Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Memorial Day Weekend

Hi Pals,
   It's THE LAST WEEK OF SCHOOL! I'm pumped for summer fun with my two guys but this school year has been so great too. I was nervous about it because this is my first year at this school, and I found out we were expecting Hank about a week after I accepted the job, but now here we are and it all worked out. This weekend was a whirl-wind. We had fun with family, relaxed and celebrated.

On Friday AJ's mom and I took Hank to Cubby's for dinner and he sat in a high chair for the first time! He did so great and is getting so big! I went to bed early and Saturday morning AJ went to pick up his brother Matt at the airport under the guise of a coffee run. AJ's mom had NO IDEA Matt was coming into town and it was such a fun surprise! About an hour later, AJ's dad arrived from Oregon. AJ, Matt and I headed to Ikea and a few other places Saturday afternoon. That evening we went to my family's house for dinner.

Big boy! 

AJ, Hank, Grandpa
On Sunday we ran some random errands and Susan and I went to see Book Club (it was cute---they don't make many true chick flicks these days it seems and we enjoyed it). That evening, per Matt's request (and no objections from any of us), we picked up The Pie for dinner and took Hankers on a nice evening walk.

I was so grateful to have an extra day off this weekend. I know the day is primarily for military heroes who gave their lives for our freedoms, but it's also a day to remember and honor all of our loved ones. I woke up with Hadley on my heart. After the Boot Camp Memorial Day outside workout (it kicked my butt in a good way), we went to visit our first born. The cemetery was crowded and we met the wife of the man buried not far from Hadley's spot. We talked for a while and she told me her grandkids love visiting "the baby's spot" (Hadley's) and love to play by her. That warmed my momma heart! I can't wait for summer afternoons on a blanket with Hank visiting his big sister.

Monday afternoon AJ and I indulged in a glorious and necessary TWO HOUR NAP (thank you Jesus for grandparents) and then we had my family over to celebrate Memorial Day and Susan's birthday! We grilled flank steak and had corn on the cob, pasta salad, fruit salad, and a birthday berry trifle for dessert.
I created this signature drink---raspberry lemonade, sweet riesling, and lime garnish. DELISH! 

I'm so thankful for a beautiful fun-filled weekend.

Have a great week!

Savor Your Sparkle,

Saturday, May 26, 2018

May Reads

It's time for another monthly book recap! I read 5 books this month and tried to get a variety of types. If you want to see other book reviews from 2018, click here. Here we go.....

1. Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins. I liked this book, I think it'd be a great one to toss in your pool bag or to pack on a getaway. It takes place in Maine is a bit of a prodigal daughter story. It was typical chick lit, not the greatest one I've come across, but a perfect summery book.

2. Our Father by Pope Francis: This was a super short read and I really liked it. I love the wisdom of this pope and I really liked the format of this book breaking down The Lord's Prayer. He writes beautifully about God as the father---a caring, loving God completely invested in our lives.
3. Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser: This was the first book I received from my Book of the Month Club subscription (AJ got it for me for my birthday. Each month they send you summaries of 5 books and you pick the one you want for the month. If you want to add a previous month's book selection to your monthly box it's only $10. Many of the books haven't even be released yet). Anyway, the description of this book about a neighborhood wine club of young moms full of secrets seemed right up my alley (Liane Moriarty, anyone?) but I didn't love this one. It has a really satisfying and happy ending but it took way too long to get to it. It wasn't bad but there are way better suspenseful chick lit reads out there.
4. How To Walk Away by Katherine Center: I really liked this book!! This was another Book of the Month club pick and I chose it because I was in the mood for a novel to get lost in with an uplifting story and some romance. This story is about a woman who becomes a paraplegic and how she rebuilds her life, reconnects with family, and makes her life one worth living. The bulk of the story takes place in a hospital and it paints such a realistic portrayal of patient life and recovery. This might make it into my top 10 books of the year. I'd love for this to be made into a movie!
5. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis: Ok guys, I had HIGH expectations for this one. I was reading everywhere that this book is a must read for the Jen Hatmaker/Melanie Shankle/Shauna Niequists fan girls (me!). I really did not love this book. It's got great points (follow your dreams! work hard! commit to your marriage! don't have mom guilt!) but the author has a massive ego and never fails to put in sections about how awesome she is and how she has such a huge social media following. I kept feeling like the "lessons" she delivers are coated in smug self satisfaction (the title of this read should have been my clue). I read many reviews of this book and it seems I am the only one who feels this way (shoulder shrug emoji). There are beautiful, heartfelt, hilarious books about modern Christian womanhood that are just so much more worth picking up in my opinion (For The Love by Jen Hatmaker and Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist  to only name a few). 

Now we are approaching summer and I am ALL ABOUT cracking open a good book, sipping an iced beverage and relaxing! Happy reading, friends!

Savor Your Sparkle,

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Crust Club

This is not a sponsored post for Crust Club although I wish it was. I just really love this company and concept. Any marketers out there working with pastry companies, ya'll can contact me any time any day. I will gladly accept payment in the form of actual dough. Ok, moving on, this week I tried Crust Club for the first time and it was love at first bite.
This logo is so cute. I want this color scheme as a skirt! 

