Archive | things i like

The Love Project with Ashley of Under the Sycamore

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My friend Meredith is the most amazing 23 year old I’ve ever met. For sure.

We met on the Rwanda trip last summer and with each story she told (ie. how she got her parents to adopt her little sister) and each adventure she had been on (ie. living in Iraq serving heart babies), we were all more and more amazed with her. Meredith is one special lady and she is the living hands and feet of Jesus. She wouldn’t necessarily say that – I think anyone who is doing what they’ve been called to do just feels like they are doing the best they can – but I assure you that her heart, her service, her faithfulness and advocacy for the babies she cares for is making a big difference.

Currently, Meredith is the director of a foster home in China where they care for babies with severe heart defects. The insurance system is much different in China than it is in America and so many times parents of babies with life-threatening illnesses can’t afford the surgeries their children need. So they have to choose: keep their child and he will likely not live or abandon him in the hopes that he will get the necessary medical care.  Can you even imagine? It just breaks my heart in two.

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Morning Star, where Meredith works, is a foster home that takes these abandoned babies and cares for them – providing heart surgeries, nutrition and so much love. Just peek at Meredith’s Instagram feed and you’ll see the most precious little faces, sweet personalities, purple lips and toes that turn pink after the scariest of surgeries. After necessary surgeries, they place the children with forever families through adoption. What their organization does is beautiful and I feel so thankful to women like Meredith who sacrifice so much to advocate for little ones who have no voice.

As wonderful and necessary as adoption is, family preservation is a top priority to organizations like Morning Star. Keeping families intact, keeping children in their countries, with their loved ones, providing them with the resources and medical attention needed even if they can not afford it – this is a worthy cause to fight for.

Meredith and my friend, blogger, photographer and adoptive mom, Ashley allowed their dreams to align and The Love Project was born.

“The LOVE project aims at forming a community of believers who come together to reach out to families parenting children with heart disease who because of financial limitations are faced with this terrible choice. We aim to change the conversation. Stand up for the orphan by preventing them from ever occurring. Orphan prevention. Family preservation. Friends, if we are “for” the plight of the orphan, we MUST be for the family as well.” (from the Morning Star website)

One way Ashley + Meredith are raising awareness and funds for these families is through a brand new shop filled with lovely donated artwork by several artists.  Each art print is $20 and can be downloaded instantly for printing. All of the proceeds go to The Love Project to help support families, children and medical expenses.

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When Ashley approached me, of course I said yes. I created this watercolor heart to add to the collection of love/heart inspired art for The Love Project shop. You can purchase the pdf here and print as many as you like. Ashley tried out a handful of different printing options from mpix – round prints, magnets, business card size, a calendar to show just how versatile the artwork is.

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We would love your support of this project.

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To see all of the work, to purchase a print, make a donation and read much more about Morning Star and the beautiful work they do, visit The Love Project website.

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I’m so thankful for and inspired by the example and friendships of women like Ashley and Meredith who use what they have and where they are to make a lasting impact.

Click Here to visit the Morning Star Love Project Shop

and purchase a downloadable print.

   

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If you would like to share about this project, we created a few blog buttons and Instagram images (feel free to use #morningstarloveproject). Click here to download those files.

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The Love Project - art fundraiser supporting the Morning Star Foundation. With each purchase of digital artwork, your donation will go directly to support orphan care, heart surgeries and family preservation.  For more info visit morningstarproject.com

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if you’re curious about what I’m really like …

I met Jamie Ivey (next to me, second from left) over chips + queso in Austin at if:gathering this winter and connected instantly.

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We both have four kids – three boys and a youngest girl. We are the same age. We love Noonday and Sole Hope and talking and Jesus. We have friends in common. I don’t know why, but she just felt like one of those people that if we lived in the same neighborhood/city/state, we would do life together.

