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Archive | things i like

I’m officially an earring-wearer | 12 styles under $50

One of the 40 by 40 items on my list is to wear earrings.

I had this moment this summer when I realized earrings were missing from my life. I’m not traditionally much of a jewelry wearer – usually just my wedding rings, a watch and sometimes I’ll put on a necklace.

There are so many fabulous earrings out there. Big. Colorful. Statement-making. I have tried and I always felt so unlike myself wearing bold earrings.

Then one day while scrolling through instagram, a picture caught my eye with a cute woman with her hair in a messy ponytail wearing simple hoop earrings. That felt like a look I could pull off.

At the moment I declared I wanted to start wearing earrings I had three pair in my jewelry box.

Since then, I’ve acquired quite a few new styles and I’m a happily convert to the world of earrings. Well, at least simple ones.

 

A couple of these I’ve bought for myself, one was a surprise gift from my sister, I received a few from small companies that make great earrings (thank you to Love Me Some Leather, Noonday and Shelly Dolen!). All are neutral and wearable with almost anything.

1 | Cowhorn Hoops $28  2 | Cubed Studs $42  3 | Burlap Embossed Leather Signature $20  4 | Leather Bar $15  5 | Mod Marble Studs $36  6 | Gold Hoops $7.99  7 | Small Square Stud Earrings $30  8 | Crystal Trio $9.50  9 | Metallic Teardrop $48  10 | Camel Signature Leather $20  11 | Column Earrings $48  12 | Hexagon Hoops $7.99

And that is my new earring collection. I’ll probably keep adding to it and maybe I’ll add more color at some point, but for now, I am loving all these basics in various sizes and shapes and tones of white, gold and a touch of black.

 

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behind the scenes-ish

Fall is in full swing in the Pacific Northwest and I’m enjoying it this year more than ever.

Here’s a peek at life this past month as seen on my Instagram feed.

(sweatshirt from here)

Last year at about this time we were moving into our new house and getting our old one ready to put on the market, I had a couple of big work projects and suffered from pretty severe iron deficiency.

This year, while we’re totally crazy with kid activities, we’re much more settled in our house and community and I’m finding a slower, more intentional pace in my personal life which is so enjoyable.

And all of this is, coupled with some pretty fantastic Pacific Northwest weather lately has me completely in love with the fall this time around.

Over the last month, this tree out front of our house has changed right before our eyes.

Isn’t it glorious?! Those two side by side windows (with the lamp on inside) look out from our family room right on the tree. I sit on the couch and just love seeing this big, golden tree. And now I sound like an old lady.

Inside the house, I haven’t done much in the way of fall decorating.

Just this lone book page pumpkin (here’s the oldie, but goodie, tutorial) and some yard clippings.

Last week the power went out in a big wind storm and for about 30 minutes we enjoyed a light-less house and a crackling fire. This really put me in the mood for cozy fall days.

A few weekends ago, we spent the weekend at my little sister’s house. They just got a new goldendoodle puppy and I can’t get over how adorable he is.

He’s a real life stuffed animal with a sweet personality.

Our dog, Atlas, isn’t quite as stuffed-animal-ish, but he’s pretty sweet, too.

Are you all Chris Loves Julia readers? They just lost their beloved pup and watching their family grieve so tenderly has made me appreciate our Atlas all the more. He was a hard puppy, but has turned into a perfect companion now that he’s 5. Giving him a big yard to run around in was the greatest gift we could have given him and his personality chilled out drastically once he had the freedom to run.

Instagram is always a great way to keep up with the day to day around here. Sometimes I post stories (but not often because I still can’t totally figure out how to do it), but most days I do post content that is not found here on the blog. So come find me over there @jonesdesigncompany.

Also, don’t forget to download and print your Autumn Essentials artprint!

It’s free in the Archive (you just have to log in with your email and everything in there is yours).

I hope you are having a wonderful fall so far. We’re headed into a festive and full weekend – family staying over, school trunk or treat, football games and Seahawks watching with friends. I’ll be sure to post more behind the scene-ish photos over on instagram.

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Good stuff at IKEA

The kids had half-days last week and I had the brilliant plan on Thursday to take them all with me to meet up with my mom at IKEA.

Here’s something I’m learning: I don’t have preschoolers anymore.

I used to meet my mom at IKEA regularly when the kids were little – especially when the older two were in school and I was looking for things to occupy my time with two little ones at home. They would either go into the playland area or stay with us and snack on IKEA letter crackers while my mom and I shopped. It was always slightly stressful with those wonky carts, but mostly an enjoyable way to pass the afternoon.

So I thought I was pretty clever to take the kids along with me to pick up a few things and spend some time with my mom while we were at it.

Well, now I know that shopping at IKEA on a half-day of school is not the ideal way to spend your time if you are a 13, 12 or 10-year-old boy. Audrey didn’t mind so much, but she’s little and can still fit in a cart. The boys had to walk their own feet through the miles of the ikea maze and wait for us ladies to look at and touch everything. The kids were fine … but next time I’ll leave them at home :)

While shopping, I found a few things (see what I bought at the end of the post) and spent the rest of my time snapping photos of things I liked. I’m on a purging kick right now, so I wasn’t super tempted to buy a bunch of stuff, but if you’re headed to IKEA any time soon, I’ve done some picking out of cute things for you.

We’ll start with this pretty green vase. I maybe should have bought this one.

GENEROST VASE $2.99

These metal side tables were intriguing. My 10-year-old son wanted that shorter coffee table version for a lego table and it actually would be a great option since it has a lip around the edge.

GLADOM TRAY TABLE $19.99 | JORID LOW TRAY TABLE $49.99

I was very happy to see a new black and white stripe blanket option. This one almost made it into my cart … but we all know I do not need another black and white striped throw blanket in my life.

TUVALIE BLANKET $12.99

This thin blanket did come home with me. I am thinking I’ll cut it up and make a pillow out of it … or keep it as a throw. I haven’t decided yet. The color is so good.

VARKRAGE BLANKET $4.99

Need a perfect pot for little plants or candy or your daughter’s hair bows or dog treats or anything else you can think of that needs a home? These are a great size, stackable and chic.

DAIDAI PLANT POT $3.99

Christmas is coming and these gold stars are really pretty. And there is that pot with a great artificial tree in it. Line three of those up on your table and you have a great centerpiece for the holidays.

STRALA LAMP SHADE $4.99 | CORD KIT $10 | FEJKA POTTED TREE $9.99

I’m partial to real greenery, but these next few medium-sized artificial plants caught my eye. I had just read a post from Young House Love about their very convincing faux front porch potted trees and all three seem like great options if you need fairly realistic plants for front porch pots.

FEJKA EVERGREEN TREE $24.99

FEJKA BOXWOOD TOPIARY $29.99

FEJKA BOXWOOD $59.99

This next one is the most indestructable indoor houseplant ever. If you have a low-light situation or forget to water your plants, this one is perfect.

ZZ PLANT $9.99

We have this mirror in our entry (see it here in the old house) and I might call it the best buy at IKEA. It’s big, has a simple, yet substantial frame and is less than $50.

NISSEDAL MIRROR $49.99

This little light is very cool. I wish they pulled that caution sticker off there … but just imagine how modern it would look without it. And the beloved black and white cord is forever my favorite.

