moose and would do it all night long if we let her!

Shopping with Allie. This girl loves Rifle Paper Co. products almost as much as me. :)
Admiring all things lovely in Anthro, the place we go to dream...
Amazing aprons. Why don't they make these into dresses too?

If we ever redo Allie's bedroom we are all in agreement it should look like this. :)

A delightful book we will pick up at some point or another.
This girl can seriously pull off ANY hat!
I think Allie's Anthro inspiration was channeled into this outfit. Ha! This girl loves to create quirky, vintage, feminine outfits. There's no limit to her accessories, but somehow, no matter what she pairs together, she always looks adorable. :)

Dinner time is a favorite time for us. Gosh we love this beautiful young lady sitting between us every night!

Family devo time. Another sacred family activity that has meant a lot to all of us.
And the same daddy that can lead incredible family devotions and be Allie spiritual leader is also the same daddy that climbs into this window and acts like a goofball. Gosh we love him so much. :)
A special lunch downtown at 7th Street Market.

What an adorable delivery cart! I love it!
Allie and her friends also wrote letters back to their pen-pals at Challenge Farm in Kenya and they did such an amazing job making their cards special.

Emma's letter to Rebecca

Allie's letter to Ruth
and Annie working on her card for Lillian!

Zach and I also took the little ladies to WholeFoods for a pop run since it was raining and the pop man wasn't out at his normal spot. This time I tried Key Lime Pie and oh my goodness... is it divine!
Crazy for pops

We love pops!!!
Annie and Allie sitting on the escalator eating pops as Zach walks up it. Haha I love how much fun there is to be had in the most average of places.
Our family has certainly had a surplus of love, laughter, and fun this summer. Allie's friend Emma is particularly humorous and sent Allie a very funny video performed in this costume.
Allie returned the gesture by creating this look and making her own short, silly film.

Since Allie was dressing up and putting on old costumes of mine, Zach decided to join in. Who do you think he looks like?!
Creepy right?
So glad these 3 had so much quality fun together this summer. I am forever grateful for the friends and families God has brought into our lives here in Charlotte. It is a blessing beyond my wildest dreams!
It's no surprise that this is how they felt about their upcoming separation as Allie headed back to Alabama. Ha! Such drama. :) But I know Allie knows how much she is loved, cherished, and valued here in Charlotte and that's really all I can ask for.
Thank you God for such a great summer. Thank you for challenging all of us. Thank you for drawing us closer and closer. Thank you for constantly making us better and better parents. Thank you for going before us and coming after us and carrying our burdens. Thank you for being at the center of our family and for leading us in the way we should go. Thank you for the countless blessings of friends and family and community that walk besides us through life and encourage us to be less like us and more like you. Thank you for embracing us where we are and loving us unconditionally. I can't wait to see how God uses our family to bring him glory and love his world over the next year! There are so many more adventures to be had!