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Jamie and her husband Aaron (a worship pastor/song writer) live in Austin with their four kids. She’s an adoptive mama and speaker and hosts my favorite Podcast show ever called The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. Each show, she and a guest chat about books and kids and work and life – whatever is going on in their lives – little things and big things and everything in between. It truly feels like you are listening in on a conversation between two friends sitting for an hour over happy hour. It’s fabulous. I think I’ve listened to every single episode.

Well, last week, Jamie and I did a little happy hour time over the phone. We were supposed to talk for an hour, but instead just kept going. And going. And going. And then after we hung up, we kept texting with more things to talk about. I guess that’s the sign of a fun new friend.

Since we went so long, she split the podcast recording up into two!

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In the first episode (which came out last week), we talk about my sisters and the vacation Ryan + I just took, I try to explain what Jones Design Company is about, we share embarrassing stories of overexposure and then we dive right in and discuss what God is doing in my life (it’s so good and so hard at the same time).

I posted about the podcast on instagram and it was fun to hear reactions. It’s hard to let your true personality come through online – you miss the voice, inflections, silliness, real life that takes place over conversation when you forget the recording is going and you’re just being yourself. That’s part of what I love so much about Jamie’s podcast … it let’s you see another side to her guests who you might be familiar with for the book they just wrote or the ministry they lead, but this gives you a more complete picture. Anyway, I loved doing the show and love that when you listen, you get a more complete picture of who I am. So, if you’re curious about what I’m really like …

The second episode just came out today. We we’re supposed to record for so long, but like I said, we just couldn’t stop so it’s super random. Books we’re reading, what we’re doing with the kids this summer, my three current favorites, more embarrassing stories of me crying on a bus in Africa, what books we want to write.

So if you’re headed out on a road trip, or you need a distraction while mopping your floors, come listen in on our Happy Hour conversation!

P.S. There is so much in the conversations that I would love to continue talking about here on the blog. Let me know in the comments if there is anything you’d like me to share more about …

 

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inspired by lilacs

It’s springtime in the Pacific Northwest which means the weather changes daily between bright and sunny and sudden downpour. It also means the hills are covered with every possible shade of green, leaves are popping and LILACS ARE IN BLOOM!

holding lilacs / jones design company

The older I get, the more obsessed I become with flowers. They’re all my favorite. But lilacs. Oh my. They rank way up at the top.

I love their droopy shape, their bright green leaves, their varying shades of purple (especially the dark ones up there!) and of course, their heavenly scent. I just want to sit and smell the flowers all day long.

lilacs on desk / jones design company

My love for lilacs got me thinking about the color purple. Do I like it? Do I not? It’s not a common color in home design or fashion and usually reserved for sweet little girls.

lilacs in the master bedroom / jones design company

When I posted this picture of our bedroom on instagram, someone asked where our plum quilt was from.  It’s actually gray (from Target) but it got me thinking: purple is actually a really pretty color. Maybe not all shades – at least in this neutral-loving girl’s mind – but muted or deep or dusty or pale, these are all pretty hues.

If you’d like to add a little bit of purple into your life, here is a round-up of products with lilac-hued inspiration:

round-up of lilac hued favorites / jones design company

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

What do you think of the color purple?

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get in shape, girl

get in shape - great workout for toning arms / jones design company

As you can clearly tell from the last post, athletics + fitness is not my strong suit.

In fact, here’s another embarrassing story to tell you:

About a month ago, some friends were over playing cards (because that is what old people do to have fun on a saturday night) and our self-imposed penalty for losing a hand was 10 push-ups. Well, apparently the game of Hearts is also not my strong suit and when I had to get down and give ’em 10, I seriously could not even do ONE. Girl pushups on my knees? No problem. But real, straight back, feet out, all the way down, all the way up? No way.

So I set a goal. We’re going on vacation with our friends again next month (see round 1 here) and so we’ve all got ‘get in shape’ on the forefront of our minds. My big goal: do 10 real pushups by the time we leave.

I’ve been working out way more than usual (and by that I mean 3ish times/week) but not really keeping track of any gains or losses. This past weekend, I decided to check on my progress and see how many pushups I could do.