FADO LAMP $19.99

These pendants are fun.

NYMO WHITE LARGE SHADE $39.99

NYMO BLACK SHADE $29.99

You’ve likely seen this line of lights – they have a pendant, floor lamp, table lamp and sconce version and everyone is great.

RANARP SCONCE $19.99

This little hourglass is a great decorative object for a bookshelf or coffee table.

TILLSYN HOURGLASS $7.99

And add this glass dome to your shopping list, too. It comes in two sizes.

BEGAVNING SMALL DOME $9.99 | BEGAVNING LARGE DOME $14.99

These hooks are not particularly heavy, but very cute looking. We have a similar iron hook in our boys’ room to hang sweatshirts and it is so useful.

KAMPIG SWIVEL HOOK $19.99

The kids were getting very tired of walking and shopping by the time we hit the bedding section.

Mason camped out right next to the bedding that is actually on his bed (see it here).

NYPONROS TWIN DUVET + SHAMS $24.99

This cutie clock is fun for styling a bedside table (it’s similar to the one on my step-stool-turned-nightstand seen here).

DEKAD CLOCK $6.99

I’m partial to anything with graphic lettering or numbering and I nearly bought these candles. I’m assuming they are used for Advent, but I like them just for fun, too.

VINTER UNSCENTED CANDLES $6.99

And – at last! – we made it to the checkout … and better yet, the $1 ice cream cones.

Curious to see what made it into my big blue ikea bag?

I went with the intention to buy pull down shades for the kids’ windows. I did buy them, but they are not right and will be returned.

The rest of the stuff was just random grabs.

Straws, because my children find drinking out of straws so much more enjoyable than not.

A large sifter, because I only have a tiny one and I’ve been meaning to get a bigger one for baking for a long time.

Child-sized wood hangers, because I have a little project in mind for how to embellish them.

Striped rug, to turn into a pillow for Christmas (like this).

That blue blanket.

A roll of white paper, for my creative kids and possibly for Christmas wrapping.

Bag clips, to keep open bags fresh.

And we can’t leave IKEA without their letter biscuits and those raspberry filled cookies.


It was a productive trip, and after we overcame the mild dissatisfaction with spending an afternoon off of school out shopping, we ended up having a great time, indulging in Swedish meatballs and walking out with a long list of cute things to get next time.

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You know those black and white striped towels I love so much?

Oh, the beloved (and much photographed) black and white stripe dishtowel.


I mean, when I first started selling these, I truly had no idea what a phenomenon they would be. Apparently we all appreciate a good graphic, absorbent towel.


We used the towels in our old kitchen:


A set traveled with us on our road trip as our go-to towels in the airstream:

And we use them everyday in our new kitchen, too:


I know, I know. It’s just a towel. But when you find something that you literally look at and touch one hundred times per day you want it to look great and work even better. These striped towels do the trick.

Great news … the towels are on sale!

For a limited time, you can get 2 sets (4 towels) for $22. 

Keep a set, give one away or stock up and keep them on hand for the perfect hostess, teacher, christmas gift!

Grab yours (right here) today.


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I think you should listen to these podcasts

I love a good podcast.

My best friend was just asking me when I listen and here’s my answer:

Any time I can squeeze it in. 

On the 12 minute drive to pick up the boys from cross country.

On the 4 minute drive home from dropping the little kids off at school in the morning.

On the way to the grocery store. On the way to visit my grandma in the hospital. On the airplane to Nashville. With headphones in while making dinner.

If I’m in the car with the kids, I don’t generally listen (although I wish I could). It drives them crazy to listen to people talking about things they don’t care about and I get that. I remember my parents listening to talk radio when I was younger and I hated it, too. But any time I’m in the car without them, you can count on me scrolling through my podcasts to play something good.

There are countless programs and episodes to listen to and I’d love to share with you a few of my favorites.

THE NEXT RIGHT THING with Emily P. Freeman. You guys. Listen to this one. Emily has the most peaceful talking voice with wise words and helpful prompts for those of us who crave direction in our lives. Each episode is about 15 minutes and you’ll leave feeling thoughtful and empowered to choose the next right thing.

THAT SOUNDS FUN with Annie F. Downs. Apparently I like friends who use their middle initials in their work :) I’ve talked about Annie’s podcast a million times because it really is a happy spot in my listening. I’m a fan of every episode, but for those of you who are new (or have never heard!) to the enneagram, her latest episode, number 53, is such a great summary of the personality typing system that is literally bringing so much freedom to my life right now. I, like Annie, want all of my friends to know and love the enneagram.

BRIDGETOWN CHURCH I’m pretty sure I’ve told you about this one before, too, because it has been so transformational in my faith as well. This is a church in Portland, Oregon with an incredibly smart pastor. There is a series from this summer on Prayer that is so good, one from Jesus’ teachings on the sermon on the mount and last year had the best teaching I’ve ever heard on the practices of Jesus.

GLORIOUS IN THE MUNDANE with Christy Nockles. Christy is a singer and songwriter (you may remember her from the Christian group Watermark). Her podcast is gentle and wise with stories and teaching and tender encouragement. She has said before that this is sort of like the book she would write, only it is her speaking it instead. So good.

MAKING OPRAH Just three episodes plus a couple of bonuses, this series is a quick one to listen to and I didn’t want it to be over when it was. I didn’t realize how much the Oprah show was part of my life growing up until I listened in, remembered the old episodes, heard the theme songs. Her tenacity and influence is truly inspiring, whether we totally agree with her or not.

ABOVE & BEYOND with Brock Huard. This one is a brand new find for me and I’m loving it already. Brock Huard is a pacific northwest native who played quarterback at the University of Washington and then the Seattle Seahawks. He is now on local sports radio and well-known for his faith. This new podcast interviews professional athletes and talks about the intersection of faith and athletics. I am actually really excited to have the boys listen to this one with me.

THE ROAD BACK TO YOU with Ian Cron + Suzanne Stabile. I know … more enneagram. The hosts of this podcast wrote a great book and this interviews different people and couples to talk through how our enneagram types are played out on a daily basis. I usually pick and choose and listen to the episodes that are about my number (9) because I’m selfish like that.

HOW I BUILT THIS with Guy Raz. This podcast interviews successful business owners (think companies like Spanx, Whole Foods, Crate + Barrel) about their business journey. I love hearing stories of peoples lives and seeing how all the pieces fit together. You know my love of Barre3 and I was super excited to listen to how Sadie Lincoln started her company. It was my favorite episode yet.


Do you have any favorite podcasts? I’d love to hear!

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Books I read this summer, books I quit this summer and what I’m reading now

Well, summer has juuuust about come to an end and I’m feeling quite bitter sweet about it.

Because we were traveling around the country all last summer, we missed out on the very best weather our beautiful Pacific Northwest has to offer. This year, we mainly stuck around home, with two trips over to Eastern Washington where it is hotter, dryer and the lake is much more swimable than the chilly Puget Sound. It has been an amazingly warm and sunny summer (which we all so needed after that dreadfully wet and gray winter and spring!) and it feels like we’re all holding on to it as much as possible.

Staying around home, taking some time off work and the easy ages of our kids has allowed me to get a few books finished this summer.