What is Crust Club?!

-Crust Club is a local Utah company that makes and delivers frozen or fresh and ready to bake dinner and dessert pies right to your door! They have fresh ingredients and you can definitely tell they are made from scratch.

-The dinner pie options change each week so there's always new flavors to check out (I am sincerely regretting not ordering their carnitas pie a few weeks ago). It seems like they always have The Original in stock (chicken pot pie) and recently they've come out with non-pie dinners too.

-There's no clubs to join or commitments to make, just order a pie and it's at your door the very next day and dinner is done. Easy peasy. (If you live in UT county you can go to their store too and pick it up, it's in Pleasant Grove).

This week we had AJ's mom in town and I wanted an easy dinner so we ordered their flash frozen Shepherd's pie. I placed the order on Monday, it arrived Tuesday, and we had it for dinner on Wednesday. Guys. It was SO good. And honestly, I'm a bit skeptical when it comes to meal delivery services (I don't want to commit and it can be pricey), but this medium pie cost $20---less than it would cost to purchase these ingredients and make it myself or for us to go out to dinner.

Shipping costs $5 BUT if you spend $35 or more shipping is free so you know I had to add in a $15 dessert pie sampler to get free shipping (girl shopping math---guilty as charged). THESE BABY PIES ARE INCREDIBLE. I realize purchasing said pies probably negated all my hard work with early morning workouts but they were worth it. We got a sampler they had in stock (their dessert pies change out each week like the dinner pies) with strawberry cheesecake, islander (coconut/pineapple), and my personal fave, chocolate chunk. I was impressed with the size of these "baby" pies and you get 6 in a pack. This would be so good to bring to a party or potluck.

Do I think I'll order one every week? Probably not. But every once in a while it's a fast, easy, convenient and delicious dinner option!

I'm a fan, guys.

Use this link to get 10% off your first Crust Club Purchase. I promise you will love it!

Savor Your Sparkle,

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What I'm Loving Lately

It's time for another edition of What I'm Loving Lately!

1. Flower Garden! AJ planted this garden a few weeks ago and I love it. Remember last year when we started our vegetable garden and I pictured myself in a large sunhat and a big basket overflowing with the fresh bounty we created straight from the earth. Remember that? Yeah the reality was more like me cursing pulling weeds and freaking out when I saw snails hanging out back there. We had more tomatoes than any human could ever eat and I can't even describe the amount of bugs we got.  So this year we'll be regulars at Farmer's Markets and the produce section of the store instead of growing our own salad fixings. Our teeny backyard piece of land is now a flower garden. Much more do-able. And AJ always waters it because I forget. I am so excited for mornings out here with a good book and cup of coffee.

2. Almond Poppyseed Kodiak Cakes: I'm a big fan of Kodiak cakes (local company, protein packed pancake/waffle/muffin mixes)  and this past weekend at Costco the samples sucked me in and I bought a pack with these and dark chocolate flavor. These are so yummy and topped with fresh berries? Amen! If you like almond flavoring, you must try these. I might add some lemon zest for over the top flavor.

3. The Bachelorette returns on Monday! Let's do the damn thing! I am so pumped for this season and thoroughly enjoyed The Popcast's Contestant preview podcast. I want drama. I want Chris Harrison at his finest walking into a room and tapping that glass. I want Becca to fall in love. I want helicopters, bizaare careers, pool parties, and B list singers performing while the contestants dance on a raised platform. Bring it out, ABC!

4. Morning Gym: I never thought I'd be a morning gym person and I'm still not quite sure that I am, but for the past few weeks I've been hitting up a Boot Camp class before school in the mornings. I LOVE having my afternoons./evenings open without my workout hanging over my head and it makes the evenings go smoother when just one of us hits the gym. (Hank care, chores, dinner starting, and both of us going to the gym between 4 and 6 was kind of crazy).

5. Baby shorts: I am loving Hank's summer fashions! It is so fabulous to go out or on a walk without tons of blankets and layers. His chunky legs in adorable shorts are just so precious. And I just ordered him some baby sandals and they look so cute!

6. My TBR (to be read) pile is shrinking and I got a lot more reading done this month than I thought I would. Look for my May book post coming up next week!

7. Summer is so close I can taste it!

Have a great week everyone!
Savor Your Sparkle.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Royal Wedding!

You didn't think I'd miss my chance to blog this event did you?? Guys, how gorgeous was this wedding?! I know some people don't care but here are my thoughts: In this era of horrific news and divisive politics, the fact that we can come together and celebrate a real life love story and an actual royal wedding? Well, I, for one, am I considered for a brief second waking up at 4 am to watch but then I remembered I have a 5 month old and I'm a teacher and it's May so that was a big fat no for me.