My friends, I shocked myself by doing 5. FIVE! Now that might not sound like much, but for me I couldn’t believe it! Just a handful of workouts with my girl Tracy and I’m already seeing results.

If you are looking for an easy way to gain some muscle tone in your arms, you’ve got to give this workout a try. There are four 15-minute workouts for arms, thighs, butt and abs. All four are great. I wish I could do this every single day, but I just can’t/don’t fit it in. For the arm workout, you use 2 and 5lb weights which doesn’t sound like much until you’ve been holding your arms out to the side doing little movements and you feel like they are about to fall off. It’s totally doable and obviously has made a difference in my arm strength.

I’ll let you know if I make it to my 10 pushup goal.

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the best chocolate chip cookie recipe

the best chocolate chip cookie recipe / jones design company

I posted this photo on instagram last week with this caption:

“Not to brag, but I make some pretty amazing chocolate chip cookies.”

I mean, just look at those?!

It’s always fun to try out different chocolate chip cookie recipes to get just the right consistency. I like fluffy cookies, a little crunchy around the edges, soft in the middle, with big milk chocolate chips (these are my favorite, but don’t buy from the link. The price is obnoxious. Check your grocery store or just look for milk chocolate chips in a different brand).

This recipe is a tried and true and favorite around our house.

chocolate chip cookie recipe / jones design company

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes 4 dozen

3/4 cup butter (softened)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cup flour
12 oz bag chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.
In stand-up mixer, cream butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Mix in baking soda and salt and gradually add flour. Stir in chocolate chips.
Bake on ungreased baking sheet for 9-11 minutes.

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Yum. These are the best!

Enjoy

** UPDATE **

Per your sweet requests, I turned the artwork into a freebie print for you!

  download + print this free chocolate chip cookie ingredient illustration / jones design company

There are two 5×7 prints on each sheet. Just download + print on your favorite cardstock. These would be super cute to give along with freshly baked cookies to a neighbor or friend or teacher!

Download the file HERE

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recent reads (9 books to add to your reading list)

Confession: I am a sporadic reader.

Months will go by where I don’t have a book, and then I’ll find a good one, remember how much I love reading and plow through a bunch. Are you like that? It would be nice if I could be more consistent and make my brain work a little for entertainment and yet this cycle of not reading/reading continues.

One thing that helps is to have a good list of book recommendations – so I’m here to day to share some recent reads with you to add to your reading list.

Note: my book preference leans heavily toward fiction – stories about historical events or people are great – and when authors can weave separate character story lines into one, I’m especially happy.  Each of these books meet these criteria.

9 books worth reading / jones design company

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

Anything by Kate Morton is great. This one is my favorite of hers.

Far Outside the Ordinary by Prissy Elrod

A sweet memoir about marriage and loss and love.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer + Annie Barrows

I fell in love with the characters and didn’t want this one to be over! Plus, it’s semi-historical fiction so you feel like you’re learning something new about the impacts of WWII.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Another WWII setting and so, so rich in language, story, characters, depth and beauty. Read it.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Mont Kidd

Slavery, friendship, the early women’s rights movement … a good book based on true characters and events.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin

I like when stories go from two different time periods – and this one was great. Another one about slavery, friendship, justice with characters you miss when the book ends.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Cute story. Makes you think. There’s a sequel I want to read to hear another side of the story.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Light-hearted, smartly written, romantic comedy in book form – from the voice of a grown man with odd social behaviors and humorous approach to life. I like this one and just discovered there’s a sequel. Will be reading it shortly.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I picked this up just a few days ago and couldn’t stop. From the author of What Alice Forgot (have you read it? So good.) and I maybe even like this one more. I’m reading another by her next.  I guess I have a thing for Miss Moriarty’s writing style.
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What are your favorite recent reads? Please share in the comments below …

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5 beauty picks under $15

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Looking for a few inexpensive beauty products to add to your routine?