Since recommendations from a friend is my favorite way to choose a book, I thought we could spend a few minutes chatting about the books I finished, the ones I quit and what I’m reading now.

BOOKS I READ THIS SUMMER

SELF TO LOSE SELF TO FIND

This is the book I can’t stop talking about. The Enneagram is a personality typing system that is both completely fascinating to me (my degree is in psychology, so I guess that makes sense) and also has been hugely eye opening and healing. This book uses the Enneagram as the basis, but approaches it through scripture. It’s so good!

A BRIDGE ACROSS THE OCEAN

Susan Meissner’s stories are my favorite types: historical fiction with multiple characters whose stories intersect in unexpected ways. This book is about the Queen Mary and *warning* it talks about ghosts. It almost stopped me from reading because I’m not super into ghosts, but I kept going and I really liked the story. Not my very favorite of hers, but still worth reading (fyi, my favorite of hers is this one).

TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT

Did you read Where’d You Go Bernadette? If not, you should. If so and you liked it, you’ll like this one too. Quirky, quick to read, endearing character, and it’s set in Seattle, which makes it fun for this local girl.

LOOKING FOR LOVELY

Annie Downs is adorable and I want to be her friend. I listen to her podcast and kept hearing pieces of the message of this book so I decided to go against my normal non-christian-living book preferences and give it a try. I actually listened to the audio version (Annie reads it so it feels like your listening to a fun/wise/kind friend sharing and encouraging you).

Here’s what Amazon says about this one: No matter who you are and what path God has you on, we all need to remember the lovely, fight to finish, and find beautiful in our every day!

DELICIOUS

READ THIS ONE! I loved it. I quit a WWII novel (see below) because I needed something a bit lighter and happier – but still engaging and well-written – and this one was perfect. A young woman goes to work at a food magazine, only to have it shut down shortly after starting. But in that time, she uncovers hidden letters written during the war between a young girl in Ohio and legendary chef James Beard. The letters, the characters, the way food is part of it all makes it such a delightful read.

THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS

I can’t remember how I heard about this one, and even though it is on the heavy side, it was a good read. I started listening to the audio version and it was read in a super depressing voice, so I switched to reading it on my own and liked that much better. There is a movie out, which I haven’t seen yet, but I think I will. A husband and wife find a baby and decide to keep it, but have to deal with the moral ramifications, which are many.

 

BOOKS I QUIT THIS SUMMER

I’m not typically a book-quitter, but I am allowing myself the freedom to stop reading a book if it just isn’t holding my attention. How far in should I give it? I make myself get to at least 25%. These three I quit for various reasons … but chances are I’ll pick them up again when I’m more in the mood for the stories.

THE ROYAL NANNY

Based on a true story about the nanny who cared for the brothers who were both the King of England (Queen Elizabeth’s father is one of them), I wanted to like this one because I’m generally interested in history, England and the Royal family, but I grew bored pretty quickly. Perhaps I’ll try again.

VICTORIA

See? History, England, royal family. I made it about 60% through but this one felt a bit dull as well. I might try to get through it, or I might just watch the pbs series of the same name and call it good.

LILAC GIRLS

A friend recommended this WWII novel and I jumped because I do like WWII novels and I actually really do like this book. It is just heavy and I was wanting something a little lighter for the summer (I picked up Delicious – see above – and it was just what I was looking for. I’ll come back to finish Lilac Girls this fall).

 

WHAT I’M READING NOW

THE ROAD BACK TO YOU

Just keeping with the Enneagram learning. This book is also written from a Christian perspective and is surprisingly witty and very enjoyable to read. If you are brand new to the Enneagram, this one is a great choice.

Here’s what Amazon says: Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile forge a unique approach―a practical, comprehensive way of accessing Enneagram wisdom and exploring its connections with Christian spirituality for a deeper knowledge of ourselves, compassion for others, and love for God. 

BEHOLD THE DREAMERS

I’ll confess: I almost quit this one. I was at 23% and my sister told me to at least give it to 25%, so I did. And then I couldn’t stop. And now all I want to do is read and see what happens to the characters that I now really like and care about.

I was initially drawn to this book because its subjects are not my typical go-to (I’m trying to expand my reading preferences from the above mentioned history/England/WWII mix). This story is about an immigrant man and his family from west Africa who works for an executive for Lehman Brothers before its collapse in 2008. It is a story of immigration, family, facades, wealth, secrets and dreams.

THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

While on vacation, we spent one dinner talking around the table about the best books we’ve ever read. My brother-in-law named this book as his favorite. We put on the audio version for our family to listen to on the long drive home but stopped a few chapters in after not finding it quite as child-appropriate as we prefer. I think I’ll keep going, though, because it is a clever and compelling story.


Have you read anything great this summer? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

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The Chickens + their backyard coop

You may remember that we dove headfirst into the country life and bought baby chicks this spring. Well, I’m happy to report that those sweet little fluffy chicks have grown into full-size, egg-laying hens.

This is our first go at raising chickens and while we don’t know all there is to know, perhaps you’d like to hear a bit more about how things are going and you’d like to see their coop?

Oh, good. Because that’s what this post is all about :)

For the first 6ish weeks, the chicks lived in our garage under a heat lamp in a big galvanized bin (which is now used as the kids’ lego bin on the third floor). Our plan was to design and build a chicken coop, but while walking through Costco, we spotted a pre-made coop and decided to go the easy route and brought it home. Here’s what it looks like in the product image:

It is a perfectly fine coop, but needed a few alterations to work for our chickens. We painted it white, reinforced the base and sides (it’s not the sturdiest right out of the box) and added an extension of the bottom ‘run’ to accommodate our six chickens. With those simple changes, it works great and was a much easier project than if we built from scratch.

You know what the hardest part of putting it together was?

The foundation.

It’s a good idea to have fencing material around the sides and top to keep predators out, but the underside is equally important. We don’t want rodents, coyotes or raccoons digging under the coop, so Ryan set us up with a Fort Knox worthy barrier.

We started by clearing a spot in our backyard for the chickens to live. Our yard is wooded around the perimeter and so it took a bit of work to clear out a few trees, underbrush and one million roots.

Once we had our spot cleared, we measured out the finished size of the coop and dug a perimeter about 12 inches down to fill with cinderblocks. This will prevent anything from digging down and getting up under the coop.

After the cinderblocks were in and level, we added metal grating and large cement pavers to create a foundation.
And then the coop was set on top.

Ryan added a back section for added space and put in a lift-up top so we can change the food and water and access the lower pen.

I love the idea of growing flowers or vegetables in the top garden box (like shown in the product image), but that didn’t happen this spring. We also plan to put in some shrubs and ground cover around the chicken coop to add back some green. That should help with how sparse it looks now!

The chickens are pretty easy. I like to let them out in the morning to wander around the yard, pecking at the grass, eating bugs and seeds and whatever they can find, and then around dusk they find their way back up into their sleeping quarters.

Usually we go out after they are in their coop to close and lock the door, but one night a few weeks ago we did not. They were fine all night long until they wandered out early in the morning and a coyote ran off with one of the chickens. Poor Nugget made a nice breakfast for that mean coyote. Surprisingly, the kids did okay with the loss of Nugget and it reminded us to make sure we go out each night to close up the coop.