 I settled in to watch the Royal Wedding Saturday evening with a glass of rose and some chicken veggie pizza from The Pie. It was delightful. And even though AJ complained the whole time, he did watch most of it with me. I know it's corny, but it was so special tuning in with my husband and my sweet baby boy. I remember recording Kate and William's wedding and rushing home from my teaching gig in Chicago (on the bus, no less, my life was pretty glamorous). I got Chinese take out and watched every minute. I loved it. I wondered if I'd ever marry and could tell how in love Will and Kate were. And while we may not live at Buckingham Palace, I think our life is an imperfect version of our own Fairy Tale.....Although my new life goal is to somehow get Hank to marry Charlotte. You heard it here first!

So without further ado, my random/jumbled thoughts on the event!

-I'm loving all these specials about the royals. Meghan and Harry went to AFRICA on their third date. We went to Beans & Brews.
-Meghan Markle is gorgeous....all these clips from Suits make me wonder if I should tune in? Anyone watch it?
-These hats!!! Silly question but is a "fascinator" a requirement? Like is it rude if you don't sport one?
-Of course Oprah is there! Looking good!
-Amal Clooney looks like the Man with the Yellow Hat from Curious George and the Queen looked like a highlighter (sorry for the snark)
-Harry's beard looks good! I'm digging this "rustic" vibe (very Chip Gaines)
 -Totally fast forwarding through all the car driving parts
-Her dress is so perfect! I adore the boat neck. The hair surprised me, it seemed pretty casual, but then again, nothing dresses up a low bun like an actual diamond hairpiece. Also doesn't this photo look like it was taken right out of a proposal scene from The Bachelor?
-The Bells chiming as she stepped out of the car=goosebumps
-I love that Meghan and her mom and independent women but I still wish her mom had a wedding date. At least she could have sat near Elton, I feel like he'd be a fun and fabulous pal for the day.
-OMG those royal children are PRECIOUS! #Hankandcharlotte2040 #Hewillsteeleherheart #princehank
-The Stand By Me Gospel Choir?! I love that song and can we talk about how they looked at each other while it was going on? Adorbs.
-The sermon: I really liked that it was given by an American. I liked the message and the world needed to hear that BUT I would have liked more talk about marriage specifically and their relationship but I suppose when you get married in front of the world anecdotes and cheesy marriage advice get replaced by MLK quotes etc. Ok, I get it.
-Departure by carriage? Well, this certainly brings back memories

-Meghan's reception dress is ammmm-azing
------Hours long break for family walk, Hank bath, bottle, bedtime----
-SNL Royal Wedding skit=perfection. Aidy Bryant as Elton John is casting brilliance.
-Bedtime! I think tomorrow I'll fix a spot of tea and binge watch all the commentary and footage.

What a beautiful royal wedding! Until the next one.....where I will be in attendance. I think Kate would be just a darling in-law don't you?

Savor Your Sparkle,

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mother's Day Weekend

Hi Everyone!
   We had a fabulous Mother's Day weekend! My heart goes out to all women this weekend. I am so so so thankful be be a mommy and Hank is my whole heart. I know the other side, though. I know what it feels like to look at other people's perfectly posed Facebook pictures of their precious babies and to miss yours with an ache that feels so deep. I have friends who are years into the journey of infertility wondering if that desire God placed on their heart to be a parent is just a cruel joke. I know of friends who have lost their own mothers far too soon. While yes, it's a day of celebration that took on a whole new meaning for me as I held my son, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the pain the day might make others feel. It can be hard so it's good thing we have each other.

A major shout out to our good friend Kandi. She is basically super woman and did this craft project when she watched Hank a few weeks ago. I love this so much! We love you, "Aunt Kandi!" 

We decided to celebrate Mother's Day on Saturday since AJ had to work Sunday. My guys brought me coffee and a bagel in bed and I literally lounged and read in my pj's until about noon. It was heavenly! They also gave me the most beautiful's the profile of a little boy! I love it so much (Mama loves anything in a little blue box). I went out eventually and headed to the Scholastic Teacher Book Sale (it's a good thing I was hurrying to get home because I could have been in there for hours).

My parents came over in the afternoon to keep an eye on Hank while AJ and I went to our first movie date since our little man joined our family. We saw "Tully" which I expected to be much cuter and more of a "feel good" flick that it actually ended up being (it was actually pretty dark). We picked up some Sweet Tooth Fairy cupcakes and take out from Famous Daves to bring home so we could have dinner all together.

It's pretty awesome being a mom but one thing I didn't anticipate was how fun it is watching your parents become grandparents. My mom is such an amazing mom and grandma to Hank. She is full of energy, is so thoughtful, and I'm so lucky she's ours. The rainy day ended up clearing up so we loaded up the stroller and went for a walk together. It was such a nice day.

Sunday we powered through laundry, ironing, chores, etc. before AJ went to work in the afternoon. Hankers and I went for a walk, visited Hadley, and went to my parent's house for dinner.

There are 13 days left of school and this weekend AJ's mom arrives into town to tend Hank until summer begins! (Besides my own mom, I am so blessed to have the best Mother in Law in the world. We love you, Grandma Steele!). This time of year is exhausting but wonderful. I love tying a bow on the school year. Have a great week, everyone!
Savor Your Sparkle,