I am working on upping my beauty game – less in a vanity way and more in a hey, you’ve been in the intense caring for babies phase of motherhood for 10 years and it’s time to take a few moments on yourself now way.  I started with the bigger things like making doctor appointments and getting my haircut, and now I’m slowing adding a few new products to update my beauty routine.

Probably like you, I value quality, but don’t spend a ton of money on beauty products. Back in the day before kiddos, I frequented the Nordstrom makeup ladies. Nowadays, I either grab a few things while running through Target or order on Amazon (thank you free prime shipping). So each of these 5 beauty picks are easy to find, affordable and tested by yours truly.

ONE / Boots No7 Perfectly Bronzed Pearls
give your skin a springtime glow with this subtle bronzing powder

TWO / Esse Tuck Me In Your Tux nail polish
clean, neutral nails are classic and my go-to

THREE / Biosilk Silk Serum
for shiny, silky hair (especially great for adding vibrancy back to your hair after winter)

FOUR / Maybelline Baby Lips Balm in Peach Kiss
swipe on this lip balm for fresh peachy color + moisturizer

FIVE / Rusk Wired Flexible Styling Creme
give flexible body and texture to your hair before or after styling

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Have you added any products to your beauty routine that you’ve loved? Please share!

(image inspiration from Angie at ACreativeBuzz.com)

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we mounted an ipad in the kitchen (and love it)

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I posted this photo on instagram late last week:

cooking-with-audrey

I have a new dinner solution that I can’t wait to share with you! – but that’s not what got most attention in the photo. Instead, there were lots of questions about the ipad mounted in the background.

I have to admit that this was 100% Ryan’s idea. He is good at ideas. I wasn’t so sure about drilling into the beadboard and maybe don’t love how it looks, but sometimes function trumps form.

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And in this case, it is super functional. Now that the ipad is in the kitchen, it gets used all the time. I use it for recipes, looking up things when they pop into my mind while washing dishes, perusing pinterest, playing music on our wireless sound system.

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We used this articulating wall mount with this mounting bracket.

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Pop the ipad into this ipad mounting case and it attaches to the mounting bracket.

A couple of great things about this setup:

1. It is not bulky. When the wall mount is folded flat against the wall, it’s very low profile.

2. The ipad can be tilted up or down, mounted vertically or horizontally and the arm pulls in and out for whatever angle you prefer.

3. Having an ipad off the counter, but still within reach is super convenient. We had no idea how much we would use it.

So there you go, my instagram question-askers. That’s how we mounted the ipad.

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EARLIER THIS WEEK …

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answers to the questions you didn’t even know you had

I don’t know why I titled this post like that. It just sounded fun.

There are a handful of questions I get frequently and I thought I’d jot down all the answers here. Perhaps you’ve wondered about one of these things and now you’ll know the details.

Here you go …

Where is the living room couch from?

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We bought our pretty sofa a few years ago from Andella Home (it’s called the Audrey linen tufted chesterfield). I’m slightly protective of it and while it gets daily use, we don’t eat or drink or wear our shoes on it. I love that the back is tight and seat is deep so I can fill it with lots of favorite pillows (all of the ones shown above were made by me). Even with the light color, it has held up really, really well.

What are these wedges?

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I searched high and low for the perfect nude/brown wedges. These are from Nordstrom by Vince Camuto and (of course) they are no longer available. These are very similar.

Where did you get the light fixture in the dining room?

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A little over a year ago, we replaced the chandelier in the dining room with this linen rectangular shade pendant from Restoration Hardware. We found ours at the outlet store for super cheap, but they are on clearance on the rh website right now. The light came with a diffuser for the bottom, but we like it better without. The table and chairs are from RH, too. Apparently we have a thing for that store.

Where is the stag head from on the fireplace?

The deer in our living room is such a statement piece. I love a decorated mantle, but when we re-surfaced the fireplace and added the stag head, it feels fine just to leave the mantle empty. Ryan ordered the iron stag head from restoration hardware. It’s probably time to remove the wreath …

Will you be hosting The Blog Class again?