So far, we have two chickens who are laying every day. We’re pretty sure the two black and white spotted ones are the layers, based on the fact that they have the most developed top red floppy things on their heads (apparently, that is an indication that they are developed enough to lay eggs).

Our chickens LOVE when we feed them scraps of food – especially fruit. It’s ridiculously entertaining to watch them devour a watermelon or leftovers from dinner and squawk at each other when one gets in the way.

Lately, they’ve been hanging out by the back door waiting for us …

We’re still learning about raising backyard chickens, but so far things have gone fairly well. Our friends just gifted us this darling book to help us learn more about chickens and gardening:

If you’re looking for a resource on homesteading, you’ll adore this book (and the blog!). I can’t wait to dig in and learn more about how we can use our property to grow more of our family’s food.

I sound like such a country girl. And maybe I am :)

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How to keep your home protected while you’re away

This post is sponsored by Blink Home Video Security. 

When we set off on our four month road trip adventure, our original plan was to have a friend stay in our house while we were gone. Plans changed and as it turned out, our house was left vacant for all but one week (when out-of-town friends used our house). Our old house was in a safe neighborhood, surrounded by lots of neighbors who offered to keep an eye on the house, but still, we wanted to take precautions.

We packed everything valuable into a safe. We hid away all electronics. We closed all the windows, locked all the doors and put lights on a timer.

And Ryan installed simple, affordable and very effective security cameras.

He originally discovered Blink cameras on a Kickstarter campaign in 2014 and was instantly sold. He put up five of them in the house before we left for the trip and we were able to monitor any movement from his phone no matter where we were in the country. Crazy, right?!

Once, while somewhere far from home like Texas or Oklahoma, Ryan’s phone alerted him that there was movement in the house. He checked the app and watched video of our good friend, Johan, looking around in the garage to borrow our pressure washer. Ryan called him and totally creeped him out when he told him we were watching him on video :)

Thankfully, that was the only time the cameras were motion-activated and all was safe with our house while we were gone. It was really reassuring to know that even though we were miles from home, we could still check in to make sure everything was safe and sound.

We liked the security cameras so much that we’re using them in this new house as well.

Whether it’s during the night, while we’re out for the day, or on a week vacation, it is nice to be aware of what’s happening when we’re not around.

(Ryan is even thinking about putting a camera out by the chicken coop to watch for predators at night!)

So here’s how they work:

You get a camera and receiver for $99 or a set of two cameras + receiver for $169 – check them out here. The cameras come with very straightforward instructions to make set up very easy. You download the Blink app, follow the walk-through, place the cameras where you want them and adjust the settings to fit your needs.

The cameras work on batteries that last two years (no ugly cords!), and the receiver just needs to be plugged into an outlet and connected to wifi.

Once the cameras are set up, you can place them anywhere in the house that you’d like to monitor (typically near entry points of the house).

So far, we have one set up in the entry facing the front door:

See it right there on the tray? It’s nearly missable.

And the second camera is in the kitchen facing the back door:

The camera comes with a low-profile mounting bracket, so you can mount the camera to the wall if that works better for your home.

You monitor everything from the Blink app on your phone. Each camera can be individually armed or disarmed to record whenever movement is detected. If this happens, a notification will be sent to your phone so you can see what is happening. Alternately, you can also open up the app and refresh the camera to see your home in realtime.

I grabbed a quick video so you can see what the quality looks like:

These security cameras are pretty brilliant. They are so simple to set up, easy to monitor from your phone and offer peace of mind while you’re away from the house.

The best part: you don’t have to pay a monthly fee and all you need is wifi (and NO CORDS!).

I don’t do many sponsored posts, but when Blink asked if I would share about their product, it made total sense. We actually use these cameras! And love them! And you know I like to share things that are helpful to our family as they may be just what you are looking for for your home.

If you’re away from your house during the day, want to keep an eye on things at night or you’re headed off on a vacation and would like some extra security measures for keeping your home safe, we could not recommend Blink Security Cameras enough.

The people at Blink are generously offering a set of indoor cameras + receiver to one lucky JDC reader.

To enter the giveaway, simply sign up for Blink’s newsletter here.

Giveaway ends Monday, August 7th.

*UPDATE: the giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Laura D.!*

If you’re interested in purchasing indoor or outdoor security cameras for your home, CLICK HERE to learn more.

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Life Lately on Instagram

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about the progression of blogging over the years.

When I started blogging (about 8 years ago), I used the blog as a daily-ish journal – dark, grainy photos and all. Once pinterest came on the scene and my blog grew from hobby into profitable business, it forced me to up my photo and content game (which I love, actually). At that time, Instagram became that place for less-than-perfect daily photos that were not quite polished enough for the blog. A few years later and instagram has morphed into a curated collection of photos that are a vital part of the business. Rather than random snapshots of the boys making forts or me with coffee spilled down the front of my shirt (yep, both waaaay back there in my ig feed), I pay close attention to the look and feel of each photo I post to make sure it feels on brand for JDC.

Has it all lost it’s ‘realness’?

Yes, I think it has and I wrestle hard with this.

I want it to be real! I really do. One of my biggest hopes with this online life is that I would come across the same on here as I am in real life.

And yet sometimes I just get annoyed with the whole thing. I catch myself in the moment and think:

Why am I trying to get the perfect picture to post with the perfect caption to get the most likes when what I really want/need to be doing is putting down my phone and engaging with the actual people in my life?

Why does anyone care about what we’re doing or what I have to say?

And is it even right to post a picture of a lovely part of the room when behind the camera are hidden piles of who-knows-what?

Or, even worse, when family dynamics are funky or parenting is hard or there is sadness or struggle – how do I keep posting pretty photos and stay honest and genuine in those moments?

Anyway, that’s the rub I’m feeling right now.

Perhaps you feel it in your own way too.

I still love blogging. And I still can’t stop instagram. Both are so creatively inspiring for me and a true blessing in my life. There’s just a thing happening in my soul about it all and this is me saying to you, I don’t yet have it figured out.

So until then, I just take it day by day. Sometimes I’m all about posting. Somedays I’m not. I’m allowing myself the freedom to pick and choose and be as genuine as possible through it all.

I did not mean to go that direction with this post! I was truly just going to catch you up on what I’ve been posting to instagram in case you missed anything :) I post over there one or two times per day and I try to switch it up from what’s on the blog, just to keep things interesting. Instagram (while definitely curated) is where I put snapshots of life in the moment.

Like this moment:

We had friends coming over for dinner and they got stuck in traffic, so it gave me an extra hour to clean the kitchen. There is nothing that gets me motivated to tidy up the house than when we have people over.

And then, of course, a few hours later and it was all messy again. As it should be :)


Sometimes I’m just doing my normal things around the house and a sight catches my eye. That’s what happened in this photo:

The way the sun shines through the window in late morning gets me every time.


I had a similar moment when I walked into my in-law’s house recently:

Ryan’s mom has such a natural talent at mixing patterns, layering, making a cozy and beautiful home. I’m grateful for her example and hospitality! (Did you know she teaches our Simplified Flowers online class? She’s adorable and talented and so peaceful to listen to).


Speaking of talented mama’s, I was at my mom’s house last weekend (they took all four kids for the weekend and it was such a treat!) and her entry was looking particularly inviting:

And now you know that plant-loving runs in the family.


Our entry keeps getting little updates:

One of my favorite pastimes is puttering around the house, moving and styling and putting more holes in the walls. Very little feels permanent as far as decorating goes, but I’m having fun trying out different pieces and art and accessories to see what feels right.

Note: many have asked if I’ll be putting up the wall of L’s in our new house (see it in the old house here). Short answer: no. I don’t have a wall for it and also I am loving the creative challenge of doing this house in its own way. So I’m just picking from the collection of L’s and putting them around the house here and there.


One thing we are sort of repeating from the old house is the wall of art in Audrey’s bedroom:

We collected so many cute pieces and I loved how the gallery wall looked in her old room (see it here with tips for how to create a gallery wall) that I created a second edition for her new room.


A few weeks ago I decided to tackle the little bathroom and painted the vanity:

Then I put up a sample of wallpaper and love it!

It is going to be a little wacky and pattern-crazy, but this little no-window bathroom needs something fun and unexpected. I’ll post the full makeover once the wallpaper goes up for good!


Another summer project we’re taking on is phase one of the family room:

This is our most-used room and hasn’t been touched yet! I painted the walls the same white as the rest of the house (shoji white by sherwin williams) and finished the trim this weekend as well. Details and a few paint tips to come soon.


And that is that.

Real life, in pretty-ish pictures.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments or thoughts on how you reconcile real life with social media.

You’re the best, you guys. Thanks for reading. XOXO.

P.S. you can find my on instagram @jonesdesigncompany.

continue reading | 56 comments

The amazing at-home workout I can’t stop talking about (and doing)

There is something I just can’t stop talking about.

Like I literally bring it up in nearly every conversation – with my friends, my sisters, with the girl at the Young Life office when I was turning in my son’s camp paperwork.

And if I’m not talking about it, I’m making people do it with me – out of town guests, my mom and dad, around the pool at girls’ weekend.

It’s mildly ridiculous, but here’s the thing: I feel like this is transforming me. My body, my breathing, my strength, my mindfulness.

What is this magical thing, you might ask? Well, let me tell you :)

Barre3 online classes.

When I was a girl, I danced ballet. It was everything to me. At one point, my ballet company brought my parents into the office and told them that they saw promise in me as a dancer, but my feet were not right. They wanted to break the bones and reconstruct the arch so that I could dance on pointe. Needless to say, my parents thought that wasn’t the best idea for their 12 year old daughter and my ballet career was over.

Fast forward 26 years and I still love ballet. As a new year’s resolution a couple years back, I took an adult ballet class. I felt like the biggest fish out of water and never returned.

A few years later, I found a barre class at my local YMCA and fell in love (I blogged a little about it here). If I couldn’t dance ballet, at least I could do some of the moves in a workout.

When we moved to our new town, I took a barre class at a local studio and felt like I was going to die. I’m only barely exaggerating; it was shocking how terrible I felt the entire class. Come to find out, my iron levels at the time were dangerously low and my poor body was not producing enough oxygen for me to keep up. Thankfully I survived, but it did keep me a little afraid of working out for several months.

This spring, I was finally feeling better and decided to give an at-home workout a try. I pulled up an old video I have in my Amazon video library (this one) and did it a couple of times. I really like the video, but was feeling bored of doing the same workout over and over.

After a bit of digging into who the teacher of that video was and discovered that she is the founder of a barre studio out of Portland, Oregon called Barre3. I was happy to find that while they do not have a physical location in my area, they do offer an online workout library for a monthly fee. I signed up on the spot and could not be happier with my decision.

Since May, I’ve been completely smitten with these online barre workouts, fitting in a 30, 40 or 60 minute session 3-5 times per week. I don’t say that to be braggy – I’m just really surprised at how much I now LOVE working out.

Let me tell you a little bit about the workout, where I do it, what the moves look like, what gear you need and then at the end I’ll tell you why I love it so much.

THE WORKOUT

I explain barre as a mix between pilates, yoga and exercises inspired by ballet barre moves. You definitely do not need to have ballet experience to take or enjoy this workout. Also, you do not need to be well-versed in yoga poses or pilates form.

Barre3 explains it like this:

Barre3 mixes the best moves of yoga, pilates, cardio, and weight training to balance your body while giving you a deep muscle burn and endorphin high.”

WHAT YOU NEED

Before the kids got out of school, I worked out in my studio. I just pulled out my gear from the bottom drawer, turned on a video and when I was finished, put it all back in the drawer and would get to my regular work.

This summer I’ve been switching the location up. Ryan moved his office into the studio for the summer (and beyond?) so he can work without distraction, so I’ve been mainly working out in the house (or the front porch, as seen below). Lately, I found that the entry way is the perfect spot since there is a mirror I can check my form in and I just open the front door to let the breeze in.

All you need for the workout is a yoga mat, light handheld weights (I switch between 2 lb and 3 lb), a small pilates ball and band. Some videos use the weights, ball and band, others do not use any props.

These are the exact things I use: yoga mat, weights, ball + band set.

I prefer to work out on a hard floor (carpet makes balancing much more difficult) and you really only need as much space as the yoga mat takes up.

HOW TO TAKE THE CLASSES

There are a handful of online and in-studio options for barre. Just do a quick google search for “barre + your city” and you’ll likely find a studio. Or if you find another video, youtube channel or online library of workouts, go for it! You certainly don’t have to take from Barre3. I just happen to think it’s great, enjoy the workouts, the instruction, the well-done website and working out online makes it super easy to do anywhere.

I joined the monthly program and pay $29 per month for access to all of the 300+ videos. There are also meal plans and regular Q+A sessions as part of the subscription. TRY FOR 15 DAYS FOR FREE.

When you log in to your account, there is a library of online workouts to choose from. You can do 10 minute, 30, 40 or 60 minute classes. There are a handful of instructors and variety of moves, modifications and areas of focus in each workout.

THE MOVES

Every class is laid out in about the same format.

You start with lower body- lots of squats, lunges, carousel horse pose. Your quads, hamstrings and glutes will start burning quickly!

You move between large range of motion, small range (think down and inch, up an inch, over and over) and isometric holds. Your muscles will begin to vibrate as you get deeper into working them and while it is super hard and strange feeling, it feels so powerful to be able to push through and know your body is getting stronger.

Barre3 loves a good plank.

After lower body, you move into combo work with light handheld weights.

This gets your heart rate up, uses every muscle in your body and is very low impact, but super efficient.

After combo, you move to core strengthening.

Barre3 really focuses on the complete core – not just your abs, but also your back, shoulders, hips and seat.

To finish, you do a few minutes of cool-down stretches and end with a big inhale and exhale, like in yoga class.

Some videos are more ballet-inspired, using a chair for a barre, so I took photos of those moves as well.

WHY I LOVE BARRE SO MUCH

So here’s what I’m learning about fitness – you have to find the workout that feels right for you and go for it. I know barre is not for everyone, it just happens to completely energize me (which is why I can’t stop talking about it).

For years, I tried to run with my runner girlfriends and just couldn’t get into it. I tried cross fit once and decided quickly that was not for me. I’ve done step aerobics, dance, pilates and spinning. All were fine, but not totally my thing.