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Ryan and I taught an online everything-you-need-to-know-about-blogging class two years ago and we’re so excited to run it again! We’ve been working, working, working to get it all updated and pretty and full and will be ready to launch in the next week or so (we’re hoping!). Lots more details will come, but just know if you’ve been wanting to start a blog and have no idea where to begin, or you want to take your existing blog to the next level and need some help coming up with a plan, The Blog Class is perfect for you. Stay tuned for more …

Speaking of classes, the Graphic Design class is currently open for registration!

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I seriously adore teaching this class and inspiring creativity in ladies all over the globe through designing with Illustrator. For details, click here.

What color is your bedroom?

The deep tealy-blue in our bedroom is so moody and serene. The color is Marine Magic by Behr. I waffle back and forth between painting the whole room the color (right now the other walls are light gray) and going white in there like the rest of our house. It is a really pretty color.

All of the paint colors we’ve used in our house can be found on this page (but it’s no longer up-to-date because we painted over most walls with white this fall).

What’s your favorite source for washi tape?

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Washi tape is such an inexpensive, universal, fun to use craft supply and there are a million different patterns/colors to choose from. I order most of my tape from here – the selection is great.

I have a whole page of favorite sources with links – everything from printers to paper, ribbon and curtains. You can find those here.

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Anything else? If so, feel free to ask in the comment and I’ll reply back!

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instagram highlights

I’m in Austin this weekend for If:gathering – super excited to see friends and laugh and be so encouraged and challenged. If you’re here, come say hi!

For a behind-the-scene look at our time here, come on over to Instagram (@jonesdesigncompany).

Speaking of instagram, here are some favorite most recent images and happenings:

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a visit with Lindsey and her family in her darling house / vintage children’s books in my mom’s house

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lovey-dovey images (prints in the shop: I still Do, Greatest is Love)

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Practicing watercolors with a boden catalog / so happy with all the white in the house now

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don’t even start on the Superbowl game. Still sad about that loss. The boys were so cute all lined up in their jerseys. / My oldest turned 11 this week.

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More painting which turned into these free valentines

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I’m staying this weekend with the girls who went to Rwanda and it feels so great to be back together! We dropped by the Noonday home office last night and felt like kids in a candy store just staring at all the pretty. I found my stag journal, too! (available here – on sale!).

Hope you have a great weekend!

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how to organize your iphone screen (and make it look pretty)

how-to-organize-your-iphone-homescreen

My phone is basically an extension of my arm. I carry it with me everywhere and while I’m not so good at answering phone calls, I do love it for everything else: texting, checking the weather, setting an alarm, taking photos, reading email, posting to instagram, checking out at starbucks … you get the idea.

So, naturally, I want my phone to be organized, easy to use and pretty to look at. The best way to do that? Organize all those apps into folders and add a cute wallpaper.

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Here’s how I like to organize my iphone home screen:

Start by setting a custom image as the background. This cute arrow-on-kraft-paper design is part of our February Paper Works collection (each month we include a couple of wallpapers so you can trade them out each month!). Just save the image to your photo library, then open it up. To set it as your wallpaper, follow the steps below:

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Now comes the fun part of organizing all of your apps. Rather than having each one on its own, I like to organize them into folders. Here’s what that process looks like:

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I find that having apps grouped together in folders makes my home screen much less cluttered and easier for me to find what I’m looking for. Here’s how I have my apps grouped:

p h o t o / all camera, photo editing and instagram related apps

d a i l y / these are my regular-use apps like the clock, weather, facebook, jdc, pinterest and starbucks

u s e / the more utilitarian apps of the bunch like maps, the app store, settings, calculator and facetime

b i b l e / my go-to collection of bible/bible study/devotion apps

m u s i c / itunes, my music library, pandora, spotify, sonos and podcasts

m o n e y / my banks, paypal and coupon apps

p l a y / my kids think I’m weird for not having more games on my phone, but there are a few. They live in this folder (current faves: 2048 and tsum tsum).

n o t e s / just the note app. I use it all the time.

t r a v e l / things like yelp and hotels.com

e x t r a / for everything that doesn’t have an obvious category

s o c i a l / social media apps I don’t use regularly, but want to keep like whatsApp and Line

g a m e s / just a few kid games – they each have a kindle, so they have their own apps on their devices, but these are for entertainment in a pinch (Endless ABC and 7 Little Words for Kids are favorites).