Barre is my thing. I feel strong and graceful; I push my body, but it never feels painful; I finish the workout feeling good and excited to do it again.

You guys, those statements I just made DO NOT SOUND LIKE ME. I’ve never been fitness-crazy. I probably should have been caring for my body long before now, I just never knew what to do. And now I know. And I want you to be as excited about it as I am :)

Okay, so here’s what I love about Barre3:

YOU CAN DO IT ANYWHERE

I would honestly love to take a class in an actual studio, but we do not have many options in our town. Therefore, I workout at home. Sometimes that’s much more convenient anyway. I can choose my own time, location, duration of class.

This summer I’ve taken to working out on the front porch, which is quite delightful.

INSTRUCTION IS SO GOOD

The online instructions for my Barre3 videos are friendly, approachable and very knowledgable. They talk you through each move, explaining just where your toes should be, where your knees should be, reminding you to relax your neck and shoulders, etc. As you learn to do the postures correctly, you move deeper into strengthening and lengthening your muscles, so it is helpful to have someone reminding you throughout the whole workout to check your form. This is also why I like working out in front of a mirror, when possible.

WORK THE MUSCLES THAT NEED WORKING

As they say in nearly every workout, the Barre3 method really focuses on the back body to support, lengthen, improve posture and counterbalance how front-body focused we are throughout the day. A lot of attention is paid to our glutes and side seat (yes, please!) and for nearly the whole workout, you are engaging your core for a full-body workout.

QUIET, MINDFUL, HARD

Some people need fast-pace, pounding, punching, super sweaty workouts. You won’t get that with barre (well, maybe except for the sweaty part). There is a lot of balance, controlled movement, isometric holds, attention to form. It is not a workout you chit-chat with your girlfriends through, but instead requires intentional focus.

BREATH TRAINING

I am surprised by how much the instruction in breathing has made its way into my regular life. When I feel anxious I remind myself to inhale deeply through my nose, and exhale fully out my mouth (just as my barre instructors remind me to do in every workout). It’s truly amazing how getting a good, deep breath can release tension and allow you to push through hard moments physically, but also mentally and emotionally.

ADAPTABLE

Perhaps my favorite thing about these barre workouts is how easy it is to modify for your particular body. In every video there is a main teacher and two others – one is doing every move full out, the other is modifying to show how things can be done if your knees, back, neck, shoulders, etc are not able to do the full movement. And the best part, is there is no guilt! The instructors say multiple times to do the workout that feels best for your body.

Which makes sense, right? My mom is in her 60’s and had back surgery last year. Surely, she can not (or should not) be moving in ways that will strain her, but instead should modify to build strength, balance and flexibility for her body. There are times when I can do the combo work with 3lb weights and other times when I need to put them down all together (like yesterday). You’re still getting a good workout whether you do the moves full out or modify for what feels right for your body in that moment.


(I just looked at the word count while typing and this thing is over 1900 words. I think that is a record for longest post in JDC history. If you are still reading, hi. And thanks for humoring me.)

So if we were real life friends and you were over at my house, the chances of me begging you to do a class with me are very high. I find great joy in trying to get everyone I know to love barre as much as I do :) Partially because it is fun to exercise with friends, but also because I truly find it to be an effective workout. It has been so good for my body, my mind and my soul.

But since most of you do not live nearby, perhaps you’d like to give Barre3 at try on your own. You can try it for free for 15 days and then decide if it’s something you want to spend your money on each month.

Use THIS LINK to join the free trial and I’ll get a small commission if you end up joining the monthly subscription.

I can’t wait to hear how you like it!

And now I’ll stop talking about barre. At least for today.

continue reading | 40 comments

New goodies in the shop that I’m pretty sure you’ll love

Last week I received a new shipment of products for my little house + home shop and am excited to show you. If you haven’t checked out the shop, let me just say that I basically fill it with things that I want/have in my house – which means you’ll find lots of basics, neutrals, classic pieces and low price points.

We have a handful of new items (keep reading to see them + get a discount code) but I’ll start with this fun set of goodies:

Ever since using a stock photo of a thin gold metal frame on all my art prints I get questions about where to find a simple metal gold frame. West Elm sells a great one, but it’s spendy. We searched and searched for a vendor and finally found these minimal, modern, inexpensive, gold-toned metal picture frames. Hooray!

The gray t-shirt has been a long time coming … will you walk around town or the beach or work out in a shirt that declares your love and devotion to Jones Design Company? I do hope so. (My favorite detail on the t-shirt are the custom tags we had put on the hem. So cute).

Okay, on to more great items I just have to highlight:

Brass 3×3 Frame | Stapler | Tape Dispenser | Botanical Journal | Velvet Ribbon | Pen

Black + White Striped Towel | Marble Bowl + Spoon

Brass Vase | Cloth Napkins

Gold Picture Frame

Wood Toothbrushes | Mr + Mrs Dish | Fouta Towel

Of all the items in the shop, these are my current favorites (although that is really hard to say since I do love it all). Let me highlight why I adore them so …

Vintage Blossom Notebooks (set of 2) $13.95
I keep one of these in my purse at all times for doodling, note taking, idea capturing and list making.

Plant Mister $9.95
Keep your indoor plants hydrated and happy with daily misting.

JDC Wood Pencils (set of 8) $6.95
A classic wood pencil with hand-stamped logo and white eraser. The perfect pencil, if you ask me.

Marble Bowl + Brass Spoon $14.95
This little bowl and spoon set make the perfect housewarming gift. Just add a jar of specialty salt and you’re set!

Cloth Napkins $14.95
How chic are these striped cloth napkins? They feel very french and make me want to host brunch.

Botanical Journal $14.95
You’ve probably seen this one pop up on my instagram feed a million times. It sits on my desk and is just so photogenic!

Le Pen (set of three) $5.50
The best pens you’ll ever try, in three of my favorite colors.

Mr + Mrs Dish $5.95
Scoop up a bunch of these before they’re gone … they are the perfect wedding or anniversary gift!

Tall White Vase $6.95
My current go-to vase. It is sleek, simple, a touch organic and a great size for a small bouquet.

Gold Frames $5.95-$9.95
Minimal, modern, the perfect gold-tone and super affordable. Yes, please.

Brass Planter $11.95
I call this a planter and show pictures of it with flowers (and it does make a lovely flower vessel), but I also love it as a catchall on the entry table, kitchen counter, bathroom, bedside table.

Black + White Striped Dishtowel (set of two) $14.95
Do you have a set of these yet? If not, you must. They’re soft, absorbent and classic in every way.


Do you have a gift to buy or something that caught your eye for your home? I am so thankful for your support and as an extra way to say thanks, how about a discount?

TAKE 15% OFF everything in the shop

with discount code YESPLEASE.

The code is only good until Friday night, and inventory is limited, so get shopping!

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Father’s Day Gift Ideas (that he’ll actually like)

Father’s Day is coming up in just a few weeks and now is the time to think about what to get the man in your life.

ryan overlooking canyon It seems like guys are a little harder to shop for than women. Maybe there are fewer products geared toward men? Maybe all the products that are geared toward men are a million times more expensive?

Whatever the reason, men always end up getting a new tie or grill accessories or another World’s Best Dad mug for Father’s Day. And, if they are anything like Ryan, they graciously thank their kiddos, wear the tie and sip coffee out of the new mug.

In the spirit of wanting to gift the men in our lives something they will actually love, Ryan helped me pull together a list of 17 great Father’s Day gifts. The price ranges from $8 all the way up to $499, so hopefully you’ll find something on this list that fits your man and your budget.

Father's Day Gift guide

1 | Rite In The Rain Notebook $8
This is Ryan’s favorite notebook. It opens flat for easy note-taking, has grid layout and lines on same page, and the paper is waterproof!

2 | All-Weather Pen $15
The perfect companion to the notebook.

3 | Marble Tic Tac Toe $34.95
Elevate this humble game to display-status with marble pieces and board. We bought this for my parents one christmas and it makes such a nice gift.

4 | Straw Hat $24
True story: while swimming in the ocean in Maui a few years ago, this hat came floating out of nowhere and a friend picked it up. It was such a hit, Ryan went to the nearby Quicksilver store and bought the same one for himself. It’s his go-to beach hat.

5 | Pocket Knife $33
Does your husband carry a pocket knife with him everywhere he goes? If not, get him this one.

6 | Rainbow Flip Flops $55
These are Ryan’s long-time favorite (as seen in the photo above). They last forever, are very comfortable and the double thick sole gives them great arch support.

7 | 16oz Charcoal Mug $16.95
A great big mug for his morning coffee.

8 | Work Hard Poster $99 unframed, $269 framed
This poster would look so good in Ryan’s office and is the perfect dad advice: Work Hard and Be Nice to People.

9 | Brain Octane $22
So this one is a weird gift idea, but Ryan swears by it. He adds it to his coffee each morning and is completely convinced that it boosts his energy and ability to think clearly.

10 | Spark Mini Drone $499
If you’re looking to splurge, go for this one. This mini drone was just released and is pretty incredible. We watched the promo video and even though I’m not all that excited about drones, this one seems fun, easy to use, great quality video.

11 | Moonshine Candle $48
The best smelling manly candle.

12 | Slip-on Shoes $85
Great summer sneakers without the hassle of laces. Ryan just bought himself two pair :)

13 | 36 Hours Book $24
From the New York Times long-running series, this book is filled with how to get the most out of a short trip (36 hours) to 150 different destinations in the United States and Canada. There is also a book for traveling in Europe, if that’s more his style.

14 | Vitamix Blender $415
The king of blenders and an everyday use around our house.

15 | Waterman Boardshorts $60
The Quicksilver Waterman collection is their premium line of quality clothes made with durability and style. I’m a fan of grown-up-surfer-style, so you know I’ll be adding items from this collection to Ryan’s closet.

16 | He Reads Truth Romans study $24
Perhaps you’ve heard of She Reads Truth, but did you know they also offer daily study for men at He Reads Truth? This summer, both men and women are going through the book of Romans and this book would be the perfect gift for a man in your life. The study officially starts on June 5th, but you can always go at your own pace, using the book alone or following along online or on the app.

17 | Apothecary Bag $44.95
Go for a gift he’ll use again and again with this canvas travel apothecary bag. Ryan is a bag guy – he loves any and every well-made bag out there, so this is a no-fail gift idea.

Hopefully this list is helpful, sparks your own ideas and results in the dad in your life getting something he’ll really love.


After you pick your gift, don’t forget the card!

free father's day card
I designed this cheeky Father’s Day card as part of the June Paper Works collection. Each month, we give a few items away for FREE and this card is part of those June freebies. Simply download the digital file, print on card stock, and you’re set!

Grab yours over at getpaperworks.com.

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How to keep the kids (of all ages!) occupied this summer

With summer break fast approaching, I’m always looking for activities that will keep the kids occupied, entertained and off their devices.

You, too?

One of our go-to boredom buster activities is pulling up a guided drawing art less from Art For Kids Hub. I feel like I’ve talked about our love of this website before on the blog and probably social media as well, but let’s talk about it again.

Art is one of those activities that we will pretty much always say yes to. We keep lots of paper, markers, colored pencils, scissors and tape readily available for when the kids are feeling creative (or bored. Ugh, I hate that word.) I like that all four kids enjoy art and am always amazed at what they create.

Art For Kids is a website with hundreds of guided drawing lessons taught by Rob, an artist who started teaching his kids how to draw and turned that hobby into a pretty fabulous resource for other families.

I asked the kids to be my models after school to show you how universally entertaining this activity can be. So, here you have all four kids – ages 13, 11, 9 and 7 doing the same drawing of a llama and each one enjoying the process.

We did this lesson up in my studio and I can see this happening a lot this summer! I’m hoping that I can get in on the action, too, because I actually really enjoy following along and drawing along side the kids.

The thing I like best about Art For Kids is that there are hundreds of video drawing lessons that are super easy to follow and can work for all skill levels.

This llama, for example, was just as fun for Ethan (the oldest) as it was for Audrey (the youngest).

All of the lessons are done with Sharpie and I was a little hesitant about that at first. When we first started using this site, the kids were even younger than they are now and we all know that permanent market + four year old = nothing good.

BUT, in the words of Art Teacher Rob, using a sharpie (or other bold marker) means the kids can’t erase and just continue on with their drawing even if it isn’t perfect. It gives them confidence, makes for impactful drawings and the artwork always turns out so original because of it.

Once the line drawings are done, they can fill in with color.

Did you notice I have two lefties? Kinda crazy.

And – tada! – the finished drawings:

I love that each one is different, they are improving their drawing skills, and doing something together.

We have always just watched videos for free on Artforkidshub.com but a few weeks ago when I went to the site to pull up an activity for Audrey, I noticed that they now offer a monthly membership.

I subscribed ($2.99/month) to get access to all of the art lessons, hundreds of printables and all of the videos are ad-free (that’s what really tipped me over the edge. I don’t trust YouTube enough to let the kids freely watch videos. #mamabear). Plus, I am so grateful for Rob and his team to create such great entertainment for my kids that I’m happy to support his family business.

If you are looking for an easy activity to keep your kids occupied this summer, the Lex family highly recommends Art For Kids.

continue reading | 27 comments

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! We’re in Magnolia Journal

The summer issue of The Magnolia Journal is hot off the press with our darling Joanna gracing the cover. Isn’t she just the prettiest? I think all of America wants to be her best friend (my hand is raised, too).

We are pretty excited over here to have a feature in this issue of the magazine.

Last year, we pulled our kids from school and set off on a nearly 4 month journey around the country. It was a long-time bucket list item and we still look at each other sometimes saying did we really do that?!

Throughout our whole trip, we posted to instagram (#jdcroadtrip) and I posted updates on the blog after every-ish stop (here’s the roadtrip page with all of the posts).

We didn’t do the trip for any other reason than to be together as just us six and experience the best this country has to offer.

What happened was life-changing and bonding with memories that will last a lifetime.

The trip ended on a Sunday at the end of August and the next day we bought our new house. The kids started school in our new school district the following week. So basically, we jumped from one pretty incredible experience to another and never took the time to truly process, collect our memories and put a big bow on the whole thing.

Now that we are a year out, we are getting nostalgic about the whole thing. Memories are coming up more often, stories from the trip make their way into more conversations, the kids are asking to visit friends they met or go back to cities again and quite often we think about the restaurants we dined at and remember an amazing meal or latte or cool atmosphere.

Just last night, while driving home from my sister’s house, we had a great conversation with Brady, our 11 year old. It was late and they were supposed to be trying to fall asleep, but instead Brady asked a question that turned into answers and more questions and a great conversation. Once the car grew quiet again, Ryan and I agreed that we miss those uninterrupted opportunities for conversation we had while on the trip – because when you are stuck in a car for 4 hours and you already watched two movies yesterday, you talk. It takes an intentional slowing down to build this into our regular life and that just gets harder and harder as the kids get older, life gets fuller, responsibility looks you in the face.

 When removed from all of life’s regular routine and distractions, you have time for meaningful conversation and simple forms of entertainment – books, drawing, pocket knives, playing dice. At home we have things like school, work, tv, unlimited wifi, friends, sports, meetings, errands. None of these are bad; all our welcomely invited into our lives. It just makes us sentimental about the time we had traveling all those miles, seeing all those incredible sites, just us six.

Ethan, our oldest, grew from boy to young man during those four months right before our eyes. The deep faith questions he wrestled with and the physical transformation he went through – none of it was missed by us. We were together all day, every day to witness and question and wrestle together.

Brady was curious and engaged everywhere we went. He was the first to ask a question to a tour guide or ranger. His natural inquisitiveness and thoughtfulness was so cool to see.

History came alive to Mason as we stood where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his I Have A Dream speech, or walked the battlefield at Gettysburg. He was all about the big cities and the most famous of sites. I can’t wait to see what this trip inspires in him as he grows – will he study history? Architecture? Politics?

Audrey walked miles each day. Miles! And hardly complained. She kept up with her big brothers, she was pushed in her food preferences, she listened to books in the car beyond her kindergarten interests, and yet she kept her sweet smile and adorable sense of humor the whole time.

What an enormous privilege as parents to have these moments.

And for me and Ryan to have had four months to connect, dream, work through hard things, laugh, make decisions, be a team … this is the best part of it all.

We said when we were planning the trip that we felt like life was going so fast we needed to just stop and reset. That’s what this trip was. It was a chance to pull back from regular life, take a deep breath, create unforgettable memories and then make adjustments as we reentered.

 I didn’t mean to write all of that. Mainly I just wanted to tell you about the article in the magazine :)

It is a great article with snippets of our story, photos and cute artwork, some itinerary highlights and tips for planning your summer adventures this year.

But I guess I also want you to know that while it was just a road trip, I’ll always see it as so much more. It took months of planning and years of saving and many sacrifices along the way and every bit of it was entirely worth it.

If you find yourself or your family in a spot where things are moving at such a fast pace and you’re not sure you love who you are or where you’re headed, may I gently encourage you to find a way to stop, take a breath, and make changes as you reenter.

It might be a road trip or a job change or an afternoon spent quietly thinking and my hope is that it will be life-changing for you as well.


You can find a copy of the summer issue of Magnolia Journal on news stands now, or order a subscription here.

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Get a FRESH start this spring with a free Caldrea gift set

There is something so lovely about spring. The flowers, fresh leaves, sunnier skies.

It also ushers in this unexplainable desire to clean.

They say there are two types of people: the organized type and the clean type. I fall deeply and fully into the organized camp. Give me a tidy house over freshly mopped floors any day of the week.

That’s not to say that I don’t like a clean house, because I truly do. I just don’t particularly love to clean.

True story: when I was pregnant with Audrey (our fourth baby, who is now 7), I developed that super weird disorder called Pica in which I was compelled to eat non-nutritive things like chalk and cleaning supplies. My mouth would literally water if I smelled lemon soft scrub or watched gymnasts on tv clap the extra chalk off their hands. It’s an indication of a mineral deficiency which I had big time during pregnancy.

Thankfully I no longer have that strange urge to eat chemicals, but I do really enjoy good-smelling cleaning supplies.

And while I may not be scrubbing my floors regularly, I am scrubbing dishes every day and I figure that’s a pretty good place to keep that delicious smelling soap.

I’m all about making the every day more beautiful and simple pleasures like good smelling soap, a neutral scrub brush and favorite dish towel seriously make my day happier.

Fun bonus: the company where I get my soap and scrub brush is giving away a Caldrea gift set for FREE! 

Right now, when you sign up for Grove and place your first order of $20 you’ll get this SUMMER STYLE set for free:

  • Free Caldrea hand soap
  • Free Caldrea dish soap
  • Free Grove Collaborative Bubble Up brush and dish set
  • Free shipping

Existing Grove subscriber? You get a set of my favorite walnut scrub sponges! Click here to claim your gift.

I had been eyeing Grove for over a year – always thinking about ordering but never pulling the trigger.

And then last fall I just couldn’t resist the free gift and jumped in.

Coming up with what to buy for $20 has been so much easier than I expected. The things we regularly use in our household are available at comparable or even lower prices and it saves me a trip to Target (which, honestly is a money trap for me so reducing the number of trips there is a good thing!)

Here are a few of our go-to’s:

walnut scrubber sponges I’m a born and raised sponge user. Some people are grossed out by them, but they work so well to wipe counters and scrub dishes. I throw them in the dishwasher every once in a while and am not shy about tossing them once they look dingy and start in on that nasty dirty sponge smell.

rubber gloves To save my hands and nails, I wear rubber gloves to wash dishes. It makes me feel super old, but whatever. It works.

bubble up refill brush We use our bubble up brush on a daily basis and I love that I can order just the brush to switch out when the old one is looking a bit frayed.

accure cleansing towelettes I buy these for our nearly-teenage son to do my part at preserving his soft baby skin. Will these keep teenage breakouts away? I don’t know. But it’s worth a shot.

seventh generation disinfecting wipes For the counter, the bathroom, spills on the floor … these wipes make clean up super easy.

tom’s toothpaste How do my kids go through so much toothpaste? Whatever it takes to keep the cavities away.

dr. bonner’s all-one toothpaste What originally caught my eye was the graphic packaging. What’s keeping us using this toothpaste are the natural ingredients and subtle cinnamon flavor. It comes in peppermint and anise, too.

facial tissue box Allergies strike our family hard this time of year. Tissues are essential.

parchment paper This brown parchment is so charmingly old-fashioned. I use it for baking, mostly, but wouldn’t it be so great for wrapping sandwiches for a picnic?

accure shampoo + conditioner Smells great, works great, sulfate and paraben free.

The great thing about Grove is that I’m not stuck with any of these items and can always order more, less, try new products or keep to a regular order. They make it super easy.

Want to give it a try?

When you click over to Grove, you’ll be asked a few questions and your cart will auto-fill with $20 worth of products. Go ahead and take their suggestions or browse your favorite brands or household items and choose your own (but I’m going to highly suggest those sponges).

To receive the FREE Caldrea hand soap, dish soap, and bubble up brush set, your order needs to be a minimum of $20.

I hope you find Grove to be a helpful service that saves you time, money and keeps you happy when you’re doing daily household things like dishes and laundry and brushing your teeth. #simplepleasures

CLICK OVER TO GROVE TO LEARN MORE + CLAIM YOUR GIFT!

*Please note that Grove currently does not ship to Canada, Hawaii, or Alaska

*I am happy to be a Grove affiliate

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