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And that is how I organize my iphone home screen.

I’d love to know … do you have a different system that works for you? Do you have any favorite apps you’d like to share? Do tell …

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Should you need a quick gift idea for a child in your life …

Should you need a quick gift idea for a child in your life …

favorite-stories-by-chris-van-dusen

… may I recommend any book by Chris Van Dusen.

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Our collection started with King Hugo’s Huge Ego and The Circus Ship (both favorites of all the kids – ages 5, 7, 9, 10). I didn’t even realize they were by the same author until my former-librarian aunt gifted us with Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee and we finally figured out why we loved the books so much … they are cleverly written and charmingly illustrated by the same talented guy!

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Each book is written with a catchy cadence which make them fun to read out loud and I could look at the pictures all day. A well-illustrated book makes all the difference and these are beyond well done.

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I just bought the boys a few more Van Dusen books: A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee, Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee and If I Built a Car. We’ll wrap them up for their somethings to read (we do four gifts for each kiddo at christmas – something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read) and I’ll be just as excited to read them aloud as they will to receive them.

So if you’re needing one more last minute gift idea, maybe a Chris Van Dusen book is just the right choice.

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october recap

october-highlights

Instagram continues to be my favorite social media outlet of choice. It’s such an easy and visually pleasing way to share day-to-day activities, tell you what’s happening on the blog and to connect with ladies from all over the world. I have much to improve in my photography skills, but it sure is fun to try different angles, look for pretty lighting or interesting compositions (zooming in close to the wheelbarrows, for example). I learned a ton in Ashley’s iphone photography class (definitely worth it! Or try her dslr for fancier photography skills) and continue to play around using my iphone to take pretty pictures.

Here are a few of the highlights from this past month.

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caught my eye

This weekend we had friends over for football watching-turned movie watching. When we put a movie on for the kids upstairs (mr. peabody), we poured ourselves a glass of wine downstairs and decided to turn on a movie for the grown-ups, too.

chef

None of us knew much about this movie, but the reviews were good and so we went for it. We all loved it.

Here’s the summary: “Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) suddenly quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman), he is left to figure out what’s next. Finding himself in Miami, he teams up with his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara), his friend (John Leguizamo) and his son to launch a food truck. Taking to the road, Chef Carl goes back to his roots to reignite his passion for the kitchen — and zest for life and love.”

The story was great, the acting perfect, the food makes your mouth-water and from what I’ve read, they do a good job depicting the reality of the life in a restaurant kitchen. There is bad language – just to warn you, but you’ll fall in love with the cutie-pie kid and you’ll probably want to make a really yummy grilled cheese after watching the way Chef Carl makes one.

So we loved the movie, but what really caught my eye was the great honeycomb wine rack in the LA restaurant scenes.

honeycomb-wine-rack-chef

It looks like a sculpture and is so graphic against the white marble and stainless steel kitchen. I love the a-symmetry of it and would totally put this in our house. I’d also take the marble and stainless steel. Continue Reading →

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farmhouse inspiration

We’re finishing out our summer with a quick stay with my family at The Farmhouse.

farmhouse

Isn’t it beautiful?! The Jones side of the family has rented this restored 1800’s farmhouse for the past three years and it’s been such a perfect place for our families to be together.

(UPDATE: here is a link for details on The Farmhouse)

Being here reminds me of how much I love the look of a farmhouse. Just clicking through my pinterest boards confirms it. Here are a few of my favorties: Continue Reading